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Interview: The Making Of Dwarf Fortress
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Interview: The Making Of Dwarf Fortress

February 27, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 10 Next

The Wounds System & ASCII Graphics

TA: Yeah, we were role playing quite a bit, at least through '93. Cyberpunk was influential, as far as the damage system goes.

The body-part system.

TA: Yeah, Cyberpunk did not have hit points. You'd get shot, brain damaged, in the hospital permanently, roll up another character, back into it.

In most RPGs, hit points are something wholly replenishable. In DF, if a character loses a limb, he's not getting that back!

TA: Hit points are depressing to me. It's sort of a reflex to just have HP/MP, like a game designer stopped doing their job.

While I think a lot of people who stick with that kind of system do it in order to simplify the game, it does seem to be unexamined by many who use it.

TA: You should really question all of the mechanics in the game from the bottom up. I dunno. It really doesn't seem like a conscious decision sometimes.

Of course, somebody with a game with dwarves and elves and goblins should be careful, but I think about that too. I don't think it's a bad decision many times, but that's assuming it was a decision. I just don't see it as the case. And there are so many equally simple things you could do that are more inventive.

DF's way of doing it seems to work quite well for its purpose. Let's move on to graphics for the moment.

TA: If [Dwarf Fortress] had a fantastic interface and graphics tomorrow, it would really be something. I'd lose a few core people, but it would really be something.

Yeah, it'd be nice if they were there... on the other hand, I think ASCII has worked surprisingly well so far.

TA: I've squeezed almost as much as I can out of the letter E though. It's really getting iffy at this point.

I can go over to something more Moria-esque. Sort of a class-based system, like "feline=f," instead of first letter + color being inline with reality with size = caps. That would get me a little more mileage perhaps, but the problem would remain. Not that small graphical tiles are any better.

But I don't entertain such thoughts for the time being, since Armok died this way. I just tell myself that DF graphics are like a storyboard. Once the storyboard is done, you can make the movie if you want, but not before. And with my creeping specifications, we just keep going with ASCII.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 10 Next

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