Monday, February 20, 2012

A Dwarf Fortress setback

(click image to embiggen)

After almost a year, Tarn Adams ("Toady One") released a new version of Dwarf Fortress last week. I was anxious to start a new fort, because it's been a long time since I played the game.

Most of the big changes have to do with Adventure Mode, rather than Dwarf Mode (the main gameplay of actually building a dwarf fortress), but I hadn't even played the version before this. I hadn't seen pottery, beekeeping, pastures, shearing, poultry, and lots more.

I was so anxious to play, I didn't even wait for an update to the Lazy Newb Pack. (Note that a new version is expected today, I believe. I highly recommend it.) I just loaded up the Phoebus graphics set - sorry, I just can't do ASCII - and set out to do my part for dwarvenkind.

Unfortunately, as expected in a major release like this, there were bugs. And apparently, one of them corrupts save files. I haven't had any problems, but Toady suggests that it will only be a matter of time before I do. He's released a new version already and strongly recommends starting a new game.

Well, that's the way it goes. I was going to post an annual update of my Delerazin ("Steelwatch") fortress, an outpost of the Sword of Murdering, but I hadn't quite finished my first year yet. No problem. I'll just start a new fortress.

If you're interested, the image above is from the fall of 251. We embarked on a swampy plateau - cold and ice-covered, when we arrived in early spring - which is split in half by a very deep ravine. A river comes from the north, falling in a massive waterfall to join another river far below. It was an eminently defensible location.

Unfortunately, it was also a very dangerous location. In at least two separate incidents, one of my starting dwarves and four of my war dogs were swept over the falls to their death in just the first few weeks.

(Interestingly, I didn't see that happen, and apparently, neither did my other dwarves. They noticed the missing dwarf and dogs after a week, but we still had to search for their bodies to find out what had happened to them. Fun, huh?)

And that was after we had the first bridge up. So one of my priorities was building a wall which would block my remaining dwarves from the river entirely. (Note that the river freezes in the winter, so we would have needed the wall, anyway, just not so soon.)

In the image above (click to enlarge it), there are two downward stairs in the center of my outdoor farm. Everything else, for the most part, is temporary - including that big trade depot near the river. With the bridges raised (one of those bridges was also just temporary), that whole area would be well protected from anything but flying creatures, but it was still going to be just a back-entrance to my farm and pastures (eventually, entirely surrounded by walls, with archery fortifications on top).

As usual with dwarves, most of the fortress was going to be underground. But I've really wanted to build a massive above-ground structure. That's difficult to do at first, because it takes a lot of work. But it's also difficult to do later, because it's hard to protect your workers from attack (especially, missile attack). Still, it would be a lot of fun.

We had two small waves of migrants in the summer and fall, so we were up to 21 dwarves by the beginning of winter. And we were trading with our first dwarven caravan, too, which was nice. I'd already built a beautiful marble dining hall far below ground, with a bridge leading past the waterfall (dwarves enjoy looking at such things) to their marble bedrooms.

It was all looking pretty fancy. I was building everything out of stone blocks, much of it in marble. In fact, my biggest problem might have been our rapid increase in wealth. Wealth attracts migrants, and large fortresses attract enemies. (And enemies mean fun!)

But I guess I'll be starting a new fort today, in a new world. Let me tell you, it takes a long time to even get to a new embark location. And then, it takes a long time - it takes me a long time, at least - to decide exactly where I want my new fortress to be and how I can start to build it.

It's fun, too, of course. I love starting a new fortress. But it's really time-consuming. So I don't know when I might post something about that.

But starting over is something Dwarf Fortress players expect. The game's motto is "Losing Is Fun." In fact, there is no way to actually win the game. You can only lose it. Or just decide to start over with a new fortress.

Frankly, there was a point where I wondered if I'd need to start over soon, anyway, just because of that dangerous location. Next time,... I just don't know. I really liked that setup, with the cliff edge and the waterfall. On the other hand, I don't want to start over with the exact same situation.

But we'll see. There are a lot of options in Dwarf Fortress. The problem isn't finding something that looks fun, it's trying to decide which of all the fun embark locations I want to try this time. :)


Anonymous said...

Same thing happened to me. Embarked on a nice spot, got just about done setting up a farm and then suddenly after a save 3 dwarves and some cats decided to take a drink by falling down the waterfall.

WCG said...

Three out of seven dead, right at the beginning? That would be challenging - though fun, no doubt.

I started a new game (only because of the save game corruption bug) and this one has a waterfall, too. So far, only wild animals have gone over it - three ducks and a fish!

Apparently, wild ducks in Dwarf Fortress can't fly. I don't know what the fish was doing. Must be a pretty strong pull when you get close to the fall.

I haven't restricted my dwarves from the river, not even the two fisherdwarves. I guess, if they fall in, they fall in. But I'm keeping my livestock pastured (and I've got a dry moat dug all around my embark point), so they won't have as many opportunities to make a mistake.

I'll be posting about that game soon enough, if you're interested. (I'm still in the autumn of my first year.) But so far, it's been pretty uneventful. Well, that won't last, I'm sure.