Dwarf Fortress and some other ramblings

Anyone heard of this game? It’s a roguelike/city sim/rpg where you control a group of dwarves, design their fortress by hand, and eventually build up a huge city (at least until you delve ‘too greedily and too deep’ and run into some new friends… :smiling_imp:) and it’s been generating a huge amount of discussion on the Something Awful and Penny Arcade forums. (And I think Gamespy and probably lots of other sites too.)


I’m plugging it partly because it’s a great game that manages to be an insane amount of fun despite still being in the alpha stage, and the developer seems to be a great guy as well, but also because I was wondering if it would be possible to do something like that with IF?

Obviously an IF game would be nowhere near it in scale, but I’m just talking about the concept in general. I know with most interpreters it’s possible to do a lot of things besides your typical ‘text adventurer’, but besides CYOAs I could probably count on one hand the number of games that break out of the typical mold of you as the PC going around examining things, talking to NPCs, solving puzzles, and generally being the only one that gets anything important done. (Actually, right now I can just think of one, and that would be Lock & Key. And even that still had you as the main character solving a puzzle, though the snazzy interface made it really stand out as something different.)

Would it be possible/plausible to make an IF game that was more of a simulation than an adventure? Say, a functioning castle or space station or whatever, with NPCs running around on schedules you could either directly or indirectly influence. You wouldn’t even need a main plot for a game like that, just enough freedom and interesting things going on so the player could create their own.)

Now, I could see this being done on two levels; either with the player being a ‘manager’ type figure who gives orders and is distanced from the action, sort of like with Lock & Key, (but a lot more complex obviously) or with the player being your typical PC who’s turned lose in this world and can directly interact with it.

I don’t know if I’m making much sense here, and at any rate I can’t picture anything like this that wouldn’t be a nightmare to implement, but as a person who loves games that include a ‘sandbox mode’ I guess one of the things that’s always frustrated me about IF is how inherently linear it is. IF is all about restrictions, leading the player along and trying to keep them from wanting to try anything too weird, and even a game that tries for multiple endings and multiple solutions to puzzles is still railroading players down a handful of set paths, no matter how hard the author tries to disguise it. Even something like a hugely simplified Nethack-type game would be incredibly hard to pull off, just because of the way all the different elements interact with each other.

Annnd, no one’s replied. I figured this would be confusing. (I just read over it and I had no idea what I was talking about myself! :smiley:)

That’s what I get for trying to type a long post in a rush. Oh well, just disregard everything I said past the first paragraph and I’ll try to say something a little more coherent later. I need some time to think of some examples or something.

I actually downloaded and tried to run it, but it seemed to be taking so long I quit. How long does it take to run on average?

I didn’t initially reply, because I didn’t have anything to say. Still don’t, really. I guess the short answer to the initial question is no, I hadn’t heard of it. I’m not a bit of a hurry at the moment, but I’ll try to say more later, when I’m back. :slight_smile:

This game looks incredibly awesome, and I’m downloading and trying it now. Thanks for the link!

As for an IF that does what this does…I imagine it’d be VERY hard to do.

The first time you play you have to generate a world, and unless you get really lucky and there aren’t many rejections that can take awhile. If you don’t want to mess with that I’d recommend just grabbing one of the ready to go worlds off the site. (Oh, and after the world is generated and you go to play you get a little message that says ‘Importing World’ or whatever, and that takes a couple of minutes too. Just be patient, it’s worth it. :slight_smile: )

Oh, and also, you’ll likely be overwhelmed at first but there’s a good starter guide here, just a couple of posts down: forums.somethingawful.com/showth … id=2011668

Yeah, I imagine so! I don’t even think it would be possible, but a more simplified strategy/sim/IF hybrid would be a lot of fun. (Though probably still a serious PITA to program.)

