Roburky’s Dwarf Fortress Diary

By RPS on June 14th, 2009 at 8:40 pm.


RPS chum Robin “Roburky” Burkinshaw is fast becoming something of a celebrity PC gaming diarist, with his recent Sims 3 diary blog attracting enormous attention from across the gaming sphere, and even from mainstream media. We, however, asked him to write something that definitely won’t get into Entertainment Weekly: the journal of a Dwarf Fortress campaign. What he came back with gives you some idea of just how insanely detailed the Dwarf Fortress world really is, and how much an incomplete simulation is likely to land hapless dwarves in trouble. Tales of fish dissectors, rivers of vomit, and doomed architectural improvisation follow.


Dwarf Fortress is a management game from another world. So detailed is its simulation of harsh and bloody dwarven existence that reading the creator’s development log is like reading updates from a deity as it puts together a new planet.

22nd May 2008: Handled talking to babies.
9th November 2008: Remembered to make ribs internal.
3rd January 2009: Wrote up organ strikes, but it keeps crashing when I hit the spleen.

You’ve likely already come to a conclusion whether you’re a person capable of delving beyond the alien interface to meet this amazing game for yourself, but before you make any further judgments, allow me to tell you a story of a band of dwarves who left their dwarven city, and established a new settlement that they called ‘SquashedBrains’.

I started this game shortly after Dwarf Fortress’ introduction of the third dimension, back in 2007. It was an exciting time for those who had played the previous versions, with lots of new features to experiment with. One of these was the ability to build constructions. Previously, you could only mine out the rock and create rooms out of what you left behind. Now you could build walls, and potentially make buildings of your own on the surface.

I felt it was clear that I should start a Tower of Babel project as soon as possible. How high could we go? Was there an upper limit to this world? What would happen if I reached it?

We began the construction next to our main fortress entrance. It was five tiles wide, and five tiles long, with a staircase in the corner. It was fiddly work, as constructed walls and floors had to be designated one tile at a time, but things were nevertheless progressing well. I had a team of very highly skilled masons working on it full-time. On the third floor, however, all of my masons got themselves stuck. They had chosen to build the walls before the floors, and had walked along the top of the walls of the level below, built a new wall on top of it, and left themselves no route back to the staircase.

I assigned some peasants to be emergency masons to try and finish the floor to let them out, but their unskilled hands were not working fast enough. My stranded dwarves were starving to death. Drastic measures were called for. I designated the wall they were standing on for demolition.

The result? Massive structural collapse. The screen is entirely obscured by clouds of dust and smoke. But it’s a kind of success. The masons were now lying on the grass outside the tower, unconscious but unhurt. The only casualty was my fish dissector, who died in the middle of the collapse, according to the message log. I presume he got hit in the head while passing by underneath, but I couldn’t really tell what happened with all the smoke.

It wasn’t until a whole game year later that I noticed what the single teal coloured stripy square was on every level of my fortress. Using the ‘look at’ command that gives you detailed information on the contents of a tile, I discovered that symbol meant ‘open space’. It seems that much of the tower had collapsed onto a single square, and punched a hole through my entire goddamned fortress. There is a gap in the floor of my tomb, my prison, my mighty statue party room, the mayor’s bedroom, and several stairways. Seven levels below the ground, beneath all of the holes, there is an almighty pile of stone and a pool of blood. That, I suspect, was the resting place of the fish dissector.

My dwarves are a practical people. We used the hole for an elegant solution to our stone clutter problem. Whenever you expand your mountain home, there is always the question of what to do with all of the stone that gets mined out. Once upon a time, we would create an enormous stockpile outside and carry them out one by one and stack them in orderly rows. Then I changed to ordering my masons to build stone blocks out of it all, which took up much less storage space, and could be used to construct higher quality buildings. Over the years, however, it still took up too much space.

But thanks to my failed career as a skyscraper architect, we now had a handy garbage chute on every level of the fortress. Some quick setting up of rubbish zones over the gap, and then designating some rock for dumping, and all the useless clutter in our home gets chucked down the hole to join the fish dissector’s bodily fluids at the bottom. A new age of efficiency for the fortress began.

