Home > News > So I’m writing a book on Dwarf Fortress

So I’m writing a book on Dwarf Fortress

February 28, 2012

Here’s what I just posted on the Dwarf Fortress forum on the topic:

Hi guys! Looks like the cat is out of the bag! I wasn’t sure when O’Reilly was going to announce this but I guess now is the time? I was hoping to announce it myself! Awww.  😥

Yes, I’m writing a book on Dwarf Fortress. It’s not done yet but I expect it will clear 150 pages. Easily. The horror 😉

And yes, it is a legit project by O’Reilly who have an editor or two who are as passionate about DF as the rest of us. I love the idea of this book sitting alongside books on C+, Lnux, MySQL and server maintenance. Dwarf Fortress is far more important than any of that stuff!

Why a book? Well, yes, the wiki exists, and yes, it is a [b]superb[/b] and unparalleled resource, but many, many gamers want manuals or huge chunky strategy guides that will step them through everything they need to know. My old 2009 Dwarf Fortress tutorials still net 2,500 views a day (double that figure whenever Toady releases a new version of DF) and the first tutorial has had 750,000 page views. I would like to think that they have been great introductions to Dwarf Fortress.

The goal of the GSWDF book is to provide a one-stop-shop for brand new players who want to try and tackle this game but find themselves lost and confused (for more people this sets in about 30 seconds after running dwarffortress.exe in my experience). The book covers how to create your first world, embarking, first steps (getting food production up and running, digging, etc) and then branches into chunky chapters on managing your dwarfs, industry, military, mods and tools, etc etc. It’s written in the same style as my tutorials (irreverent and, I hope, funny) and I’m excited that O’Reilly has let me take this thing where I want it to go.

Would I recommend you buying it? Well, if you’re reading this you’re probably already reasonably familiar with Dwarf Fortress and won’t find much in it that you don’t already know, so no, you probably don’t need this book, give your $15 to Toady instead.

That being said, I think the book is going to end up pretty cool and unique in the O’Reilly stable. The book will almost certainly include some art by Tim Denee inspired by stories people have submitted, and it will have a cool, custom cover (I’m hoping something involving elephants!), and it has a forward by Toady, but I’m not going to sit here and tell you all you can’t live without this book.

Your friends who don’t yet play DF though? Yeah, those guys can’t live without this book! When it comes out, buy them a few copies (I jest, I jest)! I also hope the book will pull in a ton more new players to DF (I really expect it will) and I encourage the reader to donate to Toady to support this project. I have high hopes that the book will be a great way of promoting DF, supporting Bay12 and introducing a whole new audience to the game.

Answers to some questions:
– It will be current to the DF2012 version.

– It does include information that you will also find in the wiki. It is impossible for anything on DF to not include material that is in the wiki as the wiki covers just about every DF topic you could imagine.

– This book represents an experiment by O’Reilly in “real time” publishing. This means the book is likely to get frequent updates – I believe that people who buy the book will actually get updates pushed to them as the book is maintained on an ongoing basis by me (and possibly others). I love being part of an experiment, makes me feel dwarfy.

– Toady’s involvement is limited to, very kindly, writing a forward for the book. If I make any money off the book I’ll be making donations to Toady off my own bat. And I really hope we’ll see a lot of new players who will do the same. You can’t play DF and not appreciate the time and effort the Bay12 guys have put into the game.

Thanks, hope that explains things.

Some updated information:

  • It’s actually not eBook-only; it will be available in print, PDF, epub, mobi, and on Safari. You can buy both a print copy and an ebook copy at the same time for less than the price of both separately.
  • eBook – If you buy directly from oreilly.com you are notified when new updates are available and can download the newest version for free (also DRM-free).
  • Turn around from me finishing an update to getting a new version out into the reader’s hands should be around four weeks – in publishing, this is super fast, I’m told!
  • Any errata that get reported to O’Reilly get listed somewhere for me to access and fix in due course.
  • The print book won’t include colour graphics inside. O’Reilly will be working to ensure art, etc, still look ok.


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  1. February 28, 2012 at 10:35 am

    That surely is awesome. Would you like to have a Q&A on our G+ page? Or maybe an Hangout?

    • February 28, 2012 at 10:55 am

      Sure thing. Hangout might be tough considering my time zone, but I am happy to answer any questions.

  2. February 28, 2012 at 11:36 am

    TinyPirate :
    Sure thing. Hangout might be tough considering my time zone, but I am happy to answer any questions.

    Most of our users are European but we can arrange that. Maybe send me a message on G+ and add yourself to the page. Then we can discuss about the Q&A first and then think about the Hangout.

  3. February 28, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Serious question: Will the book menace with spikes of paper?

  4. February 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Will there be an ebook version!?! Can we get a beta copy before it’s officially release?

  5. March 2, 2012 at 5:20 am

    Congratulations! I’d wondered what the book was about! 😀

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