Dwarf Fortress: A Holy Grail of Sims and Roguelikes

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Dwarf Fortress: A Holy Grail of Sims and Roguelikes

Postby Nnelg » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:44 am

Right, because the overlap between these communities is probably population: 1 right now, let me introduce you to Dwarf Fortress.


This is a game that has been over 10 years in the making, with still no end in sight. This is a game that is a superset of all others. This is a game in which goblins are less of a threat than rogue kittens. This is... Dwarf Fortress. There's no other way to describe it.


Ok, on a practical note the first thing you need to know is that the whole thing is done in ASCII characters. Anyone who's ever played a Roguelike before will know what I mean. It may seem really confusing at first, but once you get it in your head that 'g' = goblin, '♣' = a tree, '☺' = one of your dwarven peons, et cetera then it becomes second nature. If you're really having a hard time with it, you can use a graphic tileset or Stonesense; look that up on the wiki, which has much more information than I could ever distill here.

But what's the game about, really? Well, for starters you'll need to generate a world. It's as easy as clicking a button for you, but there's actually a lot going on behind the screens. Each world is generated from scratch: first starting with the geography, then the population. The game actually starts with a few small (~80 IIRC) groups of sentients popping up in appropriate terrain; then history is generated as these "Civs" grow, expand, and come into conflict with each other and and wandering "Megabeasts" (dragons, titans, etc.). You can adjust almost anything you want from this process, from how long of a history to simulate to overall volcanism, but worlds are generally diverse enough you can find the spot you're looking for without messing with those.

Now that you have your world, you need to choose a game mode. There are two main modes to choose from: Fortress and Adventure. There's also an Object Testing Arena, but that's mainly for modders and the easily amused. Adventure Mode is a lot like a rougelike: you play the role of a single adventurer in this world you've generated. You can go literally anywhere you want in it, (good luck swimming the oceans) however, it lacks any sort of set goal -you'll have to find your own. You can ask people for stuff they want killed, but mainly the thing to do is wander around exploring (if you're the kind of person who likes that, this game is worth it just for this).


Fortress Mode is where the real meat of the game is, however. It's more of a sim game than anything else -although the level of detail puts even professional modling software to shame. You're in charge of a fortress full of dwarves: but instead of giving dwarves direct commands, you order tasks to be done at the workshops, and a dwarf with the appropriate labor activated will go in do it. There are plenty of ways you can manipulate this simple proceedure though; if you take the time to set up an efficient system you'll reap the benefits of your labor. But likewise, if you don't find balancing complex relationships enjoyable then there are few problems that can't be solved by throwing enough dwarves at it. (Sometimes literally...) And trust me, you'll have enough dwarves. You start out with just seven, but successive migrant waves will soon leave your fort overflowing with short, hairy peasants.

On your way to becoming a successful fort, you'll encounter vicious wildlife such as carp and elephants; hordes of kittens which brainwash your dwarves and kill your framerate; Forgotten Beasts from the bowels of the earth, some of whose blood will cause your eyeballs to rot out and explode; pain in the ass nobles who ban the export of rings just after you've traded 500 of them away, which puts your master smith in jail just because he was the one who hauled it to the trade depot; cannibal hippie elves which demand you chop down less trees attack you because you accidentally offered a trade in which some random item happened to be made of wood; insane craftsmen who spend months building fractal statues; and, if you're lucky, something that eats the pet of the dwarf which just slaughtered an entire goblin siege single-handedly, causing him to snap and start rampaging through the fort.

In short, much Fun. The game has no sort of 'win' condition, only several 'lose' conditions (but losing = Fun). However, there's still much to do. If the game ended as soon as your fort was self-sufficient, there'd still be more content than most other games out there. After things are up and running though there'll always be more you can do; it's customary to build some sort of construction project that will earn you the respect and admiration of the community. If you ever get bored, there's always one thing you can do that will spell instant death for any but the most well-prepared fort... But in few intervening minutes, what Fun!



If you're interested, I highly recommend reading one or more of the tutorials on the wiki and forums. Download is here, along with a frequently-updated dev log.

I also recommend taking a look at the community as well, which IMO is where the real enjoyment from the game lies. Do a search sometime for the any of the following terms: "Boatmurdered", "Cacame", "Tholtig", "Morul", "Catsplosion", "Armok's Gauntlet", "Dwarven Computer", "Ajak", "One Dwarf Against the World", "Flarechannels", "!!SCIENCE!!". These are only those I can remember off the top of my head, and when reading about all the crazy stuff that happened in-game... keep in mind that everything is proceedurally generated. Nothing is scripted, it all happens because the right things were in alignment.

Finally, when you've got a fort or two under your belt, you might want to take a look at modding, or one of the graphic tilesets I mentioned earlier. Everything about every kind of rock or creature is stored in human-readable text files, making it possible to change almost anything. The system is simple enough that a complete newb can whip up a metal that's as light as copper, as strong as steel, twice as valuable as gold, and which only appears as veins in layers of obsidian in less than ten minutes, while complex enough to give elves 6 arms and a serpentine neck if you want to. However, I use neither mods nor tilesets, so I don't have any recommendations to give here.


So, yeah, check this out. It's really, really cool and deserves more publicity than it gets, so even if it's not the game for you then forwards the link <http://www.bay12games.com/dwarves/> to someone you know who might be interested.
Last edited by Nnelg on Wed Aug 01, 2012 3:07 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress: A Holy Grail of Sims and Rougelikes

Postby MarbitChow » Thu Jul 12, 2012 12:44 pm

I highly recommend grabbing the "Lazy Newb" download bundle; it will allow you to select one of two different graphical tile sets.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress: A Holy Grail of Sims and Rougelikes

Postby Nnelg » Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:33 pm

Ah, glad to see I'm not the only one who's heard of DF around here.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress: A Holy Grail of Sims and Rougelikes

Postby benthehater » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:45 pm

I had been thinking about asking if anyone played here too. I greatly enjoy this game myself.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress: A Holy Grail of Sims and Roguelikes

Postby WhirdCheese » Sun Jan 13, 2013 2:26 am

Stupid werezebra.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress: A Holy Grail of Sims and Roguelikes

Postby Deo » Fri Mar 08, 2013 2:20 am

Ah dwarf fortress.

If you take the time to learn to play it is a rewarding experience.

If you dont like the ASCI graphics, then get a tile set, as they dont effect gameplay at all, though due to limited graphics some icons will be shared, so expect to use the look key often.

I had a titan enter my fortress through the back entrance, near the magma forges positioned in a volcano just after a seige. My last milita dwarf went to fight him as i recruited a ton a recruits and had them getting gear.

He fought it solo for quite awhile along the edge of the volcano, before they suddenly both went in!

He died, the beast survived in the lava, but was unable to move though it.

Thus it remains, forever entombed within the fires below the forges of Daggerstops.
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Re: Dwarf Fortress: A Holy Grail of Sims and Roguelikes

Postby CroverusRaven » Fri Mar 08, 2013 11:35 am

Played one recently where my spawn area had no running water, and when winter came it all froze over. Lost a lot of people to starvation. Goblins wiped out a lot of them too. It was a mess layout wise anyway.
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