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Dwarf Fortress’ new pixel artist is crushing it with these adorable animal folk

Kitfox and Bay 12 Games have doled out some more new art

An owl and an owl person, a hamster person and a hamster person, a camel and a camel person. Same with a turtle, dragonfly, bettle, narwal, and crab. All rendered on a green background.
Dwarf Fortress sprites released in May.
Image: Bay 12 Games/Kitfox Games
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Dwarf Fortress, the beautifully complex colony simulation game from the two-person team at Bay 12 Games, is in the process of getting a dramatic facelift. Developers released a new set of sprites today teasing more of its animal folk, and pixel artist Neoriceisgood appears to be absolutely knocking it out of the park.

Having been developing Dwarf Fortress since 2003, Tarn Adams and Zack Adams elected to join up with Kitfox in 2019 for (among other things) medical benefits. The announcement was accompanied by a refreshed tile set that began the hard work of replacing the game’s multicolor ASCII art with delicate, pixelated sprites. The art team has had a bit of turnover these last few years while the back-end systems (like mouse support, and revised menus) get hammered into shape, but things are really starting to come together, it seems.

A walrus person, a hippo person, fox person, and an elk person om a tavern with a bunch of dwarves. There’s a kangaroo person and a sparrow person as well, it looks like. The horned beetle person seems lonely, but the squirrel person seems friendly. The slug person somehow got into the wine.
New art released on Wednesday.
Image: Bay 12 Games/Kitfox Games

“The mysterious animal people have come to your fortress to seek you out, some for amusement, others... for revenge!” wrote Zach Adams in a newsletter on Wednesday. “They come from the world’s wild places in all shapes and sizes. Should you choose to open your taverns to outsiders they will seek you out. They could be coming for entertainment or work. Some might be adventurers seeking danger, others may be poets or scribes.”

Animal people can also take part in the game’s Adventure Mode, allowing you to create a JRPG-style party and journey through the game’s massive, procedurally generated worlds — a bit like if The Oregon Trail were to be set somewhere inside Middle-earth.

Zach Adams notes that all of these images show new animal people sprites by Neoriceisgood, and that there are close to 200 new sprites in the hopper. (The image at the top of this article is from May.)

When will the graphical version of Dwarf Fortress be ready for public consumption? “Time is subjective” says the Steam page — something we’ve all come to realize over the last few years, I assure you. Bay 12 was, it seems, ahead of the curve on that philosophical morsel in 2019.

Dwarf Fortress is available for free at the Bay 12 Games website. The studio has a Patreon site. No release date for the Steam version has been announced, but you can add it to your wish list.

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