i cannot overstate how brutally difficult nethack is

unlike most games, you don't really know what things are by looking at them

status effects can be disaterous, being unable to see anything, or being unable to move, or just like, floating above the ground, unable to reach the stairs

i have played this game for years and gotten maybe 25% of the way through.

and also, permadeath, the only state between attempts is maybe being killed by the ghost of your past self.

re: nethack 

most games say you are on an impossible quest facing gargantuan odds.

nethack actually gives you that quest, with no plot armor or checkpoints to save you.

you can just eat the wrong thing and die of food poisoning, then have to start over from scratch.

drinking random bottles of liquid you find is generally not a good idea (maybe it's lamp oil, or just poison)

re: nethack 


Video game enemy: "Ha! You will never defeat me!"

me: "Well that sucks. Why am I even playing the game. Uninstall."

video game tropes 

@samgai you can't defeat me, but your partner who is waiting just offscreen can, but will wait until you have low health first


Me: unable to reach the stars
Me in nethack: unable to reach the stairs

@binarycat Nethack is a good example of "variable ratio reinforcement schedules." It's the reason that slot machines work, because people placidly pulling that lever are the same ones dying in Nethack. You can never tell how many doors, or kills before you get a reward, like a rat with a food pellet. It trumps positive reinforcement, which confuses us since we find ourselves unable to do what we want, only play the game. So we start changing what we think is fun to fit the game.

@cy sure, there's a large amount of luck in nethack, but i think it would be a mistake to call it the dominant factor. this seems like it would apply better to more modern rougelikes.

nethack honestly relies more on learning the (very complex) system than anything. knowing how to identify wands, how to safely fight all the kinds of monsters, how to manage resources, all of this takes time to learn.

there's many valid criticisms of nethack, saying it's too much like slots is not.

@binarycat It's not so much luck as it is inability to predict. Nethack is randomly generated, so you know what every wand does, but you don't know what wand you're going to get next. Imagine if you could be sure of what monster you're facing, or what treasure lies ahead. It feels better, but it doesn't make you play more. You don't get that thrill that this time it could be better, or that you could somehow figure it out, which keeps you focused on playing.


i really don't even get what you're trying to say, at this point.

it just sounds like an incredibly silly and reductive take, like saying people play pokemon for critical hits or whatever.

@binarycat I'm trying to say that's what makes people play Nethack more than they want to. It's the addictive part of the game. People want to play pokemon because they love taking care of animals and being heroes, but the way it *makes* them play is the random encounters, and random treasures. How many grueling hours of toil have people endured to get that shiny Abra?

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