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Author Topic: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities  (Read 40164 times)

DrPoo

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #105 on: February 21, 2013, 05:04:02 am »

This would make sense if EA owned the rights for the game..
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assasin

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #106 on: February 21, 2013, 07:02:34 pm »

Quote
development of these power-bases within your fortress can shape very different types of fortresses. 

In a manner of speaking, you can consider it like choosing "classes" or skills from a skill tree for an individual character in a more traditional RPG.  The noble tree branches you head down changes the character of your fortress, and how it governs itself. 

As the player is the representative of government, this, in turn, means that the players powers (as expressed through what orders can be given to subordinates) changes with how their government is set up.  Reaching the tips of these branches can mean having strict, regimented control over their fortress, or watching a nearly-autonomous set of individual actors vie for power in which you are merely an arbiter of power at best.  Starting scenario might change which one you head towards, but it would ultimately be a player choice of dictator vs. spectator.


I can definately agree with player choice.

I'm not going to comment on the whole thread so I'll just post my own opinions in a more general way.

What I'd like to see with regards to:


politics
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Crime and Law
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Guilds
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What I don't want to see is difficulty added for the sake of difficulty. Guilds shouldn't call strikes just to add an extra annoyance you have to deal with. Instead player decisionmaking should require more depth in order to keep the fortress stable and happy [or just keep your milatary stable and happy and write the large number of rebellions and deaths off as overhead], and if the player decided on a wrong course of course the problems would start piling up. Difficulty for the sake of fun is fine, but what is added should be chosen wisely so it is fun and not just plain annoying.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #107 on: February 21, 2013, 08:25:48 pm »

Well, the idea is that challenges are what help make the fun.

The problem with the game right now is that there's nothing to challenge the player beyond initial survival. 

Compare this to the original 2d version of the game, where each time you cleared one of the three obstacles, (underground river, chasm, and magma river,) you obtained more materials, had more options with what to do like access to magma forges, but also faced new challenges because you were exposed to monsters inside your fort from those rivers and chasms that you couldn't completely block off.  That created a clear scaling of difficulty.

In the current game, however, there's no real mechanical reason to do much in a fort besides wall yourself off and grow just enough food and clothing to not die while you have a legendary dining hall to keep everyone happy.

The point isn't to make the game harder just for the sake of getting harder, but to re-introduce the notion that as you clear the "level one" of the game that involves just fending off dying, you have a more challenging "level two" and "level three" you can advance to.

It also introduces a purpose for a lot of the currently-useless items like trade goods. 

One of the initial reasons for this thread was that I realized all the old threads on making books and carpets and more fancy living quarters and the like have no point if there's no mechanic for them to actually be necessary in the game, and adding more "happiness" alone isn't really enough.



A citizen's meeting mechanic is a good idea, and would be a good warm-up for having a council of nobles, as well. 

It could also serve a useful purpose in giving players a chance to look at the current mood of their fortress.  One of the problems with the current DF is that there's basically no way to tell the current happiness level of the fort without individually looking at the thoughts pages of every single dwarf or using Dwarf Therapist. 

Having a periodic council meeting where the game just up-and-tells-you "Urist McHauler is unhappy with all the miasma" can be a valuable mechanic just for telling the player where the problems are.



On crime, yes, that's basically part of what I was going to work towards.

It would be one of those "this is a new level of difficulty" things that crime would start being introduced once your fortress advances beyond the pure communism stage.  The idea being that, like with those frogmen attacking your fort from within via the underground river before, it would be a means of requiring a police force in your fort.



It's a balancing act with guilds.

Part of what I want to do with them is to make them operate semi-autonomously, if only for the appeal of having the ant farm run itself, which I'm sure some players really would like. 

Hence, I want to try to come up with guilds that can take away from some of the boring annoyances, like having to re-issue work orders on their own, but replace that with a problem that takes more serious thought to solve. 

Also, you don't have to make a totally independent guild... but there's a reward for letting it happen. 

