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Dwarf Fortress creator Tarn Adams on simulating most complex magic system ever (pcgamer.com)
183 points by danso 70 days ago | hide | past | web | 90 comments | favorite

I do wonder whether the future of gaming will eventually move towards a model like DF, ADOM, WoW, DOTA 2, EVE etc, whereby instead of completely new games every year that generally just feature updated graphics, we will instead see a few games in each genre becoming more and more fleshed out over the course of years or even decades.

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.

"I do wonder whether the future of gaming will eventually move towards a model like DF, ADOM, WoW, DOTA 2, EVE etc, whereby instead of completely new games every year that generally just feature updated graphics, we will instead see a few games in each genre becoming more and more fleshed out over the course of years or even decades."

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.

There are two factors at play here. First, if you track an individual gamer over time, I think they generally will gradually prefer increasingly complex games. Not necessarily "complex" in the sense of difficulty, but in the sense of depth; as sibling suggests, deeper worlds with more things to explore, etc, even if that exploration is not thinking-intensive.

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.

> 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.

Yes, that's possible. I don't think the evidence supports it, though. I agree that likely on average, as people get older, they have less time per week to devote to gaming. Although it will be interesting to see how the first generation of gamers who retire (if they're able to...) will behave.

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..."

> but I cannot imagine what mechanism would drive, or what evidence would support, the average individual gamer preferring less complex games over time.

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.

Exactly my problem. I love complex games, but I have short batches of time, mostly without full energy, and undetermined amounts of breaks between them. A full fortress mode DF is too much for that. Even if the learning itself is considered fun, it's just not possible due to the long breaks between sessions.

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.

> 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

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).

How do you play eve in a relaxing way without putting much time into learning and developing complex excel sheets?

I was thinking that OP is wrong and ignoring the existence of multiple types of gamers, but your analysis is much better thought-out and very insightful.

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.

Just because the implementation of a game is complex, doesn't mean the gameplay has to be. Having a richer world to interact with means there's more stuff you can do, but not necessarily more stuff you have to do. In fact, it could be quite relaxing to just explore the world, and have conversations with interesting NPCs.

That takes time, effort, skill, and dedication to craft. You do get games like that... Witcher 3 springs to mind in fact. It's not something EA or Ubisoft can crank out twice a year and monetize to the tune of $120-$200 per unit.

No, but they might be able to crank out expansion packs twice a year, to add some more depth. Anyway, I'm not suggesting that everything will move to that type of game. Just that "complex simulation" doesn't have to map to "complicated to play".

I agree, but I think "complex simulation" is the opposite kind of product most AAA houses are designed to produce. Most games are far far from complex, to the point of adding on arbitrary mechanics to add a feel of complexity.

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.

Then again, you're assuming that "people" are a amorphous mass that only wants one thing. There's space for wide variety of genres and game types, complex ones to simple ones. It's a market in which more than billion people participate after all.

Right, but how many of those billion play DF? How many play CoD? How many play "Fee2PlayRobbery#8816732" on their phones?

Valve has made more money catering to traditional video game types than Fee2PlayRobbery#8816732 ever has or will.

This is the same Valve with the "hat" empire, and CS:GO gambling scandals, right?

Claiming those to be equivalent to default mobile f2p business strategies of "selling rounds of play like in arcade machines, but hiding it" is either highly ignorant of the gaming market at large, or malicious. Which do you want it to be?

I don't know, which was Valve in those cases? Besides, you're the one arbitrarily deciding that f2p = pay for rounds only.

Alright, thanks for making it clear that you're on the side of lack of knowledge. I'll give you a quick summary:

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.

Your argument amounts to, "Murder is stabbing, only stabbing. Valve shot people, never stabbed!"

I remain bemused, and unimpressed both by your argument, and your tone.

Valve is providing parts of the game that as far as i know are 100% and unequivocally optional and provide the user no benefit whatsoever.

How does this hurt people? How does it compare to the hurt caused by F2P strategies i described?

In the same way that a casino does. This is really not complicated.

Is your complaint that Valve is just as evil because they entice people to throw money at them to buy random loot that has a chance of being converted into a big pay day by way of being sold on to other players?

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.

It's simple... I was responding to: "Valve has made more money catering to traditional video game types than Fee2PlayRobbery#8816732 ever has or will."

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.

We already have this. Madden stile games continue using the same engine for a decade while putting out 'new' games. Just look at everything using the Unreal Engine etc.

Unreal Engine doesn't support your point. Street Fighter V and Kingdom Hearts III and Gears of War IV don't really have any similarities beyond their sequelriffic naming and that they all use Unreal Engine 4.

