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Author Topic: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns  (Read 4078 times)

AuthorX

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Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« on: December 23, 2022, 01:26:51 pm »

I've been wanting to try Dwarf Fortress for a long time, and took the opportunity with the steam release, as well as looking at how mods work. One thing that quickly came up in discussion with friends is the idea of trans dwarves, since I and most of my friends are trans. It was nice to see this tweet suggesting they're planned at some point in the future, but since there's obviously a lot going on I decided to look at the possibility of adding it in a mod myself. But there were two problems that come up quickly.

The first is that everyone has different ideas of how they want gender in general or transgender dwarves specifically to work. Even among my friends, our opinions have ranged from "I hope nothing is changed, the way it is currently has no social gender roles which is perfect" to "I want dwarves to work like Discworld where they're all male by default and their physical sex is not relevant/known until they take a spouse, or if they personally decide to make it public" to "I want dwarves to be able to have different pronouns or gender markers in their profiles than the one they were assigned at birth, maybe at random, or maybe some internal personality trait that causes stress until they do, or maybe some of them want help from a doctor or some don't, or... [continued rambling about the possible mechanical minuteae]". It's pretty much a certainty that if Toady adds transgender dwarves, the way he designs it won't make all of us happy, because we want different things.

The second is that the way gender, sex, pronouns, etc works in the game is hardcoded and unmoddable (the "how I did pronouns" issue, as Toady aluded to in the tweet). Currently, you can assign different castes MALE or FEMALE tokens (or even NO_GENDER to revert to neither) to specific castes, but each one controls a bunch of different behaviors, including the gender marker on the bio, pronouns used for each creature, and whether/how can reproduce. So as it is you can't, for example, have every dwarf described as "he/him" but still be able to have kids. Or to model many historical transgender or third-gender castes. It also prevents any kind of neopronouns or other genders being reflected on the creature's bio page.

Solving the second problem would also solve the first. It's the spirit of the game that everyone can customize their Dwarf Fortress experience to whatever they want, not just in in-game constraints and goals, but in modding the game itself. Making the behavior of sex and gender moddable, without even necessarily changing the default behavior, would provide this for a lot of players, beyond just the default dwarves but also to customized creatures and societies. There's already some gesturing toward this in the game itself - the fact that Orientation is moddable, for example, and that the elves, unlike other civilizations, only have Queens, never Kings, and have Princesses as both a military and nobility role. I can understand how the current implementation of gender is easy to implement as a quick default, to "look right" in most circumstances, but it is limiting the possiblity space.

I'm sure there's a lot of people that think this is unnecessary, but again, the whole spirit of the game is unnecessarily detailed simulation and customizability. Most people probably don't care if you can change the material a dwarf's toenail is made of, but you can. So, I figured I'd post something that I know I and many other people would be interested in seeing in the game.
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dth1

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2022, 01:44:08 pm »

While I personally think this change is not necessary, I wouldn't protest if support for that was eventually implemented, if people want it, why not. But on the other hand, this game has real issues, like big big issues with multiple aspects, that are there, waiting to be fixed/changed/adjusted, and I would be really pissed if something with as little impact on gameplay as pronouns would take priority over those matters. This happened to the sims 4, game that has really annoying bugs since its release years ago, every new expansion adds new bugs, but somehow, they couldn't find time to fix this, but apparently had time to implement pronouns that have literally no impact on gameplay apart from making a margin of players happy that their sim can be called "they" instead of "she" in the game. Everything else is exactly like it was, full of bugs.

So yeah, I'd say: yes, but there are bigger things to do first.

Btw, you should check out Noble Fates, not sure if it has support for modding this part of the game, but it already has more than 2 genders by default.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2022, 01:53:28 pm by dth1 »
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AuthorX

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2022, 03:28:46 pm »

Yeah, I certainly didn't think this would be priority, especially with the premium release having just hit the public, and doubtless needing to fix a lot of bugs now that it's hit the public and keep the classic version up to parity with it. But I figured I'd suggest it, since this is the suggestion forum (and Toady already expressed interest so I figured I'd offer how I'd like to see it implemented - moddability rather than different-but-still-hard-coded behavior).

