Monday, May 30, 2011

Omega: Final Rating

I did something better than winning. I "achieved maximal entropy."
I know that when I last blogged about Omega, I was still trying to win for real, but the corruptions kept piling up on themselves, and pretty soon I couldn't recognize half of my equipment. The final straw came when my save game got corrupted. I had some other backups from a couple hours earlier, but I would have lost a lot of playing and I couldn't guarantee that it wouldn't happen again. Part of me wants to keep playing. I found a later version on a different web site, and there's a chance that it fixes a lot of the bugs I encountered. It also has color! 
But I can't see investing the kind of time it would take to rebuild a character right now, especially with Pool of Radiance waiting for me. So I'm going to do my GIMLET and see if I can find an excuse to be pulled back to Omega later. Keeping that possibility open, I've avoided looking at any walkthroughs or spoiler files.
If you have to go...
1. Game World. The world of Omega is extensive if not terribly well-described. It has a major city (Rampart), several towns, castles, dungeons, mountains, forests, and other features. More important is the struggle between order and chaos that is present in every aspect of gameplay. This lore is found in the scrolls of Rampart's library and in clues you pick up throughout the game. This is the only roguelike I've played that has bothered to create a backstory and lore for its world. Score: 5.
Studying in the library.
2. Character Creation and Development. Omega allows a fascinating type of character creation in which you can "play yourself," answering questions about your own lifestyle and attributes to generate your character. Naturally, there is a temptation to lie during this process (warning: the game notes the most outrageous ones), but it's still exceedingly clever, and the most original system this side of Ultima IV. The development process is also satisfying: there are various ways to increase your attributes, and lots of quests, battles, and special encounters to increase experience and levels. The "guild" system is a nice touch--I think this might actually be the first CRPG to allow membership in multiple competing guilds, especially based on alignment. And it's satisfying how you can level in both experience and guild memberships, obtaining items, skills, and spells as you do so. Your alignment and guild memberships affect how others treat you, and this is one of the first games to really allow "role-playing" by alignment. My score of 7 for this category has this game tying with Dungeon Master with a high so far.
Some of the game's character development questions.
3. NPC Interaction. There are NPCs in the game--guards, the Oracle, the Archdruid, the Duke, the Archmage, wandering merchants--but conversation is one-way. The ability to intimidate, bribe, or pick their pockets is an interesting addition but not the same thing as having dialog options. Score: 3.
Intimidating a guard.
4. Encounters and Foes. The game is similar to Rogue or NetHack in its wide selection of monsters, each with different strengths and weaknesses. Most of the encounters are random, and levels do respawn when you leave and return. I didn't find any scripted encounters, but the game does offer role-playing choices in regular encounters. There are non-hostile monsters, for instance, and attacking them moves you towards chaos, while attempting to talk to hostile monsters (I think) moves you towards law. The game makes clever references to other fictions and mythologies without being goofy about it. Score: 6. 5. Magic and Combat. Omega does one better than traditional roguelikes by giving you multiple attacks per round and letting you set a "combat sequence" of high, medium, and low slashes, thrusts, lunges, or blocks. It's not as detailed as Might & Magic but it's better than Rogue. The layout of dungeons adds tactics to combat as you try to position yourself in the best locations, and you can try to escape by vaulting or tunneling through walls. Spells are acquired slowly and cast with a "mana" system. This was one thing I didn't understand: my spell points kept draining when I rested, and I have no idea why. Score: 5.
Kibfizma's selection of spells.
6. Equipment. Like other roguelikes, this game excels in its large selection of equipment: weapons, armor, rings, accessories, cloaks, boots, wands, potions, scrolls, food, and other items. The locations of most are randomized, and the + levels and relative costs, plus the changes they make to your hit, damage, defense, armor, and speed scores, makes it easy to weigh one item against another. What I like about Omega in contrast to Rogue or NetHack is that you can pay to identify your items in town, or by spell, instead of having to figure them out through trial-and-error and the occasional rare scroll. I have to give it a high score here: 8. 7. Economy. Simply put: one of the best I've seen. Gold is hard to acquire and easy to spend, just as it should be. Even advanced characters will still find use for gold in buying the condo, using the gym, studying at the library, recharging mana, or just donating to the orphanage. If you really ran out of things to do, you could keep making repeat visits to the brothel (500 gold) for 100 experience points each. Score: 8.
The gym gives you the option to build your attributes for 2000 gold a point.
8. Quests. I never quite got a handle on what the "main quest" was supposed to accomplish, but there are a number of side quests, for guilds, the duke, and the oracle. They're mostly kill-and-fetch endeavors, but still more than most CRPGs of the era offer. The main quest seems to offer several pathways to the end, which is another first. Score: 5. 9. Graphics, Sound, Inputs. This is the game's weakest area. I realize that many roguelike fans find a certain noble purity in ASCII graphics, but I would have enjoyed the game all the more if it had featured real graphics and animation. There is no sound. I found the controls to be less intuitive than some roguelikes, especially as regards the complexity of the inventory system. Score: 1. 10. Gameplay. This is one of the only games of the era to encourage such replayability, both in alignment and in the guilds that the player joins. Again, it allows multiple paths to victory, and it is fairly non-linear. On the negative side are the difficulty (permanent death is a little untenable) the unnecessarily large dungeons, and the whole wilderness/food headache. Even though I enjoyed playing it, it was starting to drag a bit, and I suspect I might have gotten a little tired of it before it was over. Score: 5. The final score of 53 ties it with Starflight and Ultima IV in third place of all the games I've reviewed so far. Only the time factor keeps me from launching into a new game with different guild choices. I still might, after Pool of Radiance. I'm sure I haven't even scratched the surface of what's possible in this game, especially as regards the religious system. I'll do an update if I play again later. Or perhaps some of you who play Omega can share your experiences. In our e-mail exchange, Mr. Brothers notes that he only ever received around $200 from dedicated players. Well, I certainly enjoyed myself enough to increase his earnings by about 12.5%. There's an gift card coming your way, Laurence--thanks for such an innovative and enjoyable game.


