Game history

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The bundled Guidebook includes NetHack's history in the history file, other than the player address, under Chapter 12, Credits:

The original hack game was modeled on the Berkeley UNIX rogue game. Large portions of this paper were shamelessly cribbed from A Guide to the Dungeons of Doom, by Michael C. Toy and Kenneth C. R. C. Arnold. Small portions were adapted from Further Exploration of the Dungeons of Doom, by Ken Arromdee.

NetHack is the product of literally dozens of people's work. Main events in the course of the game development are described below:

The history file continues:

Behold, mortal, the origins of NetHack...

Jay Fenlason wrote the original Hack with help from Kenny Woodland, Mike Thome, and Jon Payne.

Andries Brouwer did a major re-write, transforming Hack into a very different game, and published (at least) three versions (1.0.1, 1.0.2, and 1.0.3) for UNIX(tm) machines to the Usenet.

Don G. Kneller ported Hack 1.0.3 to Microsoft(tm) C and MS-DOS(tm), producing PC HACK 1.01e, added support for DEC Rainbow graphics in version 1.03g, and went on to produce at least four more versions (3.0, 3.2, 3.51, and 3.6).

R. Black ported PC HACK 3.51 to Lattice(tm) C and the Atari 520/1040ST, producing ST Hack 1.03.

Mike Stephenson merged these various versions back together, incorporating many of the added features, and produced NetHack version 1.4. He then coordinated a cast of thousands in enhancing and debugging NetHack 1.4 and released NetHack versions 2.2 and 2.3.

Later, Mike coordinated a major rewrite of the game, heading a team which included Ken Arromdee, Jean-Christophe Collet, Steve Creps, Eric Hendrickson, Izchak Miller, Eric S. Raymond, John Rupley, Mike Threepoint, and Janet Walz, to produce NetHack 3.0c. The same group subsequently released ten patch-level revisions and updates of 3.0.

NetHack 3.0 was ported to the Atari by Eric R. Smith, to OS/2 by Timo Hakulinen, and to VMS by David Gentzel. The three of them and Kevin Darcy later joined the main development team to produce subsequent revisions of 3.0.

Olaf Seibert ported NetHack 2.3 and 3.0 to the Amiga. Norm Meluch, Stephen Spackman and Pierre Martineau designed overlay code for PC NetHack 3.0. Johnny Lee ported NetHack 3.0 to the Macintosh. Along with various other Dungeoneers, they continued to enhance the PC, Macintosh, and Amiga ports through the later revisions of 3.0.

Headed by Mike Stephenson and coordinated by Izchak Miller and Janet Walz, the development team which now included Ken Arromdee, David Cohrs, Jean-Christophe Collet, Kevin Darcy, Matt Day, Timo Hakulinen, Steve Linhart, Dean Luick, Pat Rankin, Eric Raymond, and Eric Smith undertook a radical revision of 3.0. They re-structured the game's design, and re-wrote major parts of the code. They added multiple dungeons, a new display, special individual character quests, a new endgame and many other new features, and produced NetHack 3.1.

Ken Lorber, Gregg Wonderly and Greg Olson, with help from Richard Addison, Mike Passaretti, and Olaf Seibert, developed NetHack 3.1 for the Amiga.

Norm Meluch and Kevin Smolkowski, with help from Carl Schelin, Stephen Spackman, Steve VanDevender, and Paul Winner, ported NetHack 3.1 to the PC.

Jon Wätte and Hao-yang Wang, with help from Ross Brown, Mike Engber, David Hairston, Michael Hamel, Jonathan Handler, Johnny Lee, Tim Lennan, Rob Menke, and Andy Swanson developed NetHack 3.1 for the Macintosh, porting it for MPW. Building on their development, Barton House added a Think C port.

Timo Hakulinen ported NetHack 3.1 to OS/2. Eric Smith ported NetHack 3.1 to the Atari. Pat Rankin, with help from Joshua Delahunty, is responsible for the VMS version of NetHack 3.1. Michael Allison ported NetHack 3.1 to Windows NT.

Dean Luick, with help from David Cohrs, developed NetHack 3.1 for X11. Warwick Allison wrote a tiled version of NetHack for the Atari; he later contributed the tiles to the DevTeam and tile support was then added to other platforms.

