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Author Topic: Casual Gaming: Dwarf Fortress (was Virtual Villagers)  (Read 4274 times)
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Kobra
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« on: August 23, 2006, 07:57:18 PM »

This game just came out, and is free with our household "Shockwave Unlimited" subscription.  After a bit of messing with it, I think its a pretty addictive cross between GodGame/CityBuilder/Puzzle type of action.  Even after you "Quit" playing, the village continues to function/change/grow without you there, albiet less directed.

Its getting pretty good press..

http://www.virtualvillagers.com/index.html

Reviews (w/player comments)
http://www.gamezebo.com/2006/07/virtual_villagers_review.html

Best place to get it I think is Shockwave Unlimited, for $49 a year you get about 500 games, with new ones added each week.. Mostly casual gamer stuff though, so be forewarned, but if you enjoy casual gaming on the side (and I do), this is a great deal;  (especially considering virtual villagers is $20 alone) http://www.shockwave.com/unlimited.jsp
« Last Edit: August 24, 2006, 04:22:35 PM by Kobra » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: August 23, 2006, 08:11:20 PM »

In the same vein, if you can put up with ASCII graphics and no mouse control, (the game is in alpha, and the developers are going for mechanics before presentation), Dwarf Fortress is currently all the rage.  It's also one of the most ambitious, deep, and detailed games I've ever played -- and it's freeware.

The game aims to be a "fantasy world generator and simluator," and quite honestly, it does exactly that.  It takes a long time to generate a fantasy world using fractal calculations, finally settling on one which meets standards of usability, then it lets history run its course on the world for a thousand years or more.  Nations rise and fall, rivers appear, carve valleys into mountains, and dry up, legendary events occur and are remembered or forgotten, and so on.

At the end of this random generation, you have a giant fantasy world and two options:  you can play "Dwarf Fortress," which is a wide-open ended survival/citybuilding sim replete with some of the most detailed mechanics I've ever seen in any game ever. 

Just a short example -- a fisherdwarf catches a live turtle, which is obviously edible.  After fishing for awhile and not having any more luck, the fisherdwarf decides to take a break, get a drink, etc.  He picks up the turtle and enters the fortress my other dwarves are busy carving out of the side of a mountain.  He's heading to the larder anyway to grab a snack, so when he arrives, he drops off the turtle in the larder, picks up his snack of deer meat, and walks to the dining room to sit at a stone chair in front of a stone table, both crafted by my masondwarf from rock extracted from hollowing out the mountain. 

Meanwhile, my butcher/cook who moonlights as a wood chopper and material hauler notices a fresh turtle carcass has been deposited in the larder.  He picks it up and takes it to the fishery, working for a minute or so to extract the turtle meat and preserve it.  He returns this meat to the larder.  However, the turtle's shell and its bones are left over.  This is considered trash, and if trash is left around long enough, it will start to stink and make the dwarves unhappy (and if dwarves are unhappy for too long, they will descend into madness and do anything from going totally catatonic to going on a killing rampage to becoming full-fledged cannibals, if they get hungry enough...). 

Anyway, the butcher picks up the bones and shells and takes them to the trash heap outside.  Adjacent to this trash heap is a craftsman's shop, where another dwarf is working.  This dwarf is a bone carver, who collects animal bones and shells and makes works of art out of them.  He collects the fresh bones and shells and, with a little work, produces a pair of bracelets, which he moves onto the trading platform when he has a free minute.  Right before winter comes, a caravan will be stopping by with supplies for trade from the motherland, and the bonecrafter's work will hopefully buy the dwarves enough food and other supplies to survive the coming deep freeze...
« Last Edit: August 23, 2006, 08:27:42 PM by -Lord Ebonstone- » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: August 23, 2006, 09:26:45 PM »

I don't know if I want to play Dwarf Fortress.  Why don't you just continue to play it and then tell us about it.  Sounds amazing.  I can't imagine that much depth and detail in a game.

Thanks for the link.  I'm definately going to take a look at it.
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« Reply #3 on: August 23, 2006, 09:49:46 PM »

I took a look at Dwarf Fortress the other day, as I'm interested in playing, but the learning curve is very steep and I was intimidated.  Any suggestions?  Also, what is the Adventurer mode all about?

