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Thursday, April 11, 2024

The new Dwarf Fortress animal people look beautiful

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The forthcoming revamped Steam version of Dwarf Fortress is one of my most anticipated games, despite having spent only five minutes playing the original before I shut it down, terrified. For anyone intimidated by the original game’s stern ASCII art, the more approachable pixel art of the Steam version should eliminate some of the difficulty of getting into Dwarf Fortress. 

Pixel artist Neoriceisgood has been collaborating with Bay 12 Games on some character sprites for the graphical upgrade, and they’re looking gorgeous. In particular, Neoriceisgood has created nearly 200 different animal people sprites. Rather than, say, a “cave swallow man” being represented by a lowercase “s”, he’ll look like, well, a cave swallow man. If you check out the list of animal people on the Dwarf Fortress wiki, you’ll see there’s a lot, ranging from Wombat man, Damselfly man, and my favourite: Tick man.

Animal people can be wild characters encountered on your Dwarf Fortress journey, or else they can be playable in the original game’s Adventure mode. While they’re half-human, they tend to have their own traits befitting whatever animal they resemble, so you can probably expect the cave swallow man to have the ability to fly. Here are the screenshots (I especially like what I’m assuming is Kangaroo man):

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Animal people can be friends or foes, but because they’re half-animal, you shouldn’t take their behavior for granted. “You must remember where they come from,” so reads the Steam update. “You must always watch yourself around wildlife. Even those recently domesticated are but one step from feral savagery. Respect for nature is the best defense against the animals’ wild ways. The environment exists in a state of fragile balance, should the elves be believed. Destroying the animal peoples’ habitat makes you their greatest natural enemy. Beware in the savage wilds lest you experience their wrath!”

Bay 12 Games has been issuing updates on the project for a while: in April, we saw the new, much more parsable character sheets. More sensational was a video about murdering goblins in a hallway of doom. I’m super excited to give Dwarf Fortress another shot when the new version is ready, though that could be a while: “time is subjective”, reads the release date on Steam

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