  1. I find it an interesting detail that Omega never asks what your character's sex is - it just asks what your character likes to bang. I don't think I've ever seen that before or since.

  2. These posts on Omega were great! And it's noble of you to recognize Mr. Brothers for his trouble all those years ago, with a token of your gratitude ... bugs notwithstanding, I for one am impressed with his accomplishment!

  3. Thank you for the posts on this game, I didn't know much about it before.

  4. Anon, I agree. I'm not sure what impact the answer has on the gameplay, except for perhaps the name of the prostitute you hook up with at the brothel.

    This was a good experience--just the sort of thing I started the blog to uncover.

  5. Great review, I just wonder however if you gave enough weight to the permadeath issue in the Gameplay ranking... Would you have enjoyed the game this much if you would have started over each time you died randomly?

    Looking forward your Pool Of Radiance coverage, I'm steadily playing a 4-5 hours everyday for the last week, and it's quite fun but quite long to advance, mainly due to a sub-optimal interface - resting/curing/rememorizing spells is particularly boring in the long run.

  6. It's not so much about "purity" as it is that ASCII graphics eliminate any need to spend time or money on art, and mean major gameplay changes and additions can be put in place without going back and coming up with new sprites, etc. This frees the roguelike developer, at least in theory, to develop gameplay above all else and make for a much deeper game than otherwise feasible for games that are usually freeware and developed by one or two dedicated souls.

    Also, in the specific context of the genre, the color-symbol-case combination can make it easier to tell what exactly you're facing (once you learn what's what) than sprites that may not differ tremendously at first glance.

  7. That's a good point, Georges, but looking over the score and my criteria, I think I took that into account. Maybe if it was a lot harder to backup the save file, I'd lower the score a bit, but as it is, permadeath is easy enough to overcome.

    Malkav, you make a good point, but when I look at games like MAG or even the 1985 version of Rogue, it seems to me that there are easy ways to transcend the ASCII character set without making things TOO complicated. Even tile-based games like Ultima IV can't be THAT hard to program. Is it more about cross-platform compatibility?

