My interview with Dwarf Fortress developer Tarn Adams is up on HASTAC. I tried to craft a series of questions that would allow Tarn to discuss issues important to various Digital Humanities scholars, and not just a maps-and-games kind of guy like me. He obliged:
Whether or not a narrative’s representation is effective really depends on what sort of graphics an individual player prefers more than anything, and the time and care put into the narrative are going to matter a lot more than the particular methods used. Even “@…D” can be evocative if you’ve been stoked with the proper context–it’s the most terrifying D you can imagine. At the same time, your imagination on the spot in situations like that is limited to what information you’ve been given coupled with the existing archetypes etc. in your head, and an artist’s dragon could be something you wouldn’t normally imagine, and that’s great too. To some extent, it depends on how much and in what way you want your escapism influenced by the artist, which is a matter of taste. In Dwarf Fortress, I think the lack of a strict, fixed narrative lends itself a bit more to ASCII to me personally, but that can’t be the basis for any kind of absolute judgment.