[Edited for clarification]
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« Reply #4 on: August 23, 2006, 09:53:08 PM »

Quote from: Clay on August 23, 2006, 09:49:46 PM

I took a look at it the other day, as I'm interested in playing, but the learning curve is very steep and I was intimidated.  Any suggestions?  Also, what is the Adventurer mode all about?
Adventurer mode is where you play a single RPG character in the generated world.  If you've made forts in Dwarf Fortress mode, you can even visit them -- or their ruins, as it may be...

Adventurer mode is not too fleshed out yet.  The development plan is:

1.) Dwarf Fortress mode implementation
2.) Adventurer mode implementation
3.) Fix bugs
4.) Graphics/Sound/Mouse controls
5.) Possibly Elf Fortress/Human Fortress or the equivalent for the other races in your fantasy world.

Also, if you go to the website and into the forums, I think, they provide links to long discussion threads on SomethingAwful and Penny Arcade.  Just a few posts into each of those threads is a starting tutorial which should really help.

It takes about an hour and a half to get the controls and interface down, and then actually playing it is the real challenge.

You get new settlers after your first year depending on how nice your place looks -- the caravan I wrote about carries word of your wealth, or lack thereof, to the rest of the dwarven world, and more dwarves will show up.  If you slaughter the caravan, no one hears about your fort, so you'll only ever see a couple wandering dwarves show up seeking shelter.  If you've got a road paved with silver in front of your fort, with the inside walls and floors carved with intricate artwork and you don't kill the caravan, you can get 20-30 more dwarves to show up (you start with 7, perhaps a nod to Snow White).  Of course, they show up with the caravan, which is right before winter, so suddenly you might have twice or three times the number of mouths to feed...

Anyway, as your population grows, the egalitarian commune of colonist life sort of fades out, and political systems begin to emerge.  Law and order comes into effect when things get cushy, with seemingly normal dwarves stealing other's posessions, kidnapping dwarven children for ransom, or even murdering fellow dwarves in their sleep.  Nobles move in and start making demands, from specifically prepared food to elaborate tombs for themselves when they die.  With enough people, you can have a full-time military to protect you from attacks which originate both from the outside world, (in the form of anything from racoons stealing your shiny artwork to full-blown sieges by enemy countries, or even by the undead, if your fort was founded in a haunted region...), and attacks which come from the deeper, sinister heart of the mountain.

It's awe-inspiring, and apparently people haven't even seen everything that exists or that can happen in the current release yet.
« Last Edit: August 23, 2006, 10:04:45 PM by -Lord Ebonstone- » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: August 23, 2006, 09:55:14 PM »

http://dwarffortresswiki.net is your friend. Includes "getting started" pages.
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« Reply #6 on: August 23, 2006, 10:05:20 PM »

Kobra i thought about picking up the Villager game for my Palm the other day.  from what i am reading it's highly addictive and really fun.

gimme more impressions!
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« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2006, 01:12:15 AM »

I'm going to have to back up LE here with talk of Dwarf Fortress.  We should start another thread so as to not completely hijack this one, but in my opinion, Dwarf Fortress is probably the most exciting thing happening in gaming right now.  The depth and potential are truly amazing.
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Kobra
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« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2006, 02:04:53 AM »

Dang guys, start a Dwarf Fortress thread! 
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« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2006, 02:21:47 AM »

Well, seeing as it sounds like Dwarf Fortress is about the virtual simulation of a dwarven fortress including villagers living in it. I'd say the thread title is bang on. slywink

(that and every post except the first one has been about Dwarf Fortress.)
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« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2006, 11:57:46 AM »

Quote from: Clay on August 24, 2006, 01:12:15 AM

I'm going to have to back up LE here with talk of Dwarf Fortress.  We should start another thread so as to not completely hijack this one, but in my opinion, Dwarf Fortress is probably the most exciting thing happening in gaming right now.  The depth and potential are truly amazing.

I'm sorry but I just can't get past those graphics - if this had been released 20 years ago it would have struggled to be cutting edge then.

