Dwarf Fortress: Very Ambitious Roguelike

I’m a big fan, but can only do it for spells of a week or two before needing to switch to something else. It does keep drawing me back in every big update.

So I had my first “Strange Mood” occur and unfortunately the dwarf in question went insane because I was unable to get him some “stacked cloth.” Luckily, he just went melancholy insane instead of violently insane.

I watched as he puttered about, despairing, not eating or drinking of course. Finally, Avuz Melbilubbul, recent immigrant and father of two, passed away at the young age of 50 outside by the trade depot, horrifying the broker and ending the on going trade negotiations (I think, its unclear if they went through).

His corpse was quickly picked up and having a tomb and coffin all ready for him, I assumed that would be his destination. Instead, the hauler took him to the refuse dump and ignobly thru his corpse there. Double checking, I specifically assigned the tomb I made for Avuz to ensure he would be properly buried.

The next individual assigned to haul the deceased to their final resting place is 9 year old Kulet Ibrukoddom, Dwarven Child.

Screenshot 2022-12-07 225733

She has some thoughts:

Screenshot 2022-12-07 225912

So, a 9 year old dwarf is tasked with burying an insane dwarf in a snow storm. Other than that, my 3 year old fortress has been running pretty smoothly!

EDIT: I scoured through her relations and could not figure out who the hell Muthkat Inchlances was. But there may be a hint:

Screenshot 2022-12-07 230652

Do the dwarven children have make believe friends?

So the common saying is that DF is much more complex than Rimworld.

Yet in DF there is no concept of light, dwarves can operate in pitch black environments, whereas Rimworld has a full lighting system. Is this the exception that proves the rule or are there a bunch of things that happen to be more fully developed in Rimworld?

Dwarves - Duh, Infravision!


Some of the complexity was just in the obtuseness of the prior UI. DF is more in-depth as far as in-world modeling of… everything. But it also requires that you dig deeper for that stuff, because it isn’t just there on the surface.

Um, so to speak.

Well, I can live without lighting anyway (as can these dwarves apparently). Really enjoying the game generally, it feels like a gem, but the sound design can be very subpar.

With the soundtrack, you could be rocking along to a good tune and then suddenly the next track plays with 15 seconds of high pitch sharp tinnitus sound digging into your eardrum. The sound design is the same. It is hard to object to hearing birdsong 10 levels below the surface, even though it makes little sense, but then you can hear this PCKAWWWW bird sound at random intervals.

I haven’t been following this too closely, so basic question: have you played DF before? (Not intended to be snarky, it’s had a long history and I sure as hell can’t track who’s been in and out of the game.)

I’ve played DF a fair amount probably a decade ago, and RimWorld a fair amount several years ago. I’m not the best person to answer this because it’s been several years, but here goes: Yes. DF is much more complex than RimWorld, some examples:

  • Combat–RimWorld has (IIRC) a pretty good damage system where entities get hit in various body parts and they stop working and then you get bionics to replace them, and so on. DF has this to the next level; there’s a meme about “bruising the fat” for a reason. And it ties in to things like the procgen horrors where if a horror has seven tentacles they will each be modeled separately and you’ll see combat logs like “Urist attacks the fourth tentacle with a sword and chops it off. The fifth tentacle grabs Urist’s arm.” And the materials for the weapons (and creatures) have weight values that impact how hard they hit in different situations (as a mace vs as a sword).
  • Backstory / legends. The world generation for DF is of course totally nuts, and you can interact with the legends (or their remnants) to some degree in the game.
  • Variety of… stuff. DF has a huge variety of everything. For example, there is an unnecessarily large number of types of rock in the game. And a dwarf might have a favorite type of rock (or wood, or food) and their mood will be slightly affected if they’re sitting on a granite stool vs a schist stool. RimWorld has this sort of thing too, of course, but the scope in DF is much larger.

Now, an absolutely fair question is: does this actually matter to the gameplay? I think in 90% of the cases the answer is no. RimWorld is, in all honesty, probably a better game, because that’s what it’s trying to do. In DF, you have to enjoy the simulation for what it is.

Edit: that said, I 100% believe there are more examples than just lighting where RimWorld has implemented something DF lacks.

It would be crazy hard to implement something like lighting in DF due to the original ASCII graphics. How would you show a lit floor versus a dark floor? A dwarf walking though a lit area versus a dark area? I think lighting would be a great addition to the game, but it would probably take years to implement correctly.

On the flipside, DF models and shows z-level whereas Rimworld does not. They each have their strengths.

