A Transcript Of A Chat Of A Game Of Dwarves

‘Twas just a few days past that I had a chat with Robin Flodin of Zeal Game Studio, the folks behind Paradox’s forthcoming game about dwarves, A Game Of Dwarves. The game seems to be a mixture of the old Bullfrog games and, well, a rather more recent experiment in dwarf simulation, and certainly warrants deeper investigation. I asked Mr Florin about what he was actually trying to do in a game where dwarves dig deep, and build shiny things.

RPS: Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration for A Game Of Dwarves? What sort of game is it exactly? What is it similar to?

Flodin: It’s a dangerous thing to talk about inspiration in the video game industry, people will rush to either point out differences between the games or sometimes turn right away since they did not like the inspirational game in question. So when I say that we’re inspired by the old management games of the 90’s we don’t mean the game themselves as much as we are trying to capture the genre. The fun but hard time sinks that used to rule PC-gaming.

RPS: So how much direct control do you have over the dwarves?

Flodin: While the control of your dwarves are excellent, we try to limit the direct control as much as possible. Having to micro several dwarfs individual quickly becomes tedious and in really large settlements near impossible. So the approach is more god-game than RTS, you tell the dwarves what you want done, and the game sends idle dwarfs to do your bidding.

RPS: How close to “finished” are the visuals we have seen so far?

Flodin: We still have loads of pre alpha art in the game right now, they will all be replaced before release. Especially the textures on objects and dwarves are very much unfinished in the screens that have been released before. I can assure you that the game will look absolutely delicious before release.

RPS: What’s the scale of the game – how many dwarves do you expect us toe able to control? And how big will your bases be?

Flodin: The Campaign is divided into several levels and each of those levels are large enough to keep you entertained for hours, you also have the option to return to a settlement on a earlier level to continue build and maybe complete some side missions or grab an achievement. The actual size of the levels and the bases, still fluctuate some and depends heavily on play style, a spartan player could complete his levels while building very small settlements and on the other hand players might build humongous creations with unique rooms for each individual dwarf.

RPS: Are the comparisons to Dwarf Fortress fair?

Flodin: As I said earlier inspiration is a dangerous word, there are similarities between aGoD and DF but the focus is different. At this point in time aGoD is nowhere near as hardcore and complex as DF although if this is something people want we’re not below adding features at a later date.

RPS: Do you anticipate any multiplayer aspect to the game?

Flodin: I can’t really answer that at this moment, I can say that it’s something we’re looking into and right now it could go either way. Expect more news on this some time after GDC.

RPS: Thanks for your time.


  1. Drayk says:

    A game of thrones…. sorry Dwarves.

    Looks a bit stiff in the animation and lacks graphic variety. Hope that it will really be better as they promised.

    • Kdansky says:

      Seems just unfinished to me: Some animations exist, others are utterly absent (dwarf near ladder just disappears), and some buttons are clearly place-holders (huge W or S). The parts that look polished actually look quite nice.

  2. eleclipse says:

    Seems interesting.

    I would really love a more “casual” dwarf fortress.

    • Kent says:

      I think it’s pretty obvious that the game will be more like DK or EG than DF. A more casual DF however, there’s actually a game that’s very similar and called Towns.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      Strictly speaking there is not a game called Towns. At least not a finished one. Maybe in 6 months. Maybe in a year.

    • Malk_Content says:

      @Dodgy: Strictly speaking there isn’t a game called Dwarf Fortress. At least not a finished one. Maybe in 6 generations.

    • Geen says:

      Honestly, Towns has horrible UI too, but as a hardened DF veteran I can use them.

  3. Prime says:

    This one looks like a Keeper.

  4. hatseflats says:

    I hope a sandbox mode a la dwarf fortress will be included. I would love to play that game but I really need a good tutorial and GUI…

    • Eagle0600 says:

      Tutorials for DF can be found all over the place: Video Tutorials, a wiki, read-through tutorials, lets-plays, and follow-along tutorials. A tutorial to fit your tastes, almost guaranteed. As for UI, there currently exists no real alternative to the one in-game. While visualizers exist, and one can even run in real-time side-by-side with the game, you can’t play the game in any of them.

    • Joshua IX says:

      DF is not as daunting as it looks. Just start with a graphics set like Mayday and watch some video tutorials. It becomes fairly dynamically once you know the basics.

    • Randomer says:

      The are plenty of tutorials. The hard part is finding one that isn’t horribly out of date.

    • Geen says:

      Just try to learn one thing every try, it’ll help if you focus.

    • thebigJ_A says:

      While there aren’t many tutorials for the very newest version, you don’t want to play that anyway. the Lazy Newb Pack hasn’t been updated for it.

      Just download the most recent LNP. The version in it has been around long enough that there are plenty of accurate guides. Go on Youtube and see excellent ones from cptnduck and 51ppycup, and you’ll be good to go.

