Dwarf Fortress Talk #17, with Rainseeker, Capntastic and Toady One, transcribed by mallocks

Dwarf Fortress play styles
    Dwarf Fortress's gamey origins
    How Toady plays
    In-game languages
    Melancholy art
    Party member autonomy

Rainseeker:Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Dwarf Fortress Talk! The talk ... show ... where we show about talk ...
Toady:That's right.
Capntastic:It's true!
Rainseeker:Where we take fortresses and we take dwarves and we put them together ...
Capntastic:We shake em ...
Rainseeker:... and then out comes this amazing game called Dwarf Fortress.
Toady:That's right. It's episode seventeen.
Rainseeker:Holy cow!
Capntastic:What season are we on?
Toady:Well ... did we start in 2007, or 2008?
Toady:Wow 2009, so that was only ... August 6th 2009, so that means I guess we're in the middle of the third season.
Capntastic:This is where everything changes.
Rainseeker:No no no. This is the fall season, where the new episodes begin so this is our season premiere!
Toady:Oh, well I guess we have to hook new listeners.
Rainseeker:That's right! Hey! This is Rainseeker, and next to me ... in a city far far away, but he's still next to me is Capntastic ...
Rainseeker:... and he's fantastic. And then we have our illustrious leader, Tarn Adams, also known as Toady One ...
Toady:That's right, your long lost brother joining you for the third season, because the last guy had a little bit of a problem and he had to be let go.
Rainseeker:Right. Yeah, he died.
Capntastic:Yeah, he got pushed off a bridge or something. Someone told me that's what happened.
Rainseeker:... and then he came to town in a bus with no memory, and so, here he is:
Toady:Hey. What were we talking about?

Rainseeker:Well let me refresh your memory. We are talking today about a topic that is near and dear to Capntastic's heart, which is styles of approaching Dwarf Fortress. You want to talk about that Capn?
Capntastic:I can talk about it for a bit.
Capntastic:Basically in my time around the Dwarf Fortress community, seeing people play, reading threads and all that, I've noticed that there are basically three types of people that play the game, or rather three core things that people want to get out of the game. The first and foremost is basically people want the game to be a game where they can actually have goals and achieve them, maybe not necessarily explicit goals, but have a general idea of how to progress within the game, have challenges spring up so it's not always a cakewalk and not always a death-grinding skeleton coming and tearing your skin off; that's fun in its own way, but people want ways to work around that and interact with it in fun ways. There are also people who want the game to be an accurate simulation of fantasy fun stuff, you know: trudging through mud and getting stuck, having to lose your boot and then your boot fills up with mud, and then you've got to pour the mud out of the boot; and, you know, moss growing; and places freezing over when it gets cold; crops growing; peasants being peasants, you know, just kind of ...
Rainseeker:Being repressed.
Capntastic:Being repressed, yeah. But that stuff actually happens in some ways, that stuff makes sense, you can get into the groove of all that sort of fun things happening; they want to the game to be - when they're playing fortress mode - they want options, they want to be able to interact with things, they want surprising things to spring up and then they have to work around them, kind of like Civilization or Sim Earth where lava erupts from a volcano and then all this magma's coming around and they've got to deal with that in its own way. Then the third type of classification that I've basically made up - like all of these, please don't take them as science - are the people that want the game to be more about constructing things, more of a Real Time Strategy kind of setup where they build bases and they have elaborate towers and basically stunting where they make the cool computers in the game, and all these elaborate giant dwarves that vomit lava all over the place. You know, just all that really interesting stuff ... Mods that turn Dwarf Fortress into Warhammer 40'000 ... Kind of, tinkering with the game, rather than tinkering within the game; I think a lot of those people want the game to recognize, 'Oh, well they made a tower, this is how much dwarf fame it's going to bring in.' Basically, to them the game is more of a construction kit, like Lego ...
Rainseeker:Dwarven Legos.
Capntastic:Yeah! So those are basically the three categories, gamists, simulationists and constructionists. I think most people will fall basically in one of those. There's obviously going to be some overlap, but basically I haven't really seen anyone who really wants something that falls outside of those, other than people who are kind of in it for the long haul and just like the concept of the game itself, but maybe don't really play it too often. They say 'Oh, this Dwarf Fortress game, it's crazy; in the future it's going to have everything' and that's kind of true, so that appeals to all three.

