Sunday, June 24, 2012

Game 71: NetHack 3.0 (1989)


To recap what I'm doing with NetHack: the game poses a bit of a chronology problem since it was under continuous development from 1987 to 2003. As reader Ryan ("Pipecleaner Creations") put it in early 2011: "To play NetHack 3.4 is to play a 2003 game, not a 1987 game." Thus, I decided to follow the lead of the NetHack wiki and regard the game as occurring in six "versions": early NetHack (culminating in 2.3e), the 3.0 series, the 3.1 series, the 3.2 series, the 3.3 series and the 3.4 series. These were released between two and six years apart between 1987 and 2002, and I thought approaching it this way would allow me to periodically check in on the development this seminal roguelike.

I had originally determined to play the last version of each "series," but it turns out that it's harder to find the older versions than I would have thought. Instead of 3.0.10, I'm playing 3.0.9, which is last version I could find somewhere whose instructions that I could understand. This particular version was released in June 1990, and it appears that 3.0.10 didn't offer any substantive changes, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything.

I'm starting 1989 with NetHack because I expect I'll be playing it all year. My big goals are to a) get through all of 1989's games by this time in 2013; and b) "ascend" in NetHack by the same date. And I'm determined to do it clean, and without spoilers (unlike my Wizardry V fiasco). To that end, I'm preparing to create exhaustive documentation about every monster, object, effect, and encounter that I find in the game. I'll play it amidst and in between the other games from 1989, posting when I have something new or interesting to report--or when I need a slight hint.

If you're new to the blog or the concept of roguelike games, the genre was spawned by Rogue, a 1980 game that was the first game I blogged about in detail. Most roguelikes feature:
  • Graphic minimalism (as you see in this posting, all of the graphics are simple ASCII characters)
  • Randomly-generated dungeon levels
  • Gameplay that is turn-based but nonetheless quite rapid
  • A quest involving the retrieval of some kind of treasure from the depths of a dungeon
  • Permanent death (you can save, but the game erases your save file when you die)

Because of their unique challenge, I think roguelikes tend to be played by a different sort of gamer than many other types of CRPGs. They also tend to be developed independently, rather than commercially, although some people think of action CRPGs like Diablo as roguelikes with better graphics. I'm not convinced. Permadeath is such a key feature of the roguelike genre that I have to regard any game that avoids it as fundamentally different.

Early in my gaming career, I made the mistake of equating graphical primitiveness with gameplay primitiveness. I regret my ignorance but I find it understandable: the roguelikes I had played before NetHack--Rogue, Larn, Wizard's Castle, Amulet of Yendor, Mission: Mainframe--didn't exactly push the envelope when it came to plot and roleplaying opportunities. In the middle of Mission: Mainframe, I stopped to complain that: "Roguelikes don't reveal new bits of story as you play. They don't offer NPCs. They don't do anything different that [what you experience on the first level] except get harder." Helm chided me in the comments, and within a couple of weeks, I was playing NetHack and realizing that everything I had said about "roguelikes" was wrong. A few months after that, I was absolutely floored by Omega, an independently-developed, shareware roguelike that offered a staggeringly unique character-creation process, the first join-able factions, the first complex use of alignments, and the first multiple endings in CRPG history [Edit: this last part wasn't true. Wizardry IV did it earlier than Omega, and there were probably some others, too]. Threadbare graphics do not mean threadbare gameplay.

Since the beginning, NetHack has been developed by a team and, I believe, has always been offered for free. Beyond that, I'm not going to try to get too much into the development history of the series. (Wikipedia's summary is here.) The game has such a fervent community and so many fan pages online that I doubt I'll be able to contribute significantly on my own blog. I suspect that if you're reading my NetHack entries, you're not so much interested in learning about the game as learning about my particular perspective on the game. It would probably make sense to review my January 2011 postings on version 2.3e first. My understanding is that the 3.0 series introduced over three times as many monsters, new objects and dungeon encounters, new levels, an alignment and religious system, and new classes. I think it would be nice if food poisons you less often, but I don't see anything about that in the release notes.

