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Author Topic: Some thoughts on Technology  (Read 8921 times)

NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #30 on: July 29, 2010, 06:22:14 pm »

If you don't mean a "tech tree like in other games", then please explain what model you would use.

The problem with all that is that, again, much technology in the pre-industrial world was often either something that was intangible, such as mathematics (which doesn't get translated into DF, which is extremely physical), or into something that is better described as "doing something similar to what was done before, only better".

The problem with a "technology tree", as is being described in the OP, is that it implies that there is some product or industry that dwarves are going to be incapable of doing in any way until they have their "tech upgrade".  This is a problem because essentially everything dwarves are currently able to make is something that was producable, in at least some rudimentary way, back into prehistoric times.  There is simlpy nothing on the "tech tree" that you can scratch out.

This is why I talk about having improvements in the tools and workshops, rather than outright inventions - there is no sense of making a better workshop, or having an improved method of doing the same action in this game.  Even in that article on the Islamic Golden Age you link, one of the most important innovations during that era was the "Arab Agricultural Revolution", which involved their research into how to grow the most crops possible given their soil conditions, advances in techniques for irrigation, and trading for a wider array of plantable seeds, which they better understood, and could grow more efficiently...  How do you translate that into a "tech upgrade" for DF, even with Improved Farming coming in, that doesn't really come down to "The player understands how to run his farm better than he did before", it's not like you can make a "tech upgrade" to figure out that you can suddenly start planting the seeds that elves have been trying to trade to you for years.  It's entirely bizzare to make irrigation suddenly much more effective even when they are using the same tools and same designs just because you suddenly unlocked a "+20% irrigation bonus" tech upgrade.  So the question remains: How do you translate something like this into the game?  The best thing you can do is to simply make upgradable tools, (which, in turn, requires actually having tools for most jobs).

There are also plenty of things I see on that page that are similarly difficult to put into DF - they created advanced sawmills... when DF turns trees into lumber the instant they are chopped down, and lumber is a fungible product where the same unit of wood can make an earring or a solid wood door or a table or a bow.  How do you put this sort of tech upgrade into DF when they can already turn any piece of wood they find directly into any sort of finished product they want simply by very briefly visiting a workshop, which is, itself, made out of one single unit of a building material (potentially even one log, itself), and that is all?

There were, indeed, many Arabic and Chinese scientists, who were capable of isolating new chemical compounds or distilling elements... which only matter in game terms if these go into full-scale production for some in-game purpose. 

(The only useful one that comes to mind is distilling saltpeter out of human waste, wood ashes, and straw, which in turn is one of the components of gunpowder...  And keep in mind that this was, obviously, not actually used for gunpowder by the people who actually invented this stuff, and black powder had been invented in China long before even this, and wasn't used to make cannons for centuries.)

Even when we are talking about China and the Arab world, though, with all their wealth, they still weren't able to seriously advance their culture beyond the point they were in around 500 AD.  The entire reason the Europeans were able to not just catch up after being thrust back to virtually caveman levels of civilization in the Dark Ages, but totally eclipse all the other cultures of the world around the 1600s in spite of them having every possible advantage to allow them to do so was because nobody had seriously created any technological advancements that actually altered the way that the average peasant lived their lives in thousands of years.

All those inventions the Arabs or the Chinese made meant nothing if they didn't actually put them into production, and the things that were put into production are "better ways to do things" that are meaningless in a game where any dwarf can make any finished product virtually instantly with no training and no tools besides a few bare-bones raw materials. 

This game quite simply does not have the foundation upon which a "tech tree" can be built.
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Andeerz

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #31 on: July 30, 2010, 02:13:00 pm »

I will most certainly explain what model I would use.  And in essence it involves a tech tree, but not some arbitrary point system.  :3  But first...

What is advancement in technology if not "doing something similar to what was done before, only better"?  I can think of a few inventions that were sort of without precedent, like the nuclear reactor, the Cotton Gin, the steam engine... but then again, you could argue that even those things were just more sophisticated versions of more primitive tools or were combinations of older tools in a novel fashion.  Heck, a nuclear reactor is nothing more than a steam engine with a different heat source! Actually, I think every invention I can think of basically boils down to that (though if you can name me an invention that doesn't, I'd like to hear/read it).  Think about it: human civilization has always been doing the same things throughout history, except now, with better technology (more refined tools and concepts), we do the same activities but better!  Think about agriculture, mining, logging, medicine, refinement of raw materials/manufacturing, government, exploration, education, research, warfare... it's all gone on since time immemorial in one form or another, and today civilization is doing the exact same things in essence but with different/more refined methods.  So, the talk about having improvements in tools and workshops you talk about is in essence describing invention in a way.  But I have ideas of how to accomplish the sort of "outright invention" you talk about, which I'll get to later.

