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Released by SSI in 1993 (and re-released by Interplay in 1997 or 1998), Dungeon Hack was their entry into the realm of Nethack spinoffs. This game was orginally available as a stand-alone product on four floppies, but is also available as a part of the Forgotten Realms Archives. Most notable for games of this time was the copy protection scheme. The copy protection required the player to look up a particular word from a specified page of the manual and type it in prior to proceeding further in the game (a quick search on GameFAQS turned up an FAQ with the word list). I remember playing this game a lot and started highlighting the words just to make lookups a lot quicker.

The story is fairly lame, because the focus of the program is built around randomly generating dungeon levels for the player to explore. A powerful sorceress asks the adventurer to go into the dungeon and retrieve an orb that she needs (why is unknown). While inside, the player will spend most of his/her time in combat with whatever nasties are living inside. Victory usually results in a couple item drops which will aid the player.

Since the major emphasis is on customizing or randomizing the game play, Dungeon Hack uses what are called "dungeon seeds" to customize everything. The dungeon seed is divided up into three parts. The first part is the actual seed that generates the maps for each level. The second part is a set of 13 variables that generate the settings for the dungeon itself. The third set is six variables that set the game's difficulty. A sample dungeon seed and settings are outlined below.
0015d838 f777700070110 077710

0015d838 generates the maps for each level.

f777700070110 sets the dungeon environment settings. Variables are as follow:
  1. Sets number of levels in the dungeon (0x0 for 10 levels to 0xf for 25 levels)
  2. Sets frequency of monster encounters (0 for few to 7 for many)
  3. Sets amount of treasure available (0 for little to 7 for a lot)
  4. Sets amount of food present (0 for little to 7 for a well-stocked dungeon)
  5. Sets frequency of illusionary walls (0 for none to 7 for many)
  6. Sets frequency of keys and locked doors (0 for none to 7 for many)
  7. Sets frequency for magic traps (0 for none to 7 for several). Note that the traps will be present with a setting of 0, but they will not be active.
  8. Sets frequency of pit traps (0 for none to 7 for many). Keep the Grappling Hook you find if you have this setting turned on.
  9. Sets frequency of hints and map scrolls (0 for few to 7 for many). Hints give you clues on various set items and other things. Map scrolls display the entire map to the level currently being explored.
  10. Magic Zones enabled (0 for off, 1 for on)
  11. Water traps enabled (0 for off, 1 for on)
  12. Multi-level puzzles enabled (0 for off, 1 for on). Only thing I can think of is that keys for another level are found on the level currently being explored.
  13. Encounter undead (0 for off, 1 for on)
077710 sets the environment variables. Settings are as follow:
  1. Rate of food consumption (0 for low to 7 for high)
  2. Monster difficulty (0 for easy to 7 for hard). This setting affects the experience point award for each kill.
  3. Magic power setting (0 for weak to 7 for strong)
  4. Poison strength (0 for weak to 7 for strong)
  5. Character Death Real (better known as hardcore to Diablo II players) (0 for off, 1 for on)
  6. Enemy magic usage (0 for off, 1 for on)

Since I was an avid D&D player at the time, the printable maps feature of Dungeon Hack allowed me to instantly generate maps for any quests I DM'd. Only thing left was to write the story and stock the dungeon with goodies and nasties to entertain my players with. The maps are generated as 8-bit extended ASCII characters. Maps of each level can be classified into one of three different styles (that I can remember). One is which there are long hallways and rooms are placed off to the side and are accessible via opening doors. A second makes the entire floor a maze with the goal of finding the stairs leading down. No rooms exist and the halls are all one unit wide. The third partitions the level into four quadrants, and the player explores the dungeon by diving into teleporters. Two hallways intersecting at the center of the map divide the quadrants.

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