NetHack Fourk is a variant of the classic roguelike game NetHack, based on the NetHack 4 codebase. The focus of NetHack Fourk is on balance refinements and on differentiating existing content (roles, monsters, levels, etc.) in meaningful ways.
About this document: Last modified by Alex Smith, 2015-09-04 Copyright (C) 2013 Alex Smith. Copyright (C) 2015 Nathan Eady. This README file is licensed under the NetHack General Public License. See libnethack/dat/license for details. For information about building the game on Microsoft Windows, see README-MSWindows.txt. For information about building on Unix-type systems (including Mac and Linux), see Build Instructions, below. Overview ======== NetHack is free software, and has no warranty of any sort. For more information on the license situation, read `COPYING` (a summary), or `copyright` (full details). NetHack Fourk (NHF) is based on NetHack 4 (NH4), with additional changes. In order to understand the purpose of NetHack Fourk, you must first understand about NetHack 4. NetHack 4 ========= NetHack 4 is a version of the computer game NetHack, that aims to bring a better-quality codebase and a less hostile interface to NetHack's highly rated "roguelike" gameplay. Unlike many NetHack variants, it is intentionally conservative in making gameplay changes; in particular, it aims to avoid the common problem whereby development is driven via fixing perceived balance issues with the game (often losing the ability to improvise solutions to complex problems in the process), or via focusing too much on the difference between wins and losses (meaning that players are forced into taking the best choice, rather than the choice they enjoy most or a choice they want to try). See the file `doc/philosophy.txt` for more information on NetHack 4's philosophy. NetHack Fourk ============= NetHack Fourk exists to test out changes that are believed to be needed in principle (typically, for balance reasons) but might or might not prove to be appropriate in practice, in some cases because we are unsure whether they are the correct solution to a problem or because we are unsure how much of the proposed solution is actually required, or in other cases because we are unsure whether the change might introduce even larger balance issues than the problem it intends to solve ("the cure is worse than the disease"). As such, NetHack Fourk will be far more conservative about gameplay changes than the truly experimental variants, but less strict than NetHack4. Development will closely track NetHack 4 as an upstream source. The following principles are put forward: * The master branch should not break save compatibility except after release, when it moves to the new version number by merging material that was previously in bleeding-edge. The bleeding-edge branch may break save compatibility any time. Version-number branches with a version number less than that of the master branch are to receive important bugfixes only. The version-number branch that has the same version number as the master branch will generally keep pace with it; and any higher-numbered branches are considered to be in a preliminary, bleeding-edge state and may break save compatibility at any time. * When possible, uncontroversial improvements should be committed upstream to NetHack 4 first and then be merged down to NetHack Fourk. Priority should be given to bug fixes and to popular enhancements that have been field tested elsewhere (especially on very active public servers). * Changes from the stable branch of NetHack 4 (at the time of this writing, called master) may be merged at any time, unless we are in a freeze to prepare for release. Such freezes should be short in duration. * Changes from other NetHack 4 branches should only be merged at certain points in the development cycle. If there is more than one developer working on NetHack Fourk, these changes should be discussed prior to merging, because planning may be required. However, in general, NetHack Fourk aims to be somewhat more experimental than mainstream NetHack 4, so it will often be appropriate to merge pending changes from other branches. * At appropriate points in the development cycle, popular changes from other NetHack variants may also be merged. Priority should be given to popular changes from conservative variants, or ones that are popular enough to have made it into multiple variants already, or ones that are well understood because they have seen extensive play testing already, or that only impact players who choose to use them (e.g., new roles). * Original changes should be implemented when necessary to address serious shortcomings or major balance issues or to improve the monster AI. Some exceptions may be made for changes that only impact players who choose to use them, e.g., for new playable races and roles. These should always be implemented in a feature branch first and tested at least a little before merging into the master branch. * Improving the monster AI, if it genuinely makes monsters smarter or introduces greater variety of monster behavior, may be done (at