Also,

Even when we are talking about China and the Arab world, though, with all their wealth, they still weren't able to seriously advance their culture beyond the point they were in around 500 AD.  The entire reason the Europeans were able to not just catch up after being thrust back to virtually caveman levels of civilization in the Dark Ages, but totally eclipse all the other cultures of the world around the 1600s in spite of them having every possible advantage to allow them to do so was because nobody had seriously created any technological advancements that actually altered the way that the average peasant lived their lives in thousands of years.

Back that up.  I believe that is not a very well informed statement. 

What constitutes and advancement in culture?  I'd say expanding an empire to encompass all of the middle east, northern Africa, and Spain seems like an advancement to me, as well as the founding of universities (some of which still stand today), discovery of various natural phenomena and formal development of mathematical concepts that laid the foundation for modern mathematics, medical practices that laid the foundations of modern medicine... the list goes on an on.  The same can be said of the Chinese.  Of course, these two civilizations had their hardships, much like the romans, and as such sort of "fell behind".  And Europe going back to "caveman levels"?  Sure, with the collapse of the Roman empire and with it the economy and infrastructure to maintain relatively secure environment Europe fell into a chaos of sorts.  Knowledge was lost and forgotten as libraries were burned or lost to time, educational systems fell apart, and there was not a stable enough environment for people to (in as large a scale as before) engage in pursuits of the mind when other, more pressing matters of survival were at hand.  But they certainly were not reduced to nothing.  Culture changed and advanced in some ways, and technology certainly chugged ahead, just not as fast as before due to economic and social/political reasons.  What can also be said is that the infrastructure and economy to implement some technologies (or have need of them) did not exist in Europe.  Agh... I will continue further later.  I have to go before my parking meter runs out...

And I swear I will get back to this and make my suggestion of how I think technological progression can be modeled and it all stems from the following bloat:
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.

I will get back sometime in the near future!!!
« Last Edit: July 30, 2010, 02:15:23 pm by Andeerz »
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #32 on: July 30, 2010, 02:25:36 pm »

Once again, I'm not talking about how there were "no advancements", but that those advancements are not translatable into the game of DF as it currently stands, especially by simply locking out features of the game.

The cotton gin is a good example of this - it made it possible to sell cotton for export profitably because it significantly reduced the labor requirements to turn cotton the plant into cotton the textile...  But as I talked about in the thread about using bags for flour, we can already nearly instantly turn any plant into their thread, so there is no way to meaningfully simulate that "faster, easier" component.

Heck, even a nuclear reactor is pointless in DF, as we can make a virtually infinite amount of energy simply through waterwheels.  What is the point of a nuclear reactor if you can generate millions of kilowatts of energy on pump, trench, and wooden axle power alone?



As for China and the Arab world... I said it before: With all that advancement, the life of the average peasant didn't really change that much  (forget libraries or advanced chemistry that didn't matter to the common man and never hit serious production, those don't matter, since they weren't used to actually produce something different, which is the only thing that matters in the context of DF).  They were given the ability to farm more efficiently, especially in the Arab world, but that's about it... and the changes in the farming system are, again, not translatable in DF by some sort of bonus to food production, but would be represented by having a player who better understood how to make the most of his farms, as these advancements were from a top-down rethinking of how to organize agriculture, and public works projects to irrigate it properly.

As for Europe hitting "caveman levels", I'd say that we're disagreeing over what "caveman" means.  Like I said, virtually every technology in this game existed in at least some primitive form back before civilization itself existed.  (If that is too disagreeable for you, if you prefer, imagine I said "barbarian" instead... which was literally what they were before they took over, although barbarian is a term that is so flexible as to be virtually meaningless, so I prefer to avoid it.)
« Last Edit: July 30, 2010, 02:33:10 pm by NW_Kohaku »
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s20dan

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #33 on: July 31, 2010, 02:28:37 pm »

..... research "The wheel".....Depending on his intelectual skills, he may research "The wheel" in a day or in a year.
How does one research 'the wheel' hehe.
  That gave me a funny thought of cavemen sitting around a fire discussing their latest invention, the wheel :)

 Maybe if there is any added technology, it would be best to leave most of it to world-gen. Perhaps the longer you gen the world, the more chance of higher tech there is.
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stormsaber

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #34 on: July 31, 2010, 03:16:46 pm »

... random useful stuff...

So what sort of Roman technology was lost when Rome fell? Well living standards of everyone who wasnt a Roman noble didnt lower substantially, and the living standards of the goths and vandals increased due to the loot. So its pretty hard to say that technology the Romans had researched was lost, like Andeerz seems to imply. So what WAS lost? Well, alot of Roman 'technology', for instance, was the desire to build aquaducts, or the foresight to plant trees alongside roads to provide shelter for troops. And sewers. And military tactics - stuff that we just stopped doing for a while after the Romans. So unless your Dwarf physics workshop is going to output discoveries like 'you have learnt to build walls next to a floor in order to channel water over an open space', or 'you have learnt how to plant trees next to roads', I dont see Dwarven tech trees working very well either.