I mean look at the actual titles released under each version of unreal engine.


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)
Now, going from unreal engine 2 to 4 is the kind of jump that suggests your dumping most of the old code. However by sticking with version 2 that long they where clearly reusing their code between games.

Seems like there's two angles to that - games being treated more like sports, and that (I assume) continuing development on a profitable game carries less expense and risk than launching a new title.

I have to disagree pretty heartily. Looking at Steam numbers and information from Valve directly, there is no indication that people are suddenly or even slowly abandoning new game sales in preference to games with extended content lifecycles.

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.

There are two possible ways to measure trends in gaming. One is to look at sales, the other is to look at where the hours are being spent.

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.

Are you looking at total hours or per-player hours? Competitive games like DOTA, LoL, et-al tend to attract players who sink a lot of time into mastery.

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.

Mostly total hours, but both. Per-player hours also follow a scale-free distribution within any given game. You are right that some games encourage more time spent than others (I don't know about whether they "attract" a certain type of player). I mean, to even do half the quests in Skyrim would take many hundreds of hours. Another example of a noncompetitive game with high per-player and high total hours is KSP. Also RimWorld and Factorio to a lesser extent.

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.

The thing is, money is what drives what content will be produced. So I think what you really want to look at is not the number of sales, or the number of hours, but the amount of money spent.

To some extent, yes. But DF and ADOM are direct counterexamples to this. They have been developed for decades certainly far beyond the point where the marginal value of a dev-hour has ceased to be worthwhile. Yet development continues.

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.

Yes, but that's because the author's are interested in it directly. I don't think measuring how many hours people play these games necessarily directly affects the developers' motivation to keep making them.

I would be very happy with this model, but, I would like to have more community authorship/control. Kind of like how forums are moderated. I always felt that monsters and dungeons were WoW's weak point. There just want enough new/complex after a certain point. I'd have loved to hit the kind of world where community contribution kept more of it fresh.

Paradox games. They do exactly that with the Europa Universalis game series and many others as well.

It would only work for a certain type of game. Something story heavy couldn't work for example.

I'm not sure that's true. In a big open world, each "expansion pack" that comes out could be a new storyline that lives in the same world.

This game and it's creator(s) never cease to amaze me. Looking forward to all of the new "fun" this will create.

I really wish DF was OSS. My great fear for this game is the developer dies and we lose an amazing piece of tech with him.

Being a personal project, there's also a concern of losing control over one's art. Would Rembrandt invite a hundred paintbrushes upon his canvas?

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.

I feel like a good compromise would be to stick the code base for each big release into some sort of vault. Not open to the public, but for there to be an agreement that should Tarn ever be done with it, it can be released. Basically give keys (or copies) to Tarn's brother as well as a few of the DF community members that Tarn trusts the most.

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.

Why not just open-source and continue solitarily working on and releasing his personal fork of it?

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 minute that happens the more accessible community version with polished graphics and interface will become the dominant one. Only dilettantes will play the original.

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.

If Rembrandt could duplicate his canvases for free why not?

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.

The engine is the foundation upon which the content runs...but engines in and of themselves aren't content. In the case of most game engines, the two are well-separated.

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.

Depends, usually the content and engine become quite intertwined about 3 months before release as you try to squeeze every MB/cycle out of hardware.

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).

I know at least in some cases the reason for people not wanting to make something open source is that they don't want people to complain about their style of coding or to say that they are "obviously" bad programmers because they don't use design patterns or whatever the critic's favorite philosophy is.

I imagine a DF source release would spark a handful of Medium articles lambasting Tarn's coding practices.

And at least a few praising them as a refreshing new alternative to blah blah blah, or something.

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.

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.
Not since id Tech 4 (Doom 3/Quake 4), now it's proprietary (thanks ZeniMax).

As a counterpoint, I think that perhaps DF is a project that benefits from having a single mind and a single vision directing the course of the game and making it happen.

That's not a counterpoint to releasing it as OSS, though. There are lots of OSS projects where creators don't require community input.

NetHack is a kind of famous example where the Dev Team doesn't use a public version control repository, traditionally didn't use a public bugtracker, doesn't use a public mailing list or IRC channel, and traditionally has made releases less than once a year. They also didn't promise to respond to proposed patches or feature requests, though they often acted on them if they thought they were useful or thematic.

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.

I'm not sure if you are aware, nethack is now hosted on github and commits are public https://github.com/NetHack/NetHack

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.

> I'm not sure if you are aware, nethack is now hosted on github and commits are public

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.

Provided the license is at least Q-Public or stricter.

