Dwarf Fortress Talk #1, with Rainseeker, Capntastic and Toady One, transcribed by mallocks

Capntastic:Welcome to the Bay 12 podcast. I have Nathan Miller here - Rainseeker - also Tarn Adams - Toady - from Bay 12, you know him from Dwarf Fortress.
Toady:Hi guys.
Capntastic:Also I'm Capntastic.
Rainseeker:Welcome Capntastic. It's fantastic to have you here.
Capntastic:I'm glad to be here. In my room.
Rainseeker:And I'm in my room, wow!
Toady:Same here; this is fantastic.
Rainseeker:Internet conversation here. The reason why we sound a little bit canned here guys is that we recently lost half an hour of our conversation.
Toady:Yeah. And we're not going to talk about the software we're using because I wouldn't recommend it to anybody.
Capntastic:Should we run through the questions we've already been through?
Toady:Oh sure yeah. I can go through them again.
Capntastic:Alright, then I'll ask my three real quick. Armok from the forums asks 'How is dialogue going to work; will it pass the Turing Test?'
Toady:Yeah so, lots of people have tried to get little robots in chat rooms and so on to pass the Turing Test with various degrees of success and I'm not going to be one to even try, but we do hope to improve the dialogue from what we've got now because basically what we have is sort of a substandard model of what you see in a lot of games where you basically select a topic and the guy'll say something back to you that's canned or whatever; and we can move away from that in steps. There are a lot of different things we'd like to try out in terms of being able to construct sentences from pieces, like 'I want to ask where this is' or so on and say what tone you'd be asking it in; have multiple people involved in the conversation, so that you can be sitting there talking and as you talk in adventure mode time passes as you're talking and someone else could come by and engage in the conversation as well. The main power goal we had for that originally was this one where you'd slay some creature and then come into the town and be like 'Hey I just killed the dragon guys; here's the head' and you hold it up or whatever, and you're like 'Gather round' and you get a bunch of people to hang out and then you could tell the story of how you killed the dragon; you could drop historical events one at a time and select them and so on; people could make little interjections. It's a lot of work but like everything it'll proceed in steps most likely, but you see it's not really heading toward anything like the Turing Test.
Rainseeker:And then you could demand the mayor's hand in marriage.
Rainseeker:His daughter's hand.
Toady:Well, either one. We've got all kinds of different futures laid out for you and it's up to your decision making.
Capntastic:In reality you could be marrying the dragon and it could all be a ruse.
Rainseeker:A paper mache dragon head that you brought into town.
Toady:That's right.
Rainseeker:So what I wanted to ask you Tarn is, let's have a summary of what happened this month, and what's going to happen next month.
Toady:So this month was mostly squads. Mostly squads happened this month, and mostly squads happened last month too, and I didn't even finish. But I made some progress, we've got training up for squad members now; they do a lot more with their equipment and scheduling, so you have a lot of control now over what you can do with the squads.
Rainseeker:What's your favourite new feature?
Toady:Well I like, probably the hidden fun stuff I've been working on more than anything ... I took a little break to work on the underground again, putting some new critters down there which I've spoiled with more particulars up in the little choose your own adventure I put up on the devlog. I guess I don't want to spoil that here because people should go play the little game that's up there. I like watching [the squads] go off to their little classes and watch them sparring, that was probably more fun. Because the rest of everything else was really dry: just make sure they get the right equipment, make sure that they're following their orders without just wandering off to some room or just sitting there ... it was pretty dry. But next month I haven't quite decided, I'm still sitting here thinking about it because the stuff that remains in the list of remaining items ... basically all of the categories have a few things that need to be done. I was thinking of just going back to the top and just knocking some of those off and turning them green rather than having every category as kind of languishing in a state of almost being done. I'm still planning to get the game out by the end of the year, even if I have to cut features. Of course any feature cut is just going to be put off for a few weeks or something, it's not like I'm cutting features and getting it out of the door so I can go and work on some new game or whatever. So no worries there: if I say something's out it's only out for a little while. We're in pretty good shape here, I should be able to make the little deadline I've set for myself.
Capntastic:Danarca asks, 'will we get more pictures of Scamps?'
Toady:Definitely going to get more pictures of Scamps over time. We've taken some and haven't put them up yet, and we're still trying to capture video or a good picture of him playing with his new toys. He's a spoiled cat; he gets lots of new toys. His favourite one now is this ball of feathers that's attacked to a fishing rod - not a real fishing rod - but a big stick with a string hanging down from it with a ball of feathers on, and he goes nuts. We have this other one that has a mouse on it, a pole that goes out and has a string with a mouse on, and he'll chase that around and so on, but the feathers he goes nuts. I guess he just finds flying feathers more believable than a flying mouse, but he'll tip over small potted plants and chairs, and whatever's small enough for him to tip over chasing this ball of feathers around. He has this little cardboard tube he likes to run through ... we'd really like to get some better pictures of him now. It's one of those things I've been remiss about doing, obviously people want their Scamps pictures but I've failed so far to put any up for a few weeks but I'll get on it, I'll get some Scamps pictures, because he's grown and people should see what kind of monster we're dealing with now.
Capntastic:Danarca also asks 'will the 2D nobles make a comeback?'
Toady:2D nobles ... since some of them are there and some of them aren't there, and there are some new ones ... the ones I can think of that aren't there are the guild nobles; like there used to be mining guilds, crafts guilds, guilds for the farmers, and some creepy ones like the ones that came when you had a lot of dead dwarves, or there was the philosopher who would come and do nothing. Those dwarves are going to be back, and the main reason they're coming back is because we want to see what happens when you see different groups in the dwarven society, because right now everything is pretty harmonious until people have individual problems, and then individual problems ...
Rainseeker:Tantrum spiral!
Toady:That's right, the whole fortress just falls apart. But there should also be this kind of intermediate problems that involve larger groups; this also ties back into religions and so on, so you can have a religious group in the fortress and a philosophical group started by some dwarf, and then the miner's could organise and then you have people caring about their families a little bit more than they care about them now which is basically 'oh, my brother or my wife died in a fight recently' or something, but they don't really care about their families other than that. And you can have one dwarf that's affiliated in some way with all of those movements I just mentioned - or groups - and that dwarf then has a lot more individuality and opportunities for dramatic things to happen; this is true in adventure mode too. A lot of the story and just general dynamics and movement of the characters and so on should be determined by these kinds of conflicts like if the miner's guild wants to do something that directly conflicts with what one of the religions wants to do: say there's a gold vein they want to mine out and some of the mineral deity guys get all uppity about it and start talking about how the gold is sacred or something like that ...
