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Author Topic: Have succession games lost their appeal?  (Read 4300 times)

Immortal-D

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Have succession games lost their appeal?
« on: March 30, 2017, 09:26:02 pm »

*Warning; I'm fairly full of brandy, so this is kindof a long thought process.  Get comfy.

It is a topic I've been mulling for some time.  I noticed that activity in our 'Games & Stories' forum has severely declined over the last couple of years.  Ironically, that is why I am posting this discussion in General instead.  Every so often, we get a few new gems; pleasant surprises like Doomforests, or a popular rehashing of old ideas like Constructivory & Breadbowl.  However, such new stories are far and few between now.  I suspect it will be at least another year before we see new succession games of that caliber.

As DF becomes more mainstream (relatively speaking), Fortress mode has fewer and fewer surprises left.  Craziness must be somewhat forced, since anyone who is even moderately knowledgeable & skilled would be hard-pressed to die by accident.  I believe a large appeal of succession games is the fact that DF's inherent craziness is amplified by having multiple (often poorly communicating and hating each other) Overseers, lending the game enough new life to be surprising, even for veteran players.

Which brings me to the question at hand.  Has DF knowledge become so saturated that even the crazy-boosting power of multiple Overseers is no longer enough?  Even the most recent highlights of succession games relied on a fairly substantial gimmick.  I mean they are still good in their own right, but I haven't seen a 'normal, no special rules or goals' Fortress in ages.  Or perhaps it is a result of the game's content itself being somewhat stagnated.  We've !SCIENCE!'d all that we're going to !SCIENCE! until the next world-changing patch, we've seen all manner of 3d constructions and rube goldberg machines... what's left?

I don't have any answers, just wanted to see some other thoughts on the matter.  Oh, and lest anyone think that I personally have reached the 'break time' point, that's fair consideration, but I honestly don't think that's it.  I'm happily building away at my beach fortress, which actually made me put this all in writing, b/c it gave me time to think that I haven't read a good succession game in ages.

Thisfox

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2017, 10:27:25 pm »

I do hear you. Perhaps we've finally reached a happy place where the game is playable enough that we need greater challenges than "keep the fortress alive".... As you said, craziness must be somewhat forced.

I'm cheerfully working on my own little three-level gold smelting fort myself, so like you, by no means disappointed with the game. But then I reread old posts (for example "Building a !!well!!" and "A heartwarming animated film by Pixar") and I do wonder... is there anyone doing that any more? Are these oddments... a thing of the past?

Perhaps it's too much gin (But brandy does suffice) but we're not playing drunk fortress without reasonable nostalgia for when elephants took out Boatmurdered, are we?

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Zuglarkun

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2017, 02:33:46 am »

Its been that way for sometime now I feel. Most of the more fun ideas for vanilla succession games have been thoroughly explored already and as such succession games of that sort feel rather over-saturated with the same iteration of ideas. OH look, another one of those evil region, tower neighbor, kill goblins forts. The only solution is to mod your own things into the game to up the level of craziness. A functioning fort is no longer that difficult to achieve once you get over the steep learning curve, so most things feel rather played out unless you got amazing overseers with a knack for making the most banal events super interesting.

Though i think some ideas are worth revisiting every now and then, e.g. Sphalerite and his experiments with marine life, just that no one has the inclination to do so. Current version is moving away from the craziness of survival and more into full world immersion so crazy !!fun!! factor like the constant sieges in 34.11 might have gone down alittle to be replaced with other !!fun!! stuff we have yet to discover or fully exploit.

What kills most succession forts is usually a lack of interest or lag, and let's face it, current version has its own share of crazy lag problems.

Really all it takes is for someone to get the ball rolling on an interesting idea to get an avalanche of folks interested.

Oh yah, also real life is a problem. Can't fully devote play time to dwarf fortress if you're at that stage of life where you're busy working and paying bills and stuff. Over time, folks will move away from DF, though folks might also revisit DF every now and then as long as the game keeps moving along towards 1.0.

So anyone interested in getting a dragon themed succession fort running or a fishing town themed fort running :D
« Last Edit: March 31, 2017, 02:37:57 am by Zuglarkun »
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Maul_Junior

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2017, 05:25:54 am »

a fishing village, a dragon-themed fort.......

Or a Fortress that is built out, over the water, as much as possible.

With a fail-safe support linked to a lever.

Part of the challenge being preventing tantrums to throw the lever, Kronk, and dropping the whole damn thing into the ocean.
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Ironfang

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2017, 06:03:05 am »

I say we should have succession games based on natural anomalies. I do need to get around to sharing the volcanic tube that it sticking out of the ground like a pillar.

But madness will likely return with a new update, we have all learned how to keep a fortress sane. If we wish for a site to provide challenges, we must likely forge them ourselves.
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Maul_Junior

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2017, 06:27:31 am »

.........I have an idea for a trap.

Hear me out.

A wooden artifact gets set on  fire (and will remain on fire until doused in water).

In a 1-tile wide hallway. Attackers have to pass through the artifact(s) to get in, and thus get set on fire. Have 1x1 stockpiles of (forbidden) booze set up every 10 blocks or so past the burning artifact.

Watch the invaders blow up booze as they walk past.

Or, if they try to turn back, they burn any other attackers behind them alive because behind them is a sand/clay/dirt area that's been exposed to cavern spores.

>.>

EDIT: A quick google to see if others have tried this has led to the suggestion of replacing the booze barrels with VENOM barrels.


.......aaaaand booze barrels don't actually explode. darn it. Still, a flaming artifact in a stone entryway between long grass corridors (lined with traps and fortifications, obviously, with a ballista at the far end, possibly) could make for an interesting way to kill FPS goblins.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2017, 06:34:49 am by Maul_Junior »
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Immortal-D

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2017, 06:16:04 pm »

Hmm, interesting all around.  Shameless plug, I just put this up in the CG&S forum; http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=163564.0  Although I'm wondering if there is anything else to the lack of SGs.

twwolfe

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2017, 07:38:38 pm »

SOmething I've also seen is that as the world outside your fort becomes more and more developed, players are starting to find more stories in the world itself rater than making thier own. World gen history makes some awesome reads, such as Tholtig. and then there was Cacame, the first elven king of the dwarves, who as players dug through history went from "we should drown him in magma" to "Y'know, this chap is pretty awesome, lets make a gigantic statue in his honor"

I suspect this trend might continue as forts get safe (as safe as a dwarven fortress can get) and more routine, more players will start poking aroundad sharing stories of thier worlds, rather than thier fortresses.
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TheImmortalRyukan

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2017, 12:32:26 am »

SOmething I've also seen is that as the world outside your fort becomes more and more developed, players are starting to find more stories in the world itself rater than making thier own. World gen history makes some awesome reads, such as Tholtig. and then there was Cacame, the first elven king of the dwarves, who as players dug through history went from "we should drown him in magma" to "Y'know, this chap is pretty awesome, lets make a gigantic statue in his honor"

I suspect this trend might continue as forts get safe (as safe as a dwarven fortress can get) and more routine, more players will start poking aroundad sharing stories of thier worlds, rather than thier fortresses.

...

Hides Book and Quill under desk

Umm, so on the subject of stories... is my moniker bad... or are you saying story-telling is the new thing?

As for succession fort, once Toady releases the next update, there WILL, be more forts due to a long awaited feature, sending dwarves outside into the world to wreck stuff XD
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Salmeuk

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2017, 03:15:08 am »

I think succession fortresses are most successful when the various contributors share a common goal, whether it be constructing a grand narrative, attempting !!SCIENCE!!, or simply surviving a particularly challenging embark. A shared thread between the diaries really makes the experience.

As others have mentioned, DF players know what to expect these days. Everything is documented to such a fine degree that a collective sense of mystery is impossible, since one of the living encyclopedias of dwarf knowledge will drop by the thread and explain to the finest detail why this or that occurred. This is inevitable for any video game, being closed systems and all that, but it's still kind of saddening to lose that noobish wonder we all experience when first learning the game.

Boatmurdered cannot be recreated for a number of reasons, but that shouldn't stop anyone from creating succession threads. Players should just be aware that it is no longer possible to just play the game and expect interesting stories to emerge. That's not to say that extraordinary events, the kind that confound even the oldest players, won't occur, it's just that the amount of effort needed to narrate those events increases as more is known about the game.

Players need to approach their diaries with the sense that 'larger things are afoot'. All those things that make novels interesting [character development, plot, mystery, humor, irony, etc] can be applied to the diary of a succession fortress, and should be. I'm not saying you need to be good at these things, but everyone should be attempting to make something out of their writing. You can only get better.