Enough of that. Heres what I'D like to see. I think it would be pretty sweet if every buildable object in vanilla had a date < 1000 in which it was "invented", moddable workshops could have this property as well. So, for instance, the floor may have been invented a few years after world gen, and the mechanism perhaps ~500 AWG. Metal forging was probably invented ~50 (10 years after the kiln, the charcoal, and the axe) since theyre dwarves but perhaps magma forging is a relatively recent idea, maybe only invented in ~700. Hammers? 10 AGW. Long swords? 100 AGW. The purpose of all of this is for challenge games and successions: in vanilla DF, the player starts at > 1050 AGW. Pressing the spacebar before worldgen is complete allows for play in an earlier year, which could make for some awesome challenge games - wanna defend against goblins in a world before doors or bridges were invented? See how long you last!

Daniel
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Capntastic

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #35 on: July 31, 2010, 05:18:03 pm »

Think of your typical Roman noble, and the levels of excess they had.   Palatial estates, silks and fruits imported from across the known world, running water, etc etc.

Then compare to a goddamn Dark Age king who had a house made of rocks, some barrels full of food in his oubliette, and maybe a tapestry of a goat.

To say the fall of the Roman empire 'maybe resulted in a few lost pieces of tech' is simpleminded and kinda wrong.  There's more to a civ than just 'can they build this?' There's all sorts of cultural and diplomatic infrastructure like trade routes and similar.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #36 on: July 31, 2010, 05:32:25 pm »

Think of your typical Roman noble, and the levels of excess they had.   Palatial estates, silks and fruits imported from across the known world, running water, etc etc.

Then compare to a goddamn Dark Age king who had a house made of rocks, some barrels full of food in his oubliette, and maybe a tapestry of a goat.

To say the fall of the Roman empire 'maybe resulted in a few lost pieces of tech' is simpleminded and kinda wrong.  There's more to a civ than just 'can they build this?' There's all sorts of cultural and diplomatic infrastructure like trade routes and similar.

I think the problem here is the difference in focus.  We're talking about the everyday peasant (or slave in the case of the Romans), and you are only talking about the kings.

Medieval kings and Roman Emporers had massive differences in wealth, but it's not like people forgot how to build boats of any kind, or how to travel and trade.  The difference there is just in how much raw manpower and wealth they had... which isn't technology.  Hell, the Vikings were capable of trading as far as China and exploring the New World in nothing but open single-deck longships.  They were even LESS sophisticated than the typical European power.

And again, this does nothing to address the question I keep asking: How would you translate these "tech upgrades" into DF?  Do you make a power loom that suddenly spins thread into cloth even faster than the nigh-instantanious dwarf with at least 5 skill ranks in sewing?
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Andeerz

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #37 on: August 17, 2010, 06:46:11 pm »

Sorry for the long delay… I’ve been gone for a few weeks (Pennsic War, W00T!) and also have been reading Guns, Germs, and Steel (best book evar!!!!) which has given me food for thought…

Oh, I see what you mean now, NW_Kohaku, and what you are getting at!  I agree that the life of the average peasant probably didn't change much regardless of the civilization in medieval times until the political, economic, and technological situation came about that gave more social mobility to the lower class.   I also have some rough answers for how to translate these "tech upgrades" into DF.

For your example of the power loom, I think the main problem lies in the issue of how skills and economic activities are modeled.  If one cannot model the need for spinning thread faster, then there would be no use for a power loom and a hand spindle would work just fine; no tech improvements needed or desired.  If time and productivity of certain crafts were modeled better, than the merit of making available certain technologies in game would be apparent.  As you mentioned before, many tech advancements are simply just developing ways of doing things that could be done before but better and/or faster.  Sometimes these improvements could lead to being able to do novel things ("unlocking" certain activities, i.e. being able to process iron ore after improving furnace design for working with something similar, maybe).  So, in order to satisfy your question of how to meaningfully translate tech upgrades into DF, time and material requirements, among other things, of certain activities need to be better modeled.  At least, I hope this satisfies it.

Also, with regard to your statement of raw manpower and wealth, that's pretty well put.  Economic factors are what ultimately determine the implementation of technology, whether it be by a civ in general or a social class, or an individual.  If there isn't the right infrastructure to support or reason to implement, say, a given farming strategy, then even if it's known about, it won't be used.  Or, on the social class level, if the commoners of a certain society cannot afford to make or purchase or trade for certain implements, then they won't be used.   

As for what I would propose for tech advancement in the game and how to model how knowledge can be transferred and lost... I'm basically going to reiterate what I mentioned in this thread: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=46550.15

We need the following things to be in the game in order for my idea to be feasible: writing, the earlier mentioned Bloat27, the ability to interact with other civs/forts/people outside of the fort and for those interactions to actually have an effect on the world. I know that's a tall order... but some if not all of this stuff is planned...

So, for the abstract knowledge system of Bloat27, ideally I think individual bits of knowledge should be able to be "known" by an entity much like (though I don't know specifically how this is done in DF) how legends, individual preferences, and stuff are recorded, except individuals should contain that knowledge if they don’t already.

