Dwarf Fortress?

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Dwarf Fortress?

Postby JoshParnell » Thu Sep 05, 2013 5:37 am

So with the talk of procedural history and whatnot, several people have drawn the parallel between LT and Dwarf Fortress. Personally, I am aware of DF but have never actually been able to get into it (I only ever remember trying a few different times for an hour or so, and being unable to get it to stick on the first few tries (much like VIM..)).

But I would really like to hear from anyone who has had moderate or extensive experience playing it. What's it like? From what I understand, the depth is basically unrivaled. True? How does it play out? Can you literally lose yourself in all of the gameplay?

And of course, what about the history? Do you see it manifested in the game? Does it make the world feel more coherent or is it more of a novelty?

I'm basically looking to live vicariously here (since I haven't the time to play) if anyone's got a good experience to recount! :D
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby Slymodi » Thu Sep 05, 2013 8:57 am

oh trees where to start, well first when ever I play I also have a friend that plays, and if I need help he is the one to go to, but I have not done too much fortressing, but I can say that once someone dies, a few days later I see his corpse in an underground river, I try to retrieve it, bad idea, floods my entire level :x

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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby DWMagus » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:58 am

Ah geez... where to begin?

I've logged hundreds of hours on the game and I'm still finding new things every time I play.

So let me start here. The depth is pretty much unrivaled but still pretty limited. When I say that, is that the concepts are easy to grasp as what needs to be done, but there is always something to do which gives it pretty much unlimited depth. Add to it that it doubles as a sandbox game, and then you always find yourself doing something.

Gameplay;

You have your 7 dwarves, and (hopefully) a 3rd party program to help you manage their skills (Dwarf Therapist) since doing it in game is cumbersome. Let's assume you get the hang of managing them so that you never really have dwarves standing around and people are always doing what you need them to do.

Then come the workshops so you can produce goods for your fortress (beds, doors, barrels, buckets, tables, chairs/thrones, etc). Then come the workshops for 'extras' (toys, instruments, non-interactive items) so you have something to trade when caravans come through. Then you have the workshops for outfitting your dwarves and workshops for starting on making efficiencies (armor and weapons for defense/offense, mechanisms and other miscellaneous things for creating pumps, floodgates, etc).

All the while trying to handle the influx of more dwarves (I usually have to modify my ini file so I don't get too many dwarves too fast). Once you reach certain numbers of dwarves, and certain valuations of your fortress, more become unlocked in your dwarf hierarchy. You need to implement a punishment system, and possibly even currency and accomodate a king.

You of course also have different types of creatures attacking from small raiding parties, to huge sieges (usually the worse ones do not trigger until you have at least certain valuations), and possibly even to titans and other mythical beasts. But those are rare.

You also have about 100+ different types of stone that you can just about make anything out of and the item you make is valued differently based on the material, on top of about another 50+ different precious gems you can make stuff out of or encrust other items with. All of which have a defined freezing and melting points (except for odd glitches like wooden stairs being immune to lava) for making different contraptions out of (fire safe and magma safe are two defined different things).

Of course, there are also some mechanics that aren't usually put in other games, such as flowing water and lava (as well as finite sources of them), volcanoes,

So overall, the concepts are simple and straight forward. But it is easy to lose (forget one plant or accidentally strike water in the lower levels and flood everyone, or dig too deep and strike some very spoiler-laden areas), and unforgiving if you mess up a little (oh, did you just suffer a nuclear catsplosion? too bad).

Let me give you a quick rundown of a simple beginner fortress for me;
  1. Outfit your traveling party with (hopefully) enough supplies and a single cat before disembarking
  2. Find a quaint spot that isn't too evil and has some flowing water readily available
  3. Repeat 1 and 2 when you realize that you're actually on an aquifer, preferably saving your loadout so you don't have to recreate a third time
  4. Strike land and hollow up some space for stockpiles, preliminary workshops, dorms (temporary housing), and even an outpost
  5. Create a decent farm and make sure you gather plenty of trees and outside food while things are being built
  6. Build your great hall since everyone not working (including animals) hang out there
  7. Build some workshops to produce doors, chairs, tables, beds, toys, and other knick knacks
  8. Probably a caravan or more dwarves at this point. If caravan, handle trading for all the things you forgot back in step 1. For dwarves, open up Dwarf Therapist and reassign things like soap making to more useful things like brewing
  9. Start up production based things, like charcoal making so you can eventually use that for your furnaces to process iron and other metals
  10. Curse at dwarves as you queue more jobs and realize they're doing them out of order so someone just got trapped behind a floodgate and drowned/starved/etc

