What Are Instructional TTYRECs?
The traditional way of recording a game of NetHack is a ‘ttyrec’, or terminal recording. These are generally recorded by the program ‘ttyrec’ and played back by the program ‘ttyplay’, but there are other programs as well. Many public servers, like nethack.alt.org (the most popular), record every game so that others can watch games live and so that you can download them to watch experienced players win or yourself lose. Anyway, someone once had a bright idea that you could include information on how to do something in the actual game, instead of writing out a walkthrough. But to my knowledge nobody had ever tried to play the entire game this way–so that’s what I did. I originally planned to record all 13 roles; I haven’t given up entirely, but it doesn’t seem terribly likely that I’ll get through all of them. I do have plans to complete the Valkyrie role at the very least, since it’s the most common for new players.
There are a few different players to play back these files–they’re not just movies. The advantage is that you can search a ttyrec, pause it, and watch a recording as it gets recorded. My personal favorite is Jettyplay, which is written in Java and ought to run easily on any system with Java installed. If you can’t get it to run by double-clicking, try selecting Open With and finding the Java runtime program. If you still have problems, you can join #nethack on Freenode IRC and ask for help. You can also hunt down any working ttyrec player and use it. The reason I recommend jettyplay is that, first of all, you can easily pause and change the speed (if you want smaller increments of speed, click in the speed selection box instead of the arrows). You can also seek to any point, and find easily. Finally, it runs out-of-the-box on all operating systems. Please tell me if you have problems getting the ttyrecs to work–that way I can put better instructions in for future watchers. NOTE: I’m having a strange problem where jettyplay detects my terminal size as being 316×24, where in fact it’s a perfectly normal 80×24. The result is text that’s too small to see. Fortunately, this is easy to fix: select View –> Terminal Size –> Fixed Size and accept the default size of 80×24.
I have both zip and tar.bz files available. Both contain exactly the same files—the only difference is the type of compression used. Most Windows users will probably want the zip, while people with *nix systems often prefer tar files. There are many ttyrec files in each, which are dated by the time and date I recorded them, so they ought to sort alphabetically in the right order. Some are a couple of hours, while others are only 30 minutes or so. If you need to stop in the middle, you can look at the frame number in Jettyplay or the turn number in the lower-right corner of NetHack and queue to that point when you come back. Also don’t be shy to play the ttyrec faster than I recorded it—I’m limited by my typing speed (which is pretty fast, but still much slower than you can read), but if my writing is slow and annoying speed it up. One last thing: In some of the ttyrecs I included analysis and intermission texts intended to talk about the game. Text file copies of those are also in the archive, with filenames in the format of <ttyrecname>.ttyrec.note.txt. Feel free to copy those if you care to.
The beginning of the valkyrie game is perhaps targeted the most at new(er) players; it talks a lot about movement tactics at the beginning, and valkyrie is generally considered the easiest role to start with.
- Archeologist (11 TTYRECs, ~12.5 hours total): zip | tar.bz2
- Barbarian (8 TTYRECs, ~9 hours total): zip | tar.bz2
- Valkyrie (5 TTYRECs, ~11 hours total): zip | tar.bz2
- Wizard (9 TTYRECs, ~10 hours total): zip | tar.bz2
If you’re having trouble reading these ttyrecs, please see the section above.
Marvin is one of the best-known (and best) NetHack players. His biggest achievement was a streak of 24 ascensions (there is only one known longer streak, by Adeon with 29 ascensions). He also maintained an ascension rate of over 80% on NAO, even after breaking the streak by being killed by a centaur. If you do this well at NetHack, clearly you’re doing something right. So some people like to watch him for strategy advice. The ttyrecs of his 24-ascension streak are fundamentally different from the series above: he doesn’t try to teach people, he just tries to play well. On the other hand, he’s a heck of a lot better at NetHack than I am (I’m not bad myself, but nowhere near as good as him). And no matter how good you are, you’ll still probably be interested by these, whereas you might get pretty bored by me explaining the game if you’ve ascended more than a few times.
Marvin’s NAO nickname was “mrivan” (an anagram of Marvin) so you’ll sometimes see him referred to as that as well. I’ve long since lost track of the page where I originally downloaded these ttyrecs and I suspect it’s gone by now; if you own the site or know where it is, please let me know and I’ll give it credit. Meanwhile, you can download them from me. Warning: This zip file is 74MB; expanded it’s just under 500 megs.