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Topics - Eagleon

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PC Games / Dwarf Fortress - A Roguelike and much, much more
« on: August 16, 2006, 02:53:38 pm »
Links and helpful information about Dwarf Fortress:

http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/

Updated version with graphics:
http://mayday.w.staszic.waw.pl/df.htm

Dwarf Fortress Wiki

Penny Arcade tutorial as posted by Daxx.


An absolutely incredible garage-game, completely free, released on the 8th. In my opinion, it's on the same level of fun as Spore will be (and this is just a very early alpha!), although it's focused in a different direction.

Be warned: Its graphics are not for everyone. There is very heavy use of extended ASCII, although in my opinion Toady has done a great job with it. In addition, its learning curve is quite steep, at least for the fortress mode. World generation also takes a very long time - over an hour on my 400 celeron, and I've been very lucky so far with the number of rejected regions. But before you toss it into the recycling bin in frustration, listen up.

This game has tremendous depth, and it will only get better. If you want comparisons to existing games, think The Sims crossed with Dungeon Keeper and Settlers 2, with a bit of Nethack thrown in.

Adventurer mode is likely to be of the most immediate interest for roguelike fans - it's pretty barebones at the moment, but you can play an elf, human, or dwarf, and wander around in the world you've generated, creating legends by vanquishing and being slain by foes. You can hire a few others to go with you - this is generally recommended. The damage system is hilariously gory, and you can wrestle with your opponents to do things like eye-gouges, choking, breaks, and twisting of weapons that have become stuck. More is planned for the first version after alpha, such as the craft skills already in place in the regular game.

On to the meat of the thing. Your primary goal... Well, there really isn't any goal, per-se, besides keeping your dwarves happy.

Dwarves will be made happier by any number of good things - they'll appreciate having good furniture, will be comforted by pets, and each has a list of things they enjoy, such as material types, animals, and foods. To offset this, they will be made less happy by things like going without alchohol for extended periods (the little guys like their drink!), being attacked, getting caught in nasty weather such as snowstorms and rain, seeing their brethren rot without coffins, and much more. If your dwarf gets too irritated, he will throw tantrums and start fist-fights, which will make them happier at the expense of their targets. If a dwarf gets unhappy enough, he runs the risk of going berserk, trying to kill everything in his path, being stricken with depression, where he'll sit in an available bed and sulk, or simply going insane. As in a later game you might have upwards of 80 dwarves, it's a challenge to manage their needs, but if you keep a good food stockpile and give them places to rest, you'll find that they're relatively reasonable when dealing with setbacks.

While the mood simulation is impressive enough by itself, it wouldn't be nearly as interesting if there weren't so many things to do:

- Dig to obtain precious gems and metal ore, crossing a subterranian river and bottomless chasm, eventually reaching a lava flow, which you can use to negate any need for coal for your furnaces and forges. As you dig deeper, however, nastier monsters will appear - eventually, your fortress -will- deteriorate and fall, as balrogs and dragons start to appear.

- Make trap systems of great complexity - set up cage traps around your well to catch the critters that often decide to crawl up. Place a support beam in a large enough room, possibly your treasury, link it to a pressure plate in the entrance, and enemies will be buried in tons of rock upon entering. Made a weapon, of any sort? Use it in a weapon trap. Build floodgates, channels, and aqueducts to divert water or lava to flood a room or block critters that are  logically impeded by them (be careful to place doors between the room and the rest of the fortress, or else the whole place will be flooded). Make levers to control bridges, floodgates, and supports. You can link up any number of them, alongside pressure plates and such, in any way you choose. There was more, but I forgot. :)

- Use the floodgates and channels to make farms for your dwarves - an essential source of food, especially after your fisherdwarves stop pulling in enough to feed everyone. Fertilize fields with potash made with lye in the Ashery, and define what to grow every season for each plot.

- Make wood, stone, metal, and bone crafts to trade with caravans from human, elf, and dwarf alike. Decorate these with jewels, bone, shell, and metal - your craftsdwarves will often inlay them with images of the creatures, trees, and plants they like with whichever material you choose. As dwarves become more skilled, they will create better quality items, which fetch higher prices. Masterpieces and artifacts are possible, though the latter depends on mysterious trances which might drive the dwarf insane if you can't get the materials you need for their work.

- Nobility! As your fortress grows, they start to move in, like so many leeches. They are not without their uses, however - your metalworkers can create coins, which are distributed amongst your dwarves, and items are then ownable. In essence, an economy develops.

And much more.

Toady One (the head programmer) is a coding machine, and a PHD in mathematics to boot - I have never seen anyone blaze through so much in such a short amount of time, while still keeping things extendible. It's been under development for at least two years. If you compare that to nearly any other game, most of which have multiple coders working together, the results are truly impressive. This guy has serious vision - take a look at the development section, and you'll see what I mean.

If you're the type to look for moddability, this already has it, although not to the extent planned.  Please don't bother Toady too much with questions, however, and omit bugs that come up while exploring what's there. He's got a lot on his hands as it is without worrying about crazy problems with your flying fire-breathing "dwarves". ;)

Other than that, there is a very active forum (scarily active, now that Something Awful has a topic going on it. A bit disconcerting when you're used to maybe one or two posts a day :D) Many questions have already been answered there. If you can handle a bit of frustration with the interface, and some job priority issues, this is truly a gem.

