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NetHack

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NetHack is a roguelike computer game. It is an evolution of an earlier game called Hack which was itself an evolution of the much more famous Rogue. NetHack was developed "over the 'Net", hence the name. NetHack is traditionally played using text-only graphics (in a manner similar to ASCII art). You take the part of a dungeon-delving hero in search of the Amulet of Yendor. The quest is played through at least 40 randomly created levels, each containing many monsters, items, magical artifacts, and much, much more.

After the Creation, the cruel god Moloch rebelled against the authority of Marduk the Creator. Moloch stole from Marduk the most powerful of all the artifacts of the gods, the Amulet of Yendor, and he hid it in the dark cavities of Gehennom, the Under World, where he now lurks, and bides his time.
(from intro)

Your character is initially accompanied by a pet cat, dog, or if you are playing a Knight, horse. You can name your pet, and you can tame more pets along the way - domestic animals can be tamed by feeding them, and other monsters can sometimes be tamed by magic. Pets are very useful, not only for assisting you in combat, but also for detecting cursed items and stealing from shops.

This game is unparalleled in scope: hundreds of unique items, situations, monsters, and personages provide opportunities for interaction with the gameworld. Some interactions (and bugs) are rare and occasionally amusing. For example:

"You fall into a pit! You land on a set of sharp iron spikes! The spikes were poisoned! The poison was deadly... Do you want your possessions identified?"
(This would be referred to as YAAD or Yet Another Annoying Death.)

It is often said that "the DevTeam thinks of everything" - whatever you can think of for your character to do, they will probably have thought of a plausible response. For example, sometimes you will be able to teleport to a dungeon level of your choice.

  • If you choose level 0 (which doesn't exist), you'll go to nowhere and you'll die.
  • If you choose a level between -1 and -9, you'll be teleported high above the clouds. The fall will kill you, unless you're flying or levitating, in which case you'll escape the dungeon.
  • If you choose -10 or less, you'll be teleported to heaven and therefore presumed to be dead. (The cause of death is "went to heaven prematurely".)

Bugs, funny messages, stories, experiences, and ideas for the next version are discussed on the Usenet newsgroup, rec.games.roguelike.nethack. Part of what makes this such a good game is its constant improvement and growth, with new versions released whenever the DevTeam, a group of unpaid programmers, feels like it.

Table of contents

"Graphics"

The following is a sample from a typical game session, to show what the "graphics" look like:

@ - you, d - your dog, $ - money, < - staircase, etc.

Apart from the original text mode, there are interfaces that replace text mode screen representations with small images; for example, instead of "?", a picture of a tiny scroll is shown. One variant, Falcon's Eye, offers an graphical isometric view of the dungeon map.

Current Version

The current version is 3.4.1, released in February 2003.

Other Versions

There was a commercial version called Dungeon Hack[?] with a first-person view, but it left out many of the little features that make NetHack worthwhile even after years of playing (and it usually takes years and years of playing to win).

This is an open source game, so anybody can fool around with the insides and make up new variants. As of June 2002, the only variant which is under active development is Slash'EM (Super Lots of Added Stuff Hack - Extended Magic).

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