Tarn Adams took to YouTube to show off some serious upgrades to Dwarf Fortress menus for the upcoming Steam version, ultimately making the game more accessible to new players than ever.
Dwarf Fortress is not just a colony sim game — it is the colony sim game. While its ASCII graphics leave something to be desired for visually-conscious players, it boasts tremendously complex gameplay that gives players unprecedented freedom.
A Steam version with enhanced graphics was announced over two years ago and it's been making pretty good progress. Now, the game's creator Tarn Adams took to publisher Kitfox Games' YouTube channel with a new development update showing off the changes that have been made to menus — and they're looking pretty darn good.
How Dwarf Fortress Menus Are Changing For the Better on Steam
In the current free version of the game, Dwarf Fortress menus are all text-based and largely require the player to use the keyboard. The upcoming Steam version is going to have some pretty serious enhancements that bring the UI a little closer to what you'd expect from the modern era.
As an example, take a look at the citizens screen in the free ASCII version of the game:
As you can see, it's pretty barebones — it lists the individual dwarves you have, their profession (based on their highest skill level), and their current job. It may not be pretty, but it gets the job done.
Now, take a look at how the Dwarf Fortress menus are changing with the Steam version of the game:
It's not perfect just yet, mind; Tarn Adams says that some of the colors are still be finalized considering the new grey background. It's much better in terms of functionality, though. For example, note the arrows at the top of each column — you can now sort the screen to better focus on particular issues your dwarves may be having.
The Overview Screen for individual dwarves has changed for the better, too. It no longer takes up the entire screen; instead, it occupies only a quarter of the space. This screen tells you pretty much everything you'd need to know about a dwarf at a glance including their skills, needs, and recent thoughts. You can further examine each of these aspects on their own dedicated tabs.
The daunting Dwarf Fortress menus of yesteryear are certainly looking a lot better than they did before. It's still a complex game, but these changes should make information much more accessible to new players.
That leaves us with just one question — when is the game actually coming out? Details from a recent interview indicate that there's a rough estimate of sometime in 2022 (and likely sometime towards the latter half of the year). For now, you can add Dwarf Fortress to your wishlist on Steam — and if you don't want to wait, you can play the ASCII version of Dwarf Fortress for free on PC, Mac, and Linux via its official website.
What do you think of the changes to Dwarf Fortress menus? Do you think this upgraded UI will help bring new players into the game? Let us know in the comments below!