Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress
|Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress|
|Developer||Bay 12 Games|
|Influences||Dungeon keeper, Sim city (?)|
|Released||August 8, 2006|
|Updated||October 30, 2007 (v0.27.169.32a)|
|Interface||ASCII, Tiles, Keyboard, Mouse|
|Game Length||Open ended|
|Official site of Slaves to Armok II: Dwarf Fortress|
Dwarf Fortress is a computer game for Windows that combines certain aspects of roguelike games and strategy games. The game is currently in the alpha stage of development, but more versions are continually being added on. The current version is fully playable.
Dwarf Fortress is a successor to "Slaves to Armok: God of Blood" by Bay 12 Games. The earlier game was a more traditional "hack and slash" roleplaying game, with a 3D graphical interface. Dwarf Fortress discarded Armok's 3D graphics for a tileset based on ASCII characters and expanded play to incorporate an economic and strategy mode, in addition to more conventional roguelike roleplay.
Development on Dwarf Fortress started in October 2002, and the first version was released in August 2006. The game has garnered substantial attention for a freeware release still in the alpha stage, with a review in the December 2006 issue of PC Gamer UK, an article on popular website Eurogamer, and multiple extremely long threads in the Something Awful and Penny Arcade internet forums. Development is active, with 20 releases in the first two months, and a small but robust testing community providing feedback.
Prior to play, a world must be generated: each world is uniquely constructed, and any events which take place during play will alter the world in subsquent games. World creation in Dwarf Fortress is quite elaborate: terrain is fractally-generated, then erosion is simulated, and wildlife, towns, and other sites are placed. Each site also has a history specific to it (although this historical information is not yet used in-game). This world-creation process takes about 15 minutes, or much longer on older computers.
The game offers two modes of play: "Dwarf Fortress" mode, in which the player builds a dwarven mountain settlement, and "Adventurer" mode, in which the player controls a single dwarf, human, or elf in a general rogue-like manner. Only one of the two modes can be actively played in a given game world, although fortresses built in prior games can be visited by adventurers in subsequent games.
Dwarf Fortress mode
The initial settlement party consists of seven dwarves. The player has a number of points to spend on resources (food, weapons, armor, equipment, etc) and skills for settlers. Once these decisions have been made, the settlers arrive and begin their work.
There is a large variety of tasks that can be performed in the game. Some are basic and unsurprising, such as mining, wood-cutting, metalsmithing, masonry, farming, and cooking; others are more esoteric, such as soapmaking, fish-cleaning, engraving, and gem cutting. A dwarf's "career" will generally be based on the skill he or she practices most.
Upon arriving at their mountain, the player directs the dwarves indirectly by creating jobs. Jobs are created by designating work areas. The marking of an area for wood-chopping creates one "chop down tree" job for every tree in that area. If a stockpile for wood is created, a "haul lumber to stockpile" job is created whenever there is a free log and a free space in the stockpile. Any dwarf with the appropriate skill may try to do a job. Higher skill in a given job may result in the dwarf doing it faster (such as with mining) or better (in the case of crafting).
As they excavate their cave the dwarves will generally have to create living space, find a way to produce food (which generally means some form of farming and irrigation), secure access to water and alcohol, and build workshops to create valuable goods to trade for essentials. They will also encounter hostile creatures and monsters against whom they must defend themselves; this generally means organizing a military. As the fortress grows, additional dwarves will arrive, providing more labor and the possibility of increased specialization.
As the game proceeds, players will encounter traders from foreign civilizations, dwarven nobles who place demands on the populace, dangerous creatures from both inside and outside the mountain, goblin sieges, maniacal dwarven artisans, and a variety of other special events.
In "Adventure mode", the player controls an individual dwarf, human, or elf. This mode is more like traditional roguelike games. At present, it is fairly minimal: Fortress mode has received the bulk of the developer's attention.
Adventurers can be given several combat-related skills: shield use, armor use, ambushing, wrestling, and any of several weapon skills. Starting gear for adventurers cannot be chosen directly, but is based on what skills are chosen.
Adventurer mode revolves around getting quests from mayors or kings, or just wandering around slaughtering things. Quests involve killing monsters found in dungeons and caves and provide no specific reward. There is no real 'goal' per se, other than survival.
Human towns have stores where you can buy weapons, armor, food, and other items. You can also assemble a party of adventurers by talking to townsfolk and asking them join your group.
Dwarf Fortress already offers quite detailed gameplay, and its developer has an extensive list of intended future features (which can be found here). A very abbreviated list of intended features includes:
- More extensively-detailed civilizations (and interactions between them, including wars)
- Greater automation of player management tasks
- Fleshing out of Adventurer mode
- Magical items and spells
- More elaborate goals for both Adventurer and Fortress mode
- More extensive use of generated world history