Welcome to Dev Game Club, where this week we continue our themed series on the flexibility of text with 2006's Dwarf Fortress. We set the game in its time and then start delving into the play of the game, and the steep cliff of learning how to play it. Dev Game Club looks at classic video games and plays through them over several episodes, providing commentary.
A couple of hours
0:46 Dwarf Fortress
Issues covered: an early early access game, ASCII vs glyphs, setting the game in its time, lack of simulation games at the time, similar games we've played, not knowing how to categorize the game, failure to launch, not playing the game but playing the learning of the game, exploring the game's systems, bouncing off tremendously, in-game help, "losing is fun," being different from the mainstream, an opening cutscene and music, fictional grounding and world generation, the depth of the dwarves, getting clues from the help and discovering how to do those things, the minimal interface, the combinatorics of choices made, being in a jungle vs a pine forest, having a sad dwarf and building for them, reassigning dwarf abilities, balancing for combat by what the fortress produces, thinking ahead and attracting attention, invading raccoons and a miasma, losing a sense of scale of time, seasons and weather, a flowing river, the little stories you see play out, the tamed feral cat, a cave-in, the ant farm appeal, moments of discovery, levelling up, turning someone into a recruit, games getting shorter if they are level-based, eyes bigger than stomach, scope creep problems, overstuffing a game, systemic expansion, reactive planning in Rogue vs grinding in Diablo, increasing player agency, customizing TTRPGs to react to the players, running the games in our brains, a framework for storytelling, dabbling in game design without having to do it from scratch, accommodating flexibility and adaptation, having a lot to keep in your head, simpler rulesets, designing for physical vs digital, designed scarcity.
Games, people, and influences mentioned or discussed: Artimage, Bay 12 Games, Zach and Tarn Adams, Rogue, Wii, Xbox 360, PS3, Gears of War, Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, New Super Mario Bros, TES: Oblivion, Final Fantasy XII, Dead Rising, Okami, Zoo Tycoon, Thrillville, Civilization, The Sims, Populous, SimCity, Skyrim, Minecraft, Kamil, Branden, Assassin's Creed, Fallout (series), Morrowind, Rogue Legacy 2, Star Wars: Starfighter, Murray Lorden, Diablo 2, Nintendo Switch, Nick Miller, Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro, Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Joel Gifford, Marvel Snap, Hearthstone, Kirk Hamilton, Aaron Evers, Mark Garcia.
More Dwarf Fortress!
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