First, as mentioned in the article, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC will be featuring Dwarf Fortress as part of its "Talk to Me" exhibit. The exhibit will be open from July 24th through November 7th. http://www.moma.org/visit/calendar/exhibitions/1080
Second, for those looking to get into the game, the two recommended video tutorials are SippyCup's (humorous) http://www.youtube.com/51ppycup, and Captain Duck's (down to business) http://www.youtube.com/user/captnduck#p/a/u/1/yn1iW1QN7_s.
Tarn has The Fisherman Parable philosophy and I have a tremendous amount of respect for that. Doing what you love, no matter the "sacrifice", above everything else. He's probably the biggest reason why I've been working on the side to try to create my own games, so I can get the heck out of finance and do what I wanted to since I was 6 years old. Until that works out for me, I send a monthly donation to ensure that at least someone can fulfill their dream.
Here's an interview with the somewhat controversial but always interesting game designer Jonathan Blow: http://www.pcgamer.com/2011/02/15/jonathan-blow-interview-so...
In the second half, he talks about social game design. I'm very much with him on this.
Companies like Zynga help push the issue to the fore-front: They get continuous real time data about how changes in their games effect player behavior, and try to use that to maximize the addictive factor.
I have yet to definitively locate the bright shining line between a great game and an evilly addictive game. I certainly believe the people who say that WoW, Minecraft, and now Dwarf Fortress are excellent games, yet I don't play them because I don't want to be addicted. And the fact that, say, bridge and chess are socially approved addictions, requiring much more practice to attain skill, doesn't make them harmless. People get addicted to Scrabble, ice hockey, knitting, model making, composing tiny essays on Hacker News, mathematics, and of course programming just as they get addicted to Angry Birds. Is it the fact that these hobbies are less accessible that makes them less "evil"?
It's the difference between the architectural design of a casino and a museum. They're both very technically beautiful and nuanced in the subtle intent, but one is about trapping you by exploiting your animal brain whereas the other is about something else, like walking you through a narrative.
Alternately, distinguish between writing a computer virus and any other kind of excellent code.
Bejeweled is a very well constructed Skinner Box that has been effectively optimised over time. TBH it should be part of a course on addiction psychology, it probably is.
Interesting comments nonetheless. Thanks for sharing.
The real reason for tension seems to be this: game designers see Zynga et al achieve the same level of player engagement without careful polish and production values (seemingly).
In other words, it's the age old plight of the artisan who invested time and money into details and craftsmanship, just to see it lose market share to cheaply-produced slop.
In that sense, old juggernauts like EA, who spend many millions in budgets on games, should be concerned too.
First, these guys are the real hackers. Not Carmack, Woz, Bill, or Zuck, or all the super-cool guys that made the bucks and then coasted (technically). These guys are living the life just because they love it. They're a much better representation of the inner hacker in all of us than those stories of riches and fame. I got the impression they would continue doing this no matter what their financial circumstances.
Second, they've done their time. Somebody should set them up with an annuity so they can a) continue, b) learn to live without worrying about money, and c) tell stories to kids 40 years from now about how it all came together
Third, this article left me gobsmacked. I'm left with one conclusion: this is art. If you're collecting these crayon receipts? Save them. They're going to be worth something one day.
Of course, just like the game plays out, it might all amount to nothing. If I had to bet about the value of their work, I'd say it drops off short-term (next 20 years) then becomes super valuable around 2030 or so. This seems to be the pattern with semi-famous labors of love with cult followings. Seriously. Save whatever you can get from these guys.
Very cool story.
Carmack has consistently pushed forward multiple industries on multiple fronts, and remains to this day a far better programmer than any I've ever worked with. He revolutionized computer gaming while living the life just because he loves it. He's not famous because he has Ferraris; his Ferraris are famous because they're his.
He doesn't need anyone to set him up with an annuity--maybe because his love was more mainstream than theirs, or maybe because his skill was far greater than theirs--but that in no way diminishes what he has accomplished or his motivations for accomplishing it.
Definitely not coasting.
Carmack, Gates, Zuck and Woz are the real deal. Saying they aren't because others toil in obscurity is some hopeless romanticism about hacker culture. A heart warmer, maybe?, but not justified.
