dwarf fortressthe beloved Byzantine colony simulation game, is coming to Steam on December 6th. Tuesday’s announcement marks an important milestone for Bay 12 Games’ Tarn Adams and Zach Adams, who have been working on the game since 2003.
Original title Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarven Fortress, the main game mode of the game involves taking a small group of dwarves and carving out a home for them in the unforgiving wilderness. The game blends classic Tolkien-inspired fantasy lore with incredibly complex simulation that models everything from individual moods, ways, and craziness to glacial flows and fluid dynamics.
dwarf fortress is a famously ugly game, with a set of primitive sprites based on ASCII characters. The new implementation includes a new pixel art tileset and, for the first time, mouse functionality. There’s also a basic tutorial, a kind of in-game encyclopedia, a full soundtrack, ambient sounds, and other quality-of-life additions meant to lessen its painful learning curve.
One of the most charming additions to the game is its host of animal folk sprites, about 200 in all, Tarn Adams told Polygon. But, when discussing their inclusion, he also revealed all the hard work done by him and his brother, and the Kitfox Games team they partnered with in 2019. Add in gigantic versions of these creatures, and he there are 200 more. There are fantasy animals, which adds another 50 sprites, and normal animals of course – another 200. This brings the total animals and pets to around 650. All of these have dead versions, of course, as well only versions of statues, and versions zombies. Add in procedurally generated creatures, including the dwarves themselves, which each have eight different pieces for the game to choose from during creation, and the work begins to pile up.
“I forgot the Forgotten Beasts, of course,” Tarn Adams said with a laugh, “which have a giant grid of parts put together from shells, antennae, mandibles, trunks, wings, tails and a varied number of eyes. […] There are many.
The new version of the game is not only designed for new players. dwarf fortress veterans can expect plenty of bug fixes, the brothers said. Additionally, dwarves themselves are a bit easier to circle thanks to a new “custom job details” system (replacing the old view/profession/job system). Beyond that, the pair are particularly excited about the improved endgame.
“I don’t know how many people are going to yell at you for messing things up,” Tarn Adams warned. “It’s been out for about 16 years, I guess, so it’s kind of like spoiling an 80s movie or something.”
“Becoming a ‘mountain house’ is kind of the general thing you’re supposed to do,” Zach Adams said. Once a stronghold reaches a certain population of happy dwarves, he explained, a contingent of noble dwarves will travel from another part of the overworld to settle in what is ostensibly the new capital of a dwarven civilization. . But, rather than spending time and treasure placating these nobles, players have traditionally drowned them instead. Narratively, it’s a bit abrupt, but mechanically, it’s much easier than struggling with capricious and sometimes untenable demands. While the brothers didn’t want to spoil too much, their improvements should make this endgame scenario – which involves quite a bit of mining and exploration – much more playable than it was before.
Tarn Adams also said he was personally interested in seeing the dwarf fortress the speedrun community is picking up steam.
“It’s not impossible to do,” said Tarn Adams. “It only took Zach 47 hours. We think people could do it much faster.
The game has been available for free since its release in 2006, and the pair funded its development through crowdfunding. One of the main reasons the brothers went down this path with Kitfox was to improve their financial security, and with the launch, they are finally looking to make that personal goal a reality.
“We haven’t had COVID yet,” said Tarn Adams, his brother nodding during our Zoom call. “The main goal was to get better health insurance and stuff. And that won’t be until we release the game. We’re almost there.”
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