appropriate points in the dev cycle -- typically, in bleeding-edge) even if it disrupts game balance; subsequently, if play testing reveals a significant imbalance, steps may be taken to compensate, e.g., by giving the player better ways to deal with monsters that have become more dangerous. * Improvements that enhance the variety of the gameplay experience may be made during the alpha phase of the dev cycle (typically, they will be merged into the bleeding-edge branch), provided they are kept within reasonable limits and are held to a high standard of balance and quality. History ======= NetHack 4 was originally produced by merging two forks, Alex Smith's AceHack, and Daniel Thaler's NitroHack. Since then it has incorporated changes from numerous other forks (especially the fertile sources of bugfixes that are GruntHack and UnNetHack), and has had many improvements of its own. NetHack 4 has come a long way since 2009, when AceHack began. Out of all the lines of C, lex, and yacc source code currently in NetHack 4, less than half originally come from NetHack 3.4.3 or earlier – even if you don't count whitespace changes. The rest are typically modifications or even rewrites of the old code with bugs fixed and style improved. Many people have suggested rewriting NetHack from scratch to get rid of the bugs and improve the coding style, but doing so would be close to an impossible project. Our continuous changes of NetHack from the inside will eventually accomplish a similar goal, but in a more realistic manner. The information about NetHack 4 in this README file mainly describes version 4.3, which focuses mostly on improvements to the game's internals, rather than gameplay changes. The NetHack 4 developers are planning to make more substantial gameplay changes in 4.4. Frequently Asked Questions ========================== See the file `faq.txt` (`doc/faq.txt` in the source code, or in the documentation directory in an installed version). Contact ======= Bugs in NetHack Fourk that can also be reproduced in NetHack 4 should preferably be reported upstream in #nethack4. The homepage for NetHack 4 itself is http://nethack4.org, and contains many other resources about the game and its community. Bug reports or other correspondance specific to NetHack Fourk should be reported to jonadab either on the Libera.chat IRC network or by email (at columbus.rr.com). If using email, please make sure that the word "Fourk" is included in the Subject: header of your message. You can discuss NetHack 4 and NetHack Fourk on IRC. irc:irc.libera.chat/nethack4 is the channel for NetHack 4, and typically discusses development. There is also a channel for NetHack Fourk at irc:irc.libera.chat/nhfourk that can be used to make feature requests or discuss balance or other issues pertaining either to changes that NetHack Fourk has already made or perhaps should make. For gameplay advice, the best place is the general NetHack discussion channel at irc:irc.libera.chat/nethack (which also covers NetHack 3 and other variants). If you're more old-fashioned, you can use Usenet instead; the appropriate newsgroup is rec.games.roguelike.nethack (although they would appreciate it if you put `[NetHack Fourk]` in the subject line to make it clear that you aren't talking about NetHack 3). If you want to contact the developers directly, you can use IRC, or email; `jonadab` (Nathan Eady) can receive email using that username, at columbus.rr.com. `ais523` (Alex Smith) can receive email using that username, at nethack4.org. Selected Changes ================ Here are a few of the highlights in NetHack Fourk: * Player race now has an impact on attribute caps, adjusting some of them up or down a point from the value for your role. Additionally, some races get higher skill caps in certain weapon skills. * A new playable race, Sylph, has been added. * Barbarians are now categorically the best role for melee and probably the easiest role for new players. Samurai, Knights, and especially Valkyries have been compensated with other advantages. Some of the other roles also have changes, geared toward encouraging the use of role-appropriate weapons and tactics. * Some weapons that previously saw little use (e.g., sling, axe) are enhanced, particularly if you are playing the right roles for them. Ranged weapons have been rebalanced, especially multi-fire. * Players will need to pay somewhat more attention to alignment-record penalties (like dishonorably attacking the innocent, being a caitiff, feeling guilty, etc.). The limits are now always -100 to 100. New alignment-dependent methods for improving your record have been added, and one important one (killing ordinary monsters) no longer works. * Sokoban now has more versions of its levels, and there are a couple of new ways for players who dislike the puzzle aspect of the branch to dodge the luck penalties. * Amnesia has been removed from the game; the scroll of amnesia is replaced with the scroll of water. * Certain monsters have been enhanced, notably monkeys, the Oracle, hezrou, pit fiends, ice devils, and the Wizard of Yendor. * Nymphs