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How Two Seattle-Area Brothers Made Dwarf Fortress (seattleweekly.com)
301 points by robinhoodexe on June 8, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 115 comments

> The brothers find most of their data online, but it is only because of Dwarf Fortress that you can find the density of saguaro cactus wood on the Internet. When Tarn and Zach couldn’t find the number, a fan ordered cactus wood from a dealer, empirically determined the density using liquid displacement tests, and relayed back the results, which ended up in the game.

I suspect this author reads HN :) If anyone was curious, the thread where Saguaro wood's solid density was determined can be found here:


> NEW: The guesstimate of 300 kg/m^3 for Saguaro density in the V2 raws was probably wrong. I have a 6g piece of Saguaro wood with a volume of approximately 14 cm^3, which indicates that the density of Saguaro wood is approximately 430 kg/m^3. This number appears very reasonable when compared to all the other densities I have researched. I have more ~1 ft pieces of Saguaro rib wood than I know what to do with right now and I'm more than willing to ship them to people willing to do further research on the matter, or those who wish to duplicate my experiments.

In fact, there are two approximately 1" saguaro wood cubes sitting on my desk directly in front of me at this very moment.

Dwarf Fortress is a truly unique game and really worth putting in the effort to learn simply due to the stories it generates as you play - and it is amazing how the stories emerge from the ASCII symbols.

Here's an example of a story that happened to me. https://www.reddit.com/r/dwarffortress/comments/1mb0cw/the_s... Note: this story is in NO way embellished by me. Everything described there was actually fully simulated within the game.

Oh, I laughed out-loud (in a horrified way.) Thank you.

My favorite horrible moment playing dwarf fortress came one day when one of my dwarves was unable to find a required bit of silk to finish the artifact she had swimming in her head.

She went crazy, presumably from the frustration, and took it out on a dwarf near her in a dining room. Soon thereafter my happy fort of approximately 100 dwarves was down to 10 or 12 dwarves, only 2 unwounded. There were bodies everywhere. Blood was tracking through the fortress.

Dwarves were wandering around, then seeing bodies, vomiting, going crazy, attacking each-other. It was terrible.

Long story short, we ended up with two battle-scarred, insane but deadened dwarves and a beautiful fortress for them to share. Cleaning the bodies out took both of them a couple of years. They'd haul for a while, stop to vomit, then keep hauling. Every so often at first immigrants would show up, and the entire group would go crazy looking at the carnage, and we'd be back down to my two dwarves.

I was trying to imagine what they might want or feel after all that, and decided it was likely they would have fixated on something, so they pulled all the gold and gems into a little room and made a throne room. The tougher dwarf was detailed to clean and haul bodies and bones, the other one just sat in his throne room, brooding.

Finally the tougher one died; he had some sort of minor injury I hadn't noticed, and we were down to one.

I can't remember exactly what happened, but I think that one was on his way to clean something up as the sole surviver, got too close to the river, and that, as they say was that. He drowned horribly, mercifully.

I occasionally think about the two dwarves just cleaning up the castle, slowly going insane, and when I do, I appreciate Toady's work, and I laugh. Then I feel guilty.

I think the story of "Boatmurdered" is my favorite. A friend described it as "pee-your-pants funny".


Roomcarnage has a rather compelling story as well -


I remember reading that story ages ago! Poor Mosom.

Reading this article and all these comments makes me want to get back into DF. I just hope I remember how to play. :p

This is one of my favorite DF stories bar none. The last time you posted it here and I read it, I laughed so hard and showed it to so many people.

Since then, I lost the link and forgot the terms to search for it! I'm so glad you reposted it. =)

haha wow, I remember reading this several years ago. I really need to learn how to play that game...any reccomendations for how to learn?

I find the UI of Dwarf Fortress completely impenetrable, but am fascinated by the level of depth and granularity in the systems underlying the game.

If anyone is interested in the game, I recommend grabbing the Lazy Newb Pack[0] which comes with a few utilities that will make your experience slightly less infuriating.

[0] http://lazynewbpack.com/

Much like Eve, I prefer to read about others exploits than try and have my own.

Funny thing about Eve is that once you start playing it you realize it's... actually pretty "normal".

