Dwarf Fortress

edited February 2009 in Story Games
So, Everyone, While my Dwarfs are busy building the channel that will one day host our mighty moat and coincidently flood 9/10ths of the undesirables monsters from the caves, I have a few questions for you.

First of all, how many of you know what dwarf fortress is, if not please commence with the googling, you have my recommendation, great game

Second, What do you think of this game

Third, Is Simulations (used loosely) natural home in the computer, where invisible logic processes can determine what a cruel and impartial world would do better than a person.

4th , where does the fun come from, I'm kind of interested in your opinions on this. Bonus points if you understand the cult following/4chan rage this game seemingly generates.

Thanks my internet buyddies, I await your responce.

Logos

Comments

  • I can raise my hand and say that I know what it is, but I've never played it, and haven't been particularly into it. It seems like one of those games that you just can't go back to unless you played it when it came out, like Dragon Quest on the NES...oh wait, this sucker came out in the 2000s. Maybe I'll have to try it.
  • I can't stop playing it.

    Help.
  • I am not smart enough or insane enough to play this game.
  • I completely flubbed it like five times before giving up. :D

    There's a lot of good thrills that come from it, though:

    * Mastering a highly developed and complicated system that is invisible to you
    * Random rewards and penalties that are different every time you play, that you can't expect or count on, only shift the probabilities of
    * Everything is emergent from a (invisible) set of rules so it's always a surprise and you can assign any significance you like to the game (thus approaching certainty that you are satisfied with the outcome)
  • edited February 2009
    Don't make me show you my adamantine left boot.

    Anyone remotely interested in this game should check out this Actual Play thread compilation of a game from the Something Awful forums. (They are playing an older version of the game, back when it was 2-dimensional.) The tale of "Boatmurdered" is legendary for a reason : it's probably the single funniest description of actual play for any game, anywhere -- though like all actual play it is a lot more interesting/comprehensible if you have at least tried playing the game a few times.
  • Posted By: Ice Cream EmperorDon't make me show you my adamantine left boot.
    Ooh, I haven't done Hidden Fun Stuff Yet. Dunno if I could.
  • Was the OP a question or just a boast? It's difficult to understand.

    Anyway, I've not played Dwarf Fortress but I do enjoy Civilization, the original DOS version, without the awful isometric view. I suspect that in many ways it is similar.

    What excites me in this game is the process of discovery. The black bits of the map are just so inviting

    And then there is struggle against the diverse opponents. CIV isn't particularly strong in this respect, the AI is not very bright but it is challenging.

    Master of Magic was probably even better, there was more variety but I'm not sure what I've done with my copy.
  • this game stole my husband! I've not tried it because I run linux.
  • I just started this game a few weeks ago and it sucked me in bad. I'm having flashbacks of being addicted to SimCity.

    The fun for me is projecting stories onto those little ascii dwarves.

    Why did one dwarf continue on with her work after a kobold stole her baby and another committed suicide in the water feature in the sculpture garden after he could not find the necessary materials to craft his insane masterpiece?

    What do the dwarves think when they pass the caged goblins that I have no idea what to do with?

    How will my poorly designed fortress fall when the goblins stop screwing around and mount a serious siege?
  • I love this game and I play it a ton.

    I also have no idea how the enjoyment I get out of Dwarf Fortress could be "ported over" into an RPG.

    I know for me the fun comes from interacting with this seemingly huge and complex imaginary world, and getting to fiddle around with it and see what happens.
  • Posted By: Bret GillanI love this game and I play it a ton.

