Any Nethack fans out there? Best game ever?

I know its a tad obscure. I know its praises have been sung to death already. Screw dat, I wanna talk about it. I’ve been playing a lot of Diablo 2 lately (yeah…found it in the closet, never really played it when I bought it. You know the drill) – and I can’t help but notice that NH just kicks D2’s ass.

Perhaps a big part of it is the turn-basedness, but thats far from it; its the gestalt. The crude-but-strangely-great ASCII/ANSI graphics. The cruel-but-strangely-satisfying Permadeath (as in, when your character dies, you start over). The fact that you have a little pet. The fact that you can do about 200 (really!) different actions, and yet you can jump in and play it quickly without too much background. The bizarre “It is said in the Book of So-and-So…” intro text, which I’ve literally never read. And especially – especially – the way they somehow make a punishingly difficult game fun enough to draw you back to it. For decades.

No idea what I’m talking about? Download it, play it a few times. I’m partial to the Monk class (and I find it to be one of the easier ones, towards the beginning). Oh, and remember to turn off AUTOPICKUP – hit “O” (thats a capital O, a regular “o”, of course, is to open something…). Otherwise, you’ll be picking up too much crap, and you’ll get your character “burdened”, and thats pretty much doom.

Anyone into this game? Got any unusual tips? Questions about it? I’ve got one major, ass-kicking tip, and one major, pain-in-the-ass question:

TIP: want to find out if something’s cursed? Drop the item, get your pet nearby, and see if the pet will end a turn standing on it. If so, its clean. This has saved me much frustration.

QUESTION: I’m running OSX, now, and I can only seem to get the (admittedly decent, but not-the-same graphical “tile” version running – even in Console, I can’t get it to look the slick-ass way it did in DOS. Little help?

Onward, to the Amulet!

I like it a lot, but haven’t touched it or other roguelikes in a long time. It is a very good game for the first 15-20 dungeon levels or so (plus the gnomish mines). After that it just starts to drag on, when your only real enemy is your own stupidity. It is quite easy to get to the point where no enemy is of any danger a bit after you complete your class quest and get the wand of wishing from the castle. It’s moderately harder if you do a no wishing, polypiling, or genociding run.

Of course the real dangers are things like drowning, killing yourself by falling down stairs, and various cockatrice incidents. I just wish the actual demons, undead and angel you face would be more difficult.

Have you played any other roguelikes? I used to play Angband, and dabbled a bit with Zangband and Tome. I also quite liked ADoM, but it’s disappointingly not being developed anymore.

I have to be honest and say I’ve never understood the fondness so many people have for the various “Roguelikes”- I’ve tried playing them and just can’t get into them.

Is it nostalgia for a “simpler” time in gaming, or is there some other aspect to it?

I have tried many Roguelikes, including Nethack, but I just keep dying, usually from lack of food. I have tried Crawl and Powder, and prefer them over Nethack.

I used to play Nethack quite a bit. I once made it down to Medusa’s lair, saved, and haven’t dared risk that session since.

The first thing I do is reconfigure the autopickup.

If you’re not trying for the atheist challenge, find an altar, make it your supply dump, and when you have a good shot convert the altar. Now you have a source of luck, holy water, and the occasional artifact. This is in addition to an altar’s normal function of determining blessed/cursed status.

No matter how powerful you or your pet becomes, never ever kill Itzchak.

Scuba Ben, petrified by a cockatrice, by hitting it bare-handed. YASD.

I’m currently having fun with Dwarf Fortress, which is sort of like Nethack crossed with Civilization crossed with the Sims on crack.

I’ve never actually tried Nethack, that I recall. I’m more of an Angband guy.

I like ADOM a great deal, though I haven’t tried playing it recently.

  1. One thing I like is that this game is really on constant pause. If in a jam all you have to do is stop touching the keyboard, catch your breath and then check your inventory to see if you have some way to escape the peril.

  2. These games are the template to all other games. Fancy graphics can’t really alter the basics of a good game, and most of the rogue games are better just because of their simplicity.

