Reveal: Double Fine’s Sci-Fi Dwarf Fortress, Spacebase DF-9

By Nathan Grayson on October 15th, 2013 at 6:00 pm.

Double Fine does not, cannot, will not stop. Not for me, not for you, not for Death (which is why we’ll probably never see another Grim Fandango). Recently, we’ve seen the international house of chuckles both branch out from and return to its roots in Massive Chalice and Broken Age, respectively, but let’s not forget about Amnesia Fortnight. Last year, Tim Schafer and co teamed up with Humble Bundle to let players vote on prototypes, essentially deciding which games would win a golden ticket into full-scale development. Spacebase DF-9 is set to be the first fruit of those labors, and what a delectable thing it’s looking to be. Think Dwarf Fortress, but (for now) a bit simpler, far easier to parse, and in space. Oh, and it should be on Steam Early Access riiiight abouuuut… now. Video walkthrough with project lead JP LeBreton, interview, and more below. 

(And here’s a trailer for a closer, much cleaner look at Spacebase’s graphical style and interface.)

RPS: You’re not just going to Steam Early Access. It’s how you’ve decided to announce your game. Obviously, getting your community in early is important to you, but how so? Are they going to decide the game’s entire direction, or just smaller aspects of it?

LeBreton: Definitely the latter. Broken Age’s Kickstarter, unlike many Kickstarters since then, was just Tim going, “There’s a game I want to make. I don’t know quite what it is yet, but do you trust me? By donating, you say you want me to make another adventure game.” And of course, the answer was yes. People wanted another adventure game, even though they didn’t know what it was. But there’s still a lot of implicit trust there [of Tim].

But I think, generally speaking, you’ve really got to know what kind of game you’re making and where you want to go with it. As a creator. Otherwise, even if you’re getting great feedback from your community, if you don’t have guiding principles with which to interpret that feedback, you can really end up in the weeds. And I think there are some games that have probably ended up there. So I think we know where we’re going and those sorts of ideals – what’s really interesting about the game. That stuff, we’re trusting our gut on. But all the other stuff, like usability and specific features, that’s the sort of stuff that we absolutely want to listen to our players on.

And a lot of times, the stuff players give you feedback on will echo where you’re already headed internally as a team. We have a super collaborative process where everyone contributes design input, and that’s been really good. We’ve benefited from more than just my expertise as a designer.

RPS: Dwarf-Fortress-style simulations are great on many levels, but arguably at their most entertaining when everything’s going spectacularly wrong. What kind of terrible horrors lurk in the deepest reaches of space?

LeBreton: As an example of one of the bad things that can happen, some of the people who’ll immigrate to your base, you might not know where they’ve come from. You can look in their spacebase log. and it might occasionally say, “Yeah, I’m just not feeling right. Must be something I ate, I guess.” And then, before long, boom, you get a parasite bursting out of them. And now you’ve got this horrible carnivorous monster loose in the base.

Other times, you’ll go into a derelict ship, and you’ll find a few dead people and be like, “Oh gosh, what happened here?” You might find some monsters or, like, a party of enemy raider aliens or something like that. Those sorts of things can just show up when a ship docks at your base or something like that. So yeah, stuff like that.

RPS: What do you have planned as the most catastrophic thing that could possibly happen?

LeBreton: We don’t have meteor strikes in right now, [but we hope to]. That’s probably not the most catastrophic thing, though. That’s the interesting thing about this game: because it’s so driven by emergent variables, even the most innocuous thing could [spell doom for everyone]. One person getting unhappy could end up being this huge thing. Like, in Dwarf Fortress, there are these things called Tantrum Spirals. If one person dies, and another character was friends with that person, they can go into this tantrum. They’ll start being angry, and then they’ll make other people around them angry until your entire base is just at each other’s throats and killing each other.

In Spacebase, one person being unhappy could lead to a fire, and if you didn’t plan your base well, that fire could [ruin everything]. Fires can burn through the hull if you don’t put them out quickly, and then you’ve got this breach in your base. So then you have to send people out into space to repair that breach, and all the while oxygen is leaking out. Maybe that taxes your oxygen system in a way that leads you to run out of that.