Just because financial outcomes are not matched to your hacker ideal doesn't invalidate either approach. The rich famous hackers were also good at business and publicity. Not everyone wants that or is good at all three, which is the case with Dwarf Fortress.
Money is not the scorecard. Read the article. That point is addressed.
Perhaps it's an illustration that it's often not fancy maths and algorithms that pay, but rather being in the right place at the right time with the right product. That said, there are instances like Google and Carmack where it really was the algorithms that made the difference.
Way more impressive than sticking together a few perlscripts for a social networking website. Zuckerberg wasn't the main programmer behind Facebook, btw.
wherein Joel Spolsky was reviewed by Bill Gates. It is pretty clear the man had serious technical chops.
No doubt many of them continue to do great technical work that constitutes "great hacking" in anybody's book. But that's not why (by and large) people buy the books and become fans.
If you are focusing on the technical skill of hackery then you are going down the wrong trail. I'm talking about living the life of hacking, as most hackers understand and would actually practice it, as opposed to being a famous hacker. Let's face it, odds are you'll never be a billionaire with your own rocket company. But you just might spend 20 years of your life working on a pet project. These guys are our guys. They're us.
In some respects, I think that continuing to do what you love even after you have 'fuck you money' is one of the strongest indicators of a persons passions. Carmack could have stopped programming games years ago, yet he continues to innovate and push boundaries. For him, the rocket company IS his pet project and is just as brilliant an example of hacking as anything else. Both Gates and Jobs could have retired to a private island (or even private archipelago) years ago, instead both continued to work at their passions long past necessary. And now Gates has a new pet project, it just happens to have a lot more money and publicity than Dwarf Fortress.
Put another way: it's possible to praise his behavior without pissing on someone else.
Disagree. Read up on him.
Woz is a real hacker, if not one of the best ever.
Long excerpt from his amazing Founders at Work interview.
"This was two weeks away and Mike Markkula said yes. So that was my motivation. I always had these little fictitious motivations that motivated me and got me to do such great work. So I sat down and designed the floppy disk, and Randy Wigginton (he was the guy just out of high school) and I came in every single day including Christmas and New Years for 2 weeks. I came in every single day leading up to, I think it was January 3 or 5, when we went off to Las Vegas. I almost had this floppy disk done.
I got it to where it was writing data on a track, reading the data on a track. Then I got it to where it was reading the data in the right byte positions. Then I got it to work with shifting tracks, and we wanted a simple program where we would say "run checkbook" or "run color math" and it would run the programs that were stored on the floppy disk. So we went off to Las Vegas, and Randy and I worked all night and we got it done to where it was working. At the very end, it was 6:00 a.m. and I said, 'We have to back up this floppy disk." We had one good disk that we prepared with the data hand-massaged to get it just right. So I stuck it in the floppy and wrote a little program, and I typed in some data and I said "read track 0," stuck in the other floppy and said "write track 0, read track 1, write track 1." There were 36 tracks—I had to switch floppies back and forth.
When I got done, I'm looking at these 2 floppies that look just the same. And I decided that I might have written onto the good one from the bad, and I did. So I had lost it all. I went back to my hotel room. I slept for a while. I got up about 10:00 a.m. or so. I sat down and, out of my head and my listings, recreated everything, got it working again, and we showed it at the show. It was a huge hit. Everybody was saying, "Oh my God, Apple has a floppy!" It just looked beautiful, plugged into a slot on our computer. We were able to say "run color math," and it just runs instantly. It was a change in time.
But the real eureka moment for me was the very first time I ever read data back. I wrote it on the floppy, which was easy, but read it back, got it right. I just died."
The whole interview (and book) are inspiring:
"My whole life was basically trying to optimize things. You don't just save parts, but every time you save parts you save on complexity and reliability, the amount of time it takes to understand something. And how good you can build it without errors and bugs and flaws.
Livingston: You were designing all of these different types of computers during high school at home, for fun?
Wozniak: Yes, because I could never build one. Not only that, but I would design one and design it over and over and over—each one of the computers—because new chips would come out. I would take the new chips and redesign some computer I'd done before because I'd come up with a clever idea about how I could save 2 more chips. "I'll do it in 42 chips instead of 44 chips."