Toady:Well actually ... Now that we've had a thread up on the forum where people have been talking about this for a week - I think we put that up around October 8th or something - so what have we found, in terms of what people ... you know, how they fit into these categories and what themes have emerged. A theme that I noticed coming up repeatedly was that there's this narrativist group, as they call themselves, of people that are into the game for its storytelling ability, which is kind of a subset of simulationism, but it really feeds into all three types of games ... it's not strictly a watching the simulation, but wanting to be a part of it, and wanting the things you do to matter and also wanting there to be a thread that kind of jumps up on its own that you can grab on to and continue. So that was definitely a large theme that I noticed cropping up in there.
Capntastic:Yeah, I feel that with a lot of people ... There's a handful of really famous stories within the community, that people enjoy and retell and show off to other people, and I feel that that definitely has a very strong pull ...
Toady:Yeah, I think there's even a subgroup of people that I guess would put themselves in the observer class of people, that even if the game has a lot of goals that aren't finished yet, they don't even want to play after they're done, they just want to watch other people play and like to hear the stories that come out of it that people tell.
Rainseeker:It's true, why don't we mention a couple of those more famous stories that you guys can remember. I know that there's Boatmurdered, and ...
Capntastic:Tholtig Cryptbrain.
Toady:People mention Cacame all the time, although I don't remember the details of a lot of these names that I hear. Even the name Urist came from a story, right? Is that the one where the person was locked, or kind of trapped underground by themselves for a while? It could be, it all flows together at some point. There's plenty of them and we have a whole forum section now, and if I remember there's a sticky where people still vote for which stories belong in The Hall of Legends.
Rainseeker:We should put a link to that.
Toady:Yeah, yeah. We've got Boatmurdered, SparkGear, Headshoots, Syrupleaf, Battlefailed, Gemclod and then there's a bunch of active ones as well. Then there's adventure mode threads and ... there's all kinds of ...
Capntastic:Stories and adventures.
Toady:... Oilfurnace. There's ones that came up online, things like Bronzemurder. Yeah, so there's a ton of famous one - famous within the community, anyway - and then there's also ... just each time you play the game, which is what I think a lot of them were getting at, is not necessarily a story that they want to share, have glorified in this larger fashion, but just a story that they can be a part of. Something that makes the simulation have more meaning than it would if you didn't try ... I mean, it's just natural for people to attach a narrative to things, I think. The gamist people ... a big theme there was the idea of a challenge and a natural progression, I think, and the ability to set goals that comes from having a natural progression. You can kind of move through the challenges and it's not necessarily about achieving a greater state or having progress in that way, but that's part of it. As far as pure constructionists go, I don't remember if ... I mean there were some people that liked to have giant elaborate fortresses ...
Capntastic:I just know that there's people who, they'll be digging out a fort and it's like 'Oh, there's a mineral vein here, argh!' You know, they've got to use tools to get rid of it because they don't want to dig it out, to them it's all very aesthetically pleasing.
Toady:Yeah, that was another thread that came up. It was DG who said, you know, he was almost obsessive compulsive perfectionist ... even if you're not a constructionist there's still a group of people that need their fort ... the people that would abandon a fort at the drop of a hat if they dug something wrong, and keep a hundred saves that they can go back to so things will evolve exactly as they want them to. That, in a sense, says that the simulation is less important than the act of constructing, even if you're really interested in the simulation sometimes you can't escape from your own needs in terms of your perfectionism. So, yeah, that's definitely another thread that came up. There's the whole idea as well of 'is Dwarf Fortress even a game?' or would you consider it more of a toy, because it doesn't really give you a goal necessarily, and the thread that developed there ... you know, it has implied goals, and perhaps that's enough to make it more of a game than a toy, but a simulationist person wouldn't even necessarily care, and a constructionist person really doesn't care either; it's just something that you can play with. The whole game/toy distinction becomes very blurry, I think; if you have to go by strict definitions then it probably depends on the definition whether or not you'd consider it even a game at all. It doesn't bother me if it's not, right, I don't have anything invested in the term, but it's certainly an interesting thing, that you can play the game and come up with your own goals for it, but that does bother some people, they'd like to have more structure. Someone mentioned the colonization ... it was hermes I think, who brought up the Colonization endgame, how it's like Civilization or whatever. But in Civilization your goal is just to win in one of a number of ways, whereas Colonization is leading towards a very climactic endgame where you have to break free from Europe, and there's a giant fight at the end. So that kind of thing is something that Dwarf Fortress doesn't really have, but it would be the kind of thing that Dwarf Fortress would have if it did something, for instance, like simulating an apocalypse.