  8. I played nethack with tiles at first, but then I found I got screwed over on scrolls of genocide as I didn't know the monsters symbols. I eventually gave up and used IBM graphics, which allow for solid line drawing and whatnot, and don't actually look that bad. Then I've customized two character sets (different computers I've had used different codepages) to look better. >.> I'm a geek, I know.

  9. Your postings on Omega made me want to take a look around for a Mac version and although I couldn't find anything recent enough to play, I did find this:

    Basically a guy recompiled the latest version as a Windows executable and added the option for tile graphics. I don't know if it'd be against the spirit of the blog or not considering it's the same game compiled a little differently but I know I'm bookmarking it to play during some spare time at work.

  10. The URL is mine, but that's out of date (and I no longer have access to it to change it, sigh). Use instead - the version of Omega is still the same, but if I get round to updating it, only the latter one will change. Anyway, I've mentioned my own build twice now in comments, which is more than enough.

    It's good to see Omega getting some recognition - when I was looking round the Internet a few years back there were very few references to it. The geniuses at Wikipedia even deleted its entry on the grounds of "non-notability".

  11. Those wiki masters are crazy-go-nuts. Sure the omega code-base was not continued and forked like the other roguelikes but it was very influential in pushing the bar for roguelikes.

    You will see its influence in ADOM when you get there, and I think you will really enjoy it. Though there are so many hidden things in ADOM that I don't know how you would figure out on your own with your no spoiler rule. Well when you eventually get there your readers can try to give you the subtle hints you like and see how much of that world you uncover.

    As to roguelikes and ASCII, many now have the option for tiles style grafix and there are some isometric versions of nethack around too. The best I have found for tile support and frankly just a great UI is 'dungeon crawl stone soup' which features tiles, mouse support, and an autoexplore key, that works like run with rules to pick up items, and keep going until something happens to interrupt you.

    As to your personal enjoyment of a key roguelike feature, perma-death, I think you would be able to enjoy it more if you were playing without the pressure of the blog and your list. Then you would be able to take your time and play without every death being a set back that keeps you from a final rating and moving on to the next game. I think we could finally win you over to the roguelike side if you were able to be more laid back about character deaths being a part of life and learning.

    Other I have on thoughts on perma-death are that if the world tracked your accomplishments and changed in a visible way for the next character to see, it would be easier for most people to deal with. I know Dwarf fortress does this but anything besides the fortress mode is not ready for prime time.

    So say you are fighting the incursion of evil fluffy bunnies. Your first character manages to remove them from your the local garden club but dies trying to take down the warren in the hills. Your next character starts with the garden club having been saved by the efforts of the first guy so you get all the benefits of that as you attempt to continue the quest.

  12. Laurence BrothersMay 31, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Thanks for the gift card! I'm happy you enjoyed the game. This is the first time I've thought about omega in many years.

    Re the memory corruption you found in your last playthrough -- of all that myriad bugs I've seen in omega, that's one thing I never had in any of my own builds, so I feel free to blame it on some subsequent developer or porter.... Possibly it was always there in Unix but just expresses itself in DOS.

    Re graphics and sound. Remember at the time I built this game, there was a grand total of 0 free Unix games with graphics or sound. Sure, you could play dogfight on a SGI (hacked by a dorm-mate in school to add the combat features to their original flight simulator!), but it wouldn't work on a DEC or Sun.... I actually implemented a tile-based experimental version at one point, but I didn't have any good icon creation tools so it actually looked worse than character graphics....

    -Laurence Brothers

  13. Laurence BrothersMay 31, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    PS.... ADOM is by far my favorite roguelike, followed by urogue (the only one more buggy than omega; good luck porting it anywhere, it's that bad) and zangband. There are some more recent and even more complex ones than ADOM, but none that I've liked better. I even contributed a few monster descriptions at one point.

  14. Ancient Domains of Mystery would be on my list of "if you liked Omega, try..." but I didn't think it'd be the favorite of the author of Omega himself! Anyway, good choice.

