New Year’s Resolution: Play Dwarf Fortress

By: Alehkhs

On: January 10th, 2009

Are you tired of dying in the winter?

Tired of tree-hugging elves murdering over a simple wooden chair?

Tired of moody dwarfs striking in the workplace?

Do you try and try again to play Dwarf Fortress?

Do you say to yourself over and over, “Maybe next year,” or “If only the interface made sense”?

IF YES, then you need

dwarf fortress tutorial

With these simple, ten-minute videos, you TOO can enjoy the pleasures of a sustainable mountain fortress!

Just listen to these satisfied viewers:

  • “Great job!” – Lucifer
  • “Thank you so much for these – and keep them up!” – Hermes
  • “I wish these were out when I started.” – ravanous

And now a message from captain_duck:

“I remembered how hard it was to get into DF, to learn the basics, and how I really wanted some video help with that instead of just a FAQ.

So why not make one myself? … since I wanted a walkthrough, others probably wanted it too. So I just started making these videos.

And I was right apparently, I’m getting tons of comments and messages about people who couldn’t get into DF at all, but my videos really helped them to understand the game."

So don’t wait a minute longer, GO NOW!

  • Chinook

    Wow, these are really nice! So that’s one roadblock out of the way. How about a graphical interface? Or at least a standardized tile set that doesn’t make the other text look like encrypted code?

  • Skf

    Hh, my pst gt dltd fr sm rsn.

    nywy, ths gm stll nds bttr grphcl ntrfc. mn, cm n, ths s 2009. Thr s n xcs fr Dwrf Frtrss t b ths nnttv nd sr nfrndly.

    ls, t nds ntv Lnx vrsn.

  • shinymans

    watching over an hour of video to learn to play a game still isnt simplification sorry

  • AmnEn

    Tutorials can’t fix my Notebook/Keypad Problem. But that’s a problem I have with all roguelikes insisting on using the Keypad :(

  • DwarfBoy

    Don’t do it! It’ll steal your life! But if you insist – laptop play is easy, you just have to change four lines in “datainitinterface.txt” as listed here.

    The native linux versions are still in beta, but you can try the latest here.

    As for the graphics, I don’t think the interface improvements are coming for a while unfortunately. Although there was an update that allows you to adjust the grid so you can run a high resolution with nice square characters, making it much easier to interpret.

  • Zeno

    No amount of tutorial makes up for a game being stuck in the stone age in terms of interface.

  • Tyheam

    Stop whining, I prefer new features and an actually playable game over some damn interface.

  • :>

    “an actually playable game over some damn interface.”

    this bit confused me

  • :>

    you see, because playable games ARE intuitive and human-readable

  • Pita

    I hate to remind people, but dwarf fortress is in alpha. The interface isn’t the prime concern at the moment, as I understand it.

  • Radix

    Hey I’ve got a great idea let’s all argue about DF’s interface again.


    Yea, the point of this thread is to help people who want to play the game. It helps them learn their way around the current interface AS IT IS. If you don’t like the interface, because ::cry:: “it’s hard,” then give these videos A TRY. Then you can comment on whether or not they helped you…


    @ Chinook: the mike mayday graphics pack has a “medium” mode that leaves all the “other text” readable.

    @ shinymans: I don’t think you sit down and watch them all in succession, but watch one, then play until you feel you need the next one (or another by title)

    @ AmnEn: some people use the “fn” button-keypad combo found on many notebooks, also, for $10-$20, the Targus USB keypad works wonders.

  • TAG

    @Skofo Sorry if this has been mentioned, but there is a native Linux version now. Celebrate!

  • fuxter

    the interface is great! the rougher the better. i miss speaker tones.

  • Lim-Dul

    By the way – there are several good tilesets from fully graphical (me not like) to improved semi-graphical ASCII-type sets. Actually DF with the latter tileset became a de facto standard and is called DF repack (Cpt. Duck links to this tileset).

    The user interface is indeed horrible but NOT because there are so many options – almost any advanced Roguelike plays like this – but because it’s an unintuitive mess with certain things being needlessly complicated.

    Truth be told I’m not a big fan of DF because of this BUT find Cpt. Duck’s initiative excellent! I enjoy watching his videos more than playing the actual game. ^^

  • Malasdair

    I stopped playing Dwarf Fortress after it tried to generate a world for 15 minutes and never seemed happy about it. I may have to try again!

  • ‘; drop table comments;

    Wow, 15 minutes?

