Sunday, 6 July 2008

Dwarf Fortress Conversations

I've argued previously that one way of procedurally generating stories is to 'go deep', that is spend time creating a detailed enough a world that the stories prove interesting. The downside with going deep is that it requires a large time investment. With Dwarf Fortress, it looks like that this is starting to pay off. From a recent development log entry [Edit: you can read more here]:

I was testing some adventure mode conversation responses in a human town. The high priest of the god of revenge came down the stairs, and he was an elf with a human name. I talked to him and learned that both of his parents had goblin names, and his grandparents had elven names. So I guessed that his grandparents had been abducted and that the humans had then liberated the tower, placing the goblin-named parents under human control before they had their child. This was more or less correct, but a bit more happened. So, way back when, the demon was causing all sorts of trouble, fighting both the humans and the elves and destroying their cities. This went on for 40 years -- an elf managed to tear off the demon's nose about halfway through this rampage, but he couldn't finish the job because he had lost a limb in the fight before the nose-removal and lost the rest of his limbs afterward, prior to being burned to death. Eventually the demon was shot in the year 45 and the humans took over the goblin tower. Many of the goblins fled into the mountains, and others were enslaved, including some of their abductees. Ngoso and Bax were a couple of elven children born to abducted parents that were left alone to live in the goblin tower under their new human rulers. When they grew up, they both started shops -- The Enjoyable Paddle and the Lessened Healer -- in the year 45, and in the year 54 they both moved to the human town of Beersreined. The next year they were married and they both decided to wander the wilds looking for monsters to kill (they never found any, as the giants were off on the other side of the world and the dragon was dead). Ngoso had ten children in Beersreined, the third of which became the high priest of the god of revenge after both he and his father were converted by the new temple in 146. Ngoso never converted as she had become a dragon worshipper during one of the attacks prior to its death. As a sidenote, the elves and the humans didn't get along very well, and in the year 60 the elves actually drove the humans out of the goblin tower they had conquered. The elves had no desire to live in a goblin tower so they left it abandoned. At this point, the goblin refugees that had been wandering through the mountains for fifteen years reclaimed the tower. They held it for a total of two years before being defeated by the humans again, who were then able to maintain control of the site until play began. I didn't check if any of the goblins managed to escape again.
[Image from In Our Hearts We Were Giants: The Remarkable Story of the Lilliput Troupe, which is currently out of print but reviewed here.]


JohnH said...

The Dwarf Fortress development blog is a gem. Tarn fills it with all kinds of fascinating stories about what happens in his test worlds, stories that can't help but make one look forward to building his own worlds that have all this awesome stuff happening in them.

Andrew Doull said...

The dwarf fortress development blog is a depressing litany of tall tales. Tarn fills it with braggadocio about what happens when you come up with an incredible game idea, pour your heart and soul into it and somehow become celebrated by the masses and feted by the gaming literati that can't help but make one or two other amateur game developers look forward to an early grave while contemplating all this awesome stuff they don't have the time or talent to develop.

But I think I said as much elsewhere...