Sunday, December 2, 2012

Favorite Games: Nethack

Nethack A classic. You are an @-shaped hero, and your goal is to explore a dungeon filled with monsters (mostly letters) and treasures (gold $ and gems *) and other objects. I haven't played this one seriously for a while - it is much nicer to play on a full keyboard with a number pad, and I seem to usually sit at a laptop. This is a very addictive game, once you get past the initial steep learning curve. For this post we wanted a couple of screenshots, and once we started playing we got hooked again. We even learned to play without the number pad.

While exploring the dungeon one finds weapons (, armor [, and spell books +, and gets tougher by gaining experience and by learning new skills. Nethack is fun because it is so unpredictable. The ascii graphics is very simple, but the world of Nethack is complex. Monsters can interact with each other and with the world around them. You never know what will happen next, and the text description of the events in the dungeon forms an unpredictable story - sometimes a completely absurd fairy tale.

I grew up playing Nethack on DOS, and liked the way the map is drawn there with full lines for the walls. It is tricky to get this graphic mode to work in a unix terminal, for some reasons connected with different character sets. Anyway, there are several solutions. I installed the program konwert, and ran Nethack in this way on one of the text mode consoles (control+alt+f1):
nethack | konwert cp437-utf8
Then simply enabling IBMgraphics in the in-game options make the graphics look as it was meant to.

Taking screen shots of a text mode terminal is something I have never needed to do before, but it is possible with the snapscreenshot program. I ran it in this way, in a text-mode console, with Nethack running in console 1:
sudo snapscreenshot -f8 -c1 -x1 > screenshot1.tga
In an X-term window snapscreenshot does not work.

The Favorite Game series

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