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Dwarf Fortress: The most Interesting Game in the World


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I just wanted to share this game with the community as it is both fun and somewhat informative... here is the low down:


1) It's an ASCII game that looks like the old Moria and NetHack... if you can accept that, and you like fairly opaque but incredibly deep games read on!


2) The game takes place in a randomly generated world that can be mind bogglingly large... up to millions of tiles by millions of tiles. The map is truly topographical, with realistic environments, and geology... numerous flora and fauna species, and geologic strata (microline deposits, cinnabar, lignite, etc. etc.). All rivers oceans and lakes are generated organically based on geology(streams form from glaciers, streams flow into rivers, etc.).


3) Once the world is generated the map generator seeds the land with civilizations (human, elf, kobold, goblin and dwarf) along with mythic beasts (giants, dragons, etc.). From that point the generator starts to generate history.. with each civ member and beast going about their daily lives, building homes, getting married, raising children, dying of old age... or calamity... all history is recorded so that you get what amounts to a skeleton of an encyclopedia of the world created that you can peruse. A large map can generate a detailed history of as many as 200,000 individuals!


4) Each individual has their own sets of likes and dislikes, and from those characteristics they can determine spouse choice, career (70+ possibilities from soap maker to hunter to hammer lord)... these likes change over time, and you can have situations like goblins raiding a town and taking elven slaves, only to have golins become accustomed to elves in their midst, grow affections, and eventually have a goblin/elf kingdom... or vise versa.


5) Combat in the game can take many forms from wrestling to archery to melee to magic (though magic is not implimented in playable races yet), and currently has a rather in depth hit, damage and bleed calculators. An arrow can pierce become lodged somewhat harmlessly in a bone, pierce muscle... or can cause brain damage or pierce a liver causing almost certain fatal bleeding.


In the upcoming release combat will be even more complex, with an eventual modeling of full sets of internal organs, and tissue layers. In the new release (in a month of so) there will also be a new medical career added where dwraves can diagnose and treat injured dwarves.


6)... Oh, and tere is a game in there, kinda like the Sims, but you are digging into mountains to harvest the rich minerals underground, and design and build your own rooms and traps and hope hat your autonomous dwarves get around to finishing your spectacular fortress before starving, being torn apart by a dragon, a goblin seige, or worst of all.. running out of booze.


It is definitely a game that has a steep learning curve, but it is well worth your time to dig in to it and see the deepest game/civ simulator ever made.



The Game (about 6 mb download)


The Wiki (a must have for beginners)

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It is!


I was first introduced to the game when it was still 2 dimensional (no mountains, etc.) when someone linked me to a coop game that a group was playing.


They would each take a year of game time (about 3 hours maybe) and take control of a fortress, designating their own dig-outs, decorating, and death trap making. At the end of each year they would write a diary of their year (complete with pictures in-game) and pass the saved game on to the next person.


Oh, also, the game has a very rudimentary language system that randomly generates "meaningful" names for people and places but I think it's just another bit of humor by the game creator. The names tend to be rather silly when translated from the Dwarvish.


So I bring you, without further ado: Fortress Boatmurdered.


Enjoy the read! The game has become even deeper and more complex since then. The only thing that has become less complex is cave-ins, but that is because the physics of cave ins in a 3D fluid terrain is not something the programmer wants to tackle just yet. But given that he already has a pretty nifty fluid mechanics system built in (that almost fully accounts for viscosity and pressure) I think the cave-ins won't be too far off.


The release of the next alpha build in a month or two is anxiously awaited by millions of indie gamers the world over.


On top of adding more complex combat mechanics, doctors, medical equipment better AI.. which is already some of the best I have ever seen (he recently posted about how his doctors in his test game were setting and suturing compound fractures, bandaging and splinting the limb only to have the injured dwarf tear it all off because they didn't like them as clothing).. he is also adding equally complex underground environments and civilizations and the beginnings of an evolution mechanism where traits are inheritable.


On top of that there will be special beasts in the game that are mishmashes of various traits for various animals. His combat system required that he create physical feature databases and then build individuals from parts... so a dwarf has humanoid upper arms, forearms, chest, fingers, etc. etc. Each come with tissue layers and uses (hands with fingers can grab and manipulate, hands with crab claw can grab and cut.. etc). In the new game he will have beasts that are generated at world gen that randomly select head, torso, limb type and number, etc. .... in one case he had an elephant sized shrimp with purple tentacles crawling around in a cave lair.


In one alpha release there was a hilarious bug where cats mistakenly thought they had fingers, so every time they would kill a mouse they would try to pick up the mouse with their "hands", realize their paws had no fingers, assume they were amputated, and panic. I remember laughing in the following release when Tarn, the creator, reported "unfortunately, that bug has been fixed."

Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged

Here is a snapshot in game of me looking at the thoughts of one of my dwarves. As you can tell my dwarves have been rather busy brewing and drinking and not so busy cleaning or making furniture...



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Oh, and also I have no real interest in Starcraft2 because I don't have a great afinity toward RTS, though non-formulaic RTS can be great fun (try Kohan 2 sometime!), and I have always been disappointed with Civ games as the late game seems like such a chore.


So no, not really interested in those games. I just like games that have a lot of meat on their bones and don't really care about the graphics all that much. But I can admire a pretty game too. Crysis was fun, and Half Life 1 was the best shooter ever made (and pretty for it's day)


Dwarf Fortress is a game within a game within a game, however. And playing the ASCII game activates the same part of the brain that is active when reading. It's like the exact opposite of The Matrix, I start seeing the world through the code. I dare anyone to play long enough to get a thriving fortress and not love the game from that point on. It's an amazing piece of work.