The complexity of the game is evidence in its vast command list. You can call up the list quickly with the ? key, but I made myself retype it just so I would increase my chances of remembering. Almost all the letters--both upper and lower case--and all the special characters trigger some action: equipping and unequipping weapons, armor, and rings; picking up and dropping things; opening and closing doors; eating; renaming monsters and objects; drinking potions; reading scrolls; casting spells; searching for secret doors and traps; paying your bill in a store; throwing and using objects. You can even write notes to yourself on the floor. The game is complex enough that if you don't have any writing implement and just write with your fingers in the dust, the letters actually degrade over time. Wow.

 
Beyond the standard commands, there are a host of special commands, and I'm almost afraid to find out where they come into play. Forcing locks and turning undead make sense, but when am I going to have to "dip an object into something" or wipe off my face?

One of the most significant aspects of NetHack gameplay is figuring out the nature of the various objects that you find. Weapons, armor, potions, scrolls, rings, wands, and other objects are given generic names when you find them; except for the occasional scroll of identification (which you first have to identify!), only wielding, wearing, reading, and drinking them reveal their true natures (and sometimes not even then). Each time you play, you have to decide how cautious to be in your use of unknown and potentially-deadly items.

Each type of character starts with a different set of equipment. The "archaeologist" starts with a fedora and bullwhip.

The overall mysteries of the game come in several forms:

  • The strengths and weaknesses of various monsters
  • What happens when you eat the corpses of various monsters
  • What certain objects do
  • How to use various objects and commands together with the environment

I understand that these aspects of the game have been exhaustively documented on various fan sites, and people are still discovering them today. Many readers have encouraged me to read these "spoilers." I might eventually. For now, though, I intend to try it clean, which means I'd ask you not to give me any spoilers in the comments, save perhaps some light hints, unless I specifically ask for them. In all cases, please comment only on things that I specifically mention in my postings. My biggest mystery right now is what I'm supposed to do with a kitten--but I'm not asking for help yet.

Just to keep things interesting, I decided to let the game choose my class each time I play. My first character of this session, Chet, was a "tourist." He showed up in the dungeon wearing a Hawaiian shirt, wielding darts, and overloaded with a variety of food, scrolls, and potions, along with (of course) a camera and a credit card. Already we have some mystery, as I don't know if those latter two items actually have any use. Chet was accompanied by a little cat, who I named "Bix" after my second-favorite jazz trumpeter.

The opening room contained a sink, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. As I explored the surrounding area, I was killed by a newt. I hope Bix got out okay.

I just hope it was a big newt.

Not an auspicious beginning, but I have a whole year.

83 comments:

  1. Once you get to Diablo II, you'll be happy to know it has a "Hardcore" mode. It's unlocked after you beat the game once, and it turns on permadeath. Although, I don't know if you'll get much use out of it since you may not want to play through it twice, but it's there as an option.

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    1. Diablo 3 also has a permadeath hardcore mode, although, otherwise, it's not nearly as roguelikey as the earlier games. Diablo 1, aside from the lack of a permadeath mode, easily feels the rogueiest to me, especially with the fountains and shrines.

      http://diablo2.diablowiki.net/D1_Shrines - "Unlike the Diablo II shrines, which offer fairly inconsequential, always temporary bonuses, several shrines in Diablo and Hellfire will permanently damage your character, lowering their mana pool in irreparable fashion. It is therefore very unwise to click a shrine if you do not know what it does."

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    2. Can I assume that once you enable it, you can't turn it off without starting a new game?

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    3. Correct, you actually select it at character creation, so the character will show Hardcore above the name. You can still create non-Hardcore characters.

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    4. Apart from Hardcore/Permadeath: Diablo 1 feels a lot like a rogue-like. Unidentified and cursed items (and you sometimes go forever until you get your first decent pair of shoes), shrines that curse you, a very weak main character, randomized skill selection (if no fireball book ever drops, your wizard will have to do without) and sudden spikes in difficulty when you meet certain enemies.

      Diablo 2 has some of that, but is a much more streamlined thing (though it adds a permadeath switch), with a higher focus on twitch and skill selection instead of "make do with what the RNG gave you", and finally D3 is nothing at all like Rogue any more, with its focus purely on skill synergies and item selection (note that you will always wear something decent though, unlike a typical rogue-like) and auction house.

