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Author Topic: Some thoughts on Technology  (Read 9795 times)

Lord Shonus

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2010, 05:00:28 pm »

I think that the best way to handle technology in DF would be to give everything a "level."

Each type of armor/weapon/craft would have a difficulty level to make, and each material would also have a level, defined in their raws.

Each civ would have a range, in their entity entry, for their capabilities During worldgen, each civ would be assigned a value in that range. For example:

Kolbolds might have LEATHER 5:10, METAL 1:3, WEAPONSMITHING 1:4, and ARMORMAKING 1:2.

A dagger or blowgun would have a level of 1. That means that every kobold civ would be able to make these weapons, from whatever materials they can work. Copper and Tin would have a value of 1 as well, so all kobold civs could make copper daggers. Bronze would have a value of 3 as it is a complex alloy, so a few kobold civs might be able to make it. Iron would have a value of 4, and be completely inaccessable, even if they stole some iron bars from the dwarves. Leather armor has a value of 2, so only more advanced civs would have it, but they would always be able to make leather shields and helmets (much easire to make a boiled leather helmet than a boiled leather breastplate. Spears would have a value of 2, axes 3, and swords 4, so many kobold civs would have spears, some would have axes, and a few swords.
This could even be tied to perceived value and rarity of items. The more you exceed the level by, the more likely the item in question would be to appear, and the less a trader would be willing to pay to get the item. (Dwarf Civ (Metal 20, weaponmaking 17) "A copper sword? I'll give you two pebbles for it." Elf Civ (Metal 0, Weaponmaking 15) "A copper sword? I will gladly trade some of my animals for such a fine example of your craft.")

Any feedback on this method?
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Neonivek

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #16 on: July 28, 2010, 05:02:45 pm »

Another problem is that unlike the modern age a lot of technological advancement didn't come from specific research and development.

While there was indeed funded research it wasn't anywhere close to what almost any game tried to depict.

Also while indeed some objects seemed to appear during the advent of others there were a lot of exceptions.

Even then EVEN if you invented something that could be useful... as someone already mentioned. You need to have people accept it as well. People had the documents for great strides in technology pretty much forever but never used them until much later.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 05:06:23 pm by Neonivek »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #17 on: July 28, 2010, 06:21:51 pm »

Actually, coincidentally enough, the guest on the Daily Show just this Monday was selling his book, "The Most Powerful Idea In The World", which was essentially about how the entire notion of "inventing things" was created in the 19th century.  Before that, there was no notion of owning your ideas or a design for something.  You only owned the one version of something that you, yourself made.

When people could actually become rich by inventing things, and own the rights to their ideas, it actually created such a new space for created wealth through invention that something like 30 of the wealthiest 75 people (adjusted for inflation) in the entire history of the world made their fortunes within a decade of one another, almost entirely located within the US.  That's basically why there was an "Industrial Revolution" in the first place.

It was the difference between having someone like Leonardo Da Vinci, who was a once-in-a-century type of inventor, whose inventions were curiosities, and a Thomas Edison, who builds a massive corporation (what became General Electric), and essentially creates the modern corporate engineer.

So, basically, the problem with an "inventor dwarf" is that invention in the age that we are talking about was a process that took decades if not centuries for something to change.  That's just plain beyond the timescale of what we are doing in DF.
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Neonivek

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #18 on: July 28, 2010, 08:12:28 pm »

Well even if you bring up Leonardo, out of all his inventions and the few that would have been actually useful; Almost none were used (Good thing too because they were either impractical or flawed).

I wouldn't mind technological advance but I'd like it to be a product of culture rather then a product of a player's tampering unless they themselves are playing an inventor of some sort... and even then it shouldn't be vast collections of inventions that are instantly welcomed into society.

To me though a society should have an unused technology pool which a society can adopt if they so wish. They could have improvements already in place that no one uses. This is especially vital when we speak of a society taking technology from another.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 08:18:11 pm by Neonivek »
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loose nut

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2010, 09:52:53 pm »

It might be interesting and sort of thematic if a given fortress could invent just one or possibly two things over the course of its existence, from some sort of predetermined list. It would be generated by a particularly uncommon strange mood - "Urist is struck by genius!" - and could be spread by trading the inventions to other civilizations. To get the whole list of advanced techs, you'd have to run a lot of forts.

