Dwarf Fortress Talk #6, with Rainseeker, Capntastic and Toady One, transcribed by mallocks

Capntastic:Welcome back friendos to another Dwarf Fortress podcast. I'm here with Tarn Adams and Rainseeker. I'm Capntastic and I have a magical new microphone.
Toady:It sounds magical.
Capntastic:Yes. Plus one.
Toady:Plus one. Everything is awesome now.
Rainseeker:Alright, so we are here to talk about ... Adventure mode!
Toady:Adventure mode!
Capntastic:And adventurers, and adventures.
Rainseeker:Eventually adventure mode presumably will be completely engrossing and awesome.
Toady:It'll have adventure.
Capntastic:It'll be like a movie that you play.
Rainseeker:That's right.
Capntastic:Only, it's better. It'll be like a book that you read with your keyboard.
Rainseeker:Yeah and actually you will read books in adventure mode.
Capntastic:And there won't be keyboards.
Toady:I don't even know anymore, but there's going to be stuff.
Rainseeker:Alright so, what we're going to talk about today is adventure mode and adventures. So what I was thinking to start with is; where did your concept for adventure mode come from, Tarn?
Toady:We'd always kind of been working on a role playing game from a first person perspective, where you have a character and you go on little adventures and kill monsters and things and wander around; we've always had those kind of games as standalone games, just as standard RPG mush with a few little extra things, but basically the same as everything else. Then when we started working on Dwarf Fortress as a side project for Armok I, the idea we came up with for that pretty early on was to have the adventure part be a sort of high score mode afterward, where you go through the fortress and explore what your dwarves left behind; that was originally how it was going to be and that was going to be the whole thing. And then as Dwarf Fortress started stealing from Armok I to the point where it became Armok I or whatever, the adventure mode - ideally, if it were actually done - would just be a standard role playing game taking place in the Dwarf Fortress mode while you're switching off between fortresses and adventurers and so on; so it came out of all that.
Capntastic:What are your plans to make adventure mode more accessible?
Toady:There are dozens of issues standing in the way, but a lot of them are things we've discussed like graphics and tutorials and instructions and all that kind of thing. So putting those important things aside, just to get at adventure mode specific matters - rather than just problems with Dwarf Fortress in general - you really start out in adventure mode - you create a character - and you start out in the middle of a building or something and there's really no clue about what's going on. The keybindings aren't really harder to learn that any roguelike, you just pop up the screen and they're there, so the problems with accessibility are more in the line of a direction for your character; right now there's not a lot to do and you have no direction at all, for a new player especially. If you've played before you at least know what the deal is and you might just wander off to your old fortress or you might just wander around and set a goal to kill some monster or something, but without that, if you press adventurer mode before even playing fortress mode then you'd really just have no idea what to do, and when you talk to people you might find your way eventually to the people that will give you quests, but their quests are all kind of cynical, it's just like 'Oh you, you want to do something for me? Alright, go kill the dragon.' It's not really appropriate for your character, so I think the thing to do here - and we'll get to the future of adventure mode, which is the topic - a huge part of that is character generation. So there's the idea of how can you improve character generation, just in general, and also how than to make the game entirely take care of all of the accessibility problems that don't have anything to do with graphics and the general interface, that kind of thing, but just the game itself. So the idea is to have some additional options and the main one would be ... you've got a character who - currently you just create them and they're this outsider who doesn't really belong to the world at all, they might belong to the overall civilization that you've selected for them, but they don't meaningfully tie into that, they don't have a parent in that civilization, they don't have any friends in that civilization, they don't know anybody in that civilization - so one of the ideas for a mode of character generation would be a scenario-driven thing. There are downsides to that sort of stuff, like if you have a Q and A process like the Ultima games or even our own Liberal Crime Squad, the main downside to that I think is that it's a cumbersome way to create a character when you know the questions are just building stats and giving you items, so it just gets really annoying and you have to game the system just to get where you want to get, and it's the same every time. The key difference here is that it really can't be the same every time in Dwarf Fortress because the worlds are all different; it can picks two parent for you and say 'you were born to these two people and you're living in this kind of situation' and then it can have things arise based on just running world generation, just continue world gen from whatever point the game's at. So if goblins were attacking that village that would be the scenario event it throws at you, how do you deal with this? Depending on how old you are you might just be forced to run away, but there might be choices to make in any case. So it can give you a past in this way, and it will let you interact with it. Ideally you'd be presented with a situation and you'd either have some options for resolving that and then continuing to the next situation, or a little more difficult would be allowing you to jump into any situation that you wanted to, so if you were nineteen years old in some village as a farmer in the beginning and the goblins attacked, maybe you'd want to just jump in right there, and that's where you start playing. And at that point you certainly wouldn't have an accessibility problem in the sense of not knowing what to do, or at least having a situation that you'd be confronted with because there'd be something going on, and you'd also have your parents and friends and things; that's the main point, you'd have relationships to begin with, and you should be able to punch up a screen that says what's going on there, and if during the early scenarios you had a situation where your parents were killed by somebody or something then you'd have a Conan relationship screen or something, where it's like 'Thulsa Doom killed your mom' or whatever, and that can be something that drives your life if you want. That's the scenario situation, running through that, being able to break out when you want, or just finishing a number of them, and that would start from wherever your last game ended. The downside here is that if you're starting from that year and it takes a certain time to grow up, then whatever was going on in the world is going to be spent by twelve, thirteen, sixteen, twenty more years by the time you jump in. It's more difficult to retcon you into the world and start you where you want to start off but using past events. We've talked about that a bit before with the fake populations and saving their historical events and how you can use that to retcon things in, including your own character. So it's possible, but ...
