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Interview with SLASH'EM Developers 96

MilenCent writes "The O'Reilly Network posted an interview with super-deluxe Nethack variant SLASH'EM's Warren Cheung and J. Ali Harlowe last month talking about the impending beta release of v0.0.7E2. (Don't you just love incredibly provisional version numbers? In development for years and not even a 0.1 yet!) There's another recent O'Reilly article on the game too."
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Interview with SLASH'EM Developers

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  • Network Play! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2003 @10:48PM (#6672020)
    How hard would it be to make it have "network play", ala Open with Diablo II? It would be a very neat feature, I think.
    • Re:Network Play! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tomble ( 579119 ) <<tomble> <at> <>> on Monday August 11, 2003 @11:09PM (#6672117) Homepage Journal
      There have been multiplayer roguelikes, but not many, and they've generally not got that far. Because roguelikes basically aren't suited to multiplayer games.

      They could keep the gameplay the same, if you don't mind the possibility that you'll have to wait maybe a few hours (or strictly, forever) between each single step; otherwise, you have to fundamentally change it (eg, stop it being turn based). Then other gameplay details would start to look odd, and before you know it, you've changed it into Quake.

      • Re:Network Play! (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Diablo and Crossfire are both realtime multiplayer roguelikes that are very recognizably roguelike. I don't think change anything from tired formulas necessarily means a slippery slope down into the oh-so-terrible genre of FPS.

        Roguelikes could use a good shaking up, for all the interesting stuff you hear about on, there isn't really anything new or exciting around (dungeon crawl is pretty new, and IMO the best roguelike, but it's not all that innovative).
        • Re:Network Play! (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Requiem ( 12551 )
          The nice thing about turn-based play is that it rewards patience and diligence. The problem I have with Diablo is that it's basically just click-click-click, all reflexes, which does not lend itself well to games like angband where two breaths from an ancient multi-hued dragon mean certain death.
      • There exist a networked graphical game inspired by nethack called Crossfire []

        "Crossfire is an open source, cooperative multiplayer graphical RPG and adventure game. Since its initial release, Crossfire has grown to encompass over 150 monsters, about 3000 maps to explore, an elaborate magic system, 12 races, 15 character classes, a system of skills, and many artifacts and treasures. Crossfire is based in a medieval fantasy world and is similar to other games of this genre."

        Sadly it lacks Nethacks humor but
      • Civilization was also originally completely turn-based but they changed it into semi-realtime with CivNet. M.A.X. is another strategy game that used this approach.

        In those games the players play their turns simultaneously and there is a timelimit for turns so you don't need to wait forever if someone can't decide or isn't at the computer.

        Maybe this could work for roguelikes somehow as well?
      • When it stops beeing turn based it stops beeing a roguelike game...

        I guess the solution would be making each turn 1 or 2 seconds long, if you dont do anything in two seconds it is considered waiting, otherwise the action is performed, and there might be actions that take the entire turn or actions that let you perform some other quick actions in the same turn (neverwinter nights comes to mind, they do have the same roots, right? I'm not actually sure, so correct me if I'm wrong)
      • you have to fundamentally change it (eg, stop it being turn based)

        Yeah, it had always struck me that games like Gauntlet [] was the extension of Rogue/Nethack type games into the multiplayer dimension.

        However, it is worth noting that multiple players playing Nethack on the same system can interact, albeit indirectly, with each other. If my character dies, there is a chance that the same map level will be reproduced in someone else's future game, complete with the ghost of my character and all his equip

    • The multiplayer networked version of the classic Angband is called Mangband and can be found at:

      Mangband Home Hage []

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 11, 2003 @10:50PM (#6672030)
    Furthermore I believe that vaporware should use imaginary version numbers like v1.3*i.
  • Looks good... (Score:3, Informative)

    by kb3edk ( 463011 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @10:57PM (#6672066)
    Good to see that people continue to breathe life into Nethack. And I thought the graphical variants for the game had topped out with <a href="">Falcon 's Eye</a>. Well, time to download the alpha before the site gets /.'ed.
    • Are you sure you want the Alpha?
      Version 0.0.7E2 is intended to be the last alpha release in the current development branch of Slash'EM. It is not really considered playable yet, but is provided for anyone who wants to play with the new ideas.
      And doesn't that dragon in the screen shot look a little like Jar Jar? Kill!
    • Oh, come on...slash'em is a hacky hack hack by twits for whom the One True Game is not enough. Anyone familiar with the archetypical "Monty Haul" campaign? Slash'em is just extra chrome for the "The Sims" crowd. It adds way too much crap to an otherwise uncluttered game. Just go get the Amulet of Yendor already. Bored with nethack? Well, you should be...part of being a serious nethack player is mastering the game, getting bored, and moving on. It's like at the end of "Yellowbeard" [] when Dan murders hi
    • graphical variant (Score:3, Informative)

      by polaar ( 564379 )
      You might also want to have a look at Noegnud [] ("an alternate ascii/2D/3D UI for nethack and slash'em using SDL and OpenGL"). It seems to be more actively developed, and more playable than Falcon's Eye.
  • by Berylium ( 588468 ) * on Monday August 11, 2003 @11:05PM (#6672094)
    Well, one good thing about being version 0.0.7e is that nothing much can be expected from it which gives people alot less power to bitch. Example: /.1 "This program is a piece! It doesn't do a damn thing and my mom writes cleaner code! Booya!" /.2 "Sir, I think you've been misinformed. As this is version 0.0.7e you have no right to bitch, it's alpha code. If you want something better code it yourself. -1 troll.", or somethin' liek that.
  • it has been in development for years.

