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Author Topic: FAQs about Toady and DF (Undergoing revisions, suggestions welcome)  (Read 32516 times)

Urist_McArathos

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In response to (yet another) thread that asks a question we've all seen asked and answered ad infinitum, I've collected some of the more common ones here, and provided answers and links where appropriate.

1. Why is Dwarf Fortress not open source?

A: DF is Toady's pet project, life's work, magnum opus, and (at the moment) primary means of income.   He prefers working on it at his rate, with only his vision to worry about.  This is the way Toady prefers things, and he is comfortable with the current arrangement.  Also, Dwarf Fortress is, for better or worse in the opinion of a given fan, his project and his alone.  He doesn't want to see it grow, change, or be completed by many hands.  He wants to make it himself, and he has decided to let us enjoy the show as he works on his masterpiece.  Traditional notions of efficiency and improvement do not apply here: this is one man's great project, and making it open source would not do anything for helping him make this game his way, on his terms, by himself.

More reading can be found here and here.

2. Why doesn't Toady hire more coders/accept volunteer coders?

All of the previous applies here (as Toady wants to do this alone), but this question primarily comes up from a matter of speed: Toady could still have his vision but get the game done faster if he accepted help.  Putting aside the point that Toady prefers to work alone and guide his project his way, the notion that additional help would improve progress has been thoroughly debated and hotly contested.  The basic rebuttal is that in order to utilize additional coders, Toady would need to stop development to brief them on the code (which would be no small task given its size and complexity), explain his vision and desires for their given projects, coordinate with them to ensure they stay true to his vision, manage the team to reconcile their various changes into a cohesive update, and either find the capital to pay them or find a way to utilize volunteers working erratically on a "when they can find time" basis.  The general consensus is that it would slow development to a grinding halt for months or years in the short term, with no promises that progress would move any faster in the long run.  Also of note is, as mentioned, that Toady has stated this is contrary to his preference of working alone (and could cause him to resent the project or even abandon it as it became increasingly unpleasant).

For the moment, the DF Development Team consists of Toady (who does the vast majority of everything by himself), Threetoe (his brother), and Baughn (who Toady asked to help because of Baughn's superior SDL knowledge).  Toady is comfortable with this arrangement as-is.

More reading can be found here and here.

3. Why is Dwarf Fortress not Multithreaded/64 bit?

Toady began coding some time ago, before either of these were viable/known possibilities.  The code at this point is massive, and would require immense work to enable multithreading or 64 bit support.  It would slow development immensely, if not stop it entirely for an unacceptable length of time.  Also, it is uncertain what benefits, if any, would be had for FPS after the work was done.  The unique way the game is structured and the way it processes things means that it is difficult to find anything that could be split onto a second core, let alone enough to relieve the burden sufficiently to create a drop in FPS worth the effort invested.  Toady has stated his desire to rework the code to support one or both of these options when it comes closer to completion; until then the matter is considered closed for discussion or consideration.

More reading can be found here, here, and here.

A discussion (involving more complex knowledge about programming and coding) about more current multithreading possibilities may be found here as well.

4. Why are there no sophisticated graphics (rendered 3D, better sprites, etc.) for Dwarf Fortress?

This question comes up more often with 3D than anything else.  A number of user-created tilesets have been created that give the game very legible sprite graphics.  It is likely that better artwork may be created for the official vanilla release when the game is nearing completion.  An isometric 3D visualizer already exists (allowing the player to watch the fortress and its action in 3D in realtime), and it is possible (especially if the game is made open source on completion, as has been implied) that it could be worked into the game's interface.  As for rendered 3D, there are a number of not-insignificant hurdles to overcome to make the game work with 3D graphics.  For starters, fluid dynamics would be tougher to render and procedurally generated creatures and items would be impossible to show without an immense amount of programming.  You would, effectively, need a game like Spore bundled on just to handle Forgotten Beasts, Titans, and the Statuary made by the game and render them.  In its current state, each creature occupies a single space regardless of size, and if the game were displayed in rendered 3D, this would have to change.  Megabeasts would have to be larger than dwarves (or else you have dragons the size of large dogs), humans would have to be taller, etc.  Everything in the game would have to be recalculated to handle distance discrepancies, collision detection, etc.  The game would essentially have to be completely redone from the ground up with a graphics team, and every update and new feature would have to be worked through the graphics team.  It would be a gargantuan undertaking that would require an entire software development team and untold months or years of labor just to get the game back to its current point.

Dwarf Fortress is also, at heart, a roguelike game and as such is part of a niche genre that traditionally utilizes minimal ASCII graphics; there is no strong need to change this at the time as it fits the theme and feel of the game's genre.

