Roguelikes? More like BAM-Likes!

By: Derek Yu

On: January 28th, 2008

BAM and Rogue

History doesn’t always give credit where credit is due, whether by misinformation, opportunism, or just plain ol’ chance. Case in point: Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari, is often recognized as the “Father of Video Games,” when, at the very least, the honor should be shared by Ralph Baer, the creator of PONG. The battle for that claim of “FRIST! (LOL)” is often fierce, and, when it comes to internet comments, always sad. Many times, when the deserving party finally receives their credit, it’s too little, too late.

Rogue is a great game, and Roguelikes will probably always be called Roguelikes, but we should at least acknowledge Don D. Worth and his little dungeon crawl, Beneath Apple Manor, which predates Rogue by two years, and has all the game mechanics that are associated with modern RL’s: turn-based movement, randomized dungeons, and perma-death (of sorts – the game lets you re-use the stats of deceased characters, but the stats decline with each use). The game also features rudimentary shops, which you encounter between dungeons, a feature that is not present in Rogue.

BAM was originally released on the Apple II, but you can download the special edition of the game (which runs on PCs) at Don’s site (or click here). And head over to Psittacine Labs for more information about the game, including some words from Don in the comments.

Thanks, Cycle, via this thread! And, in the spirit of the post, I should acknowledge that Cycle also coined the term “BAM-Likes” (unless someone else did first).

  • Voodoo Master

    BAM looks pretty interesting, actually, although from the screenshot up there it doesn’t seem to have text graphics – which is a rather large part of the “roguelike” term. Of course, there are plenty of roguelikes with graphics.

    I ought to read up some more on this; roguelike history have always intrigued me.

    Oh, and FRIST POST (LOL)!

  • dustin

    I’m afraid pong got owned by a few decades

  • awesty

    The link to Don’s site is broken.

  • Lim-Dul

    Well – OXO isn’t too similar to Pong but even so Pong was owned by this:

    I would love to play this game – looks like fun and surely better than Pong. :-D

  • Lim-Dul

    Now whaddyaknow?

    You CAN play it right here:

    Nice “ball” physics. :-D
    But it’s only fun in multiplayer, I guess.

  • Derek

    Thanks, awesty. Fixed.

  • PHeMoX

    Tennis for Two doesn’t actually has a goal, you can’t score points, unless you count them yourself. I think that’s why it’s not regarded as *the* first computer game. Not that I agree with that, because it clearly has a lot of game-ness to the interaction involved.

  • zomgzomgzomg

    From Don D.’s site:
    “Our role-playing has evolved to eliminate all rules and dice. If we need a random outcome, we just do whatever would provide the “most interesting” result.”

    So does BAM employ these mechanics?

  • Eclipse

    Pong was the first commercial game, not the first videogame

  • Eclipse

    or better, Pong was the first commercial videogame that knows popularity, the first commercial arcade machine was Computer Space i think, launched a year earlier Pong.
    Tennis for Two and Space War weren’t arcade machines but only funny experiments with an oscilloscope the first and a PDP1 the second

  • Cycle

    Woo, recognition! Credit should really go to the author of the original article, or I’d never have known about this game. I totally coined BAM-Like, though.

    I actually passed word of this onto John H, the fellow who writes about Rougelikes at GameSetWatch. We should be seeing an article from him about the whole thing eventually, so keep an eye open! I’m CERTAIN he’ll have interesting things to say!

  • Slash


    All of my life, I have lived inside a lie.

  • BeamSplashX

    We forgive you, Slash.

    But you must change all references to Rogue into BAM references. Meaning you need a new domain. And you must also treat all people who don’t know what a BAML is like idiots if they say “Don’t you mean RL?” YOU HAVE THE POWER.

  • PHeMoX

    Lol! Start a revolution for the sake of justice, you know it’s the right thing to do. ;) (Just kidding)

  • skaldicpoet9

    My whole life has been shattered.

    damn you BAM.

  • John H.

    Yep, haven’t had the chance to try the new game yet but I’ll see about a column on it when I do.

  • John H.

    (Or rather, the old game. Can you tell I’m in a hurry? Gah.)

  • Derek

    @Slash: Temple of the BAM-Like, aka BAM Temple!

  • dustin

    I think BAM really kicked it up a notch

  • Tiger Walts

    The first Video Game really depends on how you define the term ‘Video Game’

    OXO’s output was displayed on a matrix and print-out, not a video screen. Tennis for Two is displayed on a video screen (oscilloscope) but the hardware it’s running on isn’t a computer in the strictest sense. It relies on a circuit of relays and capacitors to simulate the ball physics.

    Spacewar! however, ran on a computer and output to a video screen. It also pre-dates Pong. It’s also the first game to have a joystick peripheral made for it.