Then the hydra came. Which was rather inconvenient. With all the ambitious construction projects going ahead, I hadn’t actually got around to developing a military to deal with the monsters that Dwarf Fortress throws at you.

I called all of my dwarves inside, forbade them from leaving, and prepared to press them all into emergency military service. The hydra sprinted across the map, directly towards my fortress entrance next to the collapsed tower. It forced its way through the front door, and was caught by my single cage trap as it charged across the entrance hall.

I was honestly surprised to see that work on a giant monster. My fortress was saved, but I now had the problem of an enormous multi-headed mythical creature in a little wooden cage. It was sitting in my animal stockpile alongside the cows and camels. I dug out a room a little way down the cliff from my fortress entrance, and put the hydra in there, surrounded with engraved pillars. It would be a shrine to the fortune of SquashedBrains.

As soon as this was done, however, a titan arrived. It entered the map behind a visiting dwarven trade caravan. Their armed guard immediately sprang into action, and the most unbelievably epic battle that I have ever observed – through the medium of textual wound and status readouts – took place.

The dwarves piled on to the approaching titan, but it rapidly killed the majority, and sent the remainder fleeing for their lives. This left a single caravan guard to fight the colossal text entity on his own. This axe-dwarf was described as ‘unbelievably agile’, and was fighting the giant creature bare-handed, his weapon having been irretrievably lodged in the titan’s shoulder early on in the struggle. This duel went on for days, possibly months of in-game time. They were both tired and over-exerted, and would occasionally slip into unconsciousness. The titan was dripping in dwarf blood from head to toe. There were steel axes sticking out of his arms and hands, and he was trying to beat down the dwarf using a steel helmet stolen from a dwarf corpse. Eventually, finally, brilliantly, the dwarf was victorious, and the titan fell.

My one actual, trained soldier slept through the entire event. All he got to see of the titan was its bones being made into crossbow bolts as the saviour of SquashedBrains and his caravan went riding off into the sunset. Having only narrowly avoided destruction by two different giant monsters by sheer chance, I decided that I needed a military. I drafted almost half of my population into the army and set them training. They didn’t manage to get much training done before another calamity struck: a goblin horde arrived, and was going to besiege the fortress. Could my luck possibly hold?

Back in 2007, there was a bug with Dwarf Fortress that meant that goblin sieges often didn’t actually attack your fortress. If they didn’t see a dwarf, they would mill around on the edges of the map, and eventually go home.

These goblins did see a dwarf, however, because most of my untrained army decided to launch an attack on the legions of mounted goblins and their superhumanly tough human swordsmen leaders. Needless to say, the eager dwarf combatants were cut to pieces without landing a single blow. Attempting to mitigate the destruction, I marked their bodies and equipment as forbidden, which would prevent the civilian dwarves from coming out to retrieve them. By the time the goblin army left, there was was a field of rotten dwarf corpses spread out in front of the fortress. I decided, with the enemy gone, that it was probably safe to let the other dwarves bury the poor bastards.

But Dwarf Fortress is designed for even this eventuality. It turns out that dwarves react to walking out into a battlefield covered in putrified blood and rotting corpses by vomiting in horror. There’s far more spew out by the river now than there was blood in the first place.

Not all was bodily fluids and horror, however. One of my soldiers had been looking after a baby, which survived the siege. Her soldier friend then adopted the child, and then later had a baby herself. So she was soon carrying two babies with her everywhere. Needless to say, she really wasn’t getting a lot of soldiering done. I decided I would turn her back into a civilian until the kids grew up a bit.

In fact a lot of the dwarfs that died had friends. Friends who had to pick up rotting chunks of their former buddies off the ground, and have consequently been incredibly miserable. They’ve also been periodically getting angry at the world and smashing random stuff in the fortress. One dwarf lost one too many friends in the battle for him to recover. He went mad and threw himself 13 levels down the garbage chute. He’s now lying unconscious at the bottom with his legs smashed to pieces. Nobody wants to help rescue him.

The aftermath of war is horrible. And in the game.

With so many dead, incompetent, war heroes, I needed a proper place to bury them. I had recently found an underground bottomless chasm, and I decided a mass tomb overlooking the edge would be a fitting and impressive location. Between each coffin was a pillar lovingly engraved with images of cackling goblins and dying dwarves.

