Though the roguelikes Beneath Apple Manor and Sword of Fargoal predate it, the 1980 game Rogue is considered the forerunner and the namesake of the genre, with derivative games mirroring Rogues character- or sprite-based graphics.
These games were popularized among college students and computer programmers of the 1980s and 1990s, leading to a large number of variants but adhering to these common gameplay elements, often titled the "Berlin Interpretation".
These games typically included one or two text lines presenting the player's current status at the bottom of the screen, and text-based menu screens to manage inventory, statistics, and other details.
The player's character was nearly always represented by the could indicate a green dragon that would shoot acid.
More recently, with more powerful home computers and gaming systems, new variations of roguelikes incorporating other gameplay genres, thematic elements and graphical styles have become popular, typically retaining the notion of procedural generation and permanent death of the player-character.
Indie games like Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, Spelunky, The Binding of Isaac, FTL: Faster Than Light, and Rogue Legacy helped to establish the use of roguelike elements in other genres.
Other games, like Diablo and Un Real World, key titles in the action role-playing and the survival game genres respectively, took inspiration from roguelikes.Dungeons tend to be connected by stairs; lower dungeon levels generally are more difficult than higher ones, so that an underdeveloped character will have difficulty progressing too fast.Dungeon levels and the population of monsters and treasure within them are generated randomly using procedural generation, so no game is the same on subsequent playthroughs.Early roguelikes were developed to be played on text-based user interfaces, commonly UNIX-based computer mainframes and terminals used at colleges and universities before transitioning to personal computers.Games used a mix of ASCII or ANSI characters to represent elements of the dungeon levels, creatures, and items on the level.Defeating monsters earns the character experience points, and after earning enough points, the character will gain an experience level, improving their hit points, magic capability, and other attributes. The character dies if they lose all their hit points.As most roguelikes feature the concept of permadeath, this represents the end of the game, and the player will need to restart the game with a newly made character.As computers offered more advanced user interfaces, such as windows and point-and-click menus, many traditional roguelikes were modified to include support for having multiple windows.This was useful to not only show the character-based dungeon, but details on the character's inventory, the monster they were in battle with, and other status messages, in separate windows.Players would use the keyboard, using one keypress to enter a command.With modern computer systems, users developed alternate means of displaying the game, such as graphical tilesets and Isometric-based graphical front ends, as well as interfaces that took advantage of keyboard and mouse UI controls.