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The Inane Ramblings of Devour

OR : How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Game!

Author: Devour

Bay12Games ( And Why I Consider It The Best Community On The Internet )

Posted by Devour Wednesday December 2 2009 at 5:34PM
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To those of you that've never heard of Bay12Games ( which I can imagine is a sizeable majority ), it's a development studio that make roguelike games for free. An example of which is their "lead" game, Dwarf Fortress, which is considered - by those who can force themselves through the ASCII graphics and the learning curve equal to EvE Online in difficulty - to be one of the greatest roguelikes - if not games - ever made.
   Now, the community behind this ( on the forums and the IRC ) generally calls themselves B12Gers, for obvious reasons, and it truly is the best community you've ever seen. I probably shouldn't post it on here, as the community is polite ( for the most part, anyway ), educated and has a sort of elitism about it. I'll talk more about it later.

About Dwarf Fortress
Dwarf Fortress is a sort of roguelike ( which means you play with ASCII art, numbers and letters and punctuation etc, and implies a certain type of gaming style ), with a twist based on the fact you are looking after a ( as it suggests on the tin ) fortress of dwarves. You have to play it to get anywhere near understanding it, and I would REALLY suggest that even veteran gamers check out the wiki before they go anywhere near it, possibly picking up a tileset whilst there. ( Which allows you to play the game with graphics, instead of letters and numbers. )
   They have some other, minor, fairly unsupported ASCII / graphical games, which can be quite fun to try out, but they are not the main point of this blogpost.

Why I Consider It The Best Community On The Internet
"Losing is Fun" is the slogan of all B12G games and the community as a whole, because that is what ALWAYS eventually happens in the games - either from the player or the game putting odds up that the player can't face against ( hundreds of goblins, for example ). This really shows in the community, too, as people don't really take the games seriously, and deaths are just a reason to start a new game. The funniest deaths / most epic Fortress sagas are often immortalised in the community and spawn memetic variations to themselves. Example: SomethingAwful's Boatmurdered.
   The forums are next to unmoderated, except to clean up people that're just there purely to annoy people on the forums, such as adbots and spammers. And, yet, it works. Everyone on there is relatively polite ( much more so than on these forums ), and yet there are people that DISLIKE each other - they just get ignored by the community as they do their jibes. Maybe an unmoderated system works better? Who knows.
   And, eventually, it all comes down to the fact it FEELS like a community, people help each other out, there're community game sessions, there're discussions over which roguelikes have the most features etc etc. The discussions can be fairly niche, but there's such a wide variety of topics to be discussed it's got something for everyone.
   But, yes, you really do have to see it for yourself. Have a shot at Dwarf Fortress, listen in to the IRC and browse the forums / wiki for hilarious stories, and see what I've enjoyed for years. I'm Pathos on the forums, so feel free to contact me with anything you'd like to know. Oh, and being a pissant will probably get you banned, for various reasons.