Rainseeker:And what happens if one guys belongs to both ...
Toady:Exactly; that's the question, what happens if a guy belongs to both movements, and then that's where you can get some really interesting things happening. Or what if a guy belongs to one movement and his brother belongs to another, then you have a tension between ... I mean you basically can just draw a bunch of Venn diagrams and see how kind of weird configurations can lead to things splitting apart and tensions, but also peaceful resolutions could be mitigated between the two parties by those two brothers for instance. So there's all kinds of interesting things that could come up just by putting more structure on top of things and having those influence people's behaviours. So 2D nobles are definitely coming back but we'd like to do it in a way that's not completely hard coded; we're doing some experiments now with the goblins to get them to have the structure arise out of their civilisation more based on their ethics than on the hard coding. It's not something where I'm promising the world on this, but it's something I'd like to experiment with to see what we're going to get. This also turned out, as far as the timing of 'when are we going to see this kind of thing', there's the return of the guilds, or I don't remember exactly what it's called, up in the eternal suggestions voting up on the suggestions list and it's doing pretty well. I said I'd take a look at the top ones there for next time - now by next time I mean the next series of releases because I really hope I never have a release this long again, it's going to be over a year - so in the short term we're going to be looking at this stuff, it's not like it's just something I'm talking about; we're going to look at this along with the adventurer's skills stuff and the improved sieges; job priorities; improved hauling; I don't remember if improved farming is up there; increased tile support for graphics ... whatever things were up there that people wanted we're going to be looking at.
Rainseeker:All these kind of inter-fortress politics is really interesting; is there a way for you to track that or explain why things are happening or why dwarves are angry with each other?
Toady:Yeah; obviously a lot of what happens in the game now doesn't get significant exposition, and sometimes you have to sort of plod through their thoughts to even get a hint of what was going on, so hopefully the major events that happen can happen at these sorts of activities that I've been working with the past week or couple of weeks - whatever it was - where you might have ... when a group organises they could have a meeting and it could announce that, and so it just suddenly says 'the miner's guild has been formed and is having a meeting', and you go watch what they do. It might be interesting to get - the same way we just did combat reports for this report, how when people are fighting you can just go and read what happened as if you were in adventure mode - it might be interesting to have the conversation engine, and this kind of goes back to what Armok was asking originally, it might be interesting for the conversation to be used in meetings so that you can see exactly what people are saying and be able to see a recording of their conversations; I don't think there's any problem with that.
Rainseeker:M'kay, capn you want to ...
Capntastic:Hey I think we're on to actually new questions now.
Rainseeker:Actually if you want to do some older ones I can grab some more old ones I've asked. Here's one [Kilo24]; 'can souls be applied to inanimate objects and/or as part of artifacts?'
Toady:So, for the current release - the one that's coming up - there aren't going to be souls beyond what I just added for the creatures. Right now the creatures can hold a number of souls but in practice they only hold one; that was to support possessions and so on in the future. But really all the soul is in the game is, it's got a name, it's got some historical information, the main thing it's got is skills and the personality, and the idea behind that kind of separation was to allow them to be put almost anywhere. They can be floating around in some kind of ghost or they could be stuck in an item, some of the framework's not there for that but they were created with that in mind, so that if you wanted to have some kind of artifact singing sword that hollered things as you walked down the dungeon corridors, and then you could stop and talk to it and ask it if you want to go left or right, and it'd be like 'I'm scared and I want to leave' or something, you could do that, and it wouldn't be that hard to set up, actually. It's in the future, certainly way in the future perhaps, but the framework is building up for that.
Rainseeker:Well that's really cool. Here's another one from Kilo24 that was previously asked; 'do you have plans to leave constructed walls unengravable?'
Toady:The idea there is that the way constructions currently work ... it's a bit of a hastle to have something both be a construction and an engraving. It's not really a super large roadblock but it was just enough of a roadblock for me to be like, 'alright, I'm leaving this'. Now that it is a little bit of a project to get something like that in it makes me sit and think, what does it mean to engrave a construction if the construction's like a brick wall or something? Does it mean that you put a smiley face on every brick, or does it mean that you kind of remove the top inch of the bricks and engrave something in there or would you want to bring up a pre-carved panel and insert it into a slot or something. There's a lot of different options and I just haven't moved on that because I haven't really thought about what I want to do particularly. I'm not against it, I don't think there's a huge balance problem or anything allowing it, so we'll probably see something like that sometime.
Rainseeker:Okay, and one more - I kinda like this one [Kilo24] - 'One of the arcs is focused on artifacts. What are some examples of quirks that you've thought to apply to them, and will artifacts be able to be created in more ways than a dwarf commandeering a workshop?'
Toady:We haven't thought that much about what the artifacts are going to do. We've thought about it a little bit and in fact they used to have powers, but their powers were pretty simple; it's like one of them might have more storage space than they're normally allowed to or a weapon might just be better, change it's damage type, something like that. It wasn't really that inventive, back when we had that system. So, it's not something we've thought that deeply about. We certainly want to make magic seem magical, that's part of what we want to do. So we don't want tp just have a weapon that just says 'oh this is +3 fire sword' or something, we don't want to do any of that; not that we wouldn't want a weapon that can burn things or something like that. The other part of the question you'll have to remind me, because I'm having a heat stroke.
Rainseeker:Are you going to allow artifacts ...
Toady:Oh yeah, other ways to make them. There's a first step that's related to what we're doing now which was individual weapon familiarity and a dwarf maybe naming his or her weapon after the dwarf kills a certain number of creatures or a big creature or something, they'd be like 'I call this "Dragonslayer"' or whatever, that kind of thing. That in a sense shares all of the relevant things with artifacts right now because it would be a named object that gets saved in the histories and that's really all artifacts are right now, they have better quality I guess but they don't have any magical powers right now, and in that way I think that an artifact shouldn't be restricted to dwarves completely. I think the dwarven artifacts ... there should be something special about them, but I also think there should be older objects that are maybe even created during the beginning of world generation and other things that come up during world generation so that the world isn't completely devoid or interesting objects if you want to start with adventure mode or something, but at the same time ...
