Gnomoria Catch-all (Graphical Dwarf Fortress-like) [in Alpha]


This was mentioned in the "upcoming indie games to watch" thread but hasn't gotten much attention. Given GWJ's love of Dwarf Fortress I was surprised and thought maybe it was just overlooked and due its own thread. As said in the title, Gnomoria is very much influenced by Dwarf Fortress, although currently it's a bit shallower of a rabbit hole. I've sunk a lot of time into this over the last few days and have been really enjoying it. It's just about the perfect game for anyone who wanted the Dwarf Fortress experience but couldn't get past the interface.

Currently Gnomoria is in alpha. There's a demo that you can play for 6 game days, which lets you get surprisingly far, and you can purchase the alpha at 20% off, $7.99 rather than $9.99. The full version will let you continue your game from the demo. The dev is listening to suggestions so it's also a great time to get in and possibly shape the game.

I didn't want to balloon up the OP with these, but here are a couple of screenshots:


Overland and profession UI:

I'll have to look this up.

It's sweet. I really like it, and all I have is the demo! Thanks for the heads up LiquidMantis!

0.8.2 is out! Demo is also updated

Changelog from 0.8.1:

Show profession in squad list
Indicate gnomes that are in squads with "(S)"
Added a version number to main menu
Added a max unhappiness level

Added hide
Added wheat
Added egg
Added meat
Added bread
Added sausage
Added sandwich
Added milk
Added wine
Added beer
Added bone
Added skull
Added loom
Added torch
Updated blood
Updated yak
Updated decorative stone wall/floor
Updated plank wall/floor
Updated desk

Bug Fixes:
Save files sometimes corrupting when saving multiple times without exiting
Crash when mining around a door
Crash on load when no uniform was set
Unhappy gnomes were becoming increasingly unhappy over time
Gnomes refusing to work from unhappiness earlier than they were supposed to
Added jewelry items to stock settings
Mispelled sapphire

I spent most of this week debugging and testing save crashes. I wanted to get this fix out as soon as I could so you could play uninterrupted Pretty much all of the save files I looked at were related to the corruption bug. If there are still save file issues this will help find the new ones, since I haven't come across any others (except the uniform crash). Due to the nature of the save file bug, most previous saves won't work this time around

The update is on your BMT Micro links and has been uploaded to Desura awaiting authorization.

Huh, interesting. I'll have to give this a go. It looks very dwarf fortress doesn't it?

Dwarf Fortress was just too obtuse for me, and I fell at the first hurdle. I understand once you actually get some momentum going, and instead of seeing ASCII you see Blonde Dwarf, Brunette Dwarf, Redhead Dwarf, it really comes into it's own, but I couldn't quite get past that point.

I've come to the conclusion that I need a graphical interface at bare minimum to play a game, especially one so complex.

I'm loving everything I see. I hope they're able to iterate on this like DF has been.

Dwarf Fortress is great but it has a complete and utter lack of good UI screens. It could be argued that is part of the charm. But in many ways it tends to hold you back. All of these DF "clones" follow the same basic premise but tackle the UI problem in different ways. As long as they continue to build on the formula I think this is wonderful.

I haven't tried this one yet. I'll definitely have check it out. Don't forget about Towns, either. It's in the same genre, but has a bit of a different flavor to it.

LiquidMantis wrote:

This was mentioned in the "upcoming indie games to watch" thread but hasn't gotten much attention. Given GWJ's love of Dwarf Fortress I was surprised and thought maybe it was just overlooked and due its own thread.

I think the problem is that Dwarf Fortress fans already have DF, and everyone else is scared of the words. As someone who's scared of the words I'll generally stay away, but I'm downloading the demo for this now.

In my mind, the difference is that the Towns and Gnomoria devs are interested in making a polished, fun, playable building game. The DF devs seem more interested in adding more and more (seemingly random) detailed stuff rather than refining. I'm not trying to knock DF, it's just a totally different kind of experience IMO.