When it was finished, I started digging channels on the layer above, to divert water from a nearby river closer to the main fortress so I could make a well. But I accidentally cut the channel into the tomb. The river is now flowing through the tomb, creating a waterfall into the chasm.

One dwarf was caught inside when it happened, burying her friend, and she has been swimming against the flow for a season, now. She’s going to die, but at least she’s improving her swimming skill, and has been “comforted by a lovely waterfall”.

War was bad. But fantasy fauna would be worse.

A dragon arrived.

I suppose I survived the first two giant monster attacks through luck, and situations outside my control. SquashedBrains was out of luck, it seems, and no random occurrence was going to make this dragon attack easier on the fortress.

I had, of course, made some preparations for monster attacks. I had removed what was a very easily accessible stairway direct to every floor on my fortress, and instead put the western entrance to my fortress inside my lead tower of towering doom. On the first floor down I had set up a barracks and an archery range, so my remaining marksdwarves-in-training would never be far away from an attacking beast. They were still entirely untrained, but it was the best we can do that this stage.

Ramul Kortilrane the dragon swooped down straight towards the base of my tower. I called the dwarves back inside, and locked the doors. He arrived and stood there between the decorative statues by the gate.

I wasn’t going to be bullied off my own land. I sent the marksdwarves out to the ground floor of the tower. I had cut some fortifications into the walls on this level so that my crossbow-armed dwarves could shoot out at nearby targets. They marched up the stairs, … then cowered in the back corner away from the dragon. The dragon got very excited by this. He knocked over a statue, and began breathing fire all over the tower. Then he leapt straight up to the windows and melted the dwarf standing furthest forward.

I unlocked the door and instructed cowardly marksdwarves to get back outside. There was no point risking lives if they weren’t going to use the fortifications properly. I don’t really know what happened next, as everything was obscured by smoke. But it must have been a truly heroic battle, because, when it cleared, both the dragon and all of my marksdwarves were dead.

Of course, there were quite a few things on fire, too. And that fire was spreading. A fire spreading in ASCII. I lost an additional nine dwarves before I even realised what was happening. Developer Tarn Adams has created some amazingly detailed systems for temperature and fire in this game, but teaching dwarves how to react to those conditions is still on his to-do list. For all the intricacy and cleverness of the dwarf simulations, they had no way of dealing with a burning fortress. Soon another goblin army arrived to siege the fortress. Their work would not be difficult. The entire thing was ablaze, and my sixteen remaining dwarves were all bedridden, incapacitated with severe burns.

And that is how the tale of the fortress of SquashedBrains came to an end.

[Get Dwarf Fortress here, and check out the video tutorials here.]

, , , .

148 Comments »

  1. Lewis says:

    Ha! J.D.’s been doing a Dwarf Fortress feature over at Reso as well. Will read this now – be interesting to compare…

  2. Dominic White says:

    Great article. Pity that it wasn’t using one of the graphical packs, though. You can quite effectively de-ASCII’ify the game and make it rather pleasant to look at, in a retro 16-bit kinda way. Makes screenshots much easier to read when you can see dwarves and goblins and trees rather than face-things and g’s and ^s.

  3. roBurky says:

    I’m not a fan of the graphical tilesets. I find them much harder to read.

  4. Nimic says:

    I always thought this looked exactly like the sort of game I would absolutely love to play. Unfortunately, I’m entirely put off by the “graphics”. I’m not normally a graphics whore, but I draw the line somewhere. I’m actually quite fond of “small” games, but usually they’ve got Flash-graphics or something.

  5. Goaty says:

    If anything is hard to read, it’s the third last picture. It looks like an ASCII puke.

  6. roBurky says:

    Yeh, the chaos after a battle is often a mess. It’s why my flickr version has helpful annotations: http://www.flickr.com/photos/roburky/2405839002/in/set-72157594305747194/

  7. Janek says:

    There’s nothing quite so exquisite as a fortress’ slow yet inevitable collapse. It doesn’t take much to set off the failure cascade, but oh how devastating (and hilarious) it is.

    Losing is fun, indeed.

