For most people, the colorful numbers and letters that filled the computer screen would be completely baffling, but Markus felt right at home. The game was called Dwarf Fortress and it had become a cult favorite in indie circles. Markus had downloaded it to try it out himself and watched, entranced by the simple text world drawn up in front of him.
A couple of weeks had passed since Markus started working at Jalbum and his thoughts were circling full speed around the game he’d promised himself he’d work on. Like when he was a child and would run home from school to his LEGOs, he now spent almost all his free time in front of his home computer. He combed the Internet in search of inspiration for his project; the heavy labor—the coding—could begin only after he figured out what kind of game he wanted to create. The idea for Minecraftbegan to take shape in his encounter with Dwarf Fortress.
In Dwarf Fortress the player is tasked with helping a group of dwarf warriors build a fortress in bedrock. The player controls a group of dwarves that can each be put to various tasks (chopping down trees, mining ore from the mountain, cooking, making furniture, fishing, for example) or made to protect the fortress from monsters such as evil vampires, giant spiders, trolls, and wolves. The basic game mechanics are similar to many other strategy games—The Sims, for example, where the player manages a household, or the Facebook game FarmVille, where the objective is to get a farm to flourish. But Dwarf Fortress is different from most other games of the genre in a couple of ways.