Failure rates of Roguelike Games

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Jeff Lait

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Jul 1, 2009, 9:29:02 PM7/1/09
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It is now time for my sixth annual analysis of roguelike game
development. I shall first present some dubious statistics and then
you shall complain that they don't accurately reflect roguelike
development.

To find the previous four studies, search for Failure inside this
newsgroup.

The data for this comes from:
http://thelist.roguelikedevelopment.org/
which I have been theoretically maintaining.

Much thanks to Slash's Temple of the Roguelike for keeping up to date
with roguelike releases so I can update in swift time.

I have decided for this year that roguelike pages that go to direct
downloads or dead pages when I first try to view them are not
recorded. This cut the number of 7DRLs down this year. People are
encouraged to use Roguebasin if they want a permament reference page
for their 7DRL. I decided this after the 1kbrls, so they mostly made
it in these numbers.

First, the meaningless bargraph.

1 #
1 # #
1 # #
1 # # #
1 # # #
1 # # #
1 # # #
1 # # # #
1 # # # # #
1 # ## # ## #
1 #### # ## # #
1 ###### ## ## ## #
1 ####### # ## ### ## #
1 ####### # ####### # # ### #
1 ################## # # ### # # ##
1 ################## # ## ######### ## ##
1 #################### ### ######### ## ###
1 000000000111111111122222222223333333333444>+72
1 123456789012345678901234567890123456789012>

This tracks the number of roguelikes by last release date. The first
column has a # for every roguelike released in the last month. I have
omitted the last column which would have all the roguelikes over 42
months old or without known release dates. There are now 72 such
roguelikes being tracked.

The peaks at 4, 16-17, 28, and 40 month marks are due to the 7DRL
challenges. The peak on the 11th month is due to the 1KBRL challenge.

Next, we will look at the cumulative totals for the last year.

Numbers: (July, 2009)
Month # Total Percent
1 6 6 2%
2 16 22 8%
3 7 29 11%
4 17 46 18%
5 8 54 21%
6 6 60 23%
7 5 65 25%
8 3 68 26%
9 5 73 28%
10 3 76 29%
11 14 90 34%
12 6 96 37%
Rest 166 262 100%


Copying from the last five year's reports:

Numbers: (July, 2008)
Month # Total Percent
1 11 11 6%
2 5 16 8%
3 6 22 11%
4 12 34 17%
5 14 48 24%
6 6 54 27%
7 1 55 28%
8 5 60 30%
9 2 62 31%
10 2 64 32%
11 4 68 35%
12 2 70 36%
Rest 127 197 100%

Numbers: (July, 2007)
Month # Total Percent
1 10 10 6%
2 6 16 10%
3 9 25 15%
4 11 36 22%
5 9 45 28%
6 5 50 31%
7 5 55 34%
8 3 58 36%
9 3 61 37%
10 2 63 39%
11 1 64 39%
12 2 66 40%
Rest 97 163 100%

Numbers: (July, 2006)
Month # Total Percent
1 9 9 7%
2 3 12 9%
3 3 15 12%
4 11 26 20%
5 5 31 24%
6 1 32 25%
7 2 34 26%
8 3 37 29%
9 1 38 29%
10 3 41 32%
11 4 45 35%
12 2 47 36%
Rest 81 128 100%

Numbers: (July, 2005)
Month # Total Percent
1 15 15 15%
2 3 18 17%
3 10 28 27%
4 12 40 39%
5 2 42 42%
6 1 43 42%
7 5 48 47%
8 2 50 49%
9 3 53 51%
10 2 55 53%
11 3 58 56%
12 2 60 58%
Rest 43 103 100%

Numbers: (July, 2004)
Month # Total Percent
1 6 6 10%
2 5 11 19%
3 2 13 22%
4 3 16 27%
5 0 16 27%
6 0 16 27%
7 4 20 34%
8 0 20 34%
9 0 20 34%
10 1 21 36%
11 2 23 39%
12 2 25 42%
Rest 24 59 100%

The increasingly meaningless Percent Actively Developing Roguelike has
maintained its position despite what would seem an inevitable trend to
zero. This year the 37% of tracked roguelikes were updated in the
last year, up from last year, despite an increasing number of 7DRLs in
the list.

More interesting is the absolute number of touched roguelikes. 2006
seems to have been an anamoly as we've continued to see growth in this
area with 96 roguelikes updated in the last year.

This chart shows the number roguelikes touched in the last 6 months,
12 months, and the percentage the twelfth month number comprises of
the total number of roguelikes being tracked.

I have added a new column this year for Old. These are roguelikes
that have been tracked for at least one year and have been touched in
the last year. The number is simply the 12 month total minus the new
listing number. This hopefully discounts the coffee-break effect of
the myriad 7DRLs and lets us see how many "real" roguelikes are
currently being updated per year.

