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[Comments] (7) More Roguelike Notes: The meta-adventure continues as I consider more of Zack's complaints about Nethack.

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Posted by Zack at Wed Oct 17 2007 03:29

Regarding the equipment optimization, my problem is not so much that it's easy to get good gear in Nethack, as that there's pretty much one set of gear that's the best you can have. Pre-3.4, if I remember correctly, it was grey dragon scale mail, shield of reflection, oilskins, speed boots, ring of slow digestion, ring of teleport control, and an artifact weapon. You might reasonably pick different helms or gauntlets, and I suspect some players would quibble with my ring choices, but these are second-order. They did improve this a bit in 3.4.0 - silver dragon scale is now a viable option if you have some other source of MR, and that frees up the shield hand for #twoweapon mode; also, robes can be really really nice if you have decent Int but aren't a spellcaster class. But it is still very, very limited.

I don't have time right now to get good at ADOM so I read some spoilers for it instead - it looks like, as you say, the space there is rather more open. I kinda like the Nethack intrinsic hunt, though; it has some fun early-game consequences. Eating molds, for instance, hurts you but can be a lifesaver if you get a useful resistance out of it.

"Powerful magics barely under your control" is a great way to describe what artifacts ought to be like and often aren't. (Worst offender I've ever seen in this regard is some entry in the Might and Magic series, whose artifacts were different from ordinary magic items only in having incredibly elaborate names and costing more in shops.) (I do have to give that game cleverness points for having an 100% generic fantasy setting except for the crashed alien starship, from which you could get laser rifles if you were prepared to fight your way past a horde of homicidal security robots ... and while these were devastatingly effective weapons, it was impossible to get any training in their use. You had to figure them out yourself. ...Which then turned out to be a rather annoying waste of time, but I did say cleverness points, not good design points.)

Posted by Leonard at Wed Oct 17 2007 08:55

I was trying to address the "one set of gear" problem. Nethack has that problem because there are more equipment slots than intrinsics you can only get from equipment. To make the choices harder you need to add more IYCOGFE.

Posted by Leonard at Wed Oct 17 2007 10:22

Or, have some items give bonuses that reward certain styles of gameplay or are useful in certain parts of the game.

Posted by Zack at Wed Oct 17 2007 13:16

It comes down to overall strategy in the end. It's clearly desirable, in a roguelike, to have many different overall strategies all of which can win the game; some of them being more of a challenge than others. Nethack does this with character class and conduct rather than with equipment; it sounds like *angband and ADOM put more of it on the equipment. Diversity in all contexts where the game requires the player to make choices is going to be more fun...

Posted by Leonard at Wed Oct 17 2007 14:49

Judging from the huge number of spinoffs and the existence of an AI player I'd guess Angband is a good example.

Posted by Zack at Thu Oct 18 2007 00:29

I forget what's wrong with the licensing, but none of the *Angbands actually qualify as free software, despite being source-available. It's probably some nitpicky thing like no for-profit distribution.

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