I was looking into getting a minecraft account for the kids, and not knowing much about the game I started out on wikipedia just to see what the hype about the game was all about. I know what the game looks like of course and in my mind it was just virtual lego, but I wanted to learn a bit about the company (especially if I was going to hand them some money), what the multiplayer aspects of the game were like and whether I could run it on Ubuntu, or run my own minecraft server. Maybe I’ll write up something about minecraft someday, but the investigation led me to a game which was supposedly one of the influences for the author of minecraft: Dwarf Fortress. I was immediately intrigued. I have a small Dwarf army for Warhammer Fantasy Battle, and some of my favorite characters in RPG games have been dwarves. For non-geeks: we’re talking Dwarves ala Tolkien, not Disney here. I also read Casey Johnston’s ARS article on DF which can be read either as a warning or a challenge – you choose.
Installing Ubuntu on the MacBook recently, I knew there would be a bunch of OSX programs I would no longer be able to run but I was pretty confident that I’d be able to get some Windows programs going with wine. Having had good luck with Temple of Elemental Evil on the Elitebook last December, it was as simple as copying over my .wine folder to bring that over to the MacBook, and it seems to work well (so far). I was a little worried about WarCraft III since I hadn’t ever tried that on the Elitebook – I’d always run it under OSX, but as it turned out, that wasn’t anything to worry about either. Hey, I realize this is a 10 year old game, but its one of my favorites and I like to putter around in it from time to time! My notes on getting it set up follow.
The weather was stunningly beautiful with highs of only 70, a cool breeze and clear skies. I started off with a morning ride at Glacier Ridge (PDF map) where I finally was able to get in the entire track (including all the black diamonds). I was pretty slow, it took me nearly two hours but I stopped a lot and was taking it easy so I wouldn’t be too tired to tackle the next black diamond. For lunch I took the family up to Port Jeff which was having a “Green Fest“. We picked up some wraps at the Tiger Lily Cafe on High St. I’ve always wanted a house right on High Street – one of those old 1850s era shipbuilder homes. We walked down to the park to eat at one of the picnic tables by the bay, then we played in a drum circle for a while and caught a little of a jam band (Chris Fury) which was awesome. I had promised to make up for my solitary ride by taking my youngest out on Father’s Day so we headed over to Cathedral and rode for about an hour. I introduced a few new sections of trail, but mostly we cruised around on the roads. The afternoon was dominated by an outdoor Warhammer Fantasy Battle pitching my Dwarves against my eldest’s fledgling Skeleton army, followed by a barbeque with shrimp and kabobs. Made only a short call up to dad since I was mid battle – bqueing, but I’m sure will make up for it soon.
I was spending a lot more time playing D&D when this board game came out, but it was a big deal back then. All of the accounting for the game was handled by the tiny computer in the Dark Tower which was placed in the center of the board. The fact that the tower was actually a full up computer game was what the excitement was about. When it was your turn, you turned the tower, input your move, and watched the results of chance unfold on screen. Theres a great set of pages over at Well of Souls which goes over the game in great detail, but if you want to actually play the game (and didn’t manage to keep a fully functional copy of it from back then or manage to find one on ebay) you can play it on Android! Actually you can use it in two modes: if you have the game board but the tower is broken, the android program can be set to function as just the tower, or you can play the entire game on android. Search for Droid Tower in the Android Play store.
OK kids, make sure you have python installed so you can fire photons in this python remix of the classic Fortran Super Star Trek classic terminal game from the mid 70s. I played this game (poorly) in High School and had gotten frustrated trying to run the original Fortran version some while ago. Turns out ESR had ported (a C port of) the original Fortran code which runs great. Make sure you pull out the latest version from git since its got some essential bug fixes from: https://developer.berlios.de/git/?group_id=2492
Here’s ESR’s original G+ post and there’s some more banter about the history of the game in the comments to his blog post.
There’s a nice writeup of the history of the game and how its played here.
Here it is, running happily in terminal under Ubuntu 11.10: