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Author Topic: May I have tips on good base design?  (Read 1721 times)

Sky-Streamer

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May I have tips on good base design?
« on: November 05, 2020, 01:34:38 pm »

I don't mean as in, making the base actually act efficiently. I just want a fort I make to actually look good, which - let me tell you - I am NOT good at. I just make a single central staircase that's one block thin and throw shit onto the sides like god shoving limbs onto the sides of centipedes, but I want to make an actually decent-looking base. Any tips?
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Thisfox

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2020, 03:18:04 pm »

Efficiency is great, glad you have it. Here are some things I consider when making my fort:

  • Be symmetrical.
    We all love symmetry. The central staircase is great: how about four rooms off the central axle, all the same size as their neighbours? Or two larger rooms, north and south, and two smaller rooms, east and west? Or a central hall leading from the main staircase, east and west, with all the 3x3 bedrooms off the hall the same size like legs on a centipede, but the two larger more important bedrooms north and south with their own entry halls? We are wired to see symmetry as beautiful, so try to make each level symmetrical.
  • Find pretty landscape. (With dorfs, this means rocks).
    Find a level to put your dining hall in that is made of a rock that you find attractive. I like making mine on the marble/chalk layer, but I've also been known to choose a level that has a lot of gemstones embedded in the rock, so that the smoothed engraved walls and pillars are pretty.
  • Put in some useless but pretty architectural decisions.
    Pillars are beautiful. When you're making a room which is a big area (dining hall, rock storage level, binless leather storage area.... whatever) first assign the large area to be dug out, then immediately hit x and put in a symmetrical pattern of 2x2 pillars throughout the large to-be-dug expanse. Firstly, you can think of it that the dwarfs are making sure it won't cave in on that level (yes, I am aware that this is not how it works in game, but you CAN roleplay, it is fun), and secondly, an aesthetically pleasing pattern on the large expanse of dig area can be nice. Later, smooth and engrave your 2x2 pillars, and you can have beautiful engravings around your fort, for your haulers to see, or just use it to train your engravers for more important projects.
  • Colour coordinate your furniture.
    Random example: doors. They are functional (ever had a dorf go mad and start running around and tearing stuff to pieces? Put a few doors between him and everyone else, and he will damage the doors, and not your precious metalsmith!) and you can make them in scenic colours. I tend to try to make microcline and olivine and orthoclase doors, and then pair them up as double doors, and put them around my central stairwell so a dorf has to go through a door to get into any level expanse. Firstly, said dorf gets a happy thought from a nicely made door, but secondly, I get colour coding and a really nice look to my fort.
    • Level 25: Yellow doors lead into the bedroom areas, which have plain grey doors leading into rooms with green and pink furniture (do you like coloured wood? Start cutting timber in the caverns!
    • Level 30: black doors into a jewellers enclosure.
    • Level 39: White doors throughout a clothingmakers cleanrooms, with a bright blue door inside that leading to the dyers workshop.
    • Level 7: Red doors lead into a (red clay) butchers, a (bright blue microcline) tanners, some (red clay) leatherworking equipment, and a series of rooms full of corpses, and nice white marble slabs and basalt coffins.
    I tend to make a lot of stuff out of green glass, so I have a bit of a green theme going on in my fortress. Green tables and chairs in a lovely big white smoothed/engraved feasting hall can look great, but go find your own style, depending on the colours you like best.

Edit: Make your central staircase 2x2 and it makes it more efficient AND easier to make stuff more symmetrical. Try to imagine walking around your hallways, and try to make them wide, tall, and enjoyable to walk around in, as if you were really in the halls of some grand and exciting fortress.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2020, 03:25:10 pm by Thisfox »
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Russell.s

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2020, 04:12:18 pm »

I made a fort a long time ago with some 'pretty' designs, if you'd care to take a look: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=143928.0

I think a big thing for me in making a fort look pretty is having as much as possible on the horizontal. I very rarely have any central staircase because it obscures the features of your fort behind other z-levels. Having everything horizontal is inefficient, but I don't particularly care about efficiency-- stuff gets done eventually, and there's no rush :).

