April 13, 2005 8:51 PM   Subscribe

Asidonhopo hits! --more--

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posted by felix (93 comments total) 84 users marked this as a favorite
It's an offshoot of rogue and hack, and cousin to larn, moria, slashem, angband, Diablo and Diablo II. Famously difficult, mindbendingly complete, and ruinous to undergraduates, it is part of a code tree that has been under continuous open source development for 25 years. Even reading all the spoilers doesn't guarantee you'll ever win. Some ratchet up the difficulty to insane levels by refusing to kill any monsters; others, more bloodthirsty, try to kill every last one of them. Whether organized or on an organizer, graphical or text based, on a web page or via telnet, welcome (back?) to the world of nethack.
posted by felix at 8:51 PM on April 13, 2005 [4 favorites]

posted by jimmy at 8:53 PM on April 13, 2005

Freaking awesome. Thanks.
posted by paladin at 8:59 PM on April 13, 2005

Excellent post. Must stop game from consuming soul. Has anyone here Ascended?
posted by blahblahblah at 9:07 PM on April 13, 2005

this is an awesome post.
posted by advil at 9:08 PM on April 13, 2005

Felix, you have ascended to demigod-hood, in my books.

I have ascended six times in Nethack. Fortunately, this is a web site on the nerdy nerdy Internet, so I can admit that here. Though I haven't played in a while, it's the only game I'm willing to invest time in anymore (these kids and their graphics of any kind...pff), and it is well worth your while to at least sink a month or so into this beautiful monstrosity of a game. C'mon, at least get through Sokoban and the Mines. You're in college and worried about your GPA? Perfect! No better time to start procrastinating. Nethack: No longer just for sweaty CompSci students (but still mostly).
posted by Succa at 9:19 PM on April 13, 2005

Amazing post.

I never got very far in it. I tried, back when I was trying to be all cool and run Linux in console mode and use text-mode icq and such (maybe because I just couldn't get X to work,) but it was just so different from every thing else I'd played.

Now Muds, those were fun.
posted by maledictory at 9:25 PM on April 13, 2005

By the way, you can get nethack on your PocketPC or Windows Smartphone (with graphics, for wimps).

And, although I risk censure for saying this, ADOM is an even better variation - with a surface map and a plotline! If you haven't tried it, download it now. And never work again.
posted by blahblahblah at 9:29 PM on April 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

posted by schyler523 at 9:30 PM on April 13, 2005

My god, how did I miss this? If I'd discovered it when I first went online, I'd have been a permanent addict.

*wipes brow, thanks gods*

p.s. felix, I love you. this is the best mefi post in ages.
posted by mediareport at 9:31 PM on April 13, 2005

I see you all typing, but all I can read is "wah wah waa-waa, wah wah waa-waa-waa" in the voice of Charlie Brown's teacher...
posted by jonson at 9:31 PM on April 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the kind words, everyone! I should also point out that alt.org's nethack server has a fascinating variety of statistics for games played on that server, including most egregious deaths and ascension percentages by class. Thanks also to blah^3 for the ADOM and PocketPC links.
posted by felix at 9:43 PM on April 13, 2005

posted by bshort at 9:43 PM on April 13, 2005

h0 h0
posted by naxosaxur at 9:56 PM on April 13, 2005

Mmm... Nethack. At the Computer Science House at RIT (of which I'm a member) Nethack is quite the tradition. We have annual binges for all to compete in (including a networked server with real-time projections on the wall), a personal collection of hacks and patches and a personal statistics page (including fun deaths). Many an education has been ruined by this game.
posted by jeresig at 9:58 PM on April 13, 2005

best. fpp. ever. I'm so glad that the legion horde of Nethack players has claimed mediareport as a new member/victim.

Personally, I've only ever ascended once. Human barbarian, the character was. (Sadly, my log of the event has been lost to the mists of time.)

This one ascension is the only time I have ever gotten a substantial ways in Nethack, despite having played for years. Even my most promising characters tend to die on/after Sokoban, or if they're really lucky they get to the Quest. Then again I'm trying to ascend an elven priest, so maybe that's the problem.

Fortunately, I'd played through the game in wizard mode a couple times and had thoroughly read the spoilers, so I actually knew what to do once I got to, say, Gehemmon or the Inner Sanctum...

