First Dwarf Fortress Update In Two Years Arrives Next Month

By Graham Smith on June 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

I bet there'll be new ways to stab things too!

Dwarf Fortress has long been one of game development’s most interesting blogs, owing to its creators’ propensity for adding absurd amounts of detail to their fantasy world simulator. But for the past two years, none of those updates have actually been available to play. That’s about to change. In this month’s Bay 12 Report, Toady One says that a new update including all those various tweaks and expansions is finally just around the corner.

The time has come! We are planning to release the next version of Dwarf Fortress in the beginning of next month. We are grateful to all those who have contributed time, energy, and money to help us along! Many of you understand how this process works, but the rest need to know how Bay 12 Games operates. Dwarf Fortress is more than a game. It’s a kind of art project that has been in production for over 10 years, and you are part of it! We need everyone to help find bugs, show newbies how to play, and generally spread the word. It will take time for the new version to be as stable as the one that’s out there now. Not to mention all the mods that will have to be re-calibrated. We know that without all the people working and contributing, Dwarf Fortress would be just another failed oddity of a game. But people are getting involved with the project. Everyone is doing their part, answering questions on the forums, contributing to the bug tracker, building great mods, and telling their friends about DF!

I’ve written before about how Dwarf Fortress is deceptively simple to play, and in that regard the new update seems likely to be a double-edged sword. Two years of work will bring all kinds of new additions to the Fortress mode, which are bound to introduce whole new ways to manage your expansion and hasten your own demise. That’s an increase in complexity in a game that’s already difficult to control.

The upside is that a large focus of the update is adding to Adventure mode, the more traditionally roguelikey mode which was previously the simplest way to play. It should still be easy to get in and control just a single hero as you explore the game’s generated worlds, but now there should be a lot more to do.

Two years of work means there’s more additions than can be easily listed, but a recent post in the Future of the Fortress thread mentions a few. Townfolk now get angry if you kill relatives they like; armies and guards can now split into sub-units during battles; cowards will try to flee from battle or collapse into sobbing piles; and sweat and tears now evaporate.

DWARF. FORTRESS.

“The tear evaporation is awesome.”
–Thumb Bros, 10/10

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90 Comments »

  1. Premium User Badge

    JamesTheNumberless says:

    What I would really like is an update that doesn’t cause the tears to happen in the first place. By which I mean the real ones.

    • Philomelle says:

      You need to install the Dwarven Beard mod for your face to do that. It will absorb tears the instant they leave your eyes, making you feel too honorable and manly to continue crying like a sissy.

      You can also attempt dwarven ale if you don’t mind the debuffs to your common sense, judgment and decision making.

      • LionsPhil says:

        WARNING: Drinking !!Dwarven Ale!! may have serious health implications.

        • Kerbal_Rocketry says:

          Never seems to stop them drinking it, and then wondering why they have become a !!dwarf!! and then making all the other booze into !!Dwarven Beer!!.
          And that is why i have a lever that floods the entire stockroom with water in case of fire… its somewhere, probably should of labeled it before installing the lever that floods the entire fort with magma.

      • alh_p says:

        Bah, any short, sturdy creature fond of drink and industry needs alcohol to get through the day.

  2. bobmcjohnson says:

    Praise Armok \o/

    Hopefully the first version will be bug-free enough to be playable. Bugs can be !fun! though :P

  3. dreadmullet says:

    Here is a useful, fan-compiled changelog. Sneaking, non-lethal combat, fleshed out sites for all of the races, multi-tile trees. This is a massive update. I can't wait.

  4. Premium User Badge

    El_MUERkO says:

    “in a game that’s already difficult to contorl.”

    Also \o/

  5. LuckyLuigi says:

    Blood for the blood god !

