On NetHack’s 35th Anniversary, It’s Displayed at Museum of Modern Art

Switzerland-based software developer Jean-Christophe Collet writes:
A long time ago I got involved with the development of NetHack, a very early computer role playing game, and soon joined the DevTeam, as we’ve been known since the early days. I was very active for the first 10 years then progressively faded out even though I am still officially (or semi-officially as there is nothing much really “official” about NetHack, but more on that later) part of the team.

This is how, as we were closing on the 35th anniversary of the project, I learned that NetHack was being added to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art of New York. It had been selected by the Architecture and Design department for its small collection of video games, and was going to be displayed as part of the Never Alone exhibition this fall.

From its humble beginnings as a fork of the 1982 dungeon-exploring game “Hack” (based on the 1980 game Rogue), Nethack influenced both Diablo and Torchlight, Collet writes. But that’s just the beginning:

It is one of the oldest open-source projects still in activity. It actually predates the term “open-source” (it was “free software” back then) and even the GPL by a few years. It is also one of the first, if not the first software project to be developed entirely over the Internet by a team distributed across the globe (hence the “Net” in “NetHack”).
In the same spirit, it is one of the first projects to take feedback, suggestions, bug reports and bug fixes from the online community (mostly over UseNet at the time) long, long before tools like GitHub (or Git for that matter), BugZilla or Discord were even a glimmer of an idea in the minds of their creators….

So what did I learn working as part of the NetHack DevTeam?

First, I learned that you should always write clean code that you won’t be embarrassed by, 35 years later, when it ends up in a museum….

Collet praises things like asynchronous communication and distributed teams, before closing with the final lesson he learned. “Having fun is the best way to boost your creativity and productivity to the highest levels.

“There is no substitute…. I am incredibly grateful to have been part of that adventure.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.