Minor update, is out with a save game corruption fix and a few other updates:

Adjusted pathfinding to have more natural paths in special cases
Moved crash log to My Documents\My Games\Gnomoria

Updated bar

Bug Fixes:
Crash when switching between window/fullscreen
Crash when a gnome passes out while on the way to their bed
Occasional multithreaded save crash
Gnomes sometimes getting stuck and not performing their job
Personal quarters showing the wrong owner name

The corrupted save fix on Thursday helped me track down the multithreaded issue yesterday. I wanted to get this quick patch out early instead of waiting for more.

Save files from v0.8.2 should be fine with this build.

Played through the demo a couple of times. It took a few tries to figure out exactly what was what, but I do see myself picking this up in the not too distant future.

MrDeVil909 wrote:

It took a few tries to figure out exactly what was what

I think that's part of the appeal, at least in the beginning. Sure you can look for guides and wikis (although those resources don't much exist yet for Gnomoria) but part of the fun is the iteration process of figuring out dependencies and refining your designs.

Super super excited about this.

Yeah, I don't think guides and the like are needed, and I think using one would Rob the player of the best part.

The crafting recipes are all there in front of you, so figuring what you need, and when, is the main part of the game.

I only figured out how to make a bed at my second try.

I'm going to be very vague with this so it's not really a spoiler but I'll tag it anyway.


Not everything is obvious to you in the beginning. A tinker bench is how you research technology, with more benches making things go faster. There are already traps and machinations in the game (with more planned), you just have to discover them.

Okay, I played through the demo and almost immediately dropped $8 on the unlocked Alpha version. It's rough - but it's an alpha. It really scratches an itch that DF used to - but with an infinitely better UI. I look forward to following it as features are added.

Having a problem with the idea of a soldier - my front door guard never went to pick up his armour and weapon. Anyone else have that problem?

Is this a bug? Should I be reporting these problems?

I have to buy this and help shepherd my gnome brothers to long lives and riches. Thanks for posting the thread!

Feegle wrote:

Having a problem with the idea of a soldier - my front door guard never went to pick up his armour and weapon. Anyone else have that problem?

The military UI is a bit convoluted. You have to assign a "uniform" and assign it to a soldier type. Default is that Basic Soldiers get the Platemail uniform. In the beginning you have a couple of pieces of copper armor and weapons. If you craft leather stuff you'll have to assign the variants to a different uniform, for example it's a helm for leather rather than the helmet class type that is set to Any in the Platemail uniform. Alternatively you can just set the head slot to Any - Any rather than Helmet - Any. No idea if they pick best first or just closest in that case.

I have mixed feelings about this, after watching the OP video; On one hand, the most common request people had after playing DF was a better user interface and a graphical upgrade of sorts. Tile sets helped a bit with the latter, while external tools and mods where made by enthusiasts that provided a way to interact with the game in a different manner to addres the former. This video here seems to take care of both of those concerns; it certainly looks really well, lots of sprites and variety, and it also has a fullly functional graphical interface that works transparently with the far more comfortable click/drag mouse mechanic. But, on the other be the cynical me thinking; I listen to the Dev describing the actions on the screen and I can't help to think that despite his good-natured initiative of basically creating a better looking DF, he's kidnapping Toady's work and, while not claiming any credit on the "fortress building genre" on the process, he'll be ripping its benefits for being the first one to launch a commercial title without having done "that much"... in a way.

Minecraft/Notch did something similar in the past, though he distanced himself so much from what DF is about that the only common element in both games are the metal working and the "building" part. But there's the germ in there at the core, and I think that's great, better games, indepent games...the more the better.

I remember saying that this would be the perfect game for me, a DF-like with a modern GUI and an isometric view style that would allow for it to retain some of the complexity the ASCII characters allow in its hyeroglyphical, non-representative nature. Now that it's finally here, I find it funny to realize that I feel guilty to think about paying for this product, deserving as it may be, for developing and improving on the idea that that other guy over there had first. The point is made stronger by the fact that, other than changing the protagonists to gnomes, there's really not much else in there to expect but the vanilla-DF experience. It is an Alpha and I'm sure the devs are making their best effort to enrichen the experience with whatever they decide to add on it, but from where I stand nothing stood up out of the videos other than the graphicals and improved interface.