It's like the Australian Outback, you hear so many terrifying stories that you just assume every single thing in that place wants to kill you, but plenty of things live there.

Just like in Eve, your life in space will be pretty standard fare 99% of the time, even moving out to nullsec can be actually quite a... dare I say, mundane affair.

But it's that 1%... oh man, that 1%. The feuds, the rivalries, the deception, the betrayal.

It's almost like CCP are playing a cosmic version of Dwarf Fortress and the capsuleers are their dwarves.

What terrifying stories have you heard about the Australian Outback?

Having lived a large proportion of my life in what would be described as rural Australia, if not quite the Outback, I can't really think of anything that is actively trying to kill people.

People die because they were unlucky (trod on a poisonous snake perhaps) or they were stupid (traveling somewhere without adequate water and/or informing others of their whereabouts).

Snakes aren't actually trying to kill you, nor spiders, nor dingoes (unless you're a really small baby maybe), nor feral camels, nor kangaroos, nor the emus. The only think I can think of that maybe actively wants to kill you are the crocs, because they're top predator and have to eat. Also the vast majority of human deaths from croc attacks are also down to stupidity (swimming at night in a known crocodile area, for example). Even so, the crocs are in the north and I wouldn't necessarily call that the Outback either.

Anyway, genuinely curious about the terrifying stories and all the things trying to kill humans.

> I can't really think of anything that is actively trying to kill people.

[... proceeds to list a bunch of animals that kill people ...]

The point was that none of these animals actually want to kill people, which was stated in the parent post.

Drop bears, they are scary.

But who is Goon Swarm?

Something once strong, but now completely, utterly irrelevant? That would have to be the elephant.


An excellent question... their carp, maybe?

I never thought of eve and DF having anything in common, till I read your comment.

Upon further reflection, I only played both for the level of suffering involved in each. DF has the mantra "loosing is fun" and I played eve that same way.

That's one of the primary effects of having serious, permanent effects of death in a game, imho.

Perversely, it makes life / things / tasks less valuable. I used the example "there's only so much you'll do for one dwarf who might be killed by its own stupidity" vs "there's almost nothing a lot of people wouldn't do to acquire a for-the-rest-of-time legendary in WoW."

Once you get over the hump though, it's so worth it. The best game I've ever played. In fact, I go back to it all the time.

This is my current project: https://www.reddit.com/r/dwarffortress/comments/4n6yun/ochre...

The first stage was simply to dig out a big hollow cavern, with walkways and a central pillar of stairs. A chap has given me an idea about a bridge over the volcano and I think I will have a drawbridge block off the entrance once the invaders are quite close, and then marksdwarves can shoot down on them. We expect people to dodge off and into the magma.

I play MasterworkDF, which adds a number of things such as guilds and castes, but LNP is a good place to start.

For anyone who is a bit scared by it, just persevere. Start simple. Seven dwarves. Dig a hole in the ground. Start a mushroom farm. Brew some wine. Get a carpenters workshop. Make some beds. And barrels. And take it from there.

It'll be worth it.

I found that learning how one aspect (mining, farming, food, booze, fortifications, military, trading, etc) at a time helped.

I'd figure out how to get one aspect working (starting with the farming -> food/booze aspect), then something Fun would happen. I'd start a new game, figure out how to avoid that type of Fun, then get clobbered by another sort :D

*For people unfamiliar with the game, "Fun" encompasses Things Going Very Wrong Very Quickly.

I'm sure the Adams would disagree, but to me, the impenetrability is part of what makes it work so well as a game. A lot of basic tasks feel rewarding because they're hard to master.

They've actually dialed the difficulty back a bit. Used to be that you could die while trying to kill a bush...


N.B. this was a 3D predecessor to DF.

I played a few maps with some UI mods. Overall, I kind of like the experience because it reminds me of reading code in the matrix...

I do prefer the classic graphics for the same reason. I cannot, however, play without things like Dwarf Therapist anymore though.

What I don't get is while they add "depth" in a few selected areas (simulating stuff like dwarf organ function?) their choice of that awful ASCII UI means the entire game runs on a grid of really huge cubes. So while it's simulating a dwarf's digestion, nothing really can exist in the game that's less than, say, 5'x5'. Perplexing design choice.

