Nethack is a clone of Rogue, and is in a sub-class of games of games called Roguelikes. It’s not particularly important that you know the history of Rogue, but you should know that people that used computers in the early days were geeks, geeks with a lot of free time, a passion for games, and extremely limited computing resources. Using the primitive tools available to them, they created a game that is influenced heavily on Dungeons & Dragons, but with random dungeons, a plot, and a goal.

The goal of Nethack is simple: find and escape with the Amulet of Yendor. Achieving that goal is another story. Nethack’s simplistic interface belies its complexity. Here is a link to the guide book at the official site if you’d like a sneak peak at the burgeoning subtleties that lie just beneath the skin of the game, just waiting for you to scratch.

The problem is, though, that the game presents so much information to you all at once that there really isn’t a learning curve, there’s a learning wall with a curve at the top. So much stuff has been packed onto this game that nearly every button on your keyboard has a function, every character in the ASCII character set has a meaning, and you get to learn about it all.

I’m told that once you get into the game that each of its secrets beckons you deeper into its gaping maw promising greater riches for you to plumb the deeper you go. Which may be true, but I could never get into it.

I tried, I really did. Several times I’d install the game, read through the docs and dive in, only to be defeated by the control scheme and the pixelated, angular horrors that dwelt in the rectangular rooms. For those that traverse the dungeons and reap their rewards, I salute your perseverance. Your CON is higher than mine.

2 Responses to “Nethack”

  1. John H. says:

    I had posted a fairly lengthy starter’s guide to Nethack here, but your DAMNABLE captcha apparently gives priority to multiplication over addition, instead of performing the operations in left-to-right order, and when I went back to the comment entry page my comment was gone.

    So, no starter’s guide for you, sorry.

  2. basscomm says:

    Aah, yes, the captcha does observe the Please Remember My Dear Aunt Sally” axiom.

    I would have liked to read it.

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