Cheers! :)
*goes back to mismanaging his dwarves*

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PC Games / Assassin's Creed - All versions
« on: May 31, 2006, 09:35:00 am »
Anyone else as excited about this game? Was featured in the newest GI. I really like the concept of making the crowd in the streets so responsive to your movements. I've always hated in games how you can do things that would get you arrested in most places (laborously climbing up walls, constantly running full-tilt into people and things, etc.), and yet no one will blink an eye.

The concept is good, too. You never really hear much about the original assassins, and the gameplay looks like a blast. It's made by some of the same people that created Sands of Time.

http://assassinscreed.uk.ubi.com/ is the official site; not sure how much info is on it, since it won't load for me. Damned flash websites. There are other sites out there with more info, but I don't have the time at the moment to pull them up - gotta get to my next class. ;)

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Spore: Creation Corner / The Lumani: A Brief Overview
« on: April 23, 2006, 09:01:54 pm »
   The Lumani are a species of bipedal humanoids with many canine features. Their fur color and markings can vary dramatically, although a pure rich walnut shade is considered the ideal by the majority of Lumani. Their eyes can be purple, blue, brown, or black. They are not tall by human standards, usually standing around 4'8", but can become quite hardy to physical abuse, and are fierce combatants even without training due to well-honed natural instincts. It is very common for young Lumani to grow feathers, with a diet high in a certain nutrient; presumably this is a vestigial artifact of evolution, although they do provide a kind of 'sixth sense', an awareness of shifting pressures in their surroundings due to the delicate nerve endings at their base. Interestingly, Lumani have the potential to live for thousands of years, although none have so far attained this peak.
   The Lumani evolved on Iteria, an Earth-sized world with a higher overall density, and an uninhabitable moon nearly the same diameter as its parent. It is young and thus more mountainous, and there are few tropical regions due to the distribution of its six continents. It is also located on the outer edge of the habitable zone. These rough conditions combined to encourage a heavily war-oriented history, but fortunately, another more habitable planet existed within their solar system to buffer what was to come.
   For a brief time, a massive effort was made to push most of the population to this new satellite. When it was seen that this would not be feasible for quite a long time, if ever, this was given up as useless, and the few settlers that had made it to Trabell were left to their own devices. Emmigration was expensive, and it was easier for those with wealth to begin settling the surface of the oceans.
   These micronations were one of the few powers to survive a tremendous bio-warfare holocaust, cumulating in the obliteration of all oil-based infrastructure by carefully designed bacteria. Several billion died from massive fungal infection of the lungs, the result of a single scientist working from a relatively minor nation.


(The Lumani in my avatar, drawn by my good friend Kairu Hakubi (http://-coldfusion-.deviantart.com/), and colored by me.)

   Meanwhile, Trabell was doing just fine. A kind of paradise by Lumani standards, many began to give in to the race's original solitary nature, especially the children of the original settlers. These would roam the vast new world in search of wonders, and only come together by chance, or when they had the urge to share their discoveries.
   A few continued research on both genetics and hard physics, though the manufacturing capabilities at hand did not permit much experimentation. When the catastrophe came, there was no aiding the homeworld beyond collaboration in finding ways to neutralize the unleashed weapons. Though few pondered the possibility, it was now, ironically, well within their reach to exodus Iteria completely.
   A century passed without much incident, the survivors back on Iteria working their way towards regaining some sort of organization. Then, in a single moment, a breakthrough in propulsion was achieved; the math was worked out, clear in the mind of a brilliant young Lumani, and he knew interstellar travel was to be had within the decade. The foundations of his work were shakey, but a superior respected him enough that he agreed to submit the work under his own name. Cascade Warp Theory was born, and was quickly assembled into a prototype engine by an emergant co-op back home.


(A rough (very) geopolitical map of Iteria after the war.)

-------------------------------------------------==-------------------------------------------------

I was influenced a good bit by Red/Green/Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson in writing the Lumani history, in case you can't tell. Go out and get it. It's brilliant. :D

More to come? *shrugs* Maybe. I'll probably work out the details of their evolution, at least, since having feathers is kind of wonky. :-\ This all was adapted from a fantasy-based race, which evolved in an alternate dimension in which there was an infinite amount of room to expand, and the feathers bit is because some have been altered with gryffon Shapeness.... Yeah, it's a bit hard to explain. Sorry.  :D

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Spore: General / Dealing with extremes of fitness
« on: September 27, 2005, 02:36:54 pm »
I wonder how the game will scale the ecosystem in extremes of fitness... Hypothetically it's possible to have your creature have the best absolute fitness value in the database (assuming a single linear fitness value, an admittably big assumption), so will it cheat and give another predator impossible abilites so that you return towards the middle? And if your creature is a drooling sack of refried beans, will the predators all be marginally better designs, or will your creature just ph4l3 at life?

In the first case, remember that at the core of evolution is some need to improve. If an animal is extremely prolific, it will change less than if a species is dying out rapidly. If you really do have the perfect design for a predator, there's no reason to add brainmass and become sapient even if it would benefit survival in the long run, because that detracts energy from the current ideal, which means less reproduction for that change.

In the second case, I think there would have to be a compromise between realism and gameplay, but this might also be how reproductive capacity is determined, so that there are too many sacks of refried beans out there for all the predators to get; the species would get a break until predators become more prolific, and then the player would have to change or get demolished.

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