I've always dreamed of getting together a big budget to make a text adventure (e.g. Zork) of incredible scope, both in depth and "interactibility" -- a complex object typologies system, bring in learning chat bots for NPCs, and a system where users can add new objects, rooms and descriptions while they play, a complete object relational system (so it can tell "on", from "next to", from "above"), a very complete state system and so on.
Perhaps an "adjectives system", so it knows a huge amount of adjectives relating to any one object, and can generate simple novel sentences about that object on repeat views.
I think that at some point someone will be crazy enough to do it, and it's going to be most excellent.
I often wonder why games almost never have swappable (or even just scriptable) UI-s that could allow player to use shorthands through UI drudgery.
You may want to take a look at Gnomoria (http://gnomoria.com), which is basically "DF clone with sensible voxel graphics". For example: http://images.akamai.steamusercontent.com/ugc/45067176442464...
It's not a scriptable interface, but it is much saner than DF's, with a limited set of consistent hotkeys/toolbars/panels.
But I'm guessing that's not trivial to implement if you haven't already started doing it that way, and for something like Dwarf Fortress, it would probably be a lot of effort for not a significant amount of result - after all, everyone's already got their cheat sheet...
I wouldn't recommend it, because it's noticeably slower than the SDL or OpenGL renderers, but you can.
I don't want to run DF on my local system - I want my DF world running on a server in a rack somewhere and I connect over screen/SSH when I need to.
Is that a sane use-case with recent DF releases ?
A release or two back it gained a true console mode which you can play on a real terminal.
A "dot release" (who really cares about numbering schemes?) that took ten months and included a number of incremental and ultimately minor features--yes, they sound very cool, but having played it last night they don't change the way the game plays all that much. I like games like this quite a lot, but this is the same cheetodusting that makes people take Linux-on-the-desktop people with all the unseriousness they demand.
DF numbers its releases differently than most software. The developers made a list of features ("core components") they would like to implement and the version number increases for each one finished.
So a "dot release" for DF means a significant new subsystem was added. v0.42.1 translates to 42 core components implemented, 1 minor release. The leading 0 means "less than 100 core components finished".
Honestly, I'm kind of done with DF until it's more of a game, precisely because of these rabbit holes. I respect what they're doing, but aside from the first "oh, what's new?!" moments, the same core issues with the actual game persist. The "significant subsystems" don't make it play any better, so we're in ant-farm territory and not in a great way.
DF is more about the crazy stories that happen when you're, say, draining the ocean to set up those whale traps. Or building a roof over the world, pumping it full of magma, and rigging trapdoors to allow your Orbital Magma Cannon to fry any spot on the surface.
(Minecraft would have this problem if not for the tremendous mod support, Forge, etc. that enables you to make what you want of it. Crash Landing is still one of my favorite things in games--not because of the use of HQM, but rather just the profoundly different environment and options for exploring the same rules in a very different milieu.)
I haven't played in a while so I'm out of touch as far as figuring out what changes are significant.
I looked over their development page (http://bay12games.com/dwarves/dev.html) and can't figure out if what's listed as upcoming (job prioritization? taverns? non-player artifcats?) will be major as far game play.
They do list work related to "starting scenarios for your fortresses" which touches a bunch of other subsystems - maybe that will be a large and noticeable change.
FWIW I've been running a Linux-only desktop for over sixteen years. I honestly think that it's pretty close to being usable by nearly anyone, and I don't think that's an unserious opinion. It's certainly usable by — and useful to — anyone technical, and that's not an unserious opinion.
The language is a bit odd, and attempts to "read like English", but it provides so much scaffolding I feel like it's worth it.
I never could get the hang of Inform 7, the syntax is just too free-form, and I couldn't work out how to get things right.
The big difference I'm arguing for is scope, and engineering.
If you have NPC chat bots that can learn, and an adjectives and typologies system for object, combine them so that chat bots can talk about objects adjectives and typologies. That sort of thing, really engineer the hell out of it.
In the end it would all be a massive NLP problem. As major advances in NLP happen the possibilities for MUDs is massive.
Not the same scope as DF, of course, but still surprisingly fancy. There's still a lot of room for more, though :) I'd personally love to see or make something like what you describe too...
I even started tinkering with my own home grown little MUD server written in Clojure, where I had intended to try out some fancy ideas... but lost interest because it would take a huge time investment and I'd be the only player in a multiplayer environment - maybe a single player game like you say would be better after all.
I thought I'd just spend an hour playing around in The Crossing and killing some rats with my warrior mage, and that turned into three hours where I mostly was trying to remember where things were and running branches back and forth to Mags to make some starter scratch.
But in those three hours I felt infinitely more addicted and immersed than I did in playing many more hours of Elder Scrolls Online, WoW, etc. While I need to find some ways of tweaking the Stormfront client more, there is truly something to be said from requiring imagination to enjoy the game.
If you say 'climb the tree' you read "You are about ten feet above the ground nestled among some large branches. The nearest branch above you is beyond your reach."
If you 'climb higher' you see "On the branch is a small birds nest. "
If you look in the nest, "In the bird's nest is a large egg encrusted with precious jewels, apparently scavenged somewhere by a childless songbird. The egg is covered with fine gold inlay and ornamented in lapis lazuli and mother-of-pearl. Unlike most eggs, this one is hinged and has a delicate looking clasp holding it closed. The egg appears extremely fragile."
If you open the egg roughly, "There is a golden clockwork canary nestled in the egg. It seems to have recently had a bad experience. The mountings for its jewel-like eyes are empty, and its silver beak is crumpled. Through a cracked crystal window below its left wing you can see the remains of intricate machinery. It is not clear what result winding it would have, as the mainspring appears sprung."
If you wind it, "There is an unpleasant grinding noise from inside the canary."
If you open the egg gently, "The canary chirps, slightly off key, an aria from a forgotten opera.
From out of the greenery flies a lovely song bird. It perches on a limb just over your head and opens its beak to sing. As it does so, a beautiful brass bauble drops from its mouth, bounces off the top of your head, and lands glimmering in the grass. As the canary winds down, the song bird flies away."
When I found that as a 7 year old, sitting in the dark after everyone in my family had gone to bed, peering into the screen of my 286, I knew that text adventures are the only game worth making.