Archive for September, 2009

Dwarf Fortress: A Catalogue of Failure

30 Sep

Recently, I was directed to an internet work called the Saga of Boatmurdered. It was a collaborative Let’s Play of a game called Dwarf Fortress—a famous freeware leadership sim that casts you as the overseer of a dwarven colony. The game is renowned for having infinite replayability, immersive mechanics, and a learning curve more punishing than a nun with a hangover.

One of the interesting things about the Saga of Boatmurdered was that it was done in a first-person perspective. The participants related the fortress’s history in-character, throwing in a substantial amount of flavor and editorializing to spice up the otherwise dull accountancy of leadership. One of them even created a distinct character—a profane, disgruntled overseer who couldn’t wait to hand the project off to the next guy in line.

I only read about a third of the entries, but it was enough to convince me to finally try the game for myself. I downloaded it off of the website, rigged up a tileset to replace the cryptic ASCII characters that would, otherwise, indicate everything from sheep to siege weapons, and loaded the game up.

About a minute and a half later, I went through and deleted every file on my hard drive even marginally related to the game.

A few days later, I decided to take another crack at it, and managed to get as far as the actual gameplay before I ragequit. Suffice it to say that Dwarf Fortress is not easy to pick up. Actually, no, that doesn’t friggin’ suffice.

Dwarf Fortress is bolted with adamantium into the very bones of the earth, that is how easy it is to “pick up”. Dwarf Fortress doesn’t have a learning curve, it has a vertical plane that extends infinitely in all directions. With spikes on. I will state here, without fear of rebuke, that Dwarf Fortress is the first sapient AI—it is impossible, with modern space limitations, to program into a game this many ways to hurt. I can only conclude that it creates fresh ones dynamically, perhaps based on mounting player aggression and befuddlement. I tried a third time, failed to re-load my saved game, and spent ten minutes reading an online manual without really figuring out what I was doing wrong.

It’s about then that I realized something: I have to do a Let’s Play of this game.

Not because I like the game. I don’t know if I like it. I can reasonably argue that I haven’t played it yet. Certainly not because I have anything to demonstrate to you all–I can give you a guided tour of Morrowind, but with Dwarf Fortress I can just about manage wandering down a back alley and getting my wallet stolen. And not because I think the series would have much of a future—if everything goes as well as I have any right to expect it to, everyone will have starved to death within the week.

So, why am I doing it?

Good question.

I’ve never claimed to be entirely all there, okay?

This has been in the pipeline for about three weeks now, but I still have some issues to sort out before I can really get going. So for now, let me just provide the title:


The Story of the Most Assuredly Successful Colony of All Time

(Taken from the recovered diary pages of one Kahdzbar Drinkollt)


Crossfire Tango, Part 5

28 Sep

There were at least a couple hundred people standing there, staring like puzzled deepfish. They stood in a thick ring-like mob, crowded around a crude central podium on which stood the most flabbergasted individual of all.

He looked a bit like an alert, emaciated rabbit. He had pale, freckled skin, wide eyes, and a mouth that looked perpetually on the verge of trembling righteously. His nostrils flared cavernously with every intake of breath, and he anxiously straightened his too-large cloak every half-second.

It was he who broke the silence, in a stuttering, shrill way.

“What–how did—is that—“

He gasped, or tried to gasp. It came out as a bit of a squeak.

“Could you be…”
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In a Hostile Country: The Saga of Cahmel (Let’s Play Morrowind, Part 15)

27 Sep

When we last left our crafty hero, he’d trekked across miles of deadly territory and slaughtered dozens of fierce animals, all for the express purpose of visiting a city he had no real interest in visiting.

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The Week to Come

26 Sep

Couple quick things:

  • The fortress item on last week’s TWtC may or may not be this week–it’ll take a bit of doing to set up properly.
  • There will be just the standard garden-variety posts as well
  • There should be another item here, but I’m too tired to figure out what it is.

Oh, yeah, and we’ve got:

  • Cahmel
  • V&B
  • Fortress?
  • More Scrawlings

Fun Fact for the Week: There are three nouns in the English language that cannot, given a certain tone of voice and bent of conversation, be taken suggestively. These nouns are: accountant, matte, cumulonimbus.



