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Author Topic: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?  (Read 23451 times)

bombzero

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Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« on: March 15, 2012, 01:25:50 am »

This is something that occured to me today, there is no win condition, there is no long-term penalty for losing, you could very well embark with 7 skiless dwarfs, wait for them to die, and say you just did well.

yet Dwarf Fortress and games like it, that have little point, or only a vague goal that is nigh-impossible to obtain, are the most entertaining to me.

on the other hand theres games like CoD and Halo with concrete objectives that bore the living hell out of me.

so why IS Dwarf Fortress fun?
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Armv

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 01:33:01 am »

What is the fun of a guitar? What is the fun of going for the walk in the woods? What fun is there in a lump of clay?

All of these produce things in more than a final product. The fun isn't in the ends, but rather the means. Exploration, creativity... imagination. It is the ability to truly do something, under your own terms.

The fun in Dwarf Fortress is flooding the world with magma. It is following that one Urist, from the day she arrives in the fortress, to that fateful day when the Circus comes to town. The fun is in that last glorious martial stance. The Fun that comes from mega projects...

Dwarf Fortress captures that awe and wonder that every child has when discovering play dough for the first time -- of course in our case that play dough menaces with spikes of dog bone.
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bombzero

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 01:41:09 am »

^well put, as another question.

why is it that the people who enjoy crappy games shooters, fixed-plot RPGs, and other such limited stories find them fun to replay over and over again?
usually after i play a game like Halo or Resident evil, i cannot play it again, as the story has already been told, are the games not fun enough on their own merits?

on a similar vein, what has happened to mainstream games nowadays, used to be an actual focus on making a long, detailed story.
now we have 3 hour campaigns, and redundant sidequests.
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Darekun

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 01:46:28 am »

yet Dwarf Fortress and games like it, that have little point, or only a vague goal that is nigh-impossible to obtain, are the most entertaining to me.

on the other hand theres games like CoD and Halo with concrete objectives that bore the living hell out of me.
This, right here. In sandbox games, you do what you want. In games with their own objectives, you do what they tell you. When you grow bored of the old task, objective games are still telling you to do minor variations of the same boring task in exchange for telling you the same old story, but in sandbox games you go play in a different part of the sandbox. The more skilled you are, the better you are at finding new areas of the sandbox, or making your own with modding. And after you've been away from one corner for long enough, it's fun to come back to it, with all the tools you've gained in the meantime. Building a goblinite-based military, vs using lava pressure-sweepers to deal with sieges, vs using spiked traps and ballistas to conquer Hell itself, vs holing up, letting the sieges deal with the merchants, and building an epic self-sustaining economy are very different game types.

It's like how people slack off exercise when it becomes schoolwork, or hate what they once loved because they got a job doing it under someone else's direction, but will keep playing a player-shaped game like Chess their whole life.

It's also not about the destination, but the journey.

You might check out Reality Is Broken, a book about this sort of thing.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 01:56:34 am »

I don't think there's a single answer to this, as it really depends a lot on what sort of thing you find interesting, yourself. 

I enjoy knowing and understanding systems for the sheer sake of understanding complex issues. 

I look at the game like a puzzle box, and try to understand how it works, and spend FAR more time on the forums or running science on the game or working on mods than actually playing it, and I probably wouldn't find it all that fun if I were trying to play it "properly".

But that's the way I approach much about games and life - I enjoy the act of understanding and creation.

When you look at most games, however, what you see is that it's trying to gratify a much different emotional need inside people.

A game like God of War, for example, doesn't try to challenge the player so much as do everything it can to try to tell the player than they are "awesome" and "unstoppable" and "total masters of their own destiny" and "they most certainly are not the sort of people who are going to be yelled at by their mothers for playing games instead of cleaning their rooms".  So much of gaming is based around that simple notion - that it's all about ego gratification.

There's a slightly different route to go with this, as well, where you have something like Demon's Souls or I Wanna Be The Guy, where it's all about being "oh so hard", so that "you're so skilled" when you actually do something right.

