Brandon Boyer

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Here’s my shameful admission of the month: I’ve never got past the first 20 minutes or so (not counting initial map generation) with Bay12’s unbelievably epic ASCII RPG Dwarf Fortress. I am fully convinced it’s brilliant — quite possibly one of the most deeply rewarding open-world games in recent memory — and I am fully convinced that given more of a chance I would probably have a transcendent experience with it, but I am instantly stricken with crippling anxiety just sitting at its opening play-screen.

I suspect I’m not the only one, too, and for us, there’s now a similarly epic video tutorial set from ‘captain_duck’ that will guide you through all of both its basic and advanced mechanics (and by epic I mean a full 10 minute video simply on mining and making beds). In the last of his original series, duck even showcases a 3D map visualization that might help get your head a bit more into the game.


I hate to say it, though, but I really do think that until someone comes up with a tileset as pixel perfect as the proof of concept above (via SpriteAttack via RockPaperShotgun) (why can’t we make it so?) there’s not much chance of me getting much further into the game, though this set is a massive leap in the right direction.

Dwarf Fortress Video Tutorial [Bay12 forum, via Bill Harris]

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  1. I have always really wanted to get into Dwarf Fortress, but the learning curve is just so high that I don’t think it’s worth my time. Though I’m often enticed by the incredible options you have in such a seriously barebones game.

    Someday, though…

  2. Me too.

    Yes – people keep raving about it to me.

    But then I see someone’s done a bazillion 10 minute videos
    just to introduce you to the game…
    & quite frankly, my head hurts.

    I’m not sure I can donate the pound of flesh (that seems to be) required.

  3. as a DF addict, I have to say the videos are a mixed blessing to get into the game. as a novice, I would certainly be put off by the need to watch the interface for 90+ minutes before starting the game. a better way to get into the game is still the wiki, particularly the “your first fortress” section. here

    and believe it or not: learning the interface is part of the fun, as is running your first fortress into the ground by overpopulation, flooding, starvation or catsplosion. losing is fun!

    IMHO DF-fans put too much emphasis on the whole “learning cliff” issue. my advice: spend those 90+ minutes starting your first fortress. the fun of the game is in figuring out all the fantastic stuff you can do. if you even glimpse the maddening potential of DF, you’ll be hooked. nerd crack.

  4. Dwarf Fortress does indeed have the potential to be one of the greatest games ever. The only thing preventing this from happening is the games creator, Tarn Adams. He doesn’t have the resources to get help and take the game to the next level. He also refuses to go open source. Either one of these options of those things happening would shake the gaming world so hard, but in a good way.

    Keep pestering him to go open source, and maybe it will happen.

    Yet again, after months of keeping my mind off of DF some #$%^ing #$@$%er has posted an article about it. Not only is there now tutorial videos to commit to memory, but I’ve discovered a Graphical version, and a 3D map viewer.

    Oh god my wife is going to kill me.


  6. What Shanealeslie said, except replace “wife” with “boss, girlfriend, brother, parents, and professors”.


  7. If you’re looking for an absolute beginners tutorial with a play-along save game and lots of screenshots you should check out the tutorial on It’s really detailed and complete.

  8. Actually, there’s a pretty decent wiki on it available. I’m kinda hooked right now. I did have to download the more graphical version of the game, since ASCII games confuse the heck out of me. Still, I’m glad I was weened on low graphics video games, since it makes gems like this enjoyable, even when my roommate is playing Left4Dead right outside my door.

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