What do you do in your spare time, if I may ask politely?
Woz was as brilliant as technical brilliance could possibly ever be, though.
I've never seen other games where people use that as a reason to study geology, farming, beekeeping or whatnot. One person, not satisfied with the material properties of Saguaro wood and unable to find good data online went so far as to track down a sample and measure them.
One person even mentioned that they neglected to study for their geology test and played Dwarf Fortress instead. They got an extremely high score because so many of the questions were relevant to DF, such as asking for the names of common iron ores. Any good DF player can list at least magnetite, limonite and hematite without any trouble.
Perhaps most fascinating are the stories that fans share online, recounting their dwarven travails in detailed and sometimes illustrated narratives. In a 2006 saga, called Boatmurdered, fans passed around a single fortress — one player would save a game, send the file to another player and so on, relay-race style — while documenting its colorful descent into oblivion. (After a vicious elephant attack: “A single untrained marksdwarf stands ready to defend the crossing, but I doubt he’ll be enough.”) Boatmurdered spread across gaming sites and made the front page of MetaFilter, a popular blog. “That did a lot to make people aware we existed,” Tarn says.
* Bronzemurder: http://www.timdenee.com/bronzemurder.html
* Oilfurnace: http://www.timdenee.com/oilfurnace.html
edit: I guess it's modified code-page-437 crack:
edit again: This article really is a very interesting story behind the development. Even if you don't play, it's worth reading.
Thanks, there goes all my free time.
In world gen, it simulates geology and erosion, climate/biomes, growing civilizations, politics, war, trade, attacks by various "megabeast" creatures and their battles (in which injuries down to losing a tooth will be kept track of), migration and refuges as a result of war, (I believe) deforestation as a result of logging, and probably a lot more that I'm forgetting. That's just in world generation, before you're actually playing it.
Remember, what one person can program when they're truly dedicated is a pretty incredible feat.
I think there is a niche -- albeit probably a very small one -- for more super-hardcore strategy games in a variety of settings and genres. Folks like me would love to play a game like Civilization and have incredibly rich, complicated diplomacy and trade and other issues that simulate, as closely as possible, real-world geopolitical issues. (In some ways, for instance, I'd love to be able to fight a cold war with an AI opponent, rather than an actual war).
And I wonder if the level of dedication he has demonstrated requires Asperger's. He has all of the classic symptoms, down to the the involuntary rocking. I've worked hard, and I've sacrificed a lot of my time to my work. But I'm not willing to sacrifice as much of my time as he has. And it's quite likely his life's work will be both larger in total and have more impact than mine.
That all leads me to my question, which is if his level of dedication requires Asperger's. Before people bring up people like Einstein and Feynman, consider that they had personal lives. They pursued personal lives.
People always jump to Asperger's the moment they hear this was all put together by one guy. It is as if they refuse to believe a normal person can have willpower enough to accomplish so much. It is simple: take a single step every day towards a single goal for several years.
Listen to his podcasts. He is about as chill/normal/well-adjusted as people come.
I'm a big proponent of the idea that genius is more about raw effort over extended periods of time rather than innate intelligence. But perhaps some people are wired for that kind of dedication moreso than others.
The sex thing is a big problem.
In the past, great artists were able to find companionship and sex despite poverty and oddness. Why is it that hackers have such difficulty? If Richard Stallman's medium was anything other than computers he would have to fight off the women, but somehow hackers are girl-repellent despite being devoted artistic geniuses?
I don't think his devotion will last long or stay fresh unless he starts fulfilling sex and romance needs. Exposure like this NYT article should help, and also a rising income would help a lot. Then he still has to make time for women and he might find the intimacy too threatening.
Anyway for the sake of Dwarf Fortress and his art ambitions I hope he figures out a way to fulfill sex needs. Other than that I don't see anything unsustainable or obviously unhealthy about his lifestyle.
I'm certain that there were people before that were as scared of social interaction as the biggest hardcore nerds today, but they weren't working in a technical profession. Working with technical things 50 years ago required interacting with other humans much more than computers do, because the machinery in question was physical and more distributed.