  6. Premium User Badge

    RaveTurned says:

    To anyone who’s not experienced a DF release before: EXPECT BUGS. Not just the normal ones, but new and exciting bugs along with unforeseen consequences of new features that will probably break sections of the game on first release. The worst of these will be patched, and things will get better. Just try not to get too heavily invested in a fortress early on, as at some point you’ll probably end up being screwed over by unexpected behaviours, or put in an unwinnable situation (like say, being invaded by a randomly generated beast that by some strange mix of traits can’t actually be harmed by any weaponry the game can create).

    On second thought, if you’ve played DF for any length of time you’ll know any fortress is an unwinnable situation waiting to happen. As you were.

    • Burzmali says:

      Personally, I’m hoping for a typo in the friction to heat coefficient for something like alpaca fur. That way, when you knit alpaca trousers, your dwarven army will suddenly burst into flames while rushing to engage the latest pygmy marmoset that threatens your dwarven way of life.

      • Kerbal_Rocketry says:

        DF bugs are the best, since not only will the community study them and figure out how to cause it but they will also weaponise it and use it to kill elves.

        • ZephyrSB says:

          New and exciting ways to kill elves. Always the best part of a DF update.

      • Nate says:

        My favorite bug of all time:

        Child placed in bag by goblin, never released, fed scraps of rat weed by his mother, reaches maturity, elected mayor whilst bagged

    • onodera says:

      Oh, yes, I remember that time when dwarves had to be conscious to wake up and wouldn’t.

      • The Random One says:

        I started back when dwarves wouldn’t realize they were on fire. Good times.

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      The bugs are half the fun of new DF releases, ESPECIALLY ones that have been in the works for awhile.
      I did so love the Lava Rain…

  7. ribby says:

    YAAAAY

    This new update should make Adventurer Mode 10x cooler

    I don’t really know how it’ll effect fortress mode. It’ll probably be trickier what with climbing systems and more emotional dwarves

    • Dozer says:

      And when the game is cooler, the tears will evaporate more slowly.

      • SirFagalot says:

        And dwarves will catch fire and murder your whole fortress less often. And we shall all run around holding hands with teddy bears in the park, frolicking in sunshine and rainbows.
        As Neil Gaiman put it, crap in one hand and wish in the other; see which one fills first.
        *a peculiar sound expressing disgust, schadenfreude, hope and self-pity at the same time*.

  8. popedoo says:

    Hey Graham,

    Thanks so much for covering this. :)

    I played DF briefly a couple of years ago. Last year I decided I wanted to give it another go and noticed, as you mentioned, the last major revision was back in 2012. So, I decided to wait until the new version comes out to play it again. This has resulted in months of checking their site every couple of weeks and looking at the date. :D

    I’ve been following the blogs etc. and the updates sound very interesting! I love intricate games where depth is demonstrated through good old text hehe.

    Anyway, seeing this RSS feed in my inbox made me go ‘OMGZZZ’ – so thanks again. :)

  9. prian says:

    I’ll believe it when I see it.

  10. Philomelle says:

    So I can’t help but ask.

    Back before there was no tear evaporation, did someone try to drown their fortress in dwarf tears? If so, how did that turn out?

    • cwoac says:

      That was exactly my thoughts. I could see sweat being more of a problem – a danger room + food chute system left closed too long could probably end up drowning the dwarves….

    • Polifemo says:

      There werent any tears or sweat in the game until like a month ago. Even if you remove evaporation they are classified as “contaminants” which means their amount doesnt get greater than a smear on the wall/ground/floating over water.

    • Trif says:

      Tears and sweat are new features. Dwarves in the current version cannot cry.

      But even if evaporation was turned off, drowning wouldn’t be a concern. The only proper liquids in Dwarf Fortress are water and magma. Everything else (like blood, tears, spit, sweat, booze etc.) is stored as contaminants. That means they’re tracked on objects and walls, and dwarfs can spread them around, but you can’t fill a pit with them.

      • Greggh says:

        I support the motion for BLOOD PITS!
        Surrounded by LAVA MOATS!!!

        Exsanguinate kobolds over the BLOOD PIT then throw their dry corpses in the LAVA MOAT.

        !!Kobold Corpse!!

