Markham, ON - In a joint announcement today the Nethack Devteam announced a new version of the popular text based game, version 3.4.1, but the big announcement came from ATI which announced a new video card, the ATI Radeon 9500 ASC, optimized for ASCII gaming.
"The VT100 standard has been around for years, but there really hasn't been a video card company willing to make a card for it," said ATI Director of Product Development, Carlos Neale. "I really think more card and gaming companies will jump on the text bandwagon now that we've thrown our support behind it."
Neale added that he felt that a frames-per-second (fps) rate of 1000 in Nethack was possible with the card.
The 9500 ASC is very similar to the 9500 PRO, but it has an added ASCII Processing Unit (APU) on the card to handle the complex calculations needed to render creatures like the A and the M in Nethack.
Hardcore text-gamers rejoiced at the news. Victor Harville who runs ASCII-Gamer.com, a site dedicated to text based games, was ecstatic, "I love this new card. The new Nethack 3.4.1 really takes advantage of the APU. I mean you haven't really Nethacked until you've passed the kHz barrier." Harville's review of the card was one word: "ASCIIcking!"
Dedicated Nethacker, Byron Wilkes, who has ascended twelve times, said, "I was frightened when the band of o's attacked me. They were so realistically drawn. It was scary."
ATI also announced a card under development which would support Unicode gaming. "It's a real chicken or the egg scenario. Do we make a card that supports Unicode gaming before there are games, or will the games appear after we make the card. We hope this announcement gets the game giants in gear."
Nvidia later announced that the GeForce 4900 MX-ASCII would be available in the next few months.
The ATI Radeon 9500 ASC has a list price of $600.