Dwarf Fortress for the console … sort of

Supposedly nowadays you can play Dwarf Fortress at the console, which is either a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your perspective. The 40d19 version for Linux which was released a few months ago allows you to set some options and send output to the console instead of its conventional SDL “translation,” if I understand it right.

For me it’s kind of a bad thing, since it draws me back toward the game again, and it took weeks for me to break away from it last time. I have gotten tips from people on how to get it working, but my results are not very impressive.

That’s a step forward for me, but there’s something missing. πŸ™„ An email suggested using fbterm — which we all remember as the magic behind the wallpapered console, right? — plus the Terminus font, but to be honest, I don’t know if that’s better.

Maybe a little more readable, but nothing to distinguish between different icons and a lot of screen artifacts, if I can use that word for a console environment.

It does appear to be some sort of font issue though, where the default arrangement is spattering stuff everywhere. Perhaps there is a better font, or some other flag that I should be aware of. I suppose I should mention that starting the same setup under X was more or less the same.

Interesting though, that the music works fine for me at the console, and while it’s visually discombobulated, it’s still playing as it should. I just can’t see what I’m doing. 😐

For future reference, I set this up by installing the dependencies listed for the graphical version of Dwarf Fortress in the Arch Linux repositories, then decompressing the 40d19 version into my home directory.

Inside the data/init/ folder is an init.txt file, and the magic happens by setting the PRINT_MODE variable to TEXT. I would also suggest sifting through some of the other variables, since most of them will be set for a graphical environment, and you will probably want to turn them off.

For fbterm, this is the command that was suggested by Kyle a couple of months ago.

fbterm -n "Terminus" -s "12" --font-width="12" --cursor-shape=1

Kyle also mentioned that sub-1Ghz machines suffer even with the console version, which may or may not be good news to you, depending on your perspective. For me, that would be a good thing … because it means less time lost playing Dwarf Fortress on a leftover Pentium. 😯

In any case, if you’ve had better luck than me, please let me know how you got it going cleanly. I don’t need the distraction, but I do like challenges. 😈


10 thoughts on “Dwarf Fortress for the console … sort of

  1. gullars

    I’ve been looking at DF a couple of times, it is something that looks really interesting about it, it’s just that it looks so complex, so I’m thinking that it is a bit much for me, I mean I still haven’t managed to get deeper than 6 levels in stone soup, and that more or less blows my mind already πŸ™‚ that is a lot of fun though πŸ˜‰

  2. Jeff

    Maybe it’s using xterm’s 256 color extension, fbterm supports it but you have to set TERM to “fbterm”

  3. Luca

    I’ve been wondering how long it was until you picked this up πŸ™‚ Unfortunately I was hoping you would have clear-cut instructions, as I’ve been having the same issues 😦

  4. bonico

    I don’t think this could help you in your actual problem, but I’ve found you can play the win version with the linux sh file (wich is nice for all the only-windows-mods of DF)

  5. gitane

    I notice similar display errors when playing Nethack with DECgraphics option on in fbterm

  6. Kyle

    Slight update – the Terminus font has a few issues. But I made a little tool that will convert DF’s PNG tilemaps to a TTF font for fbterm to use. Naturally, it works best on the “simpler” ASCII-esque tilesets.

    More here:


  7. Pingback: ASCIIPortal, Ascii Sector and Dwarf Fortress: Text-only, so to speak | Inconsolation

  8. Pingback: ASCIIPortal, Ascii Sector and Dwarf Fortress: Text-only, so to speak | Linux Admins

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s