    I also like Incursion and Dungeon Crawl. Speaking of graphics, Dungeon Crawl looks fantastic with graphics because the original ASCII map isn't a whole-rectangular-screen deal, but a square-on-left-hand-of-screen. I've never been thrilled about any graphical conversion (including the 4 or so for Nethack) where the original was a whole-screen map; it just looks too awkward.

  15. Given the number of us who like roguelikes do you guys want to set up some sort of 'lets play' project where we all pick a roguelike each week and play it then compare notes? So week 1 could be nethack, week 2 ADOM, and so on?

  16. A lot of classic roguelikes used ASCII graphics because they were developed on Unix servers and played on remote terminals (or PCs running terminal emulator software).

    I run a headless Ubuntu Linux machine at home, and I've installed a few roguelikes on it that I play occasionally via a PuTTY connection from my Windows machines.

    I didn't get around to posting in response to the question of what our favorite roguelikes are, so I'll do it here:

    I cut my teeth on UMoria, and it stuck with me enough that I eventually created the latest (though now ancient) official PC port of UMoria back in community college, just after learning C. My name is also associated with a successful project to contact all the original authors and contributors to get the source code explicitly (re)licensed to GPL, although I mostly just cheered from the sidelines.

    I never got into Moria's more notable descendants such as Angband, I think because I felt like it would be moving on to something grander before fully tackling the original (I've never managed to beat a roguelike despite playing many of them!).

    I've always wanted to like ADOM, but never got any traction on it. Same with Larn, Nethack, and a few others.

    I've spent a TON of time playing POWDER over the years, mostly on GBA. It's not the deepest or most complex roguelike around, but it's by far the best handheld console roguelike adaption I've seen. I'm currently sidetracked from re-porting the GP2X Wiz version in a way that will allow the author to merge it into the official codebase.

    I've also recently had some fun playing modern, graphical roguelikes such as Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup and TOME, and a ton of roguelike-esque games like Dwarf Fortress and Terraria.

  17. One other aspect of ASCII graphics I haven't seen mentioned yet is how it allows a larger amount of real estate per screen than normal graphics. Tile graphic sprites are rarely as small as plain text characters, so there's a kind of vastness of the navigable playing area per screen that ASCII games can achieve that I enjoy, in roguelikes and in game engines like ZZT.

    That being said, one of my favorite roguelikes is UnReal World (the recent, continually-updated version, not the original kill-ya-quick version) which has some decent tile graphics - I'd be really curious to know the CRPGAddict's take on it, but it will probably be 2024 before the blog reaches the modern version of it. :)

    Also, for anyone on OS X, David Kinder's Windows executable of Omega seems to run fine under Wine.

  18. David, thanks a million for responding. What year did you last update the file? I can use that as an excuse to re-add the newer version to my list and play it again.

    Laurence, I appreciate you popping by and commenting. I should mention that my ratings are intended to rank games against each other no matter what their era. I don't handicap games based on how good they were "for the time." This sounds like it's unfair to older games, but what I hope it does is allow readers to fairly evaluate great older games against mediocre newer ones. If I give Omega a 53 and Might & Magic VIII a 45, it means I honestly enjoyed Omega more, even though it predates MM8 by 15 years. I hope that makes sense.

    I've been testing all the games you all mention to see if they're on my master list. ADOM and Moria=Yes. I don't have one called Zangband, but I do have one called Angband. Dungeon Crawl=Yes. Incursion and Urogue aren't in the MobyGames directory, so I'll have to figure it out.

  19. I've heard good things about ZAngband, you might want to add that one to your list if you enjoy Angband.

    This site might help you out with dating, though I don't expect you will want to play all of them (You'd have to backtrack for many of them).

    I'd say you want to add:
    Angband, Moria (Backtrack, sorry), Castle of the Winds (Bias :D The one and only native Windows 3.1 rogulike I think though), Angband, Ancient Domains of Mystery, Linley's Dungeon Crawl, "Doom, the Roguelike" (Started a 'coffeebreak roguelike craze among fans of the genre), Stone Soup, Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress (One of the most insane games ever made, in so many different ways. The only game with an interface too complex for me, that I know of at least. I use emacs and I think that thing is arcane. On the other hand, also amazing). Those are all the big ones I've heard of from reading the roguelike wiki and blogs and whatnot, but I'm sure some other readers will know more then I.

