Distant Constructs

Dwarf Fortress

Tales of Avarice and Cupidity

Dwarf Fortress is one of the most immersive games that I have played. It is like a mix of the Sims and Sim City with magma, demonic monstrosities, and copious amounts of alcohol. One of the most intriguing aspects of the game is the the level of replayability and interactivity the randomly generated game world provides. Every character that you encounter has a full simulated history, which may include interactions with other characters. Armies, towns, and civilizations also rise and fall while you are playing the game, and you may hear about such happenings from interactions with other characters. Very impressive for a 1.5 man undertaking!

A fun fact: the title of this site, Distant Constructs, is a combination of the names of one of my first settlements, Distantposts, and its main military squad, the Furious Constructs. The ill-fated fortress was destroyed by a horde of more than 50 skilled goblins, led by a web-shooting skunk demon. I hope that the tragic history of its name does not foreshadow a similar fate for this website.

If you have heard about the game before, you may have heard that it has a fiendish learning curve and is notoriously difficult. I did not find this issue, perhaps because of the quality of the wiki and video tutorials on YouTube. I found it relatively straightforward to start up my own fortress. However, there are a few tweaks that can help ease beginners into the game.

Easing the pain

There are some modifications and utilities that help reduce some of the most frustrating aspects of the game. There are starter packs such as this which provide a plethora of tools, but I found that there are two tools that help the most.

First, is a graphical tileset. Purists may claim that unless you play ASCII mode, you are missing out on a defining aspect of the game. However, while I enjoy playing other ASCII games such as Angband and ADOM, I found the ASCII graphics are somewhat distracting. This may be because there are a wider range of symbols used and because different types of ground have different symbols, so while you may be standing in an empty desert you will have to parse through the meaning of commas, periods, quotes, backticks, tildas and tiny lemniscates to understand that you are standing in an empty desert. Tilesets alleviate this issue by making the appearance of common objects more readily recognizable. The tileset that I prefer is Phoebus.

The second utility that I use while playing fortress mode is Dwarf Therapist. This makes managing dwarves much easier and makes migrant waves of 40+ dwarves more bearable.

first published: 2015-03-01 2305 EST
last updated: 2015-03-01 2305 EST