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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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  • Dwarf Fortress (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zget ( 2395308 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @05:57PM (#36852372)
    It may be brilliant, and I enjoyed playing it too.. But it seriously need a good gui. I stopped playing because I got tired of going thru menus and trying to memorize the key combos. It's a great game, just make a good GUI into it!
  • by 18_Rabbit ( 663482 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:08PM (#36852502)
    DF is an ALMOST great game. The problem is not the graphics so's the utterly confusing command/menu system. The strange progress of its development, for example, implementing bees and armadillos in the face of game-ending crashes or utterly useless military commands, is also frustrating.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:26PM (#36852718)

    ... by the awful menu-structure.
    Seriously, it is so broken. It makes the game more of a chore to play.
    That is the reason there are about 50 different DF management programs because the menu system is so obtuse.
    If the menu system gets cleaned up, it might actually open the game up to more people.

    It's not like it will be hard. Just standardize all the menus. They are so horribly inconsistent right now. They are context-sensitive as well, which just confuses things further when you are in a different menu category.
    Hotkey on every item in menu, a-Z (if needed), no assignments based on relation, alphabetical, 1 reserved for up and down.
    Already that menu system sounds decent and easy to use.
    Nobody... nobody normal likes memorizing millions of hotkeys. And this is coming from a person who extensively uses AutoHotkey on Windows. But even I put most of those hotkeys behind menus now. (with a similar structure to the above)

    People regularly make it out like this game is stupidly complex which is why nobody plays it.
    The only complex thing about this game is the menu system. It is a pain in every ass ever.
    It pushes away so many people. The concepts and functionality of the game is easy enough, but it is being held back so much because the menus.

    Please Toady, PLEASE, make a new menu system.
    Have it as an option if people really, REALLY want to use the current one. (whoever does is insane and must love suffering)
    It really is hurting the game, a LOT. This game would be significantly more popular than it is now if it got a more streamlined menu system to it.
    As a person who doesn't have much time in the day to play, it saddens me that I can't play this game without using a bunch of tools because managing those dorfs is just too slow and chunky with the current mess.

  • by Lordfly ( 590616 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @06:56PM (#36852996) Homepage Journal

    ...perhaps I'm getting to the point in my life where I don't want to fight with hundreds of abstract, obscure symbols in order to enjoy a game.

    Oh, a question mark is an eye? That's funny, I thought it was a question mark.

    I've tried Dwarf Fortress probably half a dozen times, and got insanely frustrated with the interface before deleting the directory in a rage. A shame, too, because I'm a sucker for open-ended sandboxes. i'm willing to put up with batshit-insane interfaces (See: Jeskola Buzz, Second Life, QuakeBSP), but if what I'm staring at, for entertainment, looks like a dot matrix printer exploded, im' outta here.

  • Re:YAR... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Megane ( 129182 ) on Friday July 22, 2011 @07:48PM (#36853382) Homepage

    Yes, this is... Yet Another Roguelike.

    Except that unlike a typical Roguelike RPG, Dwarf Fortress is a Roguelike RTS.

"The eleventh commandment was `Thou Shalt Compute' or `Thou Shalt Not Compute' -- I forget which." -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982