So yeah, in these emergent sim type games, it’s always the dominoes. Any one of those things could be the initial domino. But we’ve built these systems to lend a gravity and inertia to it. The oxygen system was one of the first things we added to it because, OK, you’re in deep space, and what’s interesting about that? The film Gravity was this amazing reminder that, oh yeah, right, when you’re in space you’re really, really worried about air and pressure. So the future focus of the game is going to be about building those systems that allow for more things to go wrong but also give players tools to stay on top of that chaos.

RPS: Are all species star chickens, or was that just a bug in your demo code? Please say it wasn’t a bug.

LeBreton: Everybody’s secretly a chicken. There’s gonna be a big reveal: “By the way, you were chickens the whoooooole time.”

No, this was just a bug with our little portrait graphic thing. There are totally chickens, though. I promise you there are star chickens.

RPS: How deep do you want these systems to go? How many tiny, weird little factors will be influencing the people and un-people on your base? Like, I’ve read so many stories of insane possibilities in Dwarf Fortress. Dwarves going insane, killing their best friends, smelting their bones into armor, and then getting killed by resulting ghosts. That kind of thing. 

LeBreton: Yeah, exactly! So I think there’s a similar thing here, although that example sounds like it comes from Dwarf Fortress’ people simulation. One thing we want to add in an update (hopefully coming very soon) is the concept of objects people carry around, because Dwarf Fortress’ bases – in addition to being for people and structures – are full of stuff. You can have, like, a wheel of cheese or a kitten skull. And all these items become props in this much larger thing of meaning. So getting support for that in is really important. We’re not there yet, but we hope to be soon.

RPS: Some games have followed in Dwarf Fortress’ footsteps, but not all that many, in the grand scheme of things. And of them, few have really left a mark. Why do you think that is?

LeBreton: I think there’s some games that have come up that haven’t gone away Things like Prison Architect and RimWorld that are still in active development and have a lot of potential to cross over. It’s really partly just a matter of time, because it takes a lot of time to build in all the simulation complexity.

In Dwarf Fortress’ case, it was kind of the Minecraft factor too. The person who did it first did it first, and the people who made subsequent games like it are digging around for their own takes on it. And also, if you’re a guy in the middle of Kansas or wherever Dwarf Fortress’ creator is and you really do have ten years to spend embroidering a game with this absurd level of simulation complexity, you can do so much. And now he’s going on this huge odyssey through procedural world generation and armies marching and just all this stuff. Having the time to explore that counts for a whole lot.

RPS: Is that where Steam Early Access enters the picture for you? I mean, I’ve spoken with devs and critics who think the big downfall of these early access programs will come when games launch and no one cares enough to play them anymore. The thinking is that they’ll have already gotten their fill during alpha or beta. But if the simulation grows enough…

LeBreton: That’s why alpha funding makes sense for us. If you get that initial fanbase, then you can keep developing it. What we’ve seen is that, if you do have that critical mass of gameplay and simulation interest, it’s not a dwindling amount of interest [over time]. It’s an increasing amount of interest, because your game becomes capable of more – telling more interesting stories. It’s attracting new people.

I mean, I found out about Dwarf Fortress in 2007 and first started playing it in 2008. It was still at an early point there. Since then, it’s [gone much further]. It recently got written up by The New York Times and went into a museum exhibit. So in a lot of simulation games, the developer just needs time to develop stuff. It’s weird. It’s kind of this Sistine-Chapel-like labor where, every day, you add some little new thing to the game. Some wrinkles to it. And interesting little stories can fall out of those wrinkles.

RPS: If all the stars align and you get everything the way you want it, how long are you hoping to work on new stuff for Spacebase? 

LeBreton: [laughs] There’s no specific time in mind because estimating how long it would take to make a game is one of the hardest things to do in the universe, apparently. I think it’s more just, like, you’ll see on our website that we’ll have the full dev plans. And we’re probably gonna add stuff to that and also take some stuff away from that. That’s the most expanded version of the game, so when all of that is in, we could conceivably call it “done.” There’d be no more we could possibly add to the game.

But until then, it’s like we’re just alpha one, alpha two, alpha three – however long we can keep going, based on how much people like it.

RPS: Do you plan on developing other Amnesia Fortnight games this way, or does each one from the most recent batch have its own path to completion?

LeBreton: Alpha funding isn’t a panacea for all types of games. I think it was just a particularly good fit for this one. There are other games that are probably more story driven.

Brand manager/producer/giant Greg Rice: Yeah, I think it’s definitely whatever’s best for each game. In this case, it was the perfect fit.

RPS: Are the other Amnesia Fortnight games in active development right now, or are you only doing one – in this case, Spacebase – at a time?

Rice: This is the only one that’s currently in active development.

RPS: Thank you for your time.

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91 Comments »

Top comments

  1. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    I keep reading the URL for the game’s site as “Space-Based F9″, and imagining a solitary function key floating in the starry void.

  1. GameCat says:

    Uhm, so now we’re moving from “let’s make a game… with zombies!” to “let’s make a game… in space!”?

    • Lone Gunman says:

      I fail to see a problem.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        Or logic behind the statement. Where is the sudden outbreak of THING BUT WITH SPACE games, exactly?

        • onsamyj says:

          Well, almost every game has some space in it. Most of them have time, too.

          • Premium User Badge

            RedViv says:

            Ah. Let’s put up a hypothesis about every gaming person’s backlog creating a paradox in possibility time, leading to an increase in perceived space!

      • GameCat says:

        I also didn’t seen any problems in the very first days of gaming zombie outbreak.

        Now it’s “another zombie game how cool except it’s not”.

      • Furienify says:

        For real! So many sci-fi/cyberpunk/space games in development this year, I’m practically drooling already.

    • ShadyGuy says:

      Galciv 3 confirmed!

    • gwathdring says:

      Good games are good. I’m not tired of good Space Opera books, comics, video games, board games … I’m not tired of good zombies games, books comics films (mostly because there are so few good ones to be tired of, OH SNAP).

      I love truly original stuff as much as the next fellow, but barring an entirely innovative, genre-breaking subject matter … why not zombies? Why not space? What would you rather we do pirates? Ninjas? Dinosaurs? WWII? The Crimean War? Vietnam? What?

      Jesus tapdancing christ on a rainbow-vomiting robot dolphin …

    • Yglorba says:

      The problem with the Zombie Game Outbreak is that zombies are such a tired, limited concept. They’re all the same, that’s the whole point. So there’s only so much you can do with a zombie game — they draw their inspiration, ultimately, from a single movie, Night of the Living Dead, and how many Night of the Living Dead videogames does the world need?

      “Space” is a much broader concept; there’s a big difference between a game based on Star Trek, Star Wars, War of the Worlds, etc. Starbound and DF-9 both theoretically share the same ancestry (DF-9 is directly based on Dwarf Fortress; whereas Dwarf Fortress begat Minecraft begat Terraria begat Starbound), but they’re going to be vastly different games both mechanically and thematically.

      • gwathdring says:

        I don’t know. I’ve seen a variety of takes on Zombies in various mediums. Not as wide a variety as “Space” but that’s because space is a setting and zombie is a specific type of thematic furniture within a setting.

        I’m not bored of ottomans. There’s only so much you can do with an ottoman, but occasionally someone does something cool and surprising with it. But you know? I like the basic version. It works just fine, as long as it fits with the rest of the furnishings and it’s well built and such. So with zombies.

        • CPLDANABD says:

          I was really confused because for about half that comment I thought you were talking about an Ottoman person, as in from the Ottoman empire, rather than a rug, at which point I was beginning to question exactly what kind of furniture you have.

          • gwathdring says:

            Pay no attention to the man behind the man being used as a curtain.

            In the US at least, an ottoman is not a rug, though, but a foot-rest by way of a couch. Typically it’s the same height as the couch seat so you can extend your legs straight out. One of these:

            http://overlysuspicius.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/homestead-ottoman.jpg

          • Premium User Badge

            jrodman says:

            In the heyday of the American Empire, did you lot import turks to serve as footrests?

          • Panda Powered says:

            It is not widely known [1], but in colonial times the settlers offered their delicious Ottomans to the American natives during Thanksgiving. In the 19th and 20th century trends were shifting to succulent Europeans with Hamburgers and French fries etc.
            During WW2, D-day was a common abbreviation of “Dinner-day” among US troops.[2]
            President Kennedy tried to calm American-European relations during a visit in West Berlin by claiming that he had at some time been a pastry.

            I could make a joke about his shooting but that would be in Bad Taste.

          • Cleave says:

            You mean a poof? :)

  2. Squirrelly says:

    This was by far the most exciting game in the Double Fine bundle! So excited they’re going to get to really do it!

    • stump sock says:

      I was shocked at how much of a “game” the prototype already was. Some of the others were neat ideas and fun to mess with, but Spacebase was absurdly far ahead of the pack in terms of features and completion.

      • Acorino says:

        Black Lake and Autonomous felt more complete and playable to me. Still, the Spacebase DF-9 prototype was already captivating and showed potential.

  3. mrmalodor says:

    I think I just came in my pants.

  4. onsamyj says:

    No Kickstarter? I’m disappointed.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      I’m not. The last thing we need is Double Fine putzing around with another kickstarter.

    • Awesumo says:

      Yes, because charging three times the sale price for the early beta and throwing in a Digital wall paper and Digital art they had lying about is a great idea.

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        It is, if you’re not “charging” or selling anything but rather asking for donations and giving a token reward to encourage people to do it.

  5. Lone Gunman says:

    DF + Space + some kind of decent UI = squeeeeeeeee!

  6. Premium User Badge

    tikey says:

    Between this and GalCivIII I must say that this is a good day for gaming.

  7. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I wonder which bar it is this time that served for the codename.
    €: Oh oh Steam is slow to update the product page, so I’ll assume Codename Rickshaw is going to turn into Spacebase in a few minutes.

    • belgand says:

      That would be Rickshaw Stop. They’re more of a concert venue than a bar though.

  8. bladedsmoke says:

    I think the problem with devs saying “let’s make a game like Dwarf Fortress!” is that Dwarf Fortress 1) has been in development for 10 years and isn’t even half done, 2) is programmed by a twisted genius, and 3) is the most in-depth and detailed simulation in history.

    Unless a dev is really willing to devote a similar amount of time and effort, they shouldn’t claim to be aspiring to that, because what they make will inevitably look like a shallower imitation. This kind of immersive sim is a genre, and devs shouldn’t be ashamed to say, “hey, we’re going to make a game in this genre!” without having to constantly liken it to a very very unique game.

    I’m starting to wonder if they only do it because they know that a horde of people will immediately think “THIS LOOKS LIKE DWARF FORTRESS, BUT WITH GRAPHICS AND A USABLE UI!” Which, yeah, would be great, but the whole point of DF is that it’s so complex and so ambitious that attempting to fix the UI is pointless until the game is actually finished (which it won’t be for another 10 years at least). Also, graphics have been in the game for a very long time, if you bother to download a decent tileset.

    So yeah. Just make an immersive sim, devs! It’s a great genre! Don’t do yourself a disservice by pretending to go toe-to-toe with the sheer complexity and depth of a game like DF – just make a fun game that stands on its own merits, no-one will mind!

    • Moraven says:

      Depends what you define as half done… all games are half done most of the time because features are cut or added later post launch.

    • BTAxis says:

      The graphics in dwarf fortress have the annoying property that they’re a straight mapping from ASCII to a tileset. That means you can have EITHER good looking text OR good looking terrain, but not both. Yes, there’s TTF font support for some menus, but chunks of text tend to disappear if you use that. It’s not a huge problem, but I find it grates a little.

    • Frank says:

      Both business folks and indie fans like the idea of DF better than “immersive sims” (which probably call to mind financial risk for the business crowd and mean nothing to the indie fans).

      Anyway, “like” doesn’t have to mean “exactly like”; it is common to use it as a shorthand reference, and complaining about those who do so is kinda pedantic, right?

    • Solomon Grundy says:

      At the same time, you always seem to do largely the same thing each time you play Dwarf Fortress. I’m more excited by the idea of having different events that affect gameplay than having the state of Urist #84′s left toe simulated to perfection.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Yes, Dwarf Fortress was programmed by one person putting ten years of effort in. What happens when twenty people start making a game, putting the same amount of effort in? What happens when those twenty people have a guide that already solved a lot of hard problems, and is open about how he did it? What happens when a lot of those ten years of effort was spent implementing, bugfixing, and tearing out features rather than starting from a feature list? Dwarf Fortress is not an impossible feat.

      The limiting factor right now is the market and computers. Tarn Adams is able to live on the very cheap end of things in one apartment with his brother and cat. We have no indication that the market will bear a full game with graphics that are monetarily and computationally expensive. This could end as an unfinished prototype.

      • Yglorba says:

        The thing is, software design is not just a matter of “put twenty people on it, get twenty times as much product.” Beyond a certain point, putting more coders on a project is like putting more women on a pregnancy. Getting people working together requires a tight plan, which can then become confining.

        The fact that Toady works on DF alone has allowed him to implement things that, in a larger project, would break the plan used to synchronize the different coding and design teams.

        • BTAxis says:

          On the flipside, Dwarf Fortress is notorious for its FPS issues. I wonder if that’s a result of poor optimization and/or implementation choices due to only one programmer being on the job.

          • The Random One says:

            Cats. It’s because of cats.

          • MellowKrogoth says:

            It’s because of the massive amount of simulation that’s done, between pathfinding, heat and fluids, thousands of items and relationships being tracked, and more. Most games out there don’t even attempt to simulate 1% of what’s done in DF.

            I don’t think Tarn Adams is bad at optimization, but let’s say he was better: he’d just fill the extra space with more simulation, and the game wouldn’t run any faster :P .

          • Belsameth says:

            One of the big things is that DF is not build for multi core processing, and never will be, so a lot of our fancy computers just go to waste. There’s a lot of 10 year old legacy crap we’ll have to deal with in DF which will never get fixed, mostly because Tarn is alone…

  9. Maxheadroom says:

    No ones mentioned Startopia yet then?

    • Stromko says:

      Personally I’m surprised no one has mentioned Star Command, which is also on an alpha-funding platform (Kickstarter not Steam Early Access), already on iOS and Android, but not yet on PC. They look like extremely similar games and certainly offer some similar, specific experiences (crew being sucked out of airlocks), so what sets them apart are the numerous unknowns that I can’t discern from either’s pitch video.

      Err except Alpha 1 might already be available for SpaceBase if one buys. I’m torn, because I funded StarCommand many moons ago and I don’t yet know if it will be a disappointment for me (a friend of mine with an iOS device is already saying it’s ‘meh’).

      If I buy SpaceBase DF-9 and it’s the better of the two, I won’t be able to give StarCommand a proper shot and I will make my funding a total waste. If StarCommand is the better of the two, then I could be wasting 20$ right now. They both appear so similar that I feel it is likely I only have space (hah) for one of them in my life.

      Arguably, if I want to get the most time-killing enjoyment for my money, I would want to play the worse one first and then upgrade to the better one later. On the other hand, if I want to maximize my fun units per time, I would only put a significant time into the better of the two, therefore I might want to have them both side-by-side to compare and decide where to put my hours.

      Perhaps I’m overthinking this given it’s only a 40$ investment, total, and there aren’t really many other games competing for my time right now, but, money and time aren’t infinite. Bah. Curse artistic studios of all stripes (movies, comics, games) for constantly putting out similar things such that they come out at almost the same exact time and making us choose which we want based on murky, uncertain differences! Now even the Indies are doing it, if DoubleFine’s funding could arguably make it an indie.

      • Stromko says:

        Actually SpaceBase does sound more like Startopia in its pitch, now that I’ve wisely taken the time to actually watch the video rather than just go off my impressions from screenshots and the article. The idea of catering to citizens rather than a crew is what pushes it that way. It only looks, in terms of perspective and certain mechanics, more like StarCommand.

        I think I might’ve been sold the instant I saw that your base starts from a tiny little pod, rather than them giving you a few rooms to start with. The latter approach always bothered me in sandbox games, be it Tropico or a lot of DungeonKeeper levels. In a sandbox sim game I’d like to start with as close to an absolutely blank slate as possible.

        Honestly I don’t have a problem with games being similar, it only irks me when I’m caught between two new potentially great games that I don’t concretely know the differences between. This is very much like if I’d been interested in Prototype and Infamous years back, but I only had pre-release hype to judge them on. Once everyone got their hands on the two games the differences between the two ‘Super(hero?) Origin Story’ games were very clear, but we’re not at that point with these two space’em’ups yet.