    The only thing from the action rpg list that I have heard of that won't be on your list is Transcendence, though I'm debating if it is an RPG, so feel free to ignore it. Might be worth 6 hours though. Did you ever play Elite on the C64, Mac, Amiga, anything? If you liked that then give it its 6 hours when you get to it in 10 years or so.

    I am wondering though: Does Pokemon really count as an RPG? Well, never coming out for PC so it doesn't matter.

    Right, I was finding dates for these games: However the roguelike wiki is down right now, so that will have to wait.

  20. ARG, my link didn't appear:

    Are you filtering links out or somesuch?

  21. CRPG: THe last build of Windows-Omega-with-tiles I did was in 2008 (Hmmm, more recently than I remembered...) It was based on Omega 0.80.2, my copy of which has file dates up to 1999, which I suppose might also be a justifiable date. Something to look forward to for the distant future :-)

  22. Sorry, Canageek--I don't filter out links deliberately, but Blogger has some weird rules about that. I looked at Wikipedia's list of CRPGs but not its chronology of roguelikes. It appears that most of these are in the MobyGames database as CRPGs, but not all. list gets longer.

    David, thanks for the info. It's re-added to 1999 with a note to check back here for the reason.

  23. Sorry about that, many of them don't look to be ported to DOS at least. Also some of those are pretty obscure: I mean, if you wanted you could all all the 100+ games from the roguelike wiki (Don't, most of them suck and are half-finished).

  24. Thanks for the great Omega coverage! I didn't know that much about it. I only tried it once or twice a long time ago and couldn't get far. I have a much better impression about it now, and it sounds really groundbreaking. Many good comments too, and from the original author as well - great stuff!


  25. It's amazing how a game with ASCII based graphics can get such a high score, it almost makes me wanna try to make a rpg myself. But then I remember how hard it can be, I once tried to write a creative fiction story about my favorite subject, ehum, anyway I've tried about 10 times and it still doesn't please the people over at the forum where I sometimes post my stories. So I suppose making a rpg is hard, but I wish I knew how. The first "rpg" that I ever played was a "choose your own story" book where you had to choose and then jump to the corresponding page, it was about a race between a rabbit and a turtle. Anyway such a book grows exponentially in size, so I'm happy we now have computers.

    One interesting thing about more detailed graphics is that it sometimes allows for subtle clues for the gameplay, check out the first 10 seconds of this youtube clip:
    On the wall to the left you can see a map, it's actually a dungeon map of the current dungeon he's in! How about that, a map that's actually in the game! And it's subtle too, the first few times I didn't notice it, but then I looked closely at it and realized that it's actually a map of the dungeon, with all the rooms and such, somehow it gives the game more realism.

  26. Interesting discoveries playing this week...

    1. At level 1 you can break into the castle in Rampart and steal everything. Remove all gear, climb through the hedge north of the castle, wade into the moat swim to the west end. Search and you'll find a series of secret doors. There is a time locked vault. Cracking it will set off the alarm. Wait till 11PM and it will open for you. Get inside and search for treasure and traps. I found boots of heroism (Speed 5.0 +30 hit/dam) which made me more powerful in a second than any other character I had ever played. Found a teleportation trap component which I used to make a teleportation trap to get out without swimming.

    2. Found a rod of apporation. Used this to go into the graveyard and apport items out from under the dangerous but non-aggressive liches. Found a cloak of skill (+30 to hit)

    3. Sacrificing items worth around 300gp will get you a chance to bless an item. Also uncurses everything you're wearing.

    4. Casting return deep in a dungeon teleports you back to level 1 (so you can get in and out easily).

    5. Seven League Boots allow you to walk around the outside world with little to no time passing (or need for food).

    6. Offering a bag of unmilled grain to a horse will befriend him and get you a mount.

    7. A potion of augmentation will raise 1 stat by 1. If you bless it first (easy with a sacrifice at the temple) and it will raise ALL stats by 1.

