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Game philosophy- Nethack4

PostPosted: Tuesday, 9th July 2019, 14:23
by bel
I started with Nethack (though I don't play it much now, except for a little bit of messing around). It is often useful for me to compare Nethack and Crawl when I'm thinking about stuff.

Nethack4 is a fork of vanilla Nethack which has laid out its philosophy in detail. What do people think it (the philosophy, not the game itself)? How does it compare with DCSS philosophy?

I'll post my thoughts in a couple of days.

Re: Game philosophy- Nethack4

PostPosted: Tuesday, 9th July 2019, 16:59
by Aean
A few thoughts:

- Nethack focuses on flexibility above all else. This is a direction that Crawl has been moving away from, with the notion that those things that are useless 99% (or 100%) of the time should be cut away as needless bloat, rather than valuable choice. I think there needs to be a balance here. Flavor is valuable, but gameplay - especially with common gameplay scenarios - should take priority.

- Following that, Nethack seems to take the perspective that players should have to discover most details about most things. Crawl is more straightforward, and has been cutting down on the obscure uses or characteristics. I tent to favor Crawl's philosophy, rather than Nethack's "There are 97 things you can do with a potion, but the only one I'll tell you about is 'drink it.'"

- Nethack expects the variability to be more player-driven than game-driven; conducts are chosen independently of the game, and tracked behind-the-scenes (more similar to Crawl's tournament banners) rather than stringently enforced (or gated behind a "this action would place you under penance" or similar). I think this is an area in which Crawl has the right idea. Though if we wanted to, we could add an "achievements" page or something, with the understanding that achievements added to your score, or even a "challenges" page where players could toggle on "cannot use melee weapons" or "cannot enter Lair" or whatever as their conduct.

- One of the points that Nethack mentions for flexibility is that choosing different branches should depend on what you can find in them, rather than just following a "this branch would be easiest for me right now" scale. This is an area in which Crawl could improve. There are a few clear things - e.g. if you need throwables, Shoals are good; if you need a weapon, try the Hall of Blades - but choices are usually made on risk rather than risk/reward.

- Nethack seems much more open to the "It's okay to farm resources/be invincible/etc." strategy, because it doesn't want to deny that subset of players their fun. I think Crawl has the right idea here - people can play in Wizmode if they want that, and the normal game otherwise.

- Nethack is comfortable with there being items/abilities/etc. that are effectively must-haves. Crawl does a better job at limiting those no-brainers, though there are still a few places where it could use work (hydras, orbs of fire, etc.).

- Nethack feels that the fun is in customizing your character, and doing what you want with it; Crawl feels that having to adapt is of value as well (maybe you don't find that altar/weapon/spell/etc. when you want to). I like Crawl's angle on this - more "you can customize your character, but you still have to work with what the dungeon provides" than "you can have everything if you're willing to be bored enough."

Re: Game philosophy- Nethack4

PostPosted: Tuesday, 20th August 2019, 08:57
by Utis
I'd like to see more of this discussion and I hope that bel get's around to elaborate on his/her thoughts. For me it's the other way around: I started with DCSS and recently I started to play Nethack 3.6.

I haven't gotten far yet -- there are many surprises that can ruin the game and that's okay: learning the game is where the fun is for me. But so far I'm quite intrigued. I feel like I'm playing an entirely different game genre. Nethack so far feels like an actual dungeon exploration rpg / adventure game / simulationist puzzle game. By comparison, crawl feels more like a one-actor tactical war game.

I don't know if that impression will change as I'm progressing. But this is from my perspective as a nethack newbie.

As I wrote, I'm quite intrigued. I feel, though, that crawl combat is tactically more challenging or maybe I'm not seeing the depth yet in Nethack. Oh, and I miss autoexploration!

Re: Game philosophy- Nethack4

PostPosted: Thursday, 22nd August 2019, 09:41
by Utis
And Crtl-F. I definitely miss Ctrl-F. There's no way to express how lucky we are that we have Ctrl-F in crawl.