    • ginzoo says:

      THIS – made my day, just picturing it. Haha been walking around all day at work giggling like mad just thinking about it.
      Thanks man

      • sinister agent says:

        This is the best thing about Dwarf Fortress by far – its players. Utterly demented, endlessly optimistic and experimental, willing to try anything no matter how demented or ridiculous just to see if it’s possible. They’re basically Mad Science personified. Things I have witnessed people investigate on my (rare) forays into the forums (which are full of friendly, helpful people who will immediately jump on board to offer suggestions for your project, and inevitably take it to even further, madder territory):

        * How to build and launch a shuttle that would fire a dwarf through a layer of magma into the centre of the earth

        * How to turn gold coins into a defensive weapon

        * How to solve the dual problems of frequent attacks by goblins and an overpopulation of kittens by designing and building a cannon that fires kittens

        * How to build a clock based on the constant falling speed of a puppy

        * In one reported fight between a dwarf mayor and a berserk sword-master, the sword-master had just finished chopping off all the mayor’s limbs when the mayor bit the sword-master’s head off.

        * When the armoured militia ran out and got slaughtered one by one by goblins, who consequently breached the fortress and began terrorising civilians, a stonemason lost his rag, charged the fully armed and armoured soldiers, and choked three of them to death.

  11. Premium User Badge

    Gap Gen says:

    Are they going to add phong-shaded beardmapping this time around, or do we have to turn to the modders for that and realistic ale physics?

  12. MkMax says:

    “tears now evaporate”, these are the kind of things that make Dwarf fortress such a joy to play, every-time you play you find something new, from lakes made of non evaporating tears to zombies you need to hack again and again but their fingers keep coming back to life and killing everyone, a dwarf becoming master craftman after killing another dwarf and making a cup out of his/her skull or the appearance of a legendary beast that somehow gets into the fortress though a weak point, kills half the population and later becomes the food rations for the next 2 years

    and the game gets as complicated as you want to make it, you can make a simple few level fortress or a humongous construction with pumps, artificial water supplies, artificial underground farms, traps, jails, water powered computers used to control doors and traps, lava traps that can go horribly horribly wrong, etc

  13. Premium User Badge

    Wisq says:

    Frankly, I’m waiting for them to improve performance and fix the features they already have.

    I’ve lost more fortresses to ongoing, worsening, crippling, inexplicable lag than anything else. I end up having to go through all sorts of contortions to avoid doing certain common things because someone, somewhere thinks those things may or may not be a source of said lag.

    Meanwhile it’s also incredibly frustrating to have to work around bugs like military dwarves not picking up the appropriate gear and charging into battle naked, dwarves throwing used items down and nobody ever cleaning them up, etc.

    Many games get described as “easy to learn, hard to master”. Dwarf Fortress is in a category of its own — “hard to learn, impossible to master”, because everything is guaranteed to fall apart before you can get there. Toady’s only interested in adding new features to an already feature-creeped-to-death game and he’ll probably never get around to just stopping and emptying the issue queue and improving performance — nor is he willing to work with anyone else who might be willing/able to do so. My patience for this prima donna style of development ran out a while ago.

    Yes, I know, it’s his game, he doesn’t owe us anything. But these are just my reasons why I’m done playing it until conditions improve, and why I reject any and all hype about upcoming versions until there’s evidence of significantly fewer bugs / higher performance.

    • Kolbex says:

      Yep. This is why though I enjoy hearing about DF I do not play.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Yeah, it’s in dire need of an actual paid development team to sit down and fix crap.

      • Nenjin says:

        The fact it doesn’t have a paid development team is why it’s still one of the most interesting projects in gaming. It’s a work of love, not of money. If some codemonkies were banging away at it before their 20k or w/e ran out, we’d get a compromised game, with shallow mechanics because they “can’t afford to bug fix things that complex.”

        Put another way. Everyone that has tried to replicate DF under the standard game release model has either failed, or quit their project as soon as it went “gold” because they were doing it for money. Gnomoria is the only one to my knowledge that is still going.

