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DragonDePlatino's avatar

DawnHack - NetHack 3.6.1 / UnNetHack 5.1.0

MS Paint, ASEprite, Paint.NET, Tiled used. 3 Months
16 colors, resized to x3.
After a long, hard 3 months of work, I have finally completed my biggest spriting project yet...A remake of NetHack, one of the most famous rogue-likes of all time. My aims when creating this texture pack were simplicity, professionalism, contrast and familiarity.

First and foremost, I knew the very best best way to keep things simple would be to stick to a 16-color palette. Knowing this, I decided to recreate the 1057 tiles of NetHack using the ever-popular DawnBringer palette. I did this because I wanted to reinvent the graphics of an old game while still keeping the old-school look of it. Dawnbringer also converts very nicely to terminal colors, which means I could also create a version using NetHack's original colors.

My second aim was professionalism, and this appears throughout the texture pack. NetHack's default texture pack has many stylistic clashes. Some graphics have very tiny heads and realistic proportions, while others are goofily out-of-proportion. I set to create this entire texture pack using bases as often as possible to keep a consistency from character to character. I also used many modern pixel art techniques such as anti-aliasing, hue-shifting and sel-out to create the smoothest, clearest texture pack possible in a 16x16 resolution.

Thirdly, I aimed for a high level of contrast in this tileset. One of the biggest parts of NetHack is encountering and identifying the hundreds and hundreds of enemies and items. In the default tileset, it might be hard to tell apart a halberd from a bardiche, or a giant ant from a soldier ant. Many tilesets are also color-coded, making it harder for deuteranopic or color-blind players to play. This has led to a lot of criticism of tile-based graphics in the community, and how text-based graphics are much better. To mend this, I did my best to make no two items look alike. Items are never differentiated by just color. Some might be flipped, others might look a little wider or get the idea.

Lastly, I knew it was important to keep a familiarity with this tileset. Over the decades, millions have played NetHack and many have used the default tileset. It's grown and changed over the years, but many of the basic monster appearances have stayed the same. I knew I would be alienating people if I changed the tileset too much, so I tried my best to keep the designs/posing of the popular characters as familiar as possible without making too many sacrifices in professionalism. For example...In both the default tileset and mine, the Rogue is a brown-eyed warrior wearing a red barbarian helmet, blue tunic and brown pants.

When you download this tileset, you will find multiple versions of the tileset within, including those. For vision-impaired people, I created a larger 32x32 tileset resized using 2xBr. .txt versions of the graphics are also included for those who wish to mod their inventory icons to reflect this tileset.
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Does it support Linux?

It works! Just first convert bmp file to xpm file, than locate file at /usr/share/pixmaps/nethack and replace it with the picture called "x11tiles"

I use Unix NetHack Version 3.6.1

I'm not sure if you still read these, but I was told on Reddit that this is the best tileset for NetHack. Thanks a lot

amazing thanks
Dragon, I hope it's ok with you that I went ahead and fixed all of the issues I listed in my other message, plus more that I discovered upon taking a closer look. See the result here:

Changes from original DawnHack 3.6 tileset:

-fixed tile order (20 tiles were in the wrong position: normal and statue versions of green slime, black pudding, ettin, storm giant, python, pit viper, ghoul, and giant zombie, as well as agate ring, bronze ring, sky blue potion and cyan potion)

-used same sprite for all four special stones, so as not to give away what they are before identifying them as per NetHack's ascii/default tileset approach (used your loadstone tile, with the 'aura' removed)

-used same sprite for all gems/glass of the same color, again to not give away what they are before identifying them as per NetHack's ascii/default tileset approach (I looked at the tiles you chose for the 'glass' versions of each color to determine which of your 'gem' tiles would be used for each color, if possible. Where it wasn't, I used your first/main sparkling gem tile for that color. I also added your 'sparkle' effect to the two gem colors that didn't have it - yellow-brown and violet - by exactly copying your existing sparkle effect from similarly-colored gem tiles)

-used the same sprite for all other items that you're not supposed to be able to identify upon first sight (bags, candles, lamps, whistles, flutes, horns, harps, and drums), by using your non-magic/first sprite of each item for all instances of that item

-resized as 32x via pure pixel doubling, rather than using any kind of smoothing algorithm, to retain design and sharpness as originally created

Let me know what you think!
DragonDePlatino's avatar
In retrospect I shouldn't have given the unidentified items (e.g. gems, stones) unique sprites as that does break gameplay a bit. I've also grown to dislike how the xBr scaling algorithm looks. I've gone ahead and accepted all of your changes as-is, included them in the main download and retroactively added them to NetHack 3.4.3 and UnNetHack 5.1.0. I've also listed your changes to the readme and credited you.

Thank you for your involvement in improving this tileset for the community!
Wow! Thank you very much! I definitely didn't expect that as a reply! :D

I didn't realize that you would roll my suggestions right into the main download, so just to be safe I went back and did a tile-by-tile comparison of each of the Dawnhack tiles vs the default tileset, and (unfortunately!) noticed a couple more things. This should be it though, I hope this is ok!

-I missed changing the Amulet of Yendor to match its imitation version, so they both use the same non-magic sprite now.

-In keeping with your principle of familiarity, I realized that I should've used your wax candle sprite instead of the tallow one for both candles (as the NetHack default tileset candle is white, like your wax one), so that's fixed now too.

