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Author Topic: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom  (Read 23940 times)

Stargrasper

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #30 on: July 31, 2011, 06:03:43 pm »

It's times like this I'd love to see Toady chime in and show us (if not the world) his response to reading this article.
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thvaz

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #31 on: July 31, 2011, 06:13:44 pm »

People should stop acting like they deserve something. This generation was created (me included) with the idea the world owes them - but the hard truth is that the world doesn't owe us nothing, we get what we take from it.

KFK, you have the privilege of playing Dwarf Fortress for free. You may choose if it deserves a donation or not. But the game will never be yours, or mine. Stop demanding or complaining about rights you do not have.
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KFK

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #32 on: July 31, 2011, 07:36:07 pm »

How would doing things that aren't Working On His Game Without Worrying Too Much About Being Rich Or Ultra-Famous Or Head of A Game Production House* allow him to focus on The Things That Make Him Happy**

There are multiple paths to happiness.

Quote from: Dae
he has the wisdom to at least make it perfect for him.

Wisdom...
WISDOM?!

X

FUCKING

D

Leave some kool-aid for the rest of us (well, not me). If Today is genuinely that interested in the day-to-day of "how" DF gets made, and not what and why, then he is crazier than I thought.

You know what takes wisdom? Having the insight to know when there are large sections of a project that couldn't or shouldn't be tackled alone. It takes wisdom to let another pair of eyes look through you and to your work, and to see that work lacking. It takes wisdom to let that pair of eyes see something that you not only missed, but is something better than you could have imagined.

There's some talk of art, and artistic integrity in this thread too. Well art doesn't live in  a vacuum. Ò_Ó

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I see it as highly insulting to call a man who created the most complex and deepest game ever created a psychopath.

Who said that? Wasn't me. I called him psychotic. The difference is gigantic. In truth, I only believe him highly neurotic as his thoughts and actions are far too organized to qualify as seriously delusional. But I tend to think the metaphor is basically valid. It's pointed, and yes, maybe a bit insulting, but it's the only comparison I can think of that really -and fully- encapsulates how I feel about his behavior.
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Sunday

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #33 on: July 31, 2011, 08:11:20 pm »

Toady is turning a profit, though. And, personally, I do pay for DF—I've paid more for DF than I have for any other video/computer game, ever. I've also played DF more than I have any other video/computer game.

I think a more "traditional" game design philosophy would hurt DF.

Right now, Toady is at a point where he is living comfortably without having to worry about day-to-day life/rent/etc. He can spend all day doing development, as well as programming.

If he changed to a more traditional model—selling Dwarf Fortress, and running a programming team with other people—he wouldn't be able to do that. To run such a team, he'd have to figure out what needed to be done, he'd have to organize people, figure out who should be doing what, and make sure they're doing it correctly. As well as figure out how to correctly pay people, make sure the company isn't doing anything illegal, etc. There is a ton of purely logistical stuff in running even an informal, not-for-profit project, let alone developing a for-profit computer game.

Frankly, running a project—even a project with only 5-6 other people—is something that takes a particular sort of skill. I'm not sure that Toady's strengths lie in that arena. He's a great programmer, and Zach and he seem to have figured out how to efficiently put out a plan for DF, but running a group of people is entirely different from the current arrangement. Right now, he's able to make pretty fast progress (albeit never as fast as parts of the DF community would like) doing things on his own.

Why change something that, thus far, seems to be working pretty damn well? DF is routinely called the most complicated game ever created, and it has a dedicated (and steadily growing) group of players.

Then Toady can hire a manager if he's so hell bent on working on this project instead of actually getting it done. He can stay in the trenches if that's what makes him happy. All he needs to do is spend a little time up front making sure everyone's on the same page. In my experience, this time would be comparable to the time he's spent between now and the last update.

Today's attitude has completely failed to test reality (note, that's what psychotic actually means). Maybe Toady is just ignorant, maybe he's nuts. In any cayse it's bad for Dwarf Fortress, it's bad for us, and it's bad for him because if he'd listen to guys like Sean, he'd be able to FOCUS more on the stuff that makes him happy.

Unless Toady (as well as ThreeToe—no one seems to remember that Toady is not, in fact, doing everything alone) is willing to entirely sacrifice his creative vision, getting a manager won't work.

I don't know you, and you might be the boss of a corporation or a development studio, well able to get a bunch of people to work together on one creative vision. And if you do have any tips on leading such a project, and you think I'm way off base, then I'd be happy to cede ground.

However, I can talk about my own experience, heading small projects—generally around 5-6 people, and always working on something far, far less complicated and intricate than DF. And you know what? Unless you have a hell of a lot of skill or practice (which I do not, and which it doesn't sound like Toady has) getting people to work on a single project—say, getting everyone to pitch in on a single, very important document so that everything makes sense and fits together—is really goddamn hard.

It isn't just about delegating authority to a manager. Toady & ThreeToe have a vision of something they want to create. If they were to hire other people to work on that vision and stay true to it, they would have to manage those other people. They can't get a manager to do that, because the manager wouldn't be able to tell the employees exactly what Toady and ThreeToe want.

They have to be able to say to people "here's what we want" with enough specificity that those people can go off and work on something on their own, and come back with something that both fits into the rest of DF, and correctly reflects Toady and ThreeToe's vision.

I'm not a programmer. However, I'm given to understand that working on a program requires a lot more precision and exactitude than just drafting a memo or something. And my experience drafting documents with a group of other people is that it's difficult to lead a project with a bunch of people, and it involves a very, very different set of skills than "writing well." Otherwise it ends up a hodgepodge of different styles, with sections referring to parts of a document that don't exist, and an overarching point that is difficult to decipher.

So yeah, I think entirely changing the design philosophy of DF may very well not be the panacea many seem to assume it would be.
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KillerClowns

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #34 on: July 31, 2011, 08:47:09 pm »

It's times like this I'd love to see Toady chime in and show us (if not the world) his response to reading this article.

I get the impression he'll do his usual response to such malarkey -- graceful silence.

RE: the article. I agree with the broadest part of Mr. Malstrom's thesis, that artists should also have business sense. But we separate upon the reasons, and from there, everything else. Artists should be able to see society from a businessman's perspective to be better equipped to change it, to make their art comprehensible to those who might otherwise be unable to draw inspiration from it. It is certainly possible to make Dwarf Fortress more palatable to those who would otherwise flee from it without sacrificing artistic vision. At present, this is the self-appointed responsibility of others, the makers of Dwarf Therapist, Stonesense, et cetera, and they've done a remarkable job.

I decided to skim around Mr. Malstrom's blog, because it seemed dishonorable to not at least make a sincere attempt to put myself in his feet. I figured if, for example, he'd seen a lot of brilliant game designers go under for refusing to give in to practical concerns, his thoughts on Toady One would be more understandable. (This does not appear to be the case.) One post in particular, however, did catch my eye. Some time ago, Reddit linked me to a fascinating article about Endermen and the feeling of security in Minecraft. Mr. Malstrom wrote another article on the same topic with an entirely different thesis. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something, some fundamental assumption about video games and those who play them, that Mr. Malstrom is making. And something about it bugs me.
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Xgamer4

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #35 on: July 31, 2011, 09:12:23 pm »

One post in particular, however, did catch my eye. Some time ago, Reddit linked me to a fascinating article about Endermen and the feeling of security in Minecraft. Mr. Malstrom wrote another article on the same topic with an entirely different thesis. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something, some fundamental assumption about video games and those who play them, that Mr. Malstrom is making. And something about it bugs me.

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Fear is incorrectly confused to be part of the biological process with people too drunk on Darwin.

...Oh, wait, what? Yeesh, that guy sounds too elitist for his own good.

Ok, after reading that article through, I have to agree with you. Something about that feels very off, but I can't put my finger on it. Though I completely disagree with him when he says that Minecraft ghasts don't inspire fear.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 09:20:08 pm by Xgamer4 »
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BigD145

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #36 on: July 31, 2011, 09:21:56 pm »

I do however agree with the author that Toady deserves a lot more.

Who on this forum hasn't said this? Why are you only agreeing with the author on this?
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KFK

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #37 on: July 31, 2011, 09:24:10 pm »

@Sunday
I have been a manager at a development studio, and I do think you're off base. That doesn't mean your concerns aren't grounded in reality, but there are ways of surmounting these problems that experienced management, with a responsible staff will have an easier time with than someone like Toady. I've had to deal with clients that had clear ideas about what they wanted, and almost no written specs to articulate that vision. Everything was up-stairs. You get good at playing "20 questions" and it doesn't take clients long to get a sense of what we need from them. Once there's a rapport with the client, and they understand the project needs, an outside manager CAN direct a staff.

Such an arrangement doesn't prevent Bay 12 (because yes, I agree DF is more than just Toady) from getting their hands dirty on matters of implementation, but does provide a conduit for getting things done when the "how" matters less than the "what". And it matters a great deal less often than maybe you or Toady realizes. Maybe... just maybe, Toady doesn't know he wants this. Think about it, you ever try something that seemed intimidating from the outside; was awkward at first, but as you grew familiar with the process you came to love it? We all have! We're Dwarf Fortress players.