The 3.2 development team, comprised of Michael Allison, Ken Arromdee, David Cohrs, Jessie Collet, Steve Creps, Kevin Darcy, Timo Hakulinen, Steve Linhart, Dean Luick, Pat Rankin, Eric Smith, Mike Stephenson, Janet Walz, and Paul Winner, released version 3.2 in April of 1996.

Version 3.2 marked the tenth anniversary of the formation of the development team. In a testament to their dedication to the game, all thirteen members of the original development team remained on the team at the start of work on that release. During the interval between the release of 3.1.3 and 3.2, one of the founding members of the development team, Dr. Izchak Miller, passed away. That release of the game was dedicated to him by the development and porting teams.

Version 3.2 proved to be more stable than previous versions. Many bugs were fixed, abuses eliminated, and game features tuned for better game play.

During the lifespan of NetHack 3.1 and 3.2, several enthusiasts of the game added their own modifications to the game and made these "variants" publicly available:

Tom Proudfoot and Yuval Oren created NetHack++, which was quickly renamed NetHack--. Working independently, Stephen White wrote NetHack Plus. Tom Proudfoot later merged NetHack Plus and his own NetHack-- to produce SLASH. Larry Stewart-Zerba and Warwick Allison improved the spellcasting system with the Wizard Patch. Warwick Allison also ported NetHack to use the Qt interface.

Warren Cheung combined SLASH with the Wizard Patch to produce Slash'em, and with the help of Kevin Hugo, added more features. Kevin later joined the DevTeam and incorporated the best of these ideas in NetHack 3.3.

The final update to 3.2 was the bug fix release 3.2.3, which was released simultaneously with 3.3.0 in December 1999 just in time for the Year 2000.

The 3.3 development team, consisting of Michael Allison, Ken Arromdee, David Cohrs, Jessie Collet, Steve Creps, Kevin Darcy, Timo Hakulinen, Kevin Hugo, Steve Linhart, Ken Lorber, Dean Luick, Pat Rankin, Eric Smith, Mike Stephenson, Janet Walz, and Paul Winner, released 3.3.0 in December 1999 and 3.3.1 in August of 2000.

Version 3.3 offered many firsts. It was the first version to separate race and profession. The Elf class was removed in preference to an elf race, and the races of dwarves, gnomes, and orcs made their first appearance in the game alongside the familiar human race. Monk and Ranger roles joined Archeologists, Barbarians, Cavemen, Healers, Knights, Priests, Rogues, Samurai, Tourists, Valkyries and of course, Wizards. It was also the first version to allow you to ride a steed, and was the first version to have a publicly available web-site listing all the bugs that had been discovered. Despite that constantly growing bug list, 3.3 proved stable enough to last for more than a year and a half.

The 3.4 development team initially consisted of Michael Allison, Ken Arromdee, David Cohrs, Jessie Collet, Kevin Hugo, Ken Lorber, Dean Luick, Pat Rankin, Mike Stephenson, Janet Walz, and Paul Winner, with Warwick Allison joining just before the release of NetHack 3.4.0 in March 2002.

As with version 3.3, various people contributed to the game as a whole as well as supporting ports on the different platforms that NetHack runs on:

Pat Rankin maintained 3.4 for VMS.

Michael Allison maintained NetHack 3.4 for the MS-DOS platform. Paul Winner and Yitzhak Sapir provided encouragement.

Dean Luick, Mark Modrall, and Kevin Hugo maintained and enhanced the Macintosh port of 3.4.

Michael Allison, David Cohrs, Alex Kompel, Dion Nicolaas, and Yitzhak Sapir maintained and enhanced 3.4 for the Microsoft Windows platform. Alex Kompel contributed a new graphical interface for the Windows port. Alex Kompel also contributed a Windows CE port for 3.4.1.

Ron Van Iwaarden maintained 3.4 for OS/2.

Janne Salmijärvi and Teemu Suikki maintained and enhanced the Amiga port of 3.4 after Janne Salmijärvi resurrected it for 3.3.1.

Christian "Marvin" Bressler maintained 3.4 for the Atari after he resurrected it for 3.3.1.