I'm a dedicated gamer who has found countless hours of enjoyment from games like Minecraft and Crusader Kings 2. But in my attempts to play Dwarf Fortress, I felt like I was being trolled. Like the entire thing was some 'in' joke and by spending hours attempting to figure out the UI, I was the butt of said joke. I find time to play games like CK2 despite the poor UI and serious time commitments, but I'm a grown man with a job and I don't have time to play a game with what is quite possibly the worst UI in gaming history.

I have tried the game multiple times but have not had the patience to stick with it.

I am glad that it exists, though. I want to live in the kind of world where two brothers are happy to devote the majority of their life to a project like this.

Maybe it's the same impulse that drove the Voynich manuscript's creation.

Although they're out of date now, captain duck's tutorials on youtube demystify the entire thing a great deal. And most of the core concepts haven't changed much since he made the tutorials.

Believe it or not once you "get" the interface it's really not all that bad. There's one or two incredibly annoying intracacies - but get the lazy newb pack with dwarf therapist and you'll be in for an easier time.

I think it's best to play it when you have something you want to do, build or prove and to read about others playing it when you want a story.

I haven't really played the game itself for a while now, but I still love reading the stories of others playing in it.

I had the same feeling, then decided that DF should be packaged with one of the online wikis about the game.

Don't feel ashamed to look up how to do the game. There is a regularity, but the learning curve is very high. I think it's easier to think of DF like Blender more than like Sim City. You're using a "professional-quality" dwarf simulation tool, some manual reading is required.

I think DF is like Magic The Gathering in a way: Half of the fun is absorbing the mechanics and idiosynradicies of the game. It's fine not to like it, too.

The game is damn near impossible to play in its stock form. Look up the Lazy Newb pack and give it a try. The learning curve still is quite tough, but it's a real fun challenge.

It's actually not the worst UI at all. It's optimized for expert play. After a few days you can quickly do what you need to do in an efficient manner. It's a bit inconsistent but it's very functional. It's sort of like emacs in that at the beginning it seems perversely difficult but later feels very natural and powerful, despite some quirks.

It is not like Emacs. Emacs is sensible and logical. It is more like vi.

If this piques your interest and you have a few hours to kill, you might enjoy reading the Roomcarnage saga: http://imgur.com/a/xhQHE/layout/horizontal#0

Briefly, it's a very experienced DF player trying to conquer a frozen volcano who has written up his exploits in narrative form. Fun read and will give you a good idea of what DF is allabout.

Or, much earlier in Dwarf Fortress's history is possibly the most famous DF story, the epic saga of Boatmurdered: http://lparchive.org/Dwarf-Fortress-Boatmurdered/Introductio...

I guess this is the article that makes me realize I'm out of touch. I was super excited to see what kind of small castle they built, how they did it with just two people, and I also had lots of legal questions about building castles. Oh well, this looks neat too!

Edit: was expecting something like this, for those of you now interested in home-castle-building-stories: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2280764/Farmer-told-...

This is what I thought it'd be, too, only I mis-read fortress as forest and thought about a really cool park-like area with tiny trees.

So: Dwarf Fortress in a forest with an aquifer down in the soil.

It takes a year to build a wooden hall large enough for most of the workshops, on one side of the river, while on the other side digging out a collapse to drop soil into the acquifer. A lovely wooden bridge and wooden tile road is the meeting area to keep the dwarves happy while they have no stone.

The dwarf with the only pickaxe falls into the watery pit under the collapse and drowns. I have to wait half a year to trade for another while the dwarves live on fish and berries in their hall. They are haunted by the ghost of the miner, as there is no stone for for a engraved slab in the graveyard. Cherry blossoms litter the ground, and blow into the half-finished excavation.

A crafter is possessed and wants stone, the one thing we don't have. What little the drwarves traded for had to go to other uses. A great pile of wooden crafts is building up. Just as well there are no elven neighbors. The crafter becomes melancholy, and wanders about the fisherdwarves, watching them. Sometimes he stands in the middle of the river.

After trading a new pick, the next miner knocks out the remaining support, and the collapse happens. But, alas, the aquifer is two levels thick! Only one level is smushed dry with the collapsed soil. We trade for rock, build a new structure in the now open watery pit. Two dwarves fall in that season during the construction, adding more drowned victims and wailing ghosts.