Toady:Yeah, things like that, everything that you've read has stuff like this. At the same time the things that your dwarves do shouldn't just be drops in the bucket or something like that, it'd be kind of irritating too. There's a certain balance that needs to be struck probably, but we're definitely branching out.
Rainseeker:Alright, I have a question from ArkDelgato, and he says 'After jumping is implemented how will the dwarves in fortress mode decide when to jump?' and also '[will it be] if the only way to path it there is to jump; any time it would help; or in danger?'
Toady:Yeah, it seems like jumping isn't something you should normally do right? It's kind of dangerous. This is assuming that the path finding can be made to do this; I've been in some discussions and so on about to improve finding and jumping is one of the issues there because it doesn't work that well under the current system. But jumping for dwarves ... it seems like it shouldn't be something they do unless they are in danger, that would have to be a parameter there. In adventure mode I guess it would be something that only happens - I mean you'd be doing it all the time because adventurers are kind of crazy like that - [but] creatures that can't access you unless they jump should have to do it too, or else you'd be able to separate space between them too easily so they'd have to take risks like that. I think it'd be kind of weird wouldn't it if you had some pillars in dwarf mode that happened to allow you to get to your bedroom if you didn't want to walk down a hallway but just having the dwarves constantly hopping between them. It'd be kind of cute or something but it seems like it'd be really dangerous and some of the dwarves wouldn't really ... I don't see dwarves being big jumpers. Did I answer the question?
Rainseeker:Yep, that was good. [Qloos] 'How will player created mod packs and graphical sets be affected by the upcoming major update?'
Toady:I posted some of the raws online and if you've looked at those there are sort of massive changes, especially to creatures. So all of the creature raws that you've got - all the mods - won't work in the next version without modification. It's almost impossible to do a version supporting old mods because so many things have changes; it just wouldn't know what to do, it wouldn't know what you wanted, so those will have to be updated. Even things like items and plants - anything that you've added - will require some updates. Now there's some instructions in the new raw files that are provided with the game to tell you what the new tags are and so on and you can follow the examples of the creatures pretty much like people have been doing already to update. I don't think it would be an impossible task or even a really hard task to get mods working again. Graphics mods are basically unchanged. There's a bit that you'll have to do with the creature castes probably; for instance we support, say, ant men that have queens, drones, soldiers, workers if you want to add them in as four different subsets of an ant man, and so that kind of thing you'd have to go back and support it with graphics and there might be a format change there. Pretty much everything will be broken when I release but it'll be pretty easy to fix too.
Capntastic:From Aqizzar; 'How large do you think the community is; what kind of feedback tells you about how widespread your work is and where do you think you're getting the most press these days?'
Toady:Hmm, it's hard to tell how many people are out there. I mean you can tell from initial downloads, there are some thousands of those; the forum usually has a couple hundred people on it at any given time; press-wise it seems like we get a lot of press in Australia and a lot of donations have been coming from there recently so things seem to be going well there. Of course we're doing well in Finland, but it's not just there, pretty much every European country has representation. But I don't have any hard numbers, I just have to kind of go by what the breakdown is of donations and people sending me emails and things that I've seen. It seems like a lot of people that write video games have heard about Dwarf Fortress and tried it, don't like it, so I get a lot of people like that have sent me emails and so on. I know just from what I've seen on our forum that, what, Warhammer Online, The Sims 3, the Valve guys ... you guys remember any other ones? Those were the three that jumped into my head immediately.
Capntastic:Weren't the Warhammer Online or Sims 3 guys, there was a video and like one of the other guys was playing it in the background?
Toady:Yeah, yeah. I think that was the Warhammer guys. Was there even some kind of weird contest like 'hey what game is this'?
Capntastic:Yeah, 'hey if you know what this game is, email us and we'll send you a free tshirt'.
Toady:Yeah that was funny. It's funny to see that happening. Generally people have been supportive from the computer game industry, that have talked to me anyway. I really don't know how widespread it is though; you always get new people with new blogs saying that they introduced it to their friends and none of their friends had heard of it; so there's still tons of people that might like the game but haven't heard of it at all. It's still spreading out, it hasn't saturated the possible people that have been interested by any means, so, it's good to still spread the word around.
Rainseeker:I have a question here from dorf and this kind of goes along with the email kind of ... 'what is the oddest email you've gotten since the success of Dwarf Fortress?'
Toady:Very oddest one ... Well I guess there was the ... There was a person that ... I wouldn't want to reveal too many details ... basically a person who had Dwarf Fortress help them realise certain truths about their existence and basically about how life is meaningless or something and that caused them to convert their religion. It was a long and serious email - I don't want to make light of it - people asked what the oddest email was and that's the hands down winner. But the person supports the game so I'm not sitting here making fun of anybody; but that's definitely the oddest email that I received and I thought that was kind of cool that the game could definitely have an effect on somebody who was ready for it. It kind of comes back to this point; people say that ... there was someone who was criticising the game because when you have random content, because it makes things up it can't contain an artist's vision, but I don't think that's accurate because I think a lot of certain things, certain cynicisms I have, do come across in the game and I think the person was picking up on that. So certainly you can still convey things even in a procedurally generated environment, or whatever they call it these days.
Rainseeker:Right. Well, I have a technical question here; 'How exactly long, wide and tall is a tile in Dwarf Fortress? Are they cubes?'; this is from Lonewolf.
Toady:What the traditional answer is [is] that they're not so big that a dwarf doesn't have to crawl under another dwarf to get through a corridor but at the same time they're big enough to hold a thousand dragons as long as nine hundred and ninety nine of them are lying down. On the other hand it's a serious question because so much would ride on giving an answer; that's why I haven't so far. Because the second that you give an answer the game becomes constricted and you need things to make more sense; suddenly everything needs to make sense. I'm not ready to do that; I think there's something to be said for it - something to be said for nailing that down - but it would really kind of invite things like multi-tile creatures and stuff that I'm just not ready to do. There are some good things about multi-tile creatures; I think they'd be kind of cool. But path finding would need to be changed heavily, and there'd be other issues with them. Would they be too easy to kill for example by hiding off somewhere that they can't get to and shooting at them or whatever; so they'd need to be smart enough to avoid situations like that which might be difficult. So that's kind of one of the main problems - the large creatures - why I haven't established a number yet.