That's sort of the idea - you give up your direct control over the dwarves (something players probably won't necessarily want), and let them have more pull and demand (this creates some of the difficulty because you then have to manage them), but at the same time, they provide a benefit that empowers the whole fortress.  (They produce better or a greater quantity of goods, make the fortress wealthier, create an outlet for advanced trade goods, add to fortress prestige and let your noble advance faster, giving you more political power, and simply having a "fully maxed-out guild" is itself a source of pride for a player.)

You can choose to keep things state-run, but you don't get the benefits (or lose the control) of a guild.

They don't go on strike (at least, probably not often, and it would take serious mis-management for them to do so...) so much as they simply start requiring the player to manage the fortress in a less direct way. 

A lot of this depends on the economy being up and running (and I'll get to that section later...) because part of the point is that you have to start actually paying the guilds for the items you request of them (and they pay you for resources, and pay their workers). 

There could also be some sort of emergency mechanic, like declaring martial law, for example, however, to help get through emergency situations.  Maybe I should write a full section on that, now that I think about it.
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SirHoneyBadger

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #108 on: February 22, 2013, 06:18:25 am »

I haven't quite absorbed all of this yet in it's entirety, but I'd like to make a start, because I feel this is a fantastic way to broaden the game, and also the game's audience base.

Firstly:
I would love to see this incorporated into migrant waves, so that the social classes that your Fortress most appeals to, will be attracted to it.

To give some simplified examples of this: If you have a primitive economy, where you mostly produce and sell raw resources, you should attract large amounts of unskilled laborers, because they're seeking jobs--any jobs at all.

If you make and sell a lot of toys, you should be attracting younger couples, and dwarfs with children, along with skilled artisans.

Making weapons and armour should attract grim veterans and mercenary-types. If you then export those arms, you may also attract less savoury characters interested in arms-dealing, but you would also be increasing the strategic value of your Fortress, and that should alter the landscape, too.

Wealthy Fortresses would naturally attract the rich, and those seeking wealth. If you make the streets safe to walk down at night, you'll attract permanent merchants and business-folk, and they'll bring their families.

If it's not that safe, internally, you'll still attract tourists, and those on temporary business, but you're going to also attract crime.
If it's not that safe, externally (in other words, you're attracting seiges and titans, and not dealing with them quickly), you may start to attract a larger military presence, and that outside military may not be under your direct authority, so it may function like caravan guards. In practice, these military detachments may cause you social problems that reach across social class boundaries--could be something like having a whole squad of Hammerers show up out of the blue, that you have even less direct control over. 

They would be a well-equipped veteran or elite squad, so they could help you defend your Fortress, to a point, but they might only show up if your Fortress is considered strategically worth it, they might not be worth the internal social upset (and you ofcourse would have to feed, house, and pay them), and they might be a one-time deal.


Secondly:
I think divisions of social castes could allow you to create conditions where your Nobles become real assets, rather than annoyances.

If you use a historical model, then the nobility was responsible for protecting their lands, as much as ruling them.

That was the arrangement that they made with the peasants--the peasants would work to provide food, and they would submit to the rule of the noble classes, but in trade, the Nobles were (atleast in theory) required to produce elite warriors to protect those lands and the people on them, and these elite warriors were each expected to spend atleast a full third of their time training, and an enormous amount of wealth on armour, weapons, atleast one carefully bred and well-trained warhorse, and to provide atleast one fighting squire, and then hire or train from several to as many as a few hundred men-at-arms, to back them up, in times of war.

There may be a sort of social "economy", where, once you fill all of a Noble's needs (furnished room, furnished office, etc.), you are then presented with some kind of a Noble "wishlist", and if you fill that, the Noble starts fulfilling obligations to you, in return. They may start by purchasing their own weapons and armour, and move on to training in martial skills, and then to equipping, educating, and training a small "household" of other dwarfs, and their own children.

If you create conditions that are favorable to rich, noble, elite dwarfs, those dwarfs should be atleast partly responsible for the defense of that Fortress, so you should be getting something out of the arrangement.