This knowledge should be separate from associated skills (if applicable) in that one should be able to know about something yet not know how to enact it efficiently (if applicable), like knowing about how to make tables, but not being good at it.

Bits of knowlege should be transferrable through individual interaction (here things like teaching, philosopher, and other related skills could modify the ability of doing so) or through writing.  They should also be able to be lost (like if the entity or book that contains the information is killed/destroyed).

Some bits of knowledge should be able to be acquired on one's own if the motivation, inspiration, and appropriate pre-requisite knowledge (if applicable) are there.  How motivation, inspiration, and pre-requisite knowledge would be modeled, I don’t know.  But I will propose some food for thought.

So, how would an entity come up with a novel bit of knowledge, like a new furnace design for smelting iron, or how to extract poison from GCSs or something?  I think it could be as follows:  Using furnace design as the example, the entity in question would have to have prerequisite knowledge (in this case furnace operation and building, knowledge of copper smelting, knowledge that pumping air into a fire gets it hotter etc.).  The entity would also have to be motivated and have the time to engage this motivation (factors in this case could include presence and access to iron ore, inherent curiosity of the individual, intelligence, etc.)  The entity, meeting the prerequisite knowledge and motivation, would spend some of his/her working time devoted to experimenting, building a new furnace design, perhaps with the help of others and perhaps being able to fail at the endeavor.  This represents coming up with something through inspiration/motivation and not through accident or a more gradual realization of something.  These other kinds of coming up with new ideas could be modeled differently maybe… I dunno.

Individual technologies would have to be something coded in the raws, as I don't think the sophistication of video game AI (as good as it is in DF) is to the level where video game entities have the ability to think things up as is done in real life.  But it can be modeled loosely, with developing certain bits of knowledge necessitating certain prerequisite knowledge.  So, yeah, a tech tree…  This will require a LOT of thought and research to make it a plausible one. 

Oh, and regarding books and how it can work with this: books should be a vessel for knowledge in the game, able to pass down information through generations and across cultures.  In addition, books should also be vital for tasks such as record keeping of stockpiles, wages, and government related stuff, as I think that's a big part of why writing came about in the first place.  Basically, writing should serve as it does in real life as a technology/tool to help one to "remember" something they otherwise couldn't efficiently, like large amounts of mind-boggling numbers in mathematical operations, data during experimentation, code of laws when administering justice, histories of entire civilizations, etc.

As for your (NW_Kohaku’s) previous statement “changes in the farming system are, again, not translatable in DF by some sort of bonus to food production, but would be represented by having a player who better understood how to make the most of his farms, as these advancements were from a top-down rethinking of how to organize agriculture, and public works projects to irrigate it properly”...

Perhaps things that involve “top-down rethinking” may not be able to be modeled for a player run fort… things like architecture and engineering, in addition to farming as you stated, come to mind. !!!BUT!!! I do think they could be modeled for npcs and their forts, though. For example: crop rotation knowledge could allow the AI controlling another fort or city to implement it.  The same goes for architectural motifs and engineering principles perhaps.  Those NPC forts with masons/engineers with knowledge of, say, arch construction, would possibly have doorways that are arch like (as far as the game can portray that and the physical characteristics of the structure).  The knowledge could even be present in the dwarves in your fort, but they wouldn’t matter since you, the player, are in control, and not the computer, for the things where this knowledge applies.  The knowledge could be passed through your fort to others like any other knowledge.  This would require a lot of tweaking to get right for the AI; one would have to model the motivating factors behind the implementation of these afore-mentioned technology-strategies.

How could Toady make the AI know when it’s appropriate and desirable to utilize a technology?  I don’t think this will be at all easy.  Let’s use aqueduct technology as an example: Say the AI perceives the need (how this would be done, I dunno) of getting water from point A to point B.  What determines the strategies available to the AI for executing this would be the knowledge contained in the fort by its dwarves or whatever.  Say the AI’s fort has dwarves in it that have knowledge of arch-building, scaffolding strategies, etc.  This could allow the AI to execute a strategy (hard coded?) of building an aqueduct in a particular style (think Roman ones) if doing so would be considered the “best” of the strategies available.  What would determine one strategy being used over another would probably involve things like taking stock of available resources, estimated time of completion, etc… Perhaps this would be WAY too difficult to implement and not worth it given how little it would impact the human player, but I’d love to see it done.  Then in adventure mode, forts would look more like forts than just mazes of corridors and arbitrarily sized rooms.  Blargh. 

With some further thinking and refining, I think my suggestions could set up a framework for technology acquisition, transfer, and loss that fits with Toady’s goals of making a game that procedurally generates a fantasy world with a modicum of verisimilitude.

Perhaps people may think this implementation of transferable knowledge and stuff a task not worth pursuing, but I think it would be something that would set this game apart from all others.  Modeling tech transfer and development like I mentioned would be not only of interest to me and perhaps some parts of the DF gaming community, but I guarantee you that it would get a LOT of attention from many branches of the scientific community (for whatever that might be worth).