  8. HexagonalBolts says:

    Dwarf fortress is just amazing. The graphical tilesets make it infinitely more approachable when you’re starting out learning, although I understand ASCII and complexity is part of the games charm if the game came with a particularly well made graphic tile set by default I think less people would be put off.

    Can someone also please explain to me why this game has not yet had fountains of cash poured into it by every publisher out there and been developed into an even better, more accessible (but just as deep), possibly 3D/isometric, game sold for £10 – £15? I’m sure this must be possible through someone willing to let the brothers get on with it without interfering, without ruining the feel of the game…

  9. GreatUncleBaal says:

    I’m rubbish at Dwarf Fortress but have sunk hours into it in the past – its charm for me is the fact you have to imagine practically everything yourself, including what the world and its denizens look like. Another great thing about it is it seems to make telling a compelling story relatively simple – it was the famous “Saga of Boatmurdered” that got me into the game in the first place, with its rampaging elephants and complex (and failure-prone) lava traps.
    Will have to download and play it again now.

  10. roBurky says:

    HexagonalBolts: I’m not sure how someone could both let Toady One get on with it, and yet also make it more accessible using mountains of cash.

  11. roBurky says:

    Oh, yes, something I didn’t mention in the text: More of the impressive dev diary entries are hidden in the image title tags. Hover the mouse over the images to see them.

  12. HexagonalBolts says:

    I more mean put him in charge of his own team then let him do whatever he wants and give him a salary more than the meagre beans he scrapes together through donations or something like that

    and I’m sure there are many ways to make the game more accessible without worsening its quality, just as an example, even something as simple as a building description that comes up at the bottom when you choose a new building, or some way to show where a building fits in in the complex production procedures of dwarf fortress would save new players a lot of grief – rather pathetically I didn’t even dabble with using power for months because I was too intimidated by gears, cogs, windmills that maybe had to be aligned a certain way, something to do with waterwheels where you build several in a row aligned with an axis and.. huuuh?

  13. Dominic White says:

    Yeah, ‘make more accessible’ doesn’t have to mean ‘dumb down’. As a good example, the roguelike Dungeon Crawl (which is STILL in active development, and doesn’t show signs of slowing or stopping getting cooler) added an interactive tutorial that walks a player through their first doomed adventure, pointing out important objects, creatures and controls as you go.

    For those wanting to try it, here’s where you can get the latest WIP build of Crawl:
    http://crawl.develz.org/trunk/

    A better interface (just a panel of mouse buttons with tooltips, even!) and a tutorial that can tell the player what they’re doing, and how to do it right would make the game so much more accessible.

  14. ReturnToNull says:

    Hate most of the graphical packs with a passion, although that’s more me willing to take ASCII over awful looking sprites any day.

  15. HexagonalBolts says:

    I find Mike Mayday’s pack fine, I can recognise most of the teeny tiny pictures fairly well – and it’s useful for convenience because you can see what kind of goblin you’re fighting rather than a green G which you have to ‘look’ at

  16. karthik says:

    That was amazing.

    I’ve tried thrice to get into it and failed miserably. I’m waiting for it to hit 1.0 before I spend any more of my time on this cellular automaton high fantasy world simulator monstrosity.

    But every time I read an article of this kind, I lose another eight hours trying to figure out the interface. (sigh)

  17. Ergates says:

    Ah, so thats where your name comes from….

  18. Ergates says:

    DF (and ascii games in general) are a bit like The Matrix. At first you see nothing but a jumle of letters and symbols. Then after a while something wierd happens and it just snaps into place. All of a sudden the alphabetti spaghetti disappears to be replaced by forests, irrigation systems and great halls lined with statues.

  19. Dominic White says:

    I personally have no problem with ASCII – I started playing Roguelikes with the original Rogue. I grew up knowing ‘K’ was for ‘Kestrel’, and that ‘Quaff’ was synonymous with ‘Drink’.

    Doesn’t change the fact that it makes for really lousy screenshots. If you have to add huge annotations just to explain to people what they’re seeing, it’s a pretty big problems.