Perhaps it could happen if the strange mood strikes the philosopher. Dwarf Archimedes!

The invention might vary depending on the terrain and materials naturally available to the fort.

But dwarf fortress are not really long-lived enough to have a tech tree.

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loose nut

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2010, 09:54:48 pm »

It might be interesting and sort of thematic if a given fortress could invent just one or possibly two things over the course of its existence, from some sort of predetermined list. It would be generated by a particularly uncommon strange mood - "Urist is struck by genius!" - and could be spread by trading the inventions to other civilizations. To get the whole list of advanced techs, you'd have to run a lot of forts.

Perhaps it could happen if the strange mood strikes the philosopher. Dwarf Archimedes!
(edit: if the philosopher is possessed instead of struck by genius, he builds a device, but nobody can replicate it!)

The invention might vary depending on the terrain and materials naturally available to the fort.

But dwarf fortress are not really long-lived enough to have a tech tree.

Uh, I meant to edit my post above, obviously...
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 09:56:19 pm by loose nut »
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Neonivek

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #21 on: July 28, 2010, 10:54:12 pm »

Even if you did have a whole string of forts there is no guarentee that the technological advancements have extended to the other cities within your civilisation
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Sizik

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2010, 12:54:18 am »

Even if you did have a whole string of forts there is no guarentee that the technological advancements have extended to the other cities within your civilisation

It could be an interesting way for the game to play out.
You start at first with simple tools/workshops available, and build a decent fortress. Along the way, you make some tech discoveries, and eventually, your fortress dies.
Next fortress, you start with the technology you discovered last fortress available to use. Eventually, you make some more discoveries, your fort dies, and the cycle continues.

Seems like an easy way to gradually introduce a newbie to the game's features. There would be an init/worldgen option to let you start with all technology available.
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Capntastic

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #23 on: July 29, 2010, 01:33:24 am »

So you want it to go from being 'randomized new inventions' to an artificial limit to gameplay to help new players come to grips with the game?  I'm not sure which is worse.
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loose nut

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #24 on: July 29, 2010, 03:23:02 am »

Enh, playing through a fort in DF takes a long time, I'm not in favor of building a tech tree fort by fort to introduce players to the game, they'll know it by the time they get to year 5 pretty much.

Even if you did have a whole string of forts there is no guarentee that the technological advancements have extended to the other cities within your civilisation

That is why you would have to trade a bunch of the - I don't know, primitive clocks or compasses or exotic mounts, I have no opinions on the nature of these inventions, many can just function as valuable trade goods for all I care but you'd have to trade a bunch of the things around for the invention to take root in your parent civilization (or the humans).
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Andeerz

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #25 on: July 29, 2010, 05:31:28 am »

Actually, coincidentally enough, the guest on the Daily Show just this Monday was selling his book, "The Most Powerful Idea In The World", which was essentially about how the entire notion of "inventing things" was created in the 19th century.  Before that, there was no notion of owning your ideas or a design for something.  You only owned the one version of something that you, yourself made.

I'm rather reluctant to buy into the statement that before the 19th century, there was no notion of owning your ideas or a design for something.  The ideas of trade secrets and proprietary knowledge have existed for a loooooong time.  Take, for example, armouring guilds of the 14th and later centuries; they went through great lengths to protect their knowledge of armouring techniques and production of high-quality steels.  There are undoubtedly other similar examples throughout history as well.  Now, what may have not existed until relatively late in human history is the ability to enforce ownership of ideas and the like (patent law and stuff).  Also, check out this article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent#History  Patents supposedly have existed since at least the 15th century.  It is possible that such things existed before hand but records were lost.  Also also, check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_inventors  Plenty of inventors have existed throughout human civilization and were given credit for inventing stuff.

As for inventions and technology and stuff, perhaps you may find my ideas and those of others here interesting (http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=46550.15 and http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=41486.msg941692#msg941692). 