Capntastic:This one's from nagual678; 'So, why is the Bay 12 Dwarf Fortress site still terrible?'
Toady:Is he the same guy that started that topic in General Discussion about the ...
Capntastic:Yeah this wasn't actually a post in the thread; I'm just asking his question. Because I think a direct answer from you would be best.
Toady:Yeah ... it's horrible because I haven't worked on it. And I agree with him by the way. I don't think the Dwarf Fortress site is as bad as the main bay12games.com site. I think the Dwarf Fortress site is okay. It could be better but I think it's ok. I think the bay12games.com site looks like it was made by a junior high kid in 1995 or something; before there was an internet. It was made ten years ago or whatever; we haven't updated it at all. There had been an offer - someone was going to update it for me - but that didn't work out and I really didn't like the way that went so someone else offered to update it and I was like 'I don't really feel like doing it' or whatever ... so nothing's happened with it, and I'm not sure what I want to do with it. I mean it should definitely be changed - it looks horrible - but it's just not my number one priority.
Capntastic:I looked at it like every other ... like Nethack and ADOM, Dungeon Crawl and IVAN, and those sites are all just as bad if not worse, so ...
Toady:Yeah ... at the same time it's fair to compare us not to other hobbyists but to the larger ... everybody, right? Because we're trying to compete with everybody and it could be better. Even not looking at other sites, just looking at it as it's own creature ... it's definitely ... it is ratty. I mean why do we have all the games listed on the left and then all the games listed at the bottom too with four links to the forum that all go to the same place. That question I can answer, it's because the links to the forum used to go to subsections and now they don't, but when I updated it of course I just changed them all to the new forum link without subsections and so ... I guess it's tragicness has actually built up over time; it's not that it's static, it's that it's worse than static.
Capntastic:I like the little yellow pointy guy.
Toady:Well now see going back to the Dwarf site I don't have as many objections about the Dwarf site. Some people don't like the fact that it's centre justified or whatever; I don't care that much about that ... I don't know why that bothers people or why everyone wants stuff on the left or what other things people have with it ... I wasn't reading that carefully there might have been specific objections in the thread but a lot of it wasn't specific. But no I love the little pointy guy; I don't think [he] needs to go anywhere; [he]'s fine.
Capntastic:So, let's see, about a month ago me and my friend starting brewing beer. So I have a bottle here from my first batch and I just opened it. It's actually really easy to make.
Toady:Does it have dwarven ingredients in it?
Capntastic:Uh no.
Rainseeker:Cat tallow ...
Toady:Can't tell? It's proprietary ...
Capntastic:Yea. I'm pouring it right now ... and there it is. It's carbonated, and it's fizzing; so everything looks cool. It's a porter so it's nice and dark.
Toady:So you're going to try it now, is that the idea?
Capntastic:Yes I just had a sip and it's delicious.
Toady:Well that's awesome, does that make you a micro-brewer?
Capntastic:Yes it does.
Rainseeker:And Tarn you're a microgamer.
Toady:I'm a microgamer. That's right, a microgamer.
Rainseeker:So Capn what are you calling your beer?
Capntastic:We don't really have a name yet, but it was ...
Capntastic:The process itself ... it only costs like two hundred bucks to get this stuff you need. You know, it's a big kettle, and ingredients and a bucket and a big glass bottle to put everything in. It's just really easy to do, it's like you boil this for half an hour, and then you put this in and stir it ... the hard part's just keeping track of temperature and everything and making sure you wash your hands. A little bit undwarvenly, but ...
Toady:So how long did it have to sit there?
Capntastic:Um ... we put it in the bottles ... it's been bottled for about three weeks, and I guess that's like two or three weeks, so I guess that's the minimum, but then anything after that is like bonus aging, you know, concentrated deliciousness.
Toady:But it was still good now? Just the sip that you took now?
Capntastic:Oh it's really good now.
Toady:That's right, so the bonus is going to send you up to the stratosphere.
Capntastic:Oh yea, and um ...
Rainseeker:Ok so this brings me to a question Tarn, do you drink?
Toady:Do I drink? I don't have anything against drinking, I just haven't had an occasion to drink for a while. I used to drink more in grad school when there were parties and stuff; that didn't always turn out well. I don't know if I can go into any of that.
Rainseeker:So are we going to have dwarven drunkenness?
Toady:Oh yeah ... you have to have that. Now I don't know quite how that's going to work in the game when they pretty much have to have alcohol all the time; I don't know if that means they're going to be drunk all the time. There might be differences in physiology with the dwarf where they only get drunk when they're seriously drinking or something, like if they're at a party ... when they're like doubling up a party or something and having several drinks instead of just one to get through the day. Whereas with the humans, the humans I try to model as closely as possible to real life rather than doing whatever weird system's going to happen with the dwarves, and with the other ones we haven't thought about so much ... what happens when an elf drinks?
Rainseeker:I think that elves are going to have more vodka-esque things.
Capntastic:More like ... wine spritzers.
Toady:Of course they just drink blood anyway ...
Capntastic:They have no qualms about just like biting some guy's neck off and drinking it.
Toady:Yeah that's called uncorking. But there are a lot of interesting questions like that ... it happens any time we have a new mechanic that's related to one of the main creatures we have to go through and ask ourselves five different times what does it do, and we aren't interested, really, in building up our stock universe, but we figure we have five different groups ... they're not incredibly diverse, they're somewhat diverse ... and then as we start adding in things like ant-men, like all the animal peoples are starting to get their own civilizations now.
Capntastic:Yeah I've noticed that.
Toady:Especially in this version that's coming up; they're actually going to have them. Because back in 2D you had bat-men riding giant bats and they had blowguns made out of cave spider legs that they shot cave spider chitin - or whatever it's called, darts - through that were poisoned with cave spider venom and so on. So they had a civilization up to the point where they were building objects and they'll have that again for the next release. Then that leads to the question, what are the ethics of a bat-man. We know a lot about Batman's ethics I guess from reading the comic books and stuff but then there's ant-men; what are their ethics? What are the ethics of lizard-men? Are they all the same? And so on. We have all these non-inventive animal peoples races but it should allow us to explore some new ground anyway, especially in terms of geographic determinism, in terms of the different environments they have should change their civilizations a lot. So it's going to be interesting to go through; I don't know what happens when a lizard-man starts drinking.
