Dwarf Fortress on Steam makes it easier to read your dwarves’ minds

The visual interface for the Steam version of Dwarf Fortress features a much-improved 'Look' command

As any seasoned Dwarf Fortress player knows, a crucial element of managing a dwarven colony is keeping tabs on your dwarves’ thoughts and feelings. When the Steam version of Dwarf Fortress arrives, you’ll be able to do that literally – thanks to a major update to the way the colony management game’s ‘look’ command works.

Back in Ye Olden ASCII days of yore, ‘look’ was a command you’d use to pull up all the information about a dwarf or other entity on a particular tile. It’s a carryover from other ASCII-based games such as, notably, Rogue – when everything is represented by typographic characters, you need to be able to identify what each thing actually is, since it’s very easy to lose track. The trouble in the original Dwarf Fortress was that getting to the info you actually wanted or needed required a bunch of unintuitive keystrokes, as well as the knowledge of exactly what those commands were.

Now that Dwarf Fortress is moving to a mouse-driven interface, that’s going to become a think of the past. You’ll be able to pull up the look info screen with a click, and that panel is subdivided intelligently into categories like ‘Relations’, ‘Thoughts,’ ‘Needs,’ and the rest of your dwarf’s personal information. Helpfully, there’s also an ‘Overview’ panel up front, and that gives you a nice snapshot of the highest priority information.

You can look at this menu while the game is paused, but Dwarf Fortress creator Tarn Adams says it will also work while the game is running, which allows you to view a dwarf’s thoughts as they have them, in real time.

In the example screenshot Adams posted to the Steam page, we’re looking at a farmer named Unib Savotablel, who values decorum and has poor spatial awareness. She’s recently listened to a recitation of The Hellish Deterioration, which she found very interesting. Earlier, she got happily drunk and took a bath, which cheered up the foul mood she’d been in after getting caught in the rain.

Adams says the new and improved look command will also work when more than one entity is stacked on a single tile, as often happens with pets and babies scurrying around or being carried. You’ll see tabs on the right-hand side of the menu for each character.

Do we have a release date for Steam Dwarf Fortress yet? No, we do not. Time is still subjective, according to its Steam page. However, it sure feels like we’re getting closer now!