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Dwarf Fortress

by Tarn Adams and Zach Adams

Fantasy
2006

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(based on 1 rating)
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About the Story

Dwarf Fortress is a single-player fantasy game in which the player controls a dwarven outpost or an adventurer in a randomly generated, persistent world. Though the unfolding events are displayed using rudimentary text graphics, the game is known for the intricate stories told by its players and for the complex mechanics of the underlying simulation.

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Dwarf Fortress is a complex, text-based computer game that has been in development by Tarn and Zach Adams since 2002. The game begins by first procedurally generating an expansive, dynamic world in which players attempt to guide an exponentially increasing colony of temperamental dwarves to build and manage within an ever expanding fortress. The task is made difficult by both the unpredictable and emergent behaviors of the simulation as well as by the anachronistic and arduous interface: a screen full of ASCII characters recalling the personal computers of the early 1980s. Inspired by games like Rogue (1980) and Sim City (1989), the stark textual interface contrasts with the game's complexity as Dwarf Fortress can easily consume all available processing power of a contemporary computer. Stephanie Boluk and Patrick LeMieux have suggested that "[i]n rejecting the conventions of standard game design and traditional narrative storytelling, Dwarf Fortress produces textual inscriptions that not only mark one horizon of human experience but recall forms of historical writing that depart from human-centered and teleological modes of history." The way in which Dwarf Fortress generates a flattened narrative landscape in which no moment is prioritized over another is reminiscent of medieval literary forms of writing such as the annal, chronicle, and calendar. While the game's textual output may or may not aggregate into narrative coherence, a dedicated community of players have delighted in not only playing the game to observe its effects, but they have also translated these nonhuman narratives into legible (if absurd) stories as a means of inscribing a history of play that is notoriously difficult and governed by the game's tagline "Losing is Fun."


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Editorial Reviews

Dwarf Fortress Wiki
Adventure mode
In Adventurer mode (also called "Adventure mode" or simply "Adventure") you create a single adventurer, be they dwarf, human, elf, goblin, or one of the varieties of animal people, who start out somewhere in one of your generated worlds. You can learn about what ails the world, and go on quests to end those troubles (or get brutally murdered trying), and you can venture into the wilderness to find caves, shrines, lairs, abandoned towers, and other towns and settlements. You can even visit your previously abandoned/retired fortresses and take all the precious items you yourself once created. Unlike fortress mode, Adventurer mode is a sort of advanced open world RPG version of Rogue or Nethack taking place in the same procedurally-generated worlds used for fortress mode. Whereas in fortress mode, you are in charge of a large group of people in real-time, restricted to a small parcel of land, in adventurer mode you control a single character in a turn-based manner, roaming the entire world freely.
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