Rainseeker:Is it going to be possible for us to get civilizations like goblin civilizations that go in unexpected directions like maybe they get a leader somehow from an elven civilization who enforces their beliefs on the goblins or something?
Toady:I only put in little teeny baby steps in that direction back when I set up those ethics; looking in that direction I made it so that the ethics sit inside the civilization so that they're mutable; it doesn't just look at the definition that you put in the raw files, but within each civilization they're mutable; but they don't actually change yet. But that kind of thing is what will allow certain individuals and even sub movements ... this is the kind of thing where say in dwarf mode if you have a philosophical movement spring up and enough of your dwarves adhere to it it should start changing the actual fortress civilization in terms of how it thinks, and whether that's happening because the actual fortress ethics are changing or just because a majority of the people follow the ethics of this movement ... it's kind of one leads to the other, or it should anyway. So we're thinking about those things, we're definitely not ignoring that kind of stuff, but it's just a matter of getting it done and that always takes a long time.
Rainseeker:I have a question from Xanares; 'Having read your the future section of the old Slaves to Armok site where you mention orcs along with the dwarves, I was wondering why they didn't make it into the game?'
Toady:I don't even remember. I don't know if any of you have played Armok I, because we had a number of stock creatures, and I don't remember if orcs were one of them or if we called them goblins; I really don't remember. To me those terms are basically interchangeable; one is more Tolkien and one is much older.
Capntastic:More general?
Toady:Yeah. Goblin is an old old word, and orc I think is an invention of Tolkien. So we just went with goblin for that reason, and because we didn't want to cleave ... even though the game obviously is related to Tolkien heavily we didn't want to cleave ourselves too closely with it in terms of terminology because we're always going to moving away from that stuff just because we're adding more and more things. I don't think of orcs as something that needs to be added with goblins; goblins can be thought of as orcs to the extent that that comparison makes sense. People have already modded in orcs for their orc mod, although I guess those are more like evil monsters that can kill you easily ... I don't know how big they are, and they certainly seem to be more powerful than a Tolkien goblin. I've just kind of been wondering, I don't actually remember if I've answered the question or not.
Rainseeker:I think that worked pretty good. I have a question from Strife26 that says 'with the work on bodies and stuff will modding in completely unreasonable creatures still work?' and his example is 'could my civilization made entirely of fuzz whose only organ is a pair of eyes function?'
Toady:Well, function in dwarf mode ... they'd already have trouble if they didn't have hands and stuff. But no, there's no requirement in a creature that says it needs to have a circulatory system or nerves or anything like that; if a creature doesn't have those things then they function as if they have them all the time, it just assumes that it works. That's how, for instance, the only creature I know that is like that right now is the Fluffy Wombler, because they're just made out of fluff and then under the fluff there's pudge, and I think their eyes is made out of some kind of eye material, because they have little eyes ; but they've got fluff and pudge. So they don't have nerves, or blood, or anything like that and they should work fine. The game doesn't try and impose real world constraints on things unless you tell it; you can say 'this creature has blood, this is the materiel I want to use', then the game's like 'well if it doesn't have this material it's going to die, and it will bleed out this materiel'. So it imposes those constraints but I think it's mostly reasonable about that stuff. Of course there are going to be bugs, and people should tell me about those, but that's the intention.
Capntastic:I don't really have any more questions but what sort of books do you read, Toady?
Toady:The last book I finished was the Water Margin, or Outlaws of the Marsh or whatever you want to call it, there have been a bunch of names for it because it's translated from Chinese; but it's one of the big ... I guess there are four main Chinese classics, like Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and I had just finished Romance of the Three Kingdoms before that so I wanted to move on and read another one of those while I was still able to sort out the names and stuff, because it's hard to read because there are so many ... there are a hundred and eight good guys in that book ... they're not good guys but they're the protagonists, and there's also a cast of other characters as well, it's difficult to read, it's like two thousand pages long. I wanted to read that for inspiration for adventure mode, and it was fun, it was a good book. I haven't read a lot recently, mostly if I want to know something about something I just go online and I don't end up reading a lot of novels and non-fiction anymore that isn't just articles; I read a lot but it's all on the computer. But whenever someone recommends a novel I usually end up getting it and then sort of fiending through it for however many hours it takes to finish it; I want to read, I guess, but I don't actually end up reading ... I mean I want to read physical books but I don't actually end up doing it a lot.
Rainseeker:I have a question here from roundedge, as opposed to square I suppose; 'When starting a game what is your software architecture approach? How do you keep your code organised with such an enormous project which appears to develop rather organically?'
Toady:It's something that's developed over time so I guess it's a million little habits, but I always have an idea of what I want to do, you need to have a vision, a design. People are going to disagree with me a lot on this kind of thing because there are professional approaches now for this kind of thing and I don't really follow any of them as far as I know unless it's by accident; just because I'm not studied. But in general ... so you don't need a design document per se or whatever they call them - white papers and things - but if you have a strong idea of what you want your game to do and you've got a lot of the details down then it will start to organise itself a bit better and a lot of it you just need practical experience writing projects and failing to complete them to know what pitfalls you can fall into, because there are hundreds of them. I've practically fallen into one now for this release, right? I'm way behind, and I certainly bit off more than I could chew easily. I can get through it and I'm not going to lose the project, but I probably would have lost the project if I had less experience because you can tend to flounder when you don't have clear objectives that are small that you can do. It's just ... write things down in advance, keep your thoughts organised and write a lot of games. If you want to write a lot of projects you'll figure out a system that works for you. The documents that I have online, like the reqs and bloats and things; I wouldn't look too hard at those because I don't use them that much anymore. They keep some of my older thoughts and they're sort of organised into categories and so on, but I've been working on squad stuff for two months so far and reqs and things have hardly come up. There are a few of them that are going to get checked off but that's kind of an accident compared to just getting done what I wanted to get done. It's more important to have a vision of what you want to do and stick to it, keep in mind what you want your project to feel like and what you want it to accomplish. I'd probably be better off answering more specific questions about this kind of thing ...
