Yet another episode of Roguelike Radio was released yesterday. In episode 8 Andrew Doull, Darren Grey, Ido Yehieli and John Harris discuss progression systems in roguelike games. I found the episode very interesting and found a lot of the discussions very spot on. I totally agree with Andrew about skill systems in roguelikes. It is damn hard to create a skill system where every skill is as good as all the other skills. I've found that it often boils down to a subset of the skills that are worth taking. Just look at the amount of time Blizzard has spent balancing and redoing the Talent trees in World of Warcraft.
I do not agree at all with Andrew when it came to his statement that "it's the players choice how they want to play the game" and "you should be able to let players play the game they want to play". As a developer I am the one designing the game and it is me who set the rules. Sure, I get quite a bit of feedback from players and quite often I adjust the game based on feedback received from players, but ultimately it is my choice not the players. As Ido put it: "players don't always know what is good for them".
Something that's cool with sandbox kinda games where you simply drop the player into a world where most of the world can be manipulated/used/combined in many different ways is that sometimes players come up with ways of solving a problem or using game play elements in a way that the designers never thought about.