July 22, 2011 3:00 PM | Eric Caoili
The New York Times just published a splendid profile of Bay 12 Games' Tarn Adams and Zach Adams, the brothers behind cult-favorite PC game Dwarf Fortress -- if you have a love for super complex but extremely rewarding sims, you really, really need to play this game.
In the piece, you learn quite a bit about the brothers' personal lives, from Tarn's struggles in trying to pursue a career in math, to his youth spent programming video games and making Star Trek parodies with his dad's camcorder.
Tarn also comments on indie darling Minecraft, which the article describes as "a more user-friendly version of Dwarf Fortress". Though the popularity of Mojang's Minecraft has sent new players to Dwarf Fortress, writer Jonah Weiner sensed some bitterness there:
"Still, in the only moment I heard him speak with anything like bitterness, Tarn called Minecraft a "depressing distillation of our own stuff." He paused, adding more magnanimously that the game 'has its own things going for it.' The problem, he concluded, 'isn't with Minecraft so much as it's with society."
Tarn was less kind to games like Angry Birds or Bejeweled, which the Dwarf Fortress creator called "abusive" in their attempts to trap players' attentions with addictive loops of frustration and gratification, presented with the pretense that you need skill to win:
"Many popular games tap into something in a person that is compulsive, like hoarding, tthe need to make progress with points or collect things. You sit there saying yeah-yeah-yeah and then you wake up and say, What the hell was I doing?You can read the entire profile on the NYT's website, which also goes into the appeal of Dwarf Fortress, the game community's intense devotion, and Tarn's super unhealthy diet.
You can call that kind of game fun, but only if you call compulsive gambling fun. I used to value the ability to turn the user into your slave. I don't anymore."
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