Rainseeker:Well, do you use a lot of comments? So if someone who knew how to program were to look at your code could they figure out what's going on?
Toady:I guess the people who have looked at a lot of the code now for the graphics thing would be better off answering that question than me ... I don't use a huge amount of comments. Some people put a comment after every single line, and that's kind of self-defeating for me. I leave enough comments that I can come back in six months and know what I've done. I don't use perfect variable names but I use pretty good variable names. I remember reading some forum somewhere where people were like 'well he probably just names his variables 'a', 'b', 'c', 'd' and 'foo fah foo flam blum blum blum' like he's an idiot or something' but you give things meaningful names and you need fewer comments, right? I can pretty much read through my code, it reads pretty straightforward to me, because things have sensible names. There are things like that that come up, for the things like reqs and bloats I'll leave comment tags that say 'req 1.22' throughout my code so that when I get to req 1.22 I can search for it and locate the places where it's relevant. Like I was saying the whole game isn't organised into reqs and bloats but they do come up and when they come up I'm pretty prepared to put them in. So there are things like that that come up and other little habits that you just start to pick up.
Capntastic:Let me check the thread and see if anyone has anything really cool to say ... randomly click page five; 'Is magnetite armour ...', wait no this is something Rainseeker asked!
Rainseeker:You can ask it, go ahead.
Capntastic:Okay, Rainseeker asks; 'Is magnetite armour going to be picking up silverware in the dining room?' Hold on, because silver isn't magnetic ...
Toady:Yeah, I was wondering about that.
Capntastic:What are you doing, Rainseeker?
Toady:If it's silver plated and has an iron core it would still work, right? I don't know much about nothing.
Rainseeker:Everyone knows silverware isn't really silver.
Capntastic:So 'Is magnetite armour going to be picking up stuff?'
Toady:Yeah I don't know ... It's one of those things where it's basically like magic, right? You've got a material that can attract certain classes of other materials. It's one of those things where you wonder how you're ever going to code stuff like that, even with magic, because you have to check all the time whether or not something like this is happening and then you have to throw in specific shortcuts and flags and things to make sure it isn't actually checking all the time. So the more general and vague a system is - and we're going to make magic very general and vague - the more you have to scratch your head and wonder how you're ever going to get it to work. I think there's quite a bit of hope for it but I haven't thought about the specifics that well yet so I can't promise you that you're going to have magnetite that does weird things when you walk into a room and all the silverware sticks to you and stuff.
Rainseeker:I said, is this going to happen during the restaurant arc and somebody said 'Well there isn't going to be a restaurant arc' and I said 'yes, yes I know.'
Toady:Yeah it's disappointing. We need restaurants. It would be cool to have those inns though; people talk about it all the time, and I like the idea of having inns and stuff, and being able to create one either in your fortress - although dwarves never really struck me as that hospitable at least when it came to their own place, but I'm not against the idea - and then with adventure mode you could create your own little inn.
Rainseeker:It would be cool to have traffic coming through your site, if you have roads going up [and] have elves and human adventurers coming through ...
Toady:I'm always sitting here waiting for the game to take off in that kind of way. It's not quite there yet where there's people all over the world in adventure mode, you can wonder and talk to them, but they never go anyplace and when you're in dwarf mode of course they never come to see you unless they're leading an army to kill you or whatever. It'd be cool to have people drop by and come and talk to you about things and hang out ...
Toady:Yeah. People want to come and see what the dwarves are doing; want to see how short they are and stuff. It'd be cool.
Rainseeker:Have a class visit with a bunch of kids and teacher. Field trip!
Toady:Yeah, that'd be horrible on some of those wildernesses; having a little string of human children walking toward your fortress through all the skeletal hippos and skeletal giant eagles coming down to snatch them up and carry them off to their nest and feed their little skeletal eaglets.
Rainseeker:I'm sorry, but people are going to start demanding that now.
Toady:It's alright, people ask for a lot of stuff.
Capntastic:There's going to be like two threads about it
Rainseeker:Field trips! ... Ok, here's a question from Im_Sparks; 'Is there going to be an arena an arena room at any point, where you can organise fights and make the dwarves get a happy thought for watching or winning?'
Toady:Yeah ... Arenas are definitely up on development. Zach wrote a whole story; 'Passion in the Arena' I believe it was called. We're all for arenas. Now as for dwarves ... I haven't really thought about how into blood sports and things dwarves would be; they obviously don't mind bloody justice. It's those kind of questions where in a sense I don't like answering them for the player and forcing them to do things ... like there's this discussion about poisoned weapons; should you be able to poison your weapons and it's really not a dwarven thing, pretty much from any perspective you're coming from, but at the same time it'd be cool to allow that kind of thing with certain penalties. Whatever we say for dwarves; once the humans have arenas the dwarves will then potentially be able to have arenas, just like humans have religions and dwarves can potentially have them. The question is just what sort of restrictions there would be; I'm for it, and I think arenas are very important in fantasy and stuff, they certainly give you something to do if you're an adventurer and you're just bored out of your mind and want to die, then you can do that without having to kill a village or something.
Rainseeker:There you go. I think that it'd be kind of fun to talk about where you see the long distance goal of Dwarf Fortress. I know you've kind of talked about this in some of the other interviews but let's talk about it again.
Toady:Yeah ... We want to have a game ... it's completely far flung but you need to have some kind of goal ... we want to have a game where you could basically start up the game and it makes a world that's essentially some kind of novel - meaning new not a book, but you might as well say book too - setup with things that you haven't seen before and all kinds of different historical stuff about how everyone's doing this and that and it's got creatures and magic things going on and everything that's really compelling, and then you can just insert yourself into that; into some role, whether or not it's a dwarf fortress or an adventure of some kind or something else, some other settlement or an entire civilization, or some kind of deity or a big monster or something. You can assume some role in there, mess around for a while and then go assume some other role and have it advance the world along with you as you do things; react to the things you do and everything that you do can have real consequences that have the plot move forward and so on. Like if someone dies there's an actual vacuum that can be filled by other things and so on; we're slowly working towards that, we can kind of see how it can work; it's not an unachievable goal, it's not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, it's just a lot of work and just piece by piece working towards that kind of thing. That's all up on that dev future, whatever it's called, where it's post version 1. Like version 1 is in sixteen years and then after that ...
