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Dwarf Fortress dwarves to be given memories, dev shows no remorse

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Everyone in the world must know this by now, but Dwarf Fortress is utterly ridiculous. Bay 12 Games have been working on their simulation sorta-roguelike for the past 16 years and show no signs of stopping, and will no doubt one day create a level of granularity from which we’ll see the emergence of planet-conquering AI superintelligences. To wit: dwarves are about to be given memories.

An upcoming update is going to change how stress gets modelled, rejigging some numbers and diminishing the “overbearing effect of alcohol”. That’s probably a good idea, because if my own experiences are anything to go by then the new memory system would otherwise lead to every Dwarf becoming an emotional wreck. Look, see for yourself:

“The numbers might change, but the current system allows for eight short-term memories, which are the emotion+event combinations that have had the highest positive or negative impact on the dwarf over the last year (on a rolling basis). Every so often a dwarf can “remember/relive/dwell upon” the memory, if their personality leans toward the given emotion (positive or negative), and receive an additional stress change. Once a year passes, a short-term memory can be saved to one of eight long-term memory slots (if it is stronger than the current memories), or else it is forgotten. Long-term memories periodically return to affect the dwarf forever, until they are overwritten.”

Failure is fun, as the Dwarf Fortress player’s mantra goes, and now your dwarven denizens won’t be able to forget that. Except that’s not true, because life in the world of Dwarf Fortress can be very unpleasant indeed – especially when your developer has a penchant for squishing your loved ones.

“It’ll take some player testing in longer, real forts to see if various parameters need to be adjusted, but initial testing showed differences from the previous behaviour. Dropping a boulder on somebody and then leaving my dwarves unattended outside with nothing to do for a year resulted in tantrums, depression and oblivious wandering, so it seems to be working. When the first long-term memories were stored for one dwarf, it was horror at seeing their lover die, grief at their lover being dead, and fright at being haunted by their dead lover, with proper impact values not likely to be overwritten any time soon, certainly not by the old culprits of seeing nice furniture and completing jobs, though those still decrease stress a little bit day-to-day when experienced and are thus good to have in a dwarf’s life.”

The dev adds that he “wasn’t aware of their relationship status when the boulder fell”, though I’m not sure that makes him any less of a monster.

There’s no word on when the update will come out, but when it does…just don’t push those dwarves too far, ok? When they break out of the simulation a few years down the line, they might remember.

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Matt Cox


Matt is the founding member of RPS's youth contingent. He's played more games of Dota than you've had hot dinners.

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