      Also, note the end goals of the three games: Diablo 1 was about getting to the lowest level, and beating Diablo. D2 was about killing diablo, but also about finding cool stuff. D3 is only about finding cool stuff, and you sometimes kill a boss because he's in your way.

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  2. Wow. I think you could devote an entire blog simply to trying to ascend in Nethack without spoilers.

    Not a post, I mean a -whole- blog.

    I wish you the best of luck on this one.

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  3. Oh man. Best of luck indeed. I've played Nethack on and off for more than a decade without using the internet's fast repository of knowledge on how to beat the game and I've certainly never ascended. That demands the type of determination I can't put in a game nowadays. I tend to enjoy the game more like a sandbox. When awful things happen I try to remember the Tarn-ism "Losing is Fun!". The best I've ever done was a character in (my roguelike of choice) A.D.O.M, whom I ran dilligently for three months or so. But my bad build of a martial class meant a bitter death in the Pyramid dungeon at level twelve. Losing *that* time was certainly no fun.

    I've read play reports of ascended Nethack runs, though, so I know what you're going up against more or less. Looking forward to your attempt(s) and/or your eventual lapses of sanity.

    Also, good call on not making this blog into 'Nethack or Bust'. It'll both preserve you to dabble in other, less demanding RPGS on the side and also break up the monotony for us readers looking at ASCII for a year.

    As I understand it, the version of Nethack you're tackling is pretty much there in terms of content. Well, Nethack will never be 'finished' in any traditional sense of program development, but I mean most of the features of the game as it is today can be found in your version too. The game still receives updates but as far as I can tell they're really esoteric; The development team does not put out 'What's New in This Version' information.

    I enjoyed your fretting over your in-game kitty. You're going to send so, so many bodies down there in the dungeon that I wonder if your heart will turn to stone and you'll be more mercenary about it by the end.

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    1. I just accidentally killed my cat when I got "confused" and walked into it. I guess you can't grow attached to your pets in this game.

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    2. Given how quickly development is moving, I'm thinking it is pretty much finished now. I've been thinking of giving Slash'em a try.

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    3. Slash'em was the next step after Nethack for me. Slash'em adds so much content depth that I've never been very excited to play Nethack again after that. I would definitely recommend Slash'em once you have Nethack "on farm".

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    4. I'm disappointed how few Nethack style RPGs are out there; most randomly generate the level every time you reach it, so you can't cache things, or camp an alter or shop. I'd love something that was Nethack Light.

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    5. My two favorites (ADOM and Incursion) both do permalevels (ADOM has a special endless dungeon without, but it's basically a side bonus area to the main game).

      Dungeons of Dredmor is sort of Nethack Light (and also does permalevels). However I'd call it closer to Angband Light or possibly Crawl Light based on the feel of gameplay. I certainly do a lot of "forming camp" in that game as you describe, though.

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  4. In your entry list for what a roguelike is, you forgot to mention that roguelike usually have a use for everything.
    Everything can be interacted with, and not only for flavor text. Part of the appeal of the game is to discover what to do exactly with some mysterious item or piece of scenery.

    Which implicitly reply to your inquiry about some piece of equipment.

    Nethack on the genre push this rule to the extreme.

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    1. I have to agree with "Baf" below. There are a lot of roguelikes that don't include complex inventory interactions as part of the gameplay. NetHack is particularly notable for this element, but it's far from prevalent.

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  5. Hasn't the development of Nethack completely stopped?

    The last release I see was out in 2003, that's almost 10 years without new code. I'd say it can be considered finished?

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    1. The Dev team *claims* to be working on it, but essentially yes, it has stopped. There is however, Slash'em.

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    2. Which development also has stopped. The last Slash'EM version is from 2006.

      The forks UnNetHack and GruntHack are still in development.

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  7. Hm. I wouldn't include "everything can be interacted with" in the defining features of roguelikes. Angband, for example, litters its dungeons with junk items that are utterly useless, and can't even be sold to shops.

    Nethack, though? Nothing is useless in Nethack, if you can just figure out how to use it.

