MacBook Pro Cancels Benchmark: Interrupted by Flaming Hot Magma

Posted in Art, Buckeye, Digital Innovation, Epiphenomena, Eschatology, Fiction, Games on October 7th, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

Dammit, I just lost a piece of my life on MS Paint Adventures…  And for this?

Of course, I’m still not sure, but I think this method of storyteller as parser, whether community-oriented or feigned, is somewhere near Sword and Sworcery’s faux authentick.

Ah the unscrupulous mule! It understands war.

Posted in Art, Epiphenomena, Eschatology, Games on September 20th, 2010 by admin – Comments Off

Millions of books lining the shelves at Borders and stacking up in Googlespace and literature moves on…

One thing to make clear is that I try to make everything an interpretation of the game. If I went around inventing stuff it wouldn’t be fun anymore, because you wouldn’t know what I’m making up and what is the game being crazy. Plus, Dwarf Fortress is such an excellent story generator that it’s always more entertaining to write around what it gives me. It’s a fun creative limitation, and it’s the entire point of this LP, so I don’t take a lot of liberty with physical actions. If Dett has an amusing medical accident, I want the reader to know it actually happened. The only time I broke this rule was the cat counting joke in the first update and that happened because I was still working out the creative boundaries of the story (Exi’s cat did die, though). I do take liberty with social interactions because the extent of what you witness in the game is dwarves talking to each other in the dining hall, and I don’t see the harm in writing amusing conversations and creating these elaborate social dynamics between all the dwarves. That’s part of storytelling so it wouldn’t be the same without it, and really it’s still just interpretation there because all I’m doing is explaining what the dwarves say to each other on a day to day basis.

But in a lot of cases, the social interactions are usually also inspired by something. The Hyte and Dett dynamics with Mar were written because I always saw those two dwarves following her around. Exi and Behem are both miners, so of course they interact a lot. The still is right by the gemcutting station and the room where Frote trains animals, so of course Kesti interacts with them. Stuff that makes sense.

I also tend to play in ridiculous ways. For example, Squib being stationed to monitor the elf beasts in the first update happened. I didn’t want them interrupting work orders.

A couple of the more prominent Dwarf Fortress-based humor bits that aren’t covered by the screenshots and wouldn’t be clear to a non-Dwarf Fortress player:

1. Trame electing himself into several important positions is a reference to how players tend to make one dwarf responsible for the manager, broker, and bookkeeper duties.
2. Exi’s architecture design (and the entire concept of what dwarf culture considers good art) is a reference to how many Dwarf Fortress players just design their fortresses in efficient squares instead of more elaborate designs.
3. The mules showing up everywhere and bothering everyone is an in-game mechanic. Animals you don’t keep in cages are obnoxious.
4. The syntax of the Mittens engraving is a combination of an in-game description of a Forgotten Beast and a description of a crafted object.
5. Dett’s entire concept is based off how (in 31.03 – it’s since been patched) doctors were broken and would either horribly murder their patients or were unable to do anything productive for them. Honestly I would have been fine with hospitals never getting patched for that reason.
6. In the Dett update, she laments the lack of serrated discs and enormous corkscrews as hospital supplies. Those are in-game trap components.
7. Kesti’s reverence of the dining hall is an in-game mechanic. Someone posted earlier that dwarves will be happy despite the murder of all their friends and family so long as they ate in a fine dining hall recently. It’s true.
8. War mules are an in-game mechanic, too, but I had to mod the game files to make them trainable as war animals. This was the only modification to the base game.

You should really go give Tarn Adams a couple bucks…

And so we come full circle

Posted in Art, Digital Innovation, Epiphenomena, Eschatology, Games on August 17th, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

“Dwarf Fortress is really the kind of game that benefits third party viewers most when it’s transcribed and narrated and illustrated, rather than just watched.”

Frank Frazetta Died

Posted in Art on May 14th, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

I grew up with Frazetta’s vision of John Carter and Barsoom.  As a child, I associated Frazetta’s work with photography and it was a real shock for me to realize that some human being had painted those works.

Craig Adams put up an excellent essay on the man.

Tarn Adams Interview Up on HASTAC

Posted in Art, Digital Innovation, Games on May 11th, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

My interview with Dwarf Fortress developer Tarn Adams is up on HASTAC.  I tried to craft a series of questions that would allow Tarn to discuss issues important to various Digital Humanities scholars, and not just a maps-and-games kind of guy like me.  He obliged:

Whether or not a narrative’s representation is effective really depends on what sort of graphics an individual player prefers more than anything, and the time and care put into the narrative are going to matter a lot more than the particular methods used.  Even “@…D” can be evocative if you’ve been stoked with the proper context–it’s the most terrifying D you can imagine.  At the same time, your imagination on the spot in situations like that is limited to what information you’ve been given coupled with the existing archetypes etc. in your head, and an artist’s dragon could be something you wouldn’t normally imagine, and that’s great too.  To some extent, it depends on how much and in what way you want your escapism influenced by the artist, which is a matter of taste.  In Dwarf Fortress, I think the lack of a strict, fixed narrative lends itself a bit more to ASCII to me personally, but that can’t be the basis for any kind of absolute judgment.

Cellar door, oleomargarine; oleomargarine, cellar door

Posted in Art, Buckeye on April 27th, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

A headfoot I noticed:


I think he has too many eyes, don't you?

Commons-Based Peer Collaborative Pixel Pushing

Posted in Art, Digital Innovation, Eschatology on April 21st, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

Playpen allows you to draw some extremely pixelated Harkonnens, but it does have Dwarf Fortress.  Don’t try to rescue the beard mite, though, it’s a lost cause.

Kill It With Magma

Posted in Art, Digital Innovation, Games on April 8th, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

There’s a great interview with Tarn Adams up on Negative Gamer.  Tarn and his brother are creating Dwarf Fortress, as inexplicable as it is marvelous.  How marvelous and inexplicable and crazy?  Well, if Baudrillard was writing Simulacra and Simulation today, he’d use Dwarf Fortress as his example, not Crash.  Dwarf Fortress makes Crash look like Parcheesi.

The Transcendent Beauty of Radar Topography

Posted in Art, Epiphenomena on April 5th, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

Some days, when you’re working with spatial analytical software, looking for a way to shoehorn techniques used to study bighorn sheep into studying the historic gravities of power, you forget that you’re dealing with some of the most beautiful imagery to have graced the retina.  There’s something about radar topography and electron microscopy that reveal shapes and patterns both foreign and familiar.  Here’s Canada and the northern United States, round about the Rockies.

North America - 250m Resolution - Albers Equal Area Contiguous

Simplicity is Force

Posted in Art on March 17th, 2010 by Elijah Meeks – Comments Off

It wouldn’t be hyperbole to call this one of the most amazingly sung and choreographed pieces ever created.

Chunari Sambhal Gori

Unfortunately, the folks who posted it disabled embedding, and it seems to be the only full-length version on YT.  The male voice is Mohammed Rafi.