DF does this, too, if you want it to.  The combat section of the game lets you do this, if you really try, but I've never liked DF combat.  It's too simple a system as far as the mechanics of play go (although I do like understanding the underlying mechanics of the material properties and body construction).

So really, the question is, what emotional need do you have gratified by DF? 
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bombzero

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 02:18:40 am »

I suppose its the fact that Dwarf Fortress is whatever the hell you make it.

but in general i do find games like say... Mount & Blade, or... Space Rangers(high five if you know this one) fun even though they have an objective, as they are pretty open.

actually in those games i think its the fact that the objective is a 'simple' one, but by no means can you complete it right at the start of the game, it takes years in game of hard work.
(in space rangers 2 it took me until about 14 in game years to build up the power to take on the main enemies, the other rangers were perfectly happy stealing the limelight in that time)

so i think for me its more the challenge, and single-plot games just don't have that for me.
i beat CoD: Modding Shitpile 2's main storyline in less than an hour, and Halo Reach in under 5.

another possibility is that too many games overfocus on multiplayer, resulting in a potentially fun game, dying from repetitive multiplayer play. focusing only on multiplayer degrades the core of the game with making it too competition based, not fun based.

(oh, and in case you didn't notice, im not too fond of most AAA titles nowadays, half of them are slapped together in under a year)


So its possible that DF is simply the ultimate culmination of these true free-roam games, with having no goal, but a hell of a lot to do.
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Jelle

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 02:34:27 am »

The game is challenging and lets you do whatever you want however you want.
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AzuredreamsXT

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 09:55:47 am »

There is one programmed goal that i always shoot for -> becoming the mountainhome. Once i succeed, i consider the game a win. The fun comes from trying to achieve this in all sorts of different embarks
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Couchmonster

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2012, 10:09:17 am »

It has some sort of goal, but you decide it yourself.
When I say I want a successful fort and I get it in my eyes... I win and still can lose ;)

When I say... this slaughter of dwarfs was the best losing ever... I still win and lost ;)

Spiderking50

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2012, 10:48:16 am »

What is the fun of a guitar? What is the fun of going for the walk in the woods? What fun is there in a lump of clay?

All of these produce things in more than a final product. The fun isn't in the ends, but rather the means. Exploration, creativity... imagination. It is the ability to truly do something, under your own terms.

The fun in Dwarf Fortress is flooding the world with magma. It is following that one Urist, from the day she arrives in the fortress, to that fateful day when the Circus comes to town. The fun is in that last glorious martial stance. The Fun that comes from mega projects...

Dwarf Fortress captures that awe and wonder that every child has when discovering play dough for the first time -- of course in our case that play dough menaces with spikes of dog bone.

That. Was. Beautiful.
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Adrian

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2012, 11:15:10 am »

so why IS Dwarf Fortress fun?
Because the game never ends and the only way to end the game is to lose.
So you'll either end up with an impenetrable metropolis or your fortress will be overrun by gobloons/Clowns/elves/whatever.
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Livonya

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2012, 11:35:16 am »

For me the fun is in the complexity.

A lot of times I start playing a game, and pretty soon I am writing scripts, or tinkering with modding in an attempt to fix the broken combat AI.  Some times I never even finish the games but instead just tinker with the scripts for a very, very long time... eventually burning out and moving on to something else.

Dwarf Fortress is fun because there is always something else to learn, to try, to experience.

Plus I have to admit, I am equally fascinated with the development model that Tarn is using.  I like the idea that he freely looks at this as his life's work.  The standard business model that is used today doesn't work.  It leads to mediocrity.  Dwarf Fortress, however, is an example of what is possible outside of that stale old business model.  It is art.

When I started playing computer games in 1980 I always dreamed about how cool games would be in 30 years.  But the reality is that the games only look marginally better.  The game play has been stagnant for a long time, and in fact I would argue that the games are actually devolving rather than evolving.  There are fewer interesting games made today then in the 1990s.

Dwarf Fortress is a breath of fresh air.

So everyday I check in and see what Tarn is up to.

I haven't really played in a long time, but once he is done with the current bug fixes then I will fire up a new fortress and once again attempt to build my 40+ story tower of obsidian.  I will have tons of new problems, new things to learn, new set backs. 