Rainseeker:Well presumably you could choose from two different options.
Toady:Aside from the scenario stuff and the retconning and that kind of thing, there would also be, especially for people that kind of know what they're doing, but for anyone else as well - when we were talking about accessibility the scenario driven way would give you direction - but another way to do it would be a role playing mode where you can create your character on the spot as an outsider, or just say 'I'm this guy's kid' just picking off the legends screen, that would be fine too. Then you could set everything about yourself, absolutely everything about yourself, and just start playing at the year that everything left off, as if you'd just popped into existence, or had a past, or whatever you want to set up, just to get you in with minimal difficulty without worrying about the retconning problems, get you in there at the right year, if you wanted to continue right where you left off. Another way to do that would be to just say 'I want to play an existing person in the world' and you just go down the legends list and pick someone. That would require something like a world generation parameter I think, because that's one of those things where you'd be tempted to deal with certain problems ... there are people who complain about being tempted to spoil their games. So if the goblins have been attacking you, you could be 'Well I'll be the goblin king and I'll jump into that volcano!' So that would be one of those world gen options most likely, like 'only allow you to jump into people that don't have entity positions/only allow you to jump into people of the good races/allow you to do anything/disallow you to do it at all'; I think that would resolve those issues, for any of the scenario or roleplaying type modes. There's also the notion - it goes to accessibility but difficulty more - so when you have skill points that you assign, or in the scenarios in terms of how much your character's learning or what kind of background they have, there's this notion of the different kinds of heroes that there are in myths and so on, since we're trying to generate and recreate those stories it's important to get at that. Three general options would be, firstly 'Well, I want my character to be a demigod' like Hercules, it could go into the human pantheons and you'd be like 'Zeus is my dad', and then that character would be exceptional, and you wouldn't have to worry as much about a wolf killing you or something, and you might have gods giving you gifts or cursing you; you'd have an epic life no matter what, you'd have no choice in the matter. Then there's also the middle option which would be a heroic character, which is similar to what we have now where you can start out as a really talented swordsman, someone who's like Batman who's exceptional but not supernatural necessarily, so you can really jam your numbers up or have an exceptional life in terms of your parents or whatever. Then there's the third mode which would be a normal mode, or an 'unlikely hero' mode instead of a hero mode, where you start off as a person who has skills per their scenario or if you're roleplaying you wouldn't add that much stuff to yourself, and that would be suited for the games where people just want to make their own way in the world, or create their little log cabin in the woods and hunt things, or become a bandit, any of those kind of games where they don't really care how survivable their character is if they ran into a goblin tower or something. It runs a bit against all the roleplaying games I've played since Legend of Zelda, where all the numbers and things increase, and the adversaries increase, and the areas that open up increase, and it's all matching larger and larger numbers against each other, and it's becoming less of an option in Dwarf Fortress just because of how the thing is set up, so you can't really run it that way. So it might be weird to start as a powerful character and stay a powerful character but it's really more about the story than the power levelling type of increase, although there are elements of that when your skills improve, and you occasionally find better equipment, although it's nothing the loot-driven systems. There are going to be issues here to tackle, repeatedly, we can't really see everything that's going to happen when you strike out on a new mode of thinking about how an RPG might work. I'm not saying this is the first time anything like this has been done, but I certainly don't know how to handle it myself. It should be interesting to see where this leads. I think when you've got that setup where your character starts and they have as much backstory as you want them to have, then you'll have more direction. You need a little bit of a push maybe and there's more that needs to be done with social interactions and so on when you talk to people, when you talk to like those meeting hall guys that tell you to go off and kill a goblin or kill a dragon should probably not cynically toss you away, especially if you look like you're worth anything, and they should probably just send you with a guy to prove yourself against some kobolds that are out on patrol rather than sending you on suicide missions and then when you get back, they're like 'Oh that was cool'; they don't really care.
Ollieh:(musical interlude)
Capntastic:Speaking of adventuring, right now you can recruit party members, but they're basically cannon fodder. In the future when you recruit party members what is the plan once you say 'Okay, I'm done with you'. Are they going to settle where you leave them, or are they going to go back home, are they going to make decisions?
