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Somebody ported Nethack to Steam!

I’ve posted about Nethack before. It’s one of the first dungeon slash-em-up games. It was the very first computer game I ever played and it ate a whole year of my life. Thirty four years later, it’s still the most fun game I’ve ever played.

Because even the very first PCs were capable of storing incredibly large and complex relationships between variables, which is “all” Nethack is.

Take the humble cockatrice. If you touch a dead cockatrice, you turn to stone. Fine, once you learn that, you never touch another dead cockatrice. You probably know better than to eat a tinned food ration that smells of cockatrice. Ah, but what if you fall into a pit on top of a cockatrice? Stone. What if you’ve been temporarily blinded and you’re feeling your way across the floor and suddenly, dead cockatrice? Stone.

But wait. But what if you have a pair of gloves? Can you run around poking monsters with a dead cockatrice and turn them into stone? Yes. Yes, you can. Just don’t trip and fall on it.

Under the hood, the formulae that create the dungeon and the monsters therein are incredibly complex. I could never work out some relationships from behavior alone. It wasn’t until I peeped at the source code that I began to understand how complicated a thing it really is.

Anyway, Steam reviewers are crying foul. Nethack is a giant cooperative labor of love and you’re not supposed to charge for it. There are plenty of places still to play it for free.

But I paid less than £4 for this version and, as far as I’m concerned, I’m not paying for Nethack. I’m paying for the dev’s effort putting it on Steam. It includes some light music and effects and a decent manual. And Steam achievements, if you care.

I paid for my very first version, too. It was technically to cover the cost of the floppy.

See? I play semantic games, too.


Comment from Deborah HH
Time: January 3, 2019, 10:42 pm

Does your new P.F. Flyers computer let you run faster and jump higher?

Comment from Weaseltablet3
Time: January 4, 2019, 1:05 am

Like you wouldn’t believe. It’s all very overkill for Nethack though.

Comment from AliceH
Time: January 4, 2019, 3:04 am

New computer, new copy of most fun game ever, new subject for another blog post…. and you claim you weren’t born into wealth. :/

Comment from tinman
Time: January 4, 2019, 3:55 am

Now if I could just get Zork to run on Windows 10 …

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: January 4, 2019, 3:57 am

Stoatie, you can’t always deduce the algorithmic/computational relationships from behavior (input => output). A simple example is a rules-based system where there are pseudo-random alterations in the order in which rules are evaluated. If overdone, that can kill the intrigue of a game where you succeed by figuring out the hidden rules. But done just right…it might suck you in for as much as a whole year. (-:

Comment from DurnedYankee
Time: January 4, 2019, 6:38 pm

Uncle Al – you mean like exposing one of your favorite units in a stupid position to lure the AI out of a secure spot so you can clobber it?


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