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Author Topic: Isn't there just too much detail?  (Read 14921 times)

Drathnoxis

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Isn't there just too much detail?
« on: January 09, 2016, 02:02:36 am »

I created a small world with 7 civs and 150 years to try to cut back on how much was going on, but still I have 8.5k historical figures and 400 different groups and sites and about 200 artifacts made by necromancers and it's just way, way, way too much to even read a fraction of let alone remember or comprehend

Like I want to get invested in my world, but when the human liaison comes and gives me news of the world that consists of pages and pages of text -- that mainly seem to consist of some place being conquered and dozens and dozens of refugees naming themselves something like the undulating sponges -- my eyes just glaze over and I skip it after reading a couple lines.

And then all my dwarves have their own likes and dislikes and relations and dreams and everything, but I've got like 150 of the little buggers, I can't even remember their names let alone that Bomrek Eribbasen is married to Deler Othdukingish has 3 kids, a bunch of various family members, is BFFs with Athel Eliseshtan, Almost never feels discouraged, prefers that everyone live as harmoniously as possible, has a tendency to go it alone disregarding the advice of others, is somewhat fearful in the face of imminent danger, is pleased by her own appearance and talents, is not particularly interested in what others think of them, is a perfectionist, tends to be swayed by the emotions of others, only rarely tries to assert themselves in conversation, respects perseverance, is put off by merrymaking, sees competition as reasonably important, dreams of raising a family, likes sheep wool, desert tortoise shell, rock crystal, trifle pewter, chalk, lions, chickens, cabinets, bucklers and the shape of gizzard stones, prefers to consume bumblebee honey, bayberry wine, hake and demon rat, hates bat, is the member of a bunch of groups and worships Gigin and Logem Athser.

It's all just random interchangeable gibberish and it's spurting out of every orifice of the game.

I think it's interesting to have a bit of randomly generated detail to give individual character, but the game crossed the line between interesting and completely and utterly overwhelming about 50 miles ago. I really think less is more in this situation. If every dwarf only had 1 or 2 likes and personality traits it would make them stand out a lot more than having a wall of text. I might be able to follow the events of the world if every group of random vagrants didn't give themselves a stupid name and think their trudge across the desert of loathing was as important as the fact that the capitol city of my dwarves was just conquered by the elves. Why do we even so many group names anyway? There's the civilization name, the group name, and the site name. Couldn't we just ditch the middle one so instead of the Living Tombs from the Handle of Zeal founding Bootproblems, it's just the Handle of Zeal founds Bootproblems? Why do they need to be an independent group as well as part of a civilization?

Does anybody actually read all this stuff and not find it completely repetitive and overwhelming?
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Nunzillor

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2016, 02:47:43 am »

I think I understand where you're coming from.  But a lot of that detail is great for emergent gameplay and storytelling, which is what I like best about DF.  A lot of the time the details don't come together into a notable or interesting whole, or there's just too much to analyze, but when everything aligns just right... it's awesome.

Stuff like Legends Viewer helps make sense of things.   Sometimes I'll do Legends Mode exports and have those ready and searchable in the viewer so that I can understand details better while playing Fortress Mode, that might help you with some of that.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2016, 02:56:16 am by Nunzillor »
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Urlance Woolsbane

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2016, 02:54:28 am »

I understand that it's overwhelming, but believe me, after a while, you'll adjust and start thinking "why isn't this more detailed?" :P

There's no need to look at every last detail of every last dwarf. I certainly don't. But if you want the information, it's there, which I think is important.

I too have a gripe, albeit minor, with the names in DF. I don't mind that so many exist, but they lack meaning. Sure, they can be assigned by spheres, but this just leads to the equivalent of calling a human "John the Hairless Biped of Sapience." Regional names can make sense (e.g. "the Fiery Island" for a volcanic isle,") but more often than not tend to be nonsensical, generic things like "the Desert of Boredom."
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davsim

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2016, 04:12:30 am »

I feel the same op, you can read the reports/descriptions so many times before it becomes totally boring.
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Zarathustra30

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2016, 04:14:50 am »

You have encountered "Gray Goo", a common problem in Dwarf Fortress.  "Gray Goo" occurs when procedural generation outstrips interest. There so much to care about that you stop caring.

Dwarf Fortress has deep gameplay, and it will keep getting deeper. This should not be resisted; in fact, it is why many people play the game. Instead, attack the other front. Interest cannot be meaningfully increased, but it can be used more effectively.

