Dwarf Fortress Talk #9, with Rainseeker, Capntastic and Toady One, transcribed by mallocks

Rainseeker:Welcome to another episode of Dwarf Fortress Talk. This is episode number nine, I'm Rainseeker and this here is Capntastic:
Rainseeker:And our illuminous leader, Tarn Adams, also known as Toady One.
Toady:Illuminous ... Is that like shining or something?
Rainseeker:Yeah, you're glowing.
Capntastic:Intermittently. Blinking.
Rainseeker:So what we're going to talk about today, ladies and gents, is what's going on for the new release and we're also going to address a much maligned topic.
Toady:Maligned ... I guess when people vote against it they're ...
Rainseeker:Kobolds. We're going to talk about kobolds today, kobold society, kobold mating rituals ... All of the above.
Capntastic:Kobold songs, chants and other limericks.
Toady:(limerick, in kobold)
Capntastic:Also all of your favourite kobold recipes.
Toady:That's right, and does the kobold lay eggs?
Rainseeker:This is a mystery that no man has yet solved.
Toady:We don't have eggs yet, so we can never answer the question. Like 'what came first, the chicken or the kobold egg?' And it'll have to be the chicken.
Capntastic:I just imagine kobolds stealing each other's kobold eggs. That's why they are all such good large families, because they don't know who belongs to who.
Rainseeker:That would make sense. That would be very entertaining as a matter of fact. Steal each other's younglings before they're hatched.
Capntastic:And then someone hatches a chicken and then things are just ... 'Whoa ... This is obviously ... a blessing.'
Toady:I guess they have to steal other people's eggs, like steal eggs from farms and stuff to keep their own eggs warm.
Rainseeker:There you go. That makes sense.
Toady:Maybe they steal a chicken to sit on their eggs.
Capntastic:That would make sense too. And then they have a kobold guarding the chicken.
Toady:So I guess that was our discussion about kobolds. Now we can move on.
Rainseeker:We were actually going to discuss battle. Battle and ...
Capntastic:... gore and guts.
Toady:It lost like twenty seven times so we figured we'd do it.
Rainseeker:It would continue to lose, so we're just going to give a nod to it and move on.
Capntastic:That's the essence of combat, you never give up. You keep punching and punching.
Toady:Unless you can surrender and survive.
Rainseeker:That's true! Okay that's a good question, are they going to be able to surrender?
Toady:Yeah, I think that made the new dev pages, because you're going to need to be able to get people to submit so that you can figure out where the real villains are. And if you're a thief or otherwise criminal you're going to need to be able to surrender to the guards so you can get hauled off to have your fingers chopped off and stuff. So it's going to be an important new addition, and longer life all around.
Rainseeker:Now if you lose your fingers does that mean that you've pretty much lost the game? You can't really do much else then I guess.
Toady:I don't know ... we're not going to go chopping off your limbs haphazardly, we want people to have fun with the game, but at some point you probably cross a line and they decide to start taking pieces away.
Rainseeker:'McGillycuddy this is your last warning. You're losing your last leg now.'
Toady:I guess you could continue to try and be a thief after that, but the whole getting away part might be tough.
Capntastic:No one would suspect you!
Toady:I guess you'd just need a getaway horse and a getaway person to lift you on the horse and tie you to it or something.
Capntastic:See but then the horse gets implicated and they start taking pieces of the horse. This never ends.
Toady:Yeah I guess you'd end up with a pyramid after a while, where you'd put the horses on the horses on the horses and then you'd get lifted up on the top. Yeah ... So that didn't quite make the dev pages but we're working on it.
Capntastic:Alright forums draw a picture of this. What about mounts in general, how will you be able to harness a beast to use to run around really fast and trample people.
