Monday, May 19, 2014

Stesokur Entry 19: DFHack

So I've started using DFHack.

Because the interface wasn't confusing enough already.

Look: I'm not a programmer. I'm not even a writer. I studied philosophy, for Armok's sake. There's no way I can learn how to use this properly. So if I'm using DFHack ineffeciently, forgive me - there's no way I'm going to use this program to its fullest. I seriously considered just never using it at all, and letting it run in the background (I use the Lazy Newb Pack for things like Stonesense and Overseer; it automatically runs DFHack). I found a page full of commands that even an idiot like me can understand, though.

Well, some of them.

My game starting slowing to crawl, and I realized that it was because of all the goblin blood. Blood on every tile of every level - especially in my tower - being tracked all over the place by my disgusting dwarves. It was a lot for the game to remember, and it took its toll on my poor computer. There's a command for DFHack that cleans everything though: just type in clean all and hit enter and it scrubs the entire map of blood!

There's some issues I have with that. For one, it removes some of the cool bloodstains (like what was left from the battle with the killer croc). I could just spot clean everything by typing spotclean, but that only works under my cursor. Ain't nobody got time for that. I was also concerned that the landscape full of goblin blood, one of the key attributes that gave Stesokur Tower it's personality, would be missed.

Turns out I didn't have to worry about that.

Yeah, that concern quickly took care of itself.

Another problem arose when I built The Drop; the game had installed a maximum Z-level. Meaning, up to a certain altitude, I couldn't build any higher. I didn't like this, especially since my ultimate goal with this fort is to build a tower up into the clouds! There's a command for that called infiniteSky. All I need to do is type in that command, plus the number of Z-levels I want to add, and the game raises the invisible ceiling allotted to me. For The Drop I typed in infiniteSky 5, but I foresee Stesokur Tower going much, much higher.

That's it, though! I'm not using DFHack to cheat or anything. There's options to  make your dwarves build things instantly and teleport; no way am I doing something like that. No matter how easy it would make building Stesokur Tower. The difficulty is the point! And there's another command to remove all the bad thoughts in the fortress - to literally make tantrums a thing of the past. No way! If I didn't want to manage my moody dwarves, I'd just go and fucking play some Minecraft or something. 

Wait, I can set the game so patrol duty doesn't cause unhappy thoughts? Meaning I can make soldiers who enjoy training and marching every day? Which means I can finally have a highly-trained, happy military? And all I have to do is type tweak patrol-duty and hit enter? Well... that's not really cheating. I mean... maybe a little, but it's only cheating for one thing. In fact, by using this cheat, I'm essentially creating the option for some dwarves to prefer a life of career soldiering! That's not cheating, that's roleplaying.

And just look how happy those guys are!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Stesokur Entry 18: The Drop

So I've got a problem. Well, not really a problem. Not, like, starvation or a storm of violent tantrums or even an elven army knocking at the door. No, the current issue on my action-item list is what to do with all my prisoners

I need to capture one of them Olms, so I can start spelling out words. Like "KNOB" or "BONG."

Right now they're all just kinda shoved in the back of the slums, which I guess is the correct place to put a horde of unwanted creatures. But that's no fun! I should at least build like... a zoo or something. Or an arena! That's actually a great project to keep in mind. An arena to let my soldier dwarves practice their skills on live opponents. Or I could use it to answer the age-old question: who would win in a fight between a naked mole rat and a boar man?

An arena's a big undertaking, though. I'd need to get it just right, and that'll take a lot of time and resources. That's a project for another day. I want to do something with these prisoners today.

Like with most of my playing style, I decide to take a page out of Captnduck's playbook. If you want to learn how to play Dwarf Fortress, I can't recommend his videos strongly enough. If you've never seen them, they're entertaining to watch, anyways. He's got a couple Dwarf Fortress Let's Plays. I learned all of the basics (and some advanced things!) from his 2010 series. It was from his videos that I learned about The Drop.

The Drop is a small, thin tower, about 20 Z-Levels tall. At the top of it is a small floor with a hole in the middle. All-in-all, The Drop took about as much stone and time as building the walls of a single floor of Stesokur Tower. Easy cheesy. At the top of The Drop, I've placed the cages of enemies I want to... well, y'know. Drop.

Careful! It's already slick with goblin blood.

That center hole I've designated as a Pit/Pond with i > p. Then I hit (that's capital P; yes, it matters!) to designate individual goblins to be thrown into the pit. One of those cages I've got up there holds Stosbub Kutsmobarstruk, Goblin Thief. I make sure to select Stosbub from the menu that pops up when I mouseover the pit and hit P. And then a dwarf comes up The Drop, opens the cage, and tosses Stosbub down the hole. And down he goes, two-hundred feet, splat! 

Where will all these bodies end up, you might ask? Aren't I worried about the possibility of one of my dwarves being struck by plummeting goblins? Oh, I planned for that.

I've built The Drop over an empty pond, a leftover relic from building my reservoir. I made sure to carve away any slopes leading upwards, and built a wooden ceiling over it so there wasn't any way out. Only a single hole, directly below The Drop, remains to allow any sunlight in. And, of course, falling goblins. I made sure to pave the entire area with granite so there was no chance the muddy ground could break their fall.

Now the only things that can break their fall are the corpses of their friends and families!

And, because I am apparently some type of psychopath, I spend the rest of the evening hurling goblins to their death.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Stesokur Entry 17: The First Ambush

Our first ambush! Finally, a chance to test the defenses of the fortress. A small army of goblins, sick of sending thieves and snatchers out to Stesokur, have finally mustered the courage to try me in a test of arms. Unfortunately, poor Kumil did not live long enough to see combat against the goblins, but the Blockaded Slaughters have been waiting for such an event! Led by Iton Sholidunib, one of the first seven, the melee squad has been training non-stop for such an event.

Yeah, they killed that cat. Pity, too; my dwarves were gonna eat it.

Seven goblins came from the south. Five wielded whips, and two of them carried spears. Were they at all discouraged by the fact that they literally had to wade through ankle-high pools of goblin blood to assault Stesokur Tower? If so, they swallowed their fear like champs! After killing my little kitten there, they stormed the entrance of Stesokur like it ain't no thing that their kins' blood was falling from the sky. 

My dwarves stood ready. All of my melee squad trained at the foot of the tower, so it was an easy thing to have them mobilized right outside of the tower. Nothing would get by without facing their axes and hammers!

Nothing would get by at all, actually.

Oh. Looks like none of the goblins made it past my traps. Well, shit. Looks like the biggest challenge of these goblin ambushes is figuring out what to do with all my prisoners!

I stuff them away in some cells in the basement for the time being. I'll think of something to do with them later. Good to know that my defenses work at least! I think I'll put some more cages around, though, in case of a larger siege.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Stesokur Entry 16: Jamming the Shaft

The above-ground entrance isn't the only one that needs protecting. In fact, the vast majority of the threats to my tower come from its mines and caverns, far below ground. The problem is this fucking thing:

How can such a little thing, all alone there in a sea of black, be a problem, you may ask?

What am I actually looking at? you may also ask, if you don't play the game.

That's the central staircase. A tunnel leads to this staircase, south of the slums of Stesokur. It's a shaft that leads straight down into the center of the earth. From this shaft my miners dig out in various exploratory directions, seeking ores and gems and precious stones. The shaft also leads directly into the caverns, wherein various monsters dwell. It's an easy thing for giant crocodiles and lizards and whatevers to just storm right up those stairs and into the fortress. I mean, yeah, they attack the slums before the dwellings of the important dwarves, but still. Something needs to be done.

So I made some modifications:

"It looks like a penis!" said my girlfriend. "Certainly not my penis," I responded. I think she's doing it on purpose, now.

It may be a little difficult to tell what exactly I did, especially to those who don't play the game, so let me describe the situation:

The bottom of the second picture there is where the Central Shaft used to be. Technically it still goes all the way down, but I've changed the stairs. There is now only one set of stairs leading upwards, and none leading down. The old stairs, which used to go all the way down to the caverns, have been floored over. So now you can no longer go down the central staircase. Instead, you have to go north - through a narrow tunnel filled with cage traps.

Once you've gone through this tunnel, you reach a 3x3 chamber filled with stairs that go down. Once you've gone down a single level, you're faced with another tunnel, heading south, back into the shaft. That way all of my dwarves - and every other creature - that want to pass through the Central Shaft need to take a small, trap-filled detour on the way.

If you don't understand what I just wrote, don't worry about it. That's because I'm a bad writer, not because you're a bad reader. Let my expert MSPaint skillz do the talking. Here's the detour, viewed from the side:

My degrees in philosophy and law may be as worthless as an art degree, but at least those guys can fucking draw.

See how it's a straight line of stairs heading all the way down? And see how there's a floor forcing you into the tunnel to the left? That floor was built on the stairs to stop things from coming up. If you want to go down those stairs, you have to go left through that thin tunnel, past all those cage-filled traps, down another flight of stairs, and then through another tunnel, to the right, which takes you back into the Central Shaft. More importantly, there's the same detour going up. Any monsters or dangerous critters can't just run up the stairs... they have to make their way through dozens of cage-traps first.

This should take care of anything getting into my fortress from below. So I'm now well-protected from all threats; those above-ground, and those-below. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Stesokur Entry 15: The Wall

Like Datanerith, I have decided to make a wall surrounding Stesokur.

I'm pretty sure there's no secret back entrance for the elves to exploit this time. I mean, I hope.

Look at that bad boy. Seriously, fucking click that shit. So large it ain't even covered in the picture. The Wall is two layers of stone deep - twice the strength of the tower itself - and, so far, two  Z-Levels tall. I might go for three tall, because why not? It connects to the mountainside north and south of Stesokur Tower, and I made certain that there's no way any damn elves are gonna sneak in the service entrance. How can I be so sure, you say?

"Everything's already covered in blood." - A common saying in Stesokur

This is the mountaintop above the wall. Remember, the elves took advantage of a hidden slope that I had missed, like a goat path or something, and then literally walked along the top of the walls, and down the stairs into the heart of my last fortress. This time, though, I built a wall - again, twice as strong as necessary - literally cutting off any foot traffic to the top of the wall. Even if the elves found a way onto the level behind my wall, they wouldn't be able to find a way down.

Which means that there is literally one way into my fortress:

Maybe I should just name this area "The Zoo"?

Those green symbols, pointing upwards? Those are cage traps. A small army could be trapped in those motherfuckers. I've got more, lining the entrance into Stesokur Tower itself, but so far I haven't seen anything get by these traps. I can't wait to piss off some elves!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Update hiccup!

Hey guys,

Sorry for the lack of updates lately. I've had to deal with some abrupt issues in my personal life. Nothing worth worrying about, just things that have precluded me taking time to play a video game and write a blog about it for a few days!

I hope to start updating regularly again soon. I'd like to say sometime next week - maybe even Monday - but don't want to give any promises. Sorry for the inconvenience!