Sorry if this is tl;dr-worthy... my brain is fried now.
« Last Edit: August 18, 2010, 03:16:51 am by Andeerz »
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Andeerz

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #38 on: August 19, 2010, 12:07:20 am »

So, does anyone like or hate this idea?
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #39 on: August 19, 2010, 11:57:03 am »

Sorry, I forgot to respond to this one earlier. I looked this one over, but wound up resonding to others, and lost track of this...  (And I guess I'm the designated tl;dr reader around here...)

Also, with regard to your statement of raw manpower and wealth, that's pretty well put.  Economic factors are what ultimately determine the implementation of technology, whether it be by a civ in general or a social class, or an individual.  If there isn't the right infrastructure to support or reason to implement, say, a given farming strategy, then even if it's known about, it won't be used.  Or, on the social class level, if the commoners of a certain society cannot afford to make or purchase or trade for certain implements, then they won't be used.   

Something I wanted to put out there earlier, but never really had a better chance to use the example:

China once, back around the 13th century (sorry, going off of memory alone, here), had a legendary naval commander named Zheng He.  (That's pronounced like "Jang Hey".) 

Zheng He was a eunuch - the special administrators and buerocrats at the top of the Chinese courts could not have families so that they could not accrue power for their family line, supposedly to keep them from having a permanent power base.  (Instead, they gained a dark reputation among the Chinese for being willing to sacrifice their families for personal power, but this may just be because you could place the blame for catastrphoic government policies on the faceless eunichs just fine, but blaming the Emperor was treason.)

Zheng He was a eunuch, but he was also from a muslim merchant family, and essentially a childhood friend of the emperor, who convinced the emperor to devote resources to the development of a great navy.

China, by and large, had plenty of river boats to go up and down its several great rivers, but was too isolationist to trade along the ocean.  Zheng He changed that - he created some of the largest ships the world would see for centuries in a massive armada that sailed the world's oceans, trading as far as the Cape of Good Hope and most likely landing on the coast of California, beating Columbus by a few centuries.  Everywhere he went, he impressed (even the Turkish empire) with the might of China's navy, and brought back ambassadors and gifts from the nations of the Eastern world, making China the effective U.N. where all the nations had an embassy in the court, and China could wield its dominant power in settling international disputes.

Then the emperor died.  Zheng He lost his backing (but died at sea before returning to get his power stripped away, anyway), as another emperor, and other eunuchs took power, and they burned all the ships, and killed all the shipmakers so that nobody would have the technology to ever even try building the sort of mighty navy that could bring the world to its knees before China again.  China had the technological power to create true empire, and burned it to ashes. 

It was because the Chinese feared all that trade and technology and cultural exchange, and would rather remain locked in purposeful, self-inflicted Medieval Stasis than risk the social change that could come from global trade.  (Plus they hated all the foreigners, including Zheng He - DAMN MUSLIMS!  BRINGING US TRADE AND WEALTH AND PROSPERITY! NO MORE PERMITS FOR MOSQUES! DOWN WITH THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT!)

Which is, like I said, an idea of just how radically different the notion of technology is now than it was in Medieval times.  Power to accrue wealth and dominate your neighbors?  Throw it away, QUICK!  Now, technology is the solution to every problem.

We need the following things to be in the game in order for my idea to be feasible: writing, the earlier mentioned Bloat27, the ability to interact with other civs/forts/people outside of the fort and for those interactions to actually have an effect on the world. I know that's a tall order... but some if not all of this stuff is planned...

I understand it, but can't say that this is the sort of idea that can get me excited...

You see, this means that, in order to work, you have to either A) play multiple forts over and over again to make gradual incrimental change or B) just keep respawning worlds until you happen to get a perfect confluence events to give you the technologies you want.

A) Is problematic for me because whenever I'm playing, I'm typically testing out some mod I just made, and when I finally abandon that old game, its' because I've added a new set of stuff I need to respawn a new world for... so I have to dedicate myself to making forts for a decade or so to push forward technology, and then abandon it... But I like to play to put every idea I have into practice, and focus on architecture, I don't really like making a fort just to make a better fort later, every fort is my goal unto itself. 

Worse, I tend to like the game to be shaken up a little - why have the same elves and goblins every time?  (Especially since they'll probably all be dead eventually...)  (Of course, this is part of why I always mod...)  I get basically the same fort, but this time, I start with a +20% weaving speed... WOOOHOO!

B) Is less dramatically problematic, although it seems to be going down a totally different route, because this mean that instead of having "technological progress", what we have is actually a "technological crapshoot".  We respawn worlds, get random tech bonuses from the worldgen history (although how long worldgen goes on may become a major issue here).  This means that every game, you get dealt a completely different hand of cards (which is fine by me, pre-decision randomness is my favorite kind of game philosophy), but it also means that the whole notion of "progress" is kind of scrapped.  It also means that we will undoubtably have people looking for "Dwarf Heaven", that one worldgen that spawns a dwarf civ with every terrain feature tech upgrade at the start, while a few "hardcore" players will be playing "caveman dwarf" games.  (And believe me, it's the nature of the player that they're going to want to see every single feature of the game at least once, and preferably all in their first fort.) 