        So yeah. “Paid developers to fix this crap” is the last thing the game needs. Fans not being butthurt is the first thing it needs. He’s managed to go more than 10 years amassing a huge fanbase and growing his game. I think he’ll be fine.

        • LionsPhil says:

          A paid development team doing the unloved job of “fixing crap” is not the same as bringing in a designer, or a publisher that demands returns at all. Your argument is complete nonsense.

          • Nenjin says:

            No, what’s nonsense is thinking you can pay random people peantus to fix someone else’s game that’s been spiraling on for 10 years as a non-profit, or that by bringing in anyone and paying them, the model of development hasn’t changed. All so you can crow that a free game you didn’t pay for is now scheduled according to your personal wants. Yeah, that sounds like a solid investment of Toady’s donations.

            Then again, if you’re comparing DF to Minecraft, you still clearly think this is about money. So I’m happy to have you continue to miss the point.

          • LionsPhil says:

            No, you obnoxious little dullard.

            I am not talking about any kind of creative control.

            I am talking about the very boring work of bugfixing and reworking the implementation.

            This is absolutely the kind of job you can contract in someone to do, and it would make it a stronger game for it. Trying to pin this as an entitlement issue is absolutely retarded.

          • Nenjin says:

            Tarn has said himself he sees it as an issue of creative control, bug fixing or not. He doesn’t even want to let people integrate their mods with the actual code, for the exact reason he’d have to show them damn near everything and suddenly his releases are not contingent on just his work, but others. There are only a handful of sub-components he’s willing to let other people handle, only because they understand it better than he does. He doesn’t want to keep a team in sync and manage them, since he’s quite happy with his team of 1 + Three Toe.

            But let’s put this into perspective. He has to support two people on donations alone. Does it make sense for him to spend limited resources (What amounts to a minimum wage pay check some years) on things he can do himself, to satisfy people like you who demand bug fixes and believe he should spend his resources on them according to their schedule, not his? I don’t think it does, and clearly neither does he.

            And yes, you reek of entitlement, something something obnoxious twat. (Since we’re now insulting each other.)

          • LionsPhil says:

            Well, this certainly was an Internet discussion. Plonk.

          • noelkd says:

            Either you haven’t followed much of the development of DF or you’re being facetious but to think you could just hire some dev’s and they could just fix it up is pretty funny. Once Carmack has finished the hard stuff at Oculus maybe he’ll want another technical challange to take on! There is always hope.

          • Premium User Badge

            JamesTheNumberless says:

            I don’ think you can’t do this with “bug-fixers” alone. There are performance issues, design issues and boy are there balancing issues – all of which prevent this from being a game you could make commercially. Plus you have a developer who is obsessed with the “purity” of his game and won’t let anyone else touch it.

            The only way I think they could make a commercial success for DF (if they changed their mind and decided they wanted to) would be to release an extremely cut down version, on a new and better performing engine with a brand new UI, make sure that those features they included were balanced and bug free. Then they have to face the issue of who their audience is.

            Are they going to alienate the people who currently donate, because they love the special and unique albeit deeply flawed game as it stands? In favor of people getting bored of Minecraft and looking for the next sandbox survival game to play? They could very well kill their creativity and motivation for making the game in the first place.

            Considering all this and everything that’s been said by the developer I think that if we want there to be a game that’s like Dwarf Fortress but more accessible, more balanced, and more appealing to a commercial audience, it would have to be a new game from these guys, or an “inspired by” title from another developer.

        • MadTinkerer says:

          “Everyone that has tried to replicate DF under the standard game release model has either failed, or quit their project as soon as it went “gold” because they were doing it for money.”

          Or they are Notch and their project mutated into something completely different.

    • gregly says:

      THANK you. I adore Dwarf Fortress, and I think Toady is an absolutely brilliant game designer. But he is so absolutely focused on adding new features to the game, he neglects the biggest elephants in the room: lag so awful I’m reminded of playing on my 386, ridiculously game-breaking bugs like the aforementioned ones, and an interface so amazingly cluttered and arcane you need a goddamned codex to figure out what the hell you’re doing. I’m frankly astonished the game has managed to come this far and become this complex given the massive underlying structural problems it has.