Repeating patterns look cool, and making good use of negative space is important (the black between walls). I'd also put some mind to fictional 'function'. For example, if you have a gate house, you may want to build a barracks next to it so the dwarves can train there and respond quickly to threats-- but the dwarves might need to escape a dangerous threat, so you could add a 'secret' passage leading somewhere... that kind of thing adds character to forts :).
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Iduno

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2020, 03:38:32 pm »

I don't mean as in, making the base actually act efficiently. I just want a fort I make to actually look good, which - let me tell you - I am NOT good at. I just make a single central staircase that's one block thin and throw shit onto the sides like god shoving limbs onto the sides of centipedes, but I want to make an actually decent-looking base. Any tips?

Stone-smoothing on everything: it's faster than engraving. It rounds corners in many tilesets as well.

Edit: Also, build so things are spaced out both vertically and horizontally. You'll want space later for adding a hospital near the entrance, putting in a well, maybe a pump stack with power, extra bedrooms....

I'd say build every 5-10 floors, depending on how much stuff you normally build. You'll want the magma forges (once you get there) to be part of the fortress, not 100 z-levels away. Playing without caverns would make a nicer-looking fortress, but one without indoor pastures and possibly no water source.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2020, 03:53:18 pm by Iduno »
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Salmeuk

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2020, 05:47:51 pm »

Start every fortress with a small base, with farms, dormitory, dining room, maybe a temple. Use this as home while you build and carve the 'real' fortress below. This takes the pressure off of you to "get it right the first time", and issue when it comes to digging in stone.

Lots of good inspiration on the favorites page at the Dwarf Fortress Map Archive: https://mkv25.net/dfma/favourites.php

There are two ways you can organize a fortress: by your own (human) eye, or by the needs and desires of the dwarves (needs and desires that you must infer or create yourself). Either you are making awesome pixel plazas and shaping rooms to fit your aesthetic desires, or you are crafting secret tunnels and grand, defensive walls to keep your citizens safe - or both!

Whatever you build in game, make it look nice, or make it serve an imagined functional purpose for your dwarves. Things like well access and intimidatingly tall curtain walls do not really change much for gameplay, but they would certainly be part of a fantasy medieval fortress, no? So include them! Draft a list of 'needs' for your fortress that fill out the image. As a player, you can harvest all the food you need from a 5x5 plot, but that's not very grand, so why not build a mega-farm and keep your planters busy?

Experiment with multi-z level rooms, with balconys and overhands. Pillars that flank the walls and large pits that go on seemingly forever. Bring water from the cavern and fill an artificial lake.

Finally, a pro-tip: use the mouse. People forget you can designate with the mouse, and it makes refining and shaping rooms a whole lot quicker.

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Broseph Stalin

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2020, 06:40:25 pm »

Wow, it's been seven years since I posted this. This is the system I devised when I got into making fortresses that weren't just functional and I haven't really changed it except occasionally throwing in a quantum stockpile or two.

Hey everybody let's measure our architectural wangs! All of these designs are standard for any non-theme fortress I build.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

This is my entrance. It provides a large outdoor area to plant above ground crops, maintain hives, and raise livestock while providing two levels of security. The main perimeter and the 11x11 fortress entrance can be secured by separate drawbridges allowing two levels of protection.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
These are my stockpiles. Each stockpile has an area of 55 urists and is positioned directly beside relevant workshops and relevant stockpiles. A mason can take a stone 4 paces to the shop then take the chair 4 paces to the furniture stockpile. Hyper efficient.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

These are my quarters. This setup provides 40 bedrooms containing one armor stand, one weapon rack,  a table and chair, two chests, a cabinet, a door and a bed. These rooms go to dwarves who are considered important to the fortress, that usually ends up being 50% of the fort.

Garbage dwarves sleep in dormitories at the end of the hall. Occasionally if one impresses me but not eough to warrant his own room I'll assign them their own bed in the dorm.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

This is the dining hall. I like keeping them small because anectdotal evidence suggestss they help dwarves build relationships faster. With the right materials and quality modifiers it's always royal quality.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

Here's my noble quarters. All nobles come from the original 7 regardless of qualification. The King gets a custom room on a different floor.



Let's see what you got bay12.

TubaDragoness

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2020, 04:45:45 pm »

Learn how to make circles, ovals, and curves with pixels. It's amazing how much fancier a round room looks. Some tilesets can enhance the effect by how they render smoothed walls, especially on the diagonals.

