Really, there are not a whole lot of different game genres when you get down to it. If one had a good RTS engine, for example, you could build a WWII simulator or a sci-fi setting on top of it with only a few mods plus new unit models. And from a player's standpoint, there is something amazing about playing a game that has been developed for decades like DF or ADOM, because it is so much deeper, more detailed, and well-balanced than the average new game. And has less bugs. I think this thinking is behind what must be a massive effort to reskin Morrowwind. The increase in modding's popularity is another indicator of this trend.
Of course I doubt new games will entirely cease to be made. There are certainly genres that haven't been discovered yet. But it seems that the bulk of player-time is moving gradually towards games like this IMO.
You're assuming people want more complex games, but (note my complete lack of sources) history has shown that people move towards less complex games over time. Dwarf Fortress will never go mainstream, because not everyone wants a complex game. A lot of people like games that they can wind down with, that don't need thinking for.
But at the same time, the market for games has expanded greatly due to in-browser games, smartphone games, etc. Those people are "introductory/casual gamers". Some of them will remain casual, some of them will stop gaming entirely, but I think of those who continue gaming, many of them will come to want something more.
So, in short, the existence of lots of really shallow games largely reflects an expanded market IMO rather than some inherent shallowness of humanity. I share your cynicism in the sense that there are some who will never move beyond FarmVille, and that is sad, but I cannot imagine what mechanism would drive, or what evidence would support, the average individual gamer preferring less complex games over time.
What mechanism? Maturity, expansion of interests and hobbies beyond video games, other responsibilities.
When I was a teenager, I was perfectly happy to spend many hours playing absurdly complex war strategy games and epic RPGs. Nowadays, if I'm actually going to play a video game, I better be able to pick it up and play and get some enjoyment out of it immediately without a lot of effort or thought. Dwarf Fortress looks neat and all, but I'd rather just play with my dog than spend any time on DF.
But the question of their tastes is separate. It is not necessarily true that less time available => preference for simpler games. You can, after all, just play a complex game over a longer time period if you have less time available.
One could get a rough idea about which hypothesis is true by making a sort of plot of game complexity vs average player age for each game. My impression is that the slope would be positive: complex games like EVE, X-series, DF, etc, do I think have very high average player ages.
Another data point is that if you look at the competitive types of games favored by people in their teens & early 20s, they are FPS games, whereas MOBAs are more popular w/ mid-late 20s people, and I think we can say MOBAs are more complex (not necessarily saying they require more or less skill, though).
I think if the data were examined it would support my thesis, but it is an open question and I was being a little hyperbolic with "I cannot imagine what mechanism..."
Lack of time is a strong driver for some gamers opting towards simpler games, or at least games whose complexity does not translate into requiring additional time for mastery/understanding. In my circle of gaming friends, as our available time is under greater pressure we've purposely moved away from games that require significant investment of time to those that perhaps retain some complexity but reward a casual time investment.
Another factor I've seen that affects is the demand of contiguous blocks of time to game properly. Some games do not permit breaking up game sessions arbitrarily, so while one might have ample leisure time, there might be multiple interruptions in between which make playing certain games impossible or a burden.
And it's not true that it is impossible to deliver content in that way. Even stuff like language learning is possible to put into waiting-5-minutes-for-bus sessions on the mobile phone.
Last but not least, there are games that can deliver on that. CK2 is somewhat playable, droppable, and still fun. You also _can_ choose to put additional hours and energy in it to make it more complex and more fun. But simple is possible as well. E.g., only now, after maybe 4 years of owning the game, and about 116 hours logged in Steam, I _start_ to learn about the Papacy and using religion to my advantage. Until now it was just like a random event, something that happened on the side but I didn't have to bother with too much.
The last game I seriously played was EVE. I remember I moved to that and stuck with it for a while because I made a decision that I would only play games where I enjoyed playing the game (as opposed to not enjoying play but what the designers rewarded me with as a result).
It can sometimes be difficult to remind that the games market is still strongly growing and that it'll be a generation or two more until it settles into more clear shape.
After all, complexity requires thought, balance, testing... and again it's just easier to crank out a turd that people will thank you for offering them.
