Topic 001 - Freeware

started 1999-02-09

What is Free?

Roguelike games are usually freeware: free to play for as long as you like. A small handful might now or in the future be shareware, where you pay if you exceed a certain evaluation period; and a couple are moving in the direction of being fully commercial, where you have to pay to get full game, although a reduced demo might be free. Freeware by far dominates the Roguelike genre.

In addition to being free to play, many Roguelikes, particularly those with "ancient" heritages such as Angband and NetHack, are free to modify and distribute. Many of the newer Roguelikes become "open source," if not immediately, then over time once the author is either satisfied with the stability and quality or unable to continue further development himself.

In most cases, once a game is declared "free", all its subsequent variants have to be free. This is usually passed on as a written requirement in the distribution.

Below is some concrete information as to executable and source availability. I don't intend it to be exhaustive, but big enough to give you a general impression. I'll update it when I get additional information:

Game Released Price Source
Adventurer of the Realm 1998 Free Yes
ADOM 1994 Postcard No
ADOM Deluxe future $20 shareware Probably not
ADOM II (JADE) future Free Yes
Alphaman 1995 ? No
Crossfire 1992 Free Yes
Dimensions 1998 ? No
Dungeons of Des Moines future Free ?
Dungeon 1998 ? No
Dungeon Crawl 1997 Free Yes
Grey Wastes future ? ?
Hack (and descendents) 1984 Free Yes
Lord of Rage and Death 1998 Free No
Magic Isle future ? Yes
Majik future Free No
Moria 1985 Free Yes
Omega 1987 Free Yes
OPES future ? Yes
Over 1996 Free No
Post Nuclear Adventure 1998 ? No
Ragnarok 1995 Free No
Rodun 1998 ? Yes
Rogue 1980 Free Yes
Rogue's Quest 1995 Free No
Larn 198x Free Yes
Legend of Saladir 1997 ? No
Second Earth future ? ?
Unreal World 1994 $25 shareware No
Utumno 1997 Free Yes
VOtheD 1998 ? No
War of the Runes 1998 Free No

Side Effects

The open source nature of Roguelikes has resulted in a plethora of variants, clones, utilities, spoilers, ports, and download sites. The sheer amount of variety and information can be overwhelming at first, and that's one of the reasons I created this web site... Not because I'm sadistic but because I thought I'd... uh... well, yeah, I guess there's no excuse! :)

Since it's awfully hard to support yourself off of freeware (yes, that was a joke), Roguelike developers have day jobs or are students. Also, they tend to work individually as opposed to in teams (coordination takes resources). This limits the pace of development (an upcoming topic in itself).

Because money is almost never in the picture, developers and players alike have nothing at risk. They are typically very friendly, accessible, intelligent, and genuinely helpful. There are of course exceptions (your usual immature hot heads or bored flamers), but for the most part, the Roguelike community is awesome.

Most of the side effects listed above will form upcoming topics in themselves.



Topic 001 - Freeware

started 1999-02-09