Rainseeker:Yeah, that actually is interesting, to have the concept of, maybe, scenarios where that is stated, like, you know, 'In ten years, the end of the world is coming, prepare yourself.'
Capntastic:That'd be fun.
Toady:Yeah. We're definitely thinking, when we said ... there was this old Armok system where, I think it was the atmosphere, plot ... what was the other word, there were three words right? There was the atmosphere and the plot and the something else ... a genre. The genre, atmosphere, plot system of Armok I, which of course ... we didn't get anywhere with that game, but the genre, atmosphere, plot system ... the idea was you'd pick your overall genre that your game is in, if you want to do horror/fantasy or if you want to have My Little Mermaid or something like that, and then you'd have the overall plot: is it an apocalyptic My Little Mermaid game which means that someone's going to come and steal all your toys at the end of the world, or is it a cyclic game, or is it a game where everything kind of fades into mundanity or whatever. Then there's the atmosphere which is kind of everything else, the little things about the game and little tweaks that you can do to it. So, even if we're not using that same system, we have those world generation parameters right, in Dwarf Fortress, where you can set up various facts about the world and that would be where this apocalypse thing fits in, you could give an overall arc to your world each time.

Toady:That's one way to think about it, and then there is the specific scenarios way of thinking about it as well. I haven't thought about that so much, the only scenarios we've talked about before are these start scenarios for a specific fort, or start scenarios for a specific adventurer, where it's like 'You are a group of pilgrim dwarves that are here to visit this shrine and set up a little community around it' or something. That would be a scenario and that kind of thing, I think even for simulationist people, that's a plus, it's not just a gamist thing, right? Saying that your dwarves had a reason for embarking is a very realistic thing to ask, it's like 'What are you doing?' and even if that does proscribe some actions and encourage others, that's good, right? That's not bad necessarily. Of course you don't want to trammel people or anything , but I think that helps everybody and that's certainly something, like I said, we considered, with dwarf mode start scenarios and getting that fleshed out. It also helps you kind of see the roles of each of your dwarves when you're starting out; why they came and all that kind of thing. I think that's all cool for everybody. Even the people that just like to build giant structures ... a theme that was there was that 'I want my structure, a, to be recognized and b - I guess it's kind of the same thing - to sort of come alive and be part of the world'. If there's a scenario geared towards certain large constructions, like building a temple or something, then you would have ... that recognition would be part of the scenario. So that kind of thing can work; of course the ideal thing would be to even go beyond that and have it somehow recognize what you're doing beyond specifically stating it ahead of time, which is of course a huge, difficult problem, the more you want it to do. I mean, you can do certain things like just drag a rectangle and say 'This is my temple!' and the game's like 'All right!' even if it's just a hill or something. I guess it could detect how much work you've done, it's like how much recognition you deserve for that. There are things you can do, but that's ...
Ollieh:(interlude music)

Capntastic:So Dwarf Fortress kind of started out very gamey, didn't it?
Toady:Yeah, it was a remarkably gamey idea that we started from. Like we've said before it was just going to be, you dig out your fortress, you make certain crafts and things, then you die because it's really a hard game and things ramp up as you dig deeper; they just ramp up as you'd expect playing a computer game where you can dig down or whatever, you'd get completely wasted by some kind of deep-dwelling creature that you unburied. Then you'd come in with the adventurer and it would populate your fortress with some extra little objects that you didn't make like diaries and things, and you'd also go down there and find all the objects you did make, and the more stuff that you brought out that builds the legend and story of the fortress ... it would just kind of give you the story as you found the different journals and things, and you'd also get the points from getting out each of the artifacts, and after a series of adventurers that die you get your total score for your fortress, and that would be ... whatever simulation and construction aspects would have existed, had we taken that road, that would have been a game, there would have been a clear goal, even been a score list. That was the idea for the small project that was supposed to take a couple of months for Dwarf Fortress.