Whether you are aware of it or not ""Fee2PlayRobbery#8816732" on their phones" is for the vast majority of entries "pay for round". This occurs so overwhelmingly often that it's fair to ignore any other kinds of entries as lone outliers. And if you can't tell that it's "pay for round", then that is exactly what they want and an explicit design goal of hiding the price behind multiple layers of redundant currency and keeping the price invisible for the first few tens of hours and then slowly ratcheting it up over time.
Valve has done nothing that is even remotely similar to this.
I remain bemused, and unimpressed both by your argument, and your tone.
How does this hurt people? How does it compare to the hurt caused by F2P strategies i described?
If so, then that would be a very strong, but quite accurate complaint that i actually agree with. It would be good if you stated it directly and clearly in the future instead of throwing it out as implications of something that "everyone knows".
It is not complicated once stated explicitly, but if you aren't fully aware of it already, it is not obvious in the least.
I disagreed with that statement, and still do... it's that simple. Valve has not been a force for "traditional video game types" as much as they've been a forerunner of F2P models. You're welcome to split hairs between "Abusive" and merely "Scummy"... I'm utterly disinterested in that.
Unreal Engine 2 - Warfare Build 927
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon 2 (2004)
... (14 titles across pc and consoles)
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013)
Perhaps what you are seeing is that with an increased number of gamers (this is supported by data), these types of games have an even bigger audience than before.
There has always been classes of gamers who prefer mastery of a small number of games versus preferring new experiences. Some people have played Counter Strike for fifteen years and WoW for almost as long. On the other hand there are gamers like me who prefer a constant stream of new experiences.
So, I agree that sales of new games are extremely robust now, likely because Steam has made it easier than ever for indie devs to sell, gamers to buy, and studios to push patches. And all this has driven down cost. $50 for a new game used to be par for the course. Now I wouldn't even consider paying that unless I was certain the game would be good. So all this has driven up demand and sales.
And yet if you look at where the hours are going on Steam, it supports my thesis at least to some extent. There is a scale-free distribution of player-hours, and it appears to me that the high player-hour games appear to be extended-lifecycle games. A commenter pointed out in another HN thread earlier this week that 1B player-hours per week for DOTA 2 alone.
Hours are also not a good metric for estimating the health and trends of the industry. I spend thousands of dollars a year for both AAA and indie games, and at most I game ~10 hours a week. The most time I've sunk into any single game this year is 80 hours and the average is closer to 10.
I still think it is a meaningful observation if we see an increasing "centralization" in total hours in a few games. I'm not commenting on whether that's a good or bad thing. If we wanted to measure whether certain games attracted "obsessive" gamers, I guess we would want to look at hours/player/week or something, which I know nothing about.
> Hours are also not a good metric for estimating the health and trends of the industry.
That is quite true insofar as a player who spends an extra hour without paying extra is not contributing to the economics of the industry. If the gaming industry had their way, I'm sure they would prefer very low per-player-per-game hours, which would encourage more sales. You seem like an ideal customer from their perspective :)
But my primary focus is the trends in gamer behavior, not the industry per se, although they drive each other.
On top of that, there are quite a lot of very detailed community mods for games that are developed for free. The thing about games that causes them to diverge from regular economics is that it only costs time and expertise to enhance them. And obviously there are lots of people quite willing to donate that.
Quoting a comment from a thread several months ago (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11999393):
> Actually, he's done that in the past. He let some folks from the DF forums have part of the source code, specifically the part which uses OpenGL to draw the graphics. They were able to improve it so that it was much more efficient, and so that it could use TrueType fonts. The results were quite successful, in that the graphics now take up much less of the game's time, and TrueType fonts can make the game much more approachable.
> On the other hand, Tarn has said that he now no longer understands this part of the code. If he ever needs to modify it he'll either have to learn how it works from scratch, or farm the work out to the community again. Since he has no desire to become a project manager, he's unlikely to do the latter.
This way it stays just Tarn's work of art for as long as he wants it to stay that way, but if anything did happen it wouldn't be lost to society.
As in, Dwarf Fortress: Tarn Edition, with only one contributor, and multiple forks from other people taking the game in different directions, as well as projects that just incorporate the best features from multiple forks into one version.
