/dev/null/nethack tournament

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The /dev/null/nethack tournament, also known as the devnull tournament, was the second longest running gaming tournament on the Internet, having run every November since 1999.[1] The tournament's main website was at http://nethack.devnull.net. It ran from midnight Pacific Time (PDT with the new extended Daylight Savings Time in the USA), 1 November (Halloween night) until midnight PT, 1 December.

During this time, players competed for a wide range of trophies ranging from simple stars for reaching in-game goals shy of ascension to trophies for impressive multi-ascension feats.

The competition was in vanilla NetHack, with custom patches applied to provide a new optional challenge each year (except 2011 and 2013). The old challenges (going back to 2005) were all available (except for the Kingdom Of Loathing challenge, which was broken by changes to the external website it depended on). The new challenge's identity was kept secret to make things more interesting for the players. Apart from that, no features or fixes were added, so beware of splitting long worms.

In September 2017 the tournament organizer Krystal announced on Twitter that it would be retired for good. An independent group of players held a final tribute tournament in the tournament's usual timeslot, running all the usual challenges but updated to NetHack 3.6.0 (rather than the version that was used for Krystal's tournaments, NetHack 3.4.3). In keeping with tradition, the tournament ran on the (mostly) unpatched NetHack release, allowing (encouraging?) players to exploit various known bugs to their advantage. So, even though the astral call bug was no longer available, 3.6.0 had plenty of new material to offer in this space.

Results

The official scoreboard was hosted on the tournament site. The archives are incomplete, not covering any tournaments past 2008.

To address this and other problems with the official website, unofficial scoreboards have been created:

These evaluate the tournament xlogfile.

Challenges

Starting in 2005, the tournament added optional challenges to the game. Each year has added a new challenge, designated the Unknown Challenge until the completion of that year's tournament, and preserved the prior challenges. Some challenges are entirely internal to NetHack, and others require players to achieve a goal in another game.

Challenges are triggered by some action within NetHack. Upon the trigger, you may either accept the challenge, decline it for the current game, or ignore it permanently. If you accept, you are bound by the rules of the challenge until you complete it or choose to permanently ignore it via the tournament website. Challenges make NetHack harder in some way associated with the trigger until they are completed.

The tournament web site distributes a patch that adds the challenges to the game so that you may practice at home (or spoil the challenges). The current tournament patch as well as the server kit that they use are available for download at http://nethack.devnull.net/software/index.shtml#patch.

Year Challenge Official description
2005 The Kingdom of Loathing Challenge Players accepting this Challenge must venture to the Kingdom of Loathing to defeat an alternate-universe Wizard of Yendor
2006 The Grue Challenge Harkening back to Zork, players accepting this Challenge must find and figure out how to use the Frobozz Company Inter-Dimensional Portal Generator before being eaten by a Grue
2007 The PacMan Challenge For the serious retro-gaming fetishist, this Challenge requires the player to complete a NetHack-ified PacMan game before being allowed to eat any fruit
2008 The ZAPM Challenge For the very dedicated rogue-like gamer, this Challenge requires the player to complete a game of ZAPM before being allowed to wish

This Challenge has its own scoreboard, the trophies for which can be viewed (by players who have accepted the Challenge) here.

2009 The DigDug Challenge For the serious retro-gaming fetishist, this Challenge requires the player to complete a NetHack-ified DigDug game before being allowed to dig
2010 The Waldo Challenge Referring to the 'Where's Waldo?' books, this Challenge requires the player to find Waldo somewhere in the game before being allowed to tame new pets
2012 The Pool Challenge Contributed by Nathaniel Waisbrot, requires the player to solve a life-size pool game using boulders and a pool queue before being able to push boulders around
2015 The Joust Challenge Based on the 1982 'Joust' video game from Williams Electronics. Requires the player to ride an ostrich to victory over the Bounder, the Hunter, and the Shadow Lord, before being able to mount a steed.

Kingdom of Loathing challenge

This challenge was triggered by trying to engrave "Elbereth" and prevented players from engraving "Elbereth" while it was not completed.

Players had to play a different game, Kingdom of Loathing, and succeed in beating an alternate-universe Wizard of Yendor (a bot set up by the tournament administrator for this purpose) there.

As the challenge tested for engraving Elbereth using the strcmp function, this only affected the exact string "Elbereth"; variations such as "elbereth" or "ElberethE" were not affected.

This challenge is "not operational" as of 2012 because of changes in the Kingdom of Loathing infrastructure being not compatible with the code the tournament used for the challenge.

