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10th Year of the International Nethack Tournament 170

Dr. Zowie writes "The 10th annual Nethack Tournament just started over at nethack.devnull.net, so put on your Hawaiian shirt, grab an expensive camera, and head for the dungeon. The tourney runs through the month of November each year, with volunteer game servers dotted around the world. Fewer than 1% of contestants actually finish the game by retrieving the Amulet of Yendor and ascending to demigodhood, but take heart: there are many prizes for intermediate goals, and prizes for team effort. For those too young to remember games older than Halo, Nethack is the apotheosis of the Roguelike genre of role-playing games, rendered in ASCII. Gameplay is phenomenally complex, and the game is somewhat sadistic; there are no 'checkpoints,' so if you manage to kill yourself somewhere in the dungeon you must start over from the beginning. The dungeons are quasi-randomly generated, so every game is different."
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10th Year of the International Nethack Tournament

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  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:16PM (#25603859) Homepage Journal

    Good luck to both of you still playing nethack!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cbuhler ( 887833 )
      Thanks. I've only had one assension so far, so going to need it. Been playing for years. Very addicting game.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by evanbd ( 210358 )
        My only ascension so far has been a wizard. I may try to ascend a monk for the tournament. Wizards with their spells have so many options, but they can be very fragile at times...
        • Re:Great! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by SQLGuru ( 980662 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @05:01PM (#25605135) Journal

          Starting class only determines how you start (starting abilities and inventory)....after a point, all characters evolve into basically the same thing. Even race has only a small bearing on your character after a point (starting intrinsics). There are ways of getting all of the equipment and intrinsics such that by the end of the game, you've collected all of the ones you need.

          Generally, I find Valkyries to be the easiest early on (and most likely to survive long enough to make initial class irrelevant)..... Archaeologists are also good because gem identification (makes it easy to buy the good equipment0..... Wizards are tough early on until you can gain some strength and good equipment.


          • wizard, monk, Valkyrie, and... archaeologist? are you serious? so i can be Indiana Jones?
            • You could also be one of this women and play a tourist so you can scream at every little insect you come across ;)

              I've been trying to ascend a tourist for the past three weeks. Right now I've got the amulet and am on my way back up (thanks to a Gnome-with-a-wand-of-death late in the mines), but I don't think I'll make it through the Plane of Fire. Anyway, I won't be participating this year, though I wish good hunting of rodney to those who try.
            • by evanbd ( 210358 )
              Yep. You start with a pickaxe and bull whip. They're certainly not the easiest class to play, but they have their upsides.
            • Well, you start out with a fedora and a leather jacket as armor and a bullwhip as a weapon... If I play an archaeologist, I normally name my dog "Indy". (It's useful to name your dog, in case you end up encountering other dogs in general. Also, if a player dies, a later player on the same machine may encounter the earlier player's ghost (remember, Unix used to be a time-sharing multiple-user operating system :-), and naming the dog can be a hint to the later player that meets a dog that there may be a gh

          • Re:Great! (Score:5, Informative)

            by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @08:19PM (#25606697)
            You missed a big one: caps on skills. Different classes are restricted as to how far they can advance in different skills. Wizards and monks, for example, are the only classes that can reach Basic level in all spellcasting schools. Other classes do better with weapons and such.
    • Well, luck is easy to come by, you just need a potion of holy water and a correct type of grey stone...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SeePage87 ( 923251 )
      You might be surprised how many people still play. Last year there were 16,722 games played in the tournament (which is not even the biggest). This is only from players hearing about the tournament and participating. Playing across the internet is often painful because of latency, so most people don't bother.
      • how could latency be such a big issue for an ASCII-based RPG when people regularly play FPS games online that not only require more bandwidth but also revolve around fast-paced gameplay which happens in real-time, where precision timing/aiming make latency a much bigger factor?

        i mean, i've played CS all hours of the night against Chinese/Korean/Japanese players half way around the globe without much of a problem. so i'm having a hard time understanding how latency would affect a game like nethack more so th

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by SeePage87 ( 923251 )
          Do you play nethack? Waiting for the board to update every move would drive most people crazy, but not doing it and "queuing" your moves will get you killed very quickly. You need to look before you leap. In a FPS, when you die you come right back to life (and don't use CS as a counterexample, it's not the same as losing a character you've spent 5 hours carefully tending).
        • how could latency be such a big issue for an ASCII-based RPG when people regularly play FPS games online that not only require more bandwidth but also revolve around fast-paced gameplay which happens in real-time, where precision timing/aiming make latency a much bigger factor?