As I said, it's the cynical part of me speaking here. The cool, non-judgemental me was all "look-it-that you have windows and drop-down menus HELL YEAH!!!!". I'll be following on its development, I just wanted to share those thoughts and probe the waters about them as it surprised me how dominant they got in my inner dialogue.


I can see where you are coming from Feeank but DFs greatest strength is also it's weakness. The same complexity that allows you to build a cool dwarf fort also tends to rip it down with goblins, werewolves and tantrum spirals. DF is not *just* a dwarf fortress game, there is a lot of stuff running under the hood and a lot of it gets in the way of what people want to do. Just ask Prozac about his ghost issues with Vault Fortress. To say nothing of the interface.

Gnomoria is just a dwarf fortress game and that's all some people want.

I find it funny to realize that I feel guilty to think about paying for this product, deserving as it may be, for developing and improving on the idea that that other guy over there had first.

If you donated to bay12games, then it's not like you're cheating them of something if you also buy Gnomoria. It's not like Toady owns the idea of a semi-automated building scenario forever. He's got a huge head start on everyone, but he's demonstrated quite clearly that he doesn't care about the UI, and he doesn't seem terribly interested in fixing important bugs in a timely fashion, so finding a more user-focused developer strikes me as a pretty good idea.

Dwarf Fortress has gone in some very, very weird directions over the last few years, and I don't really see that most of the more recent 'improvements' make it a better game. The sophisticated systems he comes up with never quite work right, and then, instead of fixing them, he layers in more systems in that never quite work right. The game as a whole becomes less and less playable over long spans of gametime, because it becomes easier and easier to run into a fortress-killing bug.

It seems to me that a less sophisticated engine that's truly reliable would probably be a better actual game.

Besides, if we granted permanent ownership of ideas, we couldn't have bought Half-Life 1, because it was derivative of Wolfenstein 3D.

I'll also chime in that I gave DF several tries because I really wanted to like it. I read about the things that people had done/had happen to them in the game and was blown away. But a lack of an even halfway decent UI threw me back. Talking about it with people on twitter, someone finally just said "Listen, the developer has said he's not interested in that." And I just thought "Fine then, I hope someone else takes the next step." And at least from the outset it looks like someone has. Really, I hope many people do. This should be a genre, and people should advance it.

You know, the Gnomoria interface isn't all puppies and roses either. Mouse controls are good. Having only mouse controls is bad. I've seen some gameplay videos and you have to scroll through menus just to select tiles for digging. And once you bring up the dig tool you can only designate squares and rectangles. Same thing with harvesting plants, cutting down trees and so on, all menu based, all tedious.

In Dwarf Fortress I can simply hit "d" and I'm in business. I can designate boxes with the keyboard or draw out complex tunnel networks with the mouse. I could even go through a forest and selectively log one type of tree. Its not that DF doesn't have a good interface, its simply very utilitarian. Its certainly not without problems but it works a lot faster than mouse driven menus once you are used to it.

Sure, but you're arguing, Tamren, that everyone should use vi.

How have I not seen this before!?

I have wanted to play DF forever but simply do not have the time to deal with the learning curve.

Malor wrote:

Sure, but you're arguing, Tamren, that everyone should use vi.

What should we use? Emacs?

I'm no heretic.

I think there's plenty of room in the world for more "building" games; they each have their own flavor and we the gamers directly benefit. It's not like DF is super-original, either.

Malor wrote:

Sure, but you're arguing, Tamren, that everyone should use vi.

You can go ahead and make a graphical UI as long as it still has hotkeys. I remember talking with someone who was upset that hotkeys were removed in a game's sequel. But I can't remember what that game was. It might have been Civ, or another grand strategy like that. Made the gameplay extremely tedious.

What annoys me the most about menus is that you can't get any faster at using them. Anyone can memorize hotkeys, but menus always require a minimum of mouse movement. Its especially irritating for repetitive tasks.