have a difficulty progression (wood / water / mountain / island). * Some level features have been enhanced, e.g., rooms can be non-rectangular and mazes can have wide walls or corridors. * Floating eyes had their behavior changed in 188.8.131.52. * Certain early-game instadeaths are more avoidable now. * A few monsters have a slightly different appearance than before. * Some probability formulae have been adjusted. Notable ones include your chance to hit a monster, your chance to successfully engrave, the chance for engravings to erode, a monster's chance to drop a corpse and/or a random item, and the chance for projectiles to break on impact. * Wands of wishing are no longer rechargeable, but now there are also scrolls of wishing. * Permanently converting your alignment before the quest no longer makes the game unwinnable (though it is still not recommended.) For a more complete list of changes in NetHack Fourk compared to the NetHack 4, see `doc/changelog-fourk.txt`. (If greater detail is wanted, you can also look at the git log.) Additionally, changelog.txt, listing the changes in NetHack 4 as compared to 3.x, is still available. For a full list of changes in NetHack 4 compared to the NetHack 3 series, see `doc/changelog.txt`. Some of the most interesting or noticeable of these changes are listed below. * Numerous bugfixes. Over 200 of the numbered bugs in NetHack 3.4.3 have been fixed *intentionally*; many more have been fixed as a side effect of the improvements to NetHack's internals included in NetHack 4, and many bugs have been fixed in NetHack 4 that aren't included in the NetHack 3.4.3 bug list (because the NetHack 3 devteam failed to add them, despite being notified about them). * A fully rewritten interface, that nonetheless is almost compatible at the keystroke level with 3.4.3 (with a few exceptions to reduce the effect of making typos, or to remove redundant prompts). Just like previous versions, both tiles and console ports are available; unlike previous versions, these ports are keystroke-compatible with each other, so more detailed graphics no longer have to be accompanied by a loss in functionality on the keyboard. Features of the interface include: * Status lines which visually represent health and magical power, and which use color in order to draw attention to dangerous situations and to allow a quick appraisal of the character out of the corner of your eye – but stay gray if they have nothing urgent to say, so that they are most visible when most necessary. * Improved support for large terminals: * Extra vertical space will be used to display more messages at once (cutting down on the need to space through messages at the infamous `--More--` prompt, and to present more information in the status area. If you have even more vertical space than that, the spare space will be used for mouselook (showing information about the map square the mouse is pointing over), and for reminders about the controls. (New players are recommended to use very vertically large terminals.) * If you have spare horizontal space, it is used to maintain a permanent display of the inventory and to show information about the floor beneath your character's feet. * More information shown on the game map. You can see where your character's been walking, see stairs and traps underneath items, and tell at a glance which monsters are peaceful. * A better rendering backend. NetHack 3.4.3 could only use IBMgraphics or DECgraphics for this, often with neither working without spending time configuring your terminal. NetHack 4 will automatically switch between IBMgraphics and Unicode according to the needs of your terminal, meaning that there is rarely a need to change settings. Likewise, it will try its best to give you a working dark gray color (although in emergencies, you can turn off dark gray in the options, and the engine will redo its color schemes to avoid that color). * Commands are now fully rebindable. In most cases, though, you won't need to; unlike NetHack 3, NetHack 4 understands most of the keys on the keyboard, meaning that (especially with NumLock off) it can distinguish the main keyboard and numeric keypad numbers, meaning that there's no longer a need to mess around with the `numpad` option. In fact, you can even use the cursor keys for navigation (without losing the ability to use diagonals), giving three styles of movement: vi-keys cursor keys number keys y k u Home Up PgUp 7 8 9 h . l Left . Right 4 . 