Toady:As autonomous as people are in general, that's how autonomous they would be. They're not special in any way. So right now no-one does anything, pretty much. They move back home sometimes if they're stuck in a cave, they know how to do that, but other than that ... that's a general problem. It's all planned to be addressed so that aside from returning home they'll have their professions and the things that they do, so if you have somebody with you who was a mercenary for instance then whatever mercenaries were doing before you hired that one, that's what that guy would continue to do. Now there's a bit of a difference here when we're getting into adventure entities and that kind of thing when you say 'I've got a band of people' and you might tell one of them to stay at the little compound you've built, then that would be a different matter. This gets to a whole other issue in general with your subordinates; it's something that we're thinking about again with regard to how adventure mode should work. You can get more people, you can get ten, or fifteen people following you around and at some point you want a hierarchy to be set up, even within your own group so that you can tell someone to do something and then that person can handle their own group. So you could tell someone to 'stay here with these five guys and defend the compound at all costs, while we go off and fight the dragon'. Now that guy should then act like people are going to act in general when they're defending an area or so on, according to their individual interests and that kind of thing, the stuff that we've been planning the whole time to slowly put into the game. So you should have that kind of subordinate system to be able to command people to do things or set up an organisation of your own. And it's not all about 'defend this location' or 'send your squad that way while we do this', it could be things like hunting or building buildings or that kind of thing. It gets to this whole ... When you reach a position of power in adventure mode, which is something that's supposed to happen for version one, if you become the king, or meeting hall warlords that's living in the adventure mode, how are you going to be controlling things? For people that have read those development items it's probably a big question, like is it just going to be dwarf mode again? And it shouldn't be, if you're still in this first person mindset anyway. Then it could work more along the lines that it started working with the subordinate system so if you want things to happen you'd have people that you talk to and they can handle stuff, or if you want to handle something directly you'd have to handle it directly.
Rainseeker:You! Build that building! You! Start the fire!
Toady:Hopefully it wouldn't be so much micromanaging, like 'You! Open this door for me!', but it's ...
Rainseeker:Skin that cat!
Toady:Yeah. But you can see how it would just be 'you, lead a group of people over to this town and ask them to submit to us and send us tribute every year' and then they could come back and tell you what happened, and it also gives you the possibility for the really interesting stories when your subordinates don't do what you tell them to do or they start lying to you or whatever. So it's going to be I think a good way to handle it, having to filter certain commands through people so that you're always interacting with people, and you're always building relationships with people, getting the whole world to act like it's supposed to act, instead of turning it into the kind of strategy mode that dwarf mode is; it should be a different creature entirely. What it would allow you to do, then, is to run your smaller operations and have them grow up into larger operations without changing fundamentally how the game works, and allowing you to maintain the personal relationships with your closest subordinates and people above you, not just subordinates, there could be equals, people who are travelling with you, you can give them suggestions rather than just ordering everyone around. It should be an interesting experiment anyway to see how that all works out. That's pretty much upcoming, after this release when we do adventure as one of the three main items, adventurer skills/adventure entities, so whatever we get started there gets started, because the adventure entities was having a group of people and trying to explore how that might work.
Capntastic:I definitely think that the social aspects of adventure mode, all that sort of stuff, will be interesting, especially when you get to the point where you are the leader of a group, then you can eventually shift over to a fortress style mode.
Toady:We were thinking about what the goals are of these meeting hall people, they might be accumulating treasure or something like that, like getting tribute from people and then they'd have this little treasure room ... You could start working on that kind of thing yourself, who knows what people do with their little treasure rooms, they finance armies and things somehow but I don't know what you do with a golden goblet at the end of the day ... I guess you drink from it, or something. But these accumulation type goals lead to things like ruins that are a lot of fun to run around in and fight zombies and snatch their things ...
Rainseeker:It would be amusing to find your adventurer as a zombie.
Toady:Yeah, it's too bad that none of the zombies were never that interesting.
Capntastic:Some of them talk ... wait, some of the skeleton lords or whatever talk.
Toady:That's right, they yelled at you and then they started shooting at you from the top of pyramids and stuff. But they were nobodies, they were still these generated peoples, and it'll all change someday, someday in the future.
Capntastic:One thing that I think will be interesting is item ownership, like you mentioned the goblet; the goblet itself will belong to a king and then the king will miss it when it's gone and other people know 'Oh, that's the king's goblet' so you'll have trouble selling it, and then eventually they'll forget it belongs to the king and then you'll become used to having the goblet and so on.
Toady:We've got some of that now, which is cool, with the new dwarf squad stuff where they become used to their weapons and then name them and then they become these semi-artifacts, and that's where that stuff really gets traced. Like these goblets and things, if it's important enough for people to care about then it really gets passed around and keeps track of it in historical information. When you look at the larger picture of property ownership in general it becomes more tricky to track individual information, like how much is that the king's chair or something ... there are important items but then there are unimportant items that belong to important people and those could also be tracked to some extent I guess. Then there's the matter of a person's personal property, everyone can track their own property, so if you go in and take someone's things other people might not really recognize that it's somebody else's cloak but the owner would know. That's another thing that's massively broken in adventure mode right now, the whole criminal type of thing, stealing and all that kind of thing, it's like when you steal a psychic message is sent out to everybody that you're a thief and the guards come to kill you. You ideally should be able to be in a room with somebody, take their little cloak and lock them in a chest, and then set the chest on fire and walk out of the room, and if no-one saw you do it then you could pretend like 'Oh, there's a fire! Come on everybody, let's put it out!' ... That kind of thing would lead to a lot of questions about how justice then comes about to the player, how does that process work, which at least sets a more interesting problem than this psychic stuff, and I think the adventurer should be free to run around more than they are now anyway, where it's just kind of silly.
Capntastic:I'm sure this will be changed, but I like how the punishment for any crime is like everyone in the town walking towards you trying to kill you, they become zombies ...
Toady:I think if you steal something they're just like 'I don't want to talk to you' but if you kill somebody then you become an entity enemy and then even the two year olds recognise you, it's like 'it's time to come at you like a fast zombie instead of a slow zombie.'