    I also have no idea how the enjoyment I get out of Dwarf Fortress could be "ported over" into an RPG.
    A solo game a la How to Host a Dungeon, but more focused on civilization-simulation and the strategic overcoming of randomly rolled obstacles? I'd buy it.
  • how many of you know what dwarf fortress is
    One of me does. I played it 2d. I play it 3d. I follow the dev blog on RSS. I send him money. My play of it goes in waves -- I'm busy with other stuff just now, but I'll get back to it.
    Second, What do you think of this game
    It might seem from my above comments that I like the game. That's right. It's frakkin huge! It's like Animal Crossing meets The Sims meets Rogue. But, I wish Tarn would spend more effort on improving the UI. That seems more important than making sure that the game keeps track of what happens to a dog's severed left ear after a fight.
    Is Simulations (used loosely) natural home in the computer, where invisible logic processes can determine what a cruel and impartial world would do better than a person.
    I tend to think so.
    where does the fun come from
    One layer of fun is in manipulating the in-game economy. The first big test is learning the basic UI. The second big test is surviving the winter. The third is figuring out how to trade. Somewhere along the way you also had to figure out the 3d nature of the map. And these steps are each hard! (But not always in a good way -- see my UI comment above.) Another layer of fun is in the building. It's damned cool to lay out your fortress. And there's always more complicated stuff to add -- fancy water traps, fortifications, carvings, etc. And another layer of fun is the narrative that builds up over time. Some of that is directly supported in-game by the weird things the dwarfs do (building masterpieces -- or whatever they're called, is a fun example) and also by the way we players make sense out of them. Frankly, it's also fun being able to run across someone else who knows the game and being on the inside by being able to discuss it and evangelize to the ones who don't. :)
  • Dwarf Fortress broke my brain. It was like being handed an astonishingly intricate puzzle built by an advanced culture that you've never heard of using rules you don’t understand. Writing How to Host a Dungeon came about directly from trying to figure out why Dwarf Fortress is fun.
    Posted By: Logos7What do you think of this game
    I think it's brilliant, not just because it's very good (except for the UI, which could be used as an example of how NOT to build a UI), but because it explores a bunch of regions of fun that are rarely explored. There are a few other games out there that explore this wilderness, but few as good as DF.
    Third, Is Simulations (used loosely) natural home in the computer.
    No. But there is a kind of simulation that the computer can do that a human can't.

    The computer is good at:
    • Procedurally generating a world that's too big to grasp all at once
    • Modeling the interaction of multiple subtle and hidden influences on events
    • Applying complex and counter-intuitive rules that would make a human's head explode
    • Storing large amounts of content waiting for discover
    But it's not good at:
    • Answering questions like "what would happen if I did this", where "this" is something not encoded into the input stream
    • Adaptively creating content to flesh out a situation
    There are probably a bunch of other things you can add to those lists, but these come quickly to mind.
    4th , where does the fun come from.
    It's magic! At least that's what I call the brand of fun that you get when your mouth suddenly drops open because you just saw something completely unexpected and new. When something happens in the simulation, your reaction is to ask why it happened. When your Dwarf stops working and goes to the booze barrel, it’s not hard to figure out why. She’s thirsty.
    But when something magic happens, your brain first interprets it as the emergence of a real world within your imagination. Example: your fortress falls apart in a cascading series of accidents and suicides, leaving one lone soldier standing in the middle of the great hall hacking away mercilessly at your legendary table as he reflects on the fragility of civilization. A series of rules got you there, but rather than try to parse the crazy logic of it, your brain turns it into... I don't know. A story? A poem? An image?

    DF does this progressively. The first time my Dwarf gets thirsty, I'm left wondering why he won't work. When I figure out that Dwarves need to drink, and that they prefer booze, there's a little jolt of pleasure because I solved the puzzle. I build a brewery and take steps to ensure there’s always booze available. This is fun. There are a lot of these jolts in DF, because the learning curve is so steep (far steeper than you'd ever find in a commercial game, BTW). But what happens when I can't solve the puzzle? When my whole fortress becomes bigger than my game-player logic can comprehend? Then it becomes magic.
  • Posted By: Luke WheelI am not smart enough or insane enough to play this game.
    Me neither, though I tried.

    It's like doing the Friday crossword puzzle of the New York Times in pen, but in 5 dimensions.

    "Where do I put my dwarven army?"
    "...don't you mean, WHEN?"
  • edited February 2009
    I mentioned some other points of light in the sim wilderness. Here are three:

    Lords of the Earth is an open-ended multiplayer sim of world history, and sometimes alternate history. It's demanding to play, but beautifully realized. It's biggest flaw is that it requires a huge time investment from the GM. Nevertheless, there are several games running, and new players are welcomed. One of the 10 finest games ever made, in my flawed opinion.

    The Hundred Years War is a sim heartbreaker. It's a simulation of the Hundred Years War laid over a huge database of hundreds of real personalities and places in Europe of the time. It does a bunch of things no other game does, but when last I tried it out, the UI was quick difficult.

