Imagine yourself as a repulsive, overweight virgin-esqe adult man. Your social life is limited to frolicking with your cat and your equally-as-adult and equally-as-pathetic brother. Your cat shares your filthy apartment. Your fridge contains three ‘sodas’ and a jug of water – literally nothing else. Your filthy home is practically unfurnished – your lounge room consists of two folding tables covered in board games; your dining room, simply a box for kitty litter. Your diet is horrible – you’ve literally had one glass of water in three months and otherwise relied on sugary drinks for children as your sole source of hydration. You wake up at three in the afternoon every day and spend your waking hours engrossed in your computer until 6 in the morning when you awkwardly jerk your weird looking cock and balls before falling asleep. You are obsessed with a juvenile fantasy world concocted with the help of your brother as you lurch through your thirties in disgrace. You are a horrible man-child and a disgusting symbol of just how low Man can go when all the boxes of failure are ticked.
That guy is real – and get this – he’s demonstrably better than YOU. You be might walking around having meaningful conversations with the opposite sex and arguably showering on a daily basis to no avail.
This depressing autist’s name is Tarn Adams and he’s a self-employed computer programmer who has literally and un-ironically been profiled in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/24/magazine/the-brilliance-of-dwarf-fortress.html?_r=1) and had his work featured in an art exhibition displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
His most famous creation is called “Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress” and it’s so obtuse that it’s almost impossible to describe but here’s my best effort:
It’s a ‘game’ (although arguably it’s completely inaccessible with no game play or end goal) which has been actively in development for over ten years and which simulates a fantasy world (down to the length of body hair of thousands of individuals and the temperature of small amounts of fluids in thousands of different locations) over periods of tens of thousands of years (the world creation algorithms can sometimes take hours) inspired by the collaboration by Tarn and his layabout brother, Zach, who must somehow sit around having the most awkward and embarrassing conversations in history about the specific design features of how to simulate dwarf vomit without any graphics whatsoever.
Here’s what a typical gaming session of Dwarf Fortress looks like (ie. it looks like a bunch of meaningless shit):
I was reminded to write this profile because a new version of this pointless monolith was released yesterday. If you’ve got a real desire to bash your head against the brick wall of a bewildering interface and completely ineffective presentation in some vague pursuit of enjoyment then go right ahead by clicking this link: http://bay12games.com/dwarves/.
The most amazing thing about this whole scenario is that the game is wildly popular in certain circles of horrendous nerds and has been quietly building popularity for years now. It’s ridiculous complexity is legendary and that’s how this otherwise completely forgettable man found himself being profiled in the New York Times. That profile hits the nail of ineptitude right on the head when the reporter talks about observing the man at his work computing terminal:
Near midnight one evening, after a chat with Zach about incorporating sewers into the game, Tarn settled into his coding routine, opening his C++ software and firing up a Pandora playlist of upbeat soul. (Zach, less adept at programming, contributes to the game by brainstorming ideas.) Tarn surveyed the code, arrayed before him in tiny type, and began rocking in his swivel chair so vigorously that its joints squawked. The rocking had nothing to do with the music. “It’s a tic,” he explained later. “Sometimes I don’t even notice I’m doing it. During tests at college, people would yell at me to knock it off.”
As Tarn got into the zone, his muttered profanities and grumbles about “x distances” took on a mantralike quality. Conjuring sewers, he would type out lines of code, let the software effect his changes, frown at the results, then tweak. Initially, the sewers appeared as an illogical tangle of blue gashes, but line by line, Tarn worked them into coherence.
At about 1:30 a.m., a family of hippos, represented by light gray H’s, swam into the tunnels from a nearby river. Their arrival was an unintended development born entirely of the game’s internal logic. Tarn was pleased. “The hippos like the sewers!” he said. He took a celebratory swig of Dr. Pepper and rocked back and forth.
Better yet are his thoughts on women, which cause me to fight my hardest to not jump out of my chair with a joyful woot, punching the air with the thrill of being alive:
Tarn has been single since graduate school, when he dated a Cisco systems administrator for a short time. I asked him whether he wanted children. “I don’t mind the idea of never having kids,” he said. “I want to stay focused on the game, and if I had kids, I’d wind up paying attention to them instead.”
He expressed similar ambivalence about finding a romantic partner. “If I were in the supermarket one day and someone came on really strong and it was a mutual thing, I’d probably get pushed along, but it’s not something I’m anticipating,” he said. His interest has dwindled. “It’s easier not to care about that stuff when you’re in your 30s.”
Tarn apparently completed a PhD in mathematics (http://math.stanford.edu/theses/tarn_thesis.pdf) and lectured at Texas A&M University before inexplicably deciding to give up a promising academic future to sit around in darkness and write computer games for a living despite having no training whatsoever in how to do so.
And here’s where he hits maximum ownage – while you’re out their wage-slaving away in your petty, menial job and wishing you were elsewhere, this tremendously challenged human being is living his dreams and being paid to do so. He charges nothing for his games and just asks for donations if people like it and he’s managed to hit a chord with so many other pathetic shut-ins the world over that he is dragging in enough donations so that he can keep doing this ridiculous hobby as a full-time job with his meagre accommodation and questionable nutritional needs covered by the goodwill of others. Tarn Adams is a repulsive man, an individual engaged in a worthless pursuit, a human who is throwing away the best years of his life on a childish whim, and yet he is still better than you.
Food for thought while you’re commuting to the job you hate where you spend every waking hour of your life to your great dissatisfaction with no possible end in sight. For more information, listen to the wildly popular podcasts published by the man himself (http://bay12games.com/dwarves/df_talk.html) or read the wildly unpopular amateur fiction written by his coattail-riding brother (http://bay12games.com/dwarves/dev_story.html).