The construction of stone walls in the pit is knocked down at the cost of yet another dwarf - yet it isn't enough to breach the aquifer. Woe. The pit is now littered with rock and bodies and materials.

There is only one other thing to do; build a stack of wooden pumps, stairs, landings down into the pit, and an aquaduct to the river. Pump it dry and send in dwarfs to build walls and lock away the water.

All of this and still not at the point of the exercise - to raise a great hollow tower of stone over the river and a deep pit of stairs beneath, and tear down the hall of wood for charcoal. So it continues.

Some other interesting articles form the past:



I have played quite a bit of the game and it is amazing despite its insane and sometimes frustrating UI.

Dwarf Fortress is truly an inspiring project, not only because of how amazingly fun and engrossing the game is if you can get into it (granted, it's not for everyone), but also because of the sheer amount of dedication and love that is put into it by Tarn and Zach Adams.

Along with the community. They donate $60k per year which is incredibly impressive given its size.

I'm torn between "That's better than the $30k it was the last time we discussed this years ago, which was itself better than $0" and "If one produces something as staggeringly joy-bringing as Dwarf Fortress, one can fairly easily avoid being a starving artist by applying single-digit hours of worksmanlike execution on monetization."

This has been their performance:

  2015:     $60603.43
  2014:     $66765.31
  2013:     $48999.11
  2012:     $57854.88
  2011:     $42294.19
  2010:     $54501.15
  2009:     $32516.44
  2008:     $32318.46
  2007:     $19052.28
That's pretty damn good for such a cult game. I'm not sure there's really any better way to monetize it than rely on donations.

I'm going to give a very boring answer with regards to monetization strategy: they should sell licenses to Dwarf Fortress, or Dwarf Fortress Supporter Edition, which is distinguished from DF Vanilla by saying that it's the supporter edition and maybe some cosmetic change somewhere.

I would price it at $19, where it would be towards the top-end of indie games on Steam; by the standards of people who enjoy Dwarf Fortress, Dwarf Fortress ROFLstomps the depth and quality of any other $19 entertainment option.

I would then immediately solicit inclusion in a Humble Bundle, in the expectation that Humble Bundle would leap at the chance. One could envision a rougelike or Df-alike bundle; I anticipate that Humble Bundle would give DF top billing in whatever deal was negotiated. I would model that Humble Bundle as doing > $800k in sales, of which DF's take would be > ~$80k. Throw in "and we'll use Humble as our exclusive e-commerce provider for 12 months" since I think it is fairly clear that the authors don't want to be in the e-commerce business; that gives Humble ~10% of their gross revenue for next year.

Stage 3 of the master plan: get the game onto Steam. This might require $X,000 worth of production-ready art and video assets to satisfy Steam's requirements; $X,000 will not be a material amount of money to Dwarf Fortress, LLC.

The above unsolicited opinions are coming from a place of love for small software businesses generally and Dwarf Fortress in particular. Strike the earth.

It's a little known story, but there used to be 80+ people working on dwarf fortress years ago. One of them came up with a plan very similar to yours. However, when things didn't work out and he wasn't able to pull it off he went mad. He ended up killing a secretary with a plastic plant, cutting himself with a shard from a glass which was knocked off the table. He went back to his cubicle where he bled to death. The rest of the staff arrived later and upon seeing this also went mad. Only the two brothers survived because someone accidentally built the cube walls so their area no longer connected to the rest of the office and they never found out about it. They toil away on it to this day.

End result being that it's no different from current model (free/pay-if-you-want), but now there is a somewhat high anchor for the donation price, and a more polished presentation to a broader audience. The catch--without correct marketing (along the lines of "losing is fun") for their obfuscatory UX, they will catch endless amounts of flak and backlash. People who search out DF are predisposed to, or learn how to, enjoy the UX. Once you start selling DF and foisting it onto broader audiences, the expectations shift.

I think this analysis assumes that Dwarf Fortress has reached only a small fraction of its total addressable market (that is, the space of players who can enjoy DF without large improvements to new player onboarding). Any fixed-price offering risks cannibalizing Patreon subscriptions, whose expected LTV is probably _much greater_ than $19.