Capntastic:Once there's proper law enforcement I definitely think that the game will have some more spark to it, daring escapes and general Robin Hood type action.
Toady:Really with adventure mode a lot of it just comes down to more stuff. There's a lot of stuff but it doesn't come together at all in terms of narrative right now ... Every little thing will help, even the character generation scenarios, if we started with that they'd be pretty limited right now just because there's not a lot of stuff, there's mostly just fighting and things. You could of course add a zillion of them that don't really have a basis in reality but it's better to have them have a basis in reality so that you can jump into them and it's actually going on.
Rainseeker:So what is the new skill system going to look like for adventurers? Is that going to be basically the same as dwarf fortress mode or are you going to have additional adventurer skills.
Toady:When we get to adventurer skills the place we're starting from is that you should be able to kill an animal and use the parts of the animal. That's a starting point because right now you starve to death wandering around. The next part would be being able to build shelters and that kind of thing. The question here is what does that look like? I don't think it would really be appropriate to, if you killed an animal and wanted to get the meat from it, I don't think you should have to chop down a tree and then build a butcher's workshop and then carry the animal to the butcher's workshop and then perform the dwarf fortress mode job without any tools. I think in adventure mode there should be more tools, there should be things that you can do with tools on the spot, and then it would be a matter of how much do you want to pump that stuff in reverse into dwarf mode. Dwarf mode has useful abstractions, because you don't want to have a lot of clutter and crap and micromanagement and all kinds of horrible things that come out of that. Some of it wouldn't be bad, but a lot of the problems that arise then, like if you had people using tools for every job ... It would be cool in a sense if you could produce those things quickly enough and if there weren't stacking problems introduced and pathing problems in general. If you needed to have all the nails and hammers and boards and things to make a chair then even if the stacking weren't a problem then you'd still need that dwarf to go get that crap and it might take a month for them to collect all the different little pieces from all over the place. You have to sacrifice at that point the more epic sweeping nature of dwarf mode because you'd want to slow down the days to allow a dwarf to build a chair before winter comes. It's a tricky question for dwarf mode and I think a lot of abstractions will ultimately stay in dwarf mode, but in adventure mode there's no reason not to go completely nuts with it. I'm sure people can come up with reasons like 'I don't want to have to use nails to build this' or whatever, and I haven't played some of those games like Stranded ... is it called Stranded? The one where you're on the island and you build things with vines and things? And there's Unreal World that I've played a little bit, I crashed the game in a cave ... and I think with Wurm Online you have to do a lot of things like this, and I think tons of MUDs have this stuff too. So this has been experimented with a lot, what it means for a character to have to use many little things to accomplish goals ...
Rainseeker:It makes the item more valuable, of course.
Toady:We'll have to see in adventure mode how it affects the pacing. It's going to be experimental like most everything else. You don't want to do to the point where the pacing is destroyed because you're quibbling too much with garbage. Because if you're playing it as a survival game then that stuff's all fun but if you're trying to get through a forest to go attack the dragon, but while you're in the forest you have to worry 'did I soak this in oak bark long enough to get all the hair to do whatever before I hang up a pelt and get stranded for a week trying to make patches for my boots so my toes don't die before I get to the dragon' or whatever. I don't know if that could afford a quick button or something, a quick 'fix my shoe' button. So I don't know, it's going to be something that we experiment with, of course I'm usually pro-details I think it's pretty clear, I usually add crap where I can, but this'll be a case where we'll have to think about it. My stance right now is that I want to add a bunch of that stuff. Ideally in adventure mode you'd be able to do each job from dwarf mode and there just might be extra steps in the process, extra tools in the process, and things like mining might just be slower, I don't know if you'd be able to carve out a whole dwarf fortress in a week, because that's what you'd be able to do if you were in a dwarf, it's just like 'Bam! There's a dwarf fortress for you.' So that one in particular might be changed a little bit. Then there's also the matter of if you're building log cabins and that kind of thing out in the woods, is the current method - the tile by tile building method - is that something that's going to stay, and if that changes to something more accurate then is that going to change in dwarf mode. So there's always this thing about giving the modes their own flavour, there's the thing about technically keeping the modes fun to play, and then there's the thing where on the other hand you want to minimise the use of dual systems because supporting a different system in adventure mode versus a different system in dwarf mode is always a pain. There're a number of things that are like that right now and they always come back to haunt me, just the different timing is enough of a pain, how that works now, how dwarf mode goes seventy two times faster in adventure mode through history, and so you have to do the sleeping on a different schedule, eating is on a different schedule, forest fires are on a different schedule, it's all different, and that's really irritating in a way, but you can't change it either, because if you put forest fires on the same schedule then the second a fire lights in dwarf mode it just blows out and all the trees are gone. So we'll probably have to live with some more dual systems, but that's alright.
Unspecified:(musical interlude)
Rainseeker:So now we're in the segment of our podcast when we discuss questions from listeners.
Toady:That's right, Q and A.
Capntastic:This is the interactive portion.
Toady:Like second hand, or something, but it's alright.
Capntastic:It's very active.
Toady:Yeah, it's intense. We've got at least thirty three emails now that haven't been handled yet, so we're not going to be able to get to them all.
