Thursday, 1 April 2010

Dwarf Fortress 2 open beta coming soon (design notes - part two)

Sam had an agreement with Intel to allow him to license the Offset engine as open source, much as John Carmack had made available earlier iterations of the Doom and Quake engines, and he was willing to make the engine available as an alternative front end for Dwarf Fortress, provided Tarn opened up the DF code.

While Sam's suggestion was appealing, Tarn and I had both moved on considerably from the original Dwarf Fortress concept, and we decided instead to branch the DF code base, and split the work three ways. Tarn would continue to maintain the DF1 code, while I would work on the DF2 code with Sam consulting after hours as time was made available.

Why did I end up being lead developer? Real Life had thrown me a curve ball, in the form of the global financial crisis, and I had lost my job and had to move into my parents basement with my wife. The situation was highly embarrassing - why is why I've not mentioned anything about my personal life on my blog - but it meat I was able to spend a considerable amount of time integrating the code, and building a front end using the Offset engine. The visuals were so impressive that it made the only other 3d Dwarf Fortress viewer available at the time, 3Dwarf look like Populous.

I want to show you this segment from Sam McGrath's demo of Project Offset on Attack of the Show - mostly because I spent about 18 months with the dwarf render Sam shows off to start with. We ended up calling the model Frender because we used him so often as a place holder. He used to get pretty messed up by some of the AI bugs we encountered - if you've read the Dwarf Fortress development logs you'll have an idea of the kind of situations he found himself in.

With the procedural character generation algorithms we use in the beta, you'll have a 1 in 63,000,000,000 chance of running into an exact copy of Frender in the final game:

You don't see it on camera, but a friend of Sam's who was at the filming of the show says that he did an incredible double-take when the host mentions another game with the word Fortress in the title. He recovers by the time they cut back to him, but I wonder if this is where the seed of the idea was first planted.

We knew even from early game play testing, that we had something special, and Tarn started devoting his special project days at the end of the month checking in his 'downstream' Dwarf Fortress changes into upstream DF2 improvements.

It was about this time that Chris Hecker became involved.


James said...

Lies, damn lies, and April Fool's news

kikito said...

ha - my rss reader feeded me the other article before this one.

It would be so nice if this was true... at least partially.

Now seriously - are you involved at all with DF ?