October 31, 2008
In 1980 the game Rouge was created. It is the simply the very first, and some still say, best computer based RPG ever. Using ASCI characters to represent walls, floors, items, monsters, and the player character, a rich randomly generated map environment was created in a very small amount of memory space. In early versions movement was based on the WSAD keys before keyboards included Arrow Keys or even a mouse.
Some rumors exist that the earliest networking protocols were created so that the extra processing power of a bigger machine nearby could be used to create a more complex version of Rouge. Since then it has been remade, renamed, and ported to just about every Operating System there is. In fact one would be hard pressed to not find a Rouge-like decedent on even the most obscure OS. Versions with full graphics have even been released.
My personal introduction to the realm of Rouge Like games started with Nethack. Perhaps the closest to the original in feel, Nethack introduced several new concepts that still heavily influence RPG games today. One of the noteable ones being the concept of food for the character. Since then the game has gained “tiles” to represent the environment. But the older version is still available.
Another interesting version is Angband. It too comes in graphic and “terminal” version. In addition it includes a huge set of online and in game spoliers… for those who need that extra bit of help, and like myself are not too ashamed to use them.