    The first major challenge has been to design a protocol which is independent of machine architecture and doesn't require much overhead. Harlow settled on RFC 1014. He says, "I'm still working on fine-tuning the protocol to reduce overhead. One obvious improvement would be to move to an asynchronous protocol, rather than the current, simple synchronous protocol."

    Look, nobody's going to care that you shaved 0.2ms off the average case in the protocol if you never releas

    • Re:No wonder ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by GoofyBoy ( 44399 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @11:38PM (#6672235) Journal

      This is a clear case of people programming purely for fun.

      Do deadlines. No end-users requirements. No political/checkpoint milestones. No office politics.

      Let them finely hone their program to the nth degree. It seems like they are more interested in the process rather than the end-product.

      And sometimes, thats a good thing.
      • "Do deadlines. No end-users requirements. No political/checkpoint milestones. No office politics."

        I believe the spirit of this, but not the letter. Every human endeavor is laced with politics, including nethack. Just read a little more and you'll start seeing it.
    • Re:No wonder ... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aardvarkjoe ( 156801 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @12:18AM (#6672466)
      As insightful as that was...

      Mr. DogIsMyCoprocessor is apparently unaware that SLASH'EM is already a finished, fully working game. Most open source software is "under development," that doesn't mean that it doesn't work. (Nethack has been under development forever as well; most of us consider that a good thing.)

      Think (or at least learn something about the subject) before performing knee-jerk moderation, people.
  • by Charm ( 313273 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @11:06PM (#6672104)
    You think these guys would have heard of autoconfig or something similar. Their current build system for unix systems is terrible. I though the game looked good on the linux game tome but after downloading it and trying to install it you soon realise that not enough effort has gone into making building it easier.

    Other games can why not Slashem

    • by BJH ( 11355 )
      Autoconfig didn't exist when Nethack was originally written. Since Slashem bases their releases on the latest Nethack source, it's not in their interest to screw around with the build system - it ends up being just more stuff they have to maintain outside the Nethack tree that provides no player-visible benefit.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Also, the mainline nethack developers are resistant to autoconfig because the game's been ported to many, many non-unix platforms, not all of which have the auto* tools. Or at least that was the party line a few years back...
    • You think these guys would have thought about it before wasting their time making Nethack harder to play.

      Try it; first a game with ASCII graphics and then a game with any of the tile sets. In particular try the ugly abortion that is NethackW.exe, in the latest 3.41 windows binary release.

      Adding graphics to Nethack is just a waste of time - if it's an academic exercise fine, but please don't ask people to play it. You may as well take text adventures and make them "better" by adding pictures.
      • Adding graphics to Nethack is just a waste of time - if it's an academic exercise fine, but please don't ask people to play it. You may as well take text adventures and make them "better" by adding pictures.
        You're kidding, right? King's Quest, Space Quest, Hero's Quest (aka Quest For Glory), Police Quest? They rocked my world, back when they were still text adventures :-)
    • Building and installing Nethack ca. 1990 taught me much about makefiles. At least I knew C before I started, though.
  • by digitalhermit ( 113459 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @11:16PM (#6672149) Homepage
    Nope -- haven't read the Slash'em article. I've been too busy trying to kill these damned lichs that are popping up in Nethack. I've been hitting them with a +2 Stormbringer, tried polymorphing them, tried cancelling them, etc.. Nothing works. Anyone have clues on taking them out? No scrolls of genocide unfortunately.
    • by Tomble ( 579119 ) <<tomble> <at> <>> on Monday August 11, 2003 @11:21PM (#6672173) Homepage Journal
      Nothing works. Anyone have clues on taking them out?
      How about chocolates, or maybe flowers. Worth a try.
    • by Repton ( 60818 ) on Monday August 11, 2003 @11:45PM (#6672257) Homepage

      It's a while since I last played nethack, so my sk1llz are probably out of date ...

      But the first advice is to make sure you are standing on the up stairs. Monsters which teleport at will (including the tougher lichs) always 'port to the up stairs when they get in trouble. And if you catch them there, they escape up to the previous level. So you need to make sure you're standing on the stairs...