So we definitely had that kind of thing in mind at first, and at the same time we were working on what you might call the simulationist nightmare of Armok I, where we were just really taking a bottom-up approach with our fantasy game, and once those got merged there were aspects of the Dwarf Fortress game that remained; not just the fact that there was an adventure mode and a legends mode, but that your fortress was supposed to dig down, die; there was a progression from river and then the big open chasm and then the magma and then the demons after that, and there was a stronger - not just because of the bugs, but just in general - a stronger feeling of progression with your population and your nobility and stuff. That kind of thing was viewed by us as kind of a bit too strict for the simulation we wanted to have running, but at the same time it provided a structure that a lot of people liked and still point back to as a high point of the game being more balanced and challenging, even if it was less featureful and more buggy ... well, I mean, the more buggy part, there were bad bugs back then that people might not remember. We've got more bugs now, because it's a larger game, but there were real game killers back then, in terms of infinite flooding and that kind of thing, that were really bad.

So that is where the game structure's gone, to the point that Dwarf Fortress now is more purely a simulation with fewer clear challenges and less progression, but as things go on ... there are some people that pointed out here that they play it as a simulation now but are looking forward to the gaming aspect of it. I think that was hermes again but freeformschooler and Karlito also seconded this and expanded on this idea in the forum thread that we've been mentioning, that they like the simulation but they're really looking forward to adding the political stuff, and the warfare/religion/caravan stuff that we've kind of started, that it'll still be really faithful ... and this is kind of our overall goal as well, is that you'd have these new systems that are still really faithful to the idea that you've got a simulation that tries to be as realistic as possible within the confines of still being a game, but at the same time if you're setting goals for yourself you're going to have a much easier time doing that, looking at this, and you're also going to have a situation around your fortress that is sometimes going to force certain things to be looked at, like your defenses and that kind of thing. More so than now, because there'll be a specific situation you're interacting with, but it will kind of ramp up, because your fortress in general is a place where the population is increasing.

So, if you add things like hill dwarves, it's not just going to be population increases from like seven dwarves to twenty dwarves to forty dwarves, where you still ultimately aren't a player in the world, to where you'd actually be developing hill dwarf populations up into the thousands and that would make you, within the population of the world - which has cities that don't get bigger than eight thousand or so right now - you would be able to draw a military that could have an impact on the world and you could change your goal to, like, 'I want to destroy the goblin civilization finally'. I'm not sure if the difficulty increases necessarily, but the scope of the challenges increases as you get a larger population, and that would become probably the main measure of the challenges. That seems like a gamey thing, but it's also kind of a natural result of the simulation; it is a little strange that your seven dwarves automatically attract so much attention, you know, why do they become the capital almost inevitably if you're working hard, when everyone else should be working hard too and there's a preexisting capital, right, so why does it get replaced? That's one of the big concessions to gaminess that exists in the current version, even, and it's always going to be like that, where the simulation doesn't actually control what's going on, you do have to think about it as a game, ultimately, because people have to play it. I think that the point that those guys brought up is an important one, that we are going to have a lot of the game progression mechanics things, but it should all flow naturally through the simulation, to the point where it doesn't really disturb it at all, for people who are just playing to see a story or to build something. I think that might be the last point I wanted to bring up.

Rainseeker:Great! Well I think that ... Capn, do you have anything else you want to add on this?
Capntastic:Depending on how far we wanted to go on this, I was thinking we could ask Toady how he plays, people probably want to hear that.
Toady:Yeah, well, when I get the chance, you mean; I mostly play the debug.
Capntastic:The hidden fourth option.
Toady:Yeah, the debugging option is great fun. But yeah, when I get a chance, which has not been for a while, I think ... It's kind of strange, when we say we wrote games we wanted to be able to play ourselves it is centered around the idea of emergent phenomenon that you'll be confronted with that you couldn't anticipate, even having written the game. So it's kind of fun to play through it like that, I just watch out for those things when I'm playing. It's hard to really get into a narrative mode with it; it happens sometimes but I often end up being distracted by problems or having to take notes or whatever, so it's very hard to say what my pure playing style is because I'm always distracted by things, by notetaking that I have to do. That is kind of the play style I'm stuck with; as a debugger, I guess, there's no hope for me.