Toady:When you're able to get livestock and buy a chicken or something early on you'll also be able to buy things like a horse ... although I imagine you could try to ride a cow or something, people ride cows all the time, just not for very long before they get tossed and the clowns have to come. So you'd be able to get a horse in that way ... I'm not a horse riding person, I'm not sure I've ever ridden a horse so I don't know much about saddles and bridles and all that kind of stuff, so we haven't made any decisions, I just don't know enough about that kind of thing. But assuming you're riding a horse in the proper way then the main problem becomes how velocity works in a tile-based system, because it's easier when you've got a spacial setup where you can move in really small increments to just make the horse go the way it's going, and you can just point this angle and go in this direction and so on. With our game I don't know if we'll have to reduce the direction the horse is going to sixteen different ways ... probably the same as the boats are going to work; a boat might only point four directions but it'll be able to travel in many directions, like up-up-over, up-up-over, or something like that. So I'm not sure how many directions the horses are going to have, if it's going to be like that, or the horse could just have eight directions just like you can walk, and it can have a velocity. The velocity means that you'd be moving faster, you'd be taking more turns to other people's turns, not combat turns necessarily but movement turns - because we're going to separate combat and movement turns - and then your horse will be moving quickly, but if the horse is going at a full gallop you won't just be able to stop on a dime and turn around. You'd probably have to turn the horse and then I don't know if you'd press over and that would be like filing an intent to turn, but you press over and the horse continues forward and then in that movement forward, when it moves one tile it also changes the direction of the horse by forty five degrees: then you're moving diagonally. Then you can keep turning your horse and then you'd just kind of roll around in a circle, you'd move in an arc as you tried to change your direction by a hundred and eighty degrees. Or you could just slow down your horse, you'd take a tile or two to slow down and then you could stop and turn around, if you want to do it that way. The only problem there that makes that difficult at all is the question of path finding when you've got a velocity like that. That's mostly the same because once people build a path they'll just be able to control their animal's velocity to follow the path. The only problem is if the pathfinding algorithm says 'oh, you just need to go backwards four steps to get where you want to go' and your horse is speeding forward you can't go backward four steps to get where you'd want to go. So you'd have to have a little part right in the beginning of the pathfinding that handles the arcs and handles that stuff, but that's an easier problem because it's a really local question, like 'how do I get my animal turned around so I can start this path' or 'how can I gracefully circle so that I meet my path four steps down the line and then take my path'. So it's not like you need to think about anything four thousand tiles away; it should be an easy question. If you're in the middle of a labyrinth maybe none of the turning strategies would really work; you probably shouldn't be racing a horse full speed through a labyrinth anyway.
Rainseeker:That's what great movies are made of.
Toady:But in that case we'll probably have them stop the horse and then do the path so they don't have to worry about their speed or anything. So it's not a hard problem, I think we can have pretty cool velocities for the horses, and then you can do stuff like having the velocity of your animal add to the velocity of the strike - the strikes all have velocity numbers now anyway - it's just a trivial kind of one-line thing to tag that on there. Eventually when we get to the point where you can only hit giants in the legs or whatever then you can have being up on a mount provide that kind of differentiation so your head's safer ... I'm not sure what other things come up out of mounts. You probably have to take care of your horse, at the same time you have to take care of your livestock, so you have to make sure your horse is fed and watered and so on. I don't know if you had other questions about that ...
Rainseeker:Would the mount have a morale check, so to speak? Like if it gets injured it might become afraid, or it might become afraid seeing a dragon in front of it and decide that 'no you're crazy, I'm not going to ride against a dragon'?
Toady:Yeah that'll happen at the same time that people care about that, because they don't care either. The funny thing about when you're riding a mount is that the mount is the one making the movement decisions in the end because it's the one that does the pathfinding and it's the one that actually takes the steps. I think the way that's handled in sieges right now in dwarf mode is because it doesn't really matter if it's the rider or the horse or the beak dog or whatever thinking; the animal just thinks like a sieger; 'okay I'm going to attack the front gate' and it just goes and runs off there. But when you're riding your own horse in adventure mode it's a more complicated relationship, and if your horse freaks out then you would not be making the decisions for your horse anymore. For instance there are already morale check failures that occur in really extreme situations like if you get really wounded - you might have seen these occasionally in adventure mode but usually you don't get a chance to see them because the person dies shortly thereafter - but you see them run away. That would happen with your horse the second we put it in, it would run away in those circumstances, depending on how the control mechanism works, if whenever you press a button to turn your horse if you've got, at first at least, a wire directly into its brain to turn it or whatever then it's a different matter, and I'm not sure what's going to happen at first. You'd like to have it controlled in a multi-step scheme where you do something like pull on the reigns or however that works and that conveys a message to the creature that it should perform an action, and then you can have breakdown in that in a number of ways; like if your reigns were cut, or if your horse were freaked out then all of those things could have an effect which would be cool. So it'd be probably be best to do it correctly the first time we go through.
Ollieh:(incidental music)
Rainseeker:Let's talk about martial arts. So I see that you have specific skills for fighting monsters, you have a skill for hand-on-hand combat against a dragon ...
Toady:I'm not sure how specific it's going to be, but once we put in things like if you're fighting a giant who's way taller than you then it would make sense that if people have been doing that for centuries then they'd have strategies. I'm not sure what those are going to be specifically, if it just gives you a knowledge against a monster and a bonus then that would be the easiest way to do it, but it would be way more fun to have particular things that you can do, to jump up on them, or attack them when they're swinging down at you, people practicing strikes to hack a dragon in the head when it comes down to bite them or whatever. There might be stereotyped ways of doing that, although I don't think enough people fight dragons and survive to really learn that stuff ... it'd be kind of weird to see the training facilities with the giant cardboard dragons, people practicing against them ...
Rainseeker:Well you never know when a dragon's going to show up ...
