Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Episode 49: Interview with Tarn Adams

Welcome to Roguelike Radio episode 49. This week we interview Tarn Adams, creator of Dwarf Fortress. Talking this episode are Darren Grey, John Harris and Tarn Adams. You can download the mp3 of the podcast, play it in the embedded player below, or you can follow us on iTunes.



Topics discussed in this episode include:
- The quest for the ultimate simulationist roguelike, and why Tarn has succeeded where so many others have failed (this crops up at several points)
- History of the creation of Dwarf Fortress (aka Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress)
- Adventure Mode as a "score system" for Fortress Mode
- Why dwarves?
- Influence from roguelikes and other classic games
- Procedural narrative, storytelling from play, player interpretation and avoiding the uncanny valley
- Realism vs Fun, how to embrace both at once, and simulation as design
- DF-likes and other big simulationist games
- The experience of battling 10 year old code whilst trying to keep regular releases for the fans
- How relying on donations affects the development of the game
- Side-projects, new projects and plans for the future
- Windows 8
- The value of the Dwarf Fortress community
- Tarn's (odd) lifestyle

Some relevant links:
- Dwarf Fortress and its mods
- Tarn's side projects
- Boatmurdered
- Some classic games discussed: How to Host a Dungeon, Hebrac's Dungeon, Telengard, Hack, Moria, Larn, Starflight, Sim Earth, Nethack Hearse, Dungeon Keeper
- Some super simulation games discussed: Caves of Qud, Cataclysm, Ultima Ratio Regnum, CultRL, Goblin Camp, Incursion, ADOM II, Clockwork Empires, Rogue Survivor, Unreal World
- Dwarf Fortress podcast
- Bay12 forums (with more roguelike talk than most roguelike sites)

Join us in the next couple of weeks for our 50th episode extravaganza, and a chat about graphics and tile design.

23 comments:

  1. Wow you guys really do a fine job with these podcasts. You continue to surprise and impress.

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  2. Another great show guys! I've been waiting for another DF Talk for a while, so great to hear from Tarn Adams again!

    And here you guys had started to warm me up to the idea of making smaller roguelikes, then Tarn Adams comes on and makes super huge and epic roguelikes with detailed simulation sound fun again!

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    1. It's all fun in my books. I know a few of our regulars quite strongly prefer smaller games, but big can be beautiful too. Our ugly and dirty but still fun as hell.

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  3. Firstly, this is great. I'm so glad such a podcast exists...

    Secondly, could you pretty-pretty please offer a version encoded in OGG (and don't just convert MP3 please) - long story short is that I can listen to MP3s? Thanks!

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    1. MP3 is the more accessible format, alas, for our recording software, iTunes and the little flash player above. Duplicate format support and hosting is not an option. If it's quality you're worried about then... well, this is a podcast, sound quality is really not relevant, especially with our mix of mediocre microphones. We tend to use very poor encoding for this reason. If you literally can't play MP3s then you should be able to find a media converter easily enough.

      I hope you can continue to enjoy the podcast in spite of our inferior encoding :)

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    2. Nah, LOL, it's not quality (though OGG is in fact better and makes smaller files for more quality). I guess I'll just have to get the codec, I just don't like MP3's lack of software freedom.

      Thank you very much for you speedy reply!

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  4. Who's the British guy? he has some very insightful comments.

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    1. That would be me... I'm mostly good at BSing ;)

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    2. I think the whole RLR crew is a very well put together mix of individuals, that together delivers great insight.

      Too bad John Harris was a bit silent this episode, I greatly appreciate his historical insight into Roguelikes fr instance.

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    3. Seriously he's an encyclopedia.

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  5. I just checked out the Hearse site, it looks like it's still going strong. Supports UnNethack as well.

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  6. What is the best way to send topic suggestions?

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    1. Commenting on any post is fine. There's also a discussion thread over at RogueTemple: http://roguetemple.com/forums/index.php?topic=1757.0

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  7. Hey Jon Harris you didn't speak much this episode? Were you a bit star struck? I know I would be. :-)

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    1. Hehe, Tarn could speak for hours without breathing, there's just so much to talk about when it comes to Dwarf Fortress and it's ideas for the future! Darren was able to jump in at moments to move the interview back on track for the next topic! I really enjoy Tarn's rants though, so I didn't mind at all. Listening to the episode again, John did have a couple of history lessons here and there :)

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  8. Great episode. #5 on the DF champions list here. :)

    Considering the utterly mad scope of what Tarn took on combined with his quitting his job to make a game he gives out for free, and his odd work hours I really expected him to be the kind of guy who doesn't communicate well... But he's really a great speaker. I suppose all those years of math professoring helped.

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  9. Guys, I use windows 8 on my laptop and have no issues or warnings when I run dwarf fortress and dwarf therapist.

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    1. I also tried it on my new win8 laptop (Lenovo Yoga 13) and did get the scary warnings. I'm guessing it's because I'm at the default UAC settings.

      The worst part about the scary warning is that it looks like the only option is to hit the "Okay" button, which keeps the program from running. In order to run it you have to hit the "more information" hyperlink in the text and then select the run anyway option :(

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    2. @Eban are you having Shift/Control key issues when playing DF on your yoga? Tapping the shift key behaves the same as holding down the up arrow on mine. Makes the game unplayable.

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  10. Anybody got a link to the card game rules, mentioned after ~13 Minutes?

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  11. Wow, what a fantastic interviewer. I hope you're getting paid to do this because you sound so professional; your questions are so canny and uncontrived. I mean goddamn, what a breath of fresh air. Thank you!

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