Rainseeker:Your grandchildren will be programming for you.
Toady:Yeah ... can have a little sweatshop here where we all work on Dwarf Fortress together. And some of those things, I don't know if they'll be slipped in earlier. You can already mod in yourself playing a dragon or whatever, so it's not like it's impossible to do already. Ideally ... you know, ideally means ideally ... you'd be able to play anything; any creature or group, like right now you can play the dwarf fortress civilization site entity of a fortress, or you can play an adventurer that is from say three different races; and that's pretty restrictive, but there's no reason why you wouldn't be able to play the whole civilization of the dwarves, and that's actually one of the goals that's pre version 1, is being able to get up to that level; where you have the king or queen and you can make decisions that are broader over a series of settlements; and be able to send your armies and diplomats and things around. Once you've got that then if you want to expand to something like elf settlements, you just want to make sure the game isn't too dwarven when you play the elves, because right now everything would be restricted in the same way that the dwarves are restricted but I think by adding some of the mod support that I've been putting in it actually won't be super hard, it'll just be very hard to extend it because some of those things are already being accounted for: some of the differences. So that's the really general long term goal, every type of feature in the game has more detailed or less detailed visions as well, like how we want it to work - my brother and I - and we're just going to keep working on it and arrive at some point by the time we're done. When we're ready to keel over or whatever, something will be there, something pretty good, by that time. After that, after I say that kind of broad vision really the only things I can talk about are whatever specifics people are curious about at that point, I think.
Capntastic:I know a lot of people make comparisons to Spore and how 'oh [in] Spore, you'll be able to do everything', and then everyone's like 'well Dwarf Fortress is better because you can actually see that he's working towards this', and I kind of agree that everything Today's doing is a lot more genuine that what Spore kind of did, where they promised all this stuff and kind of didn't actually have any of it.
Toady:I like making creatures, that's kind of fun for a little while; just putting on the parts and stuff.
Capntastic:Yeah it was fun; I played the game and I beat it, but it took five hours and then I was completely done with everything the game had to offer.
Rainseeker:The space mode is actually pretty fun but the first four modes are basically tutorials for space mode.
Toady:I guess I wasn't gung ho about it so I didn't feel that disappointed, but it was kind of tragic in a way, how it turned out. I know a lot of people enjoy it though, some people on our forums enjoy it. It just kind of depends on what you're in for, I guess. If you were looking for a Dwarf Fortress 1.0 or 2.0 which is kind of the thing that was coming across from the press presentations or whatever, where they were like 'it's going to be like Master of Orion II when you get to space mode' and ... it wasn't.
Capntastic:Yeah you had like one ship, and you could fly around; and you had to do everything on your own, you couldn't organise anything.
Toady:Yeah ... it was a different kind of thing.
Rainseeker:It fell prey to the fear that people aren't smart enough to play that kind of game, I think. They just simplified and simplified.
Toady:Yeah, well it get really extreme with the creature mode. It was like playing a one-sequence version of Simon Says, or a version of Whack-a-Mole where there's no timing to be worried about; you know that it's going to come up in a second and you have ten seconds to hit it ... you feel really bad for the mole at that point, it just pops up and it's like 'Hi! Hit me!', 'Alright, Bam!'. Just strange ... but I guess it's something anyway; you can make critters and they can run around, you can make little spaceships and buildings and stuff. It was alright, in that way.
Rainseeker:Here's more of a specific question; Is magic in [...] Dwarf Fortress ... what are you planning on doing with it? Are you planning on letting people fly with it ... or create trees, or grow things more quickly or maybe create gems in the side of a mountain; generate your own kind of stuff.
Toady:It's hard to say, because you want magic to feel magical in a way, and if it starts to become this thing where you have 'these are my magic runemaster dwarves and they get a series of powers and I use the powers to make mining easier and I use the powers to make wood' or something, then it's kind of industrial and it doesn't feel like a fantasy world ... it feels more like a sci-fi thing in a way, like how it's become kind of a technological thing that's used that way rather than something that has hidden consequences and stuff like that, or something that seems somehow intangible. I know people have really really varied feelings about magic, it's one of those things where I've avoided the controversy because I haven't started it yet. I know people are going to want to do all kinds of things and they want their dwarves to be more magical in a sense ... some people don't want any magic with their dwarves at all, and other people don't want any magic period. We're just going to go with our original thing there for the stock universe and then whatever support ends up being possible we can start to put in for people that want to do something that's more standardised magical for the dwarves. Our own idea is pretty much to restrict dwarven magic to artifacts and to have the artifacts be magical in ways that you don't really know at first, and that you might have to discover over time as you mess with them. Now, there's a problem with that in the sense that your control is so indirect that it's a little difficult to get at things like that; it's not like you can be an adventurer and just mess around with stuff directly. The reason that the vision on that is a bit unformed is because we aren't there yet, we haven't really thought about the specifics.
Rainseeker:I can just see it now, a dwarf is erecting his door artifact and the door actually transports people across the map which is really bad because it's in your front entrance.
Toady:There's all kinds of things, right? You could have a cabinet [such that] when you put something into it and take it out it becomes an improved item, and you might notice that when the guy's doing that with his clothes but you wouldn't really notice because who has time to go 'v, enter' on all of the dude's clothes. So it should be something that's more along the lines of those advisor things we were talking about where the dwarf has something to say to you - like the guy I mentioned having conversations with his dwarves - the dwarf should be like 'hey I just took my shirt out of my cabinet and now it's gold-studded and that's pretty cool and I think I should tell you about that', and it should be a huge thing that the guy can tell you instead of something you'd have to piss around with, and in that way magic can kind of remain magical and it doesn't always have to be little things like that there could be larger effects that are related to it or, if some guy makes a fell mood object and then all of a sudden all the dead bodies in your fortress start to rise up and you have to try [to] dump the thing down to a chasm before you all get eaten alive ... that'd be pretty cool. So there's options
Rainseeker:Very shocking ...