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    1. Actually there are 2 useless items in Nethack. The addict has already had both of them in his inventory.

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  8. Yeah, remember that everything you see around you and in your inventory took program code to create. Someone *made* that thing, carefully, and it will have a reason to exist. That reason may not be obvious, and it may even be ultimately silly or a joke, but it will be there.

    Tourists can actually be a surprisingly strong class. You can win with any class, but many of my best starts were with Tourists.

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    1. To me, they start too overloaded and it's tough to figure out what you can easily abandon. I'm sure I'll get a better sense as I get more practice.

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    2. Go for Healer if you have constant food troubles (Stone to flesh, WHOO!) or Valkyrie (Armour = the bomb) to start. I also like Wizards, but as rnpu pnfgvat bs n fcryy hfrf hc pnybevrf, lbh unir gb pbafbanagyl ybbx sbe sbbq.

      Also, minor, minor spoiler: Sbbq ebgf bire gvzr. Serfu pbecfrf ner sne, sne fnsre gb rng.

      Classes to avoid when starting out: Tourist, Caveman.

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  9. It is possible to win Nethack without spoilers. You'll have to learn a lot yourself, but there are sources in-game that supply the necessary information and even a lot of extra help info. The best advice I can offer without spoiling anything is TAKE NOTES.

    Much more than Wizardry V, backing up save games in Nethack, which is somewhat randomized every time you play, is cheating. But Nethack is almost notorious for being a fair game. If you die, it's practically always because of something you did, or didn't do, at some point, and there are people who have had 20+ game winning streaks to prove it.

    I kind of envy you. Unlike what you say above, I find it's not true that people are still discovering things about the game. Nethack forces you to earn a Master's degree in it in order to win, but I have found the game is not bottomless. I kind of wish it was, as I'd love to play an alternate universe Nethack right now that I knew nothing about. I find there aren't a lot of other games that provide that.

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    1. Yes, I agree. NetHack, if I understand correctly, is the game whence the phrase "save-scumming" was coined. I will not be doing it.

      I'm curious: how long does it usually take to play a game in which you ascend? I figure it can't be more than a few hours unless the levels get a lot more complicated as you go down. This makes it very unlike Wizardry. In the latter, a party death wipes out dozens of hours of gameplay.

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    2. Typical winning games on the alt.org nethack server take umpteen hours - in the most recent version of the game.
      The fastest ascensions took about 2 hours, but I think they were done by experts going out of their way to ascend quickly; luck could also have played a role...

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  10. "Hasn't the development of Nethack completely stopped?"

    We don't know. The Devteam has long been notoriously quiet about progress on a new version. There is a list of bugs that is updated from time to time, and if you email them about a bug sometimes you get a response, but no one really knows if the game is still under development. The bug list lists some things as fixed in the next major and minor versions, but if that will ever see the light of the day, who knows? I think when Izchak Miller died it was kind of a sucker punch to the Devteam, work on the game kind of slowed down from there.

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  11. Oh, you know, you might want to rethink your Nethack goals slightly. What I'd suggest would be, instead of trying to ascend within a year, to just keep playing whatever the 'current' version of Nethack is, alongside your other games, for as long as you're doing your blog. When you switch up versions, or get an unusually interesting/memorable playthrough, blog about it.

    There are lots and lots of Nethack players that had tons of fun, yet never actually ascended fairly. I'm one of them myself. Ascension, especially in the later versions, is extremely difficult, and it's almost not even the point of the game.

    It's the exploration of the game mechanics that's the fun part, and you can do that without ever ascending. There's just a ton of humor and creativity in Nethack, and you run a real risk of missing much of it if you're too goal-oriented. It's a superb piece of game design if you play it to "see the sights", as it were, even in ASCII. If you're focused primarily on winning, it'd be awfully easy to rush past the good stuff.

    Nethack is probably the ultimate 'journey, not destination' game.

    By the way, finding a sink in your first game is kind of amusing. Nethack, in earlier versions, was described as having everything but the kitchen sink. That was treated as a bug report.

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    1. I played a lot in high school, with spoilers. Never came CLOSE to ascending.

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  12. Nethack is one of those games that I've spent an embarassing number of hours playing in order to ascend all the classes.