She'd have to be Courney Love, and there aren't many of those. And shed have to somehow meet the nerd despite his reclusively.
The fear of girls is definitely what makes hacker geniuses more like monks than painters. I admire the crap out of great hackers but my sex needs come before my art.
my sex needs come before my art
I.e. he/she understands that you need your time to geek out on your stuff because he/she needs the same thing.
Seriously? Not everyone in the world is a sex addict. He's living his own life. He'll look for what he needs when he needs it.
Sex is one of the most basic biological needs, and romantic intimacy (which is a part of good sex) is crucial for happiness, especially for a deeply social species like humans.
While for most people sex is important, I think you need to take a step back and look at how different people's needs can be.
NB. There's of course a gradient between complete asexuality and total 24/7 horniness. People are different.
For example, in the early Civ games the optimal strategy was to just build up to chariot technology and then go 100% on the offensive.
Basically, it's just trial-and-error. But it makes for an interesting game, because you're never quite sure if everything will work as expected.
Please note that the Wiki helps make the game playable: http://df.magmawiki.com/
I don't know, I don't think we have the same attitude towards games. I already spend hours a week sitting in front of a computer doing really difficult stuff with screenfuls of ugly text for non-obvious rewards. It's called "work", and it pays me in real-world money and real-world glory. I don't have much desire to do the same sort of thing in my spare time.
Nope, give me a beautiful, overproduced and shallow game any day.
We should start a company or something...
1. The endgame is too easy and boring.
2. Elbereth and #pray make it too easy to get out of tough spots
3. Most classes end up playing similarly after the midgame (either wizard or melee typically)
4. Wands of wishing, magic markers, and polypiling are too powerful
5. The game is nearly unbeatable without spoilers
6. Sokoban is boring after you've played through it a few times
7. There's a bunch of cheap tactics like pudding farming
8. It's too generic and boring to put together an ascension kit. There are very few trade-offs you need to make in choosing what armor and weapons to use
9. The religion aspect is too simplistic
10. Combat gets tedious in the endgame. Most of the time you're just plowing through monsters. This results in tons of "battle spam" with you getting several messages like "You hit the minotaur!" every turn, forcing you to not read them and possibly miss important information
11. The game requires several patches to be playable (menucolors, sortloot, hpmon, etc.)
12. The default options are pretty bad
13. Traveling and exploring can be boring
Wow, that was a lot longer than I thought it would be. But I only write so much because I care :) I had a lot of fun beating nethack and and it's one of my favorite games of all time. I'm possibly prouder of beating nethack than of my MS degree :)
Speaking for myself, I've been playing nethack since the 80's. How many other games can you name that will keep an audience interested for 20 or 30 years?
I'd count that as a fantastic success in game design.
Despite that, I do agree that the game has its weaknesses and could stand to be improved quite a bit. One of its greatest weaknesses is its glacial pace of development. The last release was in 2003.
I think that there's a possibility that it's not as difficult, in relative terms, for people around my age who grew up with similar games, and fairly hard ones at that.
Also, here's a post comparing Dungeon Crawl and Nethack that I just remembered: http://nethack.wikia.com/wiki/Linleys_Dungeon_Crawl
And once you've read all those, most of the surprise is gone, since you'll know that kicking a sink has a 1/20 chance of producing a black pudding and so forth.
Then I found ADOM -- (www.adom.de), which is great fun, but turned into a "second system" problem with JADE (development slowed so he could rewrite entirely in Java...). Still, amazingly fun.
I never got into dwarf fortress or minecraft, but will check them out more after 25 August :)
I added January from the previous post, just to get the whole year in there.
If we could pause the world, would it be unethical to do so? It's not the same as destroying the world. I'm just responding to the implicit reference to pausing-ai-being-unethical. pause != destroy.
Just watch out for the Elephants. Or Carp. Or Badgers. Or the random, world-swallowing bugs.
This looks very cool, and there are versions for Linux/OSX/Win
Here's the wiki, which has some quickstart guides:
Because of the somewhat eccentric nature of the DF menus, this contains a number of utilities like Dwarf Therapist that are, IMO, indispensable for running a fortress of more than about twenty dwarves. It also has a custom tileset built in and an isometric visualization tool.