And let me tell you as an artist... well let me repeat/clarify: not compromising your artistic vision is overrated. Sometimes the compromised version is way better.
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KillerClowns

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #38 on: July 31, 2011, 09:29:00 pm »

And let me tell you as an artist... well let me repeat/clarify: not compromising your artistic vision is overrated. Sometimes the compromised version is way better.

I have to second this, though I may get flak. A lot of potentially brilliant artists have destroyed themselves because they weren't willing to distill -- not compromise, distill -- their artistic vision to ensure others outside their own social circle could appreciate it. For artists who did successfully distill their work, look at Shakespeare and Tarantino. Both knew how to work with a wide, general audience. I'm sure both heavily modified their initial visions, cutting away the fat and distilling it into a purer, stronger form that any man, from blue collar workers to preening intellectuals, can appreciate. You can create a brilliant work of art, and if some editor says, "dude, you might wanna drop the romance sub-plot", conceding this point is not compromise. It's distillation.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2011, 09:33:11 pm by KillerClowns »
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RedWick

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #39 on: July 31, 2011, 09:43:00 pm »

*shrugs*

People have been trying to armchair-direct Toady and how he programs or manages the game or markets it (or whatever else) for the past four years.  For all the suggestions and efforts, the only thing I've seen happen as a result of all of those suggestions is people who know better than Toady getting angry and frustrated and leaving the game altogether.

You can have the best ideas in the world and know exactly how to implement them.  It doesn't matter.  Toady is still just going to work on DF however he wants.
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KFK

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #40 on: July 31, 2011, 10:00:32 pm »

I have to second this, though I may get flak. A lot of potentially brilliant artists have destroyed themselves because they weren't willing to distill -- not compromise, distill -- their artistic vision to ensure others outside their own social circle could appreciate it. For artists who did successfully distill their work, look at Shakespeare and Tarantino. Both knew how to work with a wide, general audience. I'm sure both heavily modified their initial visions, cutting away the fat and distilling it into a purer, stronger form that any man, from blue collar workers to preening intellectuals, can appreciate. You can create a brilliant work of art, and if some editor says, "dude, you might wanna drop the romance sub-plot", conceding this point is not compromise. It's distillation.

Well, distilling and compromise are two different ways of looking at a work. When you distill, you take something out that might not work as well as you'd like so you can push other aspects into better alignment.  When you compromise, you add something that might never have been there in the first place or take something in a direction you never considered.

And in either case, it's a difficult

the only thing I've seen happen ... is people who know better than Toady getting angry and frustrated and leaving the game altogether.

Present. >_>^

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You can have the best ideas in the world and know exactly how to implement them.

I have, and I do.

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  It doesn't matter.
I know. :(
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NobodyPro

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #41 on: July 31, 2011, 10:03:53 pm »

Quote
To quote the 'society' paragraph: "Toady is quite stupid because society ancient tribes of programmers is society mutilation museum durrrr. I seek to ‘correct it’ with my hooks, rings, and knives.
I may be wrong here, I should check the article again.

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I do not think the guy was given any financial education in his life. Many academics I know are hostile to the financial ways, mostly because they have become institutionalized against it.
Yes, all three of them. How does that make you feel.

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(The reason why many universities are in decline is because they are being run like a business where they treat students as ‘customers’.)
(Wait, what!? That's called a private education facility over here in Australia. There completely different.)

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The farmers thought society was ‘wrong’ because they had not emotionally accepted the Industrial Era and the change in the rules for life.
I get it now, I should reject society... or was I supposed to be accepting it. I'm confused again.

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Imagine given an education of a farmer and then society changes into an Industrial Age society. You spent your life learning the wrong thing!
He knows that farms still exist right? Without them we kinda tend to starve.

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The Dwarf Fortress creators should be living like Saudi Kings.

I don't think there would be this many of us if toady demanded we buy DF. We'd never have tried it.

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If they emotionally accept the ethical goodness of creating customers, their fortunes will immediately reverse.
I miss Notch's Secret Friday Updates. *sob*

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Dwarf Fortress deserves to be more than an academic science experiment.
... What?
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nenjin

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #42 on: July 31, 2011, 10:49:02 pm »

So KFK, I'd like to see some of the work you've done. Since you're sitting here telling us you essentially could do DF better than Toady could.
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S3Cs4uN 8

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #43 on: July 31, 2011, 10:56:47 pm »

If I may be so bold as to speak on toady's behalf i think this should sum up my opinion on the matter

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Capntastic

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #44 on: July 31, 2011, 10:59:37 pm »

If I may be so bold as to speak on toady's behalf i think this should sum up my opinion on the matter



Stuff like this doesn't add anything to the thread, and I doubt Toady would be calling anyone a whiny liberal.  You should try to be more skillful, even if all you're doing is posting image macros.
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