As written about before, Dwarf Fortress tileset is bringing a Steam escape with an official tileset, a new UI, and mouse controls. The latest video from Kitfox Games, handling the polished release, features original DF co-creator Zach Adams speaking through new menus and artwork while taking his fort’s bins out.
I forget to take the bins out before bin day and am frequently too lazy to do it when I do remember. Zach’s dwarves have an advantage: a minecart system that can carry objects from the upper floors of his fort down toward the waste-disposing magma level. The video overhead follows that journey, showing underground biomes filled with giant mushrooms along the way.
Dwarf Fortress creators Zach and Tarn Adams resisted adding any kind of polish to their game for over a decade because they didn’t want the need to make sprites to slow down the development of new features. Kitfox is getting around that issue by basing their Steam release on a particular build, while development on exclusive new features can continue separately on the original ASCII release. That’s hardly a problem considering how feature-rich Dwarf Fortress already is.
Dwarf Fortress is an infamously confusing game, and as nice as it is to have an approved tileset, there have been unofficial tilesets available for Dwarf Fortress for years. The really exciting feature in the Steam escape is the mouse-driven menus since Dwarf Fortress existing keyboard-driven menus are arcane even by the standards of ASCII roguelikes. It handles a lot better people might finally play this wonderful story generator.
There’s no release date for the Dwarf Fortress Steam release yet, but in a news post about the above video, Kitfox says the art is nearing completion.
I often forget to take out the trash cans in front of the trash can, and often too lazy to do it, even if I remember. Zach’s dwarves have an advantage: a minecart system that can transport items from the upper floors of his fortress down to the garbage-disposing magma level. The video overhead follows that journey, showing underground biomes filled with giant mushrooms along the way.
Dwarf Fortress developers Zach and Tarn Adams include resisted adding gloss to their game for over a decade because they did not want spirits to slow down the development of new features. Kitfox solves that problem by basing its Steam release on a particular build while creating all-new features that can continue separately on the original ASCII release. Hardly an issue when you consider how feature-rich Dwarf Fortress already is.
“The print is bigger and square since we’ve driven from 8×12 ASCII glyphs to 16×16 tiles,” Tarn said of the work-in-progress map. “There’s still quite a bit to do with river mouths and wetlands and seas and mountains and trees and so on, of course. But we’ve reached a point where it accomplishes the goal of making the world map more easily understood and thought it would be fun to share.
For comparison, here’s the area shown with the classic color-coded ASCII aesthetic.
There’s so much potential for new players who have never heard the far-fetched legends – much less forged their own – to discover this fascinating colony-building passion project on a whim without any extra effort. The motivation factor,r that’s the appeal. Combined with Steam’s massive built-in audience and discoverability features, the new tilesets (which do not require mods) should work wonders.
Case in point, Dwarf Fortress is one of Steam’s most wish-listed games. It’s a slumbering giant.
I could never get into Dwarf Fortress, and not completely convinced that a more accessible coat of paint will tip the scales in my favor, but the Steam release, in general, will be such a big moment.
As a reminder, the game is free – and remains that way – but the Steam edition won’t be.
Simulate a new dwarven life in December
Time to break earth and set up a new home. The impossibly deep simulator Dwarf Fortress has set a Steam and Itch liftoff date of December 6, 2022.
This notorious engine for great internet stories is often, perceived as pretty dense. But as part of the Steam launch, Bay 12 Games is also rolling out several draws for newcomers to make dwarven life a bit easier to manage.
First off, the graphical tile collection. Sooner than ASCII characters moving around, Dwarf Fortress has pixel visuals you can pick up on a bit easier. Modders and society members have made these tools before, but Steam Dwarf Fortress arrives with a packed-in tile set.
Secondly, the new player experience was updated, to include tutorials. Via the Mist page, these tutorials will guide you through the process build, your first fortress and keeping all the dwarves inside happy.
Other than that, this is largely still Dwarf Fortress. It’s always a massive, simulated world of possibilities and potential disasters. All it needs few intrepid dwarves.
Building the fortress
Dwarf Fortress has been the subject of many prolonged forum posts and storytimes. Much like EVE Online, a game is endlessly fascinating to read about but seems intimidating from the outside too.
With a Steam launch, updated graphics, and new player experience, this might be the time for me to give Dwarf Fortress an honest go of it. Read enough stories. Ready to establish my beautiful fortress, watch it fall apart to infighting and chaos.
Developers Tarn and Zach Adams have been operating on this game for ages and seem set to keep doing so. And maybe this version is just the right jumping-on point as they dive further into what this simulation can do.