For the record, Toady has received offers from software companies to buy his game and develop it professionally, but he has declined (see quesion 1).  Further reading can be found in this thread, and this one too.

5. Why doesn't Dwarf Fortress offer multiplayer gameplay?

A method of playing Dwarf Fortress online with other players has been developed; everyone loads the client, and each person can enter commands and play the game together, although it is akin to everyone crowding around the same keyboard and trying to play at once.  Such games usually have everyone take control of certain dwarves and take turns giving commands and planning (with the possible use of burrows to restrict a given player's Dwarves to their designated part of the map).

True multiplayer aside from this obtuse hotseat method is not truly possible in the current vision for the game, nor is it an intended final feature of the game as yet.  A well-thought-out post on the various most-likely methods of implementing true multiplayer in the future, what it would require, benefits and drawbacks, and discussions pertaining to it can be found here.

6. What is taking so long for the next patch/is Dwarf Fortress still being worked on after going so long without updates?

The current development schedule is as follows: a major release with numerous large, sweeping additions and content is created and released, followed by a series of rapid bugfixes and improvements to handle both issues and bugs with the current new content and older lingering issues.  Major content releases are just that: major.  They involve a large number of changes, and as Toady works on them other features are added that he feels are important in making the new content worthwhile and interesting, or would improve the planned release. 

Because of this, major releases can be a year or more apart.  The game is still in development as of the writing of this post.  An updated-daily log of Toady's activities pertaining to the game can be found here.  Toady also periodically answers questions about the game's future development here, and will post in his daily log when he has answered another batch of questions, along with a link to his post(s).  Any delays, hiccups, sidetracks, etc. that affect development (as well as what is being worked on and planned) can be found in the daily log.

7. I want to see feature X implemented!  What does Toady plan on adding long term, beyond what he's doing for the next patch?

Currently, the game is being developed in a series of "arcs", each one considered to be a step before the next that makes the one after it possible.  For example, the current arc (as of 2/10/2012) is the Caravan Arc (making trade and commerce viable and a realistic part of the world).  This is a precursor to the military arc (nations going to war and armies fighting), because the Caravan Arc makes conflicts and trade embargos and interactions between nations possible, which sets the stage for those conflicts and interactions to lead to warfare.

Each arc is composed of a number of major releases, which are sub-stages of the overall arc (for the same reasons: each stage makes the one after it possible by setting the groundwork).

A list of the planned releases and their planned major content in the current arc can be found here.  Note that as a release is worked on, Toady may add additional content as he deems neccessary, meaning a release may be larger and contain more than originally planned.

Suggestions for the game's future can be made in the Suggestions Board, found here.  A list of the most commonly requested future features can be found, discussed, and voted on here.

8. When will Dwarf Fortress be finished?

Numerous estimates have been given for the release date of Dwarf Fortress v1.0, ranging from the laughably optimistic to the bitterly pessimistic.  As of early 2012, the game is approximately one-third of the way finished according to Toady's planned features and goals at that time.  Extrapolating the progress of the game from his pace thus far, the game would be finished around 2030, assuming Toady continues to improve the game at the same rate and adds no additional goals nor content beyond what he has planned already.

Obviously, this is subject to sweeping and enormous change based on the future of coding, computers, the whims of Toady, and the unforeseeable events that shape the game over time.  The most accurate answer to this question is the frustratingly vague "when it's finished".

9. So, Tarn Adams (Toady) is the only man alive with the code?  What happens if he dies/goes into a coma/is kidnapped by aliens/otherwise incapable of finishing the game?

Toady has left instructions for how to handle the source code should the unthinkably tragic befall him.  Should the worst happen, the code will be released to the community so it may be completed in his memory, so long as his death is not suspicious (so anyone grim enough to consider arranging an "unfortunate accident" to get the code will only doom the game to a swift death, so don't bother).

For now, Tarn is alive, healthy, young, and working, so the matter is of no immediate concern.  It is enough to know that this possibility, however slim, has already been considered and handled by him.

10. Who are Baughn and Footkerchief?

They are two individuals from the Dwarf Fortress community that have taken it upon themselves to help the project in the way they are best able to, because of their love of the game.  Baughn was asked to help with the TTF and SDL coding because he knew it better than Toady, and it was a project he was able to step into relatively painlessly.  Footkerchief sorts through the bug reports to remove redundancies, gather more detailed information from bug reporters to help Toady find and fix bugs, and patrols the suggestion forum to ensure that "new" suggestion and idea threads are given links to threads where their ideas were previously discussed, in an effort to reduce clutter and redundant discussion on that board.

Both work on a volunteer basis.

11. This game is so realistic, but sex/feces and urine/certain other intimate bodily functions are conspicuously absent.  Are there any plans to add these later?  Because it would really add a new dimension of realism/difficulty/etc. to the game.

