'It's our brand to piss all over if we want' says co-creator

Dwarf Fortress devs turned down six-figure deal

The developers behind an ambitious adventure game that’s been in development for more than ten years turned down a six-figure deal with a publisher to continue pursuing their vision for the title.

Tarn and Zach Adams have been working on the procedurally-generated fantasy game Dwarf Fortress for almost 11 years now. The game is out in early form, but it is still a long way off, and in that time the duo have been offered publishing and licensing deals that they have passed on.

“There was an offer to use the Dwarf Fortress name – sort of ‘Dwarf Fortress: Subtitle’ or whatever – they wanted to brand one of their other games,” said Tarn Adams, in an interview with Gamasutra. “And the amount of money on the table was six figures.”

Speaking about the possible pros and cons that such deals would mean, Adams added: “When you look at that you think well, there’s trade-offs. Does the brand get cheapened? Are you deceiving people? As long as they’re clear this is not Dwarf Fortress or whatever, and this is not Dwarf Fortress with graphics, as people call a lot of things that are coming out these days. As long as you’re upfront and honest, there’s not technically a problem with that — it’s our brand to piss all over if we want.”

Dwarf Fortress is an expanding universe, built to look like an ASCII role-playing game, and the crux is that the Adams brothers have been steadily adding more elements and features.

Getting the game out to as many players as possible is something the brothers want for their titan of a game.

Mobiles are only just reaching the capacity to comfortably support it, as it is quite CPU-intensive. When asked if they would bring it to Sony’s PS Vita, Tarn said they would compile it themselves.

“It would also need to make sense to put it on the Vita," he added.

“Right now I’ve got a process that I do myself, where I compile it on Windows, compile it on Linux, and compile it on the Mac manually over here. The guy that ported it had to go through a pretty hellish process of my not giving him the full source code. He didn’t get it, despite working with me for years, and basically having my complete trust. I mean, one mistake and we’re in a lot of trouble with the code being out there."

Nonetheless, Tarn does see the benefit in signing up with a publisher, if the right opportunity presented itself.

"I mean, if we had enough money suddenly to become independently wealthy and not worry about our health insurance anymore, then we’re working on Dwarf Fortress even more than before — who should complain about that?

"It would take a very philosophical person interested in way down in the details of ethical behavior, I think, to find points of concern there. I mean, I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with that person. But we’ve certainly talked about it, and considered some ramifications of that.”

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