Thirdly:
A person's social caste should realistically be as important as their species, in many ways. It wouldn't decide their fate, but it would greatly influence where they start in the world, who their parents were, how they view money, and how much money was spent on raising them, what people and what skills they were exposed to, their feelings on religion, politics, and outsiders.

It's more than just social status, it would strongly influence every aspect of their everyday life--food, bathing, prayer, romantic relationships, entertainment--and the reactions of everyone they meet.

To start with, I'd personally like to see it be very difficult for someone who isn't a member of the "rich noble warrior/knight" caste to train in the following skills:

Armour User
Shield User
Fighter
Dodger
Sword User
Pike User
Bow User
Leader
Negociator
Reader
Weaponsmith
Armourer
Alchemist
Record Keeper
Military Tactics

I think that peasant castes should learn these skills at maybe 1/4th the normal speed, until they reach Professional level, at which point they could be considered professional soldiers, and would then progress normally.

Conversely, those born into other castes could also learn skills at different rates, to simulate limited or specialized training, access to or denial of resources, information, and money, how exposed the caste would be to outsiders, etc.

There would be tools that peasants would naturally have access to, ofcourse, and be able to train on and use, and many tools can easily be weaponised, but chopping down a tree shouldn't be computed in the same way as dueling with a goblin. 
A peasant and a knight would view each of those tasks from very different perspectives.


As far as concerns about social climbing: I think that should be modifiable under the Entity tag. Some civilizations are going to be more flexible than others. Some allow peasants to own weapons for hunting and self-defense, while others don't allow any weapons at all--Japanese martial arts were very directly influenced by social castes, and the need for those castes to interact.

Aikido and Karate, for instance, were both invented as a result of laws about who could and couldn't use weapons.

The crossbow was viewed as a coward's weapon, because any peasant could hide in a bush and kill an armoured knight with one. Swords became iconic with war, in part because it specifically was not a tool--it was the opposite of a plowshare.

Farmers weren't always on the lowest rung, either, and the wealthy weren't always on top. To go back to Japan, the farmers were right below Samurai, socially, and it was the wealthy merchants who were actually the lowest of the low, forbidden from spending their immense wealth on basically anything other than food and entertainment.

Entites could have "ethics" dictating:

Which castes can own, purchase, or even handle, which items--weapons would be obvious here, and a member of the wrong caste just touching a sword could be grounds for execution.

Which castes could perform certain tasks (India had a caste system that designated certain populations as the only ones allowed to touch corpses, in order to bury the dead and prepair for funerals, for instance, and descendants of that caste still suffer persecution today.), and learn which skills, including who could learn to read and write, who could be a metalsmith, who could be a doctor, who could be a priest, etc.

Which castes could eat certain foods and drink certain beverages (eating hearts of palm was punishable by death unless you were royalty in Polynesian culture, and hot chocolate was, famously, a drink fit for an Aztec emperor, and only the emperor),

Who could wear certain clothing, and certain weaves of cloth (There's a special weave of cloth that only the royalty of Ghana is permitted to wear). Clothing styles would ofcourse say a lot about social caste, but this may be more stylized in some cultures than others,

Where you could live, where you could worship, where you could be buried, who could kill you and get away with it, and your supposed status in the afterlife.

Dwarfs are not humans though, and there's no reason to assume that such a strongly craft and tool oriented culture wouldn't naturally gravitate towards a government of meritocracy, where the most skilled dwarf rules, so they may have no strict policy against social mobility.

Ofcourse, in modern society, it's not easy or cheap to become a neurosurgeon, or an astronaut, and both require a lot of intense training and study, so there's no reason to assume that social mobility would still be fast or certain.

High (er...low?) dwarf society families may horde libraries, import foreign tutors, enforce strict Guild requirements (and outright bribe the Guilds), or even create secret Greek Mystery and Mason-type societies--mystically steeped shadow guilds-behind-the-Guilds, designed to obscure technical know-how, and make sure "only the right dwarfs" make it to the top of their professions.

