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Don't call it permadeath - Rogue dev

Glenn Wichman says we need a new way to talk about "consequence persistence" in games

The term "roguelike" has been applied with reckless abandon to a multitude of games in recent years, but one of the creators of Rogue, the ASCII-based dungeon crawler that gave the genre its name, may be more upset with the way people describe one of its more familiar conceits.

As reported by Kotaku, Glenn Wichman spoke at the Roguelike Celebration in San Francisco last weekend and expressed his concerns with the way people associate "permadeath" so closely with roguelikes.

"We need a different name from 'permadeath,'" Wichman said. "When people talk about permadeath, they talk about us three being mean. 'Oh, they wanted to make it extra hard, so they threw in permadeath.' [But] permadeath is [just] an example of 'consequence persistence.' Do I read this scroll, do I drink this potion? I don't know. It might be good. It might be bad. If I can save the game and then drink the potion and-oh, it's bad-then I restore the game and I don't drink the potion. That entire game mechanic just completely goes away. So that was a whole reason why, once you have taken an action and a consequence has happened, there's no way to undo it. Permadeath is not the right name for that, so that's my homework to all of you: come up with a better name."

Michael Toy, who created Rogue along with Wichman and Ken Arnold, agreed.

"We were trying to make it more immersive by making things matter, but not to make it more painful," Toy said. "It was really meant to make it more fun: 'This thing matters, so I'm going to think about this.'"

Wichman echoed the point, noting that the benefits players can receive from items within the game are "just as permanent" as negative effects.

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Brendan Sinclair

Managing Editor

Brendan joined GamesIndustry.biz in 2012. Based in Toronto, Ontario, he was previously senior news editor at GameSpot in the US.