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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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