Remember: Losing is Fun!

Dwarf Fort

Today’s topic is the simulation game, Dwarf Fortress. And yes, that picture is accurate. Bloodthirsty elephants WILL break into your fortress and MURDER your dwarven workers.

The game is developed my a single man. It’s graphics are horrid, ASCI, your Dwarves are stupid, and the controls are complex. But, regardless, the game is awesome. It will devour hours of your time leaving you with nothing but smoldering ruins to attest to your efforts. Because this game is hard. Nintendo Hard. Perhaps even harder.

Dwarf Fort Screenshot

Actual screenshot of the game, I kid you not.

It’s not a matter of IF you’ll lose. It’s more about WHEN. And how.

And that’s the entire point! This game does the unthinkable: it makes losing FUN.

Indeed, the pinnacle of failure based fun can be found here, in the sordid tale of the fort of Boatmurdered.

A future regent of Boatmurdered, wondering exactly what dark, sordid sins have resulted in his arrival at this flame seared hellhole.

A future regent of Boatmurdered, wondering exactly what dark, sordid sins have resulted in his arrival at this flame seared hellhole

My first time playing it, I spent hours excavating my first fort. I got some immigrants, got some basic industry going, and everything seemed to be going swimmingly. Until the water vanished. See, I had no river, brook, or stream nearby and all the surrounding pools of water evaporated. And so, I got to sit back and watch my fortress fall to pieces, Dwarves thirsting to death left and right, the survivors going on murderous rampages, and my sheriff being choked to death by an irate citizen.

Despite the hours I spent on developing my little slice of rock being thrown away like that, I had fun. I enjoyed it. I laughed afterwards and used it as a valuable learning experience for my future domiciles.

My point is, that despite a learning curve so steep you need a team of sherpas to get you over it safely, graphics that were dated in the eighties, and death looming over even the newest fort like the Sword of Damacles, the game is fun.

And it proves that a game with strong gameplay can overcome any obstacle- even the fact that Dwarves don’t understand what fire is and will ignite themselves trying to pick up flaming clothes. Did I mention that it was also made by a single person? Cause that’s pretty cool.

If you wish to subject yourself to the spiraling cycle of loss and madness that is Dwarf Fortress, go here, though I suggest going to the wiki to pick up some of the basics, first.

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Published in: on September 28, 2009 at 6:01 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. could i please just spend a day inside your head… in a safe zone. It would kind of be like diving for sharks: deathly scary yet somehow fascinating…

  2. Actually, I’ve been playing this for less than a day, and I’m addicted. I keep googling for hints. The point of losing is like the sims, but instead of only happening if you stuff up, like in the sims, it happens eventually. Like death…

  3. “And so, I got to sit back and watch my fortress fall to pieces, Dwarves thirsting to death left and right, the survivors going on murderous rampages, and my sheriff being choked to death by an irate citizen.”

    Should have built a still and got your Dwarves on a good traditional healthy ALL ALCOHOL diet. As oddly enough, you don’t actually need water to make booze.
    Although, how did your ponds evapourate? Wouldn’t they come back with the rainy season? Or winter when the snow melts?

    • It being my first time, I never made barrels or created a working farm system. The ponds evaporated, I believe, because we got very little rain and the area I was in didn’t have cold winters. This was a double whammy as my dwarves would probably have starved to death anyway- without working farms, fishing was my main method of keeping the fortress fed.


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