6 b j n End Down PgDn 1 2 3 (This sadly cuts slightly into the convenience commands that numpad players were used to. Instead of `N` for `#name`, you can use `C`; instead of `k` for kicking, you can use `^D`. For command repeat, just use the numbers on the main keyboard. Alternatively, you can use the options menu to change back to the old numpad bindings.) Another gain from this is that the `Meta-` shortcuts for many extended commands, that do not work properly in 3.4.3 on many terminals, will normally work in NetHack 4 (using the `Alt` key on the keyboard). * Addition of some new, convenient, commands, without compromising the original commands: * You can limit any command to a specific number of actions via specifying a number of actions to stop after. (Single-turn commands will be repeated for that many actions instead, as in 3.4.3.) You can also stop commands midway through by pressing any key or clicking on the map, if your options are set to animate long-running commands. * `^A` is a lot more powerful; when repeating commands, it will remember what choices you made, and if you use it after an interrupted multi-turn command, it will resume that command for you. * You no longer have to remember the difference between `W` and `P`, or between `R` and `T`; they're interchangeable now. In fact, you no longer have to remember any of those commands, nor `w`, `x`, or `Q`, because you can now change your equipment around using `A`. Also, your character will temporarily unequip armor in order to manipulate armor beneath it, meaning that you don't have to explicitly remove a suit in order to take off a shirt. * There's no need to explicitly open doors any more; just use the direction keys to walk towards them. If they turn out to be locked, you can now unlock them with `o`. * Examining map squares using `;` still works, but if you have a mouse available, you can also quickly examine them simply via hovering the mouse pointer over them. * If you find exploring empty areas tedious, you can let the game take over for you; press `v`, and an AI will take over the exploring for you until it finds something interesting or a monster turns up. * The game will remember information about other levels for you, accessible via the `^O` command; not only will it give a quick guide to interesting features on each level, but you can select a level from the menu to view what you remember about its map. * Fed up of typing out Elbereth by hand? The `^E` command is a quick shortcut to write an Elbereth in the dust. * It's now harder to do things that are normally bad ideas by mistake – but it's still possible to do them intentionally. For instance, moving towards a shopkeeper is interpreted as "pay" (`p`) rather than "fight" (`F`); you'd need to give the `F` intentionally if you wanted to attack. Likewise, moving into lava (when not levitating, confused, or the like) needs an `m` prefix, or the game will give a warning and your character will wisely just stand there. * Along similar lines, you now normally use `,` as an inventory letter to interact with items on the floor (e.g. `e,` to eat them), because the ambiguity of `ey` lead to many typo-related deaths back in 3.4.3. * The game now tracks more information about your character, with a "history" view that shows major events in your character's life, and with dumplogs produced when the game ends to summarize the heroic efforts and final defeat (or glorious victory) of your character. * Customizing options no longer requires messing around with configuration files; you can change options for one game using the in-game `O` command, and options for all future games from the main menu. There are numerous improvements to the options themselves, too: * You can set various "birth options" for your game in order to control what sort of game you want to play, ranging from something small like turning off bones, to challenge modes where your character is permanently blind or hallucinating. There's no longer a need to recompile the game if you want to do something like turn off Elbereth. * Autopickup is a lot more customizable than in 3.4.3, with the ability to add rules that match various properties of items against patterns to choose whether to pick them up. * There are many more options for what the main movement keys do. In 3.4.3, your choices are limited to choosing whether they displace pets and whether they ask for confirmation when you attack peacefuls. In NetHack 4, you could for instance have them refuse to attack monsters altogether, without losing the ability to pick up items (which is what adding an `m` before every command would do). * Finally, if you're a traditionalist, don't worry: the vast majority of the new interface features from NetHack 4 can be turned off, leaving you with an uninteresting 3.4.3-like ASCII view if you want. * The save system has been rewritten (and we removed all the much-maligned NitroHack save code, too). Save files now contain a complete history of the gamestate, allowing them to be reconstructed at any point, making it possible to view a replay of a game with full character knowledge. The save files are also saved continuously; if something goes wrong, whether it's a bug in the game or your terminal crashing, you'll be able to just pick back up where you left. You can even save in the middle of a turn! (To do this, either close the window, or open the main menu using Control-C and save that way.) The game is also ever-vigilant for mistakes in the save system; if at any point your game can no longer be restored from its save, it will stop gameplay immediately, maximizing the chances that the save file can be recovered, rather than letting you play on and then losing all your progress