    Noctis is a procedurally generated universe containing millions of stars, each with a full planetary system to land on and explore. The full mechanics of the game are: point at a star, fly there, land on a planet, look around. Also one of the 10 finest games ever made. It was coded on MS-DOS, so no guarantee you'll get it to run on anything later than Win 98.

    Funny how all these games are 10-20 years old...
  • edited February 2009
    Posted By: chaldfontWhat do the dwarves think when they pass the caged goblins that I have no idea what to do with?
    One word: Execution towers, or pits.

    I generally make an open air pit, and then cover the top with floors. A quirk with the game right now is that it treats the bottom of the pit as Above Ground, so I don't get miasma.

    Okay, so it's four words.
    Posted By: Logos7Third, Is Simulations (used loosely) natural home in the computer, where invisible logic processes can determine what a cruel and impartial world would do better than a person.
    I actually like Tony's response to this; while computers are very, very good with procedural generation and storage, and can provide you with days and days and years and years of things to discover, what makes Simulationism fun for me is the ability for me to create my own narrative, but still not be bound by it. Sadly, computer-generated content tends to look and feel the same after a while (try playing DF in Adventure mode and talk to a townsperson to see what kind of challenges Tarn will have to face), so you still have to depend on the skill of the programmer to entertain and excite you.

    What I suspect we'll see is the creation of computer-mediated content generation, where computers are used to generate the basic structure of the data, but finally relies on human beings to actually add the distinguishing features of the final resulting map. If the data is player-generated, even better, I bet.
    Posted By: Logos74th , where does the fun come from, I'm kind of interested in your opinions on this. Bonus points if you understand the cult following/4chan rage this game seemingly generates.
    I get to tell stupid stories about my dwarves to my wife, and she can listen and appreciate and laugh, even though she doesn't understand and doesn't have the wherewithal to learn the interface. And Tony, as usual, gets it right once again as to why the game is so fricking addictive:
    Posted By: tony dowlerDF does this progressively. The first time my Dwarf gets thirsty, I'm left wondering why he won't work. When I figure out that Dwarves need to drink, and that they prefer booze, there's a little jolt of pleasure because I solved the puzzle. I build a brewery and take steps to ensure there’s always booze available. This is fun.
    You know what, Tony? I'm going to get a PDF copy of your game and play it, because it looks like it'll scratch an itch I have.
  • I had to exorcise Dwarf Fortress from my computer because I wasn't getting any work done.

    The thing that I enjoyed when I played was setting myself some ridiculous goal ("Divert a river to drop a waterfall down the entire length of my fortress") and then try and get it done. The complexity of the system made this entertaining.
  • Posted By: T-Boy
    What I suspect we'll see is the creation of computer-mediatedcontent generation, where computers are used to generate the basic structure of the data, but finally relies on human beings to actually add the distinguishing features of the final resulting map. If the data is player-generated, even better, I bet.
    Yeah, I can't even imagine exactly what this will look like, but I bet it could be cool. Maybe something like Spore re-imaged as a dungeon crawl? Too bad Will Wright didn't play more D&D as a kid. :(
  • Interesting, ( I have already been playing arround with the freebie version of How to Host a Dungeon with my Wife, which has been quite entertaining [ Especially hacking it to be two player])

    Also, for those of you linux bound, I am running the latest version perfectly as far as I can tell with Wine (both latests versions atm).

    I also find it interesting the idea of Sim as puzzle game, if anyone would care to share more anecdotyl evidence I would be pleased.

    that said I have a few questions about tony's responce ( I hope you dont mind tony)



    But it's not good at:

    * Answering questions like "what would happen if I did this", where "this" is something not encoded into the input stream

    * Adaptively creating content to flesh out a situation


    for example, what would things like the "this " that tony talks about be? DF is amazingly leviathian in its intereaction of stuff and having pseudo realistic affairs. Are "This" things like what would happen if my dwarfs fly or are "this" something more like, what would happen if I ran an Ork Fortress or is "This" something more along the lines of "why can't I combine the salt peter, sulfer, and charcoal I mine and create into tnt and then into bombs?

    Also what do you mean by Adapatively? Dwarffortress creates lots of content, but do you want content in relation to your roll as a player or in relation to you?

