Immediate things observed in Nethack 3.6 (mild spoilers)

With the news of Nethack 3.6 releasing this week, I naturally had to scamper home and plunk that puppy onto my Macbook. And wake up Natil the Ranger again!

The general buzz is that the featureset of the game has not changed hugely. However, just by a couple of casual runs with it tonight, I have noticed some obvious changes. Spoilers behind the fold if you don’t want to know and would rather figure these things out by playing yourself!

I noticed a few things immediately launching that game–first and foremost when the game loaded my prior .nethackrc file, it doublechecked that that was the character I wanted to run. That looked like the “New Opening Screen” gallery pic, pretty much.

I also discovered that the DecGraphics option, which I’ve had in my .nethackrc file for ages, has been deprecated. The OS X binary complained about that.

A couple of new options I also noticed in general game flow and behavior, and confirmed via the new version’s Guidebook: by default, if you try to move into a door, you will try to open it. This behavior can be toggled with the “autopen” command, and it’s on by default. You can turn it off if you don’t like it.

Likewise, if you leave an otherwise lit room, that room no longer remains represented as lit on your screen as it has done in prior versions. This behavior can be toggled via the “dark_room” option.

There are new random scroll names! Two that I immediately noticed were LOREM IPSUM and VAS CORP BET MANI.

Statues of monsters are now gray representations of that monster’s letter. This is a trifle confusing at first glance if you don’t know what to expect!

There are different messages now for when you’re going up and down stairs, and at least as I was playing my usual Natil the Ranger, I got different messaging than I expected for when I tried to walk into the same space as my dog.

Messaging is different in stores now as well. In a bookstore I found, just looking at items showed me the items’ prices as part of the messaging for what I saw, without having to park on the object and #chat with the shopkeeper, or otherwise pick up the object, to get the price. Also of immediate interest: presumably as part of the additional tributes to Terry Pratchett I saw described in the release notes (to wit: AWWWW), the bookstore had a new type of + in it. I saw a “paperback book” called “Lords and Ladies”. Which is presumably a callback to this! I did not get a chance to actually acquire the item and see what I could do with it, though.

Most of the game commands I have muscle memory for are the same–but one of the things I noticed that was specifically different is the #offer command for sacrificing corpses on altars. In prior versions, I was able to trigger this by the shortcut of #o. Now I have to do #of, and I’m not used to that yet. If you’ve played Nethack often enough that you have muscle memory for most if not all of the commands, be prepared to have to catch yourself every so often. Like with sacrificing on altars.

I quit out of my first game to try to rearrange some of the options in my .nethackrc file, and in my second attempt at a game, I wound up dying on the second level of Sokoban. Which got me some of the other obvious changes! The output when you die is now rather more detailed, as called out in the “Do You Want Your Possessions Identified?” gallery pic. (There was actually a second screen, but it was just one more line of output about Sokoban so I didn’t bother to screencap that.)

So far so good. I’ll be looking forward to seeing what else I can discover!

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