    Whenever you begin to grow frustrated with early deaths, the first change I would make is to pick a class you like and play it consistently. For a new player the Knight, Valkyrie, Samurai, or Barbarian are good classes since they can handle things like newts quite easily. My learning class was the Barbarian because they start with a certain resistance of which you will be quite fond. Other classes will eventually catch up, but your survivability in the early game will be far higher with those classes initially.

    One basic game concept that is absolutely critical is that you have a chance of gaining resistances by eating corpses of specific monsters. Providing information on what corpses correlate to what resistances would be spoilerish, but you can figure that out over time.

    None of the 3.0 versions have substantially all the content. 3.1 adds huge amounts of content. 3.2 refines the magic system. 3.3 allows separation of class from alignment, and adds 2 new classes plus dual wielding. 3.4 and beyond are primarily refinements.

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    1. Are those resistances what you see when you view your "intrinsics" after death?

      Just out of curiosity: what is the average amount of time it takes to play an ascending game? (i.e., from the start of that specific character to the end).

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    2. Yeah, they are. Along with anything you picked up along the way, such as telepathy or teleportitis.

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    3. Ascenscion duration: 3.0 is actually shorter than v3.1 and later versions. (Explaining why would be spoilerish.) Your first ascenscion will take many hours due to learning and being careful (which is necessary when one false step can be fatal). An expert speed ascenscion with a source of level teleportation can take around 2 hours. But an average ascenscion for an "average" player probably takes 8 hours of actual button-pushing time. I tend to take longer due to my perfectionist (OCD much?) nature.

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  13. OK, Nethack is started. It's a game you can play in between other games. On to The Four and Forty!

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  14. "Forcing locks and turning undead make sense, but when am I going to have to "dip an object into something" or wipe off my face?"

    Funny thing is, I have never forced a lock (by using the #force command) or turned undead, but dipping objects into something is quite common action. Wiping the face is completly unneccessary and used in one single situation, IIRC.

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    1. Chet: What do you do if you get something in your eyes?

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    2. Oh, good lord. Is THAT all I needed to do to cure that blindness? Thanks.

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    3. You may need a towel, but it depends on how you went blind. If you have something in your eyes, I think so (Never got that condition myself), but I recall hearing about that.

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  15. I probably said as much back when you originally made that comment, but the simplistic nature of ASCII graphics lets a roguelike developer essentially ignore graphics and focus on gameplay. The result is a genre that I've found to have some of the deepest world simulation out there, especially in latterday titles like Dwarf Fortress and Incursion. It's hard to say that it's a genre that boasts the deepest gameplay, full stop, because most roguelikes tend to be fairly focused on a dungeon crawling experience, and even something like Dwarf Fortress (which is pretty far afield from the traditional roguelike) has definite boundaries as to what it's attempting to do. But within those boundaries, there's not much to top them.

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    1. But would standardized tiles and icons for dungeon textures and monsters really have added THAT much to the development? Aren't there some modern "shells" that add these to the game?

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    2. Yes, there are tilesets for various roguelikes (Falcon's Eye for Nethack is probably the the one with most eyecandy). Usually these are done by different people than the core game. Also there is the new Dungeons of Dredmore which has lots of graphics. I usually play Angband with tiles.

      The problem with tiles is that there usually are *a lot* of different tiles you need to have (think hundreds of different monsters, hundreds of different weapons, armor, scrolls, potions etc. It's simple to add new content if you only need to allocate a character and color for each new thing to add. More complicated if you need to add a tile too.

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    3. There are many, and yes it would. Then you have to write a full GUI, whereas with pure ASCII or UTF8 you can just use text-manipulation code, which is dead simple to write, and one of the first things every programmer learns.

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  16. I can't wait to see what kind of trouble you get into. Plus, #dipping is one of the most useful and important things in the entire game. Try it out and see what effects you get.

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    1. I managed to uncurse a sword earlier by dipping into the right fountain. Beyond that, it just seems to produce a lot of water nymphs.

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    2. By the way, this is PRECISELY the sort of "light hint" I was talking about. I welcome these. Thanks!

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    3. Creatures from fountains can be useful too...