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You are not doing a very good job of making your case that conservatives aren't living in the past.


Any interest in Starcraft II or Civ 5?


Sillyness, the purpose of games is not flashy graphics, it is having fun. Nethack was one of the best RPG games I have ever played, and I also enjoyed the lookalikes such as Zangband. These are games with text-based graphics, where each item is represented by a single character, such as "D" for dragon. A lot of these modern flashy games are thoroughly retarded, despite the effort making them look pretty. Best to make a good game and worry about graphics later.


That said, I also enjoyed starcraft and am eager to play the second one. I've liked a few of the civ games I've played, but haven't found an interesting one lately.


Also, I think playing the alpha version of a game counts as not living in the past.

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You're a good candidate for Dwarf Fortress then, Mr. Skeptic!


It even has an adventure mode where you can control the life of one dwarf much like NetHack... and if you play the Fortress mode and lose you can load the same map in adventure mode and visit the ruins of your old fortress.


More cool stuff:


1) Dwarves have individual personalities that express themselves in their work. Most notably in engraving. In that profession dwarves given the task of carving bas-relief in your fort will carve images that interest them, or great moments in the history of your clan, or your fort.


At one point in a game my fort was taking it on the chin from repeated goblin sieges and all my engravings from those years were of goblins killing dwarves, or dwarves killing goblins, depending on the mood of the engraver.


2) In an upcoming release the outside world (the rest of the vast generated world) will take on a life of it's own that will parallel your play. So wars can and will be waged with your fort as a pawn, with real armies from other towns being amassed and sent... or even simply two factions waging war around your fort. You will also be able to build armies and send them to conquer other towns.


Right now the outside world exists in a snapshot, and raiding parties that attack you are just selected from existing entities in the world and essentially teleported to the edge of your fortress map.


This step worries me though as the game already crunches so many numbers that my computer takes a serious processor hit when my forts get above 100 drwaves (you can edit the population cap, but by default it's 200).


3) The community of programmers that love this game has recently overhauled the underpinning graphical prowess allowing you to resize the game window on the fly (I can no longer live without the new full screen mode!) and opened the game up to some greater graphics mods (the best end up looking a bit like an old Nintendo game.. like NetHack graphic versions). But there is also a group of lovely individuals working on a project titled "Stonesense" that have written a rather impressive 3/4 view wrapper for DF, though it is not a fully realized project yet as there are still hard coded entities that there mem-hacked wrapper can't see.


I would suggest that if you choose to try out DF that you download the "40d17" version (the last 5 digits of the file name). It is the latest OpenGL version of the current 40d build. Or you can wait for the new release in a month of two when the OpenGL code will be built into the standard release.


This game has started getting so much indie notoriety that it has been tossed around a s"Game of the Year" by a few publications. People who dismiss this game on graphics and never climb the sheer cliffs of it's learning curve are missing one of the best and most unique gaming experiences around.


Also, if anyone decides to give it a try feel free to ask me questions. I have a fairly good grasp on the basics of the game and can help you get a thriving fortress up and running, or answer some questions about the less intuitive features of the game.

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Hah! Half Life 1 was more innovative than Half Life 2... you could make a case for Portal, though.


I don't really know about that, and part of what makes Portal so interesting is its use of physics puzzles powered by the rather game changing physics from the Source Engine, which was developed for Half-Life 2.

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Not that I ever played half life 1 to any real degree ( I was about 12 at the time and we didn't get a pc for ages ) but I felt that Half Life 2's set of weapons was vastly inferior to the selection of guns, lasers and alien bugs you could throw at your enemies in the first one.


That said I never really understood why the story is so well lauded in HL1 or 2, I much preffered AVP by rebellion.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Dwarf Fortress is one of my favorite games. It took me a month of restarting to survive my first winter. The ASCII graphics are a breeze to get used to after a short while, and the tilesets available make a huge difference in aesthetics. Plus its always fun to see a dwarf go insane, drag another dwarf into the butcher shop and come out wearing a pair of legendary dwarf leather gauntlets and then going on a killing spree.

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I had that happen once but the dwarf made a leather thong instead of gauntlets.


I've been having bad luck with moods recently, though. They always want to use materials that I don't have. I have just started walling them in their workshops while they mutter about needing silk thread or shells.


Though I have solved the shell problem though as I now bring a wagon full of turtles to every fort.

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Well the game is still rather buggy, though that should be no surprise for an alpha version. They have funny physics that allows for perpetual motion machines, for example.


Well, yeah. It's a game, after all. But as a game goes, the ability to simulate individuals and personalities is second to none.


The next release is coming out in a few day to weeks. It will change the game considerably and add a lot of content. It will most assuredly be buggy on release, but most of the bugginess will at least be new.


The two persistent bugs in the current version that will be fixed, and make the game much more fun, is the Reclaim bug and "resident creature bug".


In the current version you can reclaim a lost fort in the site finder (type capital R), you embark with an army that varies with the size and value of the fort you are reclaiming. The problem is that reclaiming caused magma to "move" so none of the foundries or smelters that are powered by magma work anymore.


The second bug made embark a lot less fun because if you embarked on an enemy settlement that settlement turned friendly and you could no longer attack it. I used to have great fun attacking goblin black towers and claiming the large obsidian fortresses as my own (assuming I could defeat the demon lord).


The new release fixes both of these problems, supposedly. So I will be starting my first fortress on the grounds of some unfortunate goblin settlement.


Later on the programmer will be tacking game physics to make it a little more realistic, but a lot of his early work in that area had to be scrapped when he moved from a 2D game world to 3D.

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