Yesterday, the monumental Dwarf Fortress received its first update in two years: update 0.40.01. The patch notes include various baffling and excellent sentences like "megabeasts/forgotten beasts can attack, destroy and then reside within world gen sites like dwarf fortresses" and "startled people climb up the walls of their homes a little too often"—you can find the full breakdown on the DF site (opens in new tab) . Perhaps the most interesting part of this latest development is what it more or less breaks—the in-game graphics that are now possible with the latest version of Stonesense, the Dwarf Fortress visualiser that until now has only been able to run alongside the game. Now this can be integrated into the main game proper, albeit more stably if you choose to use it on the older version of DF from 2012. Details below.
The latest version of Stonesense (opens in new tab) , along with DwarfTherapist (opens in new tab) and various other tweaks, is included in the Dwarf Fortress starter pack (opens in new tab) , which is the one to go for if you're not too comfortable with either the ascii or the complex keyboard controls found in the base game. The starter pack will let you use mouse controls, in addition to integrating the Stonesense visualiser into the game. (To activate this, by the way, press "ctrl-shift-P" in game to activate the console, before typing "stonesense overlay"). There are currently two versions of the starter pack available: a more stable one based on the 2012 iteration of Dwarf Fortress, and a more buggy one based on its recently released 2014 update. While the team work on that new one, it's probably best to go for the more stable one (opens in new tab) , particularly if you're new to the game.
Here's a reminder (opens in new tab) of the sort of stories that the gargantuan Dwarf Fortress is capable of generating.