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Rumour mill: Dwarf Fortress on locating artifacts

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing in a delightfully detailed simulation – that’s the Dwarf Fortress [official site] way. As developers Bay 12 continue to work on artifacts (as the first step on a long road towards creation myths), they’ve detailed a little more of their plans for how characters will remember where these legendary items are. It’s simple if they themselves hold it but gets complicated when it reaches the level of rumour and begins to fade with time. While Adam will tell you Dwarf Fortress is one of the best strategy games to play, I’m still delighted simply reading about its systems.

Bay 12 wrote a bit on Saturday about how the location of artifacts will be remembered as they move around the world, stolen and recovered and all that.

“There are six levels of knowing the location of a held artifact as it stands: having it yourself, seeing somebody else holding it at a location with your own eyes, hearing from somebody that somebody was holding it at a location recently, hearing from somebody that somebody has it (but not where), generally knowing in some legendsy fashion that it is said to be held by somebody, and not having any idea. The knowledge fades over a course of weeks and years while maintaining longer-term reputation effects, and it also has to constantly work in any new information and so forth according to their time stamps (at the individual, site gov, site culture and civ levels).”

And because this is Dwarf Fortress, it’s not nearly that simple. As the devs explained last month on their dev blog:

“The game needs to understand what’s going on when you, say, bring an artifact into view, place it on a pedestal, pick it back up, and then hand it to somebody. If there are people around, they’ll create witness reports (which later turn into rumors) for each of those, but the final artifact location is the most important, so I have to make sure the right old reports get cancelled and so forth, even if some of the events last longer or are missed by certain people and not others, and so on. For instance, if one of the witnesses only sees the part in that sequence where you pick the artifact up, they might think you are stealing it, which is sort of reasonable, but not if you just brought it back yourself moments earlier — they could afford to be a bit more circumspect, maybe just say something and you can be like, “nah, it’s cool, I just brought this back and want to give it to somebody”.”

Absurd. What a game! It’s one my favourite anecdote generators along with EVE, which is impressive considering it takes thousands of players to generate EVE’s stories.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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