Honestly quite old, but dug up again as Spelunky creator Derek Yu adds paintings of that game to his DeviantArt account, the illustration above is a tribute to a legendary anonymous Dwarf Fortress recounting called The Hamlet of Tyranny.
Yu summarizes the encounter thus: “Daneken, the captain of the guard, makes his final stand against the fire demon Ashmalice. He wields the sword called Endless Death of Tears and prepares to plunge it into the demon’s heart, avenging his fallen comrades.”
Theorem: if DWARF FORTRESS was made actually accessible & art directed by @mossmouth, it'd be the last videogame we would ever need, ever.— Brandon Boyer (@brandonnn) January 26, 2012
I bring it up again not just because it’s completely stunning, but because every time I think about the still basically impenetrable Dwarf Fortress, I remember the tweet above, which I still firmly believe with all my guts, and which — now that Spelunky‘s been released — I want to give all my money to support a Kickstarter for.
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.