I wish I could hire someone to sit with me for like 5 hours to get the hang of something like this. I tend to get more joy out of reading peoples recaps than I do playing as I just fumble around like an idiot. My daughter sat with me to learn the ropes of Rim World and it was so much easier. I may just buy it anyway as I don’t mind tossing them money for all the work they have done. I could never get into the older version as the interface was well you know the interface.

I’d stick with Rim World, but I only have the base game and all the extra DLC is like 900 million dollars combined and I always feel like I’m missing out if I don’t have everything. ;)

This is done very effectively in Brogue. Check it out if you haven’t. GitHub - tmewett/BrogueCE: Brogue: Community Edition - a community-lead fork of the much-loved minimalist roguelike game

Yes, but Brogue is also a modeling a lot less overall.

You don’t have to buy it all in one go, if they’re something you’re interested in. Set aside $5 a month and buy a DLC every 4 months or so. You’ll have them all around this time next year.

WaPo had a look at DF.

I like it for the final part:

"You win when something that’s so funny or interesting or just plain weird happens that you have to tell a real life person about it. "

In which vein, by mid-winter my most recent Dwarven trade caravan hasn’t made it more than 60 yards from my fort after leaving in Autumn.

Firstly they got attacked by a Kea and everyone stood around while one Dorf with a crossbow tried to shoot it down. He fired 40+ crossbow bolts at it before finally killing it. At which point everyone turned to move on and got about ten paces before they were attacked by a Giant Wolverine.

Everyone broke out the camp chairs to sit and watch this happen and right now an Axe dwarf is punching the Wolverine to a pulp. He’s not using his axe because it’s stuck in the Wolverine’s back.

I’m secretly rooting for the Wolverine so I can take all the dead caravaners’ gear.

I know the feeling, but trust me the base game for Rimworld is a complete experience and you absolutely do not need the DLCs to enjoy it fully.

It’s great to see Gita Jackson’s byline in the Washington Post. Love their games writing.

I think Rimworld is more enjoyable/interesting when you begin to play it whereas DF has so much depth you need to spend a lot more time with it to really appreciate it.

I played it one day years and years ago in its full-ASCII glory, but otherwise no!

I am beginning to learn that, my dwarves are finding every rock under the sun except the two that are able to be turned into coke haha.

Thanks for the comparison of the two games, it is interesting! It almost reminds me of the difference between the Old (DF) and New (RW) Testaments.

I think it is fair to say that Rimworld is much more of a simulation “game” whereas DF is much more of a simulation that you get to play. Rimworld has a lot of game-ified survival elements to it, as there is a thematic element of a band of survivors building a colony, as well as a story engine built in to send encounters and various happenings your way.

DF is a game where you just build a simulated settlement until it falls apart, you get bored, or you accidentally dig into the lair of a gigantic elder god spider creature and it kills everyone.

Honestly, the gameplay loop and base-building are much more simple in DF, same with combat etc. You aren’t really building and directing people in the way that you can in Rimworld, you are just more giving dwarves jobs and sending out orders (that may or may not be followed).

I like Rimworld a lot too, but there is something about how a DF game can just go completely sideways, and tell so many funny stories.

One of my favorite DF storylines is boatmurdered (an old somethingawful pass and play game) where you have these effing elephants just rampaging and attacking trading caravans at random, and then years later in game, you have dwarves carving pictures of the elephants absolutely wrecking an elven caravan. The game just has this depth and history to it that is unequaled anywhere else.

It is those weird lore and simulation systems that make the game for me, not that you alone have a story to tell from playing the game, but the actual citizens in your world tell that story to their children as well.

I found this reddit post on the new labor system helpful.

Various tips:

  • Traders will accept your offer when the profit number turns green.

  • You can zone many bedrooms with one click-and-drag by using the Multi toggle.

  • The auto-mining mode (advanced sub-menu) is handy to dig out seams and collect gems.

  • The labor menu has a stone section that lists the different uses for each type.

  • Mining blueprints are just a “don’t dig this yet” designation.

  • The macro system only records key presses (and not commands, beware of changing keybinds), so you have to enable the keyboard cursor and record everything by keyboard. Digging macros are fairly easy, but for building use the single-item mode and not continuous placement because pressing Esc resets the cursor position. You can offset the cursor at the end of a macro to make it repeatable (like: dig 4x1 sideways, return to start, move 2 down).

Try the free version when it gets updated with the new interface. The UI is still pretty rough, but it’s much more accessible.

They have accepted some of the yellow trades ive requested, but it is very unreliable unlike green.