And let me tell you: Having an air elemental zap and disintegrate both your Ring of Levitation when you're on the Plane of Air (and therefore very, very close to ascending) is not good for the psyche. Oh yes, and dying without remembering that you did, in fact, have an Amulet of Life Saving on isn't very good for the heart.
posted by neckro23 at 10:02 PM on April 13, 2005

Best post ever?

I play as much Nethack as the next guy, but I thought surely *someone* would have posted about it by now.

Here's an interesting statistic for all you hackers out there -- it's not only possible to win most games on Nethack, but in last November's Nethack tournament the winner of the "Best of 13" award, given to the player who ascends the most games out of his last 13 played, won 12 of those 13. In other words, likely the great majority of games are winnable!

Not only that... but the game is actually considered almost easy to some experienced players. Nethack is a game in which it seems almost impossible when you start, but years of experience and gained wisdom can greatly improve your chances of victory.

Some players are so good at it that they invented the concept (later recognized in the game itself) of "conducts," harder ways of playing that take advantage of subsets of the game's huge set of features. These days on the Nethack usenet group (rec.games.roguelike.nethack) basic ascension posts are almost trite, but a Pacifist ascension (never personally killed a monster(!)), or a Foodless Atheist one (never ate food, and never prayed for divine help out of starvation (!!)) now that'll get you some notice.
posted by JHarris at 10:04 PM on April 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

I was hoping this meant there was a new version.. alas.
posted by fleacircus at 10:07 PM on April 13, 2005

JHarris writes "the game is actually considered almost easy to some experienced players. Nethack is a game in which it seems almost impossible when you start, but years of experience and gained wisdom can greatly improve your chances of victory."

Life is actually considered almost easy to some experienced players. Living on Earth is a game in which it seems almost impossible when you start, but years of experience and gained wisdom can greatly improve your chances of victory. But then again, what can't be improved by years of experience and gained wisdom?
posted by nkyad at 10:21 PM on April 13, 2005

I want to be one of the cool kids, but I'm also lazy. Can someone explain the appeal of this game so I don't actually have to sample it myself?
posted by Ritchie at 10:43 PM on April 13, 2005

I think somebody did post about Nethack back in the day but nowhere near as cool as this. More of an Angband type myself though I've only started to pick that up again very recently. Nethack definitely has more interesting ways to bite it though.
posted by furiousthought at 10:56 PM on April 13, 2005

I'm old school -- I don't install the games group because "It takes up some precious space." But I played nethack at the U, because their 30MB disks seemed endless amount of space at the time.

Great post.
posted by NewBornHippy at 11:15 PM on April 13, 2005

> maybe because I just couldn't get X to work

There's an X now?
posted by NewBornHippy at 11:20 PM on April 13, 2005

And for those that enjoy bananas, NetHack and similar:

posted by TwelveTwo at 11:31 PM on April 13, 2005

I can't get it to steer right.. there's a trick to this,Yes?
posted by Balisong at 11:52 PM on April 13, 2005

Felix rules! Sadly, I have a private vice when I play--strategic saving--so my ascensions don't really count.
posted by LarryC at 12:04 AM on April 14, 2005

Sorry to be ignorant but what the F is this all about??????
posted by Merlin at 12:19 AM on April 14, 2005

Pacifist ascensions? Blows the mind, dude.

Actually, a friend of mine had an idea a few years ago for a "Hippie" class--naturally pacifist (because violence is bad karma) and gains experience by hallucinating. Too bad that never got implemented, it woulda been fun.

Never ascended myself though, in years of play, and the only conduct challenges I've tried have been going vegetarian and weaponless as a Monk, and that's kinda the way Monks seem to play best anyway.
posted by arto at 12:24 AM on April 14, 2005

OK. I finally found the link to where we find out what the F this is all about. Damn, now I'll have to load it up and give it a go. I guess finding the ">" link was the first part of the game.
posted by Merlin at 1:09 AM on April 14, 2005

Loved the way you did this post. The use of --more-- was pure genius!
posted by grouse at 2:36 AM on April 14, 2005

this is incredible.
posted by shmegegge at 2:51 AM on April 14, 2005

I have loved this game for nearly twenty years. Proof that you don't need great graphics to have something that is hella-fun.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:55 AM on April 14, 2005

As an undergrad, I probably played ~20 hours a week of nethack. Hell, I still play it when I have a little bit of time at work. However, I've never Ascended. I don't think I ever will, either. (Even though I have it written down somewhere on a list of "life goals".)