  20. pirate0r says:

    Ahh dwarf fortress, every six months or so I go through a phase where I build a horrible fortress that contains a combination of the following: drowning chambers, levers that flood my elf laden trade depot with magma, arenas where my prisoners fight to the death against any living creature I can capture, trapdoors leading huge pits filled with ravenous puppies (it’s about a 50/50 chance that the puppies win).

    My favorite contraption however was a ridiculously tall 20z level tower that was built above the dining room that happened to have a glass ceiling. My dwarfs would watch as the sacrificed goblins, kittens, horses and other trouble making dwarfs would explode on impact mere inches above their heads.

  21. HexagonalBolts says:

    @Karthik

    It’s such a struggle at first but definitely worth it, trying going through with the wikipedia starting tutorial at http://dwarf.lendemaindeveille.com/index.php/Indecisive's_illustrated_fortress_mode_tutorial

    captainduck’s tutorials on youtube (which I believe were talked about here at some point) are also very useful, although you should definitely read a starting guide first

    If that fails you (or anyone else) try searching on the Dwarf Fortress wiki, or I’m happy to help you out with any specific problems if you want my email or something

    Also, has anyone else seen the Dwarf Fortress cathedral rendered in 3D from the DF wiki page? Amazing: http://dwarf.lendemaindeveille.com/index.php/File:Cathedral.jpg

    haha

  22. Carra says:

    Well, now I just have to try out this game. Great read.

  23. CakeAddict says:

    Funny read even though I’ve never really played the game.
    I never could get past the interface and I found it just to difficult right away.

  24. dartt says:

    I like the Mayday tileset myself, though I can do without.

    Lovely tomb roburky, my graveyards tend to be mass graves next to the refuse pile…

    For anyone who wants to get more of a taste for the game before trying it or for anyone who just wants to check out the cool crap people get up to in this game, you could do worse than check out the replays on the DF Map Archive

    http://www.mkv25.net/dfma/browsemovies.php

  25. EyeMessiah says:

    I love the ascii! Its not some kind of IM SO HARDCORE love either. I honestly find the ascii environments more evocative than the bland pixel art tilesets. Its something of a leap getting your brain to “read” the ascii though, and admittedly hard work at first. But still, the graphical renditions of my favourite fortresses are no comparison for the ascii + imagination vistas imho.

    I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to put the work in to get over the ascii and interface though, I wouldn’t bother if it weren’t DF.

  26. EyeMessiah says:

    Also I’ll just mention that some are trying to arrange a DF LP game on the forum!

  27. Premium User Badge

    Fede says:

    Yes, but it seems it cannot get started :P

    Very nice article :)

  28. Ging says:

    The ongoing QT3 fortress Quakebells has inspired moments of manic giggling, but then so did the AAR based around BoatMurdered (which can be found on AfterActionReporter.com). It’s incredible how nearly every game of DF leads to so many different stories.

  29. MA6200 says:

    @ EyeMessiah

    Definitely!

  30. EGTF says:

    @Fede Trying and failing to get it started for over a month now ¬_¬

    Congrats RoBurky! Suddenly from a name I recognise on comments, to interwebs from all over mentioning and linking you.

  31. roBurky says:

    Yeh, the ongoing QT3 Quakebells story is great, with its unintentional dwarf-cooking furnace, yearly sacrifices, and adorable child ruler.
    http://www.quartertothree.com/game-talk/showthread.php?t=50413

  32. john t says:

    Someone needs to give those guys a few million dollars to turn Dwarf Fortress into a proper game.

  33. Jonathanstrange says:

    Unfortunately my latest Dwarf Fortress has been entirely too successful for it’s own good, I’m growing steadily bored with it and as such trying more and more elaborate schemes which may someday be the end of it. Other than a nearby Goblin town which delights in sending out raids whenever a caravan approached my fortress, it’s a really tranquil place to live, especially since I built the moat system and drawbridge to protect visiting caravans from Goblin hordes.