    Maybe you shouldn’t try it again…

  • Quetz

    World generation is leagues faster than it used to be, I think.

  • MaybeI’mWrong

    Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure that a lot of people who find the interface too confusing are actually getting hung up on the game’s play, not its usability. After the initial learning curve (maybe two or three sessions) I knew all the key strokes I needed to play quickly.

    However, I kept having to look up what I needed to do. Once I knew that I had to use this, that and the other make soap, in another kind of workshop etc., etc. the the actual interface served me well (e.g. I didn’t have to click a million things or go through a thousand drop down menus, just press a few keys).

    *puts on fire retardant suit*

  • yougiedeggs

    Don’t whine about the interface, I learned it in a manner of two days. The wiki is a ginormous help, too. And let me say for one that the initial trouble you have is worth it for such an incredible game.

  • Nitro Crate


    Now maybe I can finally join in, in all the fun.

  • KaibaCorp

    Hmm, About 2 hours before you posted this I started watching all of these videos. After staying up all night I can proudly say I have caught the DF bug! :P

    But yeah, everyone should give DF a shot, and these videos were really helpful to me as I’ve tried to get into DF before, but felt overwhelmed each time.

  • Scott

    I didn’t think it was that hard to understand, just that the interface was clumsy so it still takes a lot of work to do it.

  • MrLollige

    Lol how did you know about that ‘maybe next year?’

    I tried it a couple of times, last time was the first time I really settled somewere (with help of a tutorial) and then the fun ended…

    Ill will try it again with this for sure!

  • Trotim

    Heh, I actually tried it again after last time and kinda got the interface, but until that happenened the game got boring again already.

    I dunno. Why can’t it be more like Dungeon Keeper?

  • ngajoe

    This seems to be a game I download, play, then delete in disgust, then check back, download again…

    These tutorials may just do the trick. Thanks, CPT Duck!

  • Radix

    I have fond memories of trying to play TFX as a child with the instruction manual-cum-phone directory open on my lap.

  • ChrisL

    1. Tarn or the DF community does something amazing.

    2. Post said amazing thing TIGsource.

    3. ???

    4. DF hate train.

    (Ok, I’m exaggerating, but I do think many of the complaints about the interface are just plain silly.)

    I’d love to try the new build but the semester is about to start and I really won’t have the spare time. I’m sure I’ll find the time to play at least by the time the Army arc is finished.

  • Scott

    It’s not hate, it’s just a fact of the game that even the creator admits

  • alspal

    Still needs better design.

  • Kushiel

    ITS STILL ALPHA, the reason it doesn’t have a fancy mouse driven interface is that the game changes in huge ways fairly regularly. A complex interface would have to be rebuilt every time as well, so Toadie is holding off on a complex interface till the rest of the game is more set in stone. For god’s sake people he’s currently working on an update that will allow you to create creatures layer by layer. Dwarves with liquid gold blood, creatures made entirely out of kitten meat, sock golems filled with boiling mercury. The way every single creature is created and interacted with just dramatically shifted, so now’s really not the time for adding mouse support.

  • Trotim

    But I don’t want kitten meat golems. I want mouse control =<

  • Chinook

    Then make your own game. :)

  • Valter

    Oh man. I love Dwarf Fortress. I even went through the trouble of learning on my own.

    Probably the best moment for me was learning that you could have dwarves with the occupation “Potash Maker”.

  • gnome

    Fantastic effort.

  • Trotim

    @Chinook: Fine. Grr.

  • nihilocrat

    Back my day we didn’t have no totoreals, if we wanted to water a patch of farmland to grow enough food to survive winter, we had to drown a dwarf or two.

    Don’t get me started about magma.

  • Chinook

    I think it’s worth noting that despite the absolutely horrible interface and incredibly vertical learning curve, the game still has a very large (and growing) fanbase. That’s saying something.

    Yes, we all complain about the things that are being added and what order they get implemented, but we still eagerly await a new release. It’s a great game, and a pretty damn amazing accomplishment for (essentially) one person.

  • :>

    854. Each skin layer now has individual pores. Test dwarves spontaneously combust for some reason.

  • soilworker

    Except for the Dutch accent this guy sounds like McGee from the NCIS show!

  • TooSlow

    There is mouse control in some places, most importantly when drawing mining/designations. Otherwise keyboard shortcuts are the way to go, way faster than using a mouse. Look at it like Emacs or VIM, the less you need to touch the mouse, the faster you go.