There's also the question of exactly how many social strata there are in a single society, and where each caste comes from. Is a peasant considered to be a slave, a serf, a yeoman, a freeholder, a citizen-soldier?  Does a peasant have rights? Does a slave have rights? Which one is more likely to climb, socially, and why? Are these castes "the will of the gods", or are they just practical means of making sure that society keeps on ticking?

Thirdly:
I feel that migrants coming into your Fortress would be looking for a better life for themselves.

It would be great if you could fulfill their hopes or shatter their dreams by deciding to enforce the traditional status quo, significantly alter it, or even develope a significantly different society than that of the Mountainhome--you could even decide to break off from the Mountainhome, in a glorious rebellion.

I think it would be important for the game to have a more robust legal system in place, and also of religion, and then tie them both into the social order (Where do priests fit in? Where do the police fit in?), the economic environment (including Guilds, which should be very important and powerful entities of society), and politics, and tie all of them together; so that you can't tug--atleast not without employing a lot of political delicacy--on any one of these "strings", without pulling on all of the others at the same time.

Once that's reached a point where it's a more holistic web, you could then figure out how every person fits on that web, what everyone's checks and balances are, and how they all connect, from the king on down. 


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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #109 on: February 23, 2013, 11:00:49 pm »

Well, first, I think that people move to a city because of the jobs that are there, not the products that are made there.

That is, people with children don't move to a toy factory to buy all the toys, they move to a factory because the parents want to get jobs in the factory with which they can buy toys that might need to be imported from elsewhere.

If you're making all those toys from wood using craftsdwarves, then that means that the crafts guild would set up shop there (provided the player lets it), and all the people who want to be craftsdwarves move there. 



I agree at least somewhat with the notion of a more useful noble class, but that it should be more a result of them actually having tasks that are associated with new menus and interfaces that the player finds useful, or else being a vicarious mechanism by which players can get to experience their conquests.

One of the things that gets talked about often in one of the books that really helped inspire this thread, Debt: The First 5,000 Years, is how the nobility actually formed as a result of bandits coming to steal the food of the farmers.  Over time, they came up with a standard, specific amount of food that could be taken without actually killing the farmers, so as to keep the food coming.  The bandits would "protect" the farmers (in the sense of a protection racket), but only as a means of keeping the farmers part of their "turf".  And the parallel to organized crime is not exactly avoidable.  St. Augustine relating the notion of Pirates and Emperors being a difference only in scale comes to mind.

When this became formalized into kings and fiefs, then it was described as, "The peasants provide the food, the nobles provide protection, and the priests pray for everyone."  But it was never described how much food would be worth how much prayer or protection.

When nobles (descended of the bandits) tried to "tax" the farmers more by demanding more food, the argument for why they shouldn't wasn't based upon justifying how much protection they were getting for their food, but upon the tradition of how much food was given in the past.  "It's unfair to tax us more," would be the cry, when nobody questioned whether it was a fair deal that had been established originally.

Actually useful-in-their-forts dwarves should actually be something more of a "middle class" dwarf that rises up because either they trained the dwarf and gave them the chance to get rich through becoming highly skilled and producing goods that demand a high salary, or getting into a guild as a merchant, or else by simply being such an affluent fortress with such great amenities that rich and important freedwarves would want to migrate there on their own.

That provides a lot of the motivation for making "nicer" fortresses - only peasants are happy eating mushrooms in damp rooms and impressed by how that sure is a nice dining room.  The more skilled and important dwarves will move out as they become valuable enough that if they don't get what they demand, they can just move out, and get what they want elsewhere.

This kind of bleeds in with the notion of having a dwarf that has a social status that determines so much of the rest of their lives, since being highly trained and skilled means being wealthy, and being wealthy means you get to be highly trained and skilled. 

You could live in a town with a powerful guild, and get your children into the schools or apprenticeships that get them trained to become valuable and highly-trained members of society that can become wealthy, themselves, if you have money. 