    8. There appears to be a bug in the 'shadowform' spell in my version (0.80.2) where you become immune to weapons/poison while the spell is in effect but it does not go away when the spell wears off making you forever immune to non-magical attacks.

    9. For anyone on OS X you should be using HomeBrew package manager anyway ( - If you are just type 'brew install omega' in a terminal to install it - then 'omega' to run it.

  27. Addict, There is an interesting dilemma regarding roguelikes as part of your project. Most roguelikes are a continually developed game and as such you can get a very different game after a few versions. For example the first version I remember playing of ADOM did not have talents, and my favorite roguelike to play drunk, dungeon crawl stone soup, has over just the last couple years of development introduced enough changes in the dungeon and characters to play as three different games. So should you default to the latest version of these rogeulikes or should you play the version of the year it came out like you have been doing so far?

    I know you are planning to dip back into nethack every major release or so but how do you determine if things have changed enough to justify playing it as a new game, without reading spoilers?

    One way you could handle it is to solicit advice from your readers as to what constitutes a different enough version.

    Also do you have your list published anywhere? If so we could help you with chronology, but then again the fear of having too much input may be why you have not posted the list.

  28. UbAh: Addict has a policy on this actually, were he plays the first version and at least the most recent one. It is outlined in one of his posts on rogue if you look back in his archive.

  29. Dude, that's a good point. Graphics aren't necessarily just pretty--in modern games, they become an important gameplay element, helping us distinguish friends from foes, find clues, locate hidden objects, and so on.

    O Dog: Wow. I really missed a lot. I need to play it again sooner. I couldn't figure out what sacrificing items did, and I appreciate the explanation.

    I wish I could think of a good way to have readers contribute their own play notes as articles, but without intermingling them with mine. I'll work on it.

    UbAh: you raise an important question, and the previous approach that I designed for NetHack probably won't work for all roguelikes. I think I'll go with your suggestion: solicit advice from readers about when a version becomes different enough to constitute a fundamentally different game. That means I need to finish putting togehter my master list (I've been mostly doing it year by year rather than all at once).

  30. Re: other peoples experiences: You could collect the notes into a bonus post at the end of the game, that should make it easy enough.
    If you ever print a book those could make some great sidebars.

    Also: I don't think you'd have to finish the list: Just ask the readers when you reach the first version of each roguelike.

  31. Y'all keep encouraging me to write a book, but I honestly can't see an angle on such a project that wouldn't simply duplicate either a) my blog, or b) Barton's book.

    For god's sake, I hope you've gone home.

  32. No no, I've just been spending a lot of time learning LaTeX, so I'm thinking of layout a lot. Yes, I went home at about 6:30 PT, only stayed an extra hour or so as I was kinda into the work I was doing- polishing a report that I'm very eager to have done, and finally feels like it is coming together.
    I do think putting this into a print form when it has a few hundred pages of posts might be a good idea though: Blogs have a habit of disappearing as service providers go under, hackers, and whatnot, and I think you are one of the very few people chronicling a lot of this stuff. Sure, it isn't from an academic perspective, but it still feels like something that should be preserved for future generations.

  33. Holy smokes, I beat Omega. Quick rundown. I was crazy lucky and (i admit) resorted to reading the source code to figure out how to solve the puzzle at the end.

    New character. Join Area (it gives you +1 attacks yeah!), Fight until I have 500 AU to join the thieves guild. Break into the Dukes castle and loot it. (boots of heroism!). Sell loot to pay tuition to join the College of the Magi. Become lay devotee of Hecate.

    Heading out to the Goblin cave. On first step have a random encounter whos text I missed but I ended up with an Artifact, the Mysterious Orb. I identify it as an Earth Orb. I activate it and learn 'disintegrate', become immune to acid, and gain 10,000xp and jump to level 10. Wow what luck!