Their chosen tradeoff makes more sense if you think of it as "subscriptions versus one-offs" instead of "sales versus donations".

Even given that I stopped playing and probably will never find the time to touch DF again (unless singularity) I would still buy that Supporter Edition.

And thanks patio11 for that plan, sounds fascinating, as always.

I guess I saw his proposal as more about customer acquisition; those of us who already know and love the game can send Tarn $19 any time we want, right here: http://www.bay12games.com/support.html

Sincerely, what you say sounds great from a bussiness perspective but maybe not from a lifestyle perspective (putting myself in Tarn & Zach's shoes).

Maybe something like that would be the kind of thing that would transform a work of passion into a boring bussiness full of obligations (to users, press, investors, Steam and whatnot). Worse even, after reading interviews with the Adams brothers I guess following a road like that maybe would even burn them after some years and end game development.

It's the difference of doing something for the money that can be extracted from it in contrast with doing something for passion and the joy of doing it. In some cases (or maybe for some personalities) these overlap, but in other cases they don't and it's ok, every person is different.

I always play Dwarf Fortress when I am waiting in the airport and there's always someone near me who thinks I'm "computer hacking".

Whoa, how do you play without a numeric keypad. I can't even begin to play without it due to muscle memory...

My laptop has a numeric keypad actually (Dell inspiron 15). And yes I can't imagine playing without it.

I bought a USB numpad for my T60 laptop so I could play.

++ large laptops.

Lazy Newb Pack comes with a laptop keybinding set that is pretty good.

I've been playing since about 2009 or so, and I've actually almost never used a numeric keypad. Unless I'm forgetting something in some deep part of my settings, you don't actually need anything in particular from the numeric pad that you don't get from a standard laptop keyboard layout.

Nethack/modified vim key binds

Arrow keys

Given the long-play nature of the game, would a mobile version of the game work for more casual play-and-pause?

I highly doubt it. The interaction required by the user wouldn't suit a mobile game very well. Additionally, the game is CPU intensive and would, as is, drain the battery very quickly.

I imagine both these issues would mean a massive refactoring in order to bring it to mobile.

Playing via telnet to a remote server is the best chance.

It seems it uses OpenGL[0], so to play via telnet (or, better, ssh) you'd still need to rewrite at least the UI part of the game.

Or use VNC...

[0] http://www.bay12forums.com/smf/index.php?topic=20395.0

(inspired by the other Elite thread)

Is there something like a Dwarf Fortress in Space? I know about FTL, but there you have too much control over the crew.

Like FTL but with Dwarf Fortress like gameplay. "And then my ship got invaded by alien mind slugs and everybody want insane" or "The mourning captain shut himself up in the bridge and shortly afterwards we flew into a sun" or "We transported a herd of alien-cows which resulted in a stempede through the canteen".

Sometimes I really wish the FTL crew did have some semblance of intelligence. It's so easy to miss a small detail that leads to the death of a crew member simply because they can't be bothered to go through a door to save themselves.

I currently think of the game as a ship AI simulator. You, the player, are the AI of the ship. The crew members, upon boarding the ship, are injected with some form of mind-control tech that provides total obedience. Therefore, the crew have no free will. They will do whatever you command, even if it'll lead to their deaths.

A bonus to support the theory is the mind-control module you can get installed on your ship. This module takes control over an enemy crew member by hacking into that ship's mind-control tech.

Space Station 13. It's a free multiplayer game with a lot of intricacy, bad UI, and story generation.

I had no idea that this game is essentially their life's work. Playing that looks like the equivalent of reading raw Matrix code.

I don't see code, anymore. I just see dwarves, goblins... cats...

But really, the graphics aren't that bad. No worse than any other roguelike.

I was actually pretty impressed by Dwarf Fortress's use of the extended ASCII set (or whatever the technical name is). Most of the non-creature symbols were easy enough to guess based on appearances.

And for animals, it's mostly the first letter of the animal's name, colored like the animal, and upper- or lower-case based on the animal's size.

The stock character set is modified code page 437.


Suppose so. Have you seen Caves of Qud? That's a good middle ground.

My first roguelike was Mission: Thunderbolt, on Mac Classic.

Even back in 1992 it was hugely easier to play than Dwarf Fortress is now. And, IMO, way more fun.

I don't find the graphics to be too much of an issue, and there are tilesets and whatnot you can use to replace the ASCII with something a little more friendly. However, it's the UI itself that presents the real barrier to entry. Absolutely nothing is obvious or intuitive, so every single thing must be learned via wikis, tutorials, etc. Worse yet, it's not at all clear what is possible without exhaustively looking though all the menus. Crucial functionality is buried all around the UI, and many veteran players will simply concede that other programs are needed to manage the dwarves; the UI simply isn't up to the task for anything but a trivial fortress.

Contrast this to a game like Angband which shares the funky UI and ASCII interface, but is still perfectly functional. And I certainly understand why it's like this; making an effective UI would be a significant challenge and distract from making the game itself, a monumental task. Still, they could release something like a DF API that lets others write UIs to access/play the game. Tarn has said he's considered this, but thinks it's too much work:

> I've thought about it. It seems like it would take a lot of work to maintain. I ditched the crappy 3D graphics of Armok 1, and adding features is so much faster now. This seems similar. There are lots and lots and lots of data structures, and the API would not be a simple thing, and it wouldn't be something I could just do once and then forget about.


FWIW, DFHack is basically capable of this, but it's not something you can build on too much.

Perhaps when (if) the game is feature complete, they'll release an API and open source UIs will flourish.

I've had so many hours of entertainment playing Dwarf Fortress I usually donate $10-$20 every major release. Well worth it if you can get past the UI.

If you like Dwarf Fortress, you might like a game called: Factorio

If you didn't like the way Dwarf Fortress looked and handled, but you love the idea of a "roguelike colony builder" with a lot of potential for random happenstance and failure, this might be a more enjoyable choice:

Rimworld - http://rimworldgame.com/

It's a bit of a spiritual successor, and like DF it's developed without a supporting team (by Tynan Sylvester)

What I don't like about Rimworld (and Gnomoria, to lesser degree Banished) is early game difficulty. In DF all you have to do is build farm + still, after that all is up to player to decide. In other games missing a single element( like cooling in Rimworld) ends with almost everyone dead in single season.

I don't think DF can be accused of being too easy early-game, but maybe that's just me.

That game sucked up a ton of my time. Still waiting for the next patch.

It is really interesting and I almost feel like I am writing code at some points, having the machines automate themselves.

I haven't even started playing with the circuits yet which allows you to do even more programming.

> I almost feel like I am writing code at some points

I have this theory that the game designer(s?) actually took some pages from a multithreaded programming book and turned them into a game. A kind of meta-game.

Items are messages, transport belts are buffers with blocking writes, factories are actors, scheduling is roundrobin with preemption. Flying robots are a metaphor for references. Everything is as a pull model, and you can see the backpressure progating up the chain.

I'd love to see the implementation. I bet there is no modeling, everything directly mapped to some core programming primitive.

> I bet there is no modeling, everything directly mapped to some core programming primitive.

Yes, I'm sure the game's flying robots are implemented as a simple pointer and nothing else, no additional data to model for a name or any animation or where it comes from or where it goes to or anything like that at all.

I love factorio.

Try Bob's mods. Increases depth by about 2-3x. Quite fun.

I played both. They're nothing alike at all.

They're nothing alike, but I find they scratch a very similar itch.

Since we are discussing rougelikes and similar games, I am going to take this opportunity to recommend Cataclysm DDA[0]

It's a rougelike in a zombie apocalypse.

[0] http://smf.cataclysmdda.com/

Tarn's dissertation "Flat Chains in Banach Spaces" is truly awesome, if you have enough domain knowledge to understand what it's talking about. I love those guys.

I enjoy math, but I'm nowhere near experienced enough to follow that paper. There wouldn't happen to be an annotated version or some kind of summary of it, would there? I've always wanted to know what it was about.

He tries to explain it at the end of this interview: http://www.bay12games.com/media/df_talk_8_transcript.html

Given the game's huge following, they should pledge to open source the code before they die so the saga can continue. :) If they don't make money from direct sales, why not open source the game now?