At the same time, I think that dwarves would be more open to the notion of climbing the social ladder based upon demonstrable skill.  Hence, artifact-making dwarves might be sudden jumps up the social ladder if they keep the instant-legendary-just-add-mood nature of artifact moods.

(But, along with xenosynthesis, I think that moods should be potentially rarer, and only be as common as now when there are more magical surroundings.  As it stands, it's just a "free legendary" button that helps contribute to the overabundance of legendaries in this game.)

Part of making that all make sense, though, is making legendaries harder to have - there might be a ceiling on how much can be learned without a guild (or mooding) that gives guilds more reason to exist, and makes getting a fortress full of legendaries cranking out constant masterworks a long-term project, rather than just setting a stonemason to make doors, tables, and chairs on repeat until the end of time, and coming back a year later to find (s)he's a legendary.

If we make attracting or building your own guildmasters and schools of crafts or engineering (or even farming or the other more mundane jobs) or else military schools a major component of getting to the top tiers of skill in any reasonable amount of time, (Again, the purpose of potential and affinity,) so that legendaries are even more valuable, but also much more rare, then we have an in-built mechanic for a great many stories of internal dwarven upheaval, social mobility, and challenge for the player.

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Nicolo

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Bumpign this thread because I feel crime is underrepresented in DF

We have law enforcers, and we have a value tracking system both for items and the wealth of each dwarf, so I'd like to toss out some ideas in my head:

1) Reading Thinking: Fast and Slow, it makes the argument that 'poverty' is felt not by any objective value but as a shifting 'reference point' of being well-off in relation to ones' peers. In Dwarf Fortress, this could be done by summing up the value of the possessions of every dwarf and creating an average, and dwarves would feel negative thoughts if their wealth fell below that value. And be motivated to steal from the community in order to get rid of those feelings. Perhaps the value of public spaces could offset the sensation of inequality among commoner dwarves, while at the same time super-valuable public spaces give noble dwarves negative thoughts the same way wealthier lower-ranking nobles do. A zero-sum game of unhappy dwarves.

2) Toady mentioned in the latest DF Talk that one of the reasons for getting rid of the dwarven economy was that underemployed/idle dwarves could not earn enough money to buy beds or food. What if this created underclass was reintroduced (to prison/corporal punishment) and a constant effort for the law dwarves to stop?

3) We already have a 'Thief' class inside DF, and a way of generating false identities (for vampires and other infiltrating monsters) - what if there was a class of dwarf that also took on a fake identity and travelled from tavern to tavern as 'Honest Urist McTrader' while bouncing from site to site in his civilization swiping anything he can get his hands on?
« Last Edit: May 25, 2013, 03:13:59 pm by Nicolo »
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Gargomaxthalus

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #111 on: September 10, 2016, 09:01:30 am »

<(<_<)> <(>_>)>..............


Yeah, I've been going back over these threads since the farming one popped back up, so I figured that I'd get this a little more recognition than the links in that thread will get it. No sense in letting it stay dead, giving everything that went into it and could go into it.
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Wyrdean

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #112 on: September 12, 2016, 05:01:29 pm »

<(<_<)> <(>_>)>..............


Yeah, I've been going back over these threads since the farming one popped back up, so I figured that I'd get this a little more recognition than the links in that thread will get it. No sense in letting it stay dead, giving everything that went into it and could go into it.
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« Last Edit: September 12, 2016, 09:26:00 pm by Wyrdean »
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Qyubey

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #113 on: September 13, 2016, 07:21:45 pm »

I think the reason everything in the game currently is very 'communistic' in a sense, is because it's literally a Fortress. The game treats it like a military outpost under constant attack, so everyone roughly has equal weighting. Now, obviously this makes little sense once you start factoring in literal nobles that you can order to haul dirt and rocks, but I believe that was the original intent.

I'm not a personal fan of city builders with the beautification and class requirement options. I remember playing Anno and thinking "The nobles want chocolate, I can't make chocolate without losing a shitton of money on shipping and production, those nobles can go fuck themselves."
Basically, if it becomes too much of a chore to care for nobles, I imagine most players are going to either ignore or purposefully kill them off, just to stop their whining. Which begs the question of what role the player takes in the game- currently it's just abstracted as the 'communal will of the dwarves' or such, but if you implemented a system where certain dwarves govern themselves, that's no longer the case and we'd have to define who the player is and what power they actually possess. It's a weird metaphysical question.