          Latency isn't a big issue, but it can become annoying by forcing you to slow your typing down. At least, I've found it annoying playing cross-country. Right now, I'm much closer to the NAO server, and it's not noticeable at all.
          Also understand that the most popular server is colocated and running all (at the moment 43) games itself, rather than having the clients run them.
          Unlike in other games, Nethack is not multiplayer at all. There's not much incentive to play online. This makes it much easier for lag

          • ah, i see. if it's like playing a game over telnet where each keystroke needs to be echoed back to the player before the client displays the results then it's understandable that one would get frustrated.

            Nethack probably hasn't been optimized for online play because, as you said, it's not really a multiplayer game. but maybe an optimized client/server version can be designed specifically for online play such as tournaments.

          • Re:Great! (Score:4, Informative)

            by jackbird ( 721605 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @11:35PM (#25608061)
            Unlike in other games, Nethack is not multiplayer at all. There's not much incentive to play online. This makes it much easier for lag to drive people to local copies.

            Not true. Bones files (levels containing a dead character's corpse, ghost, (mostly cursed) equipment, pets, and whatever nasties killed them) can be found by any player no the same machine. If it was a powerful character who died of something stupid high up in the dungeon, it can be a really, really good thing; and it's usually a nice-ish stash regardless once you get things uncursed.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by skeeto ( 1138903 )

      "While the graphics may seem primitive by today's standards, today's gameplay seems primitive by NetHack standards."

      (Found that quote here [battlereports.com].)

  • by rob1980 ( 941751 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:23PM (#25603935)
    For those too young to remember games older than Halo...

    Get offa my lawn!
  • I love Nethack, but I prefer Slashem.

    I made an uber-patched version of Slashem I should polish up and release some day.

  • Interaction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evanbd ( 210358 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:32PM (#25604001)

    One of the things I love about nethack is that items (and monsters, and dungeon features...) interact with each other in so many ways. Wielding a cockatrice corpse as a weapon will make short work of many monsters -- as long as you're wearing gloves. Just be careful not to fall down the stairs because you're carrying too much load...

    The lack of a save and restore feature is definitely one of the things that makes nethack work so well. After putting in several hours carefully figuring out which potions do what and collecting decent armor and weapons, that D down the hall will be far scarier than any gorgeously rendered 3D dragon. After all, it can actually kill your character, not just send you back to the last save point.

    At first glance, nethack seems not just hard but outright sadistic (well, ok, it is, but bear with me). But, as you get to know it, you realize that it's not like many other RPGs. Rather than trying to acquire the single best collection of stuff you can, in nethack you're rewarded for having backup plans -- and backups to your backups. When you find yourself surrounded my monsters and low on HP and out of healing potions you might consider praying. If you've done that too recently, you might try a wand of teleport or digging to escape. And when you discover that those wands just ran out of charges, you'll be glad you didn't leave that cursed potion of gain level behind. (The cursed ones, rather than gaining a character level, make you gain a *dungeon* level.)

    Combine the attention to detail with the huge variety of options for character class, general strategies, and the high game-to-game variability thanks to random dungeons levels with random items, and you get serious replay value.

    • Wielding a [...] corpse as a [...] will make short work of many monsters -- as long as you're wearing [...].

      I can has spoiler warning? :(

    • by hitmark ( 640295 )

      ok, i have to ask, what happens if one use a cursed "gain level" potion on the deepest dungeon level?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Artifakt ( 700173 )

      That 'outright sadistic' is why I don't play Nethack. I quit after a beginning character stepped on a trapdoor, landed on a trapdoor on the next level, landed on a teleport trap on the third level that sent him two more levels down, only to land on (you guess it) another trapdoor.
      No one who did that to my character in a pen and paper RPG would ever get me back to the table. I've thrown people out of conventions for doing that sort of thing to other paying members when running to

      • Re:Interaction (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Urkki ( 668283 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @06:08PM (#25605633)

        Nethack and the like would be boring without the sadistic part, without the constant threat of dying of unfair causes. It helps the game to stay somewhat challenging even after completing it many times. It makes every game intense and exciting.