    Either way thanks for everyones responces. Turns out I Can't Flood Chasms, which makes me sad, but enterestingly enough makes my moat that much more deadly (it has a current that leads to a waterfall that anything that goes over is never seen again. ) And thanks for the tip about sober dwarfs not working, I was wondering why one of my miners refused to work, or even get out of the way of the filling moat.

    Logos
  • By "this", I specifically mean things the designer did not include as things you can do. So flying Dwarves applies, but also mundane things that the designer didn't think of or didn't code. DF isn't a great example of this, maybe, because part of the fun is trying to find a way to do difficult stuff (like trying to flood a chasm, or build a Fortress as an above-ground tower. DF Adventure mode is a much better example. If you're playing tabletop D&D, and your character comes ot a river, you can imagine all sorts of tricky ways to get across it, including build a raft, make a boat, freeze the water with an ice wall spell, and so on. In a coded game, you can only do it 1) the way the designer intended 2) using some kind of clever trick or exploit.

    The adaptive content, simply means the little things we do with our imagination to flesh out the situation. When the GM says that the goblin king is played by actor Steve Buschemi, or when we realize that the matron of the village just happens to by my character's aunt.

    Again, in DF, part of the game is filling in the gaps with our own imagination. This is another reason it's such a great game. It turns the weaknesses of sim computer play into strengths. :)
  • The exploration and building and planning and randomness pieces of this are really appealing to me, but the accounting and state tracking and (especially) interface kill my brain with fire. Can any of you suggest games that scratch these itches in less hardcore ways? Especially exploration - I love the black spot on the map.
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarThe exploration and building and planning and randomness pieces of this are really appealing to me, but the accounting and state tracking and (especially) interface kill my brain with fire. Can any of you suggest games that scratch these itches in less hardcore ways? Especially exploration - I love the black spot on the map.
    There are not nearly enough. Did I mention I've been sharpening up my coding skills a bit?

    Dominions 3 is a war game, but it's got a strong exploration side. Territories have hidden sites that provide magical effects and bonuses. Finding them is cool. The maps are also very nice. The game has a bewildering assortment of gods, units, artifacts, and factions, so there's a slo a lot of "let's see what this unit does".

    Of course there's nethack and environs. I like Unangband.

    Triangle Wizard looks like a roguelike, but is actually a real-time game. It's quite good.
  • Spelunky is a platformer with procedurally generated levels and way, way, way more depth than appears on first blush. It's pretty different from DF, but does share some a remarkable amount of the goodness.
  • edited February 2009
    Where does the fun come from? The sandbox nature. The creative aspect. Here's a "journal" of my adventures constructing the tower of Isengard:
    http://www.bay12games.com/forum/index.php?topic=1827.0

    image
  • My favourite game of Dwarf Fortress was the one where I picked a spot with an open-air volcano that was half-embedded in the side of a mountain. My dwarves disembarked directly under the lip of the cave that half-overhung the volcano -- which immediately collapsed for lack of support, killing half of my fortress population.

    Then later a fire imp came up and lit the forest on fire.
  • Oh man now I have to play again.
  • edited February 2009
    Posted By: Quintin StoneThe creative aspect. Here's a "journal" of my adventures constructing the tower of Isengard:
    Heya Quinton, I saw some pictures of this on Flickr. I didn't realize you were on SG. Did I know this and somehow forget? Anyway, kudos on your achievement; it is impressive!
  • Wow, Quintin, how did you get such a pretty display? My UI never had that option...
  • Posted By: Josh RobyWow, Quintin, how did you get such a pretty display? My UI never had that option...
    It's a separate visualizer tool called 3Dwarf. There's a process you can go through to get the map file into a 3D format that it can display. It's probably improved quite a bit since I took that picture too.
  • Ah. Sounds like a PC application. ;)
  • Posted By: Quintin StoneHere's a "journal" of my adventures constructing the tower of Isengard:
    When I told the mechanics I wanted to build some waterwheels along the river to power pumps, chief mechanic Iden Idenûz presented me with his plans for a self-contained power generator. I pointed out that I was pretty sure his idea violated at least two laws of thermodynamics and he just laughed. And I'll be damned if it didn't work just as he described. Who would have guessed that waterwheels can work the very pumps that pump the water keeping the wheels spinning? And on top of that, they generate enough extra power to run ADDITIONAL pumps.
    This made me laugh for the sheer absurdity of the game. Actually I've laughed several times as I'm reading. Good work!
  • I just lost my most recent Fortress (my second overall) to a Goblin Siege. Apparently I hadn't prepared my military adequately. It was a terrible slaughter. They say losing is fun, though...

