Roguelike Games: ADOM

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© Copyright 1994-2018 by Thomas Biskup. All Rights Reserved.


"They say that smashing statues might yield magical wands."
(Fortune Cookie of the Day)

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The Past

Time for a short history lesson. I often get asked how ADOM came into being and how it was created. Here's the full story.

My interest in roguelike games was spawned around 1988, when I had gotten my new Amiga computer. On one shareware disk I then bought was a little game called Hack and I loved it. SadlyI had but one disk drive and the save files quickly ate up all the space on the disk so that I couldn't play seriously. But now I was curious... since I still was interested in text adventures I continued to write my own for the Amiga and for now was happy playing Gates of Apshai (on the C64), Bard's Tale I, II (on the Amiga) and Bard's Tale III (again on the C64). My most beloved game was (and probably still is) Wasteland (originally solved on the C64 and replayed on the PC). The depth of Wasteland still is what I aspire with ADOM.

A couple of years later (around 1991) I got Hack for the PC and shortly afterwards Nethack (which quite a number of times, but never was very successful at). Nonetheless I liked it and quickly felt the need to expand it according to my needs. About two years later I finally managed to get access to the Nethack sources but quickly got turned away but they looked pretty complicated and already were huge at that time. Thus I decided to write my own game.

Initial attempts were doomed to failure since I just couldn't get to create some working map code (I started with that). Frustrated I stopped for about a year, but restarted my attempts in 1994 with some new ideas. Finally I got working map code together (most of it still is running in current ADOM versions) and from then proceeded with that project (still without a name).

I first devised the map code, followed by some primitive code to walk around (without any LOS stuff), open and close doors, then some some immobile monsters and so on. This always has been my strategy: start out small and plan from there. Just make sure that you keep enough room for improvements but don't try everything at once, because a typical roguelike game is so huge. Works fine for me.

ADOM initially was developed under Linux (with the GNU C compiler, NCurses, GNU Emacs and GNU Make). After some initial versions (mostly for my fun and later distributed to a few friends) I created a DOS port (around Version 0.2.0). Work improved from there (more of my friends had DOS-based systems) because feedback proved very helpful. Months went by and after lot of development went into the game I decided to release it to the Internet hoping for some more work. This was around Verison 0.7.0.

I found a couple of FTP sites, uploaded 0.7.0 and posted a note to both and The response was not very exciting (which basically means that I got no response at all). I did not give up, improved a couple of features and fixed some bugs and in the same way released 0.7.1. Now I got some responses and they were pretty positive. Suggestions started to pour in and the rest is - as they say - history.

Over the next years ADOM got many new features (colors, more items and monsters, a wilderness area and a lot more), I got an AOL account to have a personal FTP site and folks started to discuss ADOM in Boudewijn Wayers created the first ADOM website (at and I got some more coverage. Then I created my own website at my AOL account, we got an official FTP site and more folks were drawn to rgrm. As time went by folks started to vote at the Internet Worldcharts of Free Downloadable Games and ADOM slowly started to rise through that charts. Never did I dream of any reasonable position but once ADOM had entered the Top 30 it rose faster and faster. I was thrilled when it got into the Top 20, I was excited when it got into the Top 10, I was amazed when it got into the Top 5 and I was one of the happiest men on Earth when it made #1 (beating games like Doom easily - see this for details). Then someone proposed a newsgroup for ADOM, Dan Shiovitz made it happen and suddenly ADOM had a newsgroup in the Big Five ( Needless to say that I was completely baffled (and very proud). Then ADOM got voted the best of the free downloadable games for 1997 in the Worldcharts mentioned above and I was speechless. ADOM had been a lot of work over all those years, but it definitely was worth every minute of it.

And on the 6th of August, 2001, after a delay of more than 18 months, ADOM 1.0.0 finally got released. My feelings at this point are summarized in this diary entry.

Come here to

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