Slaves to Armok and the Food Service Industry

“Cody, why have you gone so long without updating?” I can hear my undulating throng of fangirls screaming right now.  Well relax.  The reasons are two-fold.  One, I’ve been working all weekend.  Which would have been news enough, I know.

The second reason, is a little game called Slaves to Armok 2: Dwarf Fortress.

Better known simply as Dwarf Fortress. To those unfamiliar, Dwarf Fortress is the sequel to a game that was never actually released and really didn’t share anything in common with its successor at all.  In the game, you take control of a party of seven dwarves, who set out to mine the mountains dry of valuable minerals and establish a long-lasting, profitable fortress, all lovingly rendered in colored extended ASCII characters.

That is, of course, a gross over-simplification.  The game has been lauded since it was first released in 2006 for its depth and complexity.  The dwarves have minds of their own, and develop relationships, attitudes, diseases, etc. all on their own.  The player assigns tasks, and then the dwarves go about it according to their skills and personalities.  The gameworld, although rendered, shall we say, not un-hideously, is governed by complex algorithms detailing water and magma flow, and structures can collapse if there is too much open space beneath them.

I’ve probably clocked at least eight hours into the game, and I haven’t even scratched the surface.  Of course, an hour of that was mostly getting past the interface/graphics.  But it’s a good sign when, after coming home from a twenty-hour work weekend, you lay down, exhausted, and open your laptop to fiddle around for maybe ten or fifteen minutes before falling asleep, and end up sinking two hours, unwillingly, into the game.  And all this from an alpha game.

Click here to see a short after-action report to get a better idea as to the complexities of the game.  That’s the article that sent me down this path of no return.  The game has no winning condition.  Hence its tag-line, “Losing Is Fun.”  If the text graphics are intimidating, there are always user-made graphics-sets that you can download.  I’d link them, but I can’t be bothered with that when there’s Dwarf Fortress to play.


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