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Dwarf Fortress is giving its dwarves the ability to form (and dwell on) memories

An upcoming update diminishes the 'overbearing' effect of alcohol in-game and gives each little dwarf memories, and the ability to be traumatized by them.

The work is never done for Dwarf Fortress developer Bay 12 Games. The studio has been working on the ASCII-driven dwarven society simulation for around 16 years at this point, tweaking and introducing new levels to the sim as they go along. 

An upcoming update, for example, diminishes the “overbearing” effect of alcohol in-game and gives each little dwarf memories, and the ability to be traumatized by them.

Bay 12 notes that the system may need some adjusting, but right now the dev says it makes for some neat little emergent character arcs and personality evolutions for each the game’s many individual characters.

Dwarf Fortress isn’t the first game to give its virtual denizens the ability to form (and stress over) memories of course, but the iconic 16-year-old game has been long credited as an influential roguelike by several devs so the potential impact of the new system should be interesting in its own right.

The developer’s blog offers a little bit of insight into how the system will function, explaining that the current system allows dwarves to form eight short-term memories each with the potential to become long-term memories. Depending on a dwarf's personality or relationships, those memories will affect them more or less during their day-to-day life and change their autonomous behaviors appropriately. 

“Dropping a boulder on somebody and then leaving my dwarves unattended outside with nothing to do for a year resulted in tantrums, depression and oblivious wandering, so it seems to be working,” explains the dev. 

“When the first long-term memories were stored for one dwarf, it was horror at seeing their lover die, grief at their lover being dead, and fright at being haunted by their dead lover, with proper impact values not likely to be overwritten any time soon, certainly not by the old culprits of seeing nice furniture and completing jobs, though those still decrease stress a little bit day-to-day when experienced and are thus good to have in a dwarf's life. (I wasn't aware of their relationship status when the boulder fell; that's just how it turned out, sadly.)”

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