Dwarf Fortress creators turned down “six figures” offer by publisher

Tuesday, 2nd July 2013 19:22 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Dwarf Fortress creators Tarn and Zach Adams said they were offered a six-figure sum to use the game’s name by a publisher. It was rejected, so the brothers have retained the name to their ASCII settlement sim game.

The game continues to earn money through voluntary contributions, which last month totaled $3355.10. The Adams said they didn’t accept the money from the unnamed publisher, as they felt it could have cheapened the brand and possibly confused gamers.

“If people saw that there was this other thing out there, we considered in the worst case scenario, then the contributions from people would just dry up, and we’d be sitting with this lump sum that would not have added up to 10 years’ salary or whatever,” said Tarn Adams. “So do we want the stress of having to search for a new IP, or a new angle all of a sudden? We have some name recognition to be able to do that kind of thing perhaps, although it’s a very chancy thing.

“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.”

The brothers say they’re happy to have been able to stay “afloat for so long,” with the current state of the game.

It’s an interesting read, and you can have a look over on Gamasutra.



  1. Rikki


    #1 1 year ago
  2. Stephany Nunneley

    @1 Yes. And you didn’t even give me one minute to fix it.

    #2 1 year ago
  3. naffgeek

    I admire their stance but personally I would have snapped their hand off and thought up another name.

    Does that make me shallow or savvy? Suppose it’s all down to your perspective!

    #3 1 year ago
  4. Stephany Nunneley

    @3 Well, I dunno who coined the phrase “money doesn’t buy happiness” but they must have been a rich person who never probably knew what the hell being poor meant, and if it really doesn’t buy happiness, it sure as shit gives you more opportunity to “be happy” doesn’t it?

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Froseidon

    To be honest, I’d have gone with the lump sum. 10 years of your life set. I’m sure they can either get a different job or think of a new IP in that time. Seems silly to turn it down in my eyes. I don’t know that game’s history, but looking at the screen shot, something gives me the feeling those voluntary contributions will dry up in less than 10 years.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. deathm00n

    @5 It’s a very niche game, tried it once, you need to read really long tutorials made by other users to understand what is happenning, I don’t see many new players coming to it I guess. I too would take the money.

    #6 1 year ago
  7. Kalain

    I think they did the right thing. They’ve been working on DF for several year, so for a publisher to come in and try and pay for the name would be a bit of an insult.

    Thats how the game is meant to be. It’s all part of the charm of the game that they use ASCII characters. Several community members have created different tile sets that you can use, but playing it in its native graphics feels rather nostalgic.. Besides, there is much more to the game then how it looks.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. deathm00n

    @7 But the game will not last forever, will it?

    Yet, all this talk of Dwarf Fortress is making me want to play it once again. Godammit.

    #8 1 year ago
  9. sh4dow


    “Besides, there is much more to the game then how it looks.”

    Like its name? ;P
    (By which I mean – if a game actually has substance, who cares about the name? Especially if it would give developers the freedom to pursue whatever in the next couple of years)

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Stardog

    @5 Err, you just don’t get it, do you? Nothing will dry up until there’s something better. There are games like Gnomoria, but it’s DF Lite.

    It’s not even a difficult game. There are dwarves with jobs, and you place buildings/objects down, and the dwarves will go build them. To build them, you have to get the correct materials by mining.

    #10 1 year ago
  11. Puggy

    Well, I guess I would have done the same, depending on what six digit number it was (999.999 would have made me think twice). However Dwarf Fortress does have a name and while it is not as common as Doom, Quake or WoW, it still has a ring to it and is present in a lot of Pages, thus giving the new developer lots of opportunity.

    I myself love the game. It is rather hard the first few times… then again, hard might be the wrong term, since there is no goal. No winning and no losing. Just Fun, as it is titled…. and ways to have even more “Fun”

    I still don’t know where the appeal to the game is, beside your every day dwarfen wackiness. You learn how to build a fort that actually can survive longer than one winter. And then stuff happens. Your King, who was formerly your Sword Champion demands green glass toy hammers, but your crafter only make other toys, so the king gets angry, throws a Tantrum and hacks off your medic dwarfs arm, who, as you learn seconds later also was the only one who was at least a bit skilled in Diagnostics, so you can only watch him bleed to death, causing his spouse to get depressed then starve to death after throwing herself down the well, what in turn ruins the water of said well, what again creates more unhappiness, more tantrums and… well, fun.

    And don’t even get started on mega dwarvy projects. those always end in failure, I mean “Fun.” And strangely, it is fun… At least all people I talk to like to think back fondly to that game and have one or two funny stories to tell, that most start with “Gah! Dwarves are SO stupid! One day in my fortress…”

    #11 1 year ago

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