Dwarf Fortress is a sim/city-builder/rts with a bit of roguelike. It is created by the Adams brothers. Tarn(Right) is the developer and does all of the coding himself. Zach(Left) is a writer and does a lot of conceptual work within the DF universe. They started making games from a young age and Dwarf Fortress has become their most popular.
Right now, the official release is numbered 0.31.16. This was released in October 2010. This is an fairly polished version with most of the bugs squashed and has significant changes from the last release.
To get started, there are many guides that hold your hand and show you the ropes. They are not necessary, but they might help. Note that some of these are made for 40d and will have some out-of-date instructions. They are still useful and there are some new ones for DF2010. There is a step-by-step guide, a series of video tutorials, and many more guides can be found in the Dwarf Fortress wiki.
But one of the greatest ways to have Fun with this game is to jump right in! That's because Dwarf Fortress has a motto, "Losing is Fun!". Your first few forts may end in disaster, but it is disaster that makes this game exciting and fun. For how 'Fun' things can get in Dwarf Fortress you may want to read the sagas of Boatmurdered, Headshoots or Syrupleaf
The biggest tip I can give you is to read the Wiki. Say that you start mining a new rock, you want to know if it is good for anything. Just look it up on the wiki and it will tell you all you need to know. Right now the wiki is a little incomplete because of the new version, so don't be afraid to dig around in some of the older articles for better information.
One of the biggest complaints that this game receives is that the graphics are lacking. In case you haven't seen a screenshot yet, the game is ASCII art. While many people will get used to this easily, just as many may find it difficult. If you are having trouble telling your commas from your 'C's then there are some options to make the game more visually appealing. The most popular way is to use Phoebus' graphics pack which replaces the normal tiles with full color sprites and graphics. The Phoebus pack is an entire prepackaged version of DF (Based on 0.31.16), just unzip and play.
If you want an installation that includes everything including the kitchen sink, you might want to consider getting the Lazy Newb Pack.
If there are any questions, please ask them.
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