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Dwarf Fortress on Steam gets release date, trailer, and graphics beyond ASCII

Two views of a <em>Dwarf Fortress</em> scene, in the original graphics and in the upcoming Steam/ release.
Enlarge / Two views of a Dwarf Fortress scene, in the original graphics and in the upcoming Steam/ release.

Kitfox Games / Kevin Purdy

The version of Dwarf Fortress that looks and sounds more like a game than a DOS-era driver glitch will be unearthed on December 6, the creators and its publisher announced Tuesday.

There’s a trailer, a $30 price, and, should things go as planned, versions for Steam and arriving that day. Buying these editions gets you a version with graphics, music, an improved UI and keyboard shortcuts, and—perhaps most importantly—a tutorial. It also supports the brothers who have worked on the game for more than 16 years, offering it for free and subsisting on donations. That free version of the game, ASCII graphics and all, will remain available.

You can see the difference in looks in the release trailer:

Dwarf Fortress Steam Edition trailer, featuring pixels that most humans can interpret as representations of real objects.

Or, for those not keen on moving-picture embeds, here are a couple of screenshots showing near-identical scenes from the trailer:

While the trailer is focused on the Steam release, Dwarf Fortress will also be sold through, where creators typically receive a greater portion of proceeds. That’s important for Zach and Tarn Adams, the two creators and coders who have seen the project through, and both dealt with family health concerns in recent years, including a cancer scare for Zach in the late 2010s.

What’s the game actually like? Former Ars writer Casey Johnston spent 10 hours searching for that answer. Here’s a snippet from her report:

I’m already in this thing, eight or so hours deep, so it’s time to solve a problem. Googling the “non-economic stone” error takes me to the wiki. This error can happen “when a dwarf walls himself into a corner and is unable to leave to get more rocks. Be careful where you build your Mason’s workshop, as some parts of it obstruct movement.” Otherwise, there may just be too many kinds of economic rock around (stone reserved for a special purpose) or a stockpile might block the loose stones that might be used for making things. I should be able to mine more and generate more loose stones, but I try mining around. Not a single thing changes.

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