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« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2006, 12:00:19 PM »

Quote from: Xmann on August 23, 2006, 10:05:20 PM

Kobra i thought about picking up the Villager game for my Palm the other day.  from what i am reading it's highly addictive and really fun.

gimme more impressions!

The palm version has a good enough demo that will give you enough impressions on it. Its ok but I found it nothing to rave about so it's just remained as a demo. I can't imagine wanting to play it on the PC.

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« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2006, 03:58:18 PM »

Quote from: Tals on August 24, 2006, 11:57:46 AM

I'm sorry but I just can't get past those graphics - if this had been released 20 years ago it would have struggled to be cutting edge then.
Philistine.

Just kidding.  Sort of.  Remember the game's in alpha, and graphics are probably a late beta priority.
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« Reply #13 on: August 24, 2006, 04:03:39 PM »

Quote from: Tals on August 24, 2006, 11:57:46 AM

Quote from: Clay on August 24, 2006, 01:12:15 AM

I'm going to have to back up LE here with talk of Dwarf Fortress.  We should start another thread so as to not completely hijack this one, but in my opinion, Dwarf Fortress is probably the most exciting thing happening in gaming right now.  The depth and potential are truly amazing.

I'm sorry but I just can't get past those graphics - if this had been released 20 years ago it would have struggled to be cutting edge then.

Tals

I agree especially when half the forum threads are "What is a blue J again?" type of questions.. You KNOW the graphics gotta suck when they require a keytable.. 

But I feel like I am missing out on something amazing if I don't give it more than a passing look.
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« Reply #14 on: August 24, 2006, 04:15:39 PM »

Once you get used to the graphics, it's pretty easy to figure out what's going on.  While I don't know what they ever have in mind for graphics, the buzz about this game is probably big enough right now to be drawing some interest from larger devs and publishers. 
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« Reply #15 on: August 24, 2006, 04:18:30 PM »

Quote from: Kobra on August 24, 2006, 04:03:39 PM

I agree especially when half the forum threads are "What is a blue J again?" type of questions.. You KNOW the graphics gotta suck when they require a keytable.
What?  I looked at the forum last night and the vast majority of questions have to do with game mechanics.

Seriously, if you actually play the game instead of just giving up when you see the ASCII, you stop seeing ASCII and start seeing game elements.  Which is the point of graphics, after all -- symbolic representations of game elements.

You can always hit K at any time and move the cursor over a symbol to see what it means.  And you can do this while the game is paused.  Don't get me wrong, it requires actual effort, which is a dying requirement in PC games.

Quote from: Clay on August 24, 2006, 04:15:39 PM

Once you get used to the graphics, it's pretty easy to figure out what's going on.  While I don't know what they ever have in mind for graphics, the buzz about this game is probably big enough right now to be drawing some interest from larger devs and publishers. 
From how it's programmed, the graphics will likely be tiles in the future.  The ASCII is actually rendered in OpenGL -- he's using ASCII texture maps and then applying a color filter to that one texture map to further differentiate similar symbols (ie, a yellow 'd' is a live deer, a dark red 'd' is a dead deer).
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« Reply #16 on: August 24, 2006, 04:22:05 PM »

Well if I did learn to like it, it would sure save a lot for hardware upgrades, eh?

To be honest, I always favor gameplay over graphics...
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« Reply #17 on: August 24, 2006, 05:20:40 PM »

Want to hear how lucky I was last night?  I decided to create a new world -- only 1 failure before it generated.  Woo!  Must be a record.
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« Reply #18 on: August 24, 2006, 09:25:06 PM »

Heck, I might just have to start whipping up some barebones 8-bit (NES-style, yo!) graphics tiles if I get into this and see if the dev(s) dig it.  slywink  Or see if I can figure out how to get them in the renderer myself.
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« Reply #19 on: August 24, 2006, 10:02:25 PM »

I have a GC Game with like all of the old Zeldas on one CD.. I was thinking the graphics were too old to play, but after reading this thread, I am inspired to load it up soon enough and enjoy them.  They sure aren't Ascii, but they are serious old school 8-bit.
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« Reply #20 on: August 24, 2006, 11:44:55 PM »

Quote from: Kobra on August 24, 2006, 10:02:25 PM

I have a GC Game with like all of the old Zeldas on one CD.. I was thinking the graphics were too old to play, but after reading this thread, I am inspired to load it up soon enough and enjoy them.  They sure aren't Ascii, but they are serious old school 8-bit.

