Monday, 1 September 2008

Roguelike Thesaurus

There's a thread discussing adjective lists for monsters at on at the moment, which has prompted me to suggest a project that the denizens of rgrd, and readers of this blog, could contribute to.

The problem: roguelikes need lots of lists of words - a thesaurus if you will - of common fantasy materials, in order to populate the worlds with believeable yet randomly generated items. These lists could be used to create place names and people names, much in the way Dwarf Fortress does, as well as different item types (birch staffs, bamboo staffs etc).

And unfortunately, nothing of the sort exists that is not encumbered by intellectual property rights. You can see this by searching the common open source thesauri for the term 'obsidian' - a nice criteria test - and see that no results are returned. Roget's Thesaurus, versions of which are available in the public domain, also fails this test.

Obviously, the roguelike thesaurus doesn't just have to include fantasy tropes, but this is probably the best place to start.

These lists need to be as unencumbered as possible: ideally in the public domain (which allows immediate fork into GPL and BSD style licenses). They would greatly assist anyone who started out writing a roguelike.

Places to start looking for stuff:

  • Angband and variants have a large list of material types released under the Moria / Angband license and the GPL. Check out the lists in the flavours.txt file.
  • Dwarf Fortress has various lists. I'll let someone contact Tarn about their use and/or permissions restrictions.
  • Any other suggetions?

Decisions to make:
  • How should this information be structured? I suggest a thesaurus as probably the best approach.
  • Where should this resource be hosted?(RogueBasin, of course)
  • Is it worth trying to do at all?


Ben said...

Better than a thesaurus would be to use data tags, much like tagged blog posts. Obsidian might be material, stone, evil, whereas alabaster might be material stone good. That way, you could make a random elf building as a [stone,good] [tower,good], and a random orc building as a [stone,evil] [fortress,evil]. No elf wants to live in the Obsidian Bastion, they want to live in the Alabaster Spire. Of course, in cases when a tag doesn't matter, it can be omitted, like a random [stone] [trinket] found in a treasure pile.

Soyweiser said...

Yeah but implementing such a system would benefit from a Thesaurus. Your system would be great if you have a Thesaurus, and add these data tags later. Now there is nothing.

Perhaps the best way to start is just to make a page on RogueBasin in which there is a large list of different types of stuff?

The thesaurus implementation could be added later.

Jotaf said...

Agreed, I think that's a good idea, and that would get the ball rolling. Don't forget to post it on RGRD ;)