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Author Topic: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom  (Read 24848 times)

thvaz

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #105 on: August 04, 2011, 10:56:06 am »

I got so much more from Dwarf Fortress than I have from my entire Steam Games list.

Of course...DF = complexity & gameplay. Toady doesn't have to care about shiny gfx or sound. Btw...big game developers could create a game like DF v1.0 with top gfx and audio, but they won't release something like that ever. It would take a lot of time and money to create a game like that, and the potential playerbase would be small...because the vast majority of the gamers are playing with FPS/TPS and RTS games. So the profit would be small, that is for sure.

And like lachek pointed, they will never release a game with infinite replay value.
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gimli

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #106 on: August 04, 2011, 11:54:24 am »

I got so much more from Dwarf Fortress than I have from my entire Steam Games list.

Of course...DF = complexity & gameplay. Toady doesn't have to care about shiny gfx or sound. Btw...big game developers could create a game like DF v1.0 with top gfx and audio, but they won't release something like that ever. It would take a lot of time and money to create a game like that, and the potential playerbase would be small...because the vast majority of the gamers are playing with FPS/TPS and RTS games. So the profit would be small, that is for sure.

And like lachek pointed, they will never release a game with infinite replay value.

Indeed. "Infinite" replay value = less profit again. :)
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_DivideByZero_

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #107 on: August 04, 2011, 01:57:40 pm »

I got so much more from Dwarf Fortress than I have from my entire Steam Games list.

Of course...DF = complexity & gameplay. Toady doesn't have to care about shiny gfx or sound. Btw...big game developers could create a game like DF v1.0 with top gfx and audio, but they won't release something like that ever. It would take a lot of time and money to create a game like that, and the potential playerbase would be small...because the vast majority of the gamers are playing with FPS/TPS and RTS games. So the profit would be small, that is for sure.

And like lachek pointed, they will never release a game with infinite replay value.

Indeed. "Infinite" replay value = less profit again. :)

Unless you got he Blizzard route and plan charge people for user-made mods. I think they're doing that, at least. I know it supports the modders too, but pretty much any transaction occurring in a game means extra profits since the developer can 'tax' these transactions.
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lachek

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #108 on: August 04, 2011, 02:09:25 pm »

And like lachek pointed, they will never release a game with infinite replay value.
Qualification: they will never release a game with infinite replay value without charging recurring fees for it. Which, I imagine, is also why games supporting easy community modding are few and far between, despite the incredibly passionate and talented communities that build up around games which do support it (Civ IV, Neverwinter Nights (number one), etc). To be commercially successful in today's landscape, a one-time-buy game should be based on a well-known middleware game engine; have 15-20 hours scripted gameplay, expandable by DLCs; a shallow multiplayer component to cater to the FPS crowd; and tons of marketing. A subscription-based game should have a vast game world of repetitive "content", Skinner-box-style game mechanics, and be driven by multiplayer components which keep the content and mechanics fresh with minimal development effort.

Dwarf Fortress is none of these - it's a never-ending gold mine of continuously fresh gameplay, with no multiplayer and no scripted events. You're creating a personal product while playing the game, an artefact which is intensely yours. This means you can't charge recurring fees for it, and you can't force its obsolescence so people go out and buy the latest and greatest iteration after they're "done" with an earlier edition. I suppose you could charge "upgrade fees" for improved editions - like one would with e.g. MS Office - or a subscription-for-updates like Mount & Blade or Minecraft - but given the amount of sheer gameplay available already, that seems like a tricky customer proposition, esp. without a marketing department. :)

No, the current model fits best, as long as it keeps Tarn fed and housed: it's an alpha and will remain so for years, you can download and play it if you want, if you like it and want to support its development, donate. Without getting too haughty or pretentious, I see it as a piece of art - it's something Tarn does for himself first and foremost, but he's okay with other people looking at it while he's making it, and he's using that as a promotional vehicle to solicit commissions from the connoisseurs who want to see him continue to improve upon it.

No true artist ever went into their profession because they wanted to crank out stuff the market liked and make gobs of cash. First and foremost they're in it for their own appreciation of what they're producing, and the degree they need to engage in commercialism is based on what they absolutely have to charge to continue doing what they do. For those of us firmly entrenched in a market economy, with priorities like hoarding more stuff for our clan (or its euphemism "taking care of the family"), this can easily appear as deviant, even selfish behaviour, when in fact it's quite the opposite.
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darkrider2

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #109 on: August 04, 2011, 02:37:26 pm »

Until games become much much cheaper to develop, there's going to be a long line of games which are considered 'safe investments' (currently the FPS market and several franchises) being made by the big budget game companies.

Edit: also, everything Lachek said, agreed!
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Wizard

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #110 on: August 04, 2011, 02:47:56 pm »

From that NY Times article:
Quote
His expenses are low — $860 a month in rent, $750 a month to Zach for his help and a few hundred dollars for utilities and food — and as long as Dwarf Fortress is self-sustaining, he’s happy. He has refused a programming job at a major developer (he asked that I keep its name off the record) and turned down a $300,000 offer from another company to license the Dwarf Fortress name, fearing that the proposed sum wouldn’t sufficiently offset the long-term donations drop that would likely result.