Interesting to see Caveman has the highest Ascension percentage. I thought it would be the Barbarian...
posted by PantsOfSCIENCE at 4:14 AM on April 14, 2005

As I detailed earlier today, I still like urogue about as much as I like Nethack.
posted by peterb at 4:37 AM on April 14, 2005

So, all you folks who have ascended, did you do it without backing up and restoring your save file? For the uninitiated, Nethack has no extra lives like Quake, when you die you're dead. You might have spent twenty hours building a character up to a high level with a -12 AC and lots of toys but then you bump into a stupid floating eye, get paralyzed and killed by rat. And there is no save and restore feature, so when that happens you have to start again from the beginning with a level one character. So some people cheat by grabbing the character file from the nethack directory/folder and backing it up manually and then copying it back after they die. Folks on the nethack newsgroup get all worked up about this practice and flame anyone who admits to it.

So, fess up. Do you backup the save file or don't you? (I do sometimes).
posted by octothorpe at 4:40 AM on April 14, 2005

Ooh, I must play again. These days my poison of choice is slashem, but long ago I ascended a tourist who used a spellbook of magic mapping as his primary weapon for a large part of the game. Lots of fun.
posted by fvw at 4:42 AM on April 14, 2005

I'm strictly anti-save-file-backup. It's pretty much the Great Unpardonable Sin of Nethack. The only time I backed up a save file on my ascension was when I was standing on the High Altar, one turn from victory, so it didn't matter at all. (And that was just so I could be sure to properly log my belongings and creatures vanquished -- the file of which I promptly lost. Oh well!)
posted by neckro23 at 4:54 AM on April 14, 2005

Do you backup the save file or don't you?

The first "hack" I ever did was on an 086 with no hard drive-- I used tape to write-protect a 5 1/4 floppy that had my rogue.sav file on it. I thought I was wicked clever for doing it.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:08 AM on April 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

I've ascended three times without ever backing up. I've been working on a semi-pacifist (just long enough to grab enough gold and get down to the priest in the mines to improve my armor class) archaeologist since. I've had a couple of stupid deaths on the Astral Plane as well.

Nethack takes practice and patience. You have to develop good habits that keep you from doing stupid things ever, since all it takes is one misstep to ruin your day. I'd probably have ascended many dead archaeologists ago if I played more, but I've tended to play in spurts, thus having to redevelop good play habits all over again.
posted by ursus_comiter at 5:34 AM on April 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

I think my best attempt was killed by Death, or maybe Famine, while I was trying to find my altar. I was so crushed that I haven't played very much since.

These days I play T.O.M.E. instead, for the thrill of weird, unbalanced gameplay.
posted by benimoto at 5:49 AM on April 14, 2005

If you're just starting out with Nethack, you might want to print out this Quick Reference Card. There are a lot of commands, and it's hard to know what to do if you don't know the options.

Good luck, and don't starve! My earliest deaths were mostly related to food issues. Also, don't use equipment you've found (weapons/armor/rings) until you figure out if they're cursed or not...

Nethack is brutal, but rewarding.
posted by drstupid at 6:23 AM on April 14, 2005

I ascended once in 1992, which was good because it let me continue my, um, other studies in college.

Backing up save files is cheating.
posted by Nelson at 6:32 AM on April 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Well then, call me a cheater. Otherwise I'd never get out of the mines.

I love the game, but I can't believe that most games are winnable...a weird monster encounter, an errant finger on the keyboard, a f'd-up polymorph trap, a string of two or three trap doors and you're screwed, screwed, screwed...seriously, what are these "good habits" that can save you (other than not putting on any random armor or rings that you find)?

