The Basics ● Company: Bay12 Games/Tarn “ToadyOne” Adams ● Roguelike Godgame ● Free – Company Operates on Donation
Hardware And Software ● Stated Requirements: None ● Practical Requirements: – Windows or Linux (Doesn't play nice with Mac) – 1gb RAM – The biggest, beefiest CPU available – No graphics card required*
Overview ● Dwarf Fortress is a storyless, free-form game in which the player controls, manages, and grows a newly established dwarven outpost in a procedurally created fantasy world. They contend with many and varied hazards, such as hostile wildlife, goblin invasions, hunger and starvation, unstable dwarven psychology, and scarcity of needed resources.
The Player's Role As a “Godgame” the player takes on the role of unseen supervisor setting various goals and strategies for the dwarves they are in charge of. In most cases, however, dwarves cannot be directly ordered to do anything – tasks are set and the dwarves get around to doing them eventually, in between sleeping, eating, drinking, throwing parties, sleeping some more, and going violently insane.
Installation ● No formal installation process. ● Player downloads and extracts a compressed file containing the entire game, which is ready to play via the executable upon extraction. ● Many players opt to download and “install” (place new graphics files into a folder) graphical overhauls for the game, available from various third parties.
User Interface ● Mouse-and-Keyboard (though many dispense with using the mouse) ● ASCII based, with optional graphical sets. ● Tasks and actions chosen from a tiered, hierarchical list. ● World exists in 3D – player views from above, and can “step” up and down the various levels on the z-axis.
Gameplay ● Gameplay generally consists of the challenge in balancing the complex interactions between the dwarves and their environment (including each other) to prevent complete disaster. ● Because dwarves can only be influenced and not directly controlled, not all problems can be immediately solved – their repercussions must be dealt with rather than avoided entirely.
Gameplay Continued ● As outposts increase in size due to birth and immigration, players contend with more threats. ● Foreign invasions from goblins, elves, and humans (the latter two are not always enemies and can also be traded with). ● Attacks by dragons and other “megabeasts.” ● Internal discord
Scoring, Achievement, and “Losing Is Fun” ● No Win Conditions. Goals are defined by the player. ● Player community focuses on megastructures, elaborate mechanical achievements (computers, traps, etc). ● In earlier versions and many mods, eventual destruction of the fortress is almost certain. ● Due to zaniness of some mechanics, this destruction can be very amusing. A motto of the DF community is “Losing is Fun.”
Artwork and Sound ● Roguelike: ASCII or 2D art only – static pictures moving about on a tiled map. ● Third-party viewers have been created to read the world data and present prettier views. ● MIDI sound and music – best when turned off.
Ongoing Development ● Dwarf Fortress is the “life's work” of Tarn Adams, and new features are added with each development release (on average, every four to six months).
The Good ● Due to the level of detail in the world environment and physics, Dwarf Fortress provides an almost endless exploration space for the player. The sheer complexity of the game is awe-inspiring. ● With player-defined goals, mods, and limitations, Dwarf Fortress can become almost any other sort of game. RPG, Strategy, economy sim, etc.
The Bad ● A focus on complexity and depth over ease-of- use has discouraged many players. ● The ongoing state of development has shifted to adding many new features without fully fleshing each one out before moving on. ● Inefficient AI and pathfinding bog down even powerful machines when lots of creatures are in-game at once. Heavily populated fortresses run very slowly.
Comparisons ● There aren't really any games that are “like” Dwarf Fortress. There are only games that are like parts of Dwarf Fortress – and many were inspired by it. ● These other games often take one aspect and focus on it, such as Minecraft with underground exploration and terrain modification. ● Trades complexity for ease-of-learning, streamlined experience.
Who should play? Is It Worth Supporting? ● Because the game itself is free, it can be played without cost. Those who enjoy it and wish to see it further developed often donate. ● Anybody who enjoys procedural world generation, complex game systems, modding, or customizing their own game experiences may enjoy Dwarf Fortress. Players who enjoy a game that lets them create stories may also.