Given their age, it's unlikely they'd both die at the same time and be unable to open source it. Unless they dig in the wrong place in their backyard, I suppose.

To be honest I think Tarn isn't wanting to release the source for a couple of reasons:

A - He wants complete control of the direction that the game is heading,

B - He's not proud of the source code, from interviews and such and the length of the project I think it's rather a mess, and due to the fact that the game gets new features all the time, it's not getting refactored any time soon.

In a way it's a shame - the dwarf fortress community has been fighting "FPS death" of fortresses, when the simulation of all the stuff on your fortress reaches the point where the game crawls along so slowly it's unplayable. And this happens sooner than you'd think. People have been pushing to get the game multithreaded for years but unfortunately it's just not happening. Yet on the other hand I respect Tarns decision to want complete control over the direction of the game - yet there are already mods out there that completely change that anyway.

They are extremely protective and jealous of DF. Maybe when they retire, or escrown in their will

I think they have pledged to release the code when they die.

A copy of their source code is supposedly on file with the Library of Congress, but I can't find proof of this as I search right now.

This is the usual practice for registering copyrights, but I don't think you need to send the whole source.

The first 25 pages of dwarf fortress code is probably really interesting actually;



Anyone read The O'Reilly book about this and can comment on it? I've been wanting to try this game but really don't want to spend the overhead time just digging through learning on my own.


Truly awe-inspiring and inspirational work. Over a decade spent working on that one game. A bit over two years ago I started working on my own similar type of game (a Dwarf-Fortress-like or DF-like if you will) and it's given me so much appreciation for the insanity that is game development. The sheer amount of time it takes to build out a system with so much depth is incredible. I've probably been working an average of 8-10 hours a week for 2 years and I have but a fraction of the functionality. Dwarf Fortress stands as a bastion of inspiration I can look to any time I feel like quitting.

Just spent a bit of time working around some problems to get Dwarf Fortress and the Lazy Newb Pack installed on Ubuntu 16.04.

It's a bit more complicated than running it on Windows, but still works just fine: https://tutorialinux.com/install-dwarf-fortress-ubuntu-16-04...


If I had a nickel for every time I've said that...

Man I really like playing DF I just can't get myself installing X(quartz) for it on OSX so right now I am lacking a machine to run it on.

It should be possible to run without X. Set print-mode to text, it's supposed to work in a terminal.

I'm not sure if that code works on OS X, but if it doesn't, you can still run it on a server. The interface won't be perfect, though, and you'll need to remap some keybindings.

The article repeatedly stresses how "influential" DF was, and it bothers me a bit. Dwarf Fortress is one of the greatest achievements in video game history because of its unparalleled complexity, but it's pretty much a niche game. It wasn't, I think, very influential at all. There are many adjectives we can use to describe this work. Monumental springs to mind. But not influential.

Off the top of my head the following games are directly influenced by it

1) Minecraft - Thence terraria and other similar 2d platformers

1.1) Minecraft clones, and several more voxel manipulation games

2) Prison Architect and Gnomoria


And this is influence drawn from the 2008 arc of the project.

The next part of the project should involve the creation of the plane of existence - where Adams has said that he will be drawing on multiple different forms of mythology to create magic systems and creation myths.

His last talk showed how <Cosmic Egg> + <Chaos> gave <birth> to <First ones>

<Cosmic Egg> <Cracked> and gave rise to the earth and ocean.

etc. etc - Until you have playable races.

ANd thats just a minor portion of the recent changes - all of which will go on to inspire and influence other games (or put people off entirely, with DF you never know)

I don't think Minecraft was influenced by DF to any significant degree, and prison architect is not what you would call an important game.

"Dwarf Fortress is the main inspiration for the survival game mode, and this is where I want to take the majority of the gameplay." (emphasis mine) --May 2009

You can argue he didn't even come close to fulfilling that goal.

To be influential, something has to be popular or at least known about amongst creators. From my experience in game development, almost everyone I worked with knew about Dwarf Fortress, and a good chunk of them had played it at least once.

Similarly, musicians like Frank Zappa and Swans exert a larger influence (because musicians like them) than their popularity would suggest.

It influenced Minecraft.

Did it? How so? It has almost no mechanics in common apart from procedural terrain generation.

Sims as well.

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