The other reason I backup the save files is I can't help but be curioius about paths not taken/rings not worn. I know my ascensions aren't "real," but it doesn't kill the fun of the game for me.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:58 AM on April 14, 2005

Savescumming? Hells no. That is a sin punishable by stoning.
posted by Succa at 7:09 AM on April 14, 2005

Besides, just use Wizard Mode if you want to explore sans consequences!
posted by Succa at 7:10 AM on April 14, 2005

I've never backed up my save files. That's probably part of the reason why I've never ascended. :(
posted by grouse at 7:18 AM on April 14, 2005

Woot! When I put together the bestiary, I never imagined it would make it to mefi! <congratulates self> Now, if I could just find myself a luckstone...
posted by simra at 7:24 AM on April 14, 2005

Omg, blast from the past. thank you thank you. I remeber editing config files to get the game to work. My dad the computer programmer was so proud.
posted by surferboy at 7:27 AM on April 14, 2005

I've read that the best pet is an archon. What is an archon anyway?
posted by grouse at 7:33 AM on April 14, 2005

wait... so it's like dungeons & dragons? no thanks...
posted by cusack at 7:38 AM on April 14, 2005

felix, you are awesome.
posted by unreason at 7:43 AM on April 14, 2005

See also: Linley's Dungeon Crawl.

Beware the Death Cob.
posted by murphy slaw at 7:49 AM on April 14, 2005

I think I can believe that most games are winnable, given perfect patience and comprehensive knowledge of the game. I, of course, have neither quality.
The wonderful thing about nethack is that you have so many options and there are so many ways that the game elements interact. The trick is knowing, or remembering, what options can save you. There are things that can leave you screwed, but also ways to protect yourself from them. Usually, when I died in nethack, a means of preventing the death became obvious a few seconds too late. The game rewards obsessive caution.

What's the closest to nethack that I can get for palm os? I tried a version of rogue, but it just wasn't satisfyingly complex.

Ten out of ten for style, felix.
posted by Zetetics at 7:52 AM on April 14, 2005

Good habits include not letting yourself run around overburdened, not letting yourself make unconsidered keystrokes, keeping an eye on your hitpoints all the time, so you don't die just because you've gone bash happy when a mumak shows up. Remembering that it's a turn based game and stopping to think when something bad happens. It takes time to learn to play the game patiently and carefully. What I'm talking about aren't just the strategy and tactics of nethack, it's the execution. I've been playing again for the last two weeks and I'm still letting myself wander under falling rock traps and the like. After I play long enough (and die stupid enough times), I get back in the groove and stop doing stupid things. Playing carefully becomes habit.
posted by ursus_comiter at 7:56 AM on April 14, 2005

Ah, the greatest productivity enhancer of all time. I have been killed by my own cat, more than once.
posted by everichon at 7:57 AM on April 14, 2005

JHarris: ... it seems almost impossible when you start, but years of experience and gained wisdom can greatly improve your chances of victory.

There's a masochistic patience factor in there somewhere, too. Years of experience haven't gained me any ascensions.. :-(
posted by simra at 8:03 AM on April 14, 2005

I suddenly feel as though I'm going to be eaten by a grue. Err, wrong game. Though I once earned brownie points with my crufty superiors by entering that in the paper logs for a graveyard shift helpdesk position I once worked at. (0000: All is quiet. 0100: All is quiet. 0400: I suddenly feel as though I'm going to be eaten by a grue.)

Never wear a ring of conflict on the astral plane!@
posted by loquacious at 8:17 AM on April 14, 2005 [1 favorite]

Hah--I see from Felix's graphic that he just robbed a shop! Bold play, my man.
posted by LarryC at 9:24 AM on April 14, 2005

You have to develop good habits that keep you from doing stupid things ever, since all it takes is one misstep to ruin your day.

Tell me what these good habits are, please, please, please. Others on the net have tried to help me, but many, many efforts have all met with the same sad fate, leaving me a bitter and wounded man. I keep going back for more, though.
posted by anapestic at 9:26 AM on April 14, 2005

I've ascended twice.

The top 5 good habits:

1) don't get careless. Even when you're kicking ass in the middle game, you are often less than 10 keystrokes away from certain death. Play methodically, cautiously, and stay alert.

2) everything that you've ever learned about the game that gives you an advantage, exploit ruthlessly. The game is stacked against you and must be defeated by any means necessary.

3) always think to yourself, "what is the worst thing that could happen up ahead?", and try to get and keep ways to escape that situation.

4) you'll never be able to carry everything you want. Establish protected emergency caches of second-best items, food supplies, etc., in safe locations you can get to easily. Remember, you can go up as well as down.