Guilds I'm for - because it makes sense that dwarves with similar interests, hobbies, beliefs, and such would band together in little groups. There's already code to underline groups of dwarves, so this wouldn't be that much of a stretch. I imagine Guilds could have different desires and designs for the fortress, kind of like mandates but with less of an obligation to complete them. Make the guilds happy, and their work output and quality might improve. Ignore them, and their work effort will suffer. They might even go on strike or rebel and assume control of the fortress, forcing you to try and reclaim it later.

I suppose the Upper Class and Lower Class could be similar as well, but then you'd have to define personal wealth. We all know coins turned out...

I get the feeling that, in this thread, there was a leaning towards the player actually BEING a dwarf that controls the fortress. Notably, when talking about family groups and 'your' clan. Now- I'm not actually against this. I kind of think it'd be cool to have a kind of avatar character running around the fortress, but that does raise a lot of questions like- how am I giving these orders and what happens when I die? I suppose the easy option is 'you switch to whoever controls the fort now', so the only failstate is the complete destruction of the fort.

The citybuilder stuff maybe could work (dwarves getting paid for their work, owning property, being divided into classes), but I feel like you'd need a specific 'Town' mode there - separating out a dictatorial Fortress and communal Town modes.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2016, 07:26:14 pm by Qyubey »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #114 on: June 18, 2017, 08:11:18 pm »

Because I like conversing with people 10 months after they replied...

I think the reason everything in the game currently is very 'communistic' in a sense, is because it's literally a Fortress. The game treats it like a military outpost under constant attack, so everyone roughly has equal weighting. Now, obviously this makes little sense once you start factoring in literal nobles that you can order to haul dirt and rocks, but I believe that was the original intent.

That is the case now, but it isn't meant to always be the case.  Toady has stated that the game can also be a "Wizard Tower" or "Elven Retreat" instead of just "Dwarf Fortress", and things like taverns, and adventurer-created sites that can just be farms, plus all the adventurer roles and such all point towards a giant sandboxy "do whatever you want" mindset.  Saying that the game can only be set around the notion that all things are always fortresses is too limiting. 

I'm not a personal fan of city builders with the beautification and class requirement options. I remember playing Anno and thinking "The nobles want chocolate, I can't make chocolate without losing a shitton of money on shipping and production, those nobles can go fuck themselves."
Basically, if it becomes too much of a chore to care for nobles, I imagine most players are going to either ignore or purposefully kill them off, just to stop their whining. Which begs the question of what role the player takes in the game- currently it's just abstracted as the 'communal will of the dwarves' or such, but if you implemented a system where certain dwarves govern themselves, that's no longer the case and we'd have to define who the player is and what power they actually possess. It's a weird metaphysical question.

As if "unfortunate accidents" over nobles making demands players didn't want to meet haven't been a thing since the game started...

Anyway, part of this is, again, that it's a bit versatile.  You don't want to do city management and worry about nobles?  OK, then don't expand into upper-class housing.  You can stay as "just a fortress" if you want.  You can choose not to play a fortress, and play as a city-builder, instead.  A part of the point of having a "sliding scale" is that you can add on pieces of interface and complexity gradually or individually so that some things aren't an issue to you.

I suppose the Upper Class and Lower Class could be similar as well, but then you'd have to define personal wealth. We all know coins turned out...

Which is why I dedicate a significant amount of time to talk about coinage, and its meaning.

I get the feeling that, in this thread, there was a leaning towards the player actually BEING a dwarf that controls the fortress. Notably, when talking about family groups and 'your' clan. Now- I'm not actually against this. I kind of think it'd be cool to have a kind of avatar character running around the fortress, but that does raise a lot of questions like- how am I giving these orders and what happens when I die? I suppose the easy option is 'you switch to whoever controls the fort now', so the only failstate is the complete destruction of the fort.