I'd say if I had to pick in your three categories, if I really wanted to nail it down, then I'm not really a constructionist; I'm an observer of constructions, I really like seeing what people do, seeing the computers and giant towers and giant weapons that people devise, that's always really entertaining, so I definitely like that side of it but it's not something I do myself, I wouldn't build a giant tower, just going through with the process of making that construction is not something I'd do. I like watching the dwarves run around and do their thing, and stuff, but I don't specifically get into developing a really intricate story for them, or think in advance that my fortress ... I mean, I do about as much as my brother, and basically Zach will say 'We're going to make stone toys and this is going to be a Santa Claus fortress where we just make little toys and ship them off and try to sell as many little toys as possible.' So you set little goals like that for yourself, and I find myself setting little different goals like that as I go, just kind of moving from one to one, but without an overarching narrative so much in my mind as to what the fortress is actually doing. I'm not too interested in having nobles arrive in that kind of progressing through the game type of thing, so ... just kind of playing it and checking it out; maybe that all comes back to debugging in the end , I don't know. It's kind of a mess around type of thing, I think it might change ... it's like the people were saying, that they wanted things like the army arc and stuff; I think my play style would probably change if we got to that point.
Ollieh:(musical interlude)

Capntastic:EggFibre asks, 'How did you create the languages for all the civilizations? Did you base them off of something in real life or did they all come from your imagination? Also, how long did the process take?'
Toady:We created all the languages. They were not based on anything in real life and the main reason for that is because we haven't added grammar yet. What we did is we had the list the words, which took a while to just type in all the words - the English versions of the words - and then we had a generator that just had certain rules about how consonants could be combine and what frequencies there were for the vowels, and that kind of thing. It had to generate a list of words and then we went through by hand and picked out words that were either existing words - especially words that are profanity, because it would generate plenty of those - and words that just sounded wrong; when you look at the word for candy or something and when you end up with some really harsh sounding word, and then you just roll the generator on that again until it gets something that matches. That's really all it was. With goblins we let more things go through regardless of their tone because we wanted the language to sound more alien, but it was pretty much just that. When we get to things like grammar it's going to be harder to completely ... we'll just put in different processes there, but I don't think it's going to be randomly generated because you either have a rule or you don't, or you have variants of a rule or whatever, but there's only four or five stock languages, so we're probably just going to pick and choose which rules we think are appropriate and place them in.

Then there's the larger question or what about a randomly generated language. The computer can spit one of those out really fast with random grammar and random words and all that, but then you will have the problem where some of the words are really not something you want to have. We haven't tried that yet, and it might not be that bad of a problem in retrospect so it could be that we do the random generation and then what we'd do it just ... depending on how we store our sentence trees, when we get to that kind of thing, because computers are good at that sort of thing, so you can just throw it in ... It's obviously going to be simplified from the giant thousands of pages of, you know, even entry-level textbooks you can get on this kind of thing, it's progressively more complicated theory that they've got floating around now, but we throw some simple stuff in there and I imagine it'll all work really nicely. The only thing I'm not sure about is when you get a lot of words that are recognizable or so on, if that breaks it too badly. I mean it would be interesting to have a conlang generator and just see how it turns out.

Capntastic:'Will there ever be materials able to explode or combust? Will coal or grain dust ever be a hazard, or alcohol burning, or do you not think players should be able to engineer explosions?'
Toady:I like explosions! I mean I don't like modern explosions, but there are plenty of reasons for things to blow up that are not modern and I think all of that is something that should be considered for the game. I mean, it's a matter of, you know, going through and making it work, and you have to be respectful of the game there, and that, I'm not sure ... There's a lot of things, like working all these forges underground, which should be all smoky and nasty, it seems, and all this coal burning, all these refining processes going on underground; it seems like there should be a lot of gaseous simulations going on that aren't going on, and I'm not sure how to do the display for that kind of thing, and how to make it work without ... I mean, right now the miasma system is annoying enough, right? It's like the obscuring purple cloud that makes no sense. So if it comes to it, if we have legitimate reasons to blow things up then I'm definitely for that. As far as combustion ... I mean we've got the, well I don't even remember ... between flash points and ignition points and self ignition and all that kind of thing, we've got just one, and it probably doesn't even work how it's supposed to in real life. If the question is do I think these things should be able to happen then absolutely, whether or not we'll be able to pull it off or whatever is a different matter, but I'm certainly open to all the things that people suggest there that fit within the time frame and that kind of stuff.

