My Perfect Console with Simon Parkin

Tarn Adams, creator of Dwarf Fortress.

Feb. 14, 2023

My guest today is the American co-creator of one of the longest-running and most popular independent games yet made. In high school he and his older brother Zach designed adventure games based on fantasy and science fiction stories they invented together. He taught himself computer programming and received fifteen offers to enrol in PhD math programs.

At Stanford University, he and his brother continued work on a procedural adventure game called Dwarf Fortress, in which players guide successive generations of dwarves to build and maintain a settlement.

He quit university to work on the game full-time; in 2011 the New York Times described an early version as “perhaps the most complex video game ever made”. Dwarf Fortress became his life’s work, with a vast and committed cult following, but it remained a work in progress until December 2022, when a commercial version finally released, and promptly sold half a million copies.

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