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Dwarf Fortress mods turn ASCII text into real-time 3D graphics

Dwarf Fortress can now be played in real-time isometric 3D, thanks to a host of mods for a game designed to be rendered ASCII text format.

Released in 2006, developer Bay 12 Games' Slaves to Armok: God of Blood Chapter 2: Dwarf Fortress looks like a game created decades earlier, with 2D text that creates the procedurally generated world. Since its release, modders have built upon the game's foundation. A utility called Stonesense was released in 2009 to convert Dwarf Fortress' ASCII text to a static 3D, isometric view, though in a separate window from the main game. Stonesense is distributed as part of DFHack, a collection of mods and utilities.

Modder Japa Illo told Wired that a plugin called RenderMax allowed modder and Stonesense creator Caldfir to integrate the rendering technology with the most recent version of Dwarf Fortress, which renders it in real time 3D in the game's main window.

In development for two years, the next version of the Linux, Mac and Windows PC game is scheduled to launch this month. Its two-man creative team, Zach and Tarn Adams, explained last year why they turned down a six-figure offer to license the game.

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