Capntastic:Anatoly asks, 'Will there ever be anything positive from dwarves having negative happiness besides fun? Example: an artistic dwarf is very sad and makes a long poem about something. He then sings it at parties and the dwarves listening get more positive/less angry, or something. Example 2: a philosopher gets melancholy and finds some time to invent some new stuff.' So basically artifacts, artistic creations that channel their negative emotions into a positive outcome, is that sort of thing going in?
Toady:Yeah. What I've just added with all the writing and stuff is that the personality can give a tone to the work, but there's no reason to think that a happy dwarf wouldn't be able to also produce something that your dwarves would like; there's something to be said for the variety, but there wasn't anything I saw there that came specifically from the negative emotion that couldn't also have the same game play effect from the happy emotion, right? I mean an inventor can just be energetic and running around inventing things, or an artist can be various emotions and still produce things that they'd sing at parties and so on. As to whether there's specific exclusive mechanics that come out of the negative happiness that are related to these artistic invention things then probably not, in terms of a mechanical way, but in terms of variety and atmosphere then certainly, yeah. There'd be things that would only happen when dwarves are feeling unhappy and this kind of goes back to ... right now we just have this happiness meter that we don't really treat as an emotion so much, and with the personality rewrite that we've been talking about, the emotions get added in and then with the new writing system I've put in you'd be able to take not just the personality, the longstanding personality, but also the present emotional state of the dwarf with more specificity and have that influence the writing which is something that would definitely be going in. I see variety coming from it but as for specific things, I mean having your dwarves be unhappy all the time is mostly a result of accidents and player mistakes, right? So it's not something that should strictly be rewarding all the time, or lead to that kind of thing. There could be things I'm not seeing here in terms of opportunities and so on, there probably are some other examples.

Capntastic:Neonivek asks, 'Toady, you spoke about giving characters orders and conditions under which they would possibly disobey them. What do you think about the concept of allowing characters in your party to do as they wish in town such as shore leave, to rest, relax, buy equipment, speak to others and fulfill their own personal goals.'
Toady:Yeah, I like that. It reminds me of the various RPGs you'd play where you'd go into a town and every time that you'd buy equipment one of your little fellows ... it'd be like 'Johnny bought a sword!' and they have their own little money and things that they do like that. I'm all for that kind of thing, especially because it means less micromanagement for you, because when it comes to the point where we deal with the fact that they drop their weapons and never get them back or get their clothing ripped off and never get it back then you don't want it to strictly turn into a micromanagement situation, especially when you've got, like, twenty people. You shouldn't have to babysit all their daggers or whatever. Then that leads to a problem of corralling, I guess, like when you leave off the edge of the map and start travelling, or you just press the travel button, do you kind of collect them back? Do you have to have a pre-arranged meeting point? You don't want it to be too annoying, but you don't want to have ... just as a technical matter, dealing with all the teleportation stuff is kind of annoying too. It seems like a problem that's not hard to deal with, but it's something to deal with, and that's just kind of the first thing that occurred to me when I looked at the question. The issue is the corralling of the people and getting them back. Once you've handled things like their own money supplies and do you talk to them, do you explicitly give them the chance to do that kind of thing, or do they do it automatically ...