  10. Premium User Badge

    LTK says:

    Dwarf Fortress may be hard, but at least it’s not in space. I feel like they’re not emphasising the ‘in space’ part enough. I mean, at this point it’s basically just a base-building game with oxygen management. The ground beneath your feet just happens to be invisible. There’s no notion of gravity (or lack thereof), orbiting, radiation exposure (solar flares?), heat, and all that stuff. I hope they’re going to add at least a few of those things to the game.

    • Reefpirate says:

      Well, along with the oxygen problem, they are also simulating being sucked out into space by the vacuum when there’s a hull breach. I’ve had it happen by accident when people misuse the airlock a few times… Also the fires and lazer blasts that tend to suck entire rooms of people out into space.

  11. brat-sampson says:

    SPACEBASEFACE!

  12. Frank says:

    I can’t remember what the demo for this game played like at all, while looking back at the list, I can remember the rest quite clearly. I don’t know what that says about the game… https://www.humblebundle.com/double-fine

    • Noviere says:

      It probably says more about what interests you.

      • Frank says:

        Yeah, that’s my guess. I’ll be keeping half an eye on the game, nonetheless.

    • The First Door says:

      The prototype was a bit… disappointing, I thought. But, I think they were the most ambitious with that they were trying to build, so it’s understandable it was a bit bare bones!

  13. chiablo says:

    The graphics remind me a lot the Crusader games from the 90′s. Which is a great thing! :D

  14. kitzkar says:

    Why aren’t the space people floating around inside the base? This is definitely fake.

  15. Premium User Badge

    strangeloup says:

    I keep reading the URL for the game’s site as “Space-Based F9″, and imagining a solitary function key floating in the starry void.

  16. Dozer says:

    As an example of one of the bad things that can happen, some of the people who’ll immigrate to your base, you might not know where they’ve come from. You can look in their spacebase log. and it might occasionally say, “Yeah, I’m just not feeling right. Must be something I ate, I guess.” And then, before long, boom, you get a parasite bursting out of them. And now you’ve got this horrible carnivorous monster loose in the base.

    Australian politics simulation!

    • Premium User Badge

      Jackablade says:

      That sounds like far too good a disguise. Our horrible carnivorous monsters tend more towards the groucho glasses or pile of horrible carnivorous monsters in a trench coat variety.

  17. Flappybat says:

    This looks more like Space Colony than Dwarf Fortress: http://www.gog.com/game/space_colony_hd

    • LionsPhil says:

      Ooh, good call. I’d remembered Startopa, and bits of this look almost single-player SS13, but that one had slipped my mind.

      (Did anyone get anywhere on the damn combat path? Those £*^$(%^&) worms…)

    • Stardreamer says:

      How did I not know about this??

      Thx, Flappybat!

  18. Premium User Badge

    DrScuttles says:

    Oh cool, the prototype was rather fun. And in a way it’s almost refreshing that they’re not kickstarting this one. Perhaps I shall have to start a campaign consisting solely of myself to badger JP LeBreton on twitter until he adds in a David Lynch style Space Red Room complete with Space Dwarf, Space Unicorn and Space Wow BOB Wow.

  19. stele says:

    This is a 2D game “in space”. The gameplay mechanics would be exactly the same if it was set practically anywhere else.

    • Premium User Badge

      FriendlyFire says:

      So? You could say that of many games. A lot of space sims (especially arcade ones) are basically flight sims with smaller wings and no air. FTL is pretty much a 2D game in space, yet the fact it was in space added flavor and a feel to it that wouldn’t be found if it had been, I dunno, at sea.

      There’s plenty of game mechanics which are directly related to the space setting, namely the oxygen dynamic, hull breaches, generating food and obtaining resources, and that’s just from an alpha standpoint. It’s not because it isn’t in full glorious 3D and shaped like the ISS that it’s not being influenced by the space setting. In fact, I hope they keep adding things to think about, like gravity generation, ships docking or boarding the station, etc.

      • stele says:

        I just find building 2D-only structures in space limiting. It would have been much more interesting if I could build multi-level structures. It could just as easily been set in the ocean.

        • Belsameth says:

          THats actually on the .plan. But what prevents you from building multi story structures not on space? Merely adding z-layers doesn’t make it spacey. Airlocks (also hull breach! \o/) does tho, regardless of z-levels.

        • Frank says:

          I find playing a game set in space from my computer on Earth limiting.