The problem is he has zero motive to do so. His income is adequate for his needs and he apparently has no interest in fame or other reward. To him there's nothing to gain and everything to lose from open-sourcing it.
Why can't official Dwarf fortress exist alongside clones? Didn't seem to hurt the Quake engine and Carmack's engines were every bit the craftmanship as DF. Today you can run Quake on anything, it's been modded for VR support, new effects, etc. DF? We'll be lucky if it doesn't die and people hack it anyway.
You gotta respect people's desire to control their baby, doesn't mean it's productive, though. He'd literally lose nothing other than some notion of control by releasing it out in the open. He might even be able to find a novel open source business model if he tried (though that's not his desire or goal).
The last part about understanding does make sense; though if development was out in the open he'd have no problems finding people to explain it.
In the case of Dwarf Fortress, I imagine the content and the engine are heavily coupled - if not one and the same. Separating the two will be an enormous task for Tarn, who likely has other priorities in DF development and is uninterested in the inevitable bikeshedding that will result should he open the whole project open up to others.
He's a mathematician, not a software engineer or project manager.
> You gotta respect people's desire to control their baby, doesn't mean it's unproductive, though.
While I agree, you'll probably find that his notions of "unproductive" will be wildly different than yours.
Even then game design will dictate architectural choices(off the top of my head streaming, networking and platform all have huge engine implications and can't be easily retrofitted).
What I like about Open Source software is that I can audit it to make sure it's doing what it says it's doing, and that I can modify it to make it work better on my system. I miss that when I'm playing a game.
But games are art, and art is a little different than non-art. I don't want to spoil the fun of a game by looking at the source code for it; I like that the author has some definite vision for the game. I don't even like to visit a forum for a game in order to report a bug, because I'm bound to read about other bugs in the game. I frequently enjoy games that are moddable, but if I start looking at mods too soon, then I also feel like the game is spoiled. Early-access games are also somewhat problematic, although I've been playing Factorio for years now, with no regrets.
I wish there were a level in-between. If games were half-way open source, so that the platform layer was open source while the game mechanics and artistic vision were not, then I would be happier about it.
Quake was only open-sourced years after it was superseded by more advanced games. It was still an awesome thing, and I'm glad that ID seems to have made it a tradition.
Some aspects of this have been controversial and there's certainly the idea that it's let NetHack improvements be much too slow, but it's existed for many years this way, and it's completely open source.
Also the Free Software Foundation's own in-house parts of GNU were largely this way especially in previous decades. There was an official maintainer who would make periodic releases. If you had an idea for the maintainer, you could e-mail and propose it. The maintainer might say "Thanks" and then put your code in a future release, or not. It was relatively hierarchical and secretive in terms of the actual development process, without a particular emphasis on being collaborative. In this case I've generally thought it was because FSF's philosophy didn't emphasize collaborative development methodology, as opposed to people's right to change their individual copies of software, and people's right to fork projects. We often associate free and open source software with collaborative and transparent development, but there are occasional cases where it's definitely not that.
The 'Net' part of the project Nethack is so named because it was developed over the internet and discussed on the internet (newsgroups). It's the first game to be developed by multiple contributors over the internet and released on the internet that I am aware of.
The 'Open' of OpenBSD is more towards your point: NetBSD was open source and made releases, but did not show public commit history. When Theo's private repository privileges were removed, he was unable to contribute any longer because his patches against the latest public source was too far behind the current private source, so they would be rejected, but he had no ability to bring it up to date. And so "Open" of OpenBSD is because the commits are public and open -- the first to share their VCS history publicly that I'm aware of. I believe they invented the first "anonymous cvs" system for this very purpose.
Wow, quite the big change from how they used to work!
> The 'Open' of OpenBSD is more towards your point
That's a great example, thanks.
Otherwise expect a Neo-Dwarf-Fortress in no time to put pressure on the original author and let the world know that he is actually a hindrance to DF development.
Then what is the reason that you want to urge Tarn and Zach Adams to release DF as open source?
With self-taught single-person projects like these, there tends to be an inordinate amount of crazy code that only the creator has the experience to understand.
