How to Fix Dwarf Fortress Crashing on Windows

How to Fix Dwarf Fortress Crashing on Windows

Dwarf Fortress is a classic, floating around the internet for almost two decades before receiving an official Steam release. Yet, even after all that time, there are still frequent crashes that users need to watch out for.

Let’s look at a few different fixes for crashes occurring on the Steam version of Dwarf Fortress.

Why is Dwarf Fortress Crashing?

screenshot of the dwarf fortress installation directory

Dwarf Fortress is most likely to crash due to a corrupted save file or a world going on for too long. This can cause instability when loading information which leads to a crash.

While that applies to all versions of Dwarf Fortress, the Steam version brings with it some unique issues that relate to the new graphical style.

Regardless of what is causing the crash, it’s very likely that whatever problem you’re having can be fixed by one of the following solutions.

1. Basic Troubleshooting Steps

screenshot of verifying steam files

First things first, and that’s going over the basics. If you haven’t already, you should run through the most common troubleshooting steps when fixing a crashing game.

The game being on the Steam platform brings with it another share of troubleshooting steps. Take a look at our guide on troubleshooting Steam issues on Windows and make sure you at least verify the integrity of the game files. That, combined with a system restart, is sometimes all you need to do.

2. Force Dwarf Fortress to Use Dedicated Graphics

screenshot of the AMD radeon program showing the games list

A common cause of crashes for the new Dwarf Fortress release is related to whether or not your dedicated graphics card is being used.

Dwarf Fortress now carries actual graphics, and as simple as they are, they benefit from a dedicated graphics card. Sometimes, Dwarf Fortress will default to your integrated graphics. We’ll need to change that.

This process varies depending on what brand or model your graphics card is. We have a guide that explains how to update your drivers for NVIDIA or AMD cards.

3. Disable Full Screen Optimizations

screenshot dwarf fortress properties disabling fullscreen optimizations

There’s a common Windows function that can cause problems for Dwarf Fortress. To disable full-screen optimization, follow these steps.

  1. Right-click on Dwarf Fortress in Steam. Hover over Manage and click Browse local files.
  2. In the newly opened folder, right-click on Dwarf Fortress.exe and hit Properties.
  3. Click into the Compatibility tab and tick the box next to Disable fullscreen optimizations.

Now give it a go. This option doesn’t actually affect the visuals or gameplay in any way, so this option is safe to turn on as a ‘just in case’ measure.

4. Set the Resolution to Non-Widescreen

screenshot of dwarf fortress video settings

Dwarf Fortress doesn’t play nice with widescreen resolutions. Note that this refers to non-standard widescreen resolutions. If you have a particularly large monitor, it’s worth it to try setting the in-game resolution of Dwarf Fortress to something standard. For example, 1920×1080.

To do this, navigate to the video settings of Dwarf Fortress by clicking Settings in the main menu.

The first screen that opens is the video settings screen. Simply change the Resolution drop-down to something below 1920×1080.

5. Delete Save Data

screenshot of dwarf fortress save folder

Don’t worry, this won’t involve losing any progress. However, deleting save files is always risky, so make sure you back up your saves before you proceed.

Dwarf Fortress can crash if the save files become too bloated. This can happen after a long period of play, or even after a short period if you create enough new units and structures.

You can refresh your save, in a way, by deleting non-crucial save files. Follow the steps below to do this.

  1. Right-click on Dwarf Fortress in Steam. Hover over Manage and click Browse local files.
  2. From the newly opened folder, click into the Save folder.
  3. Find your corresponding Region folder. These are labeled region1, region 2, etc. Click into the region folder that corresponds with your crashes.
  4. At this point in time, backup your files just in case.
  5. Delete all the files except for world.sav.

By doing this, you’ll be repopulating your world, history, and timeline. However, your structures and units will remain. While this isn’t a desirable option, there are a handful of crashes that can only be fixed in this way.

New Game Version, New Game Crashes

You would think that such an old game would have plenty of fixes for possible crashes. However, this is a new version of the game, and that introduces new problems.

Thankfully, the game has had decades to accumulate fixes and workarounds.

Whatever it took, let’s hope you were able to get back into your dwarf kingdom and continue playing on.

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