To elaborate on my castle example, let’s say that in the starting room you’ve got a chest with a small amount of gold, and a desk with some scrolls that explain about the people you’re in charge of, and all the orders you can give and how much each one costs. You can wander around exploring the castle and the surrounding area just like any IF game, but the puzzles are more abstract than tricking the scullery maid to reveal the location of the key that unlocks the room containing the mysterious gewgaw or anything like that.

All the NPCs are on schedules. (Either they start off that way or you assign them.) Every morning a handful of farmers harvest wheat right outside the walls, then carry it to the miller, who grinds it into flour and takes it to the baker. The baker makes bread, which gets distributed back to the whole castle. Only, let’s say that due to a group of bandits and an inept (or sadistic) PC the farmers are killed off. Suddenly there’s no food, and after a few days people are refusing to work and leaving in droves. It’s your job to stabilize the situation by arranging another source of food; either buying it, or hiring more peasants, or butchering some horses if you really get desperate.

Then to keep the same thing from happening again let’s say you decide to hire a guard and order him to patrol the fields. All of this costs gold, of course, and you only start out with a finite amount, so in order to produce more you have raise taxes (which can lead to unpleasant results if you go overboard) or keep all your craftsmen supplied so they can make neat things to sell to merchants. (which is a complete rip off of Dwarf Fortress, but I like it. :slight_smile:)

And to steal another idea, maybe besides keeping the castle running like clockwork there’s also an annoying PITA noble hanging around making constant demands - this could actually lead to some more traditional IF elements, with puzzles involving keeping them happy, or finding something they lost, etc.

Anyway, I’m fixing to leave so I’ve got to cut this short, but I think you could see how with enough different elements interacting together this could get really interesting…and really complicated, of course, but the fun of wishful thinking and armchair programming is you don’t actually have to worry about things like that. :smiley:

I can’t figure out how to do anything at all in this game. All the textual graphics are boggling my mind.

Maybe I’ll read that starter’s guide at work today :slight_smile:

we actually have a really big thread about this on rec.games.roguelike.development opinions are… divided on this to say the least…

( groups.google.com/group/rec.game … 55e29c9d/# )

I dont really see how you could ‘IF’-ify it or relate it back to IF. The game just happens to be in text mode / text graphics.
The author even admits it barely has any functionality yet, but there is groundwork to build a lot of the features.

Isn’t Skotos doing something like this already?

From what I’ve read off their Eternal City and Castle Marrach games, they’re doing multiplayer IF (calling them “prose games”).

isnt skotos.net just wrapping a mud with a java client? one review of castle marrach stated ‘the system does understand some 1500 verbs and 1800 adverbs’… obviously counting synonyms.

the whole mud/mush/muck/moo <-> if thing never worked for me. One of the reasons I disliked panks stuff.


I can’t get enough. It’s so addicting…and designing my fort brings out my creative side.

I can’t wait until it hits version 1.0…or even the beta version.

Oh all right, I guess you’re onto me. It was all a clever trick to get you distracted so you wouldn’t finish your game in time for the IFComp and I’d have one less competitor. And HA! IT WORKED! :stuck_out_tongue:

(Unfortunately David didn’t seem to fall for it… :frowning:)

Anyway, I love playing around with the architecture too. In my last game I finally settled on what I think is the perfect fortress design. It’s nice and small so it won’t attract so many immigrants, and all the workshops are laid out for maximum efficiency; the gem cutter and metalsmith are on the east side of the river, for instance, because that’s where all the good stuff is and I got tired of having to wait for it all to get hauled across the bridge. (MAybe this won’t be necessary if/when mining carts are added.)

I’ve also got traps laid out all over the place, and a beautiful dining room that I’m currently filling with masterwork statues and furniture. (Which is sure to attract a lot of immigrants, but too bad! There’s only twenty bedrooms, and I don’t intend to mess up my nice symmetrical design by building any more. Anybody over the quota goes to the Drowning Room, which coincidentally enough also holds beds that can be assigned to nobles… :smiling_imp:)

I’m thinking of moving my tradepost there too and ending this immigration problem once and for all, actually, but that seems a little cheap.