This is where it stands apparently. I suppose he turned down the job offer to keep his time for DF. I'm not sure what "$300K for the name" really means, but if it was just to buy it off him as is and do with it what the buyer likes, then he's looking at selling – what we presume to be – his "magnum opus" for a decent wad of cash that is not the sort of amount to last a lifetime. To address that Sean Malstrom article briefly: I think Toady's taking somewhat of a financial risk, but I don't think it's "uneducated" (the dude is a maths genius supposedly). He's retaining what is most important to him, knowing that he's good for a sweet job when/if he wants it. It's a gamble and I really hope it pays off. I could still play DF at it's current version for ages even if he died tomorrow and the project collapsed. "All craftsdwarfship is of the highest quality" indeed.

I only grumble mildly at inclement interface. The arrow key/plus/minus consistency really is my biggest gripe – only because I think it's such a basic issue.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 02:52:49 pm by Wizard »
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eataTREE

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #111 on: August 04, 2011, 03:54:50 pm »

Toady is beholden to no man and spends every day doing the thing he loves. Presidents and Kings can't say that about themselves. Toady doesn't need any lectures from anyone about how he ought to be spending his life.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 05:47:28 pm by eataTREE »
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Saladman

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #112 on: August 04, 2011, 04:44:14 pm »

I'm sympathetic to one of Sean's predicates:  if people are freely purchasing your product or service then you're doing something right, and nothing to be ashamed of.

The conclusion reached re: Toady and DF though isn't quite so clear.  As a thought experiment:  how many people ever spontaneously and voluntarily send a few extra dollars in for a commercial game they've already bought and paid for?  I'm betting that number is approximately zero.  I'm another person who's spent more on DF than any other one game, and I'm certainly not the most active contributor.

Any current commercial release would amount to a one time payday, then probably a sharp drop in income until another, sufficiently different version could be released.

In the long run Toady may turn out to be crazy like a fox.  If he ever does get a 1.0 release and some broader market penetration, then he could see some financial return for his time even on the donation model, as well as having produced the game he wants.

I do sometimes worry that he'll be the Robert Jordan of the computer gaming industry, and just keep writing.


Also, I think the interface entry burden and the gameplay entry burden are two distinct issues that shouldn't be confused.  I'm convinced the interface does in fact turn off some small number of people who would otherwise enjoy the gameplay itself.  I know, alpha release, but I don't see how it's out of bounds to point that out.  I hope he eventually either improves it or leaves room for a better third-party mod.  Something like a combined Stonesense and Dwarf Therapist that ran in real-time, so you could open up DF, then open up your client and issue commands through it.
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Anathema

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #113 on: August 04, 2011, 04:53:57 pm »

Toady is beholden to no man and spends every day doing the thing he loves. Presidents and Kings can't say that about themselves. Toady doesn't need any lectures from dim-witted libertarian retreads about how he ought to be spending his life.

Hey now, hold on a second. I hate to get involved in this thread, but some errors (probably innocent, but an error nonetheless) beg correction.

The core of all Libertarianism is individual liberty (it's kinda where the name comes from, you know?). According to a Libertarian who actually understands their philosophy, no one - usually the government, but this also includes our friend Sean - has the right to tell you how to live your personal life or carry out your business, so long as doing so does not infringe on someone else's right to do the same. This belief is usually interpreted to support pure capitalism (i.e. the Libertarians tend to think that the government should not run the postal service, or get involved in business at all via things like subsidies). There is however no rational way it can be interpreted to support a crazy who thinks it's morally wrong to run your business a certain way he doesn't approve of, a way that harms no one even if it isn't strictly capitalistic, that impingement on personal liberty is in fact the very opposite of Libertarianism.

Now, I am aware the internet abounds in people who willfully misinterpret politics/religion/philosophy/etc. to lend credibility to whatever personal opinion they want to spread, it's easy to associate such a person with whatever belief system they abuse, so don't take this personally - I'm just trying to clear up a misconception. And I'm honestly not trying to support Libertarianism in particular either - I'd give you a similar post if you tried to associate Socialism with this guy, which would be an error of equal magnitude, although for entirely different reasons. It would be an insult to any political party or philosophy to associate it with this guy, but as Larry Niven said: "There is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it."
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 05:15:03 pm by Anathema »
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eataTREE

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #114 on: August 04, 2011, 05:45:41 pm »

Spoiler (click to show/hide)
As the one thing the world doesn't need is yet another forum thread derailed by a pointless political argument, I will amend my earlier post to remove the reference to libertarianism.
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anubite

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #115 on: August 04, 2011, 07:27:50 pm »

Wow... someone follows a blog like that? I found the point about "ancient humans considering their body artificial" interesting, but it's probably something the guy got in an anthropology 101 class. The rest of the article is a rambling mess. The kind of person who writes like this needs to sit down and read some Socrates: "The only thing I know is that I know nothing." A little modesty could go a long way for this guy.