Toady:The main thing with the martial arts is just fighting against other people, and 'martial arts' used in the most general sense, so it would include fencing, wrestling, boxing type stuff. So a simple example of martial art moves would just be something like boxing where you'd have people that are unskilled using their hands just throwing these punches where they just do their attack with the punch, and it might be that you can aim your shot - if someone has no skill at all and they're just fighting they can aim at someone's head - so when we put in aimed strikes you could throw a strike at the head, but then there would also be people who have some kind of skill in a particular randomly generated skill who might learn something like a left jab, and then the left jab would be more efficient, faster, have a longer range, than someone going all wild, and it would be better to learn those things. Then there's the idea of having different guards, just in a general sense perhaps, like you're holding your hands in front of your head ... It would be a really loose concept in general, because people generally aren't holding both of their hands to the left of their head, it doesn't need to get like that. Although we were thinking of having it so that you start with a general guard and you could move it higher or lower depending on ... like if you were fighting a dog or something it's not like you should be totally covering up the top of your head ... and then we were thinking ... there's this whole change of the combat flow thing where our overall goal is that if you stick a human in the arena and another human in the arena, and given them the same equipment and the same skills ... Right now if you play one and you assume control and you have those two guys fight each other you still basically do the roguelike thing where you press arrow arrow arrow and fight and you're flipping a coin to see if you're going to live. And there's sometimes when things dodge or when you fall over and you have to decide whether you're going to stand up or throw another strike or step back so that you can wait for the guy to come in so you can get a first strike on him, that kind of thing: so there's some skill involved that isn't just flipping the coins. But it's still the case that ultimately your chances aren't very good. I'm not saying that situation's necessarily going to change that much in terms of your survivability but we should at least make it more fun. You should be more survivable, you should at least be able to be more cautious about things, but basically what we're getting at is that you shouldn't just swing and then have the other person swing back, this is where we're getting at the idea of these reaction moments. So you could be standing there and someone could swing at you, but instead of how it is now where you press the button, it does the attack and then there's a delay of ten steps where you're recovering yourself so that you can attack again, when you attack it would start swinging an attack and then that attack is going to hit after five steps, and so during that time it could bust out and be like you see this incoming swing and you have a chance to react sometimes. So your reaction could be 'I want to try and block this thing' or 'I want to jump out of the way' or 'I'm going to try my little jujitsu move I've been practicing where I grab his wrist and twist him and get him on the ground', where you'd be balancing risks, balancing your skills and being more involved in the combat even though ultimately it's going to come down to some dice rolls still. Because there's that whole thing of if you've got an action game then you've got the player's skill as the determining fact - the player, the user of the program's skill - whereas if you've got an RPG it's more the character's skills that matter in the outcome of the combat and you just make some strategic decisions. The RPG part has to be respected a lot in this game, but you're going to be able to have more decisions to make. So if you end up doing something like someone throws a kick at your head and you have a high guard you'll have a chance to block it, but if you react to it you might be able to block the side of your head that it's coming toward, like how you actually have to be proactive if you want to stop someone from kicking you in the head. And you might then up with something like your left arm guarding the left side of your head ... we don't want to make it too complicated, but if your body is broken up into three zones or something, and your guard can just be general or you might be guarding one of those zones more than others but after you do a specific block or something for a time one of your grasping limbs might be blocking a particular side of your head just briefly. It's not something where you're going to be controlling yourself like a marionette but it's just going to be for text and the situation that it describes the announcements.
Captnastic:'You raise your hand to block', 'you bring your shield down', that sort of stuff?
