[Preview] Rimworld (PC)

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Rimworld Logo

Title: Rimworld

Developer: Ludeon Studios
Publisher: Ludeon Studios
Genre: Simulation, Building
Platform: PC

Presently in pre-Alpha, Public test to come in January 2014

I think it’s fair to say that by now about 65% of the gaming world is burned out on Kickstarter.

Let’s face it – a lot of good games came from Kickstarter, and a lot of good games that are advertised properly will continue to come from Kickstarter. However, we’ve all sat through a lot of flops and drags in Kickstarter, some of which under-performed. I’ve told people a million times – if it funds over 100%, every 10% on top of that is another month the game and/or idea will be in production past it’s advertised date on Kickstarter. It can’t be helped, