Community heroes: Tarn Adams, for Dwarf Fortress

Jaz McDougall at
PC Gamer: To many casual observers, Dwarf Fortress seems pretty damn complex, and yet, experienced players all have their personal wish list of features they'd like you to add in. It's clear that you're nowhere near 'done' yet, and that you've got some expansive features in mind. What does the distant future of Dwarf Fortress look like?

Tarn Adams: The hope is that adventure mode will look more or less like a reasonably intricate RPG, with some interesting things going on with dynamic plots and ordering subordinates to do things. The fortress should be more closely related to the outside world, through war, trade and diplomacy, and the world itself will have larger populations that aren't all concentrated in isolated towns. Then there are the actual fantasy elements, and it's hard to say the rate at which we'll be getting those, but having randomly generated world metaphysics and magic systems and all that is the goal. In the ideal distant future, sitting down with a fresh DF world would be like sitting down to read a middling fantasy author you haven't read before, but with all the extras that being a video game provides, including the ability to write your own sequels.

The Stonesense overlay is probably the closest DF has come to good graphics.

PC Gamer: What's the most requested feature that you would never put in the game? Why not?

Tarn Adams: 3D graphics, I suppose, which won't be going in for the reasons I left it behind with the first Armok, but that's not a philosophical objection, assuming it could be done easily, so I wouldn't say never. There are also requests to add various modern technologies, and we aren't going to do that in DF.

PC Gamer: Your Dwarf Fortress dev log is probably the funniest and most surprising RSS feed I'm subscribed to. We posted recently when you fixed disembowelling. Do you have any favourite hilarious bugs or test results from over the years?

Tarn Adams: My favorites are the one where the farmer walked over to the furniture stockpile, grabbed a bed, walked over to his farm and planted it, and the one with the injured hammerer. The hammerer is the dwarven executioner. When both of his arms were broken and he was unable to hold his hammer to administer Dwarven Justice, he still went ahead with the punishment, but he bit his victims. This included shaking his head vigorously and tearing their arms off, which he then held in his mouth for years.

The Mayday Green tileset does a good job of prettying up the @ symbols.

PC Gamer: I gather you're quite protective of the game's direction. Have you ever had any offers from game publishers who wanted to hire you, buy Dwarf Fortress, or similar?

Tarn Adams: A few things like that have come up. I think it'll be very hard to find an agreement that both sides would be happy with, because we want to keep doing what we're doing for as long as possible and they need something that's going to be profitable.

PC Gamer: Dwarf Fortress probably couldn't happen on anything but a PC. What's your favourite thing about the platform?

Tarn Adams: I don't have a favorite thing so much as a balance of concerns mixed with inertia. I gather there are probably magical ways to download new games directly from the people that make them and get them on a console, without having to go through the console's company stuff, but it's easy on the PC. The keyboard is also cool. The rest has caught up more or less, as far as I can think of things off the top of my head. In our own setup, the PC is easier to concentrate with because it isn't in the living area. It's also way easier to develop for, for me. I don't know what goes into developing for consoles, though independents are doing that now. I have an easier time patching things on the PC, but I haven't done much with console internet connections so that's probably not actually an issue. I don't know if there are projects in ongoing development on consoles, with periodic updates like DF has, but if that's difficult on a console, that would definitely be a problem.