n. A hobbyist roguelike project inspired by linuxrogue, née rogue 5.3-clone

0. Objective

To produce a game reminiscent of rogue free from historical licensing concerns and programmatic faults.

1. Background

On February 19, 1986 Tim Stoehr inquired on the Usenet group net.sources.games whether anyone would be interested in a "rogue 5.3 look-alike" he had written on a "4.2bsd machine," which he then posted to the same group on February 26, 1986. It was written both to address "the inexcusable number of bugs" and to eliminate features Stoehr "didn't care for" in the original. On November 11, 1986 he announced the forthcoming release of the program's second iteration, promising "many improvements" and gameplay "remarkably like rogue 5.3" despite a series of stated divergences. This "excellent imitation" was again posted to net.sources.games, in four parts, on November 25, 1986. Subsequently, a third version "of the same old rogue 5.3-clone" was posted to the Usenet group comp.sources.games, in six parts, on May 11, 1987. At the time, Stoehr's stated intention was to port the source "to as ma[n]y of the different UNIX systems" as he could, with the aid of those familiar with the systems he was not. Bill Randle later posted two official patches submitted by Stoehr to comp.sources.games, on May 29, 1987 and June 12, 1987 respectively. A third, unofficial patch was posted to the same group by Randle on September 13, 1991, representing the work of Mike Zraly to adapt Stoehr's clone to VMS. Though Zraly "refrained from adding new commands or fiddling with the code unnecessarily", he did mention that attempts to contact Stoehr at his posted email address were unsuccessful.

A message from Steve Wilson dated February 14, 1992 and forwarded to the Usenet group alt.os.linux announced his porting of Stoehr's game (third version) to Linux. His efforts with the "PD version of rogue" were presented as "a good way to learn a little about POSIX" over a couple evenings. Somewhat later, Alan Cox further refined this port, integrating both official patches, a "considerable number" of bugfixes, and in-game help documentation. Although unclear, it appears that Cox carried out the brunt of his work by September 28, 1992, with a second round of changes completed by December 9, 1992 and separately distributed.

More than ten years later, on February 21, 2003, Ashwin Nanjappa set about the codebase inherited from Cox, distributed as version 0.2 of what he identified as "linuxrogue". Over the course of the next eighteen months, Nanjappa released five additional versions of the game, culminating in linuxrogue 0.3.3 on June 5, 2004. It is at this point that the present project, picaroon, branches from Nanjappa's maintainership of the game Tim Stoehr first announced in 1986. Nanjappa distributed one more version, linuxrogue 0.3.4, on May 6, 2006 before handing over control of the project to Greg Kennedy and Jesse Printz. To date, Kennedy and Printz have modified the code to produce two releases, versioned as linuxrogue 0.3.5 and 0.3.7, respectively.

Stoehr's look-alike has formed the basis of a number of alternate projects, among them:

It is hoped that there is room for yet another project rooted in Stoehr's work.

2. Constraints

In no particular order:

3. Milestones

Development efforts target the following numbered benchmarks:

  1. 0.0.0 - trace game lineage, sketch project goals
  2. 0.1.0 - resolve egregious compilation errors
  3. 0.5.0 - repair faults in game design and logic
  4. 1.0.0 - complete basic rewrite, relicense codebase
  5. 2.0.0 - ???

Current progress lies between milestones 0.5.0 and 1.0.0, per above measures.

4. Lessons

Rewriting the code of others is not nearly so entertaining as writing your own.

5. Disclaimer

My project bears no relation to the same-named roguelike written in Go, which first launched August 12, 2012.

Documentation last revised 14 June 2013. Further details and materials forthcoming…