Grue challenge

(
Name Frobozz Company Inter-Dimensional Portal Generator TM
Appearance sinister device
Base price 1 zm
Weight 20
Material [[{{{material}}}]]
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

The Grue challenge was triggered by entering an unlit room. Before it was completed, players could not safely enter unlit areas as after 3 input actions, a Grue will "eat" them. This is an instant death that cannot be resisted; however, using a light source will prevent this.

This challenge suffered from a bug similar to the lava time bug as it considers input actions, not turns; that is, checking your inventory three times will kill you.

A "sinister device" can be found in the challenge level, which is a large empty unlit room. The device has to be formally identified and then applied to complete the challenge.

The portal to the challenge level was randomly placed in Mines' End; as large parts of the mines are usually unlit, clearly the tricky part is not the challenge level per se, but reaching it. It is also advisable to have a scroll of identify ready before embarking on the trip to the challenge level, as it can otherwise be hard to formally identify the device.

PacMan challenge

(
Name energizer pellet
Appearance shiny pellet
Base price 1 zm
Weight 20
Material [[{{{material}}}]]
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.
(
Name lifegiving bonus fruit
Appearance fruit token
Base price 1 zm
Weight 20
Material [[{{{material}}}]]
Monster use Will not be used by monsters.

The PacMan challenge was triggered by trying to eat "fruit". Before it is completed, players could not eat any "fruit". Those items are considered "fruit" for this purpose:

In the challenge level, players had three "lives"; being attacked by any of Blinky, Inky, Pinky or Clyde (roughly equivalent to the ghosts in the original PacMan) would remove one of these lives. Once all of these lives were removed, the player was forced to leave the challenge level and unable to reenter in the same game. Applying an identified life giving bonus fruit outside the challenge level would restore three lives and allow re-entry and completion of the challenge.

The portal to the challenge level generated on the Oracle's level.

To complete the challenge, all squares of the level had to be walked on; they would seem to turn from lit to unlit. When the challenge was completed, the level had to be left using the portal also used to enter.

Monsters on the challenge level could always be seen, even when walls would normally obstruct the view. The level was automatically mapped when the player arrived. Phasing and digging were not possible.

If the player were invisible, the ghosts would not pursue the player as aggressively.

The level started fully lit, but because walking on a square unlighted it to indicate the player's progress, the PacMan level was not safe if the Grue challenge was currently in progress.

There were two lifegiving bonus fruits near the center of the maze; when formally identified and applied, each of them would add three additional lives.

There were also four energizer pellets; when formally identified and applied, the "ghosts" would flee from you. While they were fleeing, hitting any of them would instantly kill them, giving the message "Energized!".

The "ghosts" all respected Elbereth; in fact, as it made them flee, attacking them while standing on Elbereth would instantly kill them. Note that for the 2017 tribute tournament, the 3.6.0 Elbereth mechanics applied.

As the portal was randomly placed on the challenge level, it was possible to start next to the ghosts.

On the below map, ( marks the lifegiving bonus fruits; these were normally displayed as (. ( marks the energizer pellets. The ghosts are & Binky, & Pinky, & Inky, and & Clyde.

-----------------------------------
|................|................|
|.-----.--------.|.--------.-----.|
|.................................|
|(-----.-------------------.-----(|
|................|................|
|------.---.----&(&----.---.------|
|........|.....|...|.....|........|
|------.---.----&(&----.---.------|
|................|................|
|.-----.--------.|.--------.-----.|
|.....|.....................|.....|
|----(|.---.-----------.---.|(----|
|........|.......|.......|........|
|.--------------.|.--------------.|
|.................................|
-----------------------------------

ZAPM challenge

The ZAPM challenge was triggered by attempting to make a wish, and until it is completed, wishing was not possible.

The game of ZAPM, supplied by the /dev/null public servers (or the hardfought servers for the tribute challenge in 2017), became available and a player would have to win once to complete the challenge. See the ZAPM page for more information.

DigDug challenge

This task was triggered by attempting to dig, and, once accepted, digging was not possible until the challenge was completed.

A portal somewhere in Minetown lead the player to the hiding place of D Fygar and his p Pookas. Each of them had to be zapped four times with a / wand of dangerously inflate monster. The first wand, with 4-8 charges, was lying in the main corridor; each of the challenge monsters started on (and picked up) another one of them. To access them, digging was allowed while within this level. A ( pick-axe was provided in the main room.

Phasing through the walls was impossible on the challenge level. All monsters on the challenge level were always visible (even through walls) and the level was pre-mapped. The entire level was lit. It was possible for the portal to spawn inside of one of the areas containing Fygar or a Pooka; if this happened, the best strategy was to make judicious use of Elbereth and try to pick up the wand before the enemy does. In preparation for this eventuality, bringing your own source of digging was recommended.

