Systemic games

Tarn Adams posted a very fun graph.

It shows the development plan for Dwarf Fortress. The letters can be tracked from this page (I think). Green is “bloat”, light blue is core components, the rest I don’t know.

I’m pointing this out because that’s how things look when you build a systemic game. I wrote many times about this, opposing this scheme to a linear game. In this case all the elements have a precise role within the system. There’s no mudflation. And there’s lot of depth and interaction between all the elements. This builds a virtual and immersive world and it’s a model completely different from the linear games where what you do can be organized in a simple, one-directional sequence (consumed content).

Mmorpgs could of course learn more than one thing from this, because it’s a much more efficient model to use. And because the result is a game world planned to last for as long you desire without never becoming old and keep growing without alienating new and veteran players. A good place to be now and in the longer term.

His plans on the future of Dwarf Fortress are extremely cool:

After grinding away at temperature for a while, it’s time for a change of pace. The previous Future of the Fortress has been put on hiatus — the relevant material is still part of Core42, Core43 and Req96. Now we’re going to add armies.

There are a few goals. The first is to get overland civs to dislike each other, raise armies and destroy or capture each others cities. The next is to get them to do this to you in dwarf mode, rather than having them generate armies on top of you periodically. The third goal is to let you raise armies from your fortress and attack them. Adventurers will be able to be present during army battles, or be present in towns when unfortunate circumstances arise, but they won’t be able to affiliate with armies until later.

To achieve these goals, a few new items are up on dev: Core44, Core45, Core46 and Core47. Core44 and Core47, overland migrants and cleaning of worthless historical figures, are required to keep the world alive when wars start decreasing populations. Core45 and Core46 are the actual mechanics of starting wars, raising armies and attacking other armies and towns. The dwarf mode part was already established in Core26 (now narrowed) and Core27. The bulk of information formerly in Core26 is present in the Army Arc and will be re-Core’d as new goals come up.

Since the ability to send out patrols is linked to the Baron, I’ll add an option to keep the economy off so you don’t have to worry about the current issues that arise when you get the Bookkeeper. Sending out patrols sooner might be considered when it would matter. Right now the primary reason to send out armies would be to halt invasions from kobolds and goblins (or to attack the elves), which you won’t be worrying about or accomplishing until you have more dwarves. Because the armies used to attack you would actually be raised from the populations of the attacking civilizations (Core26), your attacks will have tangible effects on invasions (not that you need to worry if you are just crushing them with a drawbridge, but that’s a side issue). Whether or not the current pace of the game is maintained depends on the effectiveness of repopulation efforts (Core44) — these are adjustable so any problems can be corrected.

I want a Dwarf Fortress online.

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