Regarding Sims 4, I've also had games get worse and worse as new content adds new bugs that are never fixed - Lego Dimensions was basically unplayable last time I tried it. But both of those games have something in common that Dwarf Fortress doesn't - selling the additional content that they keep pumping out. It's easy to see why more attention would be paid to additional content than the base game when the developers are being pushed by the publisher to create ever more profit, and new expansions means new sales from existing customers. Despite the appearance of the premium edition, I very much doubt that Dwarf Fortress is going to go that route.

Also, all work is not equal. I'm not a game developer, but I work in an enterprise software firm and I know from experience that what seems like a huge and obvious issue to some users may require a ton of work and rigorous testing, and not have been brought to our attention for years after a feature was added (despite the customer's protesting that "there's no way I'm the first person to have this problem"), while something they see as unimportant is fixed or added because it was faster to implement, didn't affect other parts of the software that would need to be tested too, and requested by multiple users (and often, in the case of enterprise software, higher-value customers). I'm not saying my suggestion is highly-requested or would be easy (especially since it touches on reproductive behavior, which affects most of the creatures in the game), but in general if you see a game add feature X instead of fixing bug Y, it doesn't mean that the time they spent on X would have instead equaled Y. Especially when it *is* limited to something in-game text that doesn't affect how things behave/render/interact, like pronouns.

I'll check out Noble Fates, thank you for the suggestion!
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Tilla

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #3 on: December 24, 2022, 06:04:02 pm »

Tarn has already indicated intentions to go along this path in the future. I think it would require a bit more refactoring but it is on the to-do list to have more gender variance stuff going on.
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PetMudstone

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #4 on: December 25, 2022, 02:31:04 pm »

The main hurdle at the moment is that gender itself, in the social construct sense, doesn't really matter in Dwarf Fortress. Different expectations and norms per gender aren't modeled at the moment outside of the possibility for civs to make positions exclusive to a particular sex. Male and female dwarves will both happily put on dresses if they are available and won't behave differently. The only significant difference in behavior then is just the fact that female dwarves are capable of becoming pregnant and bearing children, and that's due to their sex rather than gender.

I imagine transness and a general refactor of how gender identity works would come when Toady and co. get around to reworking entities and how their culture works including a look at gender roles and expectations and such.
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Starver

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #5 on: December 25, 2022, 04:51:28 pm »

Possibly by the time of Myth And Magic there'll be something (if not already, by Syndrome inducement?) which can effect the sex of the dwarf, on top of the gender identity aspect and/or the sexuality one.

(i.e. the details of what's between their legs. Vs what's between their ears or who is between their legs...)


But, right now, a good approximation of the Discworld Dwarf system exists. Except that male pronouns aren't the default, or the near total (or at least traditional) insistance on hypermasculinity in dress. The latter might be enforced by modding out (or across?) the undesirable garbs. - This of course being not the solution that OP is looking for, but just me generally chatting around the subject and various implications of various possible choices. (Ditto the Ancillary series's main culture seemingly being both sex- and gender-agnostic (edit: and, by natural extension, sexuality also), and defaulting to feminine descriptions, etc.)
« Last Edit: December 25, 2022, 04:59:29 pm by Starver »
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brewer bob

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #6 on: December 25, 2022, 06:27:55 pm »

Male and female dwarves will both happily put on dresses if they are available and won't behave differently.

Just want to point out that dresses were also used by males in ancient times (even in the 14th century where DF tech level is mostly). And many cultures still have all genders wear dresses.

It's a fairly recent (Western) development that dresses are seen as "womens' clothes".
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Salmeuk

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #7 on: December 25, 2022, 09:06:17 pm »

in The World of Bones succession fortress, a third gender was modded in (through caste shenanigans, I assume), and this worked well enough. but I fully support the addition of this possibility.