  • Don't display too much information at any one time. Keep the player focused on only a few things, and only when specifically asked for. The new (l)ocations screen is a good example. It is sparse and provides good information with little fluff.
  • Provide relevant information in an easily accessible, but non-intrusive place. The player should not feel obligated to remember more than he or she needs to. This is where (l)ocations fails. When assigning occupations, skills and preferences should be available for each of the citizens when specifically requested.
  • Context is key! Whenever you provide information, say why the player should care. Don't just say "X killed Y", say "X, a scoundrel from Komutesdor killed his king, Y!" By reusing the player's interest, you can stretch the interest far further.
  • Make sure the player actually remembers what he or she has learned. Which is easier to remember: Komutesdor or PoemSells? Sounds are harder to remember than words. If there is no easy translation, use a description, but make sure the player remembers it.

Detail is not the problem. Lack of interest is. The real world is far deeper than any videogame, but humans still function. There is enough interest available, it just has to be used right.
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Salmeuk

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2016, 05:06:29 am »

pick and choose what you use. Don't play large population fortresses if it's overwhelming, and slow down your pace of play until you can manage what you encounter. I certainly don't read eveything about every dwarf - rather, I scan for interesting or standout combinations of interests or skills or goals or whatever. Each dwarf can be described like the main character in a fantasy novel, if you sit down and spend some time imagining their place in the world. Ask yourself why these things have come to pass, why these dwarves are motivated to immigrate, why the gods created this plane, why these werecreatures attacked. . .

Grey goo is a real thing, but as you become more familiar with the z page you can really start to appreciate the subtleties painted by those multicolored text walls.

Try a hermit challenge, too. Choose your fav from the starting seven and murder the rest, then open a hole-in-the-wall tavern in the middle of the desert. DO IT NOW
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Vattic

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2016, 01:56:48 pm »

The main issue I have with all the detail is in presentation; The overly verbose attack reports and personality screen being prime examples.
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Drathnoxis

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2016, 02:46:33 pm »

Each dwarf can be described like the main character in a fantasy novel, if you sit down and spend some time imagining their place in the world.
This is true, but there is a reason that fantasy novels don't usually have 50+ main characters, it's just too much. You usually have a couple main characters and then a bunch of side characters, and the side characters just have a couple aspects to their personality. Fred and George Weasley stand out more because they are primarily jokesters, rather than having a personality as fleshed out as Harry Potter.

I think if each dwarf was treated as a side character it would be more effective. Say if Bomrek Eribbasan from above, instead having the personality of a wall of text, the same as any dwarf, was put off by merrymaking is pleased by her own appearance and talents, likes lions, and prefers to consume hake and demon rat. This personality is a lot more distinct than before when she was kind of nice, kind of egotistical, kind of determined, kind of cowardly, etc.
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thvaz

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #8 on: January 09, 2016, 04:56:58 pm »

You don't have to know every dwarf in your fortress, but if you want to know more about a specific one, the info is there. The same goes for all the historical figures around de world, you don't have to meet everyone of them as a adventurer, or even ever.

But you are complaining about the root of what makes Dwarf Fortress, well, Dwarf Fortress. without the overly ridiculous amount of detail Dwarf Fortress could well be called Gnomoria, or Banished, or any of the "streamlined" DF-likes.

However, I agree that the presentation has a lot to be improved.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2016, 05:03:16 pm by thvaz »
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funkydwarf

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #9 on: January 09, 2016, 05:33:26 pm »

Why do you feel like you should read and remember all that? The society simulation part of the game i.e. fortress mode, is totally playable without having to ever specifically respond to any of those details, with the exception maybe trying to save a depressed dwarf here or there by reading for his favorite material or food.

In other words, you are not required to read or "remember" any of it. But, if you need to unravel a mystery, such as whos a vamp, or why certain situations happen, then the info is there.  Then the game becomes a detective game and there is info to sort through to make it a challenge.

I enjoy fortress mode quite a bit.  I never read much of it, don't react to much of it, but LOVE that its there.


TLDR: If df is TLDR it doesn't matter, you don't need to know it all anyhow.
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Neonivek

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #10 on: January 09, 2016, 05:45:11 pm »

To me the "too much detail" has more to do with presentation and organization then with there being too much detail.

For example I want to look through legends for necromantic books or other secret books... But I have to look through the books about butterflies to find it. I don't mind there being a list of every single book in existence... but I care about being able to find special or important books.

I want to find out if someone is good for adventuring... but I have to read a paragraph in order to do so. I do care about their full on personality and physical makeup... but right now my time is precious.