Toady:Yeah, and it'll be talking about that in the announcements and it will also lead to situations, so if someone tries to kick you in the side of your head and you raise your arm to block it, it says that, but then if some kobold comes up with a dagger and tries to stab you in the gut then that left hand is not going to be available for your defence without a good reaction roll. So multiple opponents should be harder and you'll be strategically trying to get into situations where you're not surrounded. Even more than usual: right now they get bonuses to attack you but you're not really tied up the same way. So that should help a bit. For people who don't want to deal with that, especially if you're fighting people you know you can beat you can just have it do the thing it's going to do with them which is select the options for you, so if you get attacked it selects an option for you, so you can play it the same way if you want and it'll just have more interesting text for you to read. But you should also be able to make the decisions, and that should change things a lot. We have that advantage in a turn based environment to be able to let you interact more with what's going on and stop and think about things and so on, so we should take advantage of that. It should turn out pretty well, we just don't want to overcomplicate by having directional attacks on each part of the bodies ... but the zones thing is a little tricky too, if you're laying down you'd have your head zone and your body zone and your leg zone but they'd all be low on the ground. We're hoping that something like the zones could be used to do the thing with the giants too, where the giant's head zone is, when he's standing, is way out of reach for a typical person, and you might have attacks like a jab or some kind of sword strike that comes up that can only be used to hit the upper zones and then a person would be able to block that kind of attack by guarding their top zone from below ... not something that you have to set up in advance, you wouldn't be holding these weird guards when you're walking around, but it would be kind of a blocking event ... The things we're thinking about is like, we want to be able to do things like blocking head kicks or whatever in specific ways, so it would say what your arms are doing, but you don't want to walk around with ... When you see people fighting they're moving their arms, they might be holding their left arm near their head and their right arm near their body, but then they'll switch it up and they'll have the right arm near their head and the left arm near their body, and it would be really annoying to have to switch every turn to get that behaviour, it's like 'I want to do this and this and then step toward the guy, and we're still twenty feet away from each other, and then I want to do this and this ...' So there'd be just this general guard concept and that kind of specific blocking would be something that you'll only do when you're being attacked. Now there are exceptions to that, like if you want to hold both of your arms blocking the back of your head when you're running away or something ... you run away, you're being shot at, you hold both of your arms over the back of your head, maybe your arms will get shot instead of the back of your head ... It'd just be a funny and embarrassing way to go out, but you'd be able to say 'I want to do that'. That would be in an improved wrestling menu or something where you'd pick the limb and pick what you want to do with it, but we don't want to get too Twistery, we don't want to get too strange. It's unrealistic to have the arms act completely independent of each other, that's just not how it works; there's some independence but you don't want to have 'I want to punch him in the head with my right hand and simultaneously punch him in the gut with my left hand while I'm kicking him with both of my legs' ... It'd be kind of goofy. I guess when people are clapping ears, or whatever happens in the action movies, that would be an attack simultaneously, but it's not like those attacks are knocking anybody out, so you'd get severe minuses for your velocity if you're not putting your body into it, you're just swinging both of your arms at once and your whole body can't be used to increase the momentum in either direction so it ends up being wimpy. So we'll just account for that stuff, and we don't want it to be much more complicated to use than it is now, it's half just getting the text to be good and getting it so that multiple opponents are way more difficult: things like that. So it should be fun, it ultimately comes down to - because we've got character skill to account for - it still ultimately comes down to some coin flipping, but you can build your advantages and take advantage of things and take advantage of the AI making mistakes more than you could previously. We're not going to be satisfied with it until just creating two guys in an arena and having them fight is something that you'd want to do for fun sometimes. Right now you do it just to see them explode, or you're testing a mod, but it doesn't sell itself as a thing to do on its merits as a game. Hopefully when we're done with all the martial arts and guards that'll be a lot more fun, and you'll be able to do things like, when we get the mounts we'll probably allow mounts in the arena then too so you can test them out and have fun with that, learning how to use them.
Rainseeker:How are you going to plan on improving the skills in adventure mode as far as martial arts is concerned. Are there going to be a lot of different martial arts skills or is there just one that you practice, or do you go to seek a trainer, or how are you planning ...
Toady:We're thinking that you'd start with something ... they're probably going to be entity dependent to some extent. There are questions to be answered there. There are general martial art skills, and that's what we just have under skill striker, skill sword; the actual skill that there is in the game right now. And then you tack specific techniques on top of that that aren't part of becoming familiar with sword fighting necessarily but becoming familiar with the particular style of sword fighting, like fencing. The issues come up when you're like ... is a certain move in fencing the same as it would be in kendo, or are they related, are you just using different words for the same stuff, what are the actual differences ... That kind of question is basically going to be answered, that's what sword skill is, that's the commonality, and whether we break that up into more sections or not is an open question, we're probably not going to at first. That means that when you learn a combat style it would basically be an entity thing that would be a specific thing like kung fu or fencing or whatever, and that would be something that if you start as a fighter in an entity you would have some of that information, some of that skill already, some of the specific moves that you can use when you're fighting. Then it's a matter of ... there are a bunch of other skilled fighters in the entity and as you build your reputation just like people would be throwing free items and places to sleep and stuff like that at you and you'll be able to have people join up with you and go on little adventures with you if you have a good reputation because they trust you because you've been defending them against bandits and night creatures and all that kind of thing, then you can just have someone help you out, someone will want to teach you stuff, or you'll be sparring with people or whatever. It's not necessarily something that you're going to act out necessarily, it could just use the farming mechanism where you pass a season and just say 'I want to pass a season hanging out with these crazy mead hall guys and they can teach me about how to kill boars', or 'I want to hang out with these guys and learn how to box' or 'I want to hang out with these guys and learn how to fence' or 'learn how to do judo throws'. Then you'd increase your repertoire, you'd trade in your time and the years of your life for some more skills, and you could then practice them on people as well when you're actually fighting, and you could get better at them that way, but you won't learn new skills that way, unless you fight people long enough and then you suddenly realise 'I know how to do the eagle punch all of a sudden! I understand the deep mystery!' There could be things like that especially if we have universes that are move like Fist of the North Star, then that kind of thing would start to happen, but mostly we're thinking training with warriors and so on.