Other than that, separate your fortress into "wings" or even floors by function. I have a surface section that has the depot, the barracks, and rooms for isolated vampires/werebeasts/necromancers. My workshops are all together, usually arranged around the stockpiles they draw from. I have a "civilian" wing that includes the temple, library, tavern/dining hall, and leads off into the bedrooms. The surface fields and pastures are connected to the food stockpile by a tunnel that has underground fields, pastures for non-grazers, and the butcher/tanner/farmer workshop and refuse room off of it.

My main hallways are 5 tiles wide (allowing for exits of either two or three doors) and every 40 or so tiles, I build in a rounded room with a central pillar that looks something like a roundabout in tunnel form. Keeps the grid format while mimicking things I have seen in public buildings, and is a convenient place to add in additional doors to isolate invaders or berserkers.

If you need inspiration, look up famous buildings, fortresses, or ruins from the real world!
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BoogieMan

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2020, 05:24:13 pm »

The entrance to the fort is a long rectangular room, with a pit at least 10-20z deep with a lead plated floor for extra ouch and connected on both ends by drawbridges. Connecting the two bridges is a single tile wide winding path (with the intent to make it so enemies have to stop sprinting and make turns) that is flanked from the sides by the wide empty pitfall and then fortifications carved into the stone where my crossbowdwarves will pelt invaders with bolts, and if they make a bad dodge down they go. And for good measure I'll have a swarm of warbeasts down there to go tear apart the maimed enemies that happen to survive the fall as well as a backup rock of fortifications, just in case. Access to the bottom room is of course blocked by a bridge and the walls are natural smoothed stone so they can't be climbed. This room exits into the room described below.

The centerpiece of my forts is usually a large central room that is either square or rectangular that is at least 3z high, open, and has natural smoothed and engraved (not constructed) pillars every so many spaces that are continuous from the bottom floor up to the top. The bottom floor is usually linked to the entrance and spreads out to a few hallways that go to workshops. Along the base of the pillars will be statues. The upper levels will have balconies that overlook into the big room all the way to the bottom, one floor is the tavern/meeting place/dining hall, another is an interior barracks, temple, and such. There will be a 3x3 waterfall cascading down through the middle of the room, with 4 wells in the corners a floor in the middle, and floor grates in the others for drainage. Below that, a 3 wide tunnel going to the edge of the map where the last tile on the map is carved into a fortification to drain the water off the map.

Workshops are usually 5x5 rooms with the 3x3 workshop in the middle with the surrounding tiles set as stockpiles for the required resource, and a large linked storeroom for raw materials below, and linked stockpile for completed products above. I'll have a bridge blocked shortcut to closer to the surface where the trade depot is so during trading and when I'm sure it's secured, I'll have it open so it takes much less time to transfer goods. At the surface, I'll have another room lined with fortifications that exits out into a small fort that is the outer most defense I'll make a safe place for grazing animals here with a bridge enclosed panic room to protect the animals. And another secured tunnel leading from here to the kitchen areas as well as a secondary barracks and archer range so my warriors don't get cave adapted. The outer area of the fort will have hanging floor jutting out to keep climbers out and fortifications, just in case. Eventually I may put a roof over the area for added security. I'll have a tunnel that heads to the river and a section of walls built over the river and fortifications and grates to let the water through but block access to anything from the outside so my fisherdwarves can fish in peace.

For FPS, I generally try to leave most of fortress in a 3D box shaped area over the levels so the distances are relatively short to any one area. It's better, FPS wise, to use more z levels than a large area on any one level.
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Duuvian

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2020, 05:48:32 pm »

I tried to think a joke quickly in passing and I thought of a fortress in the detailed shape of a bass guitar.

You will have to imagine it because that's too much work.

To be more helpful, I usually dig out a 3 wide wagon entrance with ramps at the end to go down to a depot. I like digging into the side of a stone hill or mountain so I can engrave the entrance but ramps down in the middle of a field works just as well. Sometimes I spiral the wagon tunnel because I can, though lately I wonder how bad for FPS that is instead of plopping a depot down 10 tiles in. The 3 wide tunnel goes to the depot room and main stockpile, and I use stairs (with an animal tethered in a short hallway between if I have Invaders set to on) on the sides of the depot room that go up and or down to living and working areas. Anywhere that has access to the surface has some form of wall around it; a common thing I do is dig upwards and wall around the downstairs on teh surface. I like to build a tower there but it depends on labor availability, blocks supply and how long I feel like spending on a tower.