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    4. Or just kill your outright. But yes, I think I know what you are talking about Killer, and I love that item too.

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    5. @canageek I forgot about the thing you're talking about, but there is another perk of playing in fountains. Rare, but awesome.

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    6. Like wolf, I've used #dip lots and lots compared to #force or #wipe, I don't tend to use dip on fountains that much though :)

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  17. Ooh, there's a thought. Also for variety's sake you might consider looking into the Falcon's Eye branch of Nethack, when you get to that point in history.

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  18. Yeeeps, you are in 1989! Time for the next part of my Quest for the Magic Candle! http://canageek.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/quest-for-the-magic-candle-part-4/

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  19. Now I have to go try Omega again. Why did I obtain a powerful computer, when everything I really love can be played upon any old shoebox with a cord stuck in it? Oh, well - I'll be playing really, really well-cooled Omega.

    Thanks very much for constant and excellent blogging, sir: you are an asset to the Net. Which we all decorate, like a fancy Caribbean bus, or old-school cormorant fisherman's boat. It may need repairs and smell funny, but the f*cker is pretty.
    /333

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    1. If you have video card capacity to spare, running Skyrim on Ultra will give you a visual experience that's worthy of the expense.

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    2. One of my goals when I get a real job is to save up for a decent gaming computer, then run Fallout 3 and Skyrim with graphics maxed out and all the 'Better looking X' mods, which 9 times out of 10 simply use textures 4 times the size of the original ones, or use 13 primatives to form a jug, instead of 2. Looks great, but man, does bad things to the frame rate.

      Whereas by the time I save up for a decent gaming computer I'll be able to run any game put out this year on max.

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    3. I have a list of all the Skyrim mods I'm running, on my blog. I love the Lush Trees/Lush Grass mods. And I just couldn't live without SkyUI. The default inventory listing for Skyrim is awful. I did try the W.A.T.E.R. mod, but it drops my framerate into the teens when recording. It looks fantastic though.

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  20. There are four other game concepts of which you should be aware. (There are many other minor game concepts.) I'll stay away from spoilers, but provide a framework. These concepts are speed, luck, praying, and alignment.
    Speed: There are 3 levels of speed (normal, fast, and very fast). Very fast = twice normal speed. That's all I'm going to say about that, and I encourage others not to provide spoilers on sources of speed (for now, at least).
    Luck: Luck starts at zero, and can increase or decrease. Luck impacts nearly anything where the game uses an internal "dice roll" so it is very powerful. Figuring out how to obtain and then maintain luck is a key to winning.
    Praying: If you have low HP and think your next move will leave you dead, you may want to pray instead. There are other uses for prayer, but I won't spoil those. Praying too often is bad, and "too often" is intentionally nebulous.
    Alignment: This is more a "code of conduct" in Nethack. You should be aware that each class has a fixed alignment (until 3.3) and if you violate your alignment too severely then praying becomes unsafe (although there are ways to mollify your deity). You probably won't run into problems with this during your early games, but be aware that it exists.

    I've intentionally omitted spoilers and focused on explaining the "rules".

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    1. So far, I haven't found a lot of opportunities to act or not act on my alignment, except that some creatures don't appear to be hostile when I play certain alignments. I suppose attacking them would be anti-alignment.

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    2. It ties into the comment I made right after this one, if it is the same as 3.4.3. Also, though unrelated, it ties into Unicorns in 3.4.3. Also, some endgame stuff I think, but I've never gotten far enough to care.

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  21. OH yeah, the gods of nethack are into old school sacristies. I'll leave it up to you to figure out what that means. :D

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    1. a room for keeping vestments?

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    2. Bleh, was typing that on my phone and didn't notice. Sacrifices. Offerings.

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  23. My first Slash'Em game, played this morning:

    Raif-Kni-Hum-Mal-Law
    died in The Dungeons of Doom on level 1. Slipped while mounting a saddled pony.

    Some Knight I was. The game lasted for all of six seconds.

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  24. You are touching on the different styles that exist in the roguelike genre. You have the hack and slash, level and loot fest fun of the bands which is the vast majority of roguelikes out there. The puzzle based Hackish style that this game champions. Then you have the create a world style of Omega and ADOM.