    Well I have enough Health now to survive godsfire so I bash the altars of all the other gods and get 1000xp each. Now all the guilds are telling me to get the Judicators Badge (thieves), get the heart of the Eater of Magic (college), and the holy symbol of Athena (Hecate). Wow! I've been playing for 30 minutes! I now can cast Blessing and Enchantment and quickly make my gear awesome. My number one bottleneck now is having to pay 1000 AU to recharge my mana.

    I enter the Arena with my newfound spells and loot. Die a few times but manage to get all the way to the Jutan. I take all the dead bodies to the alchemist and he can transform a few. The Jabberwoke turns into a blessed +5 Vorpal Sword that insta kills damn near anything. Woah. Head back and beat the Area and become Champion.

  34. Head to the goblin caves (finally), loot it and kill the King with no problems. Return his head to the duke. Find a rod of Summoning. I bless it and use it. A Great Wyrm appears (the boss at the bottom of the sewers) and I kill him and get the Defender and a pair of Seven League Boots and complete quest 2 without setting foot in there. Nice. I wonder if the Wyrm always drops the boots? Now I need to leave the city and these boots make overland travel a breeze.

    I enchant an item too much. It explodes and hits a guard. They attack me. I kill them all but then the LawBringer appears and re-animates them. I flee town.

    Traveling I find the ArchDruid. A keep/dungeon which I promptly exit b/c it looks deep and complex. I find the temple of Odin and kill all the priests and Angels. I find a mountain top and kill the LawBringer and get his crown. Upon return to Rampart I can kill all the Guards without the LawBringer brining them back to life and become the Lord of Chaos.

    I find the temple of Athena and kill her high Priest. Become the high priests of Hecate. Get a holy symbol artifact that I can activate over and over to restore mana. Wow!

    Find a small island and kill the Eater of Magic. Become the head Arch-mage. Sporting 450 mana at this point and a 38 Power.

    Find the temple of Destiny. Its on an island and you seem to get a once in a lifetime free move through the ocean of chaos. I use it and enter the island. Getting murdered by the priests in there. There's an entrance to the abyss. That's new. On a whim I vault into it and get a cool ascii art Omega symbol plus a story to read. Am promptly presented with a confusing set of challenges and die.

    Read source code. Ok, here's the deal. Entering the portal does 1-200 damage. You need to survive that first.

    Next you lose all your equipment... you are totally naked.

    You need to step into 4 elemental baths and survive. Each does 15-30 damage to your strength, con, int and pow. I couldn't survive this and had to reload and grind for treasure for 2 hours to pay for a Gym Membership to get Str/Con up above 25.

    The final task is to jump into the void naked but only after hurling an object into it first to make it a little less void like I guess. But I have no objects!

    Death appears and threatens me. I blast him with a spell. He dies and stands back up and summons a new Scythe. I cast apport to bring his first weapon from under his feet to my hand. Throw it into the void and jump after it.

    Boom. Adept.

    Back at the temple of destiny naked. Quit game. Yes. I win.

    Wow. This game has been dogging me since high school. Can't believe I finally beat it. In one sitting in one day... Very ... happy...

  35. O Dog, save backup or not? I am not degrading your win I am just curious for my self as when I played Omega as a kid I always save scummed. It is only in my adult years with later roguelikes that I let my guys die and start over.

  36. O Dog: I'm in awe. Congratulations. I didn't cover a fraction of what the game offered, did I?

    This is the kind of thing I love:

    "I enchant an item too much. It explodes and hits a guard. They attack me. I kill them all but then the LawBringer appears and re-animates them. I flee town."

    I never have so much fun in a game as when something unexpected happens, and I roll with it instead of reloading.

  37. UbAh,

    Not sure Omega is even playable without save-scumming. I probably died / reloaded 200 times in the description above. I'm all for permadeath if the game is fair. Angband is a wonderful example of this...

  38. ODog: I understand and that is why I wanted to know for sure. If you had won without restoring saves it would have been that much more impressive so I asked just to know.