5) if you're playing spoiler-free, then write down all of the gathered knowledge and theories you have about the game so that you can refresh your memory later. If you've abandoned playing spoiler-free, then don't forget to read them every now and then just to keep your edge.
posted by felix at 9:40 AM on April 14, 2005

LarryC writes: "Hah--I see from Felix's graphic that he just robbed a shop! Bold play, my man."

Heh. Stage 1 of nethack addiction is not knowing what the hell that graphic is. Stage 2 is wondering what all those strange Ks are. Stage 3 is understanding that the shop has been robbed. Stage 4 is feeling pity for noticing that the robber almost, but not quite, made it to the steps. Stage 5 is cursing the little dog for being useless and snarking that the player evidently screwed up when casing the joint and ran out of escape items too fast. :)
posted by felix at 9:51 AM on April 14, 2005

It's interesting that, even after all these years, I still immediately knew that 'Asidonhopo' was a shopkeeper and that you were, most likely, a thief. The name alone says so much.

Balisong: if you can't get it to move right, try hitting capital O, and looking for the number_pad option, and turning that on. By default I think nethack uses the vi editor's movement keys, which are deeply bizarre. They're a relic of a time when computers didn't HAVE number pads -- or even cursor keys!

Nethack is very, very, VERY old.

I'm afraid I must admit to the vice of savescumming. I've never had the discipline to let a character die that I had 20+ hours invested in. I've ascended a couple of times, but only via savescumming, so it doesn't count. Obviously, winning sans savescumming is possible, but you literally have to make tens of thousands of decisions without making ANY mistakes -- at least not fatal ones. It is an exceptionally difficult game. I think maybe you need a bit of obsessive-compulsive in your nature to win this game without cheating.

That said, it is enormously fun, and complex beyond belief. They've been developing it for, as Felix says, more than 25 years. The codebase, when I last looked, was several megabytes. And that's with ZERO graphic data. That's 100% pure game, nothing extra. You can pack A LOT of gaming goodness in that much space. If you didn't read the online spoilers, and just played and figured out everything you could, I suspect you'd still be seeing new stuff after a couple of THOUSAND hours of playtime. There's that much stuff in there.

People used to say that Nethack had everything but the kitchen sink. Annoyed at the omission, the developers added sinks.

posted by Malor at 9:56 AM on April 14, 2005

and there's an OSX version. nice
posted by destro at 10:13 AM on April 14, 2005

I played Rogue.

Never got around to Hack or NetHack.

That PocketPC version will probably make me play, seeing as two hours of my day are taken up by a bus ride to and from work (currently replaying Monkey Island 2 via ScummVM PPC).
posted by linux at 10:16 AM on April 14, 2005

1) don't get careless. Even when you're kicking ass in the middle game, you are often less than 10 keystrokes away from certain death. Play methodically, cautiously, and stay alert.

One thing that's very helpful here is using shift-G when you want to run instead of just the shift key. With shift-G, you'll stop when you encounter something interesting, like that floating eye, without poking it with your weapon.
posted by ursus_comiter at 10:16 AM on April 14, 2005

I didn't want to SaveScum but I didn't want to play explorer mode either (Where you have a choice whether you die). I noticed in many other RPGs (particularly those on the consoles) when you die you lose some money and you appear in some healer's bed somewhere. Well I wanted this feature, so I added it to Slashem (there are still some bugs). When you die you had the option of not dying. If you selected not dying you would immediately drop every single item you had and lose all your gold and appear naked randomly on level 1 (now if you were on level 1 at the time you just dropped everything and lost your gold). This modification allowed me to play more liberally and better feel out what I could do in the game (with Slashem you definitely want to figure out what is different). If you're level 6 or above and you lose all your items and your gold it does hurt and it challenging to retrieve them. If I have time I'll clean up the patch and make it a mode much like explorer mode (-RPG ?) because the scoring in multiple death mode just isn't fair compared to normal slashem (I was thinking your multiple death score should be score/exp(deaths+1)).
posted by abez at 10:29 AM on April 14, 2005

1) don't get careless. Even when you're kicking ass in the middle game, you are often less than 10 keystrokes away from certain death. Play methodically, cautiously, and stay alert.