The release of NetHack 3.4.3 in December 2003 marked the beginning of a long release hiatus. 3.4.3 proved to be a remarkably stable version that provided continued enjoyment by the community for more than a decade. The NetHack Development Team slowly and quietly continued to work on the game behind the scenes during the tenure of 3.4.3. It was during that same period that several new variants emerged within the NetHack community. Notably sporkhack by Derek S. Ray, unnethack by Patric Mueller, nitrohack and its successors originally by Daniel Thaler and then by Alex Smith, and Dynahack by Tung Nguyen. Some of those variants continue to be developed, maintained, and enjoyed by the community to this day.

In September 2014, an interim snapshot of the code under development was released publicly by other parties. Since that code was a work-in-progress and had not gone through the process of debugging it as a suitable release, it was decided that the version numbers present on that code snapshot would be retired and never used in an official NetHack release. An announcement was posted on the NetHack Development Team's official website to that effect, stating that there would never be a 3.4.4, 3.5, or 3.5.0 official release version.

In January 2015, preparation began for the release of NetHack 3.6.

At the beginning of development for what would eventually get released as 3.6.0, the NetHack Development Team consisted of Warwick Allison, Michael Allison, Ken Arromdee, David Cohrs, Jessie Collet, Ken Lorber, Dean Luick, Pat Rankin, Mike Stephenson, Janet Walz, and Paul Winner. In early 2015, ahead of the release of 3.6.0, new members Sean Hunt, Pasi Kallinen, and Derek S. Ray joined the NetHack Development Team.

Near the end of the development of 3.6.0, one of the significant inspirations for many of the humorous and fun features found in the game, author Terry Pratchett, passed away. NetHack 3.6.0 introduced a tribute to him.

3.6.0 was released in December 2015, and merged work done by the development team since the release of 3.4.3 with some of the beloved community patches. Many bugs were fixed and some code was restructured.

The NetHack Development Team, as well as Steve VanDevender and Kevin Smolkowski, ensured that NetHack 3.6 continued to operate on various UNIX flavors and maintained the X11 interface.

Ken Lorber, Haoyang Wang, Pat Rankin, and Dean Luick maintained the port of NetHack 3.6 for Mac OSX.

Michael Allison, David Cohrs, Barton House, Pasi Kallinen, Alex Kompel, Dion Nicolaas, Derek S. Ray and Yitzhak Sapir maintained the port of NetHack 3.6 for Microsoft Windows.

Pat Rankin attempted to keep the VMS port running for NetHack 3.6, hindered by limited access. Kevin Smolkowski has updated and tested it for the most recent version of OpenVMS (V8.4 as of this writing) on Alpha and Integrity (aka Itanium aka IA64) but not VAX.

Ray Chason resurrected the msdos port for 3.6.1 and contributed the necessary updates to the community at large.

In late April 2018, several hundred bug fixes for 3.6.0 and some new features were assembled and released as NetHack 3.6.1. The NetHack Development Team at the time of release of 3.6.1 consisted of Warwick Allison, Michael Allison, Ken Arromdee, David Cohrs, Jessie Collet, Pasi Kallinen, Ken Lorber, Dean Luick, Patric Mueller, Pat Rankin, Derek S. Ray, Alex Smith, Mike Stephenson, Janet Walz, and Paul Winner.

In early May 2019, another 320 bug fixes along with some enhancements and the adopted curses window port, were released as 3.6.2.

Bart House, who had contributed to the game as a porting team participant for decades, joined the NetHack Development Team in late May 2019.

NetHack 3.6.3 was released on December 5, 2019 containing over 190 bug fixes to NetHack 3.6.2.

NetHack 3.6.4 was released on December 18, 2019 containing a security fix and a few bug fixes.

The official NetHack web site is maintained by Ken Lorber at

The NetHack General Public License applies to screenshots, source code and other content from NetHack.

This content was modified from the original NetHack source code distribution (by splitting up NetHack content between wiki pages, and possibly further editing). See the page history for a list of who changed it, and on what dates.

This page may need to be updated for the current version of NetHack.

It may contain text specific to NetHack 3.6.4. Information on this page may be out of date.

Editors: After reviewing this page and making necessary edits, please change the {{nethack-364}} tag to the current version's tag or {{noversion}} as appropriate.