    • The Random One says:

      I have to agree. Considering that they’re claiming to be influenced by Dwarf Fortress – a game of deep mines that go as far down as literally hell, of mountains hollowed out of of lava-tipped towers of obsidian – being unable to put stuff on top of other stuff is quite ridiculous, almost as much as the slab-shaped asteroids.

      • malkav11 says:

        Dwarf Fortress was 2D for -years-.

        • MellowKrogoth says:

          And I’m still not convinced that the move to 3D was such an improvement. It makes fortresses a hell of a lot more complex to design and manage, especially with the current UI. And you can’t even visualize your 3D structures without an external program.

          • Premium User Badge

            Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

            And my masterfortress I built with massive warehouses in the upper levels didn’t work for obscure pathing reasons :(

          • Stromko says:

            Dwarf Fortress was just a lot easier to learn in general back in the 2D era. It wasn’t just the Z levels, but that every fortress was guaranteed to encounter certain features and have a mix of resources so players could plan around that. The introduction of a proper world-map with varying features is a big stumbling block to newbies, before they even found a fortress.

            That said I would say it did make it a deeper, richer game in the long run, for instance exponentially increasing the variety of fortress designs that are possible. It made Dwarf Fortress more Dwarf Fortressy, increasing both the good and bad; deeper than hell, and about as scary to new players.

            I think we already see some of that added complexity in Spacebase DF9, the presentation is just a lot more intuitive. To compare, to find a dangerous site or one with the resources I desire in Dwarf Fortress, I plug things into a search engine while referring to a wiki that tells me what the heck the game is hinting at (heck before I even have the world generated, I’ve already poked around with a few dozen generator settings to raise the likelihood of finding the site I want). With Spacebase, I hover the mouse around trying to get the levels of mineral density, visitation frequency, danger, and derelicts that I want.

            On the other hand there isn’t nearly as much complexity in Spacebase DF9 so far. There’s no volcanoes, rivers, sand, clay or their equivalent in DF9 so far, so there’s no reason for a complex world generation algorithm and an equally complex site-finding process.

    • Themadcow says:

      Whoa there buddy…

      FTL as a sea based game you say? I LOVE IT!

      Boarding? Check. Flooding instead of fire? Check. Cannon upgrades? Check. Tropical storms instead of meteor storms? Check.

      That’s either a fantastic mod right there, or a whole new game of awesomeness.

      (waits for someone to tell him it already exists)

      • Koozer says:

        Id say flooding instead of oxygen loss. The effects are identical. Just make it ‘flow’ faster than oxygen and replace the O2 system with sump pumps or something.

        • stele says:

          And that’s my point. Everyone is losing their shit because it’s “in SPACE, man!”, but limiting it to 2D doesn’t seem appropriate. Might as well be in the ocean or even in a mountain – been there done that.

          • Nick says:

            Aliens. Also why couldn’t you have multiple levels in the sea or mountains? Why would that suddenly make it more spacey? Why set anything anywhere beyond thematic desire?

  20. Moraven says:

    Now to wait until it goes out of scope and is never finished.

    But on a serious note, I would rather take my KS money from the DF adventure game and fund this instead.

    • frightlever says:

      Yeah, I quickly checked the Steam forums and there’s clearly potential but not an actual lot to do yet so people are rather predictably complaining that a game barely in alpha isn’t feature-rich. Meh. I can wait.

  21. MOKKA says:

    I think this is the first time I was able to predict the development of a game, before it was announced.

    Sadly no one was around to hear my prediction when I made it.

  22. Engonge says:

    Wow, currently one of the top sellers on steam

  23. geldonyetich says:

    When I saw it was a pre-release of yet another Dwarf Fortress clone being made, like Gaia and Rimworld, I was interested in playing it.

    When I saw it was being made by Double Fine, the money fairly lept from my wallet to get the chance.

    Having dabbled with it a bit, I’m going to stay they have a very solid engine completed and are at the point where all they need to do is add more to do, balance, enhance, and stop the pesky thing from crashing. I’ve bought into worse pre-releases.

  24. SummonMew says:

    It says in Alpha and the base code and idea are solid. If buying it helps it get made then yay. The more giant development companies that get cut out imo the better. Yay Double Fine.