Now then, again, it's not a terrible idea to have your forts be different because one is going to have SUPAH FARMIN UPGRADE! while another has ULTRA STEEL, but it has absolutely nothing to do with making the player want to make libraries or preserve knowledge for future generations because most players are going to adopt Boatmurdered "F*** The World" strategies because they have no reason to care about future generations or the rest of the world... at least, unless you force them to care, that is.  (Which is a big part of what I've been doing in the Farming Improvements thread, and the Class Warfare thread - trying to come up with ways to force players to care.)

(This is leaving aside the benefits of books for giving you skill points... I've had that argument before, and it wound up with me being called "short-sighted" far more fervantly than this thread has.)

I should probably post a bit on the actual effects of technology and what is appropriate for the game... but will leave that for another post, as I'm not sure I won't just get lost in my own thinking again, and wander away.
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Andeerz

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #40 on: August 19, 2010, 01:44:41 pm »

Hmmmm... I guess you and I have different preferences and ideas of what the game could be.  I wouldn't really find it terrible that if I start a fort early on during world gen, that I would have maybe, say, bronze-age technologies or something, and by late world gen have have a fort with circa 1400's tech.

Also, in response to point A:

I don't think I really follow what you are saying.  I think that with my suggestion (in its ideal case with a lot of other things in place first), you wouldn't get the same goblins and elves (or dwarves for that matter) every time, as there might be differences in their technological level every time since it would be a procedurally generated sort of thing.  Knowledge spread would happen in a way dependent on interactions between civs, cities, and individuals, and development of new technologies would be dependent upon preexisting knowledge, the social/political/economic situation, and a little bit of luck.

In response to point B:

What do you mean by technological crapshoot?  The way I see it, if the technologies included have reasonable prerequisites for coming about, they would occur in plausible ways, so it wouldn't be totally random.  You wouldn't have, say, dwarves able to technically work iron but not have the knowledge to build a simple furnace.  Progress would occur in a believable way, especially if things like your farming suggestions and class warfare suggestions get into the game!  These, among other sorts of suggestions that aim to bring in realistic economic, social, and physical factor sort of things, would naturally bring about reasons for having technological progress in game.  I really don't see how the ideas I presented scrap the idea of technological progress.  I think they offer the ability for technological progress to exist.  I think someone wants DF to be a game where every idea they have can be put into practice every time, then the idea of technological progress being in this game needs to be abandoned all together, and every technology/economic activity/whatever should be available from the get go.

Also,
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Now then, again, it's not a terrible idea to have your forts be different because one is going to have SUPAH FARMIN UPGRADE! while another has ULTRA STEEL, but it has absolutely nothing to do with making the player want to make libraries or preserve knowledge for future generations because most players are going to adopt Boatmurdered "F*** The World" strategies because they have no reason to care about future generations or the rest of the world... at least, unless you force them to care, that is.  (Which is a big part of what I've been doing in the Farming Improvements thread, and the Class Warfare thread - trying to come up with ways to force players to care.)

How would it have nothing to do with making the player want to make libraries?  If I want to preserve my knowledge of my fort's SUPAH FARMIN UPGRADE or ULTRA STEEL sort of things, I would want to have a library so that when my workers might die and if their apprenticeship falls apart, maybe the knowledge could be passed on to future generations in my fort.  Also, there could be other reasons for libraries, like keeping records and stuff which could have another meaningful impact on gameplay.  I guess if a player has a Boatmurdered F*** The World strategy, their fort won't have much of a positive impact on their civ or the world, which could be fun and interesting in its own way... that sort of seems like a kind of strategy the Chinese did in your example when they burned all the ships and killed the shipmakers.  With the ideas presented in my suggestion, knowledge could actually be forgotten for good in this manner.  Also, you wouldn't have to have libraries if your fort didn't need it.



 
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #41 on: August 19, 2010, 02:15:03 pm »

I'm not saying that I'd only play advanced tech worlds.  I'm saying that the general tendancy would be for people to play the games that give them the most stuff, especially at first, and then slowly work their ways down towards having less.  "Dwarf Heaven" in 40d was a massively popular embark because it had every single feature.  Only a handful of people embark on glaciers just because it has almost nothing.

Anyway, these aren't two "points", these are two paths.  This is either taking the path of (A) repeatedly abandoning and embarking in the same world so that you can guide the same techonological growth upwards over time, or (B) you generate new worlds every time.  The point is to explore the consequences of your suggestion down both types of playstyle paths.