I'd add to that, "don't give up and panic when it looks hopeless." Even when you are surrounded by monsters that could easily kill you there are many ways to escape. Engrave "elbereth on the floor (with a hard gem if you have one), teleport, cast a dig on the floor under you, pray, etc. I've died many times without doing such things and then kicked myself afterward.
posted by octothorpe at 10:42 AM on April 14, 2005

Somebody (who is presumably no longer reading) asked what the big deal is. I think the answer is that nethack has been explored, every nook, cranny, and combination, by thousands of people over decades, many of them who then modified it to enrich the experience. The effect is that one essentially never runs into a situation where things make no sense (worst example being a game crash, of course). Some examples:
1) Drink too much, and your head aches. Drink too much when you're polymorphed into an ettin, and your heads ache.
2) Put on a mysterious ring and turn invisible: now the ring shows up in your inventory as "ring of invisibility". (You may get a better price for it, too.) But if you have the power to see invisible creatures, when you put on the ring, the label in your inventory doesn't change.
3) You can write on the ground. But if you try it when you've been swallowed by a purple worm, it says "What would you write? Jonah was here?"
For reasons like these, nethack is one of the most immersive games I know. (Which is paradoxical, given its user interface.)

I wonder whether nethack's glory days are behind it, though, not because commerical games today have caught up to it in many ways but because too many people have personal computers. I can't imagine becoming fluent in its details without working in a computer lab with a dozen other devotees to dispense wisdom. One of the most fun aspects of that is asking "Why is so-and-so?" with the answer "In version N-3 it wasn't, which led to the following stooopid abuse; now that abuse is no longer available." (Example: baby dragons don't leave corpses.)
posted by Aknaton at 10:53 AM on April 14, 2005

coincidentally I found this version yesterday for phones running the UIQ OS. Including the Sony Ericsson P800/900/910.
posted by darksmiler at 11:16 AM on April 14, 2005

People used to say that Nethack had everything but the kitchen sink. Annoyed at the omission, the developers added sinks.

It's also been said that a software product isn't fully mature until it has an embedded email client. While NH hasn't quite reached that level of maturity, it does inded have a mode for informing you that you've got new email. :-)
posted by simra at 11:23 AM on April 14, 2005

best. fpp. evar.
posted by evilgenius at 11:42 AM on April 14, 2005

Ah...old Skool. Great post felix. You sir, are a dude.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:56 AM on April 14, 2005

But then again, what can't be improved by years of experience and gained wisdom?

Roulette, escaping the event horizon of a black hole, and living forever.
posted by JHarris at 12:11 PM on April 14, 2005

I was totally unaware of all this - I'm going to have to create a sister post about MUDs, the other text-based game vice. Thanks for the great post, felix.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:40 PM on April 14, 2005

Merlin: OK. I finally found the link to where we find out what the F this is all about. Damn, now I'll have to load it up and give it a go. I guess finding the ">" link was the first part of the game.

Welcome to gradewrecker Merlin. If you are working towards a GPA it just crawled into a corner and shot itself.

I too can't believe NetHack has never been posted but I supposed it's the sort of thing everyone assumes everyone has seen.

Never ascended personally and I've been playing nethack since it was playable off a single floppy. Haven't even made it to the bottom of the dungeon mostly becasue I'm not patient enough. Got enough hours in that I probably could have got a PhD if one was available in NetHack.

Maybe I should give a Barbarian or Caveman a try, I've been playing Valkerie for the most part.
posted by Mitheral at 12:52 PM on April 14, 2005

Actually, I do believe that there has been a previous nethack post that occured when the latest major version change occured...



This in now way detracts from the quality of Felix' post.
posted by ursus_comiter at 1:05 PM on April 14, 2005

s/now way/no way/

posted by ursus_comiter at 1:07 PM on April 14, 2005

Yeah, given the immense quality of this post, it's not really a double.
posted by unreason at 2:11 PM on April 14, 2005

I have ascended once. It was maybe the most exciting gaming experience I have ever had.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:30 PM on April 14, 2005


Seriously, sweet post.
posted by Snyder at 2:59 PM on April 14, 2005

I first played Rogue 26 years ago on a Burroughs/VAX. I have never ascended. That is all.
posted by Sparx at 3:19 PM on April 14, 2005

I've ascended 6 or 7 times. It took about 10 years from the time I first played to my first ascension.