25 Sep

Yeah, I was planning on showing some of the random, grotesque sketches I do in my notebooks during lectures, but I neglected to come up with a way to actually, you know, get them onto a computer. Being at college and all, I don’t have a scanner on me, and I haven’t beggared a camera off anyone yet.

So I shook my image directory real hard for loose change, and here’s what we’ve got.

An unfinished doodle from almost a year ago, aaaaand

A TF2 photoshop.

Yyyyeah. This ain’t exactly Harvest Week, is what I’m sayin’.

Hopefully, this coming week’s offerings will be more what you’re accustomed to. Hopefully, this week’s offerings are not what you’re accustomed to.


Crossfire Tango, Part 4 (Teaser)

24 Sep

Mini update, for the win.

There was just the barest hint of a pause—enough time for light to bounce off of Vatsy’s rapidly descending body and lodge itself somewhere in Bruno’s retina. And then, as if they were tethered together by chains, Bruno dove after Vatsy.

As far as uncontrolled plunges go, it was one of their better ones. They dropped less than ten feet onto a carpet that was forgiving, if only grudgingly so, and even managed to land adjacent to one another so as to prevent their bones from experimenting with jazz percussion.

Vatsy blinked dazedly, stumbling upright. “Well, that was almost refreshing, really. Could have been quite a bit worse.” He paused, glanced contemplatively at his side, then clicked his tongue. “Hm. Oh, well, I’ll just have to start knitting that rib all over again.”

Bruno stood up, glancing around at his surroundings. Vatsy tapped one of his jutting cheese-grater ribs with a claw.

“Yes, that’s definitely another crack. Same rib, too. Honestly, Bruno, sometimes I don’t know why we leave the gutter…”


“Yes, Bruno?”

Bruno cleared his throat, gesturing meaningfully. Vatsy glanced up.

Into about a hundred very stunned expressions.


Vatsy and Bruno: Rejected Script

21 Sep

I wrote this script when I was planning on making a Vatsy and Bruno graphic novel. I abandoned the premise–and a good portion of the writing–but I cannibalized borrowed a couple of jokes for First Ink. Note that the action moves much quicker in this script–the original pacing was far more frentic, far more off-kilter and bizarre. Also, the characters are noticeably different. Also it kind of sucks.

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Cahmel Filler

20 Sep

Hello, Cahmel fans, and welcome to a blatant fillersode. Today, we’ve got…a couple of screenshots. Yeah. Par-tay har-day.

This is from when I was escorting that naked nord and shady con artist, before I dropped them off at their intended locations and subsequently killed them. Anyway, at some point, I realized that the one advantage of having a couple of clueless lampreys was that I could hang back and let them fight the goddamn birds for me. They would screech at me if I so much as waggled the blade in their direction, so it's really for the best.

Realized I didn't really have a good action shot of my first non-clamshell helmet, so here ya goes. Note that this is the reared back portion of the chopping animation, and I am not, in fact, trying to scratch a hard-to-reach area or work out a kink in my shoulder.

Left: Dashingly handsome swordsman, journeyman, and agent provocateur. Right: style-less hack with no fashion sense and a bad haircut. (Note: I did not pose or dress especially for this screenshot.)

I told you. I don't want to talk about it.


Move-In Week to Come

20 Sep

Right, so, I’m decamping my arse to an estate of higher friggin’ learning today. While this does not mean the frequency of typos and grammatical missteps in my work will decrease, it does mean this week is going to be a bit…interesting. Not to worry, I imagine most of my posts will be on time…but what will they be?

  • Cahmel Filler
  • Rejected Vatsy and Bruno Script
  • Notebook Doodlification
  • Report on the Fortress

Fun Fact for the Week: I was originally going to go with “filler night”  for the Cahmel designation. If you don’t get it, sing, “this is filler night” to yourself.


Pretty Picture

17 Sep

For no real reason, I decided to draw this.

Not much else to say ,really.