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When the developers of Dwarf Fortress die, a museum inherits the game

Where's there a will...

When the developers of Dwarf Fortress, one of the most ambitious simulation games ever made, die its source code will be donated to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

"They wanted me to put in my will that they want the source code upon my demise," co-creator Tarn Adams told Eurogamer. "I haven't actually prepared the document yet, but I've told the people that would be handling my computers when I die or whatever, that they can go ahead and send it to the MoMA."

In late 2012, Dwarf Fortress was one of 14 games installed at the museum as part of the 'Applied Design' exhibition. Due to the complex nature of the game, Adams submitted a brief video demonstration along with commentary from himself.

"So that whole conversation was going on," said Adams. "And they were like: you know, we've been asking everybody that gets a thing into the museum to give us the source code and we know everyone's going to say no, right? We just have to ask."

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Tarn Adams and his brother Zach, who've now been developing Dwarf Fortress for around 15 years, aren't like most game developers. And so, they agreed to do just that.

"This isn't just for the museum. In general we've said everything will go open source eventually," said Adams, before half-joking that they do have a foul play clause in effect.

The current version of Dwarf Fortress is 0.43.05, which as Adams has explained before, means the game is around 43 per cent of the way to being feature complete. Well, sort of.

"It's not like we're saying we're 43 per cent through simulating reality," said Adams. "That's ridiculous, that's just what the fans say. I've got this chart thing - it takes different forms because I never settle on anything. It had 2600 items and we're at 1100 or whatever. So yeah, if you extrapolate out how long it's going to take, we'll be done in 20 years or something."

There aren't many game developers that have their life's work planned out so clearly, or indeed, many that have plans in place to ensure their game lives on without them.