Fygar and the Pookas did respect Elbereth and could be killed in a number of ways, but that didn't count in respect to the challenge. They had to be hit with the wands four times; if they died earlier the challenge would become unwinnable for the current game. Often the wands would miss, and the first one often ran out before another one could be harvested; it was advisable to bring a scroll of charging or two. Fygar breathed fire, so reflection wasn't a bad idea either.

----------------
|......(.......|
|..............|
|..............|
|      #       |
| #    #  ##p# |
| #    #       |
| p    #       |
| #    #       |
|     #/#      |
|              |
|         #    |
|  ##D#   #    |
|         p    |
|         #    |
|              |
----------------

Waldo challenge

This challenge was triggered by attempting to tame a monster; before it was completed, taming monsters was impossible.

Any monster represented by a @ had a chance of being generated as "Waldo," which could be seen through farlook. To complete the challenge, a player had to first identify Waldo through farlook, and then chat to him. Waldo was only generated once in each game, so if he was killed before this was done, the challenge would be unwinnable for the current game.

In addition to Waldo himself, some Waldo lookalikes with similar names would also appear, although these did not help in completing the challenge. They each had a striped shirt and bobble hat in their inventory, which were items intended to be entirely cosmetic.

Earlier versions of this challenge were famously buggy, often becoming complete spontaneously with no apparent action by the player. Additionally, the bobble hat used to give an AC improvement of 10 points (and could be further enchanted), making it the best helm in the game by a very large margin. The bobble hat became something of a meme in some NetHack communities; an unqualified reference to "bobble hat" is typically taken to refer to the pre-bugfix version.

Pool challenge

This challenge was triggered by trying to push a boulder. Before it is completed, pushing boulders was impossible; manipulating boulders in other ways was still allowed.

On dungeon level 4, a second upstairs would generate, leading to the challenge level. This level was accessible even when the challenge has not been accepted; this was a bug. (Because a level cannot have more than three stairs, the existence of this challenge presumably also limited the Mines entrance to generate on level 2 or 3.)

The objective of the challenge was to fill all the pits on the challenge level with boulders. To do so, the boulders had to be hit with a cue boulder (0) that could only be moved by applying a cue stick (found next to the stairs) to it. Boulders would bounce from walls and could set each other in motion.

There might have been more specific conditions on how the pits must be filled to successfully complete the challenge; currently they are not fully known, however.

Below is a set of maps illustrating a solution.

-----------
|^0......^|
|...0...0.|
|..@......|
|...0...0.|
|^0...0..^|
|.....00..|
|..0......|
|....>....|
|^.......^|
-----------
-----------
|^0......^|
|...0...0.|
|.........|
|.......0.|
|^0.@00..^|
|......0..|
|..0......|
|....>....|
|^........|
-----------
-----------
|^0......^|
|...0...0.|
|.........|
|.......0.|
|^0..0@...|
|......0..|
|..0......|
|....>....|
|^........|
-----------
-----------
|^0......^|
|...0...0.|
|.........|
|.......0.|
|..0......|
|...@..0..|
|..0......|
|....>....|
|^........|
-----------
-----------
|^00@....^|
|.......0.|
|.........|
|.......0.|
|......0..|
|......0..|
|..0......|
|....>....|
|^........|
-----------
-----------
|..0.....^|
|.@.....0.|
|.........|
|.......0.|
|......0..|
|......0..|
|..0......|
|....>....|
|^........|
-----------
-----------
|........^|
|.......0.|
|.........|
|.....0.0.|
|....@....|
|......0..|
|..0......|
|....>....|
|^.....0..|
-----------
-----------
|.........|
|.......@.|
|......0..|
|.......0.|
|.........|
|......0..|
|..0......|
|....>....|
|^.....0..|
-----------
-----------
|.........|
|.......@.|
|.........|
|.......0.|
|.........|
|...0..0..|
|.........|
|....>....|
|......0..|
-----------

Joust challenge

This challenge was triggered by trying to #ride a saddled monster. Riding steeds was not allowed until the challenge is successfully completed.

The challenge was accessed via a magic portal in the zoo at the top of Sokoban.

The movement mechanics were modified to account for the alien gravitational conditions that prevail in the jousting arena.

The objective was to saddle and mount the ostrich(o), and defeat the Bounder(B), Hunter(H), and Shadow Lord(S), according to the rules of the original video game, which means hitting them from above (either directly or diagonally). If these monsters were allowed to this player from above, or while not mounted, it would cost them one of their three lives. If the nemeses of this challenge (or the ostrich) died by any other means, the challenge would be unwinnable.