      • db48x says:

        Clearly you’ve never played Aurora 4X. Underlying structural problems really aren’t much of a limitation for a dedicated fanbase.

    • hemmingjay says:

      I haven’t had any of the problems you are describing in the last two releases. I assume you got fed up long ago and stopped keeping up? I have only a modest amount of lag with a large embark and 332 Dwarves and just over 100 livestock plus invaders. Now it slogs down for a minute when I get an invasion of over 200 enemies but then things normalize soon after.

      It’s not really a matter of structural issues as it is an issue of simulating too many complex systems. It will always push hardware to it’s limit because he has an enormous backlog of new systems to simulate that he is waiting to add as hardware improves. He continues to add complexity keeping pace with hardware improvements.

      • LionsPhil says:

        It’s single-threaded.

        It is doing hard problems (realtime fluid dynamics!), but it doesn’t do the best possible job of it, to put it gently.

        (And it triggers my pet peeve of running graphics that could literally be handled by a 386 through a whole OpenGL stack, which is needlessly unpleasant on laptops with pop-tarts for GPUs. But that’s modern 2D for you.)

        • hemmingjay says:

          I can’t argue any of that.

        • Premium User Badge

          JamesTheNumberless says:

          Actually, running the graphics through OpenGL is one of the things they’ve got right. If your PC was a 386 it would still get better graphics performance using OpenGL, because even your laptop GPU is more powerful than a 386 CPU. If the framerate is screwed then it’s because they’re doing too many CPU bound calculations per frame, not because they’re pushing too much to the GPU.

          • Premium User Badge

            JamesTheNumberless says:

            Which brings me to the real problem with modern 2D games, the actual drawing code is not usually the problem, it’s the logic that goes on every frame that can get wildly out of control, especially when you’re a small team developing and testing on behemoth PCs.

            E.g. on my 4-year-old single core laptop with integrated graphics, World of Goo runs flawlessly and Super Meat Boy barely runs at all. Both have a similar level of graphics, both use the same libraries (SDL) for graphics. one is clearly more CPU intensive than the other.

            What it comes down to is that Team Meat hand coded almost everything from scratch targeting the Xbox, whereas 2D Boy used existing middleware, for both the game engine and the physics code, middleware that has been tried and tested and tweaked and optimized and iterated on by many people with many different requirements and which could target mobile devices.

            There will be ways in which the DF guys can heavily optimize their code, and switching from OpenGL to platform specific CPU intensive software rendering is not one of them.

      • Premium User Badge

        Malibu Stacey says:

        It will always push hardware to it’s limit because he has an enormous backlog of new systems to simulate that he is waiting to add as hardware improves. He continues to add complexity keeping pace with hardware improvements.

        That’s pure unfiltered bollocks. Multi-core CPUs have been around for the entire time he’s been writing the damn thing & yet everything, including the UI, runs in a single thread. You literally couldn’t be more wrong.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      So, Minecraft before it was handed over to jeb et al (not to denigrate notch’s work either, but sometimes you need someone who’s willing to sit down and fix bugs for a living).

      • Chuckleluck says:

        In my opinion Minecraft has flourished under Jeb. Notch, while being vital in the beginning, had a nasty habit of never fleshing out ideas (like apples).

    • Nenjin says:

      Good thing tears evaporate now, because man, that’s a lot of crying :P

    • tormos says:

      If you hate the way this game is developed so much and are out of patience maybe you should… not play this totally free game and go do something else with your time?

    • Premium User Badge

      jrodman says:

      As always, he should just open the source. A million fanboys would submit improvement patches and the master could feel free to ignore the ones he didn’t like.

      Yeah, you’d get forks, but that would be even more fun.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      Well, I can’t play the game anymore (played for several years though so I got my fun out of it) either. But the game is slow for a reason, it’s an incredibly detailed simulation. Sure some things could be optimized, but Toady would just fill the void with more, ridiculously detailed simulation and the game wouldn’t run any faster.