These suggestions stem from Bloat27, ABSTRACT KNOWLEDGE SYSTEM, (Future): Implement a more abstract "knowledge" system. Right now it tracks what items a civilization uses and what creatures it has seen, but there could be general things like how good their crossbow making knowledge is or even points of philosophy and law, etc. Knowledge could be transferred, lost and rediscovered.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #26 on: July 29, 2010, 09:41:20 am »

The problem is, Andeerz, that your argument says that there were patents before the 1900s, but it completely ignores the unprecedented change in scale in the rate at which technology advanced once the Industrial Revolution took off.

When we are talking about the things that Dwarves in this game can build, it is difficult to come up with anything that dwarves can do that wasn't being done by the ancient Egyptians or Sumerians or Chinese straight back to the dawn of civilization.  There may be improvements in the types of plows they used or the metalurgy (steel manufacture is something of a technological advancement, but then, they're dwarves, and are supposed to be advanced metalurgists). 

Farming by hand?  Yup, dawn of civilization.  Making alcohol?  Yup, dawn of civilization. Ranching livestock and then butchering them and using their body parts for raw materials and food? Woodcutting and making wooden items? Mining and quarrying stone and making stone objects? Mining for gems and setting gems? Making soap or other cleaning products? Weaving clothes from plant fibers? Yup, all done back as far as the dawn of civilization.

Heck, glass-blowing must be a relatively new thing, right?  Whoops, early, primitive glassblowing goes back as far as 3500 BC.

What about mechanics?  Well, the lever is just too abstract an object to be based on a "technological level", floodgates and damming rivers were the very basis of Chinese farming, the Archimedes Screw has been used in any naval vesel as far back as the ancient Greeks.  A drawbridge is just a bridge with a rope and a winch.

This is the major problem with "technology trees" - there is no technology in DF that wasn't existant for thousands of years before the time period we are supposed to be simulating.  What happened over those thousands of years was that people developed slightly different techniques for making slightly better or slightly worse versions of the exact same crap that had come for thousands of years before. 

The notion that you could discover a new thing, or a new way of doing things is not a new idea, but the notion that technology can instantly change the way the world works, or that one innovation paves the way for more, newer innovations certainly is.  Like I said before, the Middle Ages were simply not known for their brilliant technological innovations.  They were, rather, known specifically for their general LACK of technological progress, just as the Dark Ages that preceeded them were known for the backslide society took from the Roman Empire.
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Cotes

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #27 on: July 29, 2010, 10:05:55 am »

The most difficult thing about simulating technological development while keeping medieval Europe as the inspiration is that when you try, you soon realize the time period was in those terms about 1200 years of humanity just dicking around. I mean sure, there were advancements, but it is a frigging long time to figure out glasses and print.

What I'm saying is that the era is almost impossible to demonstrate in a game where the player strives for advancement, since Middle Ages would not have really existed as we know it if there had been something driving humanity to advance. Most of the technology needed to do so existed, people just didn't really bother.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 05:21:46 pm by Cotes »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #28 on: July 29, 2010, 10:26:41 am »

The most difficult thing about simulating technological development while keeping medieval Europe as the inspiration is that when you try, you soon realize the time period was in those terms about 1200 years of humanity just dicking around. I mean sure, there were advancements, but it is a frigging long time to figure out glasses and print.

What I'm saying is that the era is almost impossible to demonstrate in a game where the player strives for advancement, since Middle Ages would not have really existed as we know it if it there had been something driving humanity to advance. Most of the technology needed to do so existed, people just didn't really bother.

On this note, I would actually back this up by saying the following:

Humanity, up until the Black Death woke Europe from its slumber, was actually just waiting for the end of the world at that time.  In Europe, Christianity had largely believed that the end times were coming aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaany minute now for the past millineum.  Heck, Revelations is commonly believed to be about how the world would come to an end during the reign of Nero, much less after the fall of the Roman Empire.

In my college art history course, one of the things they taught was that people wouldn't even try to take credit for the art they produced.  They produced it for God.  God would know who had done the work.  No need to tell other people.  Hence, virtually all works were religious in nature.