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.

> There are lots of OSS projects where creators don't require community input.

Then what is the reason that you want to urge Tarn and Zach Adams to release DF as open source?

As stated by meddlepal above: "My great fear for this game is the developer dies and we lose an amazing piece of tech with him."

I think the community would be better served reverse-engineering it in this case.

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.

For what it's worth Tarn apparently has plans for the source code to be released if he dies of natural causes.

Ditto. I know it's his creation and he has the right to do what he likes with it, but it's such a damn missed opportunity. A game as complex and detailed as DF cries out for a vibrant coding/modding community.

I am not so sure - I sometimes wonder if the problem with a "platform" that many people love and use, but very few can contribute to well, is that when completely open sourced it inevitably comes bogged down in politics and overcome by "deletionists" or similar - people who don't or can't contribute to the project but see themselves as guardians of it and hamper the efforts of others.

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).

I didn't read the wish for open-sourcing it as a wish for it to become a community project, or even just a project that accepts any outside contributions.

What do you want from the source code then?

I haven't played much DF, but from what I remember there are quite a few tools around it, which already hook relatively deep into the game, either by simulating keypresses (I think) or reading/writing game memory. Development of those probably would profit from easier access to game internals.

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.

I know DF is a hobby for Toady, and he's not interested in contributors to the core game because he likes doing everything himself, which is fine. But I'd like to see a situation like Minecraft (also closed-source, but even obfuscated Java is easy to reverse-engineer) where the creator(s) work on the core game and modders can add stuff if they like, without official support.

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.

Hit-by-a-bus insurance, basically.

on the topic of modding, its incredible what people have done with simply -memory hacking- the game! literally editing memory to insert mods after the game has begun. it has a limited scope due to the inherent risks but some of the work is incredible

Why don't all these people who cry for DF being open source and claim that it would create such a vibrant coding/modding community start to create their own game (with a similar spirit as DF) under open source conditions of their choice?

I'm not aware of any OSS DF alternatives, but it seems like every year or so I hear about new games hitting Steam that seem (to me) to have clearly been designed by someone thinking "Let's see if I can make DF but with better graphics and ergonomics." Naturally they don't approach DF's depth, given how long Toady's been iterating. I don't hold that against them, but it seems like DF has the market cornered on sheer number of internal knobs to twist. Here are the main ones, I think (there are many others):

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

Because you don't need to be a master chef to tell if a meal needs more salt. "Never criticize anything unless you could personally could do it better" is a ridiculous notion mainly proposed by oversensitive creators.

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.

> Because you don't need to be a master chef to tell if a meal needs more salt. "Never criticize anything unless you could personally could do it better" is a ridiculous notion mainly proposed by oversensitive creators.

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've always wanted to start one, only in side-view instead of top-down, but I'm too lazy and it would take a long time to come close to DF's depth.

I'm thinking of more of a Lemmings-style game with DF mechanics and terrain deformation..

Because they aren't capable. It's far easier to bitch and moan than actually do something,

As someone who is aware of DF but never played it, I am curious about how the game actually works.

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?

You might try Rim World--- it's the sci-fi spiritual sibling of DF, and it has a similar "task" system. It's been awhile since I've played DF, and I only have about 40 hours in it, so some of this description might be off. :)

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.

Two basic modes, Fortress and Adventure.

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.

And as mentioned in the article there's Legendary mode which is basically a magnifying glass for the results of the world generator. Apperently people use it just to see what happened during world generation, maybe even using the results as inspiration for other media like pen&paper RPGs.

So there is the option for the ant farmer as well.

You're doing a fair amount of requesting a dwarf to do a job. But you aren't usually commanding a particular dwarf to do a specific job at a specific location. Simcity is reasonably similar.

Having world-gen create a unique magic system for each game sounds like it'll be a lot of fun.

I am now imagining a system based on live penguin sacrifice that can animate metal statues into war-trained metal golems, regrow lost limbs, turn quartzite into gabbro, charm otherwise useless elves into making shoes, and accelerate minecarts to lightspeed.

The DF world-gen and procedural generator invents some seriously weird stuff.

okay. As a long time DF player, If it is anything like that it will be wonderful!

it's going to be awesome, but it also means that a lot of the generalized tricks and workflows that we're familiar with won't work anymore or won't be as efficient as they once were.

imagine if all smelting requires a magic input of catsblood. you're gonna be in for a tough time.

Are you kidding? Last I recall (years ago, to be fair), cats multiplied like cockroaches. Of all the things you could need, that would be trivial.

Wow! The creator really knows what he is talking about.

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