      Hell they even have tutorials on the Lazy Newb Pack itself (don’t let the name fool you, it’s not just for newbies, at all).

  5. Zanchito says:

    There are some really good tutorials in the Dwarf Fortress forums. About the GUI, yeah, it’s a pain at first, but you have graphics sets and several tools that make the game way more playable than the raw thing. Also, you don’t need to go hunting for them, there’s a conveniently packaged “Newbie Pack” with all the stuff you need to get started: link to bay12forums.com

    • hjd_uk says:

      In fact, once you have the hang of it its faster to hit three keys than it is to navigate am menu or two and click on a button and then do something. i.e [b Shift-C w] = build -> construction -> wall.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      +1 to not playing DF vanilla.

      To be honest though, even once you get something slightly better than ASCII art you still have to deal with keyboard controls that are not even internally consistent (mark area for example).

      And a word of warning, I managed to infect my gaming rig with a nasty virus courtesy the DF Lazy Newbs pack. Can’t recall where I DL’ed if from, but you have been warned.

      Back on topic – terrible voice over on the vid, but IF the game is a more accessible DF, I will be in. The problem with DF is consolidated access to information. I can never be sure if the reason why my commands have not been followed is my fault or a bug.

    • Dominic White says:

      “And a word of warning, I managed to infect my gaming rig with a nasty virus courtesy the DF Lazy Newbs pack”

      It’s a false-positive. The DFHack tools in the newb pack use some logic structurally similar to a virus in order to make tweaks to the Dwarf Fortress EXE, so virus scanners think it’s malicious.

    • sPOONz says:

      “It’s a false-positive”

      Yeah thats correct, eveytime I install LNP my AVG anti-virus gets set off. Ive spent some time at the DF forums too and have not seen any threads detailing people getting infected from the download. So, should be safe.

  6. hjd_uk says:

    Definitly not enough Cats, or Socks or !!Booze!!

    Looks promising though.

    And considering just how insanely detailed Dwarf Fortress is this would have to be “Dwarf Fortress Hyper-Ultra-Lite”

  7. BlackestTea says:

    hm… as much as I want to like this game, I’m failing to get a good impression of what it actually is. Also, this must be among the least informative interviews I’ve read on RPS so far – not in terms of the questions being to vague, but rather the answers containing no substantive content whatsoever!
    I mean: “how big will the bases be and how many dwarfs will you be able to control? – They can be small or big” – seriously? I wouldn’t have thought.

    • Incompleteness says:

      It would be dangerous for me to actually tell you things about this game. In fact, my boss only agreed for me to do this phone interview so he could have a shotgun pointed at me to make sure I don’t say too much. Yes, that dangerous.

    • BlackestTea says:

      Sounds dangerous indeed. Sure, I understand there need to be quite some limits to what is disclosed. It just made me wonder – what does this kind of coverage give me, the potential consumer. From a dev/publisher perspective it’s obviously good to keep the word out there that the game exists and continues to be developed. Sure that’s also something I appreciate to know. But beyond that, it feels a little like a case of non-news, where I eagerly open the tab with the interview because I want to learn more about the game only to discover that yes, it is what has been said in previous coverage – that’s it. Hm.. not sure where I’m going with this post, to be honest. I may be exaggerating.

    • Davie says:

      Well, from this interview we may deduce that the game will be good or bad, perhaps average.

  8. HexagonalBolts says:

    Please let me throw money at it! This looks amazing! Please keep all the ridiculousness of Dwarf Fortress – that really is what makes it amazing. I turned it on for five minutes this morning and saw a small dog grab a 50kg tiger fish out of the air and shake its head until it exploded.

  9. Blackcompany says:

    Yes, but…can we toss them?

  10. SquidInABox says:

    This trailer is the reason why game trailers shouldn’t ever have voiceovers.

  11. wodin says:

    How can he not say he was inspired by DF!!!!

    Also why do they have to wait for a later date to add more advanced features!!

    Why not add them as options now!

    Oh most likely because it isn’t a sandbox game..

  12. JackDandy says:

    It looks kinda mediocre at the moment. Not enough to steer my attention away from DF.

    But I’ll wait till release before I decide.

  13. LionsPhil says:

    Yeah. Notch’s development lacks any real questioning of “how does simulating this make it a better game, and can I get that same benefit from something cheaper?”. Which is part of its character, and somewhat succeeds at making it a story generator (which I think was somewhat his intent?), but doesn’t really make it a better game.

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    theleif says:

    I think you mean Tarn Adams and not Notch, right?

  15. LionsPhil says:

    Yeah, that I did.

  16. Ironclad says:

    Those who say this is a Dwarf Fortress clone will be the first ones against the wall when the revolution comes.

    In the mean time, go play Dungeon Keeper you dolts!!