Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dwarf Fortress

Dwarf Fortress is a unique and engrossing indie game by Bay 12 Games. In fact it is the only game, bar World of Warcraft, that I have heard of people avoiding because they do not want to get addicted to it.

The mechanics are so diverse and involved that pretty much anything can be done in the game; Game maps can be made into computers, stories are created from gameplay sessions, and all the characters have individual personalities and relationships.

An example of possible future graphics
At its core it is a fantasy city simulation. You control a band of dwarfs embarking on a grand adventure, the creation of a dwarven fortress. Basically you designate tasks and control what dwarfs are able to do what tasks. All dwarfs can do anything, but at varying degree; Over time they acquire more skills and can do faster and better work. These tasks range from planting seeds and engraving walls all the way to patrolling caravan routes and attacking enemies, all of these tasks containing an insane amount of details.

The Ascii graphics of Dwarf Fortress
You start with seven dwarfs and over time more are born and migrate into your fortress. Your job is to manage and direct them, which is made easier with nobles. You can elect certain dwarfs to fill noble positions, these will will do a myriad of management jobs from cataloguing your inventory to issuing production orders for you.

One of the more interesting parts of Dwarf Fortress are the mechanisms. The dwarfs can set up complicated machines including floodgates, retracting bridges, and traps. In addition to the normal traps, players can set up groups of mechanisms to trap and kill the invaders using water, magma, or other more exotic means.

By default the game comes with ASCII art graphics, that I found very hard to read, but luckily their are many great graphics packs and other useful utilities and mods. As well as a many useful tutorials [1, 2] to help you get into the complex world of Dwarf Fortress.

A currently available graphics set (Phoebus)

And now for some interesting Dwarf Fortress stories:

The tragic but inspiring tale of BronzeMurder (illustrated).

An harrowing tale from the Dubious Quality blog.

Find more stories of Dwarf Fortress by looking under the category Dwarf Fortress.


  1. This is by far my most viewed page, it is strange really. Sure it is a great game, and this is a pretty good article in my opinion, but I would not of guessed that this article would of done so well.

  2. Cause' this site pops up on the first search page in Google when the words "Dwarf fortress" are typed in. Also, to some extent DF lives right on the border between cult and mainstream.

    Go to the Bay12 web site, and look up the 2010 report. DF has made a pretty large sum of pure donations in the last two years. Anyway this is the Internet and people are fickle to say the least, please don't assume I'm waving my finger. Honestly it's just nice to see an Indie ASCII game to so well.

  3. Still I would of thought that its success would just of prompted more sites to mention it and therefore push me out of the top page.

    And I have seen the donations, they are very impressive (and a lot higher then I would of guessed).

    Personally I do not care for the ascii that much, really hard to understand, but I love that a game with those minimal graphics could do so well. I also like how a game that is so complicated and hard to learn does so well. And lastly that a game that is so unique does so well.

  4. Hey, whatever works! Post some more recaps and I'll read em here.

  5. Build it in MINECRAFT!!!!!! NOW!!!!!

  6. It's something new and different for people used to rogue. That said, MineCraft is the perfect UI for this.

  7. Nice review and nice blog man, new follower.

    I'm getting back into the DF loop XD...god damnit haha

    Check me back at Limitfears.blogspot.com
    wordslol.blogspot.com if you'd like :D

  8. Thanks spaceman, recently tried to get back into playing it myself.

    Took me probably over an hour to figure out how to even do simple things like mine or create a workshop (I think they moved this last command).

  9. God, stop mentioning minecraft for this!
    And that are not 'future graphics' thats an utility, if you cant have fun whit the original ASCII graphics, youre not a dwarf.
    Also, 'UBILD IT IN MINECRAFT FIZPMIEZJFIMOE' is not really anything of a valid reponse. minecraft was BASED from this.
    Also, it is indeed hard to get into it without a tutorial, thats why we have youtube.
    Also, how did you forget boatmudered whit the stories? thats the mother of all df stories!