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Gameverse | November 24, 2017

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‘Dwarf Fortress’ is life’s work for creator Tarn Adams

Louise MacGregor

dwarf-fortress-logo-vertIt’s hard to believe that Tarn Adams has been working on the Dwarf Fortress games for over twelve years now. He’s already stated that he’ll be happy to go on working on these games as long as people want them, foreseeing twenty years of toil put into what he knows as his “life’s work”. The first Dwarf Fortress game premiered in 2006, and now, eight years later, we’re catching a glimpse of what his immersive world looks like with even greater emotion.

Typically known for its great stories, questionably glitch interface, and retro graphics, Dwarf Fortress has done spectacularly well for an indie title; last year it was selected to be featured in the New York Museum of Modern Art as an “outstanding example of interaction design”. But it’s not just the big leagues who love it. Fans from all over the world have eagerly snapped up all the updates Adams has been releasing for the cult hit, and the man himself occasionally throws in new features by fan request. The complex physics engine mixed with the rudimentary graphics mean that many fans have hopped on the modding bandwagon themselves, with one turning the whole thing into a 3D masterpiece.

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But aside from what these fans have been up to, the master has been at work again and recently released a new patch for Dwarf Fortress. Last month, Tarn broke a two-year streak of silence on the patches front and released an updated version of the game with a bunch of new features for long-time fans.

One of the main features on the new download are recalibrated dwarf emotions, allowing the characters life dreams and the ability to consider their actions. As well as this, Adams was keen to stress the world activation he’d worked into the new version, with births, deaths, and marriages handled differently and in more in-depth ways than before. For those more interested in the combat side of the game, individual combat moves will now take place over a period of time, allowing you to defend yourself against an opponent’s attack, and fortresses can now be retired and unretired. Adams has been releasing new patches for this version to iron out any leftover kinks, but this new version of Dwarf Fortress is about as comprehensive as any dedicated fan could ask for.

The games themselves are free to download and play, and Tarn said in the announcement for the new patch “We know that without all the people working and contributing, Dwarf Fortress would be just another failed oddity of a game.  But people are getting involved with the project.  Everyone is doing their part, answering questions on the forums, contributing to the bug tracker, building great mods, and telling their friends about DF!”