        Besides, many unfair deaths aren't really unfair deaths, but instead deaths that could have been avoided by playing better (preparing better, being more cautious, being less greedy, etc). This is especially true when you get further along in the game and have more to lose. Truly unfair deaths where you do everything right and then you just die anyway are quite rare.

        Note: I'm not saying you're "wrong" to not play Nethack 'cos you think it's too sadistic. Then it's just not a game that's entertaining for you. I'm just saying that it would be worse if it wasn't like that, it would be just plain boring.

      • Dude, no offence but what you've described is extremely unlikely, and while that is no consolation to you when it happened, it is unlikely to happen again.
        I've been playing since about 1987 (ascended only once, as a wizard) and never encountered anything that unlucky.
        Just chillax and try again. I've not encountered a single game since that has repaid so much more after the initial investment in learning. And the great thing is that I am still learning little things (admittedly, these days I don't play that

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          Dude, no offence but what you've described is extremely unlikely, and while that is no consolation to you when it happened, it is unlikely to happen again.

          I don't know - I haven't been playing nethack that long and I've had almost the identical scenario happen to me several times. I once ended up on level 10 of the dungeon from level 2 because of a series of trap doors and level teleports.

          I used every trick in the book, and even managed to survive working my way back up to level 3 before I messed up and died. Part of the real fun of nethack is that at times it can be sadistic, but if you're careful and learn from previous mistakes you can handle most the th

      • by evanbd ( 210358 )

        Occasionally, you get something that's truly unfair. Traps on level 1-2 are one of the classic examples. (Gnomes early in the mines with potent wands are another.) But all of those are early; you reroll the character and it cost you all of 5 minutes. Later game deaths that you truly can't avoid with good play are very, very rare.

        The problem is that you don't get the good parts of the gameplay without them. The rest of the game feels unfair until you get to know it. What's really going on is that you'r

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by jandrese ( 485 )
        I've always found the apparent dread fear the devs have that someone somewhere might finish the game to be excellent protection against getting addicted. Seriously, when the game has about a million ways to screw the player over randomly in ways they could not prevent and also offers no save points and is structured such that even experts have less than a 1% chance of beating the game (which is not short by any measure).

        Every few years I pick up Nethack again and give it a whirl, and it always goes the
    • by Scooter ( 8281 ) <owen AT annicnova DOT force9 DOT net> on Sunday November 02, 2008 @08:33PM (#25606787)

      One of the things I love about nethack is that items (and monsters, and dungeon features...) interact with each other in so many ways. Wielding a cockatrice corpse as a weapon will make short work of many monsters -- as long as you're wearing gloves. Just be careful not to fall down the stairs because you're carrying too much load...

      This is what kept me playing Nethack for many years - to see if some obscure piece of logic had been accommodated. It usually was.

      I once "died" in Nethack of a "thermonuclear explosion", largely due to a series of unfortunate events (coulda been a Darwin contender :P):-

      I had a room full of demons to deal with, and adopted my usually successful room clearing move which goes like this: having acquired teleportation and a ring of teleport control, I teleport into the room; then using my magic whistle, I summoned my 3 tame dragons (Huey, Dewey and Louie - when you absolutely have to kill off every last m**** f**** in the goddam dungeon...). This where it all went wrong though as on the next turn, the dragons breathed fire at the demons, I got caught in the cross fire, which wasn't a problem as I had many many HP by then and was fireproof (you need to be to descend to the "hell" levels), but I was also carrying so many spellbooks, wands, potions, scrolls etc which all went up causing a critical mass of magic...

      I also remember a friend of mine who thought he'd be clever and hack his save file in an early Nethack and give himself max HP. He was very pleased with himself until he went up a level, gained 8hp, and the signed integer rolled over...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 )

      One of the things I liked in a very old DOS version of HACK (It was not called nethack in the 80's IIRC) were the bugs.