(A) Means repeatedly embarking over and over just to have an influence on how the game develops its technology, something that, by the looks of how you are describing it, requires really, really devoted playing to notice the real effects of this, as it seems like it would take generations for these effects to take place.

As for (B), it's still a crapshoot by the eyes of the player.  They generate a world, look at what technology there is, and can either keep the roll, or regen the world and try again.  Yeah, sure, you might put in a really detailed roadmap/tech tree, but if the player doesn't have to do anything to progress along it besides hit the "Create World Now" button until they find themselves in the sort of position along that tech tree they want, it's functionally a total crapshoot to what the player is doing.

And this is the problem - when you have your technology level handed to you on a platter, there's no real reason to preserve it.  How many players abandon and embark on the same world over and over again instead of generating a new world every time?  How many players play beyond 5 or 10 years? Forget preserving knowledge for future generations, many players just dump children into magma because they know they aren't going to be playing long enough for those children to hit 12 years old!

Which brings me back to my point: What are you going to do to make players care about this?  If technology only advances at a pace that takes place along a scope that makes their own playtime in any one world largely insignificant, why should they care about preserving knowledge for future generations that will never exist because they stop playing at year 6, when their FPS drops to 20, and that's when they just delete their game because they don't play games below 20 FPS?

In order to make the players care, then preserving technology or making libraries has to be solution to a problem.  And if there isn't a problem, and you want that solution, anyway, you have to invent the problem for you to solve.  (See this thread here: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=61620.0 - The entire thread is based around creating the problem that will be solved by the ability to make all the extra furniture pieces.)
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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #42 on: August 19, 2010, 02:39:10 pm »

Hmmmm... I guess I'm in the minority of players that occasionally embarks in the same world over and over again, plays past 5 or 10 years, and doesn't just dump children into magma...  There's not much of a reason for engaging in this play style, as the activities of one's fort has virtually no impact on the goings on of the world outside it, but if it did, then I would choose more often to run my fort non-suicidally and with more dedication.

If the time and material requirements of various economic activities are modeled realistically, the activities of the fort come to matter to entities outside of the immediate vicinity, and the game gets optimized to a point where the FPS ceases to be an issue, then the issues you posited would be solved.  There would be a reason to play past 5 or 10 years, a reason to embark in the same world over and over again, and, through this, a reason to preserve knowledge and (regardless of writing) have a system in place for entities to be able to spread/gain knowledge.

So, I guess, what I would do first is optimize the game, and put in all of the prerequisites I mentioned earlier.

Also, I don't know what you mean by "technology level handed to you on a platter".  What (I hope) my suggestion implies is that what you and your dwarves are able to do in a fort is dependent on the knowledge pool available from all the dwarves in the present fort.  Even if your civ regularly practices advanced iron working, if no one in your fort knows how to do it, then you can't do it.  This would present another reason to preserve knowledge in a fort, either via books, apprenticeship, education, or what-have-you.
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NW_Kohaku

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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #43 on: August 19, 2010, 04:25:46 pm »

I think the best way to describe this is to relate an essay I remember reading about the making of a fantasy story or RPG: Never start off with a long intro about the importance of your fantasy culture's history.  (See DM of the Rings for the reason why.) Players generally want to just check what they can embark with, because they generate a world when they're interested in playing the game. 

Once you have them playing, and they have some kind of vested interest in the game setting, THEN you can spring the backstory on them.  Then they have a reason to care, and it's not just so much tl;dr.  (Otherwise, they'll decide to just reroll the whole world, and wipe out the history.  Keep in mind that, at this point, all game histories are generally very generic, with alot of wars that get alot of people killed, but with no more purpose or sense of historical arc to them than a game of Risk where red units beat all the blue units, and claimed Indonesia, so that they could claim the +2 soldier bonus for getting all of Australia.)

So what do people look for when genning a world?  They look for the ability to make the things they want to make.  They might want sand and volcanos if they want to make some glass.  Often, they want flux to make plenty of steel.  Often, they want a brook or river just to get some easy replinishing water.  Sometimes, they go out of their way to make it harder on themselves, and go looking for an embark in a glacier with no running water.  Or they look for evil embarks so they can fight more interesting enemies.  If they're paying attention, they remember to look for what other civs have access to their embark.  That's what's salient to their gameplay: what's on the map, and who can attack them. 

So now, people are going to look at technology trees where the progress of their dwarves along that tech tree are like another feature of an embark - lots of tech tree progress is like an embark with running water and sand and flux and a volcano on an evil mountain range and a joyous wilds-aligned jungle.  Little tech tree progress off the start is like starting in an evil glacier.  This is what I mean by playing it like a crapshoot.  They aren't going to care about the progress of society, how technology was gained or tragically lost, they only care if they get True Steel or Wootz Steel or if they have to settle for Crude Steel or Bronze, and how much of a bonus to damage does Wootz Steel get, anyway?

Does that mean I think this entire idea is wrong?  No, of course not, what I'm saying is that you have to find a way to bait people into wanting to know about this stuff.  I've looked up what felsic and mafic magma and igneous rocks are because DF has made me interested in it.  But most people only want to look up what layers they get flux from.  Give them a reason to care.

