Archive for November, 2009

Son of the Great River Nominated for a Cybil Award

Posted in Son of the Great River on November 18th, 2009 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

I found out over the weekend that Son of the Great River was one of the nominees for the 2009 Cybils in the Young Adult Science Fiction/Fantasy category.  I’ll put up a more detailed post later that gives me a better chance to express how excited I am by this news.

The Emergent Majesty of Dwarf Fortress

Posted in Art, Digital Innovation, Epiphenomena, Games on November 16th, 2009 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

. .  . . . . .

. . @. . D

If  . . . . . makes you quiver in your boots, but maybe you’re no longer so worried about suffering Yet Another Stupid Death and instead you wish you could get together some friends to assemble a ballista and shoot the damn dragon, then you’re Dwarf Fortress material.

As an aside, if you have no idea what that @ symbol is supposed to be up there, then there’s not much I can do for you.  Back to Dwarf Fortress.

Dwarf Fortress is a Rogue-like virtual life simulator wherein you make a small society of midget alcoholics dig wells.  And tan hides.  And forge copper goblets.  And it has aquifers.  If you really feel like you need to know about the game itself, do what the Internet does and look it up on Wikipedia, because what it does isn’t nearly as exciting as what naturally occurs as the result of the interaction between simple rules-based elements.  The goal of Tarn Adams, the game’s creator, is to build a functioning world that creates emergent narrative.  While this kind of thing has been hinted at in various sandbox and world-domination games, Dwarf Fortress is the first to my knowledge that has built-in structures for creating a long-tailed history of a living world.  Your dwarves will engrave important events on their walls, and they’ll leave behind an abandoned hall (a la Moria) that an adventurer can later explore.  The world is built not only through realistic geological and environmental processes, but populated by rules-based ‘legendary’ people and states.

It’s currently a .28 release version, and while you’re menaced by rather moronic goblin sieges (Adams is as critical of them as anyone) you can still have an amazingly good time harnessing the killing power of magma, mining ore, smelting it, creating alloys and using that to fashion goods (And everyone knows I’m a big fan of ancient metallurgy, even the fantastical kind).  It’s not any one individual activity that makes Dwarf Fortress interesting, though, it’s that they’re all running together, to create the semblance of a functioning society that goes beyond a glorified ant farm and becomes almost (still not quite) like a story.  It’s quite an amazing thing.

Dwarf Fortress (Did I mention it’s free?)