I think you can run interesting games by constricting gameplay according to artificial rules. In some ways these rules are just another form of storywriting, since the players that design such rulesets are often trying to simulate real-world systems that aren't already simulated in the game. If you constrict your fortress to only exporting a certain good, you can immediately fill in the blanks with "royal mandates" or "oddly-obsessed manager." Constrictions naturally build narrative in the writing of players. If just playing the game is no longer immediately interesting or worthy of writing, then you need to be playing according to a sort of meta-game that represents a more challenging gameworld.

To summarize, you need to put a lot in as the OP of a succession game. The more effort you put in to the scenario, the more likely it is you will get a response in kind from your players.


I haven't really noticed a fall-off in the number of games, but it's more like there aren't many that stand out as consistently solid.
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Baffler

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2017, 12:13:54 pm »

I think the future of succession games will be in succession worlds. It's a bit of a shameless plug since I'm playing in it (and we need players), but this one is active right now. Blending all the modes together is something that the community hasn't really seen before even though it's been possible to do with some level of detail for years now, and it brings the players' actions into the world on a deeper level. We'll probably see great things if the community takes to the idea.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2017, 12:15:33 pm by Baffler »
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MDFification

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2017, 02:29:34 pm »

(x-posting from the CG&S subforum because I think this might actually contribute to this discussion)

---

A succession fort succeeds or fails based on the people it attracts. People who write funny or imagination-gripping content, update often, and interact with each other frequently in public create long lived and frequently read succession forts, or even series of them. I think a good succession fort is more about building a community than it is about the central plot premise or gameplay challenge, though those certainly aren't irrelevant.

I feel like we're just not producing succession forts like we used to, though that might just be nostalgia, and it's hurting my desire to play. I blame sequelitis - the typical 'really good' succession fort sees the initial clique the played it gradually run out of ideas and attention span over the course of threads, leading to forts that update at the pace of continental drift and communities that are increasingly less appealing for someone who wasn't in on the original fort to join. Of course, the close (or adversarial) relationships between players are what produces good content in the first place, but without new blood succession fort groups become victims of their own success and their players slowly stop participating.
Back when I did succession forts, I loved it (and was motivated to spend time tediously gathering screenshots or trying to be funny) because like the people I was doing it with, and felt like we were producing something people read. Our group kind of fell apart as people gradually stopped participating (one guy even got banned by Toady) and the motivation died.
Succession forts are about the greatest threat to any fortress - a squabbling horde of players more concerned about creating an entertaining writeup for their year than they are the future of the fort. The key is attracting and maintaining a good horde.

I'd say that if you want to start a good succession fort, or see this subforum produce a few more absolute gems per year, the way to go is to innovate in terms of how players interact with one another. Why not try to get this subforum an official discord or IRC for content creators to hang out in? Why not ditch turn lists in favor of letting anyone who wants to do a year, and then vote on which one is 'canon'? Why not x-post succesion threads to DF communities on other sites to see if any fresh blood wants in? I think that'll be much more likely to make a memorable fort than a gimmicky start or megaconstruction project. I mean, I've literally watched a player embark without anything but the 3 logs his wagon spawns on deconstruction, on a reanimating biome with no natural resources at all besides a river. There isn't really much novelty go around, it's all about the storytelling.
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StagnantSoul

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2017, 07:01:10 pm »

Aye, the game's became too stable for insanity like Boatmurdered... Though, there's nothing wrong with being stagnant...  :'(
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TheImmortalRyukan

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #13 on: April 03, 2017, 12:58:36 am »

I like the Discord Idea... wonder if Toady could do that or one of us be appointed to.

As for the sequelitis, I admit, Gloomdiamonds killed Doomforest for me, knew it was dead from the beginning, not enough of the original group. But, I am planning a totally new Succession fort to run alongside Blossomtowers after Gloomdiamonds ends.

I will begin recruitment soon, so if you want to, stay tuned for an update.

Here's to hoping for a NEW, non-sequel generation of forts.
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Sanctume

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Re: Have succession games lost their appeal?
« Reply #14 on: April 03, 2017, 11:30:44 pm »

I like participating in succession games when there's some goal or plot theme to build towards to.

I prefer putting in some roleplaying with a dwarf when it becomes my turn, and would keep my interest when that character lives on to the next overseers. 
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