And the best thing, I know that Tarn will be pushing the envelope, so in 2022 I will still be able to fire up Dwarf Fortress.  I know for a fact it will continue to grow.

Dwarf Fortress is the only game that has even come close to what I dreamed about 30 years ago.  Tarn's vision of a fantasy world simulator is pretty spot on to what I was thinking about.
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bombzero

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2012, 11:51:50 am »

broken combat AI.
standard business model that is used today doesn't work.  It leads to mediocrity.
reality is that the games only look marginally better.
game play has been stagnant for a long time,
games are actually devolving rather than evolving. 
There are fewer interesting games made today then in the 1990s.
Dwarf Fortress is a breath of fresh air.

yeah.... and the people who play THOSE games say our games suck...

I find older games more fun usually, as sequels, ripoffs(sorry, inspired by game, and most AAA titles are shit now.

list of games i find good that came/updated out semi-recently;

DWARF FORTRESS!
Mount & Blade, (warband, Fire & Sword was ok but not as great.)
(most roguelikes here)
ummmm
well.... shit there's not a lot of good games that released recently.

can someone explain to me why Call of Duty is popular? every game is the same as the last, with just new maps, and new guns, same source code, SAME BUGS, same incompetent playerbase.

OH, another topic, DLC.
used to be, a DLC pack was something that added a radically amazing amount of content to a game, with tons of new stuff to do.
they came out a year or two after a game, and revitalized it.

lately whenever a mainstream developer releases a game, it has a mappack, or NEW CAMPAIGN, released less than a week later for about 15$ on average.
this means the DLC was finished when the game was released....
sequels also come about every year now, showing that not as much thought is being put into developing them.
major titles often have crippling bugs, preventing anyone from playing for the first week, youd think they don't even test the game.
AND, most major games cost 70$ on release day, then have 10-12 DLC packs in the first 2 months for about 15$ a piece. thats 220-250$ for one game, that isn't that great, and people actually pay it.


and then, there is Dwarf Fortress, a great game, released 100% free by a great person, who has no reason to share his creation with us, and does it simply because he wants to.
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DarkWolfXV

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2012, 12:56:33 pm »

I hate 3 hour campaign
Mostly when i dont even have lets say, xbox live gold to play multiplayer it sucks that i just bought a shitty game. I dont realize what people see in endless shooting eachother, yes its fun sometimes , but i dont understand people playing it 8 hours a day.
And i hate how games just get graphically better, it makes me puke. Seriously, shitty gameplay, but epic graphics. Thats bad.
Like Fable 3 which was supposed to be awesome game, but you can pass main storyline in 3-5 hours, game offers no challange. I wish there was hard mode or something. Its fun to do storyline for the first time, but i mostly replay stories from boredom. Aside from Mass Effect series which is pretty good, i hope ME3 will be as good as both ME games.

And DF is the most original game i have ever seen. Almost what i always wanted, and i actually enjoy DF graphics, they are original and fun to decipher every tile, ore, entity, etc. I also love reading legends and playing adventure mode with hidden legends and learning the history of world.
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King DZA

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Re: Why is Dwarf Fortress fun?
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2012, 02:30:33 pm »

As everyone has made perfectly clear with their varied responses, the funnest thing about Dwarf Fortress is it's variety. It's a ☼Sandbox Game☼ with such a large spectrum of things to do, that anyone willing to take the time and learn it can find something they love about it.

As for other games, I love kinds from all different genres and time periods. While it's true there are quite a few utterly horrible ones, I can normally find at least some aspects of any given game to enjoy. I'm not picky.
Of course, this could be because I don't normally play games solely to have fun, if that makes sense. I look at a game and think "Fuck you, game. I'm going to overcome every single challenge you have, dominate every enemy you throw at me, becomes the single greatest entity in your entire universe, and then do it all again even faster and more efficient than before.". It's this mindset that normally keeps me interested in games even after they really have nothing left to offer.

Of course, it's the games that manage to keep this goal of mine fresh and challenging that end up becoming my favorites.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2012, 02:33:26 pm by King DZA »
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