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Creation Date: 2003-01-10
This might become the first full scale emergency in the long history of slacking of Javantea's Fate. Today, I played NetHack when I was supposed to be doing my homework. I could have at least been working on pressing volitile issues on Javantea's Fate. I might have even wasted my day learning Japanese Kanji as it is a recent obsession. But no, I tried to compile NetHack and I tried to download the QT binaries. I finally found out how to enable X11 after I finally got it to compile. It's not easy, but it was pretty straightforward if you're a hacker. But it still won't show any tiles even though I see the x11tiles image file sitting in the directory. So then I try compiling for Qt, even though that doesn't matter to display tiles. It won't compile. This reason and that, libqt is missing, bla bla bla... So I look and I see that I do in fact have a libqt-mt.so file. Would that work? No. Different errors, but same files. Something is wrong with libqt. So I look around to download it. Then it hit me: what if they don't allow x11 and Qt to compile together? That would not make much sense, but I tried anyway. I took out all the defines that applied to X11. And guess what? It compiled correctly. Sweet, huh? Yeah. This is what I got. The Qt version is better than the X11 version simply because the menus list all the things a person could possibly do and it has a convenient graphical inventory system. The X11 is a big step above TTY and it is cool for people who like the solid feel, but really... Qt is much better. After getting the Qt version to compile, I finally found a line of code in the .nethackrc file that allows tiles in the X11 version. Oh well, it only took two hours and look at how much fun I can have! So I played a bit. I have a tip for all you nethackers out there: save often and before you go back in, copy 0user.gz to another directory so that you can retrieve it if you die. Nethack is very unforgiving and those backups will rock the house. If you're just starting out, the explore mode might be useful if you don't want to get into the high scores. NetHack is a good game because it has character and gameplay. I tried to depict that by showing my three pets: kitten (Dusty), doggie (Spot), and pony (noname). I'm going to learn to ride my horse sometime soon and then we'll be a travelling side show. How did I do this? Well I started with my dog. I kept him through the first four levels. On the third level, I found a kitten and threw it a corpse which made it my pet. Then I found this pony on the fourth level and I threw it an apple so it became my pet. Wonderful! So what was I saying about character? I say that adding pets with a touch of AI is a fine example of how NetHack wins the hearts of the players. Other examples are: humorous fortune cookies, all kinds of funky curses flying around, scrolls in foreign languages, and poisoning yourself with rotten food. Players like these kinds of surprises and the depth that it gives makes it a colorful game, whether you play it in ASCII mode or in Qt. Secondly, it has amazing gameplay. There is a goal to get this Amulet, but the game is so hard that you have to keep going. As you go on, your character becomes stronger, you gain items, and you fight tougher monsters. Something that makes it stay interesting are the randomly generated maps. If you knew the layout of the level and the position of each monster, you could just build a strategy on how to blast them to pieces. But with the random generated maps, you just have to go through each corridor, prepared for the worst, hoping for a way to kill the next mob. And the mobs are not all just mobs. Leprechauns steal your money, Nymphs steal your stuff, and fogs blind you while you fight. I died on the fifth level when these soldier ants came in a group and blinded me and scared off my pets. It was amazing. Running away is not easy, either. It blends hardness of creatures with the ability to best them. Just think if I had taken out my wand and blasted a magic missile at the suckers, huh? If I knew how to, I could have. Did I also mention that NetHack is Open Source and runs on an amazing array of platforms?

The success of NetHack as a game is why I am going to make a game called Hack Mars and use similar attributes to NetHack. I'm going to make it all one level and it won't be randomly generates map so much as random start position, no pets, no violence, 3d animated, and many quests (ie. nothing like NetHack), but the general idea will be to traverse a dungeon and complete quests. The similarity of the two is one with another game that came a decade before NetHack, even before the PC: Dungeons and Dragons. D&D is a role playing fantasy game where a knowledgable person sets up a world with many characters and many monsters based on certain rules. Each player picks a persona that they will be in this world. He then tells the players their circumstances and the players have to make decisions to play the game. It's really a timeless tradition requiring only pen and paper (or a good memory) and a bunch of friends who like role playing. It is natural that it would be ported to the computer since many role players also like computers. So you get NetHack, EverQuest, Dark Ages of Camelot, and maybe in a year or two, Hack Mars.
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