These two features come up often, and the explanation for why is similar for both, but with some minor differences.

While Toady doesn't have an issue with including sex in the game, he feels that the negative publicity and reception it would bring is not worth the payoff; the game has enough potential for brutality and violence in it without adding the extremely controversial aspect of rape gameplay.

Urine and feces, like sex, isn't something Toady has a personal objection to either.  He feels that animal droppings and fertilizer are an important aspect of a realistic world, and that sewers are a classic adventuring staple.  However, he has stated that the game will likely include excretions up to (but excluding) dwarves, out of a desire to avoid becoming (to paraphrase) "that game with the pissing and shitting and raping dwarves".  The concern is that the payoff from adding these features would not be worth the lost fanbase and bad publicity and tarnished reputation it would bring to the game.

Toady has said that, as the game grows and develops it is possible that this could change, but for now it's an issue that can be handled by the modding community for those who really want it.

A discussion of this can be found between 24 and 30 of this Q&A recording located here

Please reply with any additional questions you feel are asked too often and could be handled in a FAQ like this, or feel free to reply with additional links pertinent to a given question if you feel they would help clear up the matter to new people who haven't had these questions answered before.

EDIT: General proofreading done; three new questions added, two new links added, link to mp3 for question 11 added.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2012, 10:51:15 pm by Urist_McArathos »
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veok

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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2012, 11:36:06 pm »

Let's sticky this.
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Gatleos

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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2012, 11:54:02 pm »

Looks good to me. I'm for a sticky.

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scion-of-fenrir

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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2012, 01:31:29 am »

How old are Toady and Three Toe, anyway?
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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2012, 02:11:16 am »

We need this stickied in General Discussion AND Suggestions.
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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2012, 02:23:36 am »

Sticky please. It's very well-written, polite, and provides detailed answers to a number of very annoying questions.
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Gatleos

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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2012, 02:28:44 am »

How old are Toady and Three Toe, anyway?
You can see that from their forum profiles.
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tolkafox

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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2012, 02:53:56 am »

What brand/type of chair does Toady use? It must either be very comfy or Toady must sit uncomfortably.

Is footkerchief human? I'm leaning towards sentient memory banks.

What the hell inspired dwarf fortress?

Are Toady's windows double paned? That's a serious question btw.

Why does Toady not drink coffee?

Why are plump helmets purple?

>.>

Those are my FAQs.
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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2012, 03:05:13 am »

I would add to point 2 that there is also the possibility of another coder to hop in, steal the code and do his fork of the project. It would also be more difficult to settle if said coder has worked for a while on DF itself.

Is footkerchief human? I'm leaning towards sentient memory banks.

What the hell inspired dwarf fortress?

Why does Toady not drink coffee?

Footkerchief was originally human. That's as much as human records go.
Dwarf Fortress was originally supposed to be a Moria Simulator, complete with dwarves digging too deep, which was VERY clearly implemented back in the 2D days.
Toady does not drink coffee because he doesn't need it. He takes his caffeine through soda. He is kinda addicted to it, too.
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Capntastic

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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2012, 03:22:30 am »

Let's not turn this into creepy Toady fanfiction like every other time his personal habits come up.  That sort of thing would take this thread from being good and cool and useful to being annoying and bad and worthless really fast.
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micelus

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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2012, 03:33:11 am »

Footkerchief is definetely human...kinda. I remember when he wasn't the local search engine/answering machine.

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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #11 on: February 11, 2012, 03:39:10 am »

This faq seems a little bit one-sided in playing up only the potential problems of a larger team, and downplaying the possible gains. The Dwarf Fortress development process is what it is by choice more than anything else, and additional help is just as likely to speed up the process as slow it down. No one can say for certain, so assumptions or assertions either way are not necessary. Toady can do as he pleases with his code, there's no need to stretch for justifications.

I still think this is a useful post, and it could cut down on some repetitive questions.
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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2012, 04:02:52 am »

This deserves a sticky, if only to cull the annoying "Why doesn't Toady commission others to help him" threads.
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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2012, 04:47:36 am »

+1
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Re: FAQs about Toady and DF
« Reply #14 on: February 11, 2012, 05:55:10 am »

This faq seems a little bit one-sided in playing up only the potential problems of a larger team, and downplaying the possible gains. The Dwarf Fortress development process is what it is by choice more than anything else, and additional help is just as likely to speed up the process as slow it down. No one can say for certain, so assumptions or assertions either way are not necessary. Toady can do as he pleases with his code, there's no need to stretch for justifications.

That's because the reasons are given on an answer to the question: "Why DOESN'T Toady hire more coders?", not "What are the pros and cons of hiring more coders".

In any case, excellent FAQ, I'm all for stickying this.
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