I've just signed on and I'm looking to learn about design and programming. I'm mostly an RPG/strategy gamer, and I've been really fascinated by the ASCII game Dwarf Fortress by Bay 12 Games. I just read "A theory of fun for game design", by Raph Koster, and I really appreciated the view that learning and challenges are what makes a game fun. One of the earliest games I played that had a huge impact on my life was Ultima IV (Sega console, I think). It stuck out to me so much because the game requires you to behave, in-game, according to a set of virtues that you must eventually become an avatar of. This was different to the usual win-by-killing games I had played and have played since. This game had real world implications for me by teaching me about virtues, values, and beliefs, and I would someday like to program a similar ASCII or tile-based game.
I have near-to-no programming experience whatsoever. I did a little html back in the 90s, I played around with RPG Maker 2000 at about the same time, and while I'm comfortable with maths, I am no genius. I find I learn best by a) having a relevant context, and b) having concrete illustrations to depict abstract concepts.
I'm currently studying post-grad (non-IT) so I'm looking at doing this as a pasttime. Can anyone with expertise or experience in ASCII or tile-based games help put my virgin foot on the first rung of my ladder?