Home > Computers and Internet > “Wizard, your creative force is running out….”

“Wizard, your creative force is running out….”

11-Jun-07 09:44 pm EST Leave a comment Go to comments

For you fellow veteran gamers out there (and I mean those of you who are hesitating about whether to put that first 4 character in the age box when prompted for your age), you’ll recognize the quote heading this article as paraphrasing the world’s first truly multiplayer arcade game Gauntlet.  But as a veteran gamer – particularly with PC games – you might remember the old single-player hit (also a hit on UNIX systems) called "NetHack" parodied this quote from Gauntlet when one of the characters (a Wizard) started running short of food.  I, feeling nostalgic this past weekend, decided to use NetHack as a self-learning tool in my application of a variety of new programming concepts I’ve read about in the past few months and re-create this title as "dotNetHack".  In the process of digging into how its namesake was originally put together had my respect for this long lost treasure take a hit: the levels, which I’d previously thought programmatically generated, are in fact statically retained within the body of the sourcecode!

Admittedly, I was hoping to "steal" some of the logic which I’d thought responsible for generating a seemingly endless supply of levels.  Oh yes, I’ve finished NetHack before….but there are enough levels statically held in the game code that it always seemed they were programmatically generated.  I’m not disappointed that among the challenges a recreation effort will take I’ll now add level generation – it’s just disappointing that this wasn’t a feature of a game whose code base has been evolving since 1989!

On the other hand, it’s humbling to think that now, as the game approaches its 20th anniversary, I might be able to contribute to the game’s evolution.  Hopefully, knowing how the magic works won’t detract from my appreciation of the game’s legacy.  One factor to keep in mind as I pursue this volunteer effort – in 1989 the tools a developer had to work with were a far cry from the syntax of Java or C#.  The code, which appears to be ANSI C, doesn’t appear very far removed from assembly instruction sets.  In fact…that legacy is very evident browsing through the code of old.

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  1. Christopher
    24-Jan-08 10:15 am EST at 10:15 am EST

    How has this been coming along? I too have contemplated starting a dotNetHack project using modern architecture techniques.

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Terry Glavin

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