Dwarf Fortress is coming to Steam, complete with mod support and a new look. It's an exciting and significant change for the free ASCII game—don't worry, that version isn't going anywhere—but we still don't know when it's going to happen. In a recent post on Steam, publisher Kitfox explained why it's going to be tricky to give people a release window.
With most games, explains Kitfox's Tanya X. Short, the publisher is able to predict a release window give or take a few months by just counting all the tasks still to be completed, but this doesn't really work with Dwarf Fortress, where developer Tarn Adams' experiments can lead to unforeseeable challenges.
"[T]he villains update, for example, will be done when Toady says it's done," Short writes. "I am literally incapable of either rushing him, nor making him predict his deliveries more accurately. And then there will be bugs. I mean maybe there won't be bugs because wow that would be cool, but realistically, there will be important serious bugs to fix."
Once the villains update is done and "stable-ish", getting the Steam version ready will become the focus. While Short thinks it will be a smaller job than most major patches, plans for the Steam version aren't yet set in stone. A Steam launch is also going to introduce Dwarf Fortress to a heap of new people, so there's more pressure to make sure it's polished.
Kitfox will be holding off announcing a release window until Dwarf Fortress gets closer to beta testing, but it's "quite far from the finish line".
In the meantime, you can always play classic Dwarf Fortress.