From: My Own Private Hell
ORIGINAL: PS Pita
I don't think I'm going to like this but maybe I should at least give it a try...some day, with the lazy newb pack.
Seems I was a bit quick in in my dismissal of this game and too harsh in my criticism of what I saw on the surface, you have convinced me that there is a big fan base and for a reason which true I do not understand and may never. However to each their own.
If you are going to give it a try, this is the the tutorial I have been using The Complete and Utter Newby Tutorial for Dwarf Fortress
This tutorial has links for a download, single RAR about 15mb, with everything you need, its an older version of DF (v0.23.130.23a) current version is DF2012 34.11. The download has the game, graphics pack, a dorf, sorry, dwarf manager and a save that the tutorial works from. Once you have got through the first two chapters download the lazy newb pack for the current version, everything is the same as the tutorial only updated, even the Dwarf manager which is now called the Dwarf therapist, you can then try the newer version and appreciate how much work has gone into it over the years. Just make sure that you have the DF wiki link to hand, you can look up data from both versions on there and it makes learning so much easier.
I did mention that the graphics were a tad retro, that's what put me off for years, and with no disrespect you really would have to have started with a Z80/81 or a Spectrum to really understand the gameplay over graphics issue (Lords of Midnight, Doomdarks Revenge, Shadowfire, Elite as a few examples off the top of my head), back then the graphics were functional, the depth of gameplay had to hold you as the graphics certainly wouldn't, so complexity was a must but as the years wore on and graphics became better it was almost like watching scales, depth of gameplay on one side and graphics on the other and the scales have been tipping towards graphics and diluting gameplay for years. There are very few titles today that have the same depth as games that were doing the rounds 20 years ago. As an example, one of the games you mentioned, X-Com UFO Defense, look at the new version, graphics are top notch but the gameplay? Like a puddle compared to the ocean that is the original. DW has functional graphics but buckets of gameplay depth, you can play for months and still find things that you didn't realize could be done. It just seems most games these days feel the need to push graphics over gameplay, maybe its the consoles but who knows. In all honesty, when you hear of a new game and visit its homepage, what do you click on first, screenshots or features?
I just hope that one day we can have both, games with both deep complex gameplay and killer graphics until then I'll stick with Indie devs like Codeforce, opensource, open alphas or freeware.