I think the main issue is where to halt modability, if at all? DF is a framework for random generation, so the more open the framework the more varied the generation. along these lines, allowing genders to become something created by gods during mythgen would be equally awesome.

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A_Curious_Cat

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2022, 12:15:21 am »

Male and female dwarves will both happily put on dresses if they are available and won't behave differently.

Just want to point out that dresses were also used by males in ancient times (even in the 14th century where DF tech level is mostly). And many cultures still have all genders wear dresses.

It's a fairly recent (Western) development that dresses are seen as "womens' clothes".

And when the Romans first saw trousers, they thought they were feminine
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jipehog

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2022, 04:04:09 am »

For me this is a bad suggestion. Please include a tldr implementation suggestion of what exactly you are proposing.
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Eric Blank

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2022, 12:17:08 pm »

No Nonono, that does not disqualify a suggestion, there's no requirement for succinctness. We discuss their merits and issues here, and if you can't read far enough to know what those are, then delay commenting until you have read them in their entirety. It's simple forum etiquette.
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FantasticDorf

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2022, 01:34:44 pm »

No Nonono, that does not disqualify a suggestion, there's no requirement for succinctness. We discuss their merits and issues here, and if you can't read far enough to know what those are, then delay commenting until you have read them in their entirety. It's simple forum etiquette.

It would be a act of courtesy in both your advice given and the original request. So far, there's enough power in the player's hand to suit personal taste and expectations laid upon them, but mechanically the game does require some act of reproduction to progress "the plot" (no_gender races are possible, but even they require psuedo reproduction via modding tricks) but you would have to disable the inbuilt systems for historical unit culling and find ways across dead-end situations realistically speaking like adoption.


At the given minute i think its dicey enough there's a rainbow blurb on graphical steam version, which players can't control the appearance of as a early indicator of a potential alternative sexuality present in the creature (or just a innocent expression of whimsy/mood level up? no way to be sure, but there is 0 tolerance to rainbow paraphernalia abroad, especially amongst "childrens products" in places like Dubai).
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Eric Blank

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2022, 01:38:51 pm »

Sorry, I know it would be an act of courtesy to provide a tl;Dr, but i mean that lacking one doesn't make a suggestion bad in any way.

On the actual topic at hand, I didn't have much to add besides that I like the general idea of having different gender/sex possibilities and the possibility to have gender specific normal behaviors in societies. Especially when modding in wierd species where the mammalian male/female sex characteristics aren't present.

I do think, however, that Dwarven and goblin societies don't seem like ones where differences among genders are common or significant. Elves on the other hand do have one indicator of a tradition of female preference among leadership roles in the female-exclusive queen position.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2022, 01:44:44 pm by Eric Blank »
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PlumpHelmetMan

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2022, 05:10:49 pm »

+1. It's been acknowledged for a while that gender roles/identities in DF need work as a whole (which is to say they're virtually nonexistent in the current version beyond gendered pronouns), so to me this seems like a pretty natural extension of said work.
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Shonai_Dweller

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Re: Allow modding gender/sex/pronouns
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2022, 07:38:31 pm »

No Nonono, that does not disqualify a suggestion, there's no requirement for succinctness. We discuss their merits and issues here, and if you can't read far enough to know what those are, then delay commenting until you have read them in their entirety. It's simple forum etiquette.
At the given minute i think its dicey enough there's a rainbow blurb on graphical steam version, which players can't control the appearance of as a early indicator of a potential alternative sexuality present in the creature (or just a innocent expression of whimsy/mood level up? no way to be sure, but there is 0 tolerance to rainbow paraphernalia abroad, especially amongst "childrens products" in places like Dubai).
It's a child playing make believe. Not an "early indicator of potential alternative sexuality".
And all players can change it whenever they like, along with all the rest of the graphics in the game. So what on earth are you talking about?
(data\vanilla\vanilla_interface\graphics\images).
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