I honestly find 8-bit titles more appealing than much of the PS1/N64 titles, and some of the PS2 stuff.  Bad 3D only looks worse while good 2D is timeless.

Not that I am complaining about the lovely facelift given to Mega Man in the PSP version of Mega Man: Powered Up, but I still think the orginal game included in the Mega Man Collection looks fine.  They both play great, even if I don't!
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« Reply #21 on: August 25, 2006, 01:09:14 AM »

Well, I would take that a step further and say that if the graphic are crap, they might as well not be there at all.  Some of my best gaming memories are from playing MUDs and text-based adventure games.  My imagination painted the scenes for me.  It does the same in Dwarf Fortress, too.  I'll admit, though - it took an hour or so to start forgetting about the fact that what I was seeing was ASCII characters and start realizing the depth and strategy behind the game.

Are the graphics bad?  No -- there quite simply aren't any graphics... just representative ASCII characters.  The game is sweet, though.
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« Reply #22 on: August 25, 2006, 02:21:10 AM »

BBS door games FTW.

Legend of the Red Dragon!
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« Reply #23 on: August 25, 2006, 03:29:04 AM »

Quote from: stiffler on August 25, 2006, 02:21:10 AM

BBS door games FTW.

Legend of the Red Dragon!

Okay you young whippersnapper, I'm gonna take my old man's cane and smack you across the head!

(in other words, yes, I'm such an old man I remember playing that back in the day)
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« Reply #24 on: September 08, 2006, 05:28:59 AM »

Bill at Dubious Quality is going to do a run through from start to finish of the game, posting his impressions after each 1 to 2 hours of play. If like me it's not grabbed you yet this may take you over the edge smile

http://dubiousquality.blogspot.com/

Tals
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« Reply #25 on: September 08, 2006, 02:13:12 PM »

Good stuff here.  If you have a PC, it's worth downloading and checking out.  Bill's writeups are great, too!  biggrin
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« Reply #26 on: September 08, 2006, 03:09:32 PM »

I tried but I just couldn't do it.  I'm sorry but anybody who says that a game that uses ASCII is going to garner GOTY awards is absolutely CRAZY!! It could be an amazing game but who cares if it's completely inaccessible to most people?  Games for me need to do two things: they need to have the mouse incorporated somehow and they need to have graphics that at least look somewhat like what it's supposed to be.  I mean I'm not asking for much, maybe For Liberty style graphics.  I know that some of you guys can do the whole Matrix thing but I unfortunately will never mistake a "period" for a tree or a plant.
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« Reply #27 on: September 08, 2006, 03:51:53 PM »

Quote from: Canuck on September 08, 2006, 03:09:32 PM

I tried but I just couldn't do it.  I'm sorry but anybody who says that a game that uses ASCII is going to garner GOTY awards is absolutely CRAZY!! It could be an amazing game but who cares if it's completely inaccessible to most people?  Games for me need to do two things: they need to have the mouse incorporated somehow and they need to have graphics that at least look somewhat like what it's supposed to be.  I mean I'm not asking for much, maybe For Liberty style graphics.  I know that some of you guys can do the whole Matrix thing but I unfortunately will never mistake a "period" for a tree or a plant.
You will if you do more than play for two minutes and cry when you see ASCII.

Man up.
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« Reply #28 on: September 08, 2006, 04:49:23 PM »

The first post in this thread has a great, detailed walkthrough to gently introduce you to the game.  I had a lot of trouble getting started and understanding the interface, but that walkthrough got me going.
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« Reply #29 on: September 08, 2006, 05:03:09 PM »

Quote from: -Lord Ebonstone- on September 08, 2006, 03:51:53 PM

You will if you do more than play for two minutes and cry when you see ASCII.

Man up.

I keep reading about this game so I downloaded it to my work laptop.

40 minutes after I launched the game  it was still trying to generate a world.

