Booze, Magma and Child Minotaurs

How likely is it that you would want to play a computer game that looked like this?

Dwarf Fortress

If you look closely, you can see a dwarf party in full swing.

Not that likely I’m guessing. Yet here I am writing a post I intended to write two weeks ago but didn’t because this is what I have been playing. Welcome to the world of
Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress, or just Dwarf Fortress for short.

When I say I’ve been playing it for the last two weeks, I mean I’ve really been playing it. It got to the point where my dreams have been filled with dwarves. It was almost inevitable that after reading an Ars article on the game that I’d be drawn in. I think I became even more intrigued whilst reading the comments and found out that the game was almost entirely the creation of one man who has made it his lifes work (version 1.0 is 20 years away he reckons). The passion with which some people defended the game was heartwarming – it may have it’s flaws but it is being provided for free so why should anyone else have the right to tell him what changes they think he should make to his creation?!

So unlike the Ars writer, I did some reading around on the incredibly detailed Dwarf Fortress Wiki and then proceeded to download the LazyNewb pack. There is no install required and the whole game comes in at about 30MB. The save games bump up the size a bit but it’s perfectly feasible to copy everything to USB and move it from PC to PC. The custom graphic packs and utilities included with the LazyNewb pack make things much easier (and prettier) to play but you still can’t really get started without running through a few basic ‘getting started’ guides.

At times it can be a frustrating experience. The inconsistent way of navigating around in menus to achieve things combined with far from obvious game mechanics means I would recommend saving often and backing up those save games so you can go back and ‘fix’ silly mistakes made whilst learning. Other pearls of wisdom I’ve so far gleaned are:

1. Creating lots of cheap crafts and jewels mean it’s easy to trade for everything you may need.
2. Don’t spend ages planning how to equip your dwarves when they embark – at least not on your first game or two. Before you know it you have more immigrants than you can shake a stick at…
3. Plan early for attacks by raiders rather than getting sidetracked probing the depths for tasty ore.
4. Don’t get too hooked on your first proper game. I thought it was going well until I realised I’d made a fundamental mistake. DWARVES LIKE MINES. Whilst the nice surface farms and forts I’d built looked nice, it started to become obvious I couldn’t patrol an area that big and keep out the bad guys. One nice big tunnel entrance filled with traps, that’s where I’m going with my next game.

For a much better review than I can give, head on over to Cracked. If that hasn’t convinced you to play, how could you resist any game where failure by Catsplosion is a possibility? And remember the Dwarf Fortress motto – losing is fun.

This entry was posted in Games and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.