Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Capsuleers Verses Dwarves

Over the past week someone I follow on Twitter, sorry cannot remember who (really should look who is to blame.... it was... ah there he is! @eclipticrift) has been Tweeting about something called Dwarf Fortress. Whilst back in the UK I was fairly heavily into general gaming, however, I've become more Eve-fixated here in the Middle East. I suppose living in sand (I am surrounded by desert, the blog title photo on top was taken a few minutes travel from my villa) has given me an affinity with sandboxes! So whilst some may question what stone I've been living under to only be hearing of DF now, I'd point out it's it's not a rock, it's actually a sand dune!

Anyway, I posted on the alliance forum if anyone had heard of it and was it worth downloading, and I got a positive response. I loved the original Settlers games, especially on sandbox mode. This "build and run a Dwarven fortress" simulation did sound appealing. So I looked it up. I started seeing Eve references all over the ruddy place, even on general gaming site reviews (not Eve related sites). "Dwarf Fortress is a great story telling game, comparable to Eve Online" was one mention. Others referred to the sandbox style as "Eve-like". And of course as I looked around, there were many, many, many other references to the sandbox comparison. Like Eve, Dwarf Fortress is not scripted. You do whatever the hell you want.

OK, so from what I'm reading its Minecraft meets Eve? But no multiplayer? No PvP? No shooting other players???

Mmmmm may be its not for me then, I'll just log onto Eve and go for a solo roam when I get home from work.

A short while later.....

Great! Squid* in local! Open FW plex? CHARGE! Damn he warped off. Warp to gate, jump. Empty. Warp to gate, jump. Empty. Warp to gate, jump. Great! Squid in local! Open FW plex? CHARGE! Damn he warped off. Warp to gate, jump. Great! Squid in local! Open FW plex? CHARGE! Damn he warped off. Warp to gate, jump. Warp to gate, jump. Empty. Warp to gate, jump. Empty. Warp to gate, jump. Empty.

OK, this is getting a tad boring. My TZ (I get home from work just after downtime), the fact we're into summer and the fact THE DAMN BLOODY SQUIDS ARE FLYING AROUND IN FACTION FRIGATES WITH NO GUNS is making my "Eve time before the wife gets home" pretty dull. OK, lets see what this Dwarf Fortress is about.

Download the 30mb. Play. Oh! It looks worse than the new V3 Vagabond. Download a modded version with a decent graphic tiles set. Right lets do this.

Within 30 minutes I have to agree, there are a lot of similarities with Eve Online, at least with "old school" Eve.

What the hell do I do?
When I started Eve the tutorials were pretty scant. It took a lot of trial and error to learn. DF has no in-game or official tutorial. I recommend the Complete and Utter Newbie Tutorials here. How anyone could play this game without something like that, I have no idea.

It's vastly complex.
You look at the graphics and think that a smartphone could run it. But whilst your world is building have a peak at your resource monitor. You'll see your CPU cores churning away fairly hard. I have a decent gaming PC and it took ages to build a world (I did start off with the biggest I could make). It took me a long time to build, but from what I'm hearing it can take a short ice age on old PC's if you set it for the largest world and the longest history. Even during the game itself, it's a simulation so needs a lot of CPU. This is simply because there is so much going on.

There is no goal.
Here you go. There is a wagon full of supplies and seven dwarves dumped in the middle of nowhere. Enjoy.
What? That's it?
Oh, so what do I do?
Anything you want.
Just like Eve, the game doesn't tell you what you have to do. You do your own thing.

The Interface is Horrid
Eve Online has in the past been criticised for it's UI. Some good work by CCP has made big improvements in the last few years. But DF brings horrid UI's to a whole new level. There is no mouse, it's all keyboard and is an utter PITA.

You wish your brain was multi-core.
In Eve you can struggle sometimes with managing everything at once. Think of having a 1v1 in an active tanked ship. You have cap management, shield management, keeping point and ewar on the target, evaluating the fight to see if you need to try and GTFO. Drones. Overheating. Range issues and changing to the right ammo. May be even combat boosters. Some fights in Eve really need a lot of brain power on your part. DF looks at this and thinks what an easy game Eve is! The simulation is so vast and complex it's amazing.

It's Like Herding Cats
"NO! I didn't say do that!"
"What are you doing FFS?"
"Stop being a ****ing lemming!"
"Oh I give up! If you lot want to kill yourselves just fine! I'm emo-rage-quiting so you can kill yourself when I'm in command!!!!"

The game is a massive open-ended world where you make your own story. Nothing is scripted, this is not your average linear, theme park game. This is a real sandbox game. YOU make the game what it is. The controls are not great, the graphics aren't fantastic either, and then there is the learning cliff of DOOM that makes getting into the game almost impossible without some internet surfing and pre-reading. It's not for the casual, it's a hard-core game that is anything but easy. It's hard, bloody hard and can be very frustrating. You tell people to do something and they feck off and do something completely different. But, and it's a big 'but', it is the amazing game-play, depth and sandbox style 'do what ever you want to do' that makes this game addictive. You get out what you put into it.

Now am I talking about Dwarf Fortress or am I talking about Eve from a few years back?

*Caladri Militia

1 comment:

  1. Dwarf Fortress wasn't made for the ADHD type. DF isn't Eve-like. DF provides as much joy in figuring out how to do something as you get when you actually accomplish trying to do it. The DF learning curve is truly steep, unlike Eve's which is long and slow and fairly flat. It isn't necessarily an old game, but the style of gameplay is older, and that's not a bad thing, IMO. Asshats will lose interest very quickly as there are no other players to fuck over, and generally, aDF player needs to think for themselves. No herd mind, like Eve.