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How can one increase/decrease the speed of Dwarf Fortress?

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Short answer: You can't.

Long answer: Get a faster computer. I've noticed that when I first start a fortress that it runs very quickly (70-80 FPS) but once I have 50 dwarves running around the FPS will drop to around 20-30 and game speed is tied to FPS.

Edit: C. Ross is correct. Dwarf Fortress is only single-threaded so the speed depends entirely on the speed of whatever core is running DF.

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    You should also note that it's based on a single core speed. Since DF is single threaded, multiple cores don't help at all.
    – C. Ross
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 17:02
  • :( I thought it was possible to choose among a couple of speeds as in the Sims series (speed 1, 2, 3, etc.)
    – user5781
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 17:25
  • @Poindexter Sorry, that was a really unnecessary edit on a really old post. I was editing some of my own answers and got--confused... >.<
    – dlras2
    Commented Oct 21, 2013 at 14:22
  • I think there's a .ini setting to reduce the speed (set to 100 FPS by default), but DF is usually running as fast as it can go.
    – Brilliand
    Commented Feb 20, 2014 at 22:25
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Yes, you can try.

Lowering [FPS_CAP:X] in the data\init\init.ini file can lower the speed of the game. If you're running at your FPS cap, increasing it can increase the speed of the game. Normally, however, the cap is not reached and your processor speed is the bottleneck.

Lowering [G_FPS_CAP:X] can actually increase the speed slightly, if you're not running at your FPS cap.

Lastly, I will add that the single most important thing I have personally found that decreases speed is your embark area. If it's large, your game will start to crawl after you get a larger number of dwarfs. And now that magma can now be found in every embark square, I usually stick to areas of 3x3, and my FPS hums along at a nice 120.

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Above answers are answers to question "Can I make DF run faster", which is a bit different question from "How can one increase/decrease the speed of Dwarf Fortress?"

You can manipulate simulation time by changing FPS limit. By default, you can do that using Alt+equals, Alt-mins key binding. The upper speed limit is bound to your CPU processing capabilities.

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Poindexter is right, you can't directly. Certain tricks like caging all pets or limiting the population of your fort might help the game run faster with the hardware you've got. Even the layout of your fort can effect run time (because path-finding is a major CPU task). See the answer provided here: Extremely low FPS in Dwarf Fortress

But I would only go down those routes if the game is so slow as to be unplayable.

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Things you can do to decrease speed:

  • Start your fort near the ocean
  • Have a larger embark area
  • Increase your population as much as possible and free any caged animals.

Things you can do to increase speed:

  • Start your fort somewhere without ocean or water
  • Choose a small embark area
  • Slaughter and/or cage all non-essential animals

Finally the speed of your computer will certainly affect game speed. I occasionally will start a fort on my old laptop so that the game runs a little slower at the start, and then move the save to my PC once things get going and the framerate slows a bit.

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