Toady has said (I have the quote somewhere back there) that he wants to tie every command that players can give to a specific position of authority within the fort.  You aren't playing a specific dwarf, but you're the sort of zeitgeist of the will of the town council or the like. 
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GoblinCookie

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Re: Class Warfare: Internal politics, scaling difficulty, and personalities
« Reply #115 on: June 22, 2017, 01:12:03 pm »

I think the reason everything in the game currently is very 'communistic' in a sense, is because it's literally a Fortress. The game treats it like a military outpost under constant attack, so everyone roughly has equal weighting. Now, obviously this makes little sense once you start factoring in literal nobles that you can order to haul dirt and rocks, but I believe that was the original intent.

As far as I am aware the reason the game is like that is because all attempts by Toady One to make it work in a less communistic fashion ended in disaster.  Combined with the fact that it was not possible for a different system to create a playable dwarf fortress in the first place. 

I'm not a personal fan of city builders with the beautification and class requirement options. I remember playing Anno and thinking "The nobles want chocolate, I can't make chocolate without losing a shitton of money on shipping and production, those nobles can go fuck themselves."
Basically, if it becomes too much of a chore to care for nobles, I imagine most players are going to either ignore or purposefully kill them off, just to stop their whining. Which begs the question of what role the player takes in the game- currently it's just abstracted as the 'communal will of the dwarves' or such, but if you implemented a system where certain dwarves govern themselves, that's no longer the case and we'd have to define who the player is and what power they actually possess. It's a weird metaphysical question.

Guilds I'm for - because it makes sense that dwarves with similar interests, hobbies, beliefs, and such would band together in little groups. There's already code to underline groups of dwarves, so this wouldn't be that much of a stretch. I imagine Guilds could have different desires and designs for the fortress, kind of like mandates but with less of an obligation to complete them. Make the guilds happy, and their work output and quality might improve. Ignore them, and their work effort will suffer. They might even go on strike or rebel and assume control of the fortress, forcing you to try and reclaim it later.

I suppose the Upper Class and Lower Class could be similar as well, but then you'd have to define personal wealth. We all know coins turned out...

I get the feeling that, in this thread, there was a leaning towards the player actually BEING a dwarf that controls the fortress. Notably, when talking about family groups and 'your' clan. Now- I'm not actually against this. I kind of think it'd be cool to have a kind of avatar character running around the fortress, but that does raise a lot of questions like- how am I giving these orders and what happens when I die? I suppose the easy option is 'you switch to whoever controls the fort now', so the only failstate is the complete destruction of the fort.

The citybuilder stuff maybe could work (dwarves getting paid for their work, owning property, being divided into classes), but I feel like you'd need a specific 'Town' mode there - separating out a dictatorial Fortress and communal Town modes.

Thing not mentioned here is that dwarves, as they are generally depicted in fantasy since Tolkien and the Norse myths are pretty much the most inhuman humanoids ever to be invented.  They simply choose to live in a fashion in which no human population has ever chosen to live.  Yet precious few authors actually seem to realize just how strange the beings that they are writing about really are, they simply impose on them all manner of historical institutions (kings, clans, guilds, nobles etc) because they are basically unable to actually relate to how a dwarf civilization would actually develop socially.  A dwarf fortress is perhaps far more similar to an anthill than to a human city. 

The question of 'who is the player?' is the pertinent one.  In most games the player either plays as the upper class directly or as one of their economic dependents (think the knight/mercenary role the player has in most rpgs).  From this perspective the class division 'makes sense, either because you are at the top yourself or because you are an economic dependent of those at the top; you need them to survive, have wealth and have need of you.  But once we progress to becoming the spirit of the collective, as we are in the dwarf fortress then we get the situation where the only way the player with bother with those distinctions is if we force the player, directly or indirectly to have them.  Having a pampered elite is rarely going to 'make sense' unless we are ourselves very much *are* said elite.
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