Dwarf Fortress: The Dwarfening, pt1

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I had always liked the idea of Dwarf Fortress more than I’d liked the implementation. Who doesn’t want to build their own underground fortress? However, a thoroughly confusing UI and the lack of any kind of in-game instruction meant I just bounced straight off it the first time I gave it a go. Fortunately I am persistent. Read on to hear about my frustration with Sugartits.

Ok, so I should probably explain what Dwarf Fortress is. Imagine a ridiculously in-depth rogue-like dungeon management sim. That’s a little bit like Dwarf Fortress. When I say in-depth, what I really mean is in-depth. A dwarf I named Michelle Jackson entered a flood, carrying her baby. She dropped the baby in the flood by accident and spent minutes running around the water, panicked, trying to find it. If a game’s AI includes lost baby subroutines, I’m sold.

I began my game by following a set of tutorials on YouTube. I think it’d be pretty impossible to penetrate Dwarf Fortress without at least something as supportive as those tutorials; the developers of Dwarf Fortress have a lot to thank tutorial author Captnduck for. This time I would succeed where previously I had failed. This time I would win.

I began by failing. This is a bit of a theme in Dwarf Fortress. I picked a site with an aquifer, see. What harm could that possibly be? Turns out a lot of harm. I couldn’t dig in the rock because it was full of water. Failure: 2 minutes of gameplay and I had already lost. In Dwarf Fortress the process of losing is called Fun. I wasn’t currently sure about this.

I began again. In Dwarf Fortress you can set up your founding party of dwarves, and what they bring with them on their bold expedition to construct a new fortress home. I decided I would bring along a good mix of things, with a good amount of food. Little did I know how prescient this decision would prove to be. You see, like everything else, in Dwarf Fortress food production is complicated.

I’m getting ahead of myself. I named my dwarves. There was Hilary Clunton, my expedition leader. She was an experienced judge and appraiser, with a sideline in architecture. Hilary Clunton was smart. Next up was House MD, who I decided would be my doctor. I’ll admit that the name was the second thing I decided about him. I had leader and doctor covered, but now I needed a stone worker. Thus James Mason was born. You may be detecting a theme here. I also brought along The Fonz (wood cutting and carpentry) and Halfa Scargill (mining). Liberace would be my chief clothes/armor designer, and as a general dogsbody I brought along Bald Rick.

The site I selected this time was free from aquifers. You can’t fool me twice – or at least, if you do fool me twice it’s certainly not something I will be honest about when writing up my game experience on a blog. The site was on the side of a mountain, and its dwarven name was Uzolamal (Oilyteachers, in English). Thusly prepared, I broke the earth and began my fortress.

The first thing I decided my dwarves would need was food. I had brought along plenty of seeds, so after marking out for excavation the main pathway into my dungeon fortress I had Halfa Scargill cut out several rooms which would serve as my bread basket; a sort of subterranean Sussex. Meanwhile I decided I really wanted my dwarfs to have wood (hi my name is Tom and I am 13 years old) so The Fonz was mobilised to clear cut the forest. This may seem a drastic approach to conservation but I felt that I needed the materials a lot more than I needed the view.

Hilary Clunton was proving to be useless. I had anticipated her taking an active role, but her skills just weren’t coming in handy. I decided that until I had need of her particular talents she would be the chief refuse hauler of the fortress. Nobody ever said politics was dignified.

Everything was coming along nicely.

Continued in the next couple of days.


2 Responses to “Dwarf Fortress: The Dwarfening, pt1”

  1. October 1, 2010 at 1:17 am

    Say goodbye too all your free time for a few weeks. Also, make sure you work out how the manager screen works. It really cuts down the micro needed and will give Hillary something to do.

  2. 2 Jonathan
    October 1, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Will we see part 2 to this soon? 😀

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