Toady:I don't remember if I put it up or not, but it would be funny if you learn enough stuff that you'd be able to create your own style and have it live on after you, you could teach it to other people and it'd be kind of cool to have your next guy, and there would be these guys that you were hanging out with in your previous game and they all know the punch that you named after yourself, it would be amusing. It should be pretty cool, and just trying to work that stuff into the fights and getting it so it all works together and isn't too annoying should be pretty cool.
Ollieh:(musical interlude)
Rainseeker:Capn, you want to add to this?
Capntastic:So what about climbing? Like if you're fighting a giant and you climb up its back and stab it in the neck?
Toady:Yeah, like all the old Ray Harryhausen movies had them jumping up on the back of the cyclops and hacking on it and stuff, and people bring up Shadow of the Colossus too, which is cool. All that stuff's pretty cool, the question would be how can you do that in our kind of visually impoverished environment, and would it be as fun? It's obviously not going to be as exhilarating in some sense, but it would still be entertaining. We have that thing up on the dev pages where it's like 'being able to jump up and ride on your opponents' and I guess it would just be like that. Depending on how those zones work out you can jump either onto the middle zone of a larger creature, like if you're jumping up on a troll you could try to jump and grab a hold of its back ... I don't know if you'd be doing that twin daggers climb up its back, but ...
Rainseeker:That might smart.
Toady:Yeah, you might get smacked by a big troll fist ... It's interesting to think of how it all works together, because there's wrestling ... because during a brief time during the throw the guy is really off balance but he might be riding you in a sense even though he's so off balance or in the process of a slow motion fall that he can't really do much with it. Although I guess there have been a few weird times where they recover and choke people with their legs when they're being picked up by them and so on, there's some weird stuff. So that's one thing where you're kind of being carried by somebody, partially, and you're kind of falling, and you're kind of riding them, and then there's riding a horse which is like a Shadow of the Colossus thing, and then there's the actual version where you're climbing up a dragon or jumping up on an oliphaunt like Legolas in the movie, climbing all over its trunk and shooting it in the brain and all that kind of thing. So there's all those different things and the question is do those play nice together, is that all one unified system, because then you can do that. But you don't want to have to go up to your horse and be like 'attack horse: jump on its back' and you're like 'you are now riding your horse', that'd be kind of silly. We haven't obviously come up with the specifics there, but it would be fun and fitting with all of the fantasy predecessors to be able to jump up on a large beast, so it's important to do that. I guess once you're on it in a simplified version it's like 'you are riding on the dragon's left lower leg' and you'd be 'move up' and you'd cry up the body part tree, it could do a path search on it or something, and you climb up the leg and then you're on the dragon's lower body, and then it's like 'do you want to try and jab your spear into the dragon's wicked spleen or do you want to go up higher?' and you could climb up and eventually be riding around on the dragon's neck. Then you'd be able to get attacks on it but it would be able to get attacks on you that you'd have more difficult dodging, or it could go to the ground and try to smash one of its zones into the ground.
Rainseeker:Yeah I don't want to just give him digestion problems, I want to actually kill the darned thing.
Toady:By the time we're done you're not going to have access to a dragon's head all that often. When we get the thing in where a combat move takes time to execute then if a dragon tries to bite you and you're a good enough fighter that you get the reaction on that then it would say 'the dragon is coming to bite you, what do you want to do?' and that body part would now be accessible to you, it'd be like 'well I'd like to try and hack his head off', and that would be an option that you can go for.
Rainseeker:Take that risk.
Toady:Or 'I'd like to jump on the dragon's head when he's coming to bite me' and then you could jump up on in when he's coming, then he'll miss his attack and you'll be riding a dragon's head ... and your friends won't be able to help you because when the attack is over you'll be lifted well up into space; however high zone one is set to be off of the ground where they can't reach you, and then you'll be sitting there trying to stab a dragon's eyes out or something, and he'd be sitting there trying to wipe you off like a cat with its claws, or maybe it'd just shake ...
Rainseeker:Once you get this mechanic installed you should have a contest in arena mode to see how long people can ride the dragon, before you get bucked off.
Toady:I guess that's the same thing with the cows when you jump up on a bull, and I guess if you try and ride a chicken then it should just get squashed.
Rainseeker:I guess you could wrestle the chicken.
