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For the first time in history, a non-Adams brother is now working on Dwarf Fortress code

Also, an update now lets you swap back to ASCII

Legendarily complicated (and just generally legendary) colony sim Dwarf Fortress launched on Steam a few weeks ago, bringing sprite graphics, more players and millions of dollars for developers Bay 12 games. Brothers Tarn and Zach Adams have spent the past 16 years relying on donations, so actually selling their game has now allowed to expand their team and hire someone from their community to help with the programming. They say "Putnam" will be the first non-Adam to ever see the code behind the curtain. Cue the Indiana Jones face-melting gif.

An update yesterday also added Steam trading cards, as well as giving you the option to flick between classic and premium graphics.

Cover image for YouTube video

Here's the update page, where they also mention they're hiring content creator "SalfordSal" to help manage their community and do some streaming. It's not a huge update, but I can see people getting a kick out of peeking at the impenetrable ASCII versions of their fortresses. There are some bug fixes and minor graphics updates, too.

Caelyn Ellis hailed the game's newfound accessibility in her Dwarf Fortress review, though still found herself spending half her time on the Wiki:

"Survival is easy; the challenge is in achieving prosperity. I’m still a long way from getting there, but I’m excited to try. I’m still spending half my time reading the wiki, but it’s because I want to learn all the ins and outs of the game’s systems, not because I don’t know how to get something as simple as sand anymore."

I've been tempted to start some Dwarven dabbling myself, but from the sounds of it I'm still far too likely to bounce away. My plan is to get my Rimworld-adoring partner into it instead, so I can enjoy listening to her shenanigans without putting in any of the work. If that fails, I can always re-read Nate's Basement Of Curiosity.

You can grab Dwarf Fortress from Steam or Itch.io for £25/$30/€29. If you're not fussed about the graphics, the free version is still free, and will continue to get updates.

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Matt Cox avatar

Matt Cox

Former Staff Writer

Once the leader of Rock Paper Shotgun's Youth Contingent, Matt is an expert in multiplayer games, deckbuilders and battle royales. He occasionally pops back into the Treehouse to write some news for us from time to time, but he mostly spends his days teaching small children how to speak different languages in warmer climates.