What Toady decides to do is his business. Marketing Dwarf Fortress, a project no gaming company would ever sign on for (10+ years of development at least?) to begin with - is a contradiction it itself. I don't know if society is "wrong" or "right" as to whether we should rebel against it or not, but Toady is directly doing the opposite most companies would do right off the bat. And to market something like dwarf fortress? An /alpha/ game? I know minecraft did that - but the creator of that game is a dirty scumbag from my estimation. It's wrong to charge money for an unfinished product, in my book.

At any rate, dwarf fortress /could/ be marketed when it's finished, if Toady needs some retirement cash. But right now it's not. It's in development and will be for a long time. End of story. There's no product to sell. For it to be even successful as a finished product, it needs to have its entry barriers removed or stifled, which will take a lot of work. I know Toady wants to keep the graphics at a bare minimum, but hopefully by the time DF is at 1.0, stonesense or some similar mod will be so advanced, you'll be able to seamlessly translate between the two, or three or four graphical representations of your fortress. Which suits me just fine, and will probably suit others fine too.

There's nothing quite like Dwarf Fortress simply because of the beastly nature it is to create. Tons of programming. Tons of work. It's not going to be replicated. So there's no point analyzing it like a normal game you go to market with. It is a piece of art, at least in its craftsmanship and the audience it appeals to.
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Nasikabatrachus

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #116 on: August 04, 2011, 11:01:07 pm »

The core of all Libertarianism is individual liberty (it's kinda where the name comes from, you know?). According to a Libertarian who actually understands their philosophy, no one - usually the government, but this also includes our friend Sean - has the right to tell you how to live your personal life or carry out your business, so long as doing so does not infringe on someone else's right to do the same. This belief is usually interpreted to support pure capitalism (i.e. the Libertarians tend to think that the government should not run the postal service, or get involved in business at all via things like subsidies). There is however no rational way it can be interpreted to support a crazy who thinks it's morally wrong to run your business a certain way he doesn't approve of, a way that harms no one even if it isn't strictly capitalistic, that impingement on personal liberty is in fact the very opposite of Libertarianism.

Underlined are the points I would like to address. Probably a bunch of stuff nobody in this thread cares about, so it goes in spoilers.

Spoiler (click to show/hide)

tl;dr: I don't think Malstrom was saying Toady's business model is a moral problem, but a personal tragedy. I have made my criticisms of Malstrom elsewhere in the thread.
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Kamamura

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #117 on: August 05, 2011, 06:06:11 am »

The guy that wrote the article is crazy. I mean I am crazy too, but he is a real nutter. He believes that as society evolved from agricultural to industrial, that we will similarly transcend our physical existence into some transcendental financial utopia, becoming ... what? Living banknotes? He had clearly too much of the "perpetual growth" opium. Someone should tell him that after the coming crash, those who survive will consider themselves lucky to be farmers again.
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The entire content consists of senseless murder, a pile of faceless naked women and zero regard for human life in general, all in the service of the protagonist's base impulses. It is clearly a cry for help from a neglected, self absorbed and disempowered juvenile badly in need of affectionate guidance. What a sad, sad display.

NobodyPro

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #118 on: August 05, 2011, 07:11:36 am »

*snap*
I totally get it now. We wait for a proletariat dictatorship to overthrow the current government and then we revolt against them-

--------------------------------------
ERROR CODE 362
PLEASE CONSULT YOUR ADMINISTRATOR

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-will result in utopia.
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Ratbert_CP

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Re: The Tragedy of Dwarf Fortress by Sean Malstrom
« Reply #119 on: August 05, 2011, 10:05:47 am »

tl;dr
 
OK, I skimmed the thread...
 
I may have missed it in the multiple "Walls-O-Text", but for me the simple fact is that Toady is letting us watch and enjoy (and perhaps using us as a feedback loop) for his own entertainment: developing the game he wants to.  I maintain my serenity by surrendering to the knowledge that Toady will code and release what he will and on his terms. We may provide feedback and find bugs, but we are not his muse. One could almost critisize him for even asking for donations and monetizing his own leisure activity.
 
On another note, there was much made over the term psychotic and its use in regards to Toady. On that, I posit that the term was used as much for shock value and hyperbole as anything. My own thoughts on the matter are that aside from being brilliant, Toady lies somewhere on the Autism spectrum.  Being on it myself, I recognize a lot of behaviors found in people with Asperger's Syndrome (basically a range on the spectrum way up in the high-functioning zone). While perhaps not as severe as someone like Temple Grandin, Toady seems to be self-aware enough to leverage his idiosyncratic behaviors to his advantage.
 
As far as the blog post referenced goes, Mr. Maelstrom can keep shouting at the cars from his old refrigerator box under the interstate.  ;D
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