Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"Losing is fun!"

There's a class of games I haven't played because it feels like it would be a bad idea while I'm still working on finding employment: things like Dwarf Fortress and its descendent Minecraft seem, to me, a little too potentially absorbing to be healthy right now. (I'm staying away from Angband too.) Ultimately it wouldn't matter, but it makes me feel a little better.

I do feel a lot like I've played Dwarf Fortess, though, as my friend Charlie's descriptions of his games are always so weird and specific that it can be a lot like playing just to hear them. The game is extremely complicated, both in terms of what you can build and in terms of how it can (and will, inevitably) collapse; while I'm sure some commonalities would emerge over time if I read more about the game, each retelling is so radically different from the last that it reads as more of a story than as a simple description of a game.

This New York Times profile of the brothers behind the game is pretty fascinating. The programmer, Tarn Adams, sees Dwarf Fortress as his life's work: he spends most of each day coding and lives modestly on donations from fans of the game. In spite of its incredible complexity, he plans to spend the rest of his life adding further layers of mechanics. Probably my favorite quote from the article: "The hippos like the sewers!"

Part of what's interesting about the game is that it seems designed to generate fascinating sentences. A lot of its energy is devoted to language, and to opportunities for language. I'm looking forward to trying it out someday.

No comments:

Post a Comment