(And remember, if you're just going to delete the save, anyway, there's no reason NOT to blow up the world.  Some people consider the goal of Adventure Mode to be to kill every living sentient being in the world, ushering in an Age of Emptiness.)


As for the last part, sorry, I must have been misunderstanding what you had meant, as I assumed that when you start a new fort, dwarves would be able to make anything that was enabled for their civ.

What you are suggesting, then, is that dwarves have sets of boolean flags as a part of themselves, such as "knows how to make steel", which not every dwarf will be able to do, and it's not just a civ-wide boolean "can make steel"? 

This, however, then raises the question of "what do I have to do to keep that ability?"  Right now, people don't embark with doctors, because the skill rusts too easily, and because someone's just going to walk into their fortress with Grand Master in Diagnosis, anyway.  That means you just need to embark with the tech you really need, and wait for the stuff you want to come waddling in your front door.  If you lose your last "can make a power loom" dwarf, then it's just a matter of waiting for the next one to immigrate to your fortress.

There's still not much reason to want to educate your children if you aren't going to play long enough to actually see dwarves die of old age (and dwarves live for up to 150 years), so that your legendaries with all their boolean flags might actually need replacing.  If you want to start making THAT stuff matter, you have to start talking about ways to make people play fortresses that actually do go THAT far into the future.

(And remember, there's a reason why people abandon after 5 years - after the first few years, it's very, very easy to have everything you need in a fort - a stable, mature fort is a boring fort.  The challenge in the game is in setting everything up, and there's nothing to do but wait for the next seige after the first 3 or so years.  If you want to make people play longer, you're going to have to find a way to make people interested in maintaining a long-lived fort... Which is, again, the entire point of this: http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=61620.0)
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"And no Frankenstein-esque body part stitching?"
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Re: Some thoughts on Technology
« Reply #44 on: August 19, 2010, 05:44:33 pm »

I see what you mean.  :D  I agree with your concerns.  I guess it's really easy to make me care about stuff, and I actually like the situation you describe as a crapshoot.  I would be totally cool with viewing civ tech status as another aspect of embarking.  But I see what you mean about it not being as appealing to other players.

Thinking about my motivations for my suggestions a little further, the reason I would want this knowledge transfer stuff put in is to enrich the world gen so that the world/game setting is much more interesting and compelling than it is now, so that there is more to explore in the world and all the more reason to delve into the unique history and current situation of the procedurally generated world that is different every time.  The tech stuff is simply a mechanic to help make the events and situation of the world when it's done generating actually have meaning, so that wars have causes, civs have reasons for being as they are, and so that there are meaningful ways for the fort and actions of the player to affect the world outside of the fort, and vice versa (of course, more than just tech would have to be included for this).  That's enough reason in and of itself for me to care...

But I totally see what you mean.  Hmmmm... I'll have to think about it some more.

Quote
This, however, then raises the question of "what do I have to do to keep that ability?"  Right now, people don't embark with doctors, because the skill rusts too easily, and because someone's just going to walk into their fortress with Grand Master in Diagnosis, anyway.  That means you just need to embark with the tech you really need, and wait for the stuff you want to come waddling in your front door.  If you lose your last "can make a power loom" dwarf, then it's just a matter of waiting for the next one to immigrate to your fortress.

Also, you hit it right on the head as to what I was suggesting.  To answer your question: that's where education/apprenticeship and even libraries come into play.  Waiting for immigrants, or requesting specialists from a guild or something would be another option.  This depends a lot on how immigration, skill rusting, and other aspects are handled in the future.

Again, you raise the good following point:
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There's still not much reason to want to educate your children if you aren't going to play long enough to actually see dwarves die of old age (and dwarves live for up to 150 years), so that your legendaries with all their boolean flags might actually need replacing.  If you want to start making THAT stuff matter, you have to start talking about ways to make people play fortresses that actually do go THAT far into the future.

And again I say that if FPS issues are remedied, as well as time and material requirements of various activities are modeled more realistically, that would partly address this.  In addition, if sieges, warfare, managing lands outside of the fort, the stuff you mentioned in your farming and class warfare threads, and other things are handled well, those will address other major parts of your concern, I think.

As it is now, a mountain can be entirely mined out in a few seasons, mega-projects completed in ridiculously short time scales, sieges staved by a single wall tile, a single ring made out of an arbitrarily sized bar of metal, etc.  A lot of these factors skew the importance and time-scales of various economic activities and over-simplify the kind of infrastructure needed to get certain industries up and running.  If these are made more realistic, I can almost guarantee that it will take a lot more thinking, effort, and game years to get things working.  Of course this would be impossible to do without optimization of the code to keep FPS high and the years ticking at a decent clip.

In essence, I think implementing some sort of tech/knowledge arc thing would best go in after a LOT of other things are optimized and better modeled.
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