Rainseeker:No, we're not. However, we will get to some. Capntastic, would you like to do the honours for the first question.
Capntastic:Why yes. This one is not from an email; 'Will there be toys in adventure mode?'
Toady:That's intense. If your adventurer goes into a fortress and finds a mini-forge ... what does that even mean? I didn't even think about what a mini-forge was ... but I think even more relevant would be things like puzzle boxes and stuff, is there supposed to be a puzzle box mini game where you get to play with the puzzle box in ASCII ... glorious ASCII puzzle box ... It's one of those things where in dwarf mode first little kids will be playing with their toys at parties and stuff, and then in adventure mode it would be a thing that probably gets done on a lark or whatever, when I throw it in, unless there happens to be a contingent of people that start pushing that up the suggestion voting. Ideally, I'm all for it.
Capntastic:The whole of dwarf fortress is just going to turn into a pogo stick simulator, I'm just going to put that out there, that's my prediction.
Toady:That's right ... and people were talking about rubber balls and rubber trees and stuff, like making little balls out of the rubber trees - before you have vulcanised rubber you can still do stuff with it, and that would be fascinating, the projectile management would be pretty crappy because it's all in tiles, so it's not like those big physics sims where things bounce around in wonderful ways and you can have fun just tossing a ball around somebody else's level. But there's nothing like playing with little toys and things.
Capntastic:Brushing a doll's hair.
Toady:Well we've got the hair cells now, you'd actually be able to do that now, you'd be like 'I want to give my dwarf doll a triple braided beard now' and you'd give it the triple braided beard and you'd dress it up with little clothes.
Rainseeker:Your character's very effeminate ...
Capntastic:Yes, it will actually change your stats. But you can collect all the different types of clothing and dye them ...
Toady:Collecting is a ... You'll actually be able to have a coin collection and try and find rare coins from two hundred years before, and you'd have to go into a dwarf fortress from that old to get them. It should be fascinating.
Capntastic:And then you could spend all that money on a special mint condition elf doll.
Toady:That's right, it hasn't been taken out of its wooden box yet, you can't even see it.
Rainseeker:Well it wouldn't be a wooden box if it's an elf doll right?
Toady:It depends on what the elf doll is for. Like for poking and burning ... Those might be very popular at dwarven festivals, if someone passes out the elf doll to everybody and they all throw it on the bonfire. I just thought the elf doll might actually come with moveable mouth parts, you could make it chew things ... 'I'm eating you, I'm eating you!'
Capntastic:A nutcracker.
Toady:An elf doll nutcracker, that would be a great little tool for your kitchen.
Rainseeker:Okay back on track here ... Is there any plan to implement experiences with particular types of enemies.
Toady:The original Armok had this unimplemented knowledge system for creatures, and I was definitely thinking about doing that in dwarf mode, you could be an excellent dragon fighter, that kind of thing, and the knowledge could be about their behaviour, it could be about how to butcher them in particular, and so on. So your dwarf mode guy might be excellent at butchering all the deer and cows and things that your guys bring to him, but then you bring him some kind of giant spider and he's supposed to do something with that and he's like 'What is this? I don't even know where anything is' and would spoil the thing even if he's pretty good at butchering in general. So I'm for that kind of thing, I don't think it would be unnecessarily complicated. There are some questions about what it means to be a goblin fighter versus an elf fighter if they're humanoids or whatever; is that more learning about a culture or a species or whatever, if their anatomy is roughly the same. There are questions to answer there but in general I think the more knowledge types and things that there are for fighters and the more different skills and so on that they learn the more they could be differentiated, and that's always good. I think it's good to have particulars like that, and that one in particular is something that's planned. Not planned as in completely planned out, but something we definitely want to do.
Ollieh:(musical interlude)
Capntastic:DoctorZ asks; 'Will the game be smart enough to determine that the building is shaped - like a tower or a pyramid - will it award you points for style? His example is a room with a pillar in it engraved, would it bump the quality up if you have a high ceiling with paintings and stuff on it; would that be interesting for the game, will it be able to determine those details?'
Toady:I'd like to further point out that DoctorZ said that 'I'd love you forever if you asked/answered this question' so I think that that means Capntastic right now is loved forever. I still have to do my part to be loved forever, so I've got to answer the question. So the idea with this is that there have been a number of topics where people are like 'I want my tower to be recognised as the tower of something' or 'I want my pyramid to be recognised as the pyramid of something'. That pretty much would have to be user defined; you define an area, you give it a name, and you make sure that that system can't be gamed too much as far as bonuses and so on. But when it comes to smaller things like what you're talking about, a central pillar and things like that, the game can start to pick those out on its own. I don't have a lot of specific plans, but it would be worth discussing. Right now the system picks out engravings isolated, it picks out floor detailing isolated, it picks out the room size and so on, so it goes really just step by step through every tile but things like a central pillar ... it knows where the centre of a room is, it knows that a pillar doesn't have anything else touching it, so doing things like locating a central pillar would be trivial, it's just a matter of building up a list of things that dwarves care about and different groups could like different things; that would certainly be an interesting direction to explore.
Capntastic:I just want to know if I'll be able to have an elf totem really tie a room together.
Toady:I think anyone appreciates the skull when it's centrally placed, or a little higher up maybe, and you'd put some dye on the teeth, make them all red ... I don't know if they have sharp teeth, I haven't really thought about what an elf's teeth look like. Do they have sharp teeth, or do they just chew and chew and chew?