The people were put to work on subsistance agriculture on semi-arable land so that they could just barely eek out a living if they worked with every ounce of strength they had towards just getting enough food to stay alive. That was how the powers that were liked it (Government and Church alike), they didn't have the time or ability to do anything threatening to the current, stable power structure, like think for themselves in treasonous and/or heretical ways.

It wasn't until the Black Death that people found they had a labor shortage, and needed to find a way to do the same thing with less people and less effort, so they created things like the Printing Press instead of relying upon scribes.  (Which then paved the way for the democritization of ideas.)

People had invented the steam engine, but they feared using it before the Black Death because if they used steam power to do the grunt labor, what would they do with all those slaves?  If the slaves weren't being put to work, they might have time to plot and revolt!!!  Surely, the steam engine is a fearful thing!  Destroy it!

The people who were the "great inventors" were generally either independently wealthy Bruce Wayne types who had the luxury of spending their fortunes on dicking around with novelty contraptions, or they were patronized by wealthy sorts who could afford to pay someone to make a solid silver birds that appeared to chirp because of pnuematics and water pressure on top of their garden's private fountains.  Their works were never used to actually try and change the world, because the people who could change the world were so busy trying to make sure the world WASN'T changing.

Incidentally, when did the black death happen?  Right at the very end of the time period that Toady arbitrarily set.  Because it's just after the Black Death that the Rennaisance occurs, and humanity actually gets forced, quite unwillingly, out of its Medieval Stasis.
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Andeerz

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #29 on: July 29, 2010, 05:10:06 pm »

I'm sorry Kohaku, I think that what you are saying is not a very robust view of things. 

I'm not saying I know much better, but I do know this:  The Dark Ages was dark for Western Europe, sure, but it didn't hit everyone.  For example, the Muslims of the East experienced a Golden Age when Europe was at its darkest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_Golden_Age).  These people saw huge leaps in technological advancement, and many inventions and discoveries were developed that were credited to individuals (see the before-mentioned wikipedia article; there are plenty!!!) and known throughout the medieval world, even by the learned in Dark Ages Europe!  Also, look at Aristotle, or any of the many famous Roman engineers, or Greek or Arab or Chinese mathematicians credited with developing this that or the other!  Many have been known about for centuries, not just rediscovered in modern times, and the fruits of their labor were implemented by others who were quite aware of their original developers!!!  Also, there were famous artists during the Dark Ages of Europe, perhaps not as many because of political and economic turmoil.  And there were probably many artists who were credited with work at the time but due to loss of records (books can decay, libraries can be burned, and art damaged or destroyed!) they have been forgotten.  Also, people would try to take credit for the art they produced in the middle ages and dark ages, even for religious works: medieval atchitects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Italian_architects#Medieval_architects), and religious manuscript illuminators (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Manuscript_illuminators). 

Also, Cotes, one could say that that 1200 years of dicking around was dicking around trying to re-establish some semblance of a stable economy and social structure that would provide the conditions for faster technological advancement (which is indeed what finally happened to Western Europe starting around the 14th century), conditions that other civs at the time of those 1200 years had and enjoyed (like the afore-mentioned Arabs). 

This can be simulated if the factors underlying civilizational progress are simulated (agriculture, record-keeping, knowledge transfer, economic activites, etc.).  Think about it this way using the Arabs and Western Europe as an example:  The Arabs are the equivalent of a civ in DF that has its shit together, and the European civilizations are the equivalent of civs in DF that have for one reason or another (disease, poor farm management, political unrest, tantrum spirals, etc.) allowed their civs to fall into chaos (or a Dark Age).  After the Dark Ages civs stablized, they could catch up with the other civ technologically through spread of knowledge and would have the resources and conditions to implement technologies they couldn't before.

And for the record, I am vehemently against "technology trees" in DF in the sense of how it's done in other games (i.e. contrived magical "research points" being invested by the player into a technology.  When the little meter reaches 100%, yay!  You can build a third tier dreadnought carrier destructo-matic!)
« Last Edit: July 29, 2010, 05:12:47 pm by Andeerz »
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