Short of patching and having a reference for re-implementation, I doubt the community could do much with the source code.
Of course there's wikipedia as an example, but in open source gaming I feel that Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup went the same way, with new releases tending to remove features in the aim of some ideological balancing "purity" regardless of it being actually fun or not.
Therefore perhaps Dwarf Fortress will fare better with only very few passionate people working on it with impressive productivity. If it went fully open, I bet before long there's be a mission statement, a "DF way", statement of principles to which nobody can ever live up to, and then before you know it nobody can be bothered to fight to get a patch accepted (and forking brings its own maintenance hassles).
There is "academic" interest in "how was this built".
Even a project not normally accepting contributions can do this on special occasions if it wants (If I'm not mistaken, several features in Minecraft build upon mods made by fans. Of course, Minecraft is also closed-source, but it is relatively easy to get good decompilations since it is written in Java. You might argue that the existence of tools around DF proves that source access is not necessary for improvements to it?)
For other games, I've often had a question along the lines of "I wonder how gameplay would change if ...". Sometimes that's solvable with a debugger and/or disassembler, but code would make it a lot easier. (With commercial games there is also the aspect of "can I share hacks/experiments like this", which admittedly isn't directly related to source access or a game being fully Open Source, and likely not an issue in the case of DF)
Other posters mention the long term issue of game development surviving its creator, but of course that doesn't require source publication now.
In general, I'd say it would be wrong to pressure a game creator in any way to open source their work, but I understand why people like games being open.
That's sort of already happening with DF, but modding anything more substantial than data and font files is a huge bitch, because the code is fully compiled.
2014: gnomoria - http://gnomoria.com/
2015: prison architect - https://www.introversion.co.uk/prisonarchitect/pc.html
2016: rimworld - https://rimworldgame.com/
2017: stonehearth (alpha?) - http://www.stonehearth.net/
None of these are open source, ofc, and my expectations for how long they receive updates is not high. Toady built his rep over decades.
Aside: on the topic of hilariously complex, long lived, more or less open source games written on top of ridiculously poorly architected code with a tiny rabid fanbase - Space Station 13 deserves a mention. I'm confident that I've seen no other game like SS13 in my life. I can't even start to explain it. Please check out this high-level review of it if you're curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLAHBexJxrE
Also because it's annoying and wasteful to have to recreate years of effort from scratch because the people who've done it before won't share. Which is, y'know, the entire point of open source.
The people who want to add their own additions better understand what the source code does. So this argument does not apply here.
> Also because it's annoying and wasteful to have to recreate years of effort from scratch because the people who've done it before won't share.
The original creators also had to invest the time. Where do the open source fans take the justification from that if they want something similar, but under their preferred license, they should not have to invest a similar amount of time?
I'm thinking of more of a Lemmings-style game with DF mechanics and terrain deformation..
I am roughly aware that it is a very complex simulation that exists under an ASCII art and menu presentation, but it's not clear at all to me how gameplay actually works. Does the game more or less "play" itself and allow you to nudge things in different directions to observe the outcome, or are you responsible for micro-managing all of your dwarves' lives?
The idea is that you do specify where dwarves will build items (like beds, tables, workstations) and you also specify zones (stockpile food here, grow mushrooms here) and provide orders (chop all trees in this area). But _then_ you tell the dwarves what kind jobs you want them to do. You tell the cook dwarf that they're allowed to cook, haul, and maybe they're allowed to farm too. The cooking stove will have a job order that says: "make X meals" or "make meals until you have X many" You tell the mining dwarf that he's allowed to mine and haul iron ore only. You tell the construction dwarf to build stuff. And then the dwarves manage their own days. They "work" 10ish hours a day based off of what tasks are available, and they eat/drink/hangout the rest of the time. You never actually have to micro manage them, you just set up rough guidelines.
Fortress is a base management sim, you don't directly control anything, you issue orders and then drwarves take those orders and do them in their own time.
Adventure mode is a rougelike with in a deep world.
So there is the option for the ant farmer as well.
The DF world-gen and procedural generator invents some seriously weird stuff.
imagine if all smelting requires a magic input of catsblood. you're gonna be in for a tough time.