      If you started on beginner mode, all your items were identified for you. And, if you selected a wizard class, and then immediately left the dungeon then started a new wizard and left the dungeon. Then you repeated this process over and over your characters would gain an extra wand or 2 over time as you created each new character.

      After enough iterations, your character would be carrying (32)

    • The lack of a save and restore feature

      You can save and restore in Nethack.

      The catch is that you can restore a saved game only once.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 )
      I had a spell of nethack addiction a few years back. One of it's great features is the interaction of all the various elements. Potions, monsters, items, etc.

      But I got the feeling it was all coded as a bunch of IF statements. IF you got a pie in your face, and IF you wiped it with a towel, then it would unblind you. Very cool, and on a level much more complex than most other games. However, it was all still pre-planned. Any cool interaction of things in nethack you discovered as coded into the game by a d
  • by slaker ( 53818 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:32PM (#25604003)

    I ascended with a wishless tourist once, and I consider that more of an accomplishment than my bachelor's degree.

    • I ascended with a wishless tourist once, and I consider that more of an accomplishment than my bachelor's degree.

      Your CS dept.'s friday bar probably had more chicks, though ;)


      • by slaker ( 53818 )

        There are CS classes that can have girls in them?

        • by RyoShin ( 610051 )

          I had a CS class with a girl in it once. But then someone informed her that this wasn't Intro to American History, and she left.

    • by tempest69 ( 572798 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @03:03PM (#25604225) Journal
      I'm pretty sure that between the ages of 15 and 23 I put in a PHD amount of work into ascending in nethack. And no, it didnt happen.

      I replayed the game in 05 a decade later... and cheated to do some "tourist gaming" even with a full wand of wishing, and optional dying, it took all night to ascend,, When I left the dungeon I was bloody surrounded with monsters. Even in the deep parts of nethack there are monsters conventions that make moving a total pain.

      Still, a game where you can wield the iron ball on your ankle as a weapon rocks.

      • Still, a game where you can wield the iron ball on your ankle as a weapon rocks.

        I still remember the moment I realized this.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by cbuhler ( 887833 )
      My one assension was with a Ranger. I personally would consider getting a tourist past the mines a bit of an accomplishment, probably my poorest character. Wizards and healers are both fun, but it's almost a different game with them.
    • by syousef ( 465911 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @11:08PM (#25607867) Journal

      I ascended with a wishless tourist once, and I consider that more of an accomplishment than my bachelor's degree

      So do I.


      Your boss. ;-)

  • Nethack is fine (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xeth ( 614132 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:33PM (#25604007) Journal

    But in the genre of cruel dungeon-crawls, I prefer Iter Vehemens Ad Necem [sourceforge.net].

    There's nothing like bludgeoning a zombie to death with your own severed arm, then being forced to eat the arm to stave off hunger.

  • by FourthAge ( 1377519 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:37PM (#25604039) Journal

    I never managed to complete Nethack until I found the spoilers [cam.ac.uk], which include helpful advice about the best way to approach the game. The dungeons are random, but the structure of the game is not, and the same things will appear in approximately the same places (with different names). Once you have got to a certain depth, you've cracked the game and a win is almost certain.

    Whether it is cheating to look at the spoilers is a philosophical question. Cheating is copying a save file or modifying the game - reading spoilers is no more cheating than looking at the source code.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by evanbd ( 210358 )

      I think most veteran hackers would agree that looking at the source, along with most spoilers, is definitely cheating -- though some level of general advice is not. The definitely-not-cheating ways to learn about the game are explore mode and the oracle; both are quite informative without being overly spoiled. At the same time, I think the vast majority of players look at spoilers to some degree.

