Dwarf Fortress – What’s the Difference Between the Steam Version and the ASCII Version?

Steam Version vs ASCII Version

They will basically be the same (same UI and features etc), but the Steam version will have:

  • A built-in tileset/graphics
  • More music tracks
  • Steam integration (eg, workshop, and later achievements)

Whereas the ASCII version will be available for free on the Bay12 website. Last I heard, you’ll also be able to play with ASCII using the Steam version (by disabling the graphics/tileset), and if you do this, you won’t have to update them separately, because it’ll basically be like a Minecraft texture pack.

If you download and play the ASCII version from Bay12 instead of using Steam (or Itch.io) though, you will have to update them separately.

“The ASCII version” can mean multiple things

The first meaning is the version of Dwarf Fortress which is out now, “current” or “old” Dwarf Fortress. It uses ASCII graphics because it has no support for fancier graphics. All versions of “old” Dwarf Fortress will continue to be available for free on the Bay 12 website.

The second meaning is “Dwarf Fortress Classic”. Classic will be the free version of Dwarf Fortress going forward, being updated in parallel with the Steam/itch.io version (“Premium”). Unlike Premium, Classic will not come with a default graphics pack, so unless you use a community-made one it will have to use ASCII graphics.

That brings us to the last meaning, “ASCII mode”. This will be an option in both Premium (again, the Steam/itch.io version) and Classic, where you choose to use ASCII graphics instead of fancier sprites. Since Classic will use this by default, Toady has also called it “Classic mode”. This confusion of terms is also related to how linked DF Classic and ASCII mode are; Classic can’t be released before ASCII mode is ready.

All Fortress and Legends mode intricacies should be there, whether you play Premium or Classic. Adventure mode should still take a while, but can still be played in “old” Dwarf Fortress.

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