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Dwarf Fortress’s new mouse menus make it so much easier to dig deeper

Tarn’s nation

I have failed at creating a Dwarf Fortress many, many times. No tileset has managed to help me, no mod finally made it work. I just can’t get over the lack of a mouse-driven interface. And I won’t have to in the future. The latest development update for the Steam release of the detailed fantasy sim shows menus and mouse control in pefect harmony. Creator Tarn Adams casually flicks through screens without a wiki open on his other monitor, and finds things without phoning the Dwarf Fortress helpline and asking himself for help.

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During the demonstration, he loads up his fort as wagons arrive to trade. He can access items saved in storage, which takes up dozens of tabs, by using a word search to filter throuigh them all. He can click on each bin and see what’s in there. Easy. Job done.

But when he wants to make a trade, his own broker is busy doing other things, and Tarn has to wait for him to return to his table. That’s how Dwarf Fortress works. The lives of every other creature in the world aren’t bound by the whims of the player, and not even the creator of the game knows when a dude is going to sit down and do the job he needs him to do.

Also, I can tell what things are. A wagon rolls in and it looks like a wagon. A barrel looks like a barrel and not a division sign. I’m sure Dwarf Fortress fans who know the UI intimately are probably scoffing a little at me, but I need all the help I can get. The new tilset is working for me.

The new unit screen is every psychotherapist’s dream. Tarn discovers a sad dwarf amidst his citizens, and delves into her background. On one screen, her whole existence is laid out in tabs, with the overview showing her fretting over food and getting wet in the woods. The very dwarfly solution is to send them to the tavern.

I’m probably going to spend most time in the game’s adventure mode, but if you’re looking to build up a fort then the new work order screen looks handy. With all the potential work spaces laid out, he can click each one and see what’s possible to build. The order screen lets you select volume and priorities just by clicking around. This being DF, you can delve deeper and deeper down into the menus, finding subsets of every combination. But he does it so effortlessly, and it's all so readable, that I'm getting a strange feeling. I think it might be hope. Welcome back, old friend! It's been too long.

There’s no release date for the Steam version of Dwarf Fortress. Instead they say “time is subjective”.

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