One of the legendary and most complex ASCII games in history is trading in its text-based graphics for something prettier, enhancing its audio, and coming to Steam. No longer will we be overwhelmed by a randomly generated world rendered completely in ASCII text.

Dwarf Fortress is the original inspiration for games like RimWorld, Prison Architect, Minecraft, and many more. It's like the grandfather of super complex management simulation games, with the addition of rogue-like elements and the generation of whole histories, cultures, and amazing stories.

It's one of those games that I've always been curious about but have always been too intimidated to learn all the intricacies required to even know whats going on. I mean lets face it, learning an ASCII tile set is like learning a new language.

The announcement was made on 13 March on the Dwarf Fortress website, and the Bay 12 Games Patreon page. The free ASCII version of the game will continue receiving updates under the title of Dwarf Fortress Classic.

The announcement trailer (embedded below) clearly shows the difference between the original ASCII graphics and the new tile set. There have been tile sets developed to mod the ASCII version of the game, but this will be Bay 12's official tile set made for the game.

The reason for the Steam release, it seems, is to raise some much-needed funds for the developers who have had some pretty hefty medical expenses. By getting the game on Steam they hope to provide some stability to their finances. Crowdfunding has been one of the main sources of income for the developers of the game.

What does the game feature?

  • A whole simulated world - Civilizations, cultures, creatures and personalities
  • Graphics (ASCII mode is still an option)
  • Steam Workshop support, for even easier modding
  • Optional Adventurer Mode: explore your generated world like a hero in an RPG
  • Optional Legends Mode: read about the history of your generated world

Though the reasons for the game coming to Steam and getting a more accessible tileset are sad, it now gives those of us that were too scared to learn the ASCII version of the game a chance to experience the absolutely amazing stories that can be generated by the game.