Lasting Impressions of NetHack

You see here a blessed scroll labeled SEIROMEM DONF.

I've been playing NetHack for quite some time. Eight years, off and on, and indeed, the game is still yet older than I am. In fact, my first play was when I was only ten (or so) years old—at the time, I almost always starved to death, and could never seem to get past the first dungeon level. I was young, and at the time, had never seen a console program. I was still only just entering the grand field of computers, and had much to learn. I read the guidebook, but to no avail. I just could not figure a way, for the life of me, to get down the stairs. As I learned some five years later, after I had given up, NetHack is case sensitive. I pounded ., desperate for my character's life, and in vain. I had no idea it required the shifted >.

Despite this, when I first played it, I knew even from that first humble level that it was my kind of game. It pained me, then, to give up. NetHack was one of the first games I ever played since getting into computers. Indeed, it was one of the first three major computer games I played—a list that contains Doom 2 (when I was only five, and Jack Thompson be damned, I'm pacifist), Baldur's Gate, and of course, NetHack. And boy did I pick a heckuva three to start: they're still among the best games I ever played, and I tell you, this isn't from nostalgia. I still play all three to this day. To Baldur's Gate, every few years I dust off the package and have another go at cleansing the Sword Coast. To Doom, mostly randomly generated levels, from OBLIGE; each time a new gate of Hell to storm, or fan-made WAD level files. And to NetHack, it's a game that's hard to truly get old.

Once I had learned of NAO, I began to play exclusively on NAO, and at the time, mostly just to prove I didn't cheat. In the eight years since I downloaded that first magical copy, I'm quite a changed man. These days, where a screenshot may have sufficed eight years ago, I'm now quite adept at digital image manipulation. My computer skills have exploded; from a bumbling fool of the latest Eternal September, to having it be nothing for me to use a hex editor to make myself immortal (a checksum of the file would just slow me down). And if I'm really dedicated, to modify the very source code (though I'm not much of a programmer, yet, in any language).

One of the best games I had I didn't actually win, but oh, how close I came before Orcus summoned the demon prince Demogorgon. I died in that horrid town, bloodying the brimstone walls from Demogorgon's strike. Several times, in fact, as I had prepared quite a few amulets of life saving.

It wasn't until April of '09 that I had my first real ascension—a priest. With that ascension, I had began a legacy of #name'ing all of my items funny things. To this day, I still get a chill down my spine every time I see Orcus Town, from the lost memory of my failed attempt. I've still yet to ascend with a barbarian, though I have with most other classes. It will be a grand feeling indeed to strike down Orcus—that coward!—in tribute for daring to trying to escape our fight.

I may not regard NetHack as the best game I've ever played, but oh, what a hard choice it was to decide. They're all so very close, each, to being the best. Each an inch of each-other. I can say with the utmost confidence, however, there is no question that it's the one that grew on me the most. And in my years, I've grown on it.

NetHack Demogorgon

Do you tire of mortal life so much that you seek to end it at the hands of PRINCE DEMOGORGON?!

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