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Dwarf Fortress creator blasts execs behind brutal industry layoffs: 'I think they're horrible… greedy, greedy people'

 Dwarf Fortress creators Tarn and Zach Adams sit for an interview at GDC 2024.
Dwarf Fortress creators Tarn and Zach Adams sit for an interview at GDC 2024.

You don't have to worry about Tarn Adams' millionaire status turning him corporate any time soon. At this year's GDC, the Dwarf Fortress maker came out swinging against a brutal climate of layoffs, cancellations, and general downsizing across the games industry, declaring that the executives responsible can "all eat shit." Just in case you needed a reason to like Dwarf Fortress even more.

"Three to four years from now, what are [Dwarf Fortress] sales looking like?" pondered Adams in a chat with PCG, "What kind of decisions do we have to make [with] burn rates and all that stuff?" Considering the possibility of making those hard decisions some day down the line, Tarn wondered if the experience would give him "more empathy for the people that lay people off.

"No, I don't f***ing think so," he concluded. "They can all eat s***, I think they're horrible, and I think they're bad people."

Which is a pretty definitive statement all by itself, but Adams continued: "These decisions, they don't sound practical. They sound like they're driven by greedy, greedy people trying to make some kind of venture capital thing work out.

"There is this stench of rot at the top of things where the reasons people get laid off is because of funding structures and bad incentives and stupidity," said Adams, damning execs for firing people "that they shouldn't fire because their company will fall apart, but I guess maybe that helps someone's bottom line somewhere or gets the right air inside the right golden parachute."

So I think we can safely locate Adams and Dwarf Fortress in the For Devs/Against Layoffs column on our collective spreadsheet, but should we be worried that Adams reckons he might have to make some tough choices in the years to come? Well, maybe, although I admit I struggle to imagine writing a headline along the lines of "Microsoft cuts 1,900 jobs at Activision and Xbox" about the brothers behind Dwarf Fortress.

But for now, Tarn and Zach Adams say it's full-steam ahead with DF's development and incoming Adventure Mode update, which hits this April. "[We're] still fundamentally excited about what's possible, and not feeling encumbered ourselves by any of that… we're gonna keep shining the light forward, and hopefully continuing to inspire people."