      Other than that, I think you can just whack them until they die. It might help if you are using Magicbane (which absorbs curses) (preferably at +2). Otherwise, try to get hold of a decent artifact (Frost Brand and Greyswandir used to be the artifacts of choice) and enchant it up to +5, or +7 if you can manage it. If memory serves, Stormbringer isn't all that hot a weapon, and +2 isn't much of an enchantment.

      [generally, you should stock up on useless potions and scrolls in the early levels.. then, use boots of water walking and a moat to turn the potions to water and blank the scrolls. Bless the potions (you can #dip 10 potions of water into one potion of holy water and end up with 10 potions of holy water). Then get a magic marker, bless the magic marker, bless the scrolls, and write lots of scrolls of enchant weapon and of enchant armour. Modulo the disclaimer in the first line :-) ]

    • by Anonymous Coward
      If it's a plain lich, stand back and throw darts or something at it. Use a stethoscope to see how well you are doing.

      Get a magic whistle and some means of taming monsters, and tame a minotaur or a mastodon -- something that can hit really hard. If you know where a polymorph trap is, tame some dags and magic-whistle them over the trap until you get a more studly pet. And if you have a wand of speed monster, your pets fight better!

      Get some gloves, a bag, and a fresh cockatrice corpse.

      If it's an arch lic
    • (1) Be tough enough that they're not killing you. Of course, if you leave a master lich or higher around long enough, it probably will summon enough meanies to do you in. But if you have at least AC -5 and magic resistance, preferably cold resistance too, you should be able to weather the worst.

      (2) Wield silver if you can. Silver saber, dagger, arrows. I can't recall the damage bonus, but it's more than most artifacts will give you. Stormbringer's level drain attack will do nothing.

      (3) Liches love to tele
    • well, first things first: you should have a decent ac(decent ac for wandering to the castle is -20 or so, in my opinion at least, you should have poison resistance, magic resistance and reflection too before going deep to minimize sudden deaths) and a decent weapon before wandering to areas where you can bump into them(because you can bump into many other things there too..). enchanted silver sabre is a nice choice(grayswandir is what some people regard as the best weapon in the game). and then you just kil
  • I call this [] news!

    Actually, I don't know what this is. Is it a secret project?

  • The history document linked from the O'Reilly page isn't loading for me ... slashdotted, maybe.

    Anyway, there is an alternative link here []. Also the Google cache [], although you have to imagine the arrows yourself...

  • by rmarll ( 161697 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @12:37AM (#6672572) Journal
    It would be 'ready to ship'.
    Slap a big 'ol 1 on the front and put it in a box.

    Considering the state of most MMORPG's these days. You could put a script on the CD that pops up a dialog "Content comming soon!". Label it Ultimate Online Origins Space Wars Online 2. No one will ever know the difference.
    Reviewers will gush with praise saying that it sure is promising and in time it may even become a game.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Considering the state of most MMORPG's these days.

      What are you complaining about? You don't even bother to finish your sentences before releasing them.
  • /. Tech Support? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Jahf ( 21968 )
    So I installed this latest alpha on a RH9 box. Got "gtkhack" working and fixed the (null) font issue. When "gtkhack" loads I get the radar and can play, but my dungeon is not graphical. In other words I get the GTK app (broken numlock keys and all) but I see myself as an "@" sign and not graphically.

    Anyone know how to fix this?
  • Subject (Score:3, Insightful)

    by August_zero ( 654282 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @02:03AM (#6672934)
    I like Slash'em, and I like their large tile grpahics set better than Falcon's eye, the 3d just slows the flow of the game down and makes it harder to play.

    While I appretiate all of the extra content that Slash'em intorduces, I still prefer NetHack over it's derivatives. There is something to be said about purity. Or I might just hold a little bit of sentimental value for the grandson of the first game on the PC that really stole my heart as a kid. Still though, Slash'em is a good change of pace.
  • Just read my sig.

  • by Hast ( 24833 ) on Tuesday August 12, 2003 @08:12AM (#6673983)
    This is a bit off topic, but does anyone know of ports of eg Nethack to mobile phones? I've been considering to get me a mobile phone for a long time and if it would be possible to play a game like Nethack that would be a killer feature.

    From the research I've done there are a couple of mobile platforms which can be used for development. I'm not quite sure just how easy it is to do "for fun" development on them though. (Stuff like Mophun for Ericsson phones.)
    • Duncan Booth [1] has a Nethack port for Psion mobile machines. Since Nokia 7650 [2] and SonyEricsson P800 [3] are also built on the same Symbian OS [4] which is running Psion series 5 or 7, it's possible to port it. However nobody did it .

      [2],1522,,00.html?orig=/p hones/7650/
    • This is a bit off topic, but does anyone know of ports of eg Nethack to mobile phones? I've been considering to get me a mobile phone for a long time and if it would be possible to play a game like Nethack that would be a killer feature.

      There is an "experimental" version of Nethack for Smartphone 2002 (Windows CE based) or PocketPC Phone available on

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.