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The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress 104

The NY Times is running a story about Dwarf Fortress, an independently produced, ASCII-rendered fantasy game that thrives on its own uniqueness and has influenced countless other game developers (and runs on Linux). Quoting: "Though it may seem ungainly at first, the game’s interface — rendered in what are known as extended ASCII characters — has a sparse elegance. As seasons change, trees, represented by various symbols, shift from green to yellow. Goblins’ eyes appear as red quotation marks; if you shoot out an eye with an arrow, the symbol becomes an apostrophe. On a message board, one fan likened the ASCII experience in Dwarf Fortress to the immersive pleasures of reading a book: 'You can let your imagination fill in the gaps.' The community that has arisen around Dwarf Fortress is remarkable. Fans maintain an extensive wiki, which remains the game’s best (and, effectively, only) instruction manual, and which even Tarn and Zach admit to consulting. ... Perhaps most fascinating are the stories that fans share online, recounting their dwarven travails in detailed and sometimes illustrated narratives. In a 2006 saga, called Boatmurdered, fans passed around a single fortress — one player would save a game, send the file to another player and so on, relay-race style — while documenting its colorful descent into oblivion."
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The Brilliance of Dwarf Fortress

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  • Re:Dwarf Fortress (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:02PM (#36852434)

    Maybe something like nethack?

    The generic windowed Nethack tileset took away no functionality from the game and all the keyboard command still worked. Rarely would I use a mouse in Nethack except to maybe zip from point A to point B.

    You need to keep in mind that Tarn is not an artist. he's a programmer first. And the game eats a lot of CPU as it is--I had overclocked my core 2 duo to 4ghz just to keep one fortress going with its 200 inhabitants and all the things going on. I am sure if he gave up control and let others help the program would be much cleaner, but then losing control could cause the game to lose some of its charm.

    Considering that, I am content to play it as it stands.

    Also, he'll send you crayon art if you donate. I have two crayon drawings from him, both depicting horrible things that happened in my fortress that I described to him and that he had taken the time to read and reply to.

  • by PJ6 ( 1151747 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:40PM (#36852888)

    MULTI-THREADING. The game overtaxes even modern single cores. If we could get some multiple cores going, our games' complexity wouldn't have to be limited by the game's binaries.

    When you have many items in a world all interacting with each other at once, especially done in the terrible C++ way, it's not trivial at all to parallelize. It's something you can only properly achieve if you had parallelization in mind from the beginning of the design.

    He'd have to rewrite the whole thing from the ground up, preferably in a language more suited to the task. Bad news for this, because in my experience C/C++ programmers never move on.

  • Re:The UI problems (Score:3, Informative)

    by ProzacPatient ( 915544 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:02PM (#36853050)
    This will make your life easier by a hundred fold: []
  • by RKThoadan ( 89437 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:49PM (#36853392)

    If you want to give it another try there are plenty of well done tilesets for it now. I generally recommend getting the lazy newb pack which has all the enhancements you need.

    Link: []

Solutions are obvious if one only has the optical power to observe them over the horizon. -- K.A. Arsdall