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Author Topic: Avoiding central stairs and making interesting but functional forts  (Read 3051 times)

a52

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I understand the mechanics of this game very well, but I'm never really satisfied with my fortress designs, despite playing on and off for around two years. I always end up with a single central staircase that nearly all levels branch off (with other connections added as the game goes on).

In the early stages especially I have trouble designing things. I never know what to prioritize first and find it difficult to balance aesthetics, long-term efficiency, and the industries I need right now, and usually end up with a single industry being ultra-optimized while all the other industries, as well as the living space, sitting around in a big empty room or scattered wherever I could fit it.

This all gets even worse when I start digging really deep, and have to decide if I want to bother finishing my half-completed upper fortress and haul stuff back up, or just move everything all the way down.

Anybody have any advice on interesting fortress design, which industries to build first, constraints/embarks that would make it harder to make boring designs, etc?

What do you guys do immediately after embark?
« Last Edit: August 23, 2018, 03:04:47 pm by a52 »
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Fleeting Frames

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Sup, 2016 flightmate!

I think your questions would probably merit separate topics; industry prioritization is somewhat distanced from fortress layout. I have a feeling you care more for the latter, anyway.

Avoiding single central staircase in letter is easy, obviously. Avoiding in spirit, though...I don't think I've truly tried. Sure, you can do stuff like octohelix rampways surrounding work areas or descending into split rampways, but that's still centralization and minimizing walk distance; even old .40d forts I've looked at on dfma had central hallway more often than not. You could branch paths fractally, but then you have a central node. etc.

I can suggest you three constraints:

Follow the curvature of the land (particularly interesting in caverns imho).

Weave your world into your fort (important people, religion, access to stuff).

Limit your fortress itself to within 1, maybe 2z if you want stockpile level or something.

a52

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Those are good ideas. I don't want to completely eliminate centralization -- I just want to add some variation, fill out space a bit better, and make forts that are more like real-life medieval castles than mineshafts.

Perhaps a restriction that I could only build rooms that were directly adjacent to or directly above/below other rooms (with some minor exceptions) would help. If you think about it, real-life buildings are often constrained this way, as they don't have the full 3D space to waste on long hallways or ladders. It would also be a good way to make it look pleasing without relying on complete symmetry.

I've taken a look at some other threads of a similar nature, and a common suggestion is to make lots of rooms with ceilings multiple z-levels high. That could pair really interestingly with this other rule.
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Russell.s

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I try my best to make forts that are interesting looking first, and functional second. Apart from the need for a defensible entrance and the basics like enough food, I don't actually see the point in ultra optimising a fortress. Yes, things will take longer to produce, but there's no hurry :). I sit back and enjoy that soothing guitar and ponder my next design while waiting.

In terms of interesting forts, I tend to use a lot of circles and angles. I also tend to stay on just a few z-levels. It's less efficient to have a big sprawling shallow fort, but it's much more visually pleasing! And it gives me the joy of watching my dwarves run back and forth to their various temples and taverns and tasks.

The only fort I've got screenshots of is my old fort Eaglemansions, here: https://imgur.com/gallery/RSGkN.

Keep us updated on what you decide to do! :)



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TheyHaveACaveTroll

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I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I'm building a fort that has a central cavern, with all the buildings carved into the face of the cavern. But i'm only 5 years in, so it's too early to tell if it's going to look good. But the idea is that I get to have stuff like windows, walkways 7z levels above floor, terrace farms etc. The cavern is going to be mostly artificial but as it is, it already opens to natural cave system, so maybe finding a suitable natural cavern could be an option on some embarks.
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Gigaz

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I usually have a regular stairs grid in which each point of the core fort is not further than 6 steps from the closest stairs. This leaves enough space for rooms, workshops and all the other stuff. The pathing is very efficient.
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a52

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I'm not sure if this is what you are looking for, but I'm building a fort that has a central cavern, with all the buildings carved into the face of the cavern. But i'm only 5 years in, so it's too early to tell if it's going to look good. But the idea is that I get to have stuff like windows, walkways 7z levels above floor, terrace farms etc. The cavern is going to be mostly artificial but as it is, it already opens to natural cave system, so maybe finding a suitable natural cavern could be an option on some embarks.

Oohh, so it's all underground skybridges and stuff. That sounds cool.
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Adequate Swimmer

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Embark on the plains and make a roman style wooden fort with one or two basement levels. Ideally it should be right on your border so you can constantly launch raids on goblins and other enemies.
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pamelrabo

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Something I've veen doing lately is 'mark' some circles on the first or second z level (dfhack:
Code: [Select]
digcircle filled 15 , or whatever diameter you like. Avoid the temptation of aligning them perfectly, and mix the diameter value a bit.