Rainseeker:Well herbivores have got the molar action going on.
Toady:Yeah, elves just use that herbivore bit every once in a while when they eat dead bodies.
Capntastic:Maybe they just don't chew things because that's violent inherently.
Toady:So is eating somebody! Killing them and eating them is a little bit inherently violet.
Capntastic:Well you know how chickens swallow it and then they swallow rocks and kind of chew it up that way?
Toady:Yeah, and some parrots eat clay and stuff? So maybe the elves just need those essential vitamins and minerals and they can't get them anywhere else and it's just a shame evolutionary speaking that they were saddled with that burden, but they try to be herbivores, they try their very best and they don't have the newest vegan manuals for how to mix your vegetables and things properly to get all your nutrients, so they just go with dwarf occasionally.
Capntastic:There's not a soy bean equivalent in Dwarf Fortress is there?
Toady:Maybe the dwarf is the soy bean equivalent.
Rainseeker:Soylent dwarf!
Toady:Nothing but trouble, nothing but trouble.
Rainseeker:Speaking of elves; 'Currently the elves don't like it when you trade wood-related items to them. Is it possible then that this will also be expanded with the rest of the procedural cultural concepts? For example perhaps people you are trading with really like cats and would take offense to all the cat meat roasts, cat liver robes and cat bone omelettes you are trying to trade to them.'
Toady:Yeah I think that'd be cool. It's certainly possible and even easy once they have those preferences to do that kind of thing, all the trading functions are like 'Is this an offensive item?' and then it goes in and looks, and right now it looks at the ethics for the society and if the society also had a few preferences they could easily be checked versus the items, materials and so on. It'd all be pretty straightforward, but the dialogue would probably need to be rewritten because they'd start saying elf-like things to you but it would be a cool expansion of those things.
Rainseeker:You'd think that trying to trade a human skull totem to humans would be offensive.
Toady:Yeah, and right now I think the elves would only care because it was once a living thing, they don't care if it's an elf's head or not. I'm not sure they'd ever care though, they're kind of weird.
Rainseeker:I always thought that it would be nice in that screen if it showed you in red or something if you're about to trade something that's offensive.
Toady:The one tricky matter there - why I haven't done something like that - is that you want people to run afoul of that mechanic at least once somehow, but after that they should know, but it's in the person's head rather than in the game's mind, so it's a tricky question about when they get to know. Because if you're not playing for the first time but it's the first time those dwarves have ever encountered elves then it shouldn't be red in a way but of course the player themselves would know and might complain about that. That's why I've just passed on that, because I don't really have a solution right now. I haven't thought about it that much, although I know it causes untold amounts of grief and so on.
Rainseeker:Maybe it could just be where your trading character learns what is and what is not acceptable, through communication skills.
Toady:It's important to have skills.
Ollieh:(musical interlude)
Capntastic:Will there be traditions for naming children, will they be named ... all dwarves that are female have specifically female names, will they be named after historical figures that are not adventurers, will they be named after popular kings and queens and suchlike? Will they be named after the favoured food of a country? All that fun stuff, have a bunch of dwarves named Rummy McGin.
Toady:Yeah, or Plump Helmet McWhiskey.
Capntastic:Someone's going to register on the forum with that name.
Toady:Yeah. So I know you mentioned the adventure mode one because that's the one we kind of harp on about right, it's like 'people will be able to name their children after you later', but the general thing is that we wouldn't implement it that way because it would be kind of weird for them to specifically single out adventurers. So once that goes in they'd use historical figures and so on. There's been a lot of discussion about passing down family names and so on, people are kind of upset sometimes when they have a fortress for a while and the dwarves have babies and the babies just have completely unrelated names, that's just something that hasn't gotten in, but it'll go in as soon as we figure out what dwarves like to do, or what procedural stuff needs to be generated there. As for male versus female names, I don't have - kind of like the passing down of names - I don't have systems there but it's certainly something that I think should be supported and people are interested in having that kind of separation as well. I'm not sure what dwarves would think about that, we know humans often do it and when it's done it's not always a strict split, there are just ones that are rarely used for certain genders; would you want specific name lists if you want to set them up yourself, or just have the game choose them, for no reason it puts half here and half here, or should it put names that are of a certain symbol type - there's the symbols like flowery, violent, ones that have to do with agriculture or whatever - it might, based on the symbol , put names in certain categories. So there's a lot of different ways to do it, and we're thinking of doing stuff with that, but I'm not sure when. I think it's something that would reflect the world a bit more, I don't know if anyone's ever offended by this stuff either, if there are things like that put in. Right now we have no sexual dimorphism for instance with dwarves or even humans, people tend to prefer that kind of thing and it's an extra step to put it in anyway so I'm just lazy about it but yeah in general we're going to do more with that, and it should turn out well. (sfx vox: trumpet voluntary)
Rainseeker:I have a question here from Nathan; 'After this release, you've said something to the effect that you never want another release cycle to take this long, and that the next major release will be much shorter. After this release has been released and the bug fixing releases for the version have been wrapped up, what do you think the next release or series of releases will focus on?'
