Ten minutes of Dwarf Fortress gameplay highlights deserts and mushroom trees

Dwarf Fortress' new graphical desert environment shows sand, cacti, and a new expedition ready to start a colony.

Developer Bay 12 Games has shown off all kinds of little details of its upcoming Steam version of the Ur-colony management game, Dwarf Fortress. Until now, however, we haven’t really gotten a big, coherent picture of how all those will fit together in moment-to-moment gameplay. Fortunately, there’s a new video out now that provides just that, while also showing off some new features like the desert biome and mushroom trees.

Just to set the stage a bit here, Dwarf Fortress has been around for around 15 years, and it’s a complex simulation that’s always used coloured ASCII text characters as its only graphical elements. Over the years, modders have swapped out the ASCII table with tilesets that add a little visual flair and readability to Dwarf Fortress, which has been relatively straightforward to do.

The new Steam version, however, isn’t just ‘Dwarf Fortress with graphics,’ as amusing as that is to say. Bay 12 is adding much more than 16-bit visuals – the whole menu system is getting remade, and each decision that’s gone into that has required rethinking other elements in the game – with the result being something that looks a lot more easy to pick up and play than Dwarf Fortress has been in the past.

You can see some of these new decisions in action in the gameplay video Bay 12 recently posted to YouTube and Steam:

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There are some new details to see here, too. The settlement shown in the video is located in a desert location, where there’s no naturally occurring trees or water – at least on the surface. Below ground, however, are massive reservoirs of water, and giant mushrooms that can be harvested and used as lumber.

Bay 12 cofounder Zach Adams shows off a few of the new features the studio has been working on for the Steam version of Dwarf Fortress: there’s the new lever-linking system, which allows him to order a trap door opened and trash dumped in from a room he wants cleared out.

Later, he uses a newly integrated typing filter to narrow a work order list down to find the one he needs to create doors, which are then placed on some freshly dug rooms for dwarf nobles.

For newcomers, the video shows off a lot of what it’s actually like to play Dwarf Fortress: you’re creating lists of orders, watching to make sure they get carried out, and then troubleshooting problems as they crop up.

So when’s the release date? Yeah, we still don’t know either.

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