    So I’ve gotten a chance to experiment and design properly in a safe environment with happy and skilled dwarves, very cool… but there’s just something about those disastrous little fortress that makes them so damn fun. My last fortress for example was isolated and driven mad by a carp (yes the fish) infestation in the rivers crisscrossing the lands outside the mountain I’d decided to call home at the time. Unable to go outside for fear of being lured to their deaths, and unable to receive supplies from caravans, the isolated dwarves slowly one by one began to go mad till finally one tragic dwarf got his hands on an axe and went on a mad killing spree throughout the halls of my fortress. Some dwarves locked themselves in their rooms and starved to death, others tried to rally to face the madman, fighting with tooth and nail against his axe-wielding berserker strength (he’d been a smith dwarf), others joined him! It was a bloody massacre.

    I like to think it made for a great ‘haunted dungeon’ and cautionary tale to other intrepid dwarves in the future, and in adventure mode I’ve made it my mission to try and track down that fortress-turned haunted dungeon in the vain hopes there might still be a crazed dwarf wandering its halls, babbling to himself about the wrath of the carp as he drags his red-stained axe through those now long-forgotten stone halls.

  34. Meat Circus says:

    To anyone who wants to learn Dwarf Fortress, I will say that I found Captain Duck’s tutorial videos on Youtube invaluable.

    Also, I strongly recommend playing with Mike Mayday’s Dwarf Fortress Graphical semi-mod, since it makes things easier for the novice, using recognizable mnemonic icons for everything in the game rather than Plain Old Ascii.

    Lovely article from Roburky. Two in a day.

  35. roBurky says:

    Johnathanstrange: My most recent fortress was also boringly successful. I have hope for the next version, though. Toady One has been working on restoring some of the underground hazards from the old 2-D version, so you’ll have attacks from within your fortress. Plus the military improvements, and the possibility of being able to lay siege to your enemies if your fortress is successful.

  36. postmanX3 says:

    I thin it’s about time I took another go at learning this game. It’s so complex!

    (Secretly, I just want to see that little bare-handed ASCII dwarf take down a massive ASCII titan. Must have been epic.)

  37. Jonathanstrange says:

    @roBurky: Oh how I would delight in finally being able to wipe that smug little goblin town from the face of whateverthenameofmycurrentworldis. I’d grind them to a pulp and laugh over their desecrated remains all while my dwarves built a statue of epic proportions to remember the occasion. It’s not so much the goblins are ‘dangerous’, by this point and even early in the game my dwarves easily outmatched the best that town could send at my. I’ve lost a total of five dwarves to goblin attacks from a fortress currently numbering over a hundred.

    It’s the caravans. They always attack when caravans are arriving. As I mentioned I built a system that protects merchants, but *only* if they can make it to my fortress before I’m forced to raise the drawbridge and close the gates in order to protect my own people, and often those caravans are just so damn slow I’m forced to leave them out in the cold and watch as the goblins either tear them to shreds or are torn to shreds by the caravan guards. And then regardless of the outcome *I’m* always the one blamed for the deaths of those stupid slow merchants. Bah!

    That update can’t come soon enough. It’d give me a nice goal other than trying to see if I can’t build up my wealth high enough to lure the dwarven king to come live in my fortress. I’ve been bored enough recently I already designed him a grand room, the most elaborate and expensive thing I’ve ever built in Dwarf fortress. It’s even got its own defense system and no less than a dozen artifacts for decoration.

  38. Bay12 Phan says:

    Someone needs to give those guys a few million dollars to turn Dwarf Fortress into a proper game.

    EA or Activision will turn it into a button masher with quick time events and make a trailer showing severed Dwarf body parts flying everywhere and having awkward, stiff (-ly animated) dwarf sex set to a Marilyn Manson tune?

    No thanks.

  39. El_MUERkO says:

    that’s a great story, someone stick a graphical user interface on it and get back to me

  40. Michael Bay says:

    Roburky, call me. We can definitely deal.

  41. Meat Circus says:

    How could a dwarf sex quick time event not be awesome?

  42. Unlucky Irish says:

    I really love the concept of Dwarf Fortress and have even attempted to get into it several times but i just cant get past the ASCII. It’s not even really a ascetic problem; ASCII is just totally inappropriate for conveying large amounts of information and it’s rather arrogant even using it. While a lot of older gamers have no problem with it, it really is unfair to people who have only ever experienced games and a graphical medium.