I almost had a pacifist ascension once. I had the amulet and was on my way up. But I hadn't counted on the fact that the Wizard was going to keep appearing with higher and higher levels. My Archon was only level 34 or so, and eventually wouldn't attack the Wizard anymore (your pet will only attack one level above its own level). I had the Staff of Aesculapius for level drain, but since I had never intentionally attacked anything, I didn't have the staff skill, and by the time I built it up, the Wizard was too powerful. In the midst of all these problems, I let myself get distracted and was drowned by a couatl on the Juiblex level. If I had stockpiled potions of gain level for the Archon, I probably would have made it.

That was a great game, though. I wound up separated by 17 levels from my Archon once, thanks to a level teleporter, and still survived.

What makes this game great is that a narrative emerges naturally from the huge number of possible combinations of effects and circumstances. Each play-through becomes its own little story that was never specifically planned by the designers.
posted by mcguirk at 3:44 PM on April 14, 2005

Yeah, Nethack is awesome. I'll never ascend, though. Of that I am sure. I get too impatient, and start running much more that I should. And then I die. *sigh*
posted by graventy at 4:36 PM on April 14, 2005

At this moment there are 83 comments under this post. Comments mostly written by high education students, information sciences professionals and other people responsible for the very heart of modern corporate productivity (except, obviously, the high education students who are not responsible for anything but locating the next pot-beer-girl singularity in the spacetime continuum). Now you take into account the thousands of like-minded people who will read it. And multiply all of them by the number of people each one will tell about it. So, felix, if the world's Gross Product suddenly drops by 10 points during the next few months, you are to blame.
posted by nkyad at 9:00 PM on April 14, 2005


This might sound mundane, but the shirts are awesome, and the interface is equally evocative.
posted by heresiarch at 9:28 PM on April 14, 2005

Ah, Rogue. This is how I learned what 'quaff' means. I played this on an XT, I think. Maybe it was an IBM PC Jr.
posted by pelletierm at 3:22 AM on April 15, 2005

Cool to see "Keystone Kops" featured in this post because ... I'm the guy who added them Nethack.

What a claim to fame!

-- Scott Turner
posted by srt19170 at 8:28 AM on April 15, 2005 [7 favorites]

omg can i touch you?
posted by cortex at 1:33 PM on April 15, 2005 [2 favorites]

The Keystone Kop reference was probably a bit of a spoiler to newbies.

I have a particularly fond memory of robbing a shop, and then having that nethack-inspired 'HOLY CRAP' moment when the authorities showed up to arrest me. Nicely done, sir.
posted by felix at 3:01 PM on April 15, 2005

I was (and am) a terrible rogue player, but I was seriously hooked when I discovered it as a grad student with a new Unix account in the early '80s.

The Unix manpage for rogue had (and still has, if you have one of the BSD games installations) a "See Also" entry pointing to Michael C. Toy and Kenneth C. R. C. Arnold, A guide to the Dungeons of Doom. I am still embarrassed to remember how, failing to find this title listed in any catalog I could find at the UC San Diego library, I tried to get a perplexed reference librarian to track it for me...
posted by Creosote at 5:15 PM on April 15, 2005

I've never played this. It sounds like a lot of fun. I'm a CompSci undergrad coming up to finals. Based on the advice given in this thread I am AVOIDING AT ALL COSTS until I have taken my exams.
posted by corvine at 3:49 AM on April 17, 2005

This sure takes me back. My favorite character was the magician. Loved those wands and rings! And shopping in the stores. I used to rename the monsters after people I couldn't stand and then derive great satisfaction out of killing them.

Thanks for the post.
posted by Blackhill at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2005

Ok, first try (and 2nd through 50th) since seeing this thread. Had heard of it, of course, but never experienced it myself.

And I have to say: not terribly addictive until you have one really successful play... and then die, of course, stupidly. Then you have to at least do that well again, and... and...

But not to overplay the addiction angle, it really has some nice touches. And I kick ass (relative my earlier games, anyway) with Valkries and Wizards. But oh, must it always be the Game of Starvation?!?
posted by dreamsign at 10:07 PM on April 18, 2005

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