NetHack maildirpath Released

One of NetHack’s many features is checking your e-mail while you play. When you receive new e-mail, a mail demon delivers a scroll of mail to your character, and reading that scroll launches your e-mail reader.

Unfortunately, NetHack doesn’t understand maildir-style mailboxes, nor can it check multiple mailboxes. The maildirpath patch I wrote for NetHack corrects these shortcomings.

You can get the maildirpath patch here.

(Rumors of my death etc. etc.)

2 Responses

  1. This is entirely unrelated but I find Nethack too difficult for my tastes. I have never gotten beyond the 5th level and have had nightmares after those incidents where the entire level is ridden with enemies, as in every tile has an enemy. I have lost even in explorer mode, not even sure how, I have had bad expierences, and really am surprised at how much joy you derive from it.

  2. Good question. Ucblockhead posted on his blog not too long ago pondering a similar question, but his blog seems to be down right now so I can’t link to it.

    I think that when it comes down to it, the main reason is that NetHack rewards careful play and punishes carelessness and inattention to a great degree. Off the top of my head, maybe around only 5% of my deaths in the game can be attributed to plain old bad luck (your classic “gnome with a wand of death on level 3″ type of scenario). Most of the time your death can be traced to a couple of really bad decisions or blatant mistakes, especially once you get past the early levels. Ideally, every death is a learning experience, and one you can avoid the next time — for example, I know now that even though Thoth Amon is a wuss, you don’t want to go up against him without magic resistance.

    Another thing that makes NetHack strangely addictive, and which few games implement, is the inability to go back to a saved game once you die. Without that, the game would become pretty easy; you’d just play recklessly and go back to a save game if things don’t work out. But when death really means The End, you’re a lot more careful; you start playing as though you really were your character, in a way. The challenge comes not from pulling off some crazy stunt that takes fifty attempts to get right (e.g., Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels) but in not making any big blunders for the duration of the game. Very few games work this way — the only one that comes to mind is The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, where “save and quit” and “save and go back to the beginning” are the only ways to save.

    In fact, I think that’s at the root of the main complaint — that Gehennom is boring — of people who play NetHack. By the time you get to Gehennom, you’ve pretty much got everything you need to win the game and are generally well-equipped enough to tackle anything the game can throw at you. Then it’s slogging through another 20-30 levels that don’t pose any real danger to you, which does get dull once you hit level 40 or so. Really, the gleefulness with which NetHack will kill you off is one of its main attractions; ascending, or even just getting pretty far down, is quite the accomplishment.

    And besides, if you think NetHack’s hard, stay away from Slash’EM. I don’t think I’ve ever even made it past the Quest in that game.

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