  3. It’s never the same game twice. Some set ups are exactly alike, but the dungeons are infinately deep and different each and every time. It is hard to describe the terror/joy of being teleported into the middle of monster room and hacking your way free.

  4. I have never won a rogue game, playing them off and on since 1983. Still a blast. Do you know of any computer game that has been played for as long?
    You can’t top a classic.

In NetHack’s case, at least, there’s an element of “anything you can think of to try will actually DO something, even if it blows up in your face” - I don’t think there’s been any more graphically sophisticated game to come close. Eg. it’s possible to turn yourself into a monster that eats rocks and gems and then eat all of your magic rings to gain their powers permanently. Try doing THAT in Diablo II.

I prefer the Slash’Em variant over NetHack, and Crawl over both. Tried DF a long time ago and couldn’t figure out how to farm so my Dwarves kept starving. Will try again with the latest version sometime.

There’s also a very old NetHack variant with Star Trek, Star Wars, and Douglas Adams references. Lightsaber, anyone?

I was gonna go into that, but for me its not simply a nostalgia-trip – I first played NH circa…1996, maybe, after it was featured in (I think) Wired. I had played (and moderately enjoyed) Rogue on our PCXT growing up, and I basically had no idea that there was such a thing as a “roguelike” game; I guess you could say I played it initially as a nostalgic lark – that and the fact that the Wired article was pretty much demanding that you play the game, or you were a fool. Anyway, I played it, really enjoyed playing a game that was both complex/broad, had randomized levels but got the level-rendering logic down so as to make them interesting (I was probably doing something wrong, but I recall getting stuck in Rogue’s dungeons)…and especially the turn-based play.

I don’t think I’d played a turn-based game (other than, you know, Chess), and part of the appeal was (and still is) the “oh, hey, lets take five and move around a bit!”, whereas if I play something Big and Completely Screen-Dominating, I’m gonna get sucked into playing for far too long.

Oh, and Nethack has always been a great game to sneakily play in the background at work. It looks like…a console. Then again, the name sounds humorously malicious, like you’re…hacking the net. Yee!

Nethack has its charm, and I played it a lot back in the ´90s, but these days my roguelike of choice is SAngband. What started to annoy me after I had played NH quite a bit was that you had to jump through all these hoops to get ahead … dip this into that, don’t read any scrolls before you can identify them through this trick etc etc. If you just had fun, you ended up dead sooner or later. It was like some sort of complex dance, way too strict and formulaic deep inside its whacky core to fascinate me in the long run. Sure, you can’t try to leash a nymph (she’s not that kind of girl anyways) in Angband variants, but the combat is more interesting IMHO and of course humans are deep-wired to enjoy the slot-machine aspect of Angband loot. You never know what you are going to get!

Still, I have nothing but respect for any roguelike players. There’s far too few of us around to get into petty turf wars. Not to mention I used to love it back in the day so its very nostalgic game for me.

This, exactly. I liked Zangband (and other variants) but I never quite got into Nethack. It wasn’t very accessible and seemed very random and specific in what you had to do just to survive. I like a bit more freedom.

I like(d) Moria. Two features that made it nice:

The auto move hit “.” and then a direction and you moved that way until a monster, branch in the hallway, etc stopped you

The merchnact interface. Haggling was a bit of a pain, but I like “list of items” better than “pick up things off the floor”

Ah, Nethack. Devourer of a truly embarrassing amount of my life.

An odd part of the appeal is the organic random nature of it. While there are some guidelines, you’re not dealing with encounters the programmer thought were challenging, you’re dealing with whatever crazy, blatantly unfair BS the random number god decides to throw at you.

A swarm of Soldier Ants at level 3? Awesome. Gnome with a Wand of Death at level 4? Also, awesome. Falling through a trapdoor in the second room dropping you to level 6, and then a teleportation trap to level 10? Into a room with no obvious exits, a Mumak and a Lecruttia? It doesn’t get any better than this.

Course, it occasionally works in your favor, but what fun is that?

Only two assentions. (Archeologist and Healer, though the latter was wish and genocide free) I’m too sloppy and lazy for the long grind once you get to hell.

That’s two more than me.

All three at once (sortof)