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How a niche game conquered the world. You must meet the Dwarf Fortress

Over the years, Dwarf Fortress has&l&lstro;ść nichą proizvodnjaą. The creator, who comes from a community of rougelike players, has been developing your modest design for more than 20 years with a little help from his brother, gathering around him a small group of fans. Needless to say, there are also quite a few very dedicated fans – who create pictures illustrating their adventures in the game world, and even write entire novels that tell the story of a particular fortress.

When we ask someone about the game design that created one &agon; osobaę, probably most people will answer: Minecraft. For years, the game Słynna was associated with Markus Persson – better known under the pseudonym Notch – the originator and the only creative developer. Eric “Concerned Ape” Barone, the creator of Stardew Valley, certainly gained popularity, but we rarely remember the good “Dwarf Stronghold”.

Unhurried but efficient development

On August 8, 2006, the “rec.games.roguelike.announce” newsgroup contained the game’s announcement—premiere: “Slave to Armok – God of Blood Chapter 2: The Dwarf Fortress is out! In Dwarf Fortress, you can play as the manager of a dwarven fortress, but also as a traveler (@) in a randomly generated world displayed in dazzling extended ASCII graphics.– wrote the creator.

Later in the post, the author – Tarn Adams – described what attractions the game offers: procedurally generated cities belonging to different civilizations and hundreds of caves and regions with wild animals and monsters just waiting to be discovered. The sign “@” used in the announcement meant in classic roguelike games the player when in a very simple, textual graphic ulašovo is not the way in which the post was most often marked.

“Here I will try to befriend a local kid’s task” – you have to admit that original graphic design requires a lot of imagination

The official announcement of the release of the game (published completely free of charge, in the spirit of roguelike games of the time) was preceded by several years of painstaking work. Dwarf Fortress has been in development since 2002, and Tarn was followed by his only brother Zach, who took up the design of the title’s mechanics. Suffice it to say, my love of the niche genre, they immediately fell in love with the brothers’ work.

Strategy and survival in the world of letters

Dwarf Fortress in basic mode is a simulation game with elements of strategy and survival, in which the player controls a group of dwarves, who manage their colonies and fight for survival in a hostile world. Later, production will end&lstro; two additional modes: Adventure and Legends. The title offers an impressive level of complexity and realism, as well as the ability to create your own scenarios and edits. The first version on Steam and itch.io, updated with, among other things,… graphics, debuted only at the end of 2022.

The Steam version, thanks to the graphics and bug fixes, makes the game much more accessible for new players

The new edition sold 160,000 copies in the first day. Although the classic free version is still available, fans wanted to thank the creators for almost 20 years of free entertainment. The Adams family is safe to come – you are fighting because of the hard situation, your health.

The unexpected financial success also brought about a real revolution in the team working on the game. Two weeks ago, it was announced that the expansion of the title would be enriched by another developer. The new member of the team is brought from the modding community, a programmer who uses the pseudonym Putnam.

&lstro;ść simulation and dead cats

ą featureą the game has a high level of detail&lstro;ść simulation. Even though it’s the basic mode, we play&a&a&a&a;gon;ru&a&a&a;gon;&a&a&a;; dvotočkaą and we have no direct influence on individual units, each of the inhabitants has his own tail; history, mood, aspirations and dreams. Some will be satisfied with the house, others will want to live in an ornate chamber. Some, in a sudden burst of inspiration, will go to the workshop and completely uninvited will create a tail; something of an artifact.

The goal of the game becomes not only the expansion of the fortress and defense against enemy civilizations (eg kobolds), but also care for the well-being of our residents. he can lead armed expeditions, play instruments or write songs. Frustrated, nervous tics began to manifest, and they even descended into insanity. All this is to fulfill the main assumption of the Adams brothers – games as tools for storytelling.


This detailed simulation sometimes leads to unexpected problems. For example, wandering groups of outcast poets traveled the world naked. The simulation engine considers that since they do not belong to the &avoidance of any faction, fruitful relations with their &addition; any of the recognized rules, such as the necessity of wearing clothes.

The most famous, however, is the ą in dead cat taverns which has been around since 2015, players have reported it as a bug. Cats with hairy eyes were most often covered in their own vomit. After analyzing the unusual situation, it turned out that the main cause of the cat’s death was alcohol poisoning. It doesn’t even make sense to pretend that cats don’t drink alcohol in the game.

In the further course of the “investigation”, it was learned that że the simulation works as accurately as possible. Liquids such as beer and wine were often spilled on the floors of taverns. The cats, walking on the floor of the tavern, soiled their wires, which then cleaned their tails and licked the alcohol off them. Due to the mass conservation rules implemented in the game – this alcohol did not “disappear”, it just woke up the swallowed animals&l;rep; Unfortunately, even a small amount of alcohol turns deadly for the virtual cat’s body.

Dwarf heritage

This is only the most famous example, but during the development of the game many such interesting things were discovered. Although the title mentioned several game modes – as a colony ruler, a traveling hero or a chronicler of the world in legends mode – they all usually end with a tail; sooner or laterźk&zdo;ką. the high degree of &lstr;t&l&l&l&l&;possibilitiesśśśś and the number of unpredictable events that threaten us will frighten even the biggest fans of strategy games, but the tail attracted others like a magnet.

The developers of many other games admit that they were inspired by the niche title, and put hidden references in their games – such Easter eggs were found, for example, in World of Warcraft. The production was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is an unusual case that a production with such primitive graphics and a high degree of difficulty has acquired the status of a living legend.

Dwarf Fortress is a unique experience that every player should have the opportunity to experience

Is it worth playing in the dwarf fortress? Absolutely – especially, we will be able to play in more ways. By purchasing a title on the Steam platform, we get a production enriched with teaching, both aesthetically and beautifully – although flatly – graphically. Alternatively, you can try your sister in the classic, free version of the production. In this case, however, we have to resort to measuring with a very archaic and unintuitive visual layer, as well as the necessity of reading exhaustive manuals. However, if we play our rap; I like it, then we can count down to the days of great fun.

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