Toady:Their heads come right off don't they? So you'd have to account for that somehow. So it should be intriguing. Now with wrestling ... the first thing is obviously improving the wrestling interface which is garbage right now, but once you get beyond that ... just having a two step process, where you're like 'what am I using, what am I doing with it?' instead of a list - it's like 'here's a list four hundred things long' - then that would probably be enough to repair that. But there are some things with wrestling, like really basic things, that aren't really accounted for right now. So every grab is like playing Twister again, you can grab this with this, grab this with this, grab this with this, and it knows who has the advantage in each of those things, like 'my hand is grabbing his arm, and he doesn't have his arm locked around my head' then I have the advantage in that, but it doesn't have any positional information over all, like 'this guy is sitting on top of me' or 'we're tied up together on the ground' or 'he's on top of me but I'm controlling him with my arms and legs' and there are things like that that are totally not accounted for right now, and we're not quite sure how we're going to do that. It's easy when you're doing human on human, it's easier to say what you're going to do, but it has to be a general system. It's something we're just not quite sure about. And then when you are squatting on top of somebody or whatever how is that related to writing again, how is that related to climbing on somebody? All of this two people related to each other stuff ... It seems like there's a system there that wants to come out and be unified, and that would be the best way to do it, but again like I was saying with the horse, you want to have special cases too. Then you'd be able to do things that feel more like actual wrestling, like someone's on top of you but then you do a sweep and now you're on top of him, and there's different kinds of being on top of somebody so that sometimes it's easy to wrestle and sometimes it's easier to punch, or whatever ... just a notion of an overall advantage. Even standing up when you're clinched up together like the boxers when they hug each other or those muay thai guys, or even when people's swords are tangled up then there's also a notion of an advantage sometimes. It's a holistic thing, it's not like the Twister stuff again. So we'll have to work on that, I don't have specific ideas there aside from what I've said just now, so ... That should help a lot though with getting away from the Twister style wrestling and just being like 'who's got the advantage here? Who can better initiate the throws and who is able to hit who?' It should be good, overall we're just hoping to make the combat more interesting. That's the kind of thing you say when it's like ninety seven degrees in here like it is now, it's like 'we want to make the game fun! I think all the time about making the game fun!'
Rainseeker:Capn do you have any other ideas or questions about combat?
Capntastic:Goofy unskilled flailing attacks.
Toady:It's a fun thing to think about in general when you're talking about situations like 'I've got a dwarf and he's my carpenter now, even though he's never done it in his life' and the dwarf starts spitting out like 'that's a regular table, that's a regular table, that's a regular table'. Now if you took someone like me and told me to build a table, you wouldn't quite get a regular table, I think. You'd get what might be called a shoddy, or crooked, or unbalanced, rocking table.
Rainseeker:Yes I've been wondering about that.
Toady:And that kind of thing ... that was up on the old dev pages, I don't remember if it was one of those reqs or bloats or whatever. It's like negative quality, and it's just like the whole thing with vices and virtues; if there's one way to be virtuous there are many ways to have a vice off of that virtue. So you can be courageous but you can also be inactive, or reckless, or you can be a coward. There's lots of different ways to screw up courage, just like there's a lot of ways to screw up a table. I don't know if we're going to go there ... I'm not sure negative quality is sufficient or if there's just like all kinds of ways to screw things up, but certainly when you're in combat if you have no skill with something then you're going to be getting off balance, or you're just going to whiff and miss entirely or trip and hit yourself ... chop off your own toe or something like that. Screwing up in all manner of ways. Your lack of expertise should be reflected in what happens ... trying to strangle someone to death and not knowing what you're doing can be a process I guess. Just like clumsily and inexpertly doing things ... There should be a use for the fighting skills in general, so that you can do that ... There's a skill for close range fighting now just called 'fighter', it's like 'I am a skilled fighter', and once you get up to there when you're a skilled fighter you should probably not really be an embarrassment no matter what you try and do: if you're fighting with an axe or if you're fighting with a mace, you should have stopped with the real garbage. It would just be an initial learning period for everybody, they get up to their skilled fighter part and then they're no longer ...
Rainseeker:Unless somebody is particular bad, I suppose.
Toady:Like a skilled fighter but their attributes are all garbage?
Rainseeker:Well I don't know, maybe he's cowardly and so everything he does gets negatives to it when it's in battle.
Toady:Oh yeah, well there's that whole other can of worms with the dwarven AI rewrite for job priorities and the whole virtue/vice thing for villains where we start thinking about instead of having happiness as a number just having more emotions to work with. Then yeah, anger, or adrenaline ...
Rainseeker:I just remembered, my priority is not battle, it's thinking! I'm going to go think now!
Toady:Having anger screw you up when you're fighting or having that kind of stuff, or just being totally scared, having that screw you up, that's certainly ... You'd hate to start with that sort of constitution as an adventurer probably, just always being a coward, but that runs into a whole larger conversation about whether or not adventurers should have emotion at all when they player's playing them ... There's a big question there about how much that interferes with your role playing. I think there's an ongoing discussion right now about that in one of the dev things, like whether or not it would be a good idea to have you get bored, so that you want to go off drinking and whoring or whatever you need to do, or sitting in your fancy leather couch so that you regenerate for your adventurer. It interferes with role playing ...
