I don’t have a lot of time tonight, because I am playing Dwarf Fortress. On my Mac. Under OS X. Without emulation. That’s right, after years of trial and travail, Dwarf Fortress, one of the most interesting games of the past few years, is finally available on my computing platform of choice. This was the single game that had me keeping a Boot Camp partition on my machine. Now I can get rid of it. I don’t kid myself that my call for porters had anything to do with it. But I can lie to other people and tell them that it did!
I had promised, publically, to donate a fairly ridiculous sum to the publishers should they do a Mac port. They have called my bluff, and I have given the gift gladly. I won’t name an exact amount, but it was certainly enough to buy at least a couple of console games at retail. I may be poor, but at least I’m morally pure. Well, at least as regards this particular issue. It feels good to support a truly independent game, good to support the Mac as a gaming platform, and good to pay for software.
Will Dwarf Fortress take the Mac community by storm? No, clearly not. Dwarf Fortress is a hard sell to anyone, and to anyone who cares about user interface issues it’s an even harder sell. The interface isn’t just bad; it’s tragic on an almost Bulwer-Lytton level. It’s a bit like finding a sweet and glorious fruit that is encased in a shell made of shards of glass and porcupine quills.
If you can make it past the UI issues — and let’s be clear about this, there’s no pride to be gained from that achievement, it’s just the price you have to pay to play — you’ll find a game that is by turns hypnotic, engaging, disturbing, and thought-provoking.
The Mac version is still in alpha, and is still fairly slow compared to the Windows version. But it’s playable, and we can expect performance to improve over time.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to finish tunnelling under the river before the Spring thaw so I can reach that hematite vein. I’m located right near a goblin city, and going outside to mine it isn’t safe.
You can download Dwarf Fortress (for Windows or Mac) at the Bay 12 Games web site. The game is currently free, supported only by donations from players. The Dwarf Fortress Wiki can help you get started.