    This is making me want to play again too, but I'm at work!
  • My wife is reading a book about geology to my daughter right now. Now I know what microcline and orthoclase are.
  • Blue and yellow is what they are. Let's not get sidetracked by science.
  • I think the dwarves themselves are fun. They are, at once, recognizable and human and compelling, at yet also unthinkably alien and impossibly Other.

    They're sort of like cats. It's easy to talk yourself into believing, awww, isn't Mr. Cuddles so cute when he thinks he's people. And then you see him licking his own butt or killing a mouse or eating his own offspring, and you realize just how deluded you were.


    Cheers,
    Roger
  • I LOVE this game, despite never learning how to play it.
  • I never got good enough at this game to DO anything with it. I did manage to build an underground farm once though. That was cool.
  • Posted By: RogerThey're sort of like cats. It's easy to talk yourself into believing, awww, isn't Mr. Cuddles so cute when he thinks he's people. And then you see him licking his own butt or killing a mouse or eating his own offspring, and you realize just how deluded you were.
    Cats would almost be easier to train than dwarves seem to be.

    Man, I suck at Dwarf Fortress. I downloaded and tried it three times over the past year, and every time I end up deleting it after a few days because I suck so much at it.

    And yet, I love reading about it. The Boatmurdered Let's Play had me crying with laughter, especially whenever the dwarves were doing something utterly bizarre (running out to be slaughtered by elephants, randomly mutilating pets, sulking by magma channels for half a year, etc.). Dwarves are just hilariously dysfunctional!
  • Posted By: Dave CleaverI never got good enough at this game to DO anything with it. I did manage to build an underground farm once though. That was cool.
    I was so proud of my first farm. It took me forever. That's why I don't play DF very often. It feels like it took a year just to get to the point of surviving my first invasion.
  • edited February 2009
    Posted By: T-Boy
    I actually like Tony's response to this; while computers are very, very good with procedural generation and storage, and can provide you with days and days and years and years of things to discover, what makes Simulationism fun for me is the ability for me to create myownnarrative, but still not be bound by it. Sadly, computer-generated content tends to look and feel the same after a while (try playing DF in Adventure mode and talk to a townsperson to see what kind of challenges Tarn will have to face), so you still have to depend on the skill of the programmer to entertain and excite you.

    What I suspect we'll see is the creation of computer-mediatedcontent generation, where computers are used to generate the basic structure of the data, but finally relies on human beings to actually add the distinguishing features of the final resulting map. If the data is player-generated, even better, I bet.
    I tried this! Years ago. It started when I designed a combat resolution system that was too time-consuming to do by hand, so I wrote a program to do it. Then I discovered Roguelikes, and my brain exploded. I never got it to work like I wanted, because I never managed to come up with content-generation engines that I was satisfied with. It's also a lot of work, much like I expect writing The Burning Wheel was. I got so frustrated with it that the game mutated entirely into something else (and wonderful).

    More and more, though, I'm wanting to come back to the idea lately.
  • For the linux people... apparently it works in Wine: I tried it and it seems to. Even sound is working. It looks slow, though, on my oldish laptop.
  • Yeah my speeds are fine (will look like it is crashing when saving but give it literally 60 seconds and its chugging along again) but running natively definitely looks zippier

    I am going to abandon my current fortress (with its awesome moat, and gem window that watches the waterfall down forever) for an attempt at an above ground fortress.Either way it looks like this thread has died down/answered my questions. So if other people would like to start their own dwarf fortress threads about how awesome their fortress is/ game stuff/ how it runs in linux, feel free

    Logos
  • The game has some very serious graphic-driver-interaction issues that absolutely murder frame-rate (I mean seriously this is an ascii game why am I getting graphic lag!), but they are apparently going to be addressed in the next release (you can download beta versions of the graphics fixes, I believe.)
  • I thought the lag came from things like pathfinding (Catspolsion) and varius decision making bits as apposed from other things, althought if their are graphics driver issues yay for fixes.
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