I do usually play with Invaders set to off at the start though as I limit migrants by setting population to 20 or 30 and growing the rest of the way as baby dorfs mature. That way when I turn it back on I'll have had a more leisurely time getting defenses set up with my limited workforce, especially if I do something like a library fort with the starting 7 set up for future scholars.

I usually design it so friendly visitors' destinations such as a tavern or temple and such are in a first part of the fort closer to the entrance or outside, while the dwarves live and work in the trading depot room or "farther down". I don't really keep tabs on vistors too much but I figured it could help a slight bit to keep them in the "upper levels" to some unenforced extent in case some are crimeful and I have to figure out which or something.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 06:03:16 pm by Duuvian »
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Urist9876

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2020, 08:20:54 am »

One streamer is focussed on making nice looking forts. There aren't that many so he'll be easy to find.
He often uses dfhack to get everything in the right color though.

Anyway, looking at what others did might give you an idea or two.
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Justin

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2020, 08:38:47 am »

My advice for a depot entrance is to find a hill or mountain on the edge that has a three tile wide side slope directly on the map edge. Dig a three til wide entrance there, this will force the caravan wagons to spawn directly there, making thier journey to the depot and back much safer.
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Alastar

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #11 on: November 14, 2020, 10:55:23 am »

Imo, getting something to look "good" is most easily achieved by picking a theme and sticking with it. "What is this place, and who are we?"
Quite often, "ugly" just means all over the place and inconsistent.

Organic shapes actively avoiding geometrically perfect ones, soft curves? Inviting and homely. Hobbit caves.
Circles and concentric rings, small rooms combine into more circles via fancy tesselation, perhaps a few mazes? Airy, delicate and opulent. Pleasure palaces.
Large, plain rectangles? Simple and utilitarian. Boring on its own, but lets clever infrastructure define the aethetics without distractions. Industrial.
Central squares with more squares jutting out, especially at the  corners? Severe and martial. Castles, fortresses, possibly cathedrals.
As compact as possible, heavily spread across z-levels, honeycomb of stairs rather than corridors? Hive society, watching apparent chaos turn into purpose can be fascinating.
Small houses combining bedrooms and workplace, few shared areas? Conveys individualism, a town rather than a monolithic fortress.
Sparse collective accomodation, minimal effort apart from extensive and neatly arranged defences? Militaristic.
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Zuglarkun

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2020, 05:21:42 am »

Go look at some older forts from the community games that are specifically catered towards building nice architecture. The only ones I can think of at the moment is Flarechannel *(pics are down, search on google)* and Constructivory. I think a picture is worth a thousand words here.

We talking about good looking 2D forts from top down or something that looks nice in a 3D viewer like stonestense or armok vision? If the former, use circles or ovals when digging out areas like dining halls, etc... Search for designating circles, its a reddit post i think. Smooth out everything and no dirt areas in your main fortress area. If the latter you got to to go aboveground and make a nice above ground fort, which does not have to be your main fort. Make sure to make use of multiple z-levels even if functionally you can only really make use of the lowest level due to assigning rooms and areas. Color code with blocks and materials. When making 3D structures, visualize from each z-layer, then start from the bottom z-level layer if working with blocks. If mining out a 3d structure, then start from the top z-level layer first.

Experiment and save designs you like so you can replicate them in other forts.

muldrake

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2020, 06:57:03 pm »

I love when my fort is utterly destroyed by were-elephants.  Just saying.  This is one of my favorite things.

Actually I love it even more when a were-elephant completely destroys an arriving caravan, and everyone in it, turning the entire delivery into a freebie.  Thanks for all the free stuff, morons!
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Thisfox

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Re: May I have tips on good base design?
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2020, 03:29:48 am »

I love when my fort is utterly destroyed by were-elephants.  Just saying.  This is one of my favorite things.
Actually I love it even more when a were-elephant completely destroys an arriving caravan, and everyone in it, turning the entire delivery into a freebie.  Thanks for all the free stuff, morons!

....Random irrelevant comment of the day?
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