Year 6 12 % Total New Old
2004 16 25 27% 59 - -
2005 43 60 42% 103 +44 16
2006 32 47 36% 128 +25 22
2007 50 66 40% 163 +35 31
2008 54 70 36% 197 +34 36
2009 60 96 37% 262 +65 31


So where does six years of data put us? We are doing very well for
roguelike creation - five new tracked roguelikes per month, a new
peak. The new Old column, however, I think shows where some of the
sense of stasis in the genre comes from. The early increases may be
due to sampling effects as existing roguelikes were largely added to
the list. But for the last three years we've seen a balance at about
30 roguelikes being actively worked on.
--
Jeff Lait
(POWDER: http://www.zincland.com/powder)

Auric__

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Jul 2, 2009, 11:19:48 AM7/2/09
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On Thu, 02 Jul 2009 01:29:02 GMT, Jeff Lait wrote:

> It is now time for my sixth annual analysis of roguelike game
> development. I shall first present some dubious statistics and then
> you shall complain that they don't accurately reflect roguelike
> development.

Do you keep track of vaporware? (Games that are announced (or at least
mentioned as being in development) but *never* release anything.)

--
Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.
-- Albert Einstein

Jeff Lait

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Jul 2, 2009, 12:46:34 PM7/2/09
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On Jul 2, 11:19 am, "Auric__" <not.my.r...@email.address> wrote:
> On Thu, 02 Jul 2009 01:29:02 GMT, Jeff Lait wrote:
> > It is now time for my sixth annual analysis of roguelike game
> > development.  I shall first present some dubious statistics and then
> > you shall complain that they don't accurately reflect roguelike
> > development.
>
> Do you keep track of vaporware? (Games that are announced (or at least
> mentioned as being in development) but *never* release anything.)

Nope. I only track things that have at least one release of a
downloadable version of the game.

Matthew Allen

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Jul 2, 2009, 1:32:59 PM7/2/09
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On Jul 1, 9:29 pm, Jeff Lait <torespondisfut...@hotmail.com> wrote:
> The new Old column, however, I think shows where some of the
> sense of stasis in the genre comes from.

As an academic, I adore your meaningless analysis. In particular the
addition of the new-old column, which I feel has effectively
elaborated the level of oldness and newness in contemporary roguelike
development ;) Keep up the good work!

Originality: 5
Rigor: 3 (needs moar autocorrelation!)
Relevance: 1 (unless you only consider the RL game development domain,
in which case: 5!)
Advice: for *every* other domain: gnuplot/jgraph ftw. But for RL? I
shudder to think that maybe ascii graphs are ok...

Pender

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Jul 2, 2009, 1:53:40 PM7/2/09
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I have nothing substantive to add, but seeing this depth of
statistical analysis into the 7drl event makes me feel strangely happy.

Elig

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Jul 3, 2009, 4:17:14 AM7/3/09
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Jeff, you've done a fantastic job yet again. I enjoy these more and
more each passing year. It's absolutely fantastic to be able to semi-
scientifically track the development and participation of the
roguelike community. Keep up the amazing work with these. I
particularly like the addition of the old category, because it more
clearly exposes the difference between short term or 7DRLs and more
long term projects.

Interesting that the TOTAL category has increased not only steadily
year over year, but that it also increased dramatically this year.
Still, these increases are not reflected in the OLD field. This leads
me to believe that 7DRLs are becoming increasingly popular, while
roguelike development in general is staying fairly stable. We've
experienced a flood of 7DRLs this year, which I think partially
explains the dramatic increase of 2009 over 2008 in terms of total
number of roguelikes. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to track 7DRLs in
their own category?

Great work again, Jeff! I can't wait until we've got 10 years of
data :)

Darren Grey

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Jul 3, 2009, 5:24:54 AM7/3/09
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On Jul 3, 4:17 am, Elig <eligz...@gmail.com> wrote:

> Interesting that the TOTAL category has increased not only steadily
> year over year, but that it also increased dramatically this year.
> Still, these increases are not reflected in the OLD field. This leads
> me to believe that 7DRLs are becoming increasingly popular, while
> roguelike development in general is staying fairly stable. We've
> experienced a flood of 7DRLs this year, which I think partially
> explains the dramatic increase of 2009 over 2008 in terms of total
> number of roguelikes. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to track 7DRLs in
> their own category?

That would be a bit of an injustice to the 7DRLs that are maintained
afterwards and developed into fuller titles. The addition of the
"Old" column helps separate out better which games are being more
continually developed over time. Though the title "Long Term" might
make more sense, albeit it an inelegantly long term to use.

--
Darren Grey

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