The extra cool part is there's no way to stop it and task manager couldn't even kill it.  I wound up having to unplug and pull the battery from my laptop to kill  the damn thing.

F that noise.

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« Reply #30 on: September 08, 2006, 06:15:44 PM »

I've been trying to get into DF as well, but the ASCII is just a giant hurdle.  Hell, I've been gaming for 20 years and ASCII graphics pre-date that.  I'm going to try and follow Bill's walk-through, but my excitement dies every time I load up the game and contemplate the graphics plus the less than ideal keyboard only interface.
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« Reply #31 on: September 08, 2006, 06:26:03 PM »

Quote from: Exodor on September 08, 2006, 05:03:09 PM

Quote from: -Lord Ebonstone- on September 08, 2006, 03:51:53 PM

You will if you do more than play for two minutes and cry when you see ASCII.

Man up.

I keep reading about this game so I downloaded it to my work laptop.

40 minutes after I launched the game  it was still trying to generate a world.

The extra cool part is there's no way to stop it and task manager couldn't even kill it.  I wound up having to unplug and pull the battery from my laptop to kill  the damn thing.

F that noise.


roflcopter!

Yeah, sometimes you get unlucky with world generation.  Luckily you only have to do it once every 100+ games.

You can always download a pre-generated world from the homepage if you don't want to have your computer generate one of your own (and yes, generation takes forever, even my might Facemelter took about 30 minutes to settle on, generate, and save a world).
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« Reply #32 on: September 08, 2006, 06:53:58 PM »

I quit world generation after 20 minutes, but just hit the "X" at the window corner to close it.  No need to pull out hardware.. If you are in fullscreen, switch to windowed, they explain twice how to do this.  F-11.

I will revisit it when I got time to sit and watch the world generate, too busy coughing.  thumbsdown
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« Reply #33 on: September 08, 2006, 11:51:22 PM »

It wouldnt close on me when when I hit the "X".  I had to use the task manager. I don't see how anyone can criticize the PSP for long start up times when this game takes 8 times as long!
Anyways have fun! I really regret that I can't play this game as it is obviously very cool!  Maybe they'll be able to update it a little as soon as the 1970's get here!
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« Reply #34 on: September 09, 2006, 09:26:53 AM »

I finally got up and running using Bill's walkthrough plus another one linked on another board.  I'm sure I'm making mistakes and the keyboard only interface does have issues (I had to restart a couple of times after accidently hitting "e" for embark or start the game when I was trying to load up on supplies).  Anyway, after a couple of hours the interface is starting to make sense and the graphics are less confusing.  Still, I was happy to hear that the developer plans to upgrade the graphics later to something more common in the last decade or so.

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« Reply #35 on: September 09, 2006, 03:21:00 PM »

My biggest problem with it is that it is not laptop friendly and all I have are laptops.  A lot of the commands are mapped to the keypad, but there are others mapped to the keys (j,k,l, etc...) that are 'on top' of the keypad on a laptop, so there is a lot of switching.
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« Reply #36 on: September 09, 2006, 04:20:55 PM »

How in Sam Hell do you build a wooden bucket? I've chopped down so many trees, but my carpenter still cancels bucket building due to "needs wooden logs."
What do I need to do?
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« Reply #37 on: September 10, 2006, 10:33:28 PM »

You're doing it right, but..

I think the logs need to be in the wood stockpile for the carpenter to be able to pick them up.

Make a wood stockpile and see if that works.

It should be 'p' (pile), 'w' (wood) -- then map out the area you want to use.

And you'll need someone set to 'haul wood'
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« Reply #38 on: September 11, 2006, 02:15:34 AM »

I have the stockpile with wood in it, but I bet nobody is set to haul it. Thanks for the advice!
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« Reply #39 on: September 12, 2006, 02:52:34 PM »

In case anyone is interested here's the last fort I designed.

I tried a bunch of experimental stuff with it, some of it worked and some of it didn't which is my I started over, but I think I came up with some good plans.

The internal refuse pile and internal graveyard didn't end up being very helpful, but I think my defenses were quite good.

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And when he had failed to find these boons in things whose laws are known and measurable, they told him he lacked imagination, and was immature because he preferred dream-illusions to the illusions of our physical creation
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