Toady:I imagine from the person's list there that they already know that the three major areas of focus for the next series of releases are going to be adventurer skills and entity stuff; and the improved sieges and the stuff leading up to improved sieges like having armies moving around on the world map; and also the top ten eternal suggestions vote, looking at those and going through each of them and seeing what we can do with those. We haven't really decided of those which one is coming next, and if I made a decision now it would likely change anyway, because the release is going to take however long - I don't know, it's obviously not going to be released this year as you'll know when we release this podcast in January and there's no Dwarf Fortress out, you'll obviously be aware of that fact as well - but if we release it that month or the next month or whenever, it's going to get there ...
Rainseeker:You mean it will not release in 2009.
Toady:Yeah, in 2010 there will be a Dwarf Fortress out of course, but after that I'm going to be fixing bugs for a month or something and by that time it will probably be more clear what we're doing. Right now I've added a lot of things that are interesting for dwarf mode, so if I didn't add something like improved hauling immediately and did adventurer skills instead people might not mind, and it's not like that's going to take forever either, it's not like anything single thing's going to take a year. But I might do improved hauling instead, and things leading up to the sieges would be important before adventurer entities maybe, so I don't know. On the other hand I could flip a coin and it would probably be just as well, because that stuff's going to get done anyway, so this is the plan, meaning other than the general categories I'm still not sure what the next focus is.
Rainseeker:I could finally get my stupid donkeys to haul rocks.
Toady:Yeah, donkeys should help with all kind of things, the donkey is a useful animal. Then there's also the wheelbarrow and the cart, and the life, and the elevator, and the steam cannon and the nuclear reactor. All kinds of cool cool cool things for hauling goods.
Rainseeker:Well we have atom smashers already, so.
Toady:The problem with some of these internal suggestion things is that they're a bit vague, so I'll just do something, or some set of things until the hauling situation is considerably improved; not just whiff it, but do something that's drastic, and then consider that done, and if it's not done it'll crawl right back up the list, so we'll know if it's done enough. And that's the same for everything, when there's full graphical support obviously it's not going to look like Oblivion or Fallout 3 or Crysis or whatever people throw out, but it's going to look better than it is now, and if it's not better enough then it'll come back up the list; it's a continuing process.
Rainseeker:So the plan is eventually to reset the eternal suggestions.
Toady:Yeah, I think with the top ten suggestions when I get those written down ... It's like the top ten thing, I don't want to nail myself to that, so I'll look down below that too, just to get a sense of what people wanted at that snapshot in time. Then it might be worth it just to clear the whole thing at that point and then announce 'Eternal suggestions: we've taken these suggestions, we know what people wanted at this time, we're going to work on this stuff, and now we go again.' Now that'll depend on if we've got a new script by that time, I don't even remember if someone's working on something or not, I always have a bad memory there. But is that system going to be the same; there have been complaints about it, do we want to tweak it before we reboot and start again, because people have had complaints about specific items getting shafted versus items that are really over-broad, maybe, arguably over-broad, and also items like improved hauling; you look at the list and there aren't a lot of things at the top that are how people want the game to be expanded but how they'd rather have it polished. That means that that's where they want the priority of the effort to be spent, but if I wanted to do something that wasn't polishing - as I often do - I really don't receive a lot of direction from that list because those items don't do that well. So do we want to break the list into two sections for instance? I don't know, and I don't know if it'll be changed at all; it's not clear exactly what'll happen, but we'll continue using this system and if it is replaced ... Votes are certainly going to be cleared once we write the information down and if there's an improved system, that'd be better, so we'll see.
Ollieh:(musical interlude)
Capntastic:Safekeeper would like to know, or rather he envisages a world where Dwarf Fortress, even though it is an ASCII game will have a click and drag interface for equipping your dwarves and squads, so you drag the sword onto the dwarf hand, like there'd be a paper doll in ASCII, you'd drag the pickaxe onto its hand and then it equips it there. Do you have any plans for something like that? Can you see yourself doing that in the near future? It's not really a how will this work question but more of a do you plan on doing something like this sort of thing.
Toady:I don't know ... First of all we don't have a lot of graphics, so there are a couple of tricks if we try it in ASCII; one is that there aren't slots so much as right hand, left hand and other body parts that then have things stacked on them, so if you want to wear three shirts you could right now; so if you want to make that your guy's uniform in the squad screen you could just say 'I want you guys to wear three shirts, just make sure the top one is red' ... well that wouldn't bode well would it ... But you could still do that ...
Rainseeker:Does that make them tougher somehow, to wear three shirts?
Capntastic:Layers, man.
Toady:Yeah, it would stop more stuff, it would be a way of doing it, although you might want to invest in armour at some point ... that whole thing about arrows being stopped by the silk shirt with layers, that's been an ongoing discussion. But yeah, you can do that, and a slot paper doll could still handle that, you could open new boxes when boxes are full and all that kind of thing. The other thing I'm worried about, especially when you're trying to represent something graphically, is that you run afoul of mods; right now people mod in an antman fortress and mod in whatever, and the slots would be completely different, and the silhouette would no longer be appropriate. That's also a problem with aiming system, all kinds of things where you'd like to see damage readouts and stuff, where you'd like to see some kind of doll that has colours on it and that kind of thing; the bodies are all defined in text files, and if you wanted your hydra to have fifty seven heads you could do that right now and then you'd run out of space on the screen. There are ways to try and do it where you'd be trying a Spore type thing where you try and lay out the paper doll according to its part definitions or something, but right now I haven't really thought about it. Of course you can just say 'well if it's a humanoid you could just have a tag on it that says "I'm a humanoid, I want to use the doll" and if it's not a humanoid you could be "well, I'll just use the list"'. So it's not like it's an insurmountable problem, but I haven't really thought that we definitely need to do that. We'll see when we get into the new squad screen if people feel tortured; if people feel like they need something then I'm sure I'll hear about it.
