August 29, 2016 10:00 AM | John Bridgman
A group of developers and enthusiasts have grouped together in San Francisco to hold a Roguelike Celebration on September 17th. With an exciting group of speakers including the original developers of Rogue (Glenn Wichman, Ken Arnold & Michael Toy), and Dwarf Fortress (Zach and Tarn Adams), and limited exhibition space, tickets to the event at the Eventbrite office will be on sale only until September 1st. Organizer Noah Swartz shared some more information about the event and the club that's helped to form it.
As a group of friends who had, for the most part, a long-standing appreciation of the genre, reaching back to NetHack, the club "got tired of just talking wistfully about our favorite games amongst ourselves and decided to make an event where we could pull in the rest of the Roguelike fans from around the world." Swartz said he had the idea for a couple years, inspired by Junethack in 2014.
"I was just so amazed to see so many flavors of NetHack (Acehack, etc.) and so many participants... It got kicked into full gear after last year's IRDC [International Roguelike Developers Conference] run by Todd Page in Atlanta. I came back afterwards and immediately started planning this event, but I think we've only been having meetings about it since January."
As for attracting the impressive array of presenters that the Celebration has to offer, Swartz said, "I think everyone in the roguelike community just has so much love for the genre and the other people in it, that if given an opportunity to meet the rest of the community they'll jump at it. For example Josh Ge of Cogmind is flying all the way from Taiwan on his own dime because he's never gotten to meet other roguelike developers (from the US and Europe). And the Rogue Creators are just glad people are still excited about it! We ended up covering a few speaker's flights if they couldn't make it without, but our budget is very minimal so we didn't offer anyone speaking fees or anything. Hopefully in the future it'll be big enough that we can appropriately compensate all of these wonderful people."
In regards to the long term aim of the Celebration, "I really just want to create a space where all of the people who love roguelikes can come together and collectively nerd out. For some reasons roguelikes really get people - and it's not uncommon (for me at least) to have 20+ minute long conversations about your last splat, YASD [Yet Another Silly Death], or ascension. The games feel so real and winning and losing in them really brings out emotions. And while there's a place for Star Trek nerds to get together and talk about their favorite episodes, or fighting game players to show off their skills, I couldn't find anywhere where roguelike players could do the same. In some ways it's inspired by events like ROFLcon and the Star Wars Celebration. I just wanted a place where we could all get together and marvel at this amazing thing we all love."
Given how enthusiastic Swartz and his friends are about the genre, and the frequency of excited, wide-eyed reactions when mentioning ascending in NetHack, followed by finding another fan with their own memories of the game, he expected an event like the Celebration would be popular. Seeing the initial reception and expected attendance numbers, his belief appears to be accurate.
Swartz also brings attention to some of the discussion from last year's IRDC about the growing use of Roguelike elements in AAA and more mainstream indie titles. "It definitely felt like there was some fear that the floodgates would open and a wave of new 'roguelike fans' would take over the genre - thinking that Spelunky was the originator. While I don't have anything against innovation of the genre (and in fact we spent a lot of time rejecting the Berlin Interpretation) it really felt like there wasn't a cultural center to this community. It was scattered between different forums and subreddits, divided by game and dev/player. So the celebration is also meant to bring everyone together and allow common fans to unify - should they want to."
The Roguelike Celebration looks fantastic, and it should be a lot of fun for presenters and attendees alike. Time is running out on getting tickets, so anyone looking to attend should visit the Roguelike Club website for information on scheduling, speakers, and purchasing tickets.