Dwarf Fortress (officially called Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter II: Dwarf Fortress) is a part construction and management simulation, part roguelike, indie video game created by Tarn and Zach Adams. Freeware and in development since 2002, its first alpha version was released in 2006 and it received attention for being a two-member project surviving solely on donations. The primary game mode is set in a procedurally generated fantasy world in which the player indirectly controls a group of dwarves, and attempts to construct a successful and wealthy underground fortress. Critics praised its complex, emergent gameplay but had mixed reactions to its difficulty. The game influenced Minecraft and was selected among other games to be featured in the Museum of Modern Art to show the history of video gaming in 2012.
The game has text-based graphics and is open-ended with no main objectives. Before playing, the player has to set in motion a process which generates worlds with continents, oceans and histories documenting civilizations. The main game mode, Fortress mode, consists of selecting a suitable site from the generated-world, establishing a successful colony or fortress, combating threats like goblin invasions, generating wealth and taking care of the dwarves. Each dwarf is modeled down to its individual personality, has likes or dislikes and possesses specific trainable skills in various labors. The second main game mode, Adventure mode, is a turn-based, open-ended roguelike mode where the player starts off as an adventurer in the world and is free to explore, complete quests, or even visit old abandoned fortresses. The combat system is anatomically detailed with combat logs describing events like organs getting pierced, fat getting bruised and limbs getting severed.
Prior to Dwarf Fortress, Tarn Adams was working on a project called Slaves to Armok: God of Blood which was a role-playing game. By 2004, Adams decided to shift from the original Armok to Dwarf Fortress after the former became difficult to maintain. Adams calls it his life’s work and said in 2011, that version 1.0 will not be ready for at least another 20 years, and even after that he would continue to work on it. The game has a cult following and an active online community. As there is no way to win, every fortress, no matter how successful, is usually destroyed somehow. This prompts the official community motto: “Losing is Fun!”