That's it for hard changes, see new file

However, I also noticed the following things so I thought I'd better ask you about them:

-It appears that the Vrock and Hezrou tiles may be swapped, but I'm not totally sure because your designs for those two are somewhat different than the default tileset. Could you confirm that their positions are correct? (if this is an issue, then note that their statue versions are similarly swapped)

-Same thing for the speed boots and water walking boots, they might be swapped but it may just be your design for those items. Again are you able to check and make sure they're in the right spots?

-Finally, I realize this is totally reaching given all you've already done but would it be possible to change the credit to Big_Friggin_Al? If not, no sweat as I'm happy to contribute regardless! :)
DragonDePlatino's avatar
Thanks for doing a final pass over everything! The candles and amulets were a good call. There's a lot here and I made a strong effort to do tile-by-tile comparisons but some things can slip by.

Vrock and Hezrou are indeed where they should be. They were modified to look like their D&D counterparts because to be frank, the vanilla designs were kind of lame. Boots also seem fine to me.

I've re-credited you as Big_Friggin_AI and added these changes to the main download!
xlion95's avatar
I feel that you should have used bigger textures in this, most things just have small rectangles with a lighter center and dark outline for texturing and that comes off as noise in larger maps. I also found the 3/4 perspective on most monsters to be rather awkward at this resolution and without increasing the resolution of the sprites it was hard to identify the icons sometimes.
DragonDePlatino's avatar
Yep! There are a lot of problems with this set but it's 3 years old by now and I don't plan on revisiting it other than to occasionally update it. My style has become a lot more crisp since then which shows in a lot of my newer stuff.
xlion95's avatar
Yep your style has evolved a lot in your more recent works! :)
Dragon, is there anything the community can do to convince you to create the eight new tiles included in 3.6?

Even if you were to just post those new ones when you're done, I'm sure the community can take care of the rest (formatting, tile order, etc), either by hand or by using something like this:

Many of us strongly believe your tileset is the best of the lot, and since you've already created 1,057 amazing tiles it's truly a shame we aren't able to have the new 8!

Also seeing as how the last big update for nethack came out 12 years ago, I suspect finishing off the eight new tiles would mean the dawnhack tileset can continue as the premier tileset choice for a good long time.

(in case you're wondering, the new eight are: glob of gray ooze, brown pudding, green slime, black pudding, novel, vibrating square, poison cloud and valid position)
DragonDePlatino's avatar
If there's a demand for it, I'll see what I can do! The newest tileset is 3.6.0 posted here, correct?

I know it looks a lot longer but there are actually only eight new tiles, the rest are 'statue' versions of each monster, which are just greyscale versions of each monster sprite on a regular floor tile. The script I linked to even does those automatically if you don't want to do them by hand, so it's just the eight that need new art.

I know a lot of people would be thrilled if you updated the set. I'm sure others can try to imitate your style to fill the gaps, but I believe there's something to be said for original artist's intent, you know?
DragonDePlatino's avatar
Okay, I've double-checked everything is in order and this tileset now has official 3.6.0 support! Thanks for reminding me about this.
Hooray, this is fantastic! Thank you so much!

...however I have noticed a few issues?

A few of the tiles seem to be in the wrong place vs. the official tileset, so I would assume they'll show up incorrectly in game? There are four pairs of tiles whose positions are swapped, and in each pair the tiles are directly adjacent. The pairs are:

-Green slime / black pudding
-Ettin / storm giant
-Python / pit viper
-Ghoul / giant zombie

Are you able to fix these positions for the version you're distributing on your site? This position swapping is also seen in the statue versions of the same eight tiles near the bottom of the tileset, so you would need to fix those as well.

I also appreciate (and love the art for) the 'worthless glass' versions of gems, and of the four types of stones (luck/load/touch/flint), but I feel kind of like I'm cheating when I use your tileset in this regard. Playing with the original ascii, there's no way for a user to know what kind of gem or stone those are unless they properly identify them (e.g. scroll of identify), and nethack's default tileset seems to support this gameplay mechanic by having the gem/glass tiles be identical, and all four stone types appear identical.

I don't believe there's a way to display different tiles depending on whether an item has been identified or not, so to preserve the gameplay wouldn't it make more sense to copy nethack's default tiles' approach (that is, not having unique art for worthless glass or different stones)? I know this is something users can do themselves (including me), so if you want to leave them as-is that's ok, but I thought I should mention it since I'm not certain your intention was to change the game or make it easier via use of your tileset.

I also noticed that the 24x and 32x versions of your tileset were enlarged with some kind of smoothing algorithm. I assume that was an artistic decision and I respect it, but I honestly think it doesn't do justice to your painstakingly crafted pixel art (ants' legs seem to have partially disappeared, as one of many examples of where I feel the algorithm has let you down). Again I know that simply pixel doubling the 16x tiles is something users can do (and I have done for myself), but just wanted to double check that it was an intentional approach in case you wanted to fix it.

All in all I strongly believe this is by far the best tileset for nethack, and after many years of ascii-only play I can still remember how fresh the game seemed upon loading up DawnHack, which I play with to this day.

Thanks again for your efforts, and if you're too busy for these fixes I'm sure the community can handle them without issue.
madd-the-sane's avatar
Do you have any plans on updating this for Netback 3.6.0?
DragonDePlatino's avatar
Nah. I'm pursuing other projects nowadays.
madd-the-sane's avatar

Still, thanks for taking the time to reply. :)
It's been converted (I guess using the script available at:…).
3.6 version of the tileset can be found here:…
Mineforspeed's avatar
JoshuMertens's avatar
this is one damn sexy tileset
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