The ostrich started peaceful, but became tame when saddled (this conveniently bypasses the Waldo challenge).

Players needed to bring their own saddles to complete this challenge. A lance was not required.

The ostrich was considered domestic, so could also be tamed by feeding (subject to Waldo restrictions); it had a similar diet to other 'o' class monsters, so the tripe ration was a good choice.

Exiting the challenge level via the portal while riding the ostrich would result in a forced dismount, leaving the ostrich behind, and the saddle would be lost. However, leaving while not mounted, with the ostrich adjacent to the portal, would cause it to follow you out according to the usual pet following rules.

Trophies

The tournament also awarded trophies for all kinds of achievements within the game, ranging from the coveted Best of 13 to the Plastic Star.

There are six categories of trophies: Grand, Major, Challenge, Minor, Recognition, and Miscellaneous.

Grand

The Grand trophy used to be Highest Score until 2004, when it was changed to Best of 13. It was the sole trophy in its category and one of the most coveted.

Major

The Major trophies recognised a wide variety of NetHack skills:

  • Most Ascensions: Awarded to the player with most ascensions during the tournament, with no regard to character repetition.
  • Fastest Ascension: Gametime: Awarded to the player who ascends in the smallest number of game turns.
  • Fastest Ascension: Realtime: Awarded to the player who ascends in the shortest amount of real time.
  • Lowest Scored Ascension: Awarded to the player who ascends with the smallest score.
  • Best Behaved Ascension: Awarded to the player who ascends with the largest amount of conducts intact.
  • First Ascension: Awarded to the player who ascends first in the tournament.
  • Most Unique Deaths: Awarded to the player who attains the largest variety of deaths.
  • Highest Scored Ascension: Awarded to the player who ascends with the highest score (duh).

Challenge

The Challenge trophies were awarded to those who complete the various tournament challenges outlined above. Those who complete them first receive particular recognition.

Minor

Minor trophies included all trophies awarded for the highest score for a particular role.

Recognition

Recognition trophies were awarded for various milestones within the tournament, ranging from impressive ascension combos to reaching some fixed points within the game. All of the multi-ascension combos had an enhanced version, which can be obtained by completing all the games meeting the criteria for obtaining the trophy consecutively, with no games that are not eligible for the prize in between. (In 2017, with the tribute tournament, the requirement was to complete the trophy within a single streak of wins, rather than every game that contributed progress towards the trophy having to be consecutive.) Said version is called "foo with bells on".

  • The Full Monty: Awarded to all players who ascend at least one game with each gender, each role, each race, each alignment, and each conduct intact (of course, not within one single game). At least five players achieved this trophy: Marvin (with bells on) in 2007, maud and nuslayer (without bells) in 2009, qp (without bells) in 2012, and Tariru (without bells) in 2017.
  • The Grand Slam: Awarded to all players who ascend at least one game with each gender, each role, each race, and each alignment (not considering conducts).
  • The Hat Trick: Awarded to all players who ascend at least one game with each gender, each alignment, and each race (not considering conducts nor roles).
  • The Double Top: Awarded to all players who ascend at least one game with each gender, and each alignment (not considering conducts, roles, nor races).
  • The Birdie: Awarded to all players who ascend at least one game with each gender.
  • The Dilithium Star: Awarded to those who ascend at least one game.
  • The Platinum Star: Awarded to those who enter the Astral Plane in at least one game. Getting this award makes it known to everyone that you splatted on Astral.
  • The Gold Star: Awarded to those who enter the Elemental Planes in at least one game.
  • The Silver Star: Awarded to those who defeat the High Priest of Moloch or otherwise acquire the Amulet of Yendor from him in at least one game.
  • The Bronze Star: Awarded to those who perform the Invocation Ritual in at least one game.
  • The Steel Star: Awarded to those who defeat the Wizard of Yendor in at least one game.
  • The Brass Star: Awarded to those who defeat Vlad the Impaler in at least one game.
  • The Copper Star: Awarded to those who enter Gehennom in at least one game.
  • The Zinc Star: Awarded to those who defeat Medusa in at least one game.
  • The Iron Star: Awarded to those who defeat their Quest Nemesis in at least one game.
  • The Lead Star: Awarded to those who reach the Mines' End level in at least one game.
  • The Plastic Star: Awarded to those who complete Sokoban in at least one game.

Clan

  • Best In Show: Awarded to the Clan with the highest score, calculated by summing the values of the various individual trophies gained by the players.

Miscellaneous

  • Killed By A Trickery: Not a trophy in itself, but rather a recognition of administrative error or server malfunction that killed off one's character.

See also

Notes

  1. The first is Myth World Cup which began in 1998.

External links