It's a pity that DF isn't open source either, as then its interface problems would have long since been fixed. But, as it is, its lead (and only) developer doesn't seem to care enough to fix it himself.
Just to be clear, I'm not wishing that DF had a point-and-click interface. I'm happy that DF is keyboard-controlled. It's just that this keyboard control could have been made a lot less painful with a tiny bit of consideration for consistency and efficiency.
As far as roguelikes go, nethack has a pretty nice interface (except for the stupid # commands), though even there there's some room for improvement. DF should have been modeled on that, or at least with some input from players on how the interface could have been improved.
At the absolute least, the author could have let the same actions on different screens of the game be activated with the same keystrokes, rather than requiring completely different keystrokes for some perverse and unfathomable reason.
Another quite workable solution would be to let the keystrokes be user-configurable. That would go a long way towards lessening the pain.
I don't get that. It's totally donation-supported. Is it a pride thing? A control thing? I have already tried it out if it were in apt.
If your only reason for not trying it is that it's not in apt, just go to the website and download it. It doesn't take any installation; just download it, extract the contents, and run the game.
Must... not... play...
In Nethack, you can parse the source code to figure out nearly any situation, that is, it's a closed, nearly solvable system. (See http://sporkhack.com/design_concept.html for some commentary on nethack being 'solved'.)
Dwarf Fortress, on the other hand, is totally emergent. Toady logs in and plays to check if his coding worked well, that is he goes looking for the situations he is referring to in his code and observes them.
I love them both, but I'm enjoying dwarf fortress more right now.
Programming is one of the most difficult branches of applied mathematics;
How Dwarf Fortress cured me of my Dwarf Fortress addiction once and for all - even though I've never played it:
On the other hand it's a must have if you have a nuclear shelter in your backyard.
Now assuming the game could be ported to iOS (wrapper/emulator or whatnot), 1 GHz would allow you to generate a small world, and maybe play for a year or two at a low FPS. (I used to play the older version on my 1.2 GHz AMD "netbook," so it's certainly possible.) But in fortress mode, when you've got a great many dwarfs doing pathfinding (say, 80+) and a whole bunch of other stuff being tracked by the game, the simulation can be extremely taxing on system resources. Ultimately, most forts die from what is called "FPS Death," when the simulation frames completed per second reaches an unplayable level.
Reminds me a little of the two lead characters of "Makers", the Cory Doctorow book. But this is real, and mildly depressing. You want guys like this to be successful, and to have the choice to live the spartan lifestyle if they choose, or one with a better choice of food, beverage, sleeping, etc. options.
Sad to read that relationships are not important though :-(
I agree that sometimes the reasons for staying out of the relationships business may be sad - or, more precisely, constitute sad stories. But assuming that someone can't achieve happiness in life without pursuing a relationship seems presumptuous, especially when faced with someone who clearly defines their objectives and needs differently.
The article presents (and this may be the reporters bias) the picture of someone with minimal social contact. Whilst I accept different people have a different level of need for social contact, this certainly feels more than a little unbalanced.
I realise whilst writing this reply that "sad" can be construed by some people in a derogatory sense. I didn't mean it in that way. I genuinely feel upset that, for whatever reasons, the lead developer feels that almost anything would be a distraction from his life's work, especially a partner and children. Intimate human relations - romantic or not - offer things no personal achievement can.
Well, let's start by saying that intimate human relations are achievements as well. Also, computer programming, climbing and drinking soft drinks offer things no intimate human relations can. It sounds like sarcasm, but it is, actually, true.
I was, too, upset at first. I just noticed my upset has no real reason. It was about someone choosing a radically different way of life than mine, based on their own needs — that are radically different from mine. He's not even telling "no intimate human relationships." It's more as if he's satisfied by the relatively small group of close humans — his relationship with his brother seems quite close.
To sum up: I don't think his choice is sad. It's actually our limited view of possible life choices what's sad.
Soooo.... One can play this game, or one can be in charge of a real country's economic policies. Same outcome. ;)