Rainseeker:Kind of turning into The Sims at that point.
Toady:Yeah. It interferes with role play to tell you what you're thinking , but at the same time it makes you act more like a real person. So it's a trick, and I don't like doing that, but it makes a lot of sense to, so it's a difficult decision.
Ollieh:(musical interlude)
Capntastic:Now it's time to answer some of your favourite dwarf questions. Well, soon to be favourite questions. Urist McHippy wants to know if you'll ever be able to make soap without needing to hunt animals for tallow, and he adds 'after all the first soap was made by the Babylonians using vegetable oil in place of animal fat.
Toady:Vegetable oil ... we don't have it written down specifically anywhere but it's so important and so ubiquitous in history I can't see us skipping it for too too too much longer. I don't know a thing about how to make it, whether or not you just take something and press it and squeeze it or something in some giant press, or if you use your feet like everything else, or if you do ... whatever. But yeah, you don't need fat and nasty oily melty stinky dead rotten bodies and stuff to have oil, so I'm all for olive oil and other kinds of oil. Whatever makes sense, the more education I receive on that subject, the more I will know how to do it. I'm all for it, I think it's important.
Rainseeker:'Have you read Roger Ebert's article about videogames not being art, and do you think Dwarf Fortress is art and why?'
Toady:I've seen some of the things Roger Ebert's said, I don't remember if I read that article in particular but I think I knew basically where he's been coming from. I would not really call anything 'art' because it's such a difficult word, I'm not even sure it is a word ... if as a word it's meant to represent a concept in our heads that we all have a common understanding of and can be used for communication then it certainly doesn't qualify. You can ask specific questions though, it doesn't mean you dodge the question, you can ask specific questions. Like 'does Dwarf Fortress reflect something of the human condition or something that I am trying to communicate to other people so that they can become better people'. Certainly how the game is set up reflects on me in ways, reflects my world view, what I think about things; anytime I make a decision about mechanics to put in that's all coloured by my perceptions and things, and there are people that have drawn conclusions about that thing, or those kind of things and sent me emails about them. But it's not my main goal, and it's not something that ... while I'm conscious of it and make decisions being aware that that's how the process works, and sometimes you can do things like Liberal Crime Squad where you're trying to be funny about things but you're also trying to reflect on some aspect of society without making it some kind of mission ... There are elements of that, so I think videogames can certainly be approached from that perspective. I can't answer his particular comments just because I don't remember them well enough, like what he thinks a videogame can't do and what he thinks a movie can, and what he thinks books can do, and why doesn't videogaming have a Shakespeare yet, or if it can have one, or anything like that. I do think that games are different from those things by their nature, but I don't think that's simply a limitation; I think games can do things that movies and books cannot do. I think the most important thing probably is just to keep in mind the particulars of the questions that you're asking instead of just trying to put things into a category, just ask what's going on, what am I seeing here, what is it doing, and what is this person trying to do? Live your life and be happy with shit and stuff.
Rainseeker:Well I mean yeah ... can art be interactive?
Toady:Absolutely! The theatre. If you say theatre is art, then art can be interactive, there's all those improv theatres and stuff, and some of them try and say things about people, if that's what your criteria for art is. If you bring the audience members up on stage and interact with them and so on, and you're trying to get people to realise something or other you can do that very consciously. Whatever your criteria for art is, if it involves discussing something about what it means to be human theatre is obviously attempting to do that, and if it succeeds for certain people - and obviously different strokes for different folks - and I think theatre does succeed in doing that for people, changes people's lives, including the kind of theatre where people get the audience involved and so on ... and if you think that is artistic expression then a game should have certain stature, if you want to rate things. It's not something I care about or stay up at night thinking about, whether or not my game is artistic expression. I have a really different agenda than that, I do enjoy the games for the challenge of writing them, the escapism and that kind of thing; it's not crucial to me for the games I write if they somehow make you feel like you're a better human being or something. I know some people have said 'I think this videogame is art' and the artist's intention is not necessarily important there. If my idea is not that I'm on a mission to create artwork in a certain sense - like I say if I use the word 'art' people don't know what I'm talking about because it's not a word that has a shared meaning - so if I say I'm not going out of my way to make you a better person, let's say that. It's not my mission to go out of my way and make you a better person. But if some people report from the trenches that Dwarf Fortress has in fact made them think about something and that made them a better person then it's really just that it was a touchstone - like a lot of things are - to get you to think about things passively. It's not like ideas need to be communicated from one person to another for things to have an 'artistic effect', there just needs to be some meat there to play with. I don't know, I'm not an authority, but I imagine the guy who asked the question wanted to hear me yammer on about it, so ...
