Pick Me: A Game Of Dwarves Beta Signups

By Adam Smith on June 26th, 2012 at 2:00 pm.

I worry about dwarves sometimes. While I respect their commitment to digging up all sorts of metals and monsters, I can’t help but wonder if they’re happy or if they turn to drink to kill the pain. Do they have unions? Are there dwarves who live on the surface and lord it over those below? Will there ever be a Thatcher dwarf? A Game of Dwarves may not answer those questions, but it will allow you to explore and exploit randomly generated maps by ordering a gang of the bearded blighters around. Danger, as always, hides in the deep places. A closed beta is set to launch on the 13th of July and you can sign up now for a chance to join it.

Here is not the game in action.

Heigh ho!

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78 Comments »

  1. President Weasel says:

    If you’re playing Dwarf Fortress you can read detailed information on each dwarf, and then you won’t have to wonder whether they’re happy or they turn to drink. However, it does help if you can do the opposite of what Neo does in the first (and only) Matrix movie, and see the game world from the pattern of tiles. A similar game with actual graphics is a crazy idea that just might work.
    I’m intrigued by this Game of Dwarves, but I think I’d rather let others play the closed beta.

    Incidentally, I am fairly sure I read somewhere that “Dwarfs” is the correct plural, and “Dwarves” is something Tolkien made up because he thought it sounded Middle-Earth-ier.

    • Harlander says:

      The real plural is dwarrow, but it’s too late for that now.

      http://valarguild.org/varda/Tolkien/encyc/articles/d/dwarves/dwarfpluralof.htm

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        That reminds me that Gandalf actually said that once in the Peter Jackson movies when referring to Moria. I suppose they used dwarves everywhere else because it’s commonly used and using dwarrow instead might cause confusion.

    • Squirly says:

      OBSCURE NERD FACT: Tolkien got all antsy when the first american release of LOTR had “elves” changed to “elfs”. I think they did the same with dwarves.

      • EPICTHEFAIL says:

        And elven vs. elfin.

      • Apolloin says:

        He got even more antsy over the fact that they released the books in the US without making any kind of publishing or distribution deal with him first. Personally, I think the nail in the coffin was probably the Leonard Nimoy song about Frodo.

        Anyway, is anyone seriously surprised that a guy who wrote enormous books of pseudo-folklore in order to work out a language would be OCD over the etymology of the races he populated them with?

    • zeroskill says:

      I somewhat dought this will ever be as satisfying to play as Dwarf Fortress. And I don’t believe you can just recreate what Dwarf Fortress is. But to each their own.

      • Brun says:

        The two biggest problems with Dwarf Fortress are the interface (which is very cumbersome) and the graphics (which are unintuitive). An interface/graphics combination that would allow for something as simple as mousing over an object to get information about it would go a long way to making the game more approachable and less of a headache.

        • zeroskill says:

          I’ll take an unsophisticated interface and tilebased visuals any day if I get the freedom, unpredictability and complexity Dwarf Fortress offers in return. Thats why a lot of people love roguelikes like Cataclysm or Dwarf Fortress. But as I said, to each their own.

          • Brun says:

            Fortunately things like Interface and Graphic design are easy to change without disrupting the machine running behind them. There’s nothing wrong with the actual systems powering Dwarf Fortress, no one is saying they need to be changed.

          • HexagonalBolts says:

            the atrocious interface, the amazing unparalleled gruesome detail and the incredible procedural generation could only have been made by a megalomaniacal maths-doctorate troglodyte. Form and content are inseparable.

          • MistyMike says:

            I used to play lots of Nethack and ADoM but when I tried to play DF my brain just said I’ll pass.

        • Koozer says:

          I agree about the interface, but the ‘graphics’ are what allow your imagination to take over, and DF is all the better for it.

          • Brun says:

            I said the graphics were unintuitive, not that they were necessarily bad from a stylistic standpoint. As in, unless you’ve really been playing the game for a while, you aren’t going to recognize what every symbol means – and due to the clunky interface, finding out takes navigating through several menus. Again, something that an improved interface could solve.

            For example, I should be able to find out what a white ‘X’ means without having to leave the main screen, or even pausing the game.

          • zeroskill says:

            Most roguelikes that use ASCII visuals actually share pretty much the same letters and signs. It’s amazing how quickly everything makes sense once you learned to read ASCII. From that point of view, it is actually pretty intuitive. But I can see how somebody struggles to make sense of ASCII who has never touched an roguelike game before.

            I agree with Koozer. Playing a game with ASCII graphics really just inspires your imagination the same way like reading a book does.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          I’d argue that DFs biggest problem was the slowdown when things get busy/complicated.

          It’d probably benefit from the source code being worked on by someone who is a code genius rather than a mathematica genius. It’ll never happen though.

          Graphics & interface are just a matter of taste (and can be circumvented to a degree).

          • InternetBatman says:

            I think that once Tarn dies or stops developing (and I hope he doesn’t), the community will take over the game and it will take off in eight hundred different ways.

    • Joshua Northey says:

      The correct plural is whatever makes you understood to other people. Case closed.

      • Grygus says:

        Standards in language exist to facilitate just that. The problem with lazily saying, “ah, they knew what I meant,” is that sometimes they actually do not; much more efficient to have said exactly what you meant in the first place.

        • Vorphalack says:

          I could get behind that idea, if all languages hadn’t been in constant flux since humans learned vocal communication. Standards are transitory at best.

          • InternetBatman says:

            I don’t think people should be critical or arrogant about their knowledge of standards, but I think the standards themselves are good. Reading old books written in unstandardized English was enough to convince me of that.

          • Rusty says:

            Sure, they’re transitory (and the transition is itself interesting), but there’s a difference between noting that usage evolves over time, and deciding that means there’s no utility in the standards themselves. I’m happy to let linguistic usage evolve; I’m unhappy when that evolution is used as an excuse for sloppy thinking.

      • adammtlx says:

        But that means all you need is context and then you could fill in any random word.

        Say I get hit in the testicles by a bat.

        I say “Ouch, my fax machines.”

        You know what I’m saying.

  2. angramainyu says:

    Good luck to all those applying on making the short list.

  3. bglamb says:

    Well they require my full name and address, so given how often companies get hacked, this is one more signup I won’t be doing.

    When will companies stop asking for so much invasive info?

  4. roryok says:

    Will there ever be a Thatcher dwarf?

    That is just dumb. Why would a dwarf need to Thatch anything? They live underground!

  5. ATwig says:

    DWARF… FACE?

  6. Kestrel says:

    I just hope the dwarfs don’t look like lifeless filler art on release day.

  7. frightlever says:

    Obligatory Gnomoria big up.

    http://gnomoria.com/

    • pakoito says:

      Obligatory “Towns is better than Gnomoria” follow up.

      • frightlever says:

        I like’em both but Towns is making it’s own game while Gnomoria appears to be cloning DF with an isometric view, mouse GUI and full graphics.

        Honestly, I haven’t looked at Towns lately so I’m about 2 patches behind.

        • pakoito says:

          You can’t clone DF, that’s the problem. You can distill DF, tho, but it depends on how well you do it for the game to be good.

          • frightlever says:

            “You can distill DF” – beautiful way to put it. I applaud finding just the right word.

          • pakoito says:

            Lately I have been reading stuff from designers smarter than me, and some words just stick.

        • Torgen says:

          Towns is going to be completely transformed in the .50 patch. Actual elevations (so you can tunnel into the sides of mountains, trade caravans, and the beginnings of an economy system, to name a few things. I believe heroes are going to be more likely to team up and townies less likely to eat raw meat when cooked meat is available as well.

          • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            Then townies suck. What MAN passes up raw meat?

    • HexagonalBolts says:

      Are either of them in a particularly playable state or are they very much works-in-progress?

      • frightlever says:

        gnomoria has a demo that lets you sample 6 days in game play. Small download. It’s an alpha and pretty crashey for a lot of people. If that sorta thing worries you I’d wait.

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      I don’t care who wins, but I’m just happy we have a battle of the dwarflikes to look forward to. More, I say! :)

  8. HexagonalBolts says:

    Right – I’ve asked this before but without any results: what is the other top-down 3D fortress building game that RPS has reported on that is distinctly reminiscent of Dwarf Fortress? I vaguely remember there being videos showcasing the physics and that the fortresses were built on big floating islands…

  9. sinister agent says:

    I can’t help but wonder whether this will suffer from Dwarf Fortress fans, either those who want it to be another Dwarf Fortress, or those who want it to be Dwarf Fortress But With/Without X.

    • frightlever says:

      People who play Paradox strategy games >> DF fans

      It would be like Fallout 3 suffering because of NMA.

      Or Tribes suffering because… oh, never mind…

      • zeroskill says:

        “People who play Paradox strategy games >> DF fans”

        should read:

        Paradox fans >> People who play DF.

        Doesn’t that sound much better all of the sudden.

    • TariqOne says:

      Half the fun of liking hypercomplex things is knowing (and often crowing about) how much you love the hypercomplex thing and sadly shaking your head at the legions of smallfolk who just don’t have the horsepower to crack the hypercomplex shell and get to the sweetmeats contained therein.

      I’ll wager that at least 44% of self-professed DF fans never actually had fun playing the game, they just played it thinking, “oh my god, this is amazing! It’s so complex! If everyone weren’t such morons, all games could be this complex and the gaming industry wouldn’t be shit!” Actual game-playing “fun,” as classically understood, never entered the picture.

      [FULL DISCLOSURE: Despite (or perhaps because of) growing up with graph paper and note pads beside my Apple II, I'm a smallfolk. Fucking DF is just too inscrutable and daunting. I'm sure it's amazing in there somewhere, but my forehead isn't slanted in the right way, I guess.]

      Anyway, good to see some people iterating on the core idea. I’ll be interested to see what comes of this and the other whacks at the genre (if it qualifies as such).

      • sinister agent says:

        I love and admire Dwarf Fortress, and the attitude (in-game, anyway) of some of its fans is just so goddamn hilarious and wonderful it makes me wee. I’ve read a discussion about how to better defend a fortress and also deal with an explosion in its cat population that resulted in detailed blueprints of how to build and operate a kitten cannon. Dwarves themselves have forever become drunken, psychotic children whose first impulse in any new situation is to always build a monstrously huge feat of engineering that openly mocks the concept of “limitations”, all for absolutely no reason. And it’s never questioned. And why would it be? It’s just right that this is so.

        But.

        I kind of agree with you about how many people don’t really actually play it all that much. And one reason could be almost entirely responsible for that: The controls and UI are obnoxiously terrible, and no actually, I don’t respect the creator for refusing to improve them. They are objectively awful, and there is no benefit whatsoever to leaving them as they are, while improving them would make the game better for everyone involved. It’s a SERIOUS barrier to entry and enjoyment even long after entry. Far more so than the amazing, esoteric detail the game goes into.

        • TariqOne says:

          Don’t get me wrong — I totally agree. The game has always sounded like great gobs of smashing good fun. It’s just the goddamn wall of unnecessary inscrutability it hides behind. And the primary reason to resist functionality improvements is that a thing like interface improvements would go a long way to removing the “fun” of really liking complex shit that stupid people just can’t handle, man.

          And yes. I’m bitter and jealous that I’m too stupid to enjoy DF.

  10. razgon says:

    Link doesnt work but probably overload

  11. Author X says:

    If they’re like the dwarfs from the Discworld books, the dwarfs living the furthest down happily lord it over under those above.

    • pakoito says:

      You mean like Glod Glodson that works over at Stronginthearm industries? His mom (well, if that bearded *ahem* person was his mom) used to work with us the the shop and we shared some exotic food on Hogswatch eve.

  12. Jarvgrimr says:

    I really want to like this game… but the over-the-top adorableness of the Dwarves really makes me not like it. Gimme some big nosed, squat Paul Bonner inspired Dwarves, then we’ll talk.

    This emulates much that I enjoy from Dungeon Keeper (gods… that game was so cool…) but it doesn’t get that nice… grimy slightly folksy fantasy feel which I prefer to sickeningly cute Disney Dwarves.

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