Toady:Well it should be kind of shocking, it's supposed to be magic. I'm hoping that that's how it works, I'm hoping that magic would be introduced through artifacts like that and also through the demons and other adversaries that are unique and rare and you'd get this thing where weird things happen or the whole sun is blotted out and the plants start to die or whatever, things get colder, and that could happen and then you'd have to figure out why it's happened; it doesn't tell you. There's all kinds of things that it can do and then the issue becomes ... the other mode of the game is adventure mode and a lot of people probably look forward to being able to use a spell caster, and the thing I've just outlined doesn't really fit very well with the notion of levelled spells and treating it like that where you work at it for long enough and then you can do fireball. But at the same time it's not as if that's a wholly unwholesome way of thinking and it shouldn't be supportable and I don't think it's impossible to have everything work out either way with parameters because it's not ...
Rainseeker:You could have it even more story based, as people get their powers more in a story-based ways.
Toady:Yeah, thinking of things like the deals witches make and other ways where people source their magic or how they got it, and they get it from the fairies or blah blah blah, stuff like that. Then you just need to have a starting scenario set up ... is it possible to make your magic still feel magical even though you're the one that knows how to do it, that comes up and how well do you know how to do it? How well do you even understand the things that you're doing? I think there are a lot of interesting questions there that you can explore in this type of setup that have really only been explored properly before in a plot setup, where you might have had magic seem magical but it was going through a game on rails, or you have magic that doesn't seem particularly magical[;] it can be randomised, but it's still just like 'Book One', 'Book Two', 'Book Three' or whatever. I'm not sure what I'm going to be able to do, it'll be interesting to give it a shot. Magic is kind of officially post version 1 material but the artifact arc is pre version 1 material so those are going to have a little tug-of-war I think when we get to working on artifacts to see how much magic actually makes it into version 1.
Rainseeker: Do you have any plans to make the dwarves have the ability to more easily discover minerals and gems and such?
Toady:There was originally ... this could have even been up on the dev pages, I don't really remember ... there's this idea for people doing surveyors and stuff like that and then there's ...
Capntastic:Geologists and geomancers ...
Toady:Yeah that whole branch of suggestions that are either purely magic based or purely science based or anywhere in between and I'm still not sure what I want to do with that, because it seems like a cop out in a way or something [...] but what problem does [the request] point to? I guess the problem it points to is that people are just having trouble finding stuff, and if that's the problem then maybe more the issue is that the mineral layout ... if you've seen an unhidden screenshot you've seen that the mineral layout is kind of asstacular right? It's like these little ovals and these restricted veins that run all in one z-layer, and I think improving the mineral layout could go a long way to alleviating some percentage of the concerns there. I think the other concerns are people that want to know where features are in advance, features like big open areas and so on, so that they can design their fortress without hitting those places and that's another thing that I'm ambivalent about because I know that some people are really into having a place that looks exactly how they want and then there's the whole idea of the game being about adapting to your circumstances so again it's a completely ambivalent thing there where you'd really want to set that down almost to world generation parameters or something, so that people can have their cake and eat it too. The reason I haven't really moved that quickly on these kind of suggestions is I'd like to find a way to do it that is the best, that addresses all the concerns and can make everybody happy without really compromising what the game feels like. And I think it's possible, I just haven't really hit upon the best way yet.
Rainseeker:Great. Well Capn you want to ask anything else? I'm tired.
Capntastic:Yeah, I'm tired too ... I don't know ... do you have any questions, Tarn?
Toady:Uh yeah ... what questions do I have?
Rainseeker:What question would you ask the community?
Toady:Well we had that thread that we started up asking what turned people off and I think, aside from ... the thread gets a little nasty sometimes, not to us but just people yelling at each other and stuff, but we get a lot out of that thread and I think that was the main thing we wanted to ask because when you know what's wrong with the game you can fix it. We kind of had an idea, so the main thing we got out of that is some kind of tutorials or something are the best thing to do, although we don't quite remember what the exact breakdown was of the responses, and also there were a lot of specific interface suggestions that are all good. The other main thing that we ask is that people go and vote on the eternal suggestions so we can get a layout of what people like. I don't know if I have any specific questions ...
Capntastic:Are votes on that cleared automatically, when stuff is taken care of?
Toady:No, but we haven't really had a release for a year so we don't really know what happens when something's taken care of.
Toady:Yeah ... when we release it we're probably going to clear a lot of votes and also highly publicise the fact that people should go back and check things out because at that point I'm going to take note of what the top ones were and like I was saying kind of look at the top ten but look at everything, see what the breakdown is, and start structuring the next releases based in part on that. There was nothing up there ... people were wondering a bit about how much that compromises the vision of the game; there was nothing up there in the top ten that's really that controversial. It was pretty solid, everything up there. A lot of it was pretty like - job priorities, hauling, improved pathfinding and stuff - there's a huge kind of pragmatic streak in the community when it comes to voting and I think a lot of that just comes from how frustrating the game can be right now, so it's not like it's a bad thing. I'm hoping that when I address a lot of those things that the voting will start to become more interesting in that sense so I can see what directions people really want to go, once the game's not broken.
Rainseeker:I can't wait to get some wheelbarrows going, or some donkeys that haul my rocks for me or something.
Toady:Yeah, it's such a pain right now, I can see why that one's number one.
Rainseeker:Well Capn are we ready to close?
Capntastic:I suppose, yeah.
Toady:So I guess people should let us know what they want us to do with this thing, something we needed to ask right? We've got this first one recorded and we're going to put it together and hopefully people like having something like this every month or so. Hopefully it went well, if we sounded a little under the weather that's because that's exactly what we are, right?
Capntastic:We'll be much better next time.
Toady:It is really hot ...
Rainseeker:What I want to ask the community is ... I think we're going to - if it's ok with you Tarn - [...] create a new podcast forum for questions just because it's difficult for us who are asking questions to wade through a forty page thread so we'll create a new one, we'll backlog this old one and if you guys [let us know] what you guys liked about this and what you guys didn't, that'd be fine to share. Just don't be too cruel, okay? We're sensitive.
Toady:Well I'm half dead, that's my problem right now. Sitting here drooling ... It's been trying, but this weather's supposed to be gone tomorrow, that'd be a good thing. So cool, I think this went well, I think this went well.
Rainseeker:Great, well, everybody in Never Never Land ...
Capntastic:See you next month!
Rainseeker:See you next month.
Capntastic:See you next month!
Toady:Yeah, bye bye.