Sunday, 27 November 2011

Dwarf fortress forum notes #1

On the overnight train from Beijing to Shanghai the other night, while the man on the bunk below me munched away on sunflower seeds, I really wanted to browse the Bay 12 forums.  The reason for this is that I've been thinking about procedural world generation lately, and not the graphical kind.  Having an ontology which defines a wide range of relevant scientific, cultural and historic facts would allow generation to produce something with a direct, if not subconscious, recognisable believability.

Browsing the Bay 12 forums some time back I came across posts by people who were researching geological, geographical, historical and other areas in order to suggest more correct and realistic directions for Dwarf Fortress brought to mind.  This is pretty much the same thing, except rather than gathering them in the hope (one acknowledged to be unlikely) that someone would incorporate them into their game, I'd be looking to generate my own from them.

Some initial interesting threads:

  • Geologic structures and the 3D ore veins.

    The first post touches on a lot of subjects related to underground geological generation.  Second post builds on this, and recommends a free book "Petrology of Sedimentary Rocks".  Pictures of giant crystals in real life caves.  Fault lines and similar things, with ascii diagrams.  Suggested potential use of perlin noise to model ore deposits.  Pointer to this "scientifically plausible"  world building open source project.

  • Add real solid density values for stones.

    From a world ontology point of view, this is gold. It not only has discussion about density and colour, but also temperatures like their melting points.  This was kind of what I was looking for when I was looking in the latest release of OpenCyc lately.. but failed to find within it.  There's even a link to data on various woods.  People are even having samples shipped to them and measuring them themselves, in order to get their facts straight.

  • Alchemists.

    Starts off talking with respect to the way the game works, rather than related aspects featured in history.  Turns to how it was featured in history, rather than in fictional sources like AD&D.  Veers to astronomy and the person responsible for modern perspective of alchemy.  Then to dwarf and magic related talk unrelated to history.

  • Evil plants in real life.

    Using actual plants that exist as a baseline for the believability of game plants, seems to be pretty relevant.  Initial post links to a article about 10 creepy plants, then another post links to a article about 6 things that shouldn't explode but did (specifically the sandbox tree).

  • Complete Weapons Database.

    A variety of Dwarf Fortress weapon definitions, the given weapon properties may or may not be generically useful or realistic.  No references given.  Pointer to a D&D pole-arm quiz, of unknown correctness.  Veered to mention of asian weapons, which is outside the scope of my 13th century England focus.

  • Absent pre-1400 technologies.

    Started with a list of pre-1400 technologies that are not currently found in Dwarf Fortress, with the note that its developer has stated that these are the only ones to be in the game.  Moved onto bows and blowguns, to actual guns and then to mysterious unreproducible inventions (damascus steel / archimedes mirror).  Then more about different kinds of bows and their uses and users.  And finally, back on topic with pre-1400 technology wishlist.

  • A few thoughts for the new city maps.

    Starts off with general wishes, but then moves on to relating how real cities came about, with links over to similar past posts in the "Future of the Fortress" topic.  Roman city planning.  Pictures and links to existing cities.

  • Alien Creature Behaviours and Myths.

    References to monster archetypes within original historical myths. A desire for Gaelic and other cultural faeries, with detail of specific stories.  Link to Russian house spirits wikipedia page.  Link to flying asian vampire head and introduction of Monstropedia, which might be a good source for further examples.  The Dullahan is brought up, said to be "a cross between the headless horseman and the grim reaper".  Something about Kitsune that I didn't read because Japanese culture is out of scope.  Then the topic gets further Kitsune detail, before heading off into wishful thinking territory.

  • Cooking and Brewing Diversity: The Food and Drink Megathread.

    Starts off with a breakdown of how cooking should ideally work, which is a good starting point for the elements that would be the breakdown for this part of the ontology.  Someone posts a list of recent cooking threads which look to cover a wide range of interesting parts of the big picture.  Reference to a wikipedia page on the history of alcohol.  Use of honey for preservation, and vinegar for cleaning.  Pies and their history are brought up.  The mining and storage of ice are next.  An uber-post with lots of history food-related pointers.

To be done:
  • DF Suggestions board.

    Some of the topic titles infer presence of useful information, but there are a lot there.  A better idea is to start with known threads of interest and work my way through the posts made by people who post the most useful history/science-related posts.

  • Poster: Jeoshua (processed up to: May 06, 2011, 02:54:50 pm).

  • Poster: NW_Kohaku (processed from: April 11, 2011, 12:21:22 pm up to: May 19, 2011, 04:12:47 pm).

Anyway, that's a good start.

Next post: Dwarf fortress forum notes #2.

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