Capntastic:Aside from the paper doll I could definitely see being able to click and drag things being useful in some way.
Toady:I don't know if it looks a little weird with the text of course. It would just be strange feeling to drag the text, especially because it would drag along the tile, it would be like dragging blockily ... I guess we do have control of the mouse cursor display right now ... We have a few extra controls now ... Clicking and dragging, it's not like I'm not for having the mouse be supported and having all kinds of nice things you can do with the mouse - I like nice things - and I know people like their keyboard shortcuts too, and I like keyboard shortcuts but you can click on all the new screens, you can't drag anything but you can click all the new screens, it just doesn't say that anywhere, but you can do it; every new button can be clicked. But it's still one of those things - I'm not sure when that's going to be done - but it's one of those things I want to do pre version 1, getting more mouse support in. But when the underlying game is changing a lot I'm not sure what I want to use it for and then I just end up not doing it.
Rainseeker:Well that just about sums it up ladies and gents, I appreciate you guys joining us here for this Dwarf Fortress Talk; I'm your host Rainseeker and I was joined by Capntastic and our illuminous leader Tarn Adams.
Capntastic:He is literally emitting lights sporadically.
Rainseeker:That's why cats and moths are attracted to him.
Toady:Yeah, you have to rub my belly and it glows.
Rainseeker:So I'd like to also thank mallocks who does the transcription and Ollieh ...
Capntastic:He's a swell guy
Toady:(singing)Mallocks, mallocks, Ollieh, Ollieh.(end singing)
Rainseeker:Who volunteer selflessly, every month.
Toady:Super peoples. And all them people that asked questions, even if they didn't get answered, or asked; it's cool when people send in questions, so please continue to send in questions. There's a stickied topic in DF General Discussion on the forum that tells you exactly how to do that and (singing)we love the questions, so we will want more questions.(end singing)
Capntastic:And if your questions are a poem or a song, that will make them more interesting to read on the air. Don't actually do this ... Unless you want to do it.
Rainseeker:I dare somebody to do it, for real.
Toady:Of course if you're daring somebody you're daring everybody.
Capntastic:Everyone, yeah.
Rainseeker:No, I just dare somebody.
Capntastic:Don't feel the need to exert yourself, but if the mood takes you.
Rainseeker:Well thank you for joining us Tarn, and Capntastic.
Capntastic:Are we joining them, or are they joining us or are we joining you?
Rainseeker:You join me, and then I join you and then everyone joined us and we're all one big happy family, apparently.
Toady:That's right, it's good to be happy, and a family.
Ollieh:(musical postlude)

Bonus section

Rainseeker:Hey everybody, it's Rainseeker here. I really appreciate you guys listening to this podcast, it's been really fun to do. And now that our sixth episode has just been completed and put out we just want to say thanks, thanks for listening these past six months, and I just wanted to remind you to please consider donating at this time of year, especially because Tarn's been sick, he has had the swine flu and this is going to delay the release of the game of course. However, it is discouraging to be sick and not unable to work, so let's show our support and send him a couple of dollars and maybe an email giving him some encouragement. Alright guys, see you later.

Toady:Especially in the holidays. Big happy holidays, happy family family. Of course the holidays are over by the time this thing comes out, there are no holidays anymore, it's January.
Rainseeker:We need to wish them Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Capntastic:Merry Christmas, and Kwanza and Hanukah and all of those other wintry wonderland ...
Toady:And all the procedural holidays yet to be generated.
Capntastic:The dwarf of Christmas past, the kobald of Christmas present.
Toady:We're approaching the pressing stop time, we're working on driving this into the ground, but okay.

Interlocutor:(in the manner of Goofy)Gawrsh!
Toady:Scamps is really meowing and scratching ... (aside to Scamps)What are you doing?
Rainseeker:I haven't heard him at all.
Toady:Good, it hasn't been picked up on the mic then, because he's pretty loud, pretty loud. But he'll have his time eventually.

McRainseeker:Ach are they gone?! I think they're gone. Okay, all you diehards that are listening here, I'm here to announce the winners of the Soap Tower challenge. For everyone who participated in the challenge, thanks so much! My new soap tower is great! We had two categories. In modded, there were changes made to the game's core play, which is okay but we decided we needed a separate category for it. On the unmodded sound, it is just plain vanilla Dwarf Fortress, and you can turn off sieges if you want. So without further ado, here are the winners: On the modded side of things we have Hardrada - I don't know how to pronounce that, because I'm a dwarf - but in any case he made this amazing polar bear fortress, the soap he used was polar bear soap, and some grizzly bear; you should try it! It tingles! And the winner of the unmodded category was alway for his gigantic tower. There were also many other great entries you can see on bay12games.com; thanks so much for everyone who participated. Don't forget to donate, and we'll see you next month.