I’m apparently not good enough to even GET immigrants yet. I always end up restarting due to some catastrophe or another. But each time I improve upon something else that I screwed up the last time, so hopefully soon I’ll reap the benefits.

What sort of map are you playing on? Calm or Peaceful with plenty of trees is probably the best way to start.

And don’t send any dwarves off hunting. Hunters are a little st00pid right now, and tend to get slaughtered and/or lead an angry pack of animals back to the fortress. (There’s also the problem of how a tiny scratch on the arm can lead to tantrums, insanity and death…until a better health care system is added I’d recommend just locking any injured dwarves in their rooms until their bodies rot away.

For food, build a fishery near the outside river and set one of your dwarves to fishing outside until you can break through to the cave river and start farming. You can also slaughter the horses and mules you start off with. (I try to save enough points to start off with a few war dogs, too. They’re great for protecting the fortress until I can get traps and a military set up, and their puppies are good eatin’. :smiley:)

Anything specific you need help with? I could give you suggestions for how to spend your points in the beginning, for instance.

I’ve got two war dogs, and I’ve started with 2 miners and one carpenter. Things are fine at that point. It’s just getting everything set up that annoys me. I always screw up the farms when I hit the cave river. Either I don’t build it right, or my dwarves refuse to place the floodgates, and they sit at the workshop unused.

And as I speak, my miner hits the river, and drowns immediately. :frowning:

That’s weird, I’ve heard of this happening to other people, but I’ve never actually had the river flood when I hit it. Usually I just dig out a farming room, put a door in between it in the fortress, and then wait till spring for the flood to come. (I never screw around with floodgates except for the room I use to drown immigrants in…that one’s connected to the outside river via a line of channels, and it’s completely seperated from the rest of my fortress in case something goes wrong.)

You might be doing this already, but one thing I’ve seen suggested is putting in several (non pet-passable) doors on the way to the river, so that even if you lose your miner in a flash flood when you hit it the rest of the fortress is safe.

(Also, even if you lose your miner, don’t restart. You have another one, and if you survive until the first wave of immigrants arrive there’s usually a couple of new miners with them.)

Well what happened was my miners were building a rather large meeting hall. I had dug out a single spaced hallway, and hadn’t hit water yet, so I decided to build my meeting hall before that point. As I dug to the north, I hit the river (which obviously angled past my furthest point dug) and it flooded into the whole mined area to that point, even reaching to the FRONT of the fortress itself.

I didn’t have any doors at that point, and I had just started that game, so it wasn’t a big deal. Just annoying.


The version I have is several days old already. I wonder if in the newer ones Toady might have made good on his promise to randomize the inside of the mountain a little more? The river has always been a ways to the east, as far as I know.

Maybe I’ll ask about that on the forums later.

I cannot get farming to work, no matter what I do. Do I need to build a channel with two floodgates? I tried a channel with one floodgate, but all it does is move water onto the channel, doesn’t move the water into the actual room. I’ve followed all the FAQs out there for farming, and still can’t get it to work right. It’s frustrating.

I use ordinary Nile style farming myself, but I’ve had no trouble flooding rooms for drowning people.

Here’s what the special suite for the nobles looks like:

… ____ …L…|

R is the outside river, the c’s are the channel, F is the floodgate, D is the door, and the L is the lever.

All you should have to do is lock the door to the farm, then have someone with the Mechanic job enabled go and pull the lever to flood the room, then pull it again to get the water out.

Oh, and when building the channels to begin with, save the one that actually connects to the river for last. Since you can’t control which bit they work on first, don’t even give the order for it until everything else is set up.

Edit: Formatting’s still kind of screwy, but I think you get the general idea. Ignore all the periods, they’re just to keep everything (sort of) in the right shape.