The term "roguelike" seems to mean "anything procedurally generated and top down" nowadays (which is still a fair comparison.) Strikes me the term used to mean descended from rogue, or very primitive looking like Rogue (more to point.. something that 'felt' more or less Rogue .. like how Angband is very obviously a Rogue-styled game, despite its separate lineage. Or Nethack.) I can certainly see the similarities, but just seems to me lately.. every other game this year is a Roguelike
That aside.. I like what they're doing with the flashlight (as someone working on somethign vaguely roguelike, thats nifty)
What you write, skeezix, is spinning in my mind as well every time I read about the term lately.
One of the most doubtful (at first) occasions to me was with the game "FTL". My thought was: "What? Rogue-like? That's a sort of strategic space-combat, but not a rogue-like". But after a while with some effort I was able to see some parallels, which seem to be enough for more and more developers to use the term:
- the "dungeon" is created randomly. In FTL that's the map with the sectors as well as each sector with it's spots you can travel to.
- you need to build up a character (or ship) with items that appear randomly to some extend too. because of this you have to plan your build to some extend on what you are given and not what you wanted to do before starting the game
- there is often (but not always) a tight time-schedule that pushes you forward. at least in Brogue (which of course really is a rogue-like) and FTL there is, but there are also rogue-like games which do not come with that mechanism, but in general the games are most of the time not lasting that long.
- the game is pretty hard and sometimes maybe even unfair. dieing (and starting all over) is supposed to happen frequently. (which I sometimes see as lame excuse for a bad game-balancing caused by the randomness )
- you can save a game, but once you do the game will quit. And if you load the game, the savegame will be deleted.
I think the term is becoming overused and because of that getting sort of blurry. Just like the term "RPG". "role-playing-game" is a pretty unprecise description anyway. I mean ... even "Pac-man" or any football-manager-game is a game where you take a role of something or someone. Well, ok. That's a not so serious comparison.
I'm not even sure if I would call DoomRL a rogue-like although it's closer to rogue than FTL.