      To anyone new to nethack out there: Give it an honest try without spoilers. Use them when you get stuck, but o

      • "most veteran hackers?" BS. You've never been to rgrn or #nethack on freenode, have you?
        • by evanbd ( 210358 )
          On the contrary, I've been to both. I think they would generally agree that you should avoid it, but not get too stuck up about it -- at least until you finish your first ascension. But that doesn't mean they'll look down on you for it, and it certainly doesn't mean they don't do it...
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LotsOfPhil ( 982823 )
          I agree. The grandparent needs to be modded down. Ellora's Saga [mindspring.com] is legendary because the guy tried so hard to not be spoiled. Saying someone should try their hardest to beat Nethack without spoilers is just plain mean.
          • by evanbd ( 210358 )
            I'm not saying that. I'm saying you should avoid spoilers until you need them, and read them in moderation. For the *vast* majority of people it's not worth trying to ascend without any spoilers. But at the same time, if you're playing with wikihack open in your browser, you're really not getting the full intended experience.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by FourthAge ( 1377519 )

        I agree with your general sentiment, that it is good to learn the game without spoilers, but due to the game's difficulty, I found this far too frustrating. The game does not forgive mistakes, and even in explore mode it is easy to get stuck.

        I think I have a different philosophical approach to the game. I see it as a black box. Provided you don't open the box and change the rules, you can do anything you want with the information it provides and the moves you're allowed to make. Viewed like this, Nethack is

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 02, 2008 @08:00PM (#25606537)

        As a seasoned nethack player (I've ascended all classes and done some optional conducts. Still working on pacifist :) ). Spoilers and source diving are not considered cheating amongst the greater nethack community. And by greater nethack community I basically mean rec.games.roguelike.nethack.

        There is only one thing that is universally considered cheating, and that is backing up save files to circumvent permanent death.

        While spoilers are very helpful, they are not gamebreaking. There's no set path to follow in nethack that will guarantee victory.

        Spoilers are more often used as a reference for things that just don't make sense to memorize.

        For example, let's say I need a scroll of enchant armor, I have blank paper and a Magic Marker with 15 charges on it. I don't remember how many charges are required to make that scroll, so I look it up.

        The spoiler won't give you the idea to make a scroll that you need using equipment found around the dungeon. But they will give you the details you need to be a little more efficient.

        Think of the spoilers as more of a pocket reference than a walkthrough or tutorial.

    • reading spoilers is no more cheating than looking at the source code.

      Which, I imagine, a lot of the people with long beards and intravenous coffee would also consider cheating.

      Reading spoilers or source is like doping: it gives you an advantage over those who don't do it, but the sport is still challenging. As long as you can distinguish those who do from those who don't, and take appropriate measures [whatever that is], I see no reason to be offended.

  • by JoshJ ( 1009085 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:38PM (#25604047) Journal

    That may well be my crowning achievement in video gamery.

    I've since retired from Nethack, simply because I don't have the patience for any more of it. Good luck to this year's players.

  • by jonaskoelker ( 922170 ) <jonaskoelker@ya[ ].com ['hoo' in gap]> on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:40PM (#25604067)

    For those too young to remember games older than Halo

    Halo? More like Bomberman or the Lotus and Turrican series (~1990). Nethack is from 1987, and is based on hack from 1985.

    If you install `bsdgames' on debian/ubuntu, you can play hack, the precursor to nethack.

    To get an idea of how the world looked when the internet was black-and-white, look at the end of the man page:

              Probably infinite. Mail complaints to mcvax!aeb .

    Bang path ftw :) I'll get off your lawn now.

    • there were multi-player games before the internet, of course. Starting in the 1970s, variations on dungeon exploration and star wars. google MUD1 and DUNGEN and Sceptre of Goth, also some star wars variants. some were ported from PDP to other platforms in the 80s, I played them on CDC Cyber running NO

      • by Teckla ( 630646 )

        Scepter of Goth, actually. I still have the Pascal source code for it. Wish I had the time/patience to port it to C or Java.

      • by mdm42 ( 244204 )

        To my mind, one of the most interesting and absorbing was "Wooden Ships and Iron Men" which consisted of sailing/commanding one of a number of classes of sailing ships in combat. The game had plenty of detail (not as much as Nethack, though!) like different weapons, ammunition, and lots of fickle weather to screw up your carefully-planned strategy. It was only multi-player; there were no AI-players (at least in the version I played.) All this was in the mid- to late-80's.

        And management thought we were hard

    • Unlike most adventure games, which give you a verbal description of your location, NetHack gives you a visual image of the dungeon level you are on.