At this point, as long as you have a way to lock doors and have good food and drink supplies, you should be pretty well off. Seems simple enough but there is always something to do. Dwarves can also be taken by 'moods' and either successfully create something awesome and become the highest level master of that profession they created something of (nevermind the fact he made an awesome sword, even though he only knew how to fish).

For me, it feels busy without feeling overwhelmed. It seems a bit daunting at first, and if you're new and really want a good serious start, reading a guide can help, if not only for the basics but for a good idea of 'flow' of a game. I used this one at one point, and with a graphics pack or two, it's not bad.

Now, for history.

It does nothing but add some little easter eggs here or there. This is because while there is history, nothing really relies on it unless you pay specific attention to the history. For example, one of the things you can do is engrave items. The engraving may show something that happened in the history of the world. "The engraving shows the great dwarf X slaying the titan Y". Since a titan can only appear once per world, it also means that the titan mentioned will never show up for you. Of course, if you allow for more years of simulation, the more other civilizations there are which do restrict where you can embark (since you can't embark over a civilization) and who trades with you the most.

I believe it also affects how 'evil' the world is, as more civilized worlds are less evil, but not to an extent that you can't find evil sections.

As for getting lost in the gameplay? You bet. I also get lost in their wiki VERY easily (and can sometimes give you a good overview as well as you go through the different sections).

I know this is long read, but anything DF related is bound to be lengthy.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby HowSerendipitous » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:08 pm

I like the history generation and adventure mode. And hate the UI with the fury of 10x10^99 suns.

And one of my characters melted in the rain. :cry:
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby Hardenberg » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:57 pm

I'd rate it as an ungame, really. It's more fun hearing about people playing it, than it is to actually play the mess.

Besides the fact that its user interface barely deserves this denomination and that the original visuals are NetHack-style ASCII wasteland, it's terribly complex (meaning "unplayable without wiki support",as well as being needlessly complex for complexity's sake), lacks a goal ("survive as long as you can" could probably pose as one, but there's no win state you can attain) and has warts. No, not really warts. More like cancer, really.

But I would really like to hear from anyone who has had moderate or extensive experience playing it. What's it like? From what I understand, the depth is basically unrivaled. True? How does it play out? Can you literally lose yourself in all of the gameplay?

There are as lot of Let's Plays out there, including the infamous Saga of Boatmurdered. The name of the fortress alone should give you a rough idea on the quality of the procedural generation in the game.
Anyways, the basic premise is to build a dwarven fortress in a randomly generated world. The hitch is, that you can't control your dwarves directly. You can tell them what to build, and they may eventually come around to do so, depending on a lot of factors including food, injuries, blood alcohol content (as only a drunk dwarf is a happy dwarf...), general layout of the fortress (which is three-dimensional and stretches across various levels, despite being depicted in eyegouge-o-vision) and skills (which you have little influence over as well).

Complicating things are that random events, the fact that the game loves to make the dwarves do things that are hazardous to their wellbeing, and that the dwarves can (and will) go insane, which leads to such fun things as dwarven leather boots (as in, made from 100% authentic dwarf, not by). Add fun stuff like random floodings due to mining mishaps (either lava or water, or both...) and random incursions by things like zombie elephants, demons and whatever else the random generator puked up lately, and you pretty quickly realize that you can't win. At best, you can last for a while. Oh, and let's not forget, it meticulously tracks every aspect of the world from the growth of your crops to the last dinner you dwarf had.

And of course, what about the history? Do you see it manifested in the game? Does it make the world feel more coherent or is it more of a novelty?


Novelty, really. The whole procedural stuff besides the map is obtuse gibberish most of the time. Basically, your dwarves either come across stuff or start engraving/decorating things, and if you check said items you get procedurally generated information. Which can be funny, but unintentionally so at best. A lot of the draw seems to be the sheer absurdity of the stuff that happens. That, and building suicidal deathtraps involving lava.

