Dwarf Fortress

Let’s talk about this Dwarf Fortress game.

Yes, I’m finally going to sit down and talk about this recently found obsession of mine. If you’ve read a few of my previous posts, you’ll know that I have found myself addicted to this shiny little indie title. You’ll also be familiar with the concept of Fun, along with the fact that the game looks like an 80s MS-DOS game spat out the worst combination of ASCII graphics it could find. There’s tons of graphical packs for the game, but when it comes down to it the only real answer to it is this:

Here's your DwarfYou know how people praise Minecraft for its minimalistic approach to graphics while still offering good gameplay and depth? Well, imagine the same kind of balance being applied to a game that has no graphics.

Yes, it means the game is harder to learn and get into, and trust me, even with a graphical pack is still is a hard one to learn. That’s where Fun kicks in. You will lose your fort early one. You won’t just lose your first fort quickly, prepare to lose a whole bunch of them before you figure out how to make one that lasts for at least a couple of years. This is part of the Fun of the game. If you’ve ever played an oldschool action game, you might remember how you happily charge through a level after many attempts involving trial and error. The first bunch of times you play you get slaughtered before you know what to do, but after enough tries you’ll find yourself easily waltzing past obstacles you earlier thought were impossible. Dwarf Fortress is all about this.

So, you decide to start a fort, what should you expect?

Well, first you’ll have to start digging up an entrance and a couple of rooms. Move your items inside, as you don’t want your entire storage right there at the entrance. Who knows what kind of weirdos will come over to snatch your unfortified goods?

You’ll also want to chop down a bunch of trees and pick some fruits and plants while you’re at it. You’ll need the wood for beds and other things, and it’s never a bad idea to stock up on food. Oh, just don’t chop trees when there’s elves watching you. They’re kind of fond of the things. Don’t think about trading wooden objects with them either, you’ll have an army at your doorstep before you can “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay.”

It won’t take long before you start digging down several floors and start arranging barracks, meeting areas, kitchens, workshops and farms. Oh, if you plan to use farms, you better find a way to get the ground wet first. Either do this by dumping water downstairs from one floor up (Dwarves don’t want to dump water on the spot they’re standing on) or flooding a floor with underground rivers. If you do flood a floor, try not to flood your own dwarves. It’s all too easy to miscalculate the amount of water and drown a bunch of your dwarves. Safer ways include creating floodgates and trying to control the flow of the water, but if it’s your first time playing chances are you won’t know how to do this.

Machinery and traps can get quite tricky, as there’s quite a lot you can do with them in the game. It’s gotten to the point a player actually made an in-game logical computer.

Think you’ve got a decent idea of the game yet? We haven’t even gotten started about trading, building armies, getting attacked, setting traps, how to craft items, how you should keep your dwarves drunk, how deep battle systems get… Heck, we haven’t even scratched the surface of the game. This is just what you can expect from the first 10-20 minutes of playing the game, not even counting world generation and choosing a fort.

Dwarf Fortress is an amazingly deep game. It constantly astounds me just how far some of this goes.

I once got taken off guard early in the game. I’ll admit, I’m still quite new to the game, so my priorities weren’t completely sorted out yet. Most of my dwarves were downstairs, some of them digging what was soon to be an underground farm. Others were crafting or moving food from one storage too close to the entrance to the new one. All of a sudden, this yeti barged into the fortress, since the entrance was completely left open, he had no problems getting inside. Before I could even figure out what to do, a bunch of dogs that some of the dwarves had taken in as pets started charging at the yeti. Looking at the battlelogs, they kept jumping him from every possible angle, tearing at his neck. A few seconds later all the ASCII surrounding the area had taken a liking to the color red. Not too long after the yeti was moved to the refuse pile by a dwarf cleaning up after the mess.

To make things better, one of the pet cats kept taking that corpse from the refuse pile. Why? He wanted to bring it to his owner. At one point he kept leaving it in his bedroom.

I think I’ve just found the game I’ll be playing for most of this year.

If you haven’t tried it out yet, you can download this game for free from the official site. However, if you feel like you might need help playing it, there is a tutorial version on this site.

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