since the moment it went wrong. * There have been some gameplay changes, mostly to remove "difficulty" that was created via relying on a bad interface and entirely avoidable via playing slowly and taking lots of notes. Most notably, amnesia does not cause the character to forget anything the player could easily find out by watching the replay of the game up to that point; instead, it drains skill points and spells. There are also many gameplay changes intended to streamline the interface. Try dropping a container full of unidentified items on an altar some time. Finally, there are some improvements in the monster AI. For instance, pets can use their special attacks now and are much better at following you, and hostile monsters may attack each other even without conflict if they dislike each other enough. Monsters also have less spoiler knowledge than they did before; in particular, they won't know where you are on the map without some way to see or sense your location. * Building the game from source is much easier than it was in NetHack 3.4.3. See the build instructions below. For a list of changes in NetHack Fourk compared to the NetHack 4, see `doc/changelog-fourk.txt`. (If greater detail is wanted, you can also look at the git log.) Additionally, changelog.txt, listing the changes in NetHack 4 as compared to 3.x, is still available. Build Instructions ================== General note ------------ The build instructions in this system are basic "do this, and things should work" advice, and do not go heavily into details of customizing a build. If you want to do something complex or unusual, you can read the build system manual (which lists everything in more detail than most people will need) via running the command perl aimake --documentation UNIX/Linux/Mac OS X ------------------- You will need to install NetHack Fourk's dependencies: zlib (which is probably installed already, but you may need to get its development headers from your package manager), and (if you want a working server binary) inetd, postgresql and pgcrypto. You also need development headers for the libraries listed. NetHack Fourk also requires a working libjansson library (available from http://www.digip.org/jansson), and its development headers. However, both of those ship with NetHack Fourk, and will be used by default or if you explicitly specify `--with=jansson` as an option to `aimake`. (If you have installed libjansson yourself, you can give `--without=jansson` to use your own copy. This will build a little faster and avoid installing redundant copies of the jansson library.) You will also need the `bison` and `flex` programs (in addition to the usual compilers), because some of NetHack's tools (e.g. the level-handling utilities) are written in them. If you want to build the tiles or faketerm ports (the default), you will also need to install libpng, and version 2 of the Simple DirectMedia Layer; it may be available in your package manager, or else you could download the source code from http://www.libsdl.org and compile it yourself. Otherwise, you can specify `--without=gui` as an option to `aimake` to build just the console port (which is built either way), and disable the tiles ports. Note that the tiles ports do not currently work on Mac OS X. Assuming you just want to run NetHack Fourk from your home directory, from the top source directory, run: mkdir build cd build ../aimake -i ~/nhfourk .. # or wherever you want If you want to install for all users, you will need to tell `aimake` which location to install it into, and how to elevate its permissions: # as a regular user, not root mkdir build cd build ../aimake -i /usr/local -S su .. # or perhaps -S sudo Note that this requires a group `games` to exist on your system, and contain no normal users, in order to ensure security of the bones files and high score tables. This is the case on most Linux distributions, but not on all, and may not be the case on UNIX. To run the console port, use `nhfourk`. For the tiles/faketerm ports, use `nhfourk-sdl`. Windows ------- You will need to install various prerequisite programs in order to compile NetHack Fourk. The build system is written in Perl, and as such, the simplest way to get a working toolchain is to install Strawberry Perl, available at http://strawberryperl.com, which comes with a working C toolchain. You will also need to install Flex and Bison, scanner and parser generators; the versions at GnuWin32 (http://gnuwin32.sourceforge.net/) work (although they don't have a very Windows-like idea of directory structure, and thus can't be installed to paths with spaces in, and produce compiler warnings; if you know a better option, let us know). Strawberry Perl's and GnuWin32's executables will all need to be on your PATH (search for "PATH" in Control Panel, on recent versions of Windows). You will also need to create two more folders, `build` and `install`; I recommend that both are parallel to the `nhfourk` folder that contains the entire NetHack Fourk distribution. If you want to build a tiles or fake terminal port (recommended even if you aren't a tiles player, because Windows' terminal is rather slow), you will need version 2 of the Simple DirectMedia Layer. Download the MinGW version of the development headers and import libraries from http://www.libsdl.org; also download the library itself. Then copy the entire `include/SDL2` subdirectory from the appropriate processor-dependent directory of the SDL distribution, to the `c/include` folder that was created when you installed Strawberry Perl (so that it beomes `c/include/SDL2`); and all the files `lib/*.a` from the appropriate processor-dependent directory of the SDL distribution to the `c/lib` folder that was created when you installed Strawberry Perl (so that they become `c/lib/libSDL2.a`, etc.). Finally, copy the file `SDL2.dll` that you obtained when you downloaded the library itself to the `prebuilt` folder inside the `nethack4` folder that contained the distribution. Once you've done this, open Strawberry Perl's command prompt, change to the build directory, and type: perl ..\nhfourk\aimake -i ..\install --directory-layout=single_directory aimake should compile and install the entirety of NetHack Fourk for you into the install directory. In order to run the console port, change directory to the install directory, and type `nhfourk`. For the tiles/faketerm port, use `nhfourk-sdl.exe`. It is possible that `ld.exe` will crash in the process of the build. This only seems to happen after it has already produced the output that aimake needed, so you can just dismiss the error box and let the build work as normal. Note that despite the best efforts of the rendering library, the game is quite slow to render on the console when using recent versions of Windows; this is because the Windows console itself is prety slow. (For a comparison, you can try running a command that produces a lot of text, such as `perl ../nhfourk/aimake --documentation`, and observing how long it takes to scroll the screen when you press the spacebar.) The faketerm port somehow manages to be faster, even though it too is fairly slow. Server setup ------------ If you want to run your own server (which is only necessary/useful if you want people to be able to connect to your NetHack Fourk server from other computers, rather than running locally), you'll need to give `--with=server` as a command-line option to `aimake`, and also need to set up the postgresql database: su postgres # or any other way to elevate your permissions createuser -DPRS nh4server # You'll be prompted for a password at this point. createdb -O nhfserver nhfourk echo 'CREATE EXTENSION pgcrypto' | psql -d nhfourk exit # go back to your normal permissions Next you need to edit the configuration file (a blank configuration file will have been installed in the appropriate place for you to edit). If you installed into `~/nhfourk`, it should be named `~/nhfourk/config/nhfourk.conf`; other forms of install may have other locations. (You can run nhfourk-server with no arguments to discover where the configuration file should be; if it can't find its configuration file, it'll complain and tell you where it's looking for it.) The configuration file looks something like this: dbhost=127.0.0.1 dbport=5432 dbuser=nhfserver dbpass=passphrase-that-may-as-well-be-nice-and-long dbname=nhfourk Note that the port number has been known to vary based on the way that your copy of postgresql is packaged; you may want to verify it by looking at postgresql's configuration, `/etc/postgresql/.../postgresql.conf`. Also be aware that the configuration file necessarily has to store the password in plaintext (a hashed password is no good for actually logging into the database); you may want to change the permissions on the configuration file to help protect it. (I recommend using a long random password, because it's only used by computers; there's no need for humans to memorize it.) Finally, you need to tell inetd about the new server setup. As root, you need to add two extra lines to `/etc/inetd.conf`, looking something like this: 53405 stream tcp nowait username /path/to/nhfourk-server nhfourk-server 53405 stream tcp6 nowait username /path/to/nhfourk-server nhfourk-server (Here, "username" is the username of the user that the server binaries should run as.) Then, again as root, just send a `SIGHUP` to inetd (`killall -HUP inetd`), to tell it to load the new configuration file. inetd will be responsible for starting the server processes when a new connection is made; no server processes will be running while no games are being played. To test your server setup, you can use the `nhfourk` client; there's a menu option to connect to a server with it. This only really works properly on Linux, at present; on Mac OS X, it may be possible to get a partially working server, but functionality is missing due to that operating system's lack of support for realtime signals.
NetHack Fourk is a variant of the classic roguelike game NetHack, based on the NetHack 4 codebase. The focus of NetHack Fourk is on balance refinements and on differentiating existing content (roles, monsters, levels, etc.) in meaningful ways.