Dwarf Fortress has always been many things. Part world simulation. Part roguelike. Part management sim. All those parts, though, were famously intricate, shaping into one of the most groundbreaking indie games ever made. Today, publisher Kitfox Games unveiled a new look for Dwarf Fortress on Twitter, one far away from its ASCII origins.
Dwarf Fortress is officially coming to Steam and itch.io with new graphics and sound design. (If you're nostalgic though, you can toggle to its original form.) It's getting fully integrated mod support too, thanks to the Steam Workshop. With its Steam release, Dwarf Fortress will carry its Fortress, Adventurer, and Legends modes onward. Fortress is the base mode, where you command a team of dwarves as they mine towards their eventual doom, and maybe pick up on a few cultural hobbies that you cultivate along the way (like pottery.) Adventurer mode allows you to explore the generated world as a single hero in an RPG, while Legends mode gives you the opportunity to be a historian, and read of the history of the world and your place in it. The new premium version will have a new custom-made tileset designed by Micha? "Mayday" Madej and Patrick Martin "Meph" Schroeder, who have made tileset mod packs for Dwarf Fortress in the past.
The reason for the move to Steam and itch.io is an unfortunately sad one. "Some of the creator's close family members have developed serious health issues within the past 6 months, and money to support them is tight. As it's a sensitive and difficult matter, please respect Tarn and Zach's privacy about this, but keep some well wishes in your hearts for them," reads the FAQ published by Kitfox. "Due to these rising healthcare costs, as well as the uncertain structure of Patreon, they decided it was time for them to have additional means of support." Kitfox will only be getting 20 percent of the pay cut, contrary to the usual 30 percent for publishers, leaving Bay 12 with 80 percent. It's expected price is $20.
Dwarf Fortress has been famously pointed to as a key inspiration behind mega-hit Minecraft. But it has a legacy of its own besides inspiring other games. Dwarf Fortress was one of the first games to be acquired by the Museum of Modern Art's History of Video Games exhibit. Even in development for 16 years by brothers Tarn and Zach Adams, Dwarf Fortress shows no signs of slowing down in updates. On the Steam page, the developer Bay 12 Games estimates it's only about "42 percent" done, what with the whole end goal of simulating all of existence.
The Steam page, perhaps ominously, concludes with "a new endless hobby, just for you!" For Dwarf Fortress mega-fans, that sentiment rings all too true. And with a shiny new look, it's bound to capture the attention of many, many more. While there is no release date set yet, it teases that "time is subjective," so maybe we'll be forging new adventures of our own sooner than we think.