There is a reason why a lot of long timers want the game to be MORE complex and it is because they already defeated the hurdle. Yet if people didn't HAVE to defeat that hurdle and could just enjoy it... it would be perfect.
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PrimusRibbus

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #11 on: January 09, 2016, 05:47:50 pm »

You have encountered "Gray Goo", a common problem in Dwarf Fortress.  "Gray Goo" occurs when procedural generation outstrips interest. There so much to care about that you stop caring.

Dwarf Fortress has deep gameplay, and it will keep getting deeper. This should not be resisted; in fact, it is why many people play the game. Instead, attack the other front. Interest cannot be meaningfully increased, but it can be used more effectively.

  • Don't display too much information at any one time. Keep the player focused on only a few things, and only when specifically asked for. The new (l)ocations screen is a good example. It is sparse and provides good information with little fluff.
  • Provide relevant information in an easily accessible, but non-intrusive place. The player should not feel obligated to remember more than he or she needs to. This is where (l)ocations fails. When assigning occupations, skills and preferences should be available for each of the citizens when specifically requested.
  • Context is key! Whenever you provide information, say why the player should care. Don't just say "X killed Y", say "X, a scoundrel from Komutesdor killed his king, Y!" By reusing the player's interest, you can stretch the interest far further.
  • Make sure the player actually remembers what he or she has learned. Which is easier to remember: Komutesdor or PoemSells? Sounds are harder to remember than words. If there is no easy translation, use a description, but make sure the player remembers it.

Detail is not the problem. Lack of interest is. The real world is far deeper than any videogame, but humans still function. There is enough interest available, it just has to be used right.

Very, very good post. Procedural generation is fantastic at making big, detailed, unique worlds on the fly. Unfortunately, it's incredibly bad at sorting out relevant and interesting stuff from the chaff, or highlighting things that are meaningful. It's not just an issue with Dwarf Fortress, you can see this phenomena in Elite: Dangerous, Cataclysm: DDA, and many roguelikes.

Frankly, DF's UI really does not help the situation. When you're already fighting procedural generation's tendency to drown interesting stuff in minutiae, choosing to display things like Dwarf personalities and feelings as giant single paragraphs does not do any favors.

My honest advice to OP is to not get invested in your world. DF's procedural generation is a tool to give you a fleshed out, new canvas every time you start a new world; not to give you a coherent world that you can get invested in. It makes for fun new challenges and extends the novelty of the game, but any attachment to the world is going to be through your own story that you're telling at your fort or with your adventurer.
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FantasticDorf

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #12 on: January 09, 2016, 06:56:31 pm »

A giant fluffy swamp rabbit titan with spit attacks and two fluffy bun tails killed my local goblin demon-lord swatting him like a fly in the first few 5 and only years of generation setting back the goblins a fair bit (destroyed the dark tower to the ground killing all the residents) making them elect a regular goblin leader (unfortunately it did not change their stances to other civs i do not think since most of that is hard-coded anyway)

10/10 storytelling, amusing stuff like that keeps me to the game.

If you want less things to happen in the world or to be centric to your personal activities, i recommend downsizing the number of civilizations and widening the site embarks so that civs are further apart and less likely to engage all the time, as to the scaling of difficulty due to megabeasts, thats up to you, a empty world has little to talk about on the flipside and topics will be repeated by scholars and engravers. 

I empathize with your stance on the 'grey goo' I get bored too and only read it when something entertaining or of significance happens, such is the price of detail.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 03:21:37 pm by FantasticDorf »
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Trapezohedron

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #13 on: January 09, 2016, 08:14:16 pm »

I personally just like to see how it strings adjectives from modded RAW files into the game, so I personally have defeated that hurdle. And IIRC, if you start typing up a name in Legends mode, you can streamline your search into something specific.

Dwarf Fortress has always been one part game and one part overly verbose generic fantasy world generator.
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Niddhoger

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Re: Isn't there just too much detail?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2016, 02:37:08 pm »

I just think there needs to be better naming schemes.  Refugees can have one set of names different from performing troupes, and both of those are different from colony-founding groups and city governments.  Either use different word banks "Rags of Despair," or simply call them "The refugees of X"  A founding group can be "Civilization name _ Founders _ Insert random shit here"

As you mentioned, hearing that the Wet Socks of the Ragining Llamas founded the Anvil of Wobbling, but then the Tears of Sacking from the Undulating Punch of the Limp Knife conquered it and set up a new government called the "Sticks of Sticking" is just word-soup gibberish. None of these names have context behind them.
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