Capntastic:But are movies games?
Toady:All I know is that movies caught the same shit that Ebert is giving when they were young, and you have to sit back and not be a hypocrite. I think it's important to not be dismissive of things that he's saying though if he's being honest about it. Because I think it's a valid question to ask, how can a game make people think about their society or themselves or what's going on in their head the same way reading some 'important work' would do, and has a track record for doing. I don't know if games have the same track record, certainly Pacman didn't change my life.
Rainseeker:Sure changed some marriages I think
Toady:Videogames obviously changed my life in the sense that I'm writing them now and it's kind of all I do, but that's not the same because that happens with sports or whatever else. I'm not saying sports isn't artistry in a certain sense either but ... you know what I mean. So I think Ebert probably raises legitimate points in there but I think in part because he says he's never played videogames and then he brings up examples ... he posted something recently saying that he doesn't think they can be art but he doesn't want to talk about it anymore, and he admits he doesn't play them, and that he thought that that was good point; he doesn't play them and he should shut up about it. He said that himself if I remember, recently, after this latest shitstorm out of something he wrote. It's legitimate, people just need to sit back and think about the questions that are actually being asked, and the less the word 'art' is used, I think, the more can be gleaned from that discussion.
Rainseeker:Here's a technical question; 'Recently in computer architecture the paradigm has shifted to multiple cores. I was wondering if Dwarf Fortress will support multiple threads eventually, and if so what timescale it will occur in.'
Toady:It is my understanding that the SDL stuff is now multicored, with the graphics and the graphics display and so on. Now obviously people, when they're asking about it, that's one important point but people are curious like 'why can't I have seventeen dwarves pathing at once' or 'why can't you take that stupid ass weather simulation and make that go happen on some core, preferably not at all'. It's complicated, and from what I gather it would be a really difficult long project and it's probably not going to happen. That's what I gather. Now there are some things, like these micro multithreading of a smaller process just to get through one loop faster, it can break it up and then come back without it being a case of running path finding at the same time as you're running a fluid simulation, and that stuff, the more I know about that the better, probably, and maybe that's feasible. As for splitting up the path finding and stuff: some people have discussed about how that might work, but as for whether anything is actually going to come of that, I wouldn't bet on it anyway.
Capntastic:Alright, that was Dwarf Fortress Talk number nine, I hope you had a fun time.
Rainseeker:We sure did.
Capntastic:This is Capntastic signing off.
Rainseeker:Bye bye from Rainseeker.
Toady:That's right, bye bye. I should say bye from Toady One.
Rainseeker:And this week we're making some changes in the podcast, I hope that you didn't notice.
Toady:Yeah, that's kind of wishful thinking on my editing in the future which is going to happen.
Rainseeker:Okay so who do we have to thank?
Toady:Ollieh and mallocks and all the people that asked questions this week, and all of our listeners.
Ollieh:(musical postlude)

Bonus section

Toady:(aside to Scamps) Mister! That's not for chewing! Mister! Mister. Speakers are not for chewing. Speakers are not for chewing, pens are not for throwing in the garbage. This is a lesson you can learn in your life. You got it? No, I didn't think so. (end aside)
Capntastic:Scamp was enlightened.
Rainseeker:A paradigm shift for him.

Rainseeker:Wait, Capn, are you thinking of starting a barbary business?
Capntastic:Yeah, this is all my adventure, I want to make bread, I want a barber, and I want to raise sheep.

Rainseeker:I have five birds in the house, I have eighteen birds in the garage ... Not including the babies that are currently there ... I think I have six babies right now in the garage, and I think there's some laying on eggs right now.
Toady:So twenty nine plus eggs? It's been a while since I had to do any math.
Rainseeker:You can't do math! You have no background in it.
Toady:Well not a lot adding, we stopped adding after a while, out of practice. People are always like 'wow you have a math degree, does that mean that you can multiply three digit numbers in your head and stuff?' I'm like 'not really ... unless they've got a bunch of zeroes in them, a hundred times two hundred, stuff like that'.
Rainseeker:That's a hard one.
Toady:Yeah, you have to count the zeros and stuff. Or I guess you could do those things where you have two hundred hundreds is twenty thousands ... I don't know.
Rainseeker:There's a little math trick for you guys.
Capntastic:Impress your friends.
Toady:Impress your friends by counting on your fingers, and be just like me. Yeah, so there's stuff going on, there's multiple birds. (aside to Scamps) What are you doing back up here Mister Scamps? You want to press things on the keyboard? Is that how you work? You're just a bad boy, just leaning your lardy haunches over on the F keys, that's bad.(end aside)