    It’s a bit like writing the world greatest fantasy novel, the kind of thing that would make Tolkien weep openly, however the author refuses to publish it in anything but Ogham. Oh its all very well for people used to reading Ogham or have the time to learn it but a bit unfair on every one else.

  43. MadTinkerer says:

    “She’s going to die, but at least she’s improving her swimming skill, and has been “comforted by a lovely waterfall”.”

    This literally caused me to do a spit-take. My computer is okay, though. Yet another example of DF’s awesomeness.

  44. Idle Threats & Bad Poetry says:

    Recently I got bored with a fortress that was so big it was giving me terrible frame rates. I decided to collapse the tower I had made (thus punching a whole through several floors of the fortress) and flood it. I wanted a dramatic finale, but it was actually depressing. The surviving dwaves’ thoughts were distrubing.

    “Ablel Lesatthikut Nosimron Kiron has been miserable lately. She was forced to eat vermin to survive lately. She has witnessed death. She has complained of thirst lately. She has made a satisfying acquisition lately. She has lost a friend to tragedy recently. She slept in the mud recently. She was forced to endure the decay of a pet. She talked with a friend lately. She was knocked out during a cave-in lately.”

  45. Redford says:

    I don’t care what anyone says, Boatmurdered will always be the greatest epic of dwarf fortress history.

    I’ll give you a hint: It involves doomsday weapons and elephants.

    http://lparchive.org/LetsPlay/Boatmurdered/

    (For those confused, Boatmurdered used the older version of DF, where everything was limited on an X/Y plain, there are no Z levels.)

  46. Stromko says:

    Irish: The ASCII conveys a great deal of information actually. For instance someone earlier said they had to use the Examine function to identify a green ‘g’. Wrong, a green ‘g’ is a goblin bowman. A flashing green ‘g’ is a champion goblin bowman.

    Using that same amount of space on screen, there is absolutely no other way to convey that information in a concise, quick, and definite manner. Dozens of symbols, colors, and backlays convey much more information than a couple dozen tiny pixels could.

    Not unless your standard gaming kit includes a gem-cutter’s monocle to make out what some artist’s smudges mean.

    It’s nothing to do with geek snobbery, it’s just efficiency. Some people prefer graphic packs, personally I find that they create more confusion than anything.

  47. Cibbuano says:

    Spend enough time with the game, and you’ll quickly get over the graphics…

    Personally, I love having the game play in a small window with ASCII representation… it means I can have Dwarf Fortress open while I’m doing a whole mess of other things…!

  48. Stromko says:

    I’m not against DF’s interface and display being improved, however, for instance I welcomed the version that allowed us to define whatever resolution / tile-count on screen that we wanted. I also think Dwarf Fortress could benefit from a 3D interface someday, given that the game itself is set in 3D.

    There’s already a couple programs I know of that extract from DF and create 3D images, one of them even does this while the game is running, but so far there’s nothing that actually let’s you play the game through it. I think the developer intends to make these UI mods more and more viable as things go on, as the expanded support of tilesets show.

    There was a mockup posted in a few places that showed what Dwarf Fortress would look like with SNES-era isometric graphics, and it was very nice looking. But for the time being, the tilesets I’ve seen are just too much of a half-measure, and just make it harder to figure out what I’m looking at.

    The concept of Dwarf Fortress getting millions of dollars and being developed into a “real” game doesn’t really appeal to me, mainly because the best off-the-shelf consumer CPUs right now can barely run a large fortress. Pathfinding for entities, fluids, gasses / temperature and other things naturally takes a lot of processing time.

    The one modern, AAA-developer feature I’d most like to see in the near future is support for multi-threaded processing. Without that, other features would just be loading more cargo on top of a very overworked mule.

  49. Serondal says:

    That’s strange, I just started doing a DF blog as well. I won’t link to it here or even give a hint on how to find it. It’s just strange I suddenly get interested in counting my story in the DF forum and starting a DF blog the suddenly DF pops up on RPS. It is true what they say about things coming in threes O.o

  50. KP says:

    How do you export that bmp world map?
    Also I really wish there was a real graphical front end for Dwarf Fortress. The general response to that is “LOL U SUCK”, which isn’t fair. Some of us are visually oriented people. Some NES level graphics are all I’d need to see this world with some clarity.