  14. iridescence says:

    Maybe this is the time I’ll probably conquer the learning curve. I so much love the idea of this game. I just wish the early gameplay itself was a little more engaging. I’m sure if you take the time to learn how to and build a huge fortress the fun factor increases a lot. I just have so much trouble getting to that point without losing interest.

    • hamilcarp says:

      I highly recommend you stick through it. The early game might seem uneventful depending on where your map is, but the wealthier your fortress, the more evil is drawn to it. So once you master the interface, get your industries running, train a military and maintain a stable population, the game really starts to open up.

  15. MrFinnishDude says:

    I had a little stroke when I read the title.
    Oh what wonder of a time to live in!

  16. PerspectiveDesigns says:

    YES! Can’t wait!

  17. PerspectiveDesigns says:

    The only other successful Dwarf Fortress copy (at least it feels similar) is Prison Architect. That game’s actually really fun. But I feel the reason for that is because they keep that idea small and in perspective. That’s the awesome thing about Dwarf Fortress! Enormous amazing game that most people would say is impossible.

  18. Premium User Badge

    Erithtotl says:

    I’ve supported DF since the early days. I have to say that this trend of moving to longer and longer release cycles is a pretty bad idea. It sort of goes against everything that current software development theory preaches (short, continuous releases with frequent customer feedback). But its his baby, so I guess we gotta live with it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      It sort of goes against everything that current software development theory preaches (short, continuous releases with frequent customer feedback).

      Yeah I expect his issue with that would be that he would actually have to listen to feedback.
      I mean why bother fixing all the bugs in the systems you’ve already written when you can just ignore them & write more complex systems on top of them with their own bugs.

    • Phasma Felis says:

      Toady has never had much use for traditional software development practices, like “don’t add fluff functionality until your core mechanics are functional, usable, and bug-free.”

      • AngoraFish says:

        Or traditional software development practices like getting a proper wage for your work and selling the resulting product for (hopefully) a profit.

  19. rexx.sabotage says:

    Good thing I’m not wearing any pants otherwise they would be full of shit.

    Praise unto Amok, the rapture cometh!

  20. sinister agent says:

    So he’s basically abandoned the “fortress” part of dwarf fortress.

    • db48x says:

      No, the game has long had two (or three or four) modes. Fortress mode is the most well-developed, Adventurer mode has long been more sparse. There’s also History mode which lets you grovel around in the details of the history the game creates during worldgen (who lived where and ruled over who, who killed who, how many wild animals they hunted, what masterworks they crafted, etc) and then Arena mode, which is a debugging aid that lets you spawn creatures, weapons, armor etc and see how the resulting combat plays out.

  21. Phasma Felis says:

    I love reading about Dwarf Fortress, but I will probably never play it, because I dislike bad UI design and Toady is more interested in modeling the entire universe at a subatomic level than in making the menus work correctly.

    • hamilcarp says:

      You seem to know a lot about the menu functionality for someone who’s never played the game.

      The issue with menus isn’t that they don’t work, it’s that they follow no rhyme or reason so figuring them out just comes down to practice, and that puts some people off.

      Honestly I’m sick of all these people coming up with reasons not to play the game. If you are patient and curious, you should have no trouble figuring out and enjoying DF.

      • Premium User Badge

        RedViv says:

        So you’re saying the UI does not work for some people because it is badly designed.

  22. Crazy Horse says:

    All I’d really need is a fix for the pet,hospital and militia related bugs and I’ll have another crack at DF. I never found much lag at all but that’s probably due to always taking precautions against things like the dreaded catsplosion by using my patented cat-apult. Oh, and I could do with a few less vampires, those things should be rare terrors not a mundane chore.

    Might be nice to see zombies no longer immune to lava as well. Because lava. Lava!

  23. Lion Heart says:

    it needs better mouse support tbh then im good. the rest would just be bonus.