Dwarf Fortress: Very Ambitious Roguelike


The other day I was looking up DF, wondering what the latest version was. I was shocked to see it hadn’t been updated in years.




I had a similar experience some months back. But I can’t say I was shocked.

DF has had long lulls in development before as Toady works on some gargantuan change of overarching mechanics and then gets sidetracked deciding to put it something else entirely which requires rewriting a ton of totally unrelated stuff … and so on.

On one hand I’m kinda itching to play again, but on the other hand … if I’m honest, the high point of fun I had with DF was waaaay back when there was just a single level and you dug further and further into the mountainside.
Adding levels allowed for some fantastic contraptions (I even built some myself), but (for me) playability suffered a blow. And the same can be said about a couple of other additions - for example, when I last played, I found setting up and managing your military was a major pain in the arse.

And then, instead of making sure a system was principally useable and - at a groundfloor level - working, Toady heads off into a totally unrelated direction adding some additional layers of complexity.

Ah well, I’ll prolly try it out anyway, and if it is only for a short while.



Oh wow that Dwarf Fortress update sounds great. The central idea that the world sim in the background never stops sounds lovely.


Welp. So much for all the plans I had for the summer.


I completely agree with this. My first attempt to play the new ‘3d’ version was a complete head-fuck. Even after I got used to building in 3d slices, I missed the simplicity of “dig more to the right = danger”, along with the cavern and the river etc.

Still, that updated allowed me to make hobbit holes in layers and layers of dirt before even getting to rock, so it has it’s plus-points :P


I greatly prefer what’s possible in the 3D version in terms of layout and construction. Yet, the 2D version was much more of a game. There was a definite progression to the minerals you could obtain based on depth, “real world” geology be damned. You couldn’t just wall off the chasm or the magma river, you had to expose yourself to those if you dug deeper.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the current 0.34.11 version was released almost exactly 2 years ago, June 4th, 2012. Toady is a terrible programmer in many ways, and I’ve always expected him to stop updating it while continuing to make promises, until the promises just slowly wither away.


A new DF release means I get to play my third favourite DF-related game, which is inserting a made up line into the bug fix reports and seeing if anyone notices.

“Spider silk socks no longer mutate into actual spiders when you get them wet.”


Aha, gotcha! That one is actually real, isn’t it!?


THIS comes out and no one bothers to mention? Come on, people! :)


TL;DR - take special note of the third picture in the series: https://imgur.com/a/IfKwv


Holy cow. They finally did it.


I thought stonesense has been around for ages? I remember using it years ago. Or is it new that you can control DF from stonesense?


Yup. It entirely replaces the other representation.


O.M.G. I never thought I’d see the day.

It’s been over a year since I looked, but I used to think Stonesense actually had better graphics than Gnomoria, so the only thing it was missing was actual controls. Even now, I’m sure the DF interface would still feel terribly clumsy after I’ve used Gnomoria’s mouse-driven+hotkeys system, but the trade-off in complexity and Dwarven-madness/humor might be worth it.

I’m tempted, but also exhausted by the thought. The last DF I played was the ‘40d’ version, and it was great. But the military overhaul (that brought on burrows and–reportedly–buggy doctors) came with enough frustrating stories to scare me away. Hmm…


I’ve long been past the point where Stonesense would help me. My DF Matrix reading is far too ingrained at this point :P Still kinda cool, though.


And the new version is out. As usual with DF, it’s the sensible choice to wait a bit longer until the major bugs are reported and fixed and other quirks are resolved.
And the release post even mentions a couple of systems that aren’t yet fully/properly implemented, so you might want to wait for these, too.
But if you want to be one of the folks reporting those issues, now is the time. ;)



Doesn’t sound like much in this update that I would care about. World generation, back stories, thinking models (not even implemented in the dwarves yet), etc. I know a lot of people go crazy about this stuff though and I always like reading their interpretations.

The next big update, after many bug fixes I imagine, should be the job system it sounds like which sounds much more interesting to me.


Yeah, reading the release notes, it’s two years to produce nothing at all I care about. Which is kind of typical for Toady.


Same, and I’m pretty convinced that if he doesn’t change radically how he develops this, we aren’t even going to see the “next” update.

The golden age of this game was when he released a version every day or two. That’s also when we saw some significant updates, since he was getting good feedback and advices from players.

But if he goes back to total rewrites instead of incremental improvements then the only hope for this game is to actually get OUT of Toady’s control and find some way to open source.

Imho the last few years have been more about backward progress than moving on.


That’s common in software though. You hit a wall where you have to spend a long time rewriting old stuff, with the same functionality, to make it another 10% towards completion.

I love the idea in this version that the world sim and the dwarf sims are finally connected. There’s a weird time bubble when people visit because the scales don’t match up but it makes everything feel a lot more alive.


I put a rant on the forums, here’s an excerpt:

Having direction meas you evaluate the complexity of a feature against its actual impact. And there are features in DF that took an insanely long time to develop and that are almost completely irrelevant. Or, simply put: please focus on what actually makes the game better and more enjoyable, instead of chasing after the virtual world chimera. There is a limit to what you SHOULD model, even ideally.

I have a VERY unpopular opinion: the most famous stories about DF are merely the emergent product of BUGS that are then “explained away” through imaginative stories by the players. This isn’t good AT ALL.

The game acting spectacularly incoherent isn’t something to applaud to. This is identical to popular youtube videos showing how some physics game engine breaks in some games. It’s similar to all those famous Skyrim glitches. They are good for laughs, but they aren’t examples of a good game. DF is often broken in various ways, and players play with bugs more than they play with features that behave correctly.

Imho, DF realizes its ambition and its potential when it functions consistently and coherently. If there’s a bug that makes some goblin invulnerable and, so, into some legendary monster, this isn’t praiseworthy. This is just a broken game. If two dwarfs get locked into eternal wrestling fight, this isn’t “epic”, this is just a terrible bug.

So, simply put, DF is in a state where it’s WAY PAST the point where it needs more features creep and instead need to start fixing and polishing what is already there.

I hope he sees it and maybe listens. It pains me that DF in 2014 is in a worse shape compared to when we first discovered it.