I do think a lot about how exploring in regular RPGs (let’s say the elder scrolls for example) sometimes feel more exciting than in roguelikes.
One thing that comes to mind is that in roguelikes you immediately know what an item is as soon as you see it lying on the floor. I like how in graphical RPGs you typically either find items in chests or you have to walk up close to the item and investigate it before you know exactly what it is. And it make sense: how come @ has so good sight he can perfectly identify what an item is from very far away? I have tried to make this slightly more exciting.
When you see an item far away you will now see an “abstract” version of it. That is, you will (most often) know what type of item it is, but not exactly what. For example, you may identify an item as “a fruit”, “a blade”, “a potion”, “a gem” or “a mechanism”. The abstract versions have their own tile and colour. The exact nature of the item is not revealed until you are adjacent to it.
This creates two effects: First, it creates some suspense. There is a gap between seeing an item and finding out what it is. However, it also affects the decisions you have to make: before you might have chosen to not enter a room because it was only a “knit cap” in there. Well, now it will be some “clothes” and you’ll have to get close in order to see if it is a knit cap or perhaps a magical robe!
It is only natural that you don’t know anything about an NPC until you meet them. All NPCs will also be abstracted as a generic purple @ until you actually literally bump into them. After that you will see their profession and its associated colour.
I wanted to create (some of) that feeling you sometimes get in regular non-roguelikes: “hey, there’s a person, I wonder what they can do for me”.