Grab your pickaxe and secure your book of procedurally-generated poetry, because Dwarf Fortress is out on Steam right, flipping, now. Bay 12 Games's hugely ambitious colony sim, which is notionally a game about building a fortress for small, bearded humanoids, but is really an engine for generating elaborate fantasy histories and player-driven stories within them, has been in active development since 2003, with an initial launch in 2006. Since then, it has been continually developed by brothers Tarn and Zach Adams, who have added a truly wild amount of stuff over the last two decades. It's also famously as impenetrable as its title suggests, mainly due to its ASCII visuals and unwieldy, keyboard-exclusive control scheme.
The primary goal of the Steam release is to address these long-running accessibility issues. The Steam version replaces those inscrutable ASCII visuals with hand-drawn, sprite-based tiles designed by Bay 12's resident pixel artist Jacob Bowman. It also adds the revolutionary feature of mouse support, dragging Dwarf Fortress' control scheme firmly into the rad new era of the late nineties. It even chucks in some in-game tutorials that'll get you acquainted with the basics. Dwarf Fortress! With tutorials! Someone check the sky for swine.
In a community update aligned with the launch, Bay 12 stated that "The game will launch with the Fortress and Legends game modes that longtime players are familiar with. We plan to add the Adventure and Arena modes to these versions of Dwarf Fortress very soon." Bay 12 also posted a link to the game's roadmap, with planned near-future updates including "specific graphics for more plants" and "images for baby animals" (aww).
If you aren't familiar with Dwarf Fortress, and want to get a better idea of what the game is about. It's worth checking out RPS alumnus Nate Crowley's diaries about the 7 weirdest dwarves in the history of Dwarf Fortress, and playing the game with new, extra-tough rules. You can also check out the video above, in which Nate plays the game with co-creator Tarn Adams.
Dwarf Fortress is available on Steam now for £24.99/$29.99