Posts Tagged ‘dwarfening

03
Oct
10

Fort Dwarfress: The Dwarfening pt 2

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A continuation of the story told by The Dwarfening of one gamer’s attempts to crack open the inaccessible shell of the Dwarf Fortress user interface to feast on the soft and succulent game beneath.

The Fonz was chopping wood. Much of the formerly magnificent forest surrounding my future mountain halls (majestically named Oilyteachers) was now reduced to so much lumber laying unclaimed on the floor. For a moment, surveying the devastation, I felt ill. Then one of my cats gave birth and I realised that I’d need to build a butcher’s shop soon. Dwarves need food after all, and just eating mushrooms from the farms wouldn’t — wait. Mushrooms. From the farms. The farms…

To say that my forgetting to build any farms was a minor oversight would naturally be to hugely understate the mistake I’d made. Was I already well on the road to losing? Had my obsession with clear cutting the forest and opening vast chasms in the rock led me so astray that even now my dwarves teetered on the brink of salvation? A quick check of their status revealed that fortunately all was not lost. Though many of my food reserves were gone, I estimated that what I had left was probably sufficient to keep my dwarves alive until my farms were producing. Besides, my dwarves could probably do to lose a little weight anyway.

Farming is not simple. I found that out the hard way. If you want to grow food underground (and honestly, who doesn’t?), there are a number of steps to take. First you need to issue the order for your miners to excavate the room for the cave, then the next logical step seems to be to place a farm in that excavated room, right? I can hear your answer to that rhetorical question, and it’s “right!”

You are wrong, and why are you answering rhetorical questions? No, in fact it turns out that although you can place a farm anywhere it won’t actually grow crops unless you place it on a muddy floor. This makes perfect and complete sense in bizarro land, where a slightly dirty floor is capable of sustaining fields of wheat. I discovered this state of affairs the hard way, and only a trip to the main wiki for Dwarf Fortress clued me in on the mud situation.

So, mud. Fine, I would just mud up the floor a bit. Except I need to flood the room, which means I have to abandon the excavated room with its barren, lifeless farm and scout out an underground reservoir. Of course the only one I am able to find is so massive that the resulting flood covers the entirety of my burgeoning fortress in layers of foetid mud and leaves me feeling despondent. Halfa Scargill (my mining dwarf) narrowly avoids drowning, whilst my tailor Liberace looks displeased when he is roused from his nap in the middle of a corridor by a cascade of filthy water.

Still, as the flood waters eventually evaporate I am left with mud, glorious mud. Now I can farm!

It has been over a year since my dwarves arrived at Oilyteachers and dwarves from far afield begin flocking to Oilyteachers, clearly desperate to crawl around in the stinking mud. Some time spent on the Dwarf Fortress wiki let me know of a program called Dwarf Therapist. See, the interface in Dwarf Fortress is almost exactly as painful as receiving a mallet to the testicles. When new dwarves arrive they need to be told to do the jobs they’re good at, and without Dwarf Therapist the process of finding out what their skills are and altering their job priorities accordingly is excruciating.

A few clicks in Dwarf Therapist and I’m done! The original dwarves of Oilyteachers have been joined by Michelle Jackson (a natural ability with music, a poor understanding of social relationships) who will be a general dogsbody to help Bald Rick as her actual area of expertise is as a tailor and Liberace is much better than her. Another new arrival was highly skilled as a carpenter and woodcutter, he was promptly named Al Gore and assigned to fell every tree in sight. The last arrival was gifted with charm and social graces, as well as being a masterful appraiser. Hilary Clunton, my previous chief appraiser, was an amateur compared to this new arrival.

I named her Sugartits and I would go on to hate her with a fiery passion.

More soon.

17
Sep
10

Dwarf Fortress: The Dwarfening, pt1

Dwarfening logo

I had always liked the idea of Dwarf Fortress more than I’d liked the implementation. Who doesn’t want to build their own underground fortress? However, a thoroughly confusing UI and the lack of any kind of in-game instruction meant I just bounced straight off it the first time I gave it a go. Fortunately I am persistent. Read on to hear about my frustration with Sugartits.

Ok, so I should probably explain what Dwarf Fortress is. Imagine a ridiculously in-depth rogue-like dungeon management sim. That’s a little bit like Dwarf Fortress. When I say in-depth, what I really mean is in-depth. A dwarf I named Michelle Jackson entered a flood, carrying her baby. She dropped the baby in the flood by accident and spent minutes running around the water, panicked, trying to find it. If a game’s AI includes lost baby subroutines, I’m sold.

I began my game by following a set of tutorials on YouTube. I think it’d be pretty impossible to penetrate Dwarf Fortress without at least something as supportive as those tutorials; the developers of Dwarf Fortress have a lot to thank tutorial author Captnduck for. This time I would succeed where previously I had failed. This time I would win.

I began by failing. This is a bit of a theme in Dwarf Fortress. I picked a site with an aquifer, see. What harm could that possibly be? Turns out a lot of harm. I couldn’t dig in the rock because it was full of water. Failure: 2 minutes of gameplay and I had already lost. In Dwarf Fortress the process of losing is called Fun. I wasn’t currently sure about this.

I began again. In Dwarf Fortress you can set up your founding party of dwarves, and what they bring with them on their bold expedition to construct a new fortress home. I decided I would bring along a good mix of things, with a good amount of food. Little did I know how prescient this decision would prove to be. You see, like everything else, in Dwarf Fortress food production is complicated.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I named my dwarves. There was Hilary Clunton, my expedition leader. She was an experienced judge and appraiser, with a sideline in architecture. Hilary Clunton was smart. Next up was House MD, who I decided would be my doctor. I’ll admit that the name was the second thing I decided about him. I had leader and doctor covered, but now I needed a stone worker. Thus James Mason was born. You may be detecting a theme here. I also brought along The Fonz (wood cutting and carpentry) and Halfa Scargill (mining). Liberace would be my chief clothes/armor designer, and as a general dogsbody I brought along Bald Rick.

The site I selected this time was free from aquifers. You can’t fool me twice – or at least, if you do fool me twice it’s certainly not something I will be honest about when writing up my game experience on a blog. The site was on the side of a mountain, and its dwarven name was Uzolamal (Oilyteachers, in English). Thusly prepared, I broke the earth and began my fortress.

The first thing I decided my dwarves would need was food. I had brought along plenty of seeds, so after marking out for excavation the main pathway into my dungeon fortress I had Halfa Scargill cut out several rooms which would serve as my bread basket; a sort of subterranean Sussex. Meanwhile I decided I really wanted my dwarfs to have wood (hi my name is Tom and I am 13 years old) so The Fonz was mobilised to clear cut the forest. This may seem a drastic approach to conservation but I felt that I needed the materials a lot more than I needed the view.

Hilary Clunton was proving to be useless. I had anticipated her taking an active role, but her skills just weren’t coming in handy. I decided that until I had need of her particular talents she would be the chief refuse hauler of the fortress. Nobody ever said politics was dignified.

Everything was coming along nicely.

Continued in the next couple of days.




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