Dwarf Fortress finally added graphics after 20 years, and now it lets players remove them

Dwarf Fortress
(Image credit: Bay 12 Games)

The biggest new feature for the launch of Dwarf Fortress on Steam earlier this month was the addition of graphics, but don't worry - a newly-introduced feature lets you turn those pesky visuals off.

Dwarf Fortress has been in development for 20 years and available for free online. That free version has always depicted the game's world through text-based ASCII visuals, similar to ancient PC games like Rogue. The new, paid version on Steam puts all the depth of the original into a more friendly, approachable package with actual graphics.

But now, a new update for the Steam version has added an option to 'use classic ASCII glyphs'. As the devs explain in the patch notes, this is useful if you want to "pretend you're a time-traveler or seeing through the Matrix."

That's fun, but maybe the more notable change is the fact that the Dwarf Fortress team is expanding for the first time since it entered development 20 years ago. During that time, developer Bay 12 Games has been made up of just two people, brothers Tarn and Zach Adams. Now, for the first time, another person is going to mess with the innards of Dwarf Fortress.

"Putnam is a very prominent, long-time member of the Dwarf Fortress community and will be helping Toady [Tarn Adams] with programming. This is a historic moment, as never before have non-Adams eyes seen the Dwarf Fortress code. Welcome, Putnam! We wish you luck and courage."

Another community member, SalfordSal, is also joining the team to help manage Discord and run some official livestreams.

The Dwarf Fortress mods on Steam are already completely unhinged.

Dustin Bailey
Staff Writer

Dustin Bailey joined the GamesRadar team as a Staff Writer in May 2022, and is currently based in Missouri. He's been covering games (with occasional dalliances in the worlds of anime and pro wrestling) since 2015, first as a freelancer, then as a news writer at PCGamesN for nearly five years. His love for games was sparked somewhere between Metal Gear Solid 2 and Knights of the Old Republic, and these days you can usually find him splitting his entertainment time between retro gaming, the latest big action-adventure title, or a long haul in American Truck Simulator.