      Sigh. :)
      • Hey, don't knock the 80x24x8 resolution; it's by far the most productive one in the hands of someone with a unix beard ;)

  • I prefer Angband. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @02:58PM (#25604187) Journal
    Everyone has their own preference. I just like the finding the elemental resist and speed artifact part of the game.
    The game also has its own special flair when it comes to ironmaning it. If you run out of light or food, you pretty much lose. If you linger too long on a dungeon level, you waste light and food. So if you get low on light or food, you play more aggressively and dive faster. Of course if you dive too fast, you won't be able to defeat the enemies. So very often you find yourself staring death by lack of resources vs death from tough monsters.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nethack is one of the few very complex games that requires *zero* time investment. I sometimes play when I'm stuck in an airport, or wherever, or waiting for something to download or update or compile, and when I'm back to work just save the game. Aside from not requiring time, but allowing you to waste as much time as you have to waste, it has infinite replay value. You could play it for your whole life without ever beating the game, and also without the game ever getting boring. The reason it never gets b

  • by 6350' ( 936630 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @03:18PM (#25604325)
    It can be a lot of fun to just sit and watch someone play nethack. Just type telnet nethack.alt.org into any old command line, and you can connect up to play, but also to observer a game in progress. Try to match up your window size to the player you wish to observer (listed in the game info). It's great fun to watch people are often far, far better than you, getting far, far further in the game than you ever will :P And my god, the speed these guys progress at. Yikes!

    This thread will (has) descend into alternative recommendations, so I'll take a moment to pimp a multiplayer variant of Angband, being MAngband ( http://www.mangband.org/ [mangband.org] ). A realtime non-turnbased roguelike sounds kooky, but it actually works out pretty darned well (and Morgoth in realtime is a very frightening experience).

    On a side note, I always appreciate roguelike-related threads on slashdot, as it is a rare opporunity for my username to have any sense of context.
  • by mathimus1863 ( 1120437 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @03:28PM (#25604395)
    I don't post here much, but I have to write to promote this game. The game has been in development for 20 years, and the graphics have been exactly the same the whole time. So where did all the development go? Into pure depth of gameplay. I played this game off and on for like 7 years before I was able to finally finish the game once, and that's with just one of the 20 character types you can be. There's actually a portion of my brain devoted to nethack knowledge. Yes, I'm a nerd. But, this is a great game. As long as you don't mind your buddies making fun of you for playing a game produced exclusively from ASCII graphics (but it is the most efficient way for you to view and comprehend the current state of the game).

    As an example of pure depth, consider the water traps that rust your weapons and armor. Well, if you are polymorphed into an iron golem, you can rust to death from walking into a water trap. Touching cockatrice corpses will turn you to stone instantly, but if you wear gloves you can wield it as a weapon to turn other creatures to stone. But if you are burdened carrying too much stuff, you are likely to fall down the steps and turn yourself to stone. Game over, try again. If you are confused from eating rotten food, reading scrolls will cast spells in ways you weren't expecting. They thought of everything in this game.

    You can actually find a wand of wishing on the first level and get any three items in the game. The inexperienced player still won't make it very far. No matter how strong or amazing you are, you could still die from a falling drawbridge, cockatrice corpse, being digested by strange creatures, being drowned by an electric eel, or kicking a wall while you are near death. Even after all the years I've spent on this game, I still learn something new every time I play. It's that deep.
    • Funny. You could almost say the exact same thing about vi.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Bambi Dee ( 611786 )
        I'm bad at both... and I keep trying to save and quit Nethack with a ":wq".
        • Hm... nice idea for a nethack patch, since the movement keys are (since the beginning) just like the vi ones. Those of us with muscle memory for :wq for saving/exiting would be grateful for such an advancement.

    • by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @10:19PM (#25607537) Homepage Journal
      I thought the interaction of objects in NetHack was very cool and well-developed, but nonetheless, I think it could be taken one step further. Basically, all of the interactions are a bunch of IF statements hard-coded into the game. You don't discover anything other than what a dev thought was cool,and coded in. It's very cool and elaborate at this point, but ultimately limited.

