If you want to know why Dwarf Fortress is coming to Steam, its co-creator Tarn Adams has one answer: health insurance.
"Healthcare costs generally are pretty much the whole reason," Adams customs Kotaku about email. "We've been doing fine with crowdfunding, but we're getting older now, and one health problem that we have in the wrong deductible or co-situation would be the end of full-time work on the game."  Adams and his brother, Zach, released Dwarf Fortress in 2006 after four years of development. It's an expansive, intoxicating game, where you corral a party of dwarves and create an underground colony for them, protecting them from various dangers along the way. Its ASCII-art world is meticulously detailed, creating scenarios where you freak out over a cluster of lowercase, gray letter "e" on a screen because it represents an approaching elephant hearth. Over the years, as Dwarf Fortress has found a cult following and even shown in the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Adams brothers have been able to support themselves through one-time donations from fans, as well as through their Patreon, where they make over $ 6,000 a month. But as Adams gets older, the cost of living has gone up.
"To get healthcare, we have to make money, and it has to be enough money," he wrote. “Crowdfunding has been great. I've survived for 12 years on it. But ultimately it's not survivable in the current environment. ”
It hasn't escaped Adams's notice that similar games on Steam do extraordinarily well, like Prison Architect Rimworld and Gnomoria . “Sales over many years are in the, what, million or so range? That's still unfathomable to me – not because those games didn't earn it, but just the number. That was a big number, beyond the sort of metrics we saw personally, "he wrote.
Given those numbers, Adams said that putting the game on Steam was a no-brainer. If it succeeded, it could potentially match the sales of those other games. If not? Sure, he's back at square one, but he's still in a position he says is survivable.
Adams has been continually updating Dwarf Fortress ever since its release, and said that he doesn't think Dwarf Fortress will ever reach where the game feels finished to him.
"Oh, no, never," he said. But I've never had one that feels that way. ”He said.
it down, and made good decisions, then maybe it feels something like finished when you realized your list. But, hmm, these are not skills I've been practicing broadly, though we try to make each release feel somewhat contained in a few themes that work well with everything that's already implemented, ”he said.
It's been nearly two decades since Dwarf Fortress began development, and it is possible that it will be in development for as long as Adams is able to keep it up. Putting the game on Steam is one path to sustainability for Tarn and Zach Adams. At least, it might keep their co-pays down.