    For the most part I feel you can classify roguelikes into these styles, the bands, hacks, and omegadoms. I enjoy playing games in all of these styles so none of what I am saying is meant to put a certain style down. That said I think my favorite is the Omegadoms, even though I spend more time playing DCSS which is very bandish in game play.

    The below chart gives a good visual guide to what I am referring to.

    http://roguebasin.roguelikedevelopment.org/index.php/Tree_of_roguelike_evolution

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    1. I eve heard good things about Dungeon Crawl and stone soup, but also that they make nethack look easy.

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    2. There's an old roguelike saying: "NetHack doesn't care if you live or die, Crawl wants you dead". But indeed, DCSS, at least in the more recent versions, is a very good and polished game.

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    3. It's fun, but it took me about 5-6 months of Nethack to win a game. I have never won DCSS after playing for several years.

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  25. Magic Candle is not easy. Be prepared to take a lot of notes.

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    1. If somebody dies in Magic Candle and I cannot resurrect him at the end of the battle, would he be dead forever?

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    2. Yeah if you don't have someone alive and well with a Resurrect spell memorized, the dead party member is gone forever.

      It's really only an issue at the start of the game; regardless of how you play, eventually you'll be swapping spellbooks between three or more characters.

      Still, it can be pretty precarious when you first start out >_< though it's amazing how the pace of the game progresses as you progress in your quest...

      Delete
  26. "A few months after that, I was absolutely floored by Omega, an independently-developed, shareware roguelike that offered [...] the first multiple endings in CRPG history."

    You've got Omega listed as a 1988 game, but Wizardry IV, a 1987 game, also had multiple endings. Five of them in fact, though you never got far enough to see them. I'm wondering if there are any older CRPGs, perhaps for other platforms, that have multiple endings. I can't think of any at the moment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're absolutely right. And I probably missed one or two others along the way, too. I caught too caught up in hyperbole. Thanks for the correction.

      Delete
  27. Hey, When the Addict reaches more modern versions of Nethack we should talk him into playing on the telnet server, so we can watch and share bones files.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And webtiles DCSS with comments

      Delete
    2. Actually, we should all email the addict our bones files, otherwise he will get totally random ones.

      Delete
  28. Thanks for the shoutout, Addict! I'm glad you are planning to experience Nethack throughout the year- that's a clever way to balance the fundamentally different character of a roguelike against the goal of completing many games.

    Good luck. May the RNG be with you.

    -Ryan (formerly Pipecleaner Creations)

    ReplyDelete
  29. I want to offer a piece of advice I read a long time ago about the difference between Crawl and Nethack:

    In Crawl, you are supposed to experiment to survive. You will at some point need to use your scrolls and potions, and it's okay to drink a few just to know what they do, even if they will be wasted completely.

    In Nethack, you are supposed to play it safe to survive. Sure, it would be neat to have a few healing potions, but you don't want to just quaff that blue potion and hope for the best, because it's going to be a Potion of Brain Melting.

    What this means: In crawl, out of 20 potions types, about one is somewhat detrimental. In Nethack, at least half of them outright murder you.

    Also: Look at sell prices to save on identify costs. Merchants have very keen eyes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only a few days into it, I'm beginning to understand why everyone encouraged me to read spoilers.

      Is "Crawl" the same thing as Linley Henzell's Dungeon Crawl, which I have on my list for 1997?

      Delete
    2. That was the first version: When she stopped updating it, it was continued as Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup.

      Delete
  30. Interesting...Is NetHack is one of the few RPGs to use a contemporary setting, neither sci-fi nor medieval fantasy? I mean, the camera is contemporary even if the sword is not. However, I have already forgotten what "ascending" means in this context.

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    Replies
    1. It's primarily a Tolkien / DnD / High Fantasy pastiche with a number of anachronisms thrown in because, what they hey, they're fun.

      Delete
  31. When did Nethack include gravestones?

    Sometimes you can get stuff at altars, by offering or just by dropping things...

    Ever read a scroll when confused?

    Pit trap? If only you had something to push into it to fill it up...

    note that you can wield corpses as weapons - risky but rewarding!

    ReplyDelete

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