      It would be theoretically possible to create a game where you can have true unexpected interactions of objects. You would create a set of simple properties, and then more complex interaction emerge from the interactions of simple properties. Like legos, you keep combining and combining, coming up with new and creative combination, suprising yourself with things no one could have predicted. It's like language or music; you can never exhaust the possibilities. They're endless. It's literally and endless set. It's called a discrete combinatorial system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by porpnorber ( 851345 )

        In some sense, NetHack has had this from time to time. Some of the interactions were 'prototyped' as bugs: different object classes stored their attributes in overlapped storage (unions, shared bitfields, whatever), and the type checking was a little sporadic. So casting an enhancement spell on something that had an inappropriate data structure would occasionally give things peculiar properties. Then devteam would look at the bug report and say, hey, this is a latent feature, and give 'proper' semantics to

  • by Khashishi ( 775369 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @03:32PM (#25604427) Journal
    Nethack is high on the illogical quick factor, so there's a harsh learning curve, but once you learn them or spoil yourself, then Nethack is not difficult. ADOM and Crawl are far more punishing.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bhaak1 ( 219906 )

      NetHack isn't really about being hard. It is about surviving situations that the RNG throws at you or you get yourself into by using all options available to you.

      If you want a punishing NetHack, play Slash'Em :-)

    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      Yes, clearly a near 1% success rate among lifelong experts is far too easy. We must rush to find harder versions!
  • I had a wizard down to the end of the Dungeon. I had stopped playing for a while in order to catch up with Real Life. When I came back, I had forgotten all of the tricks, and a titan cast summon nasties around me in the Castle.

    I even had a scroll of taming in my bag I could have tried, followed by invoking the Eye. FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUCK...


  • by HonestButCurious ( 1306021 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @04:00PM (#25604647) Journal

    I ascended as a samurai once, and it was this close to landing on my CV. That one's offset by the squillion times I was killed by a combination of my stupidity and the cruelty of the almighty RNG (random number generator).

    Then there are those crazy iron-man ascents made by guys who never eat, never attack other monsters, never wear armor and so on.

    It's a great game, and after playing it a few times you can take a look at some archived YASDs to appreciate their fine humour:
    http://groups.google.com/group/rec.games.roguelike.nethack/search?q=yasd [google.com]

  • by bertok ( 226922 ) on Sunday November 02, 2008 @06:11PM (#25605669)

    It's just amazing how many strange combinations of items and effects have been thought of by the dev team.

    My favorite Nethack moment ever was when I had used a blessed scroll of genocide to permanently wipe out all dragons from the game, but I was still wearing a suit of silver dragon scale mail I had acquired earlier. I stepped on a polymorph trap, and discovered a little known game mechanic that if you're wearing dragon armor while polymorphing uncontrollably, you turn into that kind of dragon. However, dragons were already wiped out, so I couldn't. The message the game gave me was:

    "You feel slightly silver dragon-ish."

    • Did you genocide Rs earlier? Depending on your class, these are the most annoying critters on the whole game (and then, depending on your class, these are the most annoying critters on the whole game!)

      • by bertok ( 226922 )

        I tend to play a rather xenocidal game and wipe out most classes of dangerous monsters. Mindflayers and cockatrices are very nasty, so I wipe them out first, but I often leave dragons last because they drop good items, and tins of dragon meat are a great way of gaining intrinsic abilities.

        Plus, dragons are nutritious. They taste like chicken!

        • As a valk, I usually kill baby cocktrices in one or two blows, and full cocktrices by throwing something big, or sharp (those ogrish daggers are worth collecting); the Dragons are never a target for genocide, as they usually taste good (like chicken!) and give immunities; but my bane are the Rust monsters and the Vampires, for which I scribble a blessed blank ?oG as soon as I can... Never ascended though, so there must be something wrong with my strategy...

          • by bertok ( 226922 )

            As fun as cockatrices are, they're just too dangerous to leave in the game. I've been killed more than once by glove-wearing humanoid monsters like soldiers hitting me with cockatrice corpses. I've had a Nymph steal my gloves while I was wielding a cocktrice corpse!

            I've only ascended twice, both times after only a very long game of grinding for genocide scrolls.

            Dragons are fun individually, but there's dozens and dozens of them in the last level all in one big room, and no amount of armor seems to protect a

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