Then climb to the ground level and use that circles layout as my perimeter wall. The thinner circles are good foundations for watchtowers or the mayor's office (gotta impress those diplomats) The result is usually nice to look at.

You can make an underground entrance from each circle connecting them to a first Great Hall where visitors can mess around.

About the industry optimization... Pfff... This is not Factorio. I always end up hoarding too much stuff pointlessly. Apart from very basic stuff you don't have to care about it, unless you're into some silly project (mine is paving the whole outer fortress with earthenware bricks).

Google some historic castle and / or cathedral layouts, that's a great source of inspiration. Panoptical fortresses, too.
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andrei901

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OP: Turn it sideways.
Instead of a central staircase, make a central hallway, with rooms branching off upward, downward, and sideways! Put the entrance on one side, of course. When you hit the end of the map, go down enough z levels for rooms, and go back. Zigzag down.

I've lately been trying to build a five-part fortress design, to some success, built around a central staircase, though. Basically, I try to have 5 different mostly independent forts- Surface, Cave 1, 2, 3, and Magma. Each has its own focus. Surface does farming and woodworking, Cave 1 does animal stuff. Cave 2 does mid-value natural products crafting-cloth and silk type stuff. Cave 3 does combat, has the main tavern, has the main library, is generally the center of attention. Finally, Magma level has the high value crafting, weaponsmithing, magma forges, as well as the catacombs, the artifact storages/displays, the statue room full of epic fortress-relevant (though, somehow, inexplicably, always the crappy ones) statues, the noble's quarters, and the rooms of the worthy dwarves, whose ranks are populated by the best weaponsmith and the best armorsmith in the fortress, anyone else that's got legendary skills outside the craftsdwarf's shop, and the occasional war hero that is too maimed for effective combat but is still somehow alive. The idea is to devise a caste system among my dwarves, where their ranks are dependent on the level at which they live. The more worthy ranks, of course, living closer to the blood of the mountain.

So far I have done this in two ways, the first of which is mostly independent forts with burrows, which really loses the benefits of the focused industries, and really seems like the hermit challenge from the wiki, but with a delayed separation. The other way is to have each fort intentionally focus on a few industries exclusively, and rely on a sixth caste of "untouchables", or hauler dwarves that earn their meager scraps to eat by delivering goods between the proper forts. They, of course, sleep in roughly carved out communal barracks near their work sites. Either way is incredibly time consuming to set up and is likely to result in a few injuries. My advice is that each level will need its own local squad, and it's best to set those up first.
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Leonidas

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I'm having fun with all-ramp fortresses. They're tricky to set up, but they seem quite efficient.
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SixOfSpades

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Anybody have any advice on interesting fortress design, which industries to build first, constraints/embarks that would make it harder to make boring designs, etc?
You could try to base it around your civilization's gods. Give each deity their own section of the fort, with all related industries clustered around it. (You could, theoretically, even make an entire fort for each god, but the sheer number of dwarves that worship more than one would of course make separating those forts from one another be very inefficient.) Each civ's randomly-generated pantheons will keep your forts looking different every time.

I'm having fun with all-ramp fortresses. They're tricky to set up, but they seem quite efficient.
Ditto. I pretend that the game's "stairs" are actually ladders, and build them only for things that will be used only rarely, like temporary scaffolding and the emergency-exits from wells. Everything else gets ramps, and my "central staircase"s are a double helix of 2-tile-wide ramps that any wheelbarrow-toting hauler, or any other beast of burden, could navigate with ease.
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Dwarf Fortress -- kind of like Minecraft, but for people who hate themselves.

Anandar

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What if you had a massive meeting hall and worked rooms off of that... like a castles grand hall with hearths, several stages and seating/tables... then from this room you could have several hallways for servant quaters... haulers farmers etc, and for their work zones have a bunch of rooms in a row woth stockpiles between rooms for stufd like a chain leading back to the main hall... drop down a z lvl for all the industrial stuff... forges an entance to the mines and apropriate stockpiles, and above a layer or 2 nobles with their own smaller but grander hall
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Yami

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You could always try 'The Living Mausoleum'  Set your trading post deep in the fort and design the path to showcase your greatest tombs and art in honour of the fallen.  So instead of designing for utility you're actively trying to figure out how to make your fortress look as awesome and imposing as ever for the visitors, and thusly also the residents.

~Yami.
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Is it a bad sign that I purposefully deface masterwork engravings because I understand the importance of the throwing skill?

Anandar

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Or channel out 3- 4 layers and have everything in a massive open cavern
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