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[Comments] (8) Unicode Roguelikes: Recently I saw signs that the bounty of Unicode characters is about to break into the world of roguelike games. Exhibit 1: Jean-Paul Calderone's primitive roguelike-looking game which endlessly recreates the boring "maze" levels of Nethack, but with Unicode monsters like the fearsome FISHEYE and VERY MUCH LESS-THAN. I tell ya, with Unicode you don't even have to come up with monster names. Just use the real character names.

More interesting (in fact, insanely addictive) as a game is chessrogue, in which the monsters move (and, if you have a Unicode terminal, look) like chess pieces. It actually feels a lot more like those "escape the robots" games than a Roguelike. Anyway, in chessrogue you have the Mega-Man like ability to acquire the powers of the pieces you capture. Unfortunately this is nothing beside your amazing power to screw up and get eaten by a pawn just when everything was going so well. There are no hit points or combat, no "The pawn hits!". You just get captured, like in chess, and the game is over.

When will Unicode start showing up in more Roguelikes? Some might say that the plethora of Unicode characters would make games hard to navigate, but I say bah. Lots of people play Roguelikes with little 16x16 bitmaps instead of ASCII characters. Now, there are 256^256 possible 256-color 16x16 bitmaps, a number so large that NYCB style guide forbids it from being spelled out here, but there are only 95,156 graphical Unicode characters. So it should actually be much easier to play a Roguelike with Unicode characters than with bitmaps.

After all this Unicode mania I started thinking about Unicode art. Surely this medium would be the annointed, universally accessible successor to ASCII art. But the Unicode art gallery has only three things in it, none of them very impressive. Is it the very limitations of the ASCII form that keep its practitioners penned within its 95 printable characters? Will the same prove true for Roguelikes?

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Comments:

Posted by Pyrop at Sun Aug 14 2005 12:57

There's been a lot of character art using Shift-JIS on the Japanese webboard 2chan and its American ripoff 4chan. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shift-JIS_art . It's not Unicode but it's closer.

Posted by nutella at Sun Aug 14 2005 17:58

Is there a unicode rfk available?

Posted by Mark Hughes at Tue Aug 16 2005 15:48

I've suggested to the more conservative (i.e., non-graphical) roguelike developers that they start using Chinese and Japanese glyphs to expand the set of characters, but they've never done it. One objection besides tradition is that cross-platform console Unicode support is weak, but realistically, every significant platform has it these days.

Posted by Leonard at Tue Aug 16 2005 15:56

As far as I know there is no Unicode RFK. However, a Unicode RFK would be very much in the spirit of RFK, which originally used the IBM extended ASCII character set. I would write one were it not for my big time-consuming project.

Posted by Tim May at Wed Aug 17 2005 05:57

Even if you've got console Unicode support in princible, it's difficult to be confident that every user would have font support for the characters you wanted to use. CJK ought to work, though, as long as the choice of characters is fairly mainstream you've either got it or you don't. And while they don't necessarily look much like anything, there's an obvious mnemonic value for people who actually know those languages or are trying to learn them.

(ↂ_o) <- borg

Posted by Leonard at Wed Aug 17 2005 10:11

I did a web browser test a while back and Mozilla could display almost every Unicode entity. So those fonts must be there somewhere. Maybe a browser-based version would be the best hope for a Unicode RFK.

Posted by Nick Moffitt at Sat Aug 20 2005 23:47

The one great thing about a unicode roguelike is that you can read a "blesséd" scroll of genocide monster.

Posted by Leonard at Sat Aug 20 2005 23:51

Too bad that scroll wouldn't do a whole lot.


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