You can't just have, like if you've got one with you who's really a forward sort of brazen happy-go-lucky person who just says 'All right, I'm going to the bar, I don't care what you guys do!' or whatever, that's good up to a point for them to go over and do that stuff, but it runs into the issue that's come up a few times I think here where the game can't judge your intent, so if you were going to a town and you felt really serious and you'd been really gearing up for it and you'd gotten your equipment just right for it, and you're like, 'I'm going to go to the vampire cultist temple and it's time for me to sneak in there during the last ten minutes of the day while the light's shining through the window and disappearing and going to burn all the vampires' or something, right, and you're feeling really tense about it and then you get to the town and the dude's like 'All right, I'm going to go get a drink' or whatever, then it spoils the mood. The game, like we always say here, has trouble detecting that sort of thing so, I mean, can you tell your party 'Hey it's serious time' so that they don't even ruin the mood by shouting crap like that ... You can't be serious all the time, you wouldn't just always have that on, I guess, or your people would get pissed off, especially that guy, he's like 'Why are we serious all the time? You guys need to lighten up. Let's go drink!' or whatever. It's the kind of thing where in a role playing game, if you get rid of the scripted moments where your companions say certain things at certain times or whatever, generally they're quiet and follow you around and do what you say, and part of that is that necessity for immersion. It's kind of weird that making the people less realistic in a sense makes it more immersive, but, yeah, that's another challenge I see.

But overall I like the idea of some autonomy, being able to deal with ... and let's separate this from what might be one of the main concerns in this question, not necessarily this question, but the concerns of those problems I mentioned - people dropping weapons and not having healthcare and all that kind of stuff - all that's separate and definitely, regardless of what obstacles ... that needs to be dealt with, you can't just have a person that never has a weapon again, that's just silly and stupid, so we're going to deal with that. As for the amount of autonomy, I think I've laid out some of the concerns but I'm, in general, all for it and happy if they were far more autonomous.
Capntastic:It's going to be like Pirates! and you're going to go the tavern and then you're going to get drunk and then you're going to get mutinied, and you're going to wake up, and you're going to be on an island.
Toady:That's right, you'll be on an island and there won't even be a treasure chest there.
Ollieh:(musical interlude)

Rainseeker:Well, thank you for joining us for another Dwarf Fortress Talk, season three. I'd like to thank everybody that was involved. Tarn, who was involved?
Toady:You were involved!
Rainseeker:I was involved!
Toady:Yep, yep, and Capn you were also involved ...
Toady:I don't remember If I was involved or not.
Rainseeker:No, you were never involved in this whole process.
Capntastic:An illusion.
Toady:I'm on the list here I had written down in advance, because I knew I was going to lose my memory. So we have the list, we've gotten through Rainseeker, Capntastic, Toady One. We want to thank everyone that asked questions whether they were answered or not, and more questions are always good, keep them coming. We have Ollieh and Emily Menendez to thank for musical talents, and we have mallocks to thank for writing up the transcripts. I think mallocks just got, in the html, if you go into the folder and you go into the combined transcribed file, the combined transcript file is over a megabyte, which means a million little characters.
Capntastic:There you go!
Toady:So, mallocks is a champion. It says I'm supposed to tell people to contribute to the game and thank them for doing so, so, you know, this is how I live and if you can help out and you want to see it keep coming, even if it has been slow to get out, we are going to make it out and we'll have a new version coming sometime, and we're still working, everyday, so if you want to help it's much appreciated, and Rainseeker has a website, called rattownstories.com ...
Toady:And Capntastic has ...
Capntastic:Deal with it!
Toady:That's right, that's right. If you just go to your web browser, go to the place where you type a URL and just press enter, you'll find Capn's home page right there. It might look like a lot like your home page but that's because Capn's everywhere. So, yeah! That was episode seventeen.
Rainseeker:Thanks for joining us!
Capntastic:We should end on a cliffhanger ... or should we?!
Rainseeker:Next time on Dwarf Fortress Talk: 'Argh! Tarn don't hurt me please!'
Toady:'You're going to get what's coming to you!'
Ollieh:(musical postlude)

Bonus section

Toady:I've seen an ampersand and an at sign. These are all symbols from the game, so this is the Dwarf Fortress ASCII keyboard.
Rainseeker:All you need is a special, like a dwarven key there, that selects dwarves, you just press it.
Toady:That's right. We need to add happy faces to keyboards. Happy faces with beards on them.
Rainseeker:That's right.
Toady:And you press it and it'll zoom to your favorite dwarf. See? There you go, this is the entrepreneurial mind at work.
Rainseeker:This is very productive.
Toady:You can see why we've been so financially successful over the years.

Toady:Well she pulled a gun on everybody and we were just quiet and waiting for her to give us instructions.
Capntastic:There we go.
Toady:Yeah, still kind of intimidating isn't it.
Capntastic:Yeah, I'm trying to think of how to get things going.