  39. The roguelike wiki is backup: It lists the major historical roguelikes:

    Rogue | Hack | Moria | Larn | Omega
    And current major ones:
    ADOM | Angband | Crawl | NetHack | ToME

    They seem to have pretty detailed pages:

  40. Thanks. When I get a chance, I'll go through the "Stable Games" list and make sure I have some representation.

  41. It's a stretch, but all of the above discussion made me want to share this:
    The New York Times did a 6 page piece (!!!) on the creators of Dwarf Fortress, which was mentioned a few times in the comments above. Dwarf Fortress is less of a roguelike and more of a city-building game descended from roguelikes (and with certain obviously roguelike features). At the least, give the story a read. It's quite interesting. I also suggest looking into Boatmurdered, which is a shared game of Dwarf Fortress that has been fleshed out. It gives a sense for how crazy this game is.

  42. Nice write up! This was a good series of articles.

    The other maximalist (/kitchen sink) roguelike is Elona, which I don't see on your games list. I hope you give it consideration, because it's very much following in the footsteps of Omega. I gave it a dozen hours a couple of years back and came away feeling I'd barely scratched the surface.

    Only problem I can see you having with it is the Japanese aesthetic but the trade off for having actual (and fairly servicable) graphics as opposed to ascii might be considered a net gain. There's also the goofy pan-media beasiary that is the bane of the genre, but cranked up to a million. Bioshock's Big Daddies and Alien's, uh, Aliens providing two of many 'wtf?' moments.. but to its credit, they behaved just in the media they were borrowed from.

    1. *just like in the media they were borrowed from.

  43. Just having read through these posts for the first time, I have to wonder; were you ever able to locate a copy of the game without the cascading bugs? And if so, were you able to win?

    1. I did not. I decided to wait until I got to the next version, which was released in 1999. Back in 2011, when I made that decision, I had no idea I'd still be in 1993 10 years later.

  44. The reason you lost mana while resting is because you had a ring of regeneration. It converts mana into hp regen.

    1. Well, THAT mystery took a long time to solve. But thanks!

  45. Another game I played the heck out of growing up, b/c it was free off BBS'. (Again, the concept of being able to download a whole game from the comfort of your home was some futuristic stuff back then. We take it for granted today. But, I think back.. My brother got into Ham Radios, and a group he joined did a lot of stuff through BBS. So, he bought a modem for our old 8088 XT. A blazingly fast 2800 baud modem. That was like basically bolting on a library, game store, etc to your house, b/c you could just go onto BBS' and find docs, games, etc to download over the phone! I feel we completely take for granted being able to just hop on the net or a game/book/etc service and just download anything we want on-demand. It's so common place. But, back then... having a modem on your computer and knowing which BBS' to dial-up to check for content was mind-blowing. I digress.) I remember Omega specifically, because I thought it would just be another Rogue variant. I had played Moria, Angband, and a bunch of other knock-off Rogues. So, I was just expecting that. Then you start, you have a city to explore, guilds to join (and you can join many instead of just one.. but some guilds don't like each other. EG: joining a God I think. So, there were still choices.) I remember the game felt super-abusive early on. Just walking through the bushes of the hedge-maze "you got eaten by a sentient plant" or some-such. Swim in the water "you drown". You had to feel the game out to see what you could and couldn't do. Starting with the Gladiators Guild was a good bet to gain some coin and levels. You eventually learn that Seven League Boots are your friend for country-side travel letting you walk across it with less food consumption. There was a Dragon Cave to the East I think. Once you make it there, you can cheese the game by looting the place as long as you stay out of range of the dragon. The dragon camps the left-side of the cave, so you could loot the right side safely. Easy way to get high-level gear. My game version had the option for odd weapons turned on, so I found Lightsabers +X and other weird stuff. Once dragon cave was looted, you could cheese through the rest of the game and gain levels. The ending(s) were obtuse. You could do a straight-forward approach and go kill one of the heads of the alignment factions (EG: kill the Grand Druid to get rid of neutrality, and there were Lawful and Evil alternate supreme enemies, too.). But, the real ending was supposed to be about doing something to go transcend. I never could figure out how to do that. Unlike Rogue and other Rogue-likes, Omega, once you got used to it, was very playable and do'able. So, it stood out as a "real" game to me.


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