Technically, the game chokes on it's own complexity (no, seriously, the program can bog down modern PCs despite looking like ass and playing like a lunatics version of NetHack). There's addons that improve the experience, but quite frankly, this "game" (I use that in the loosest definition of the word) is yet another internet fad that gets blown out of proportion on a regular basis.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby Asmodai » Thu Sep 05, 2013 1:38 pm

Hardenberg wrote:I'd rate it as an ungame, really. It's more fun hearing about people playing it, than it is to actually play the mess.

Besides the fact that its user interface barely deserves this denomination and that the original visuals are NetHack-style ASCII wasteland, it's terribly complex (meaning "unplayable without wiki support",as well as being needlessly complex for complexity's sake), lacks a goal ("survive as long as you can" could probably pose as one, but there's no win state you can attain) and has warts. No, not really warts. More like cancer, really.

But I would really like to hear from anyone who has had moderate or extensive experience playing it. What's it like? From what I understand, the depth is basically unrivaled. True? How does it play out? Can you literally lose yourself in all of the gameplay?

There are as lot of Let's Plays out there, including the infamous Saga of Boatmurdered. The name of the fortress alone should give you a rough idea on the quality of the procedural generation in the game.
Anyways, the basic premise is to build a dwarven fortress in a randomly generated world. The hitch is, that you can't control your dwarves directly. You can tell them what to build, and they may eventually come around to do so, depending on a lot of factors including food, injuries, blood alcohol content (as only a drunk dwarf is a happy dwarf...), general layout of the fortress (which is three-dimensional and stretches across various levels, despite being depicted in eyegouge-o-vision) and skills (which you have little influence over as well).

Complicating things are that random events, the fact that the game loves to make the dwarves do things that are hazardous to their wellbeing, and that the dwarves can (and will) go insane, which leads to such fun things as dwarven leather boots (as in, made from 100% authentic dwarf, not by). Add fun stuff like random floodings due to mining mishaps (either lava or water, or both...) and random incursions by things like zombie elephants, demons and whatever else the random generator puked up lately, and you pretty quickly realize that you can't win. At best, you can last for a while. Oh, and let's not forget, it meticulously tracks every aspect of the world from the growth of your crops to the last dinner you dwarf had.

And of course, what about the history? Do you see it manifested in the game? Does it make the world feel more coherent or is it more of a novelty?


Novelty, really. The whole procedural stuff besides the map is obtuse gibberish most of the time. Basically, your dwarves either come across stuff or start engraving/decorating things, and if you check said items you get procedurally generated information. Which can be funny, but unintentionally so at best. A lot of the draw seems to be the sheer absurdity of the stuff that happens. That, and building suicidal deathtraps involving lava.

Technically, the game chokes on it's own complexity (no, seriously, the program can bog down modern PCs despite looking like ass and playing like a lunatics version of NetHack). There's addons that improve the experience, but quite frankly, this "game" (I use that in the loosest definition of the word) is yet another internet fad that gets blown out of proportion on a regular basis.


So what you're saying is you're a huge fan?
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby Hardenberg » Thu Sep 05, 2013 2:13 pm

So what you're saying is you're a huge fan?


The basic idea is awesome.
The execution is deeply flawed.
The way people are cooing about this POS like it's a newborn kitten makes me long for the ability to choke people via TCP/IP and IPv6.

So no, not really.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby DWMagus » Thu Sep 05, 2013 3:09 pm

I have to agree with Hardenberg.

The execution is bad enough that I've backed soooo many kickstarters that even slightly promise a better interface than ascii (and a command guide that puts emacs and vi to shame).

I love the game.
I hate the fact that I love the game as much as I do when there are so many flaws.

In reality, when I do talk about DF, it's more in terms of the concepts. Put every single concept in a nice shiny box, with easy-to-use interface and I'll buy it so many times over that not even EA label could deter me. :roll:

As for boatmurdered? YES! My signature states it all.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby Revoke » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:34 pm

These days I'm inclined to say that reading the Saga of Boatmurdered is the most fun you can have with DF. I logged an awful lot of hours playing it back in the day, but I haven't played it in years, now. It's almost really, really good - as folks have already mentioned, the ideas are fantastic, the execution is flawed. The interface is the worst offender - and I don't just mean the fact it's ascii, or that it's all keyboard/menu driven. I got pretty darn good at working that interface, but even then it's still really terrible. Logically simple tasks are frequently laborious to carry out. I'd like to do fun things, but the interface fights me every step of the way.

The ludicrous detail is mostly a sideshow. The incredible simulation detail mostly just causes hilarious bugs (see: dwarf on fire jumps into river, dies of steam burns, etc). The history and civilisation stuff is cool, but most of those details never get read (by me, anyway) and have very little effect gameplay. The aforementioned incredible simulation detail is also really erratic - dwarves can have their left pinkie finger chopped off or get stabbed in the liver, but a locked wooden door is impregnable and fireproof, and a soap wall is in all meaningful ways identical to a granite one.

So...it's really cool, I like that it exists, and I like hearing about it. But I can't actually play it. That said, if any of the recent DF clones can remain compelling while developing a non-terrible interface, I'd be in serious danger of loosing all my free time.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby Katawa » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:11 pm

Stonesense goes a long way to making DF manageable if you were born without an imagination.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby JoshParnell » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:44 pm

Thanks for the insightful summaries DW, Hardenberg, and Revoke :) :thumbup: Think I have a better sense of it now.

It does at least sound like a game that would be tremendously fun to just read about and maybe watch other people play. I think I'll go check out some of those Let's Plays ;)

I read an interview with the devs somewhere where they were talking about how they imagined they'd be working on it for at least the next 20-30 years :shock: Talk about dedication...
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby Flatfingers » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:54 pm

Based on the "complex fun!" billing, I also tried DF.

After several hours, I concluded two things. One, the "interface" had me ready to gouge my eyes out with a rusty metal spoon. And two, despite my best effort at grokking the game on its own I could never seem to get anything to ever actually happen, or even find where dwarves or any other living thing might exist.

But the ideas...!

So here now is the game I actually want:

1. The mad emergence-generating complexity of Dwarf Fortress.
2. The rational world-coherence and object-interactivity of System Shock.
3. The multiple-ways-to-solve-every-problem design of Deus Ex.
4. The 3D first-person ENB-enhanced gorgeousness of Skyrim.
5. The character definition depth of MegaTraveller.
6. The reactive NPC AI of Storybricks [shameless plug ;)].
7. The universe size of Space Engine. (Alternately, 5 million times the area of Just Cause 2, which would be about the surface area of the Earth.)

There are some other things I'd like, particularly in the gameplay mechanics department, but this covers the basics.

Sigh.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby JoshParnell » Fri Sep 06, 2013 12:04 am

Flatfingers wrote:Based on the "complex fun!" billing, I also tried DF.

After several hours, I concluded two things. One, the "interface" had me ready to gouge my eyes out with a rusty metal spoon. And two, despite my best effort at grokking the game on its own I could never seem to get anything to ever actually happen, or even find where dwarves or any other living thing might exist.

But the ideas...!

So here now is the game I actually want:

1. The mad emergence-generating complexity of Dwarf Fortress.
2. The rational world-coherence and object-interactivity of System Shock.
3. The multiple-ways-to-solve-every-problem design of Deus Ex.
4. The 3D first-person ENB-enhanced gorgeousness of Skyrim.
5. The character definition depth of MegaTraveller.
6. The reactive NPC AI of Storybricks [shameless plug ;)].
7. The universe size of Space Engine. (Alternately, 5 million times the area of Just Cause 2, which would be about the surface area of the Earth.)

There are some other things I'd like, particularly in the gameplay mechanics department, but this covers the basics.

Sigh.


Sure, sounds easy :shock:

Oh and how is the storybricks link a shameless plug? Are you involved in it somehow? ;)
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby Asmodai » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:13 am

Revoke wrote:So...it's really cool, I like that it exists, and I like hearing about it. But I can't actually play it.


This sums up my feeling of Eve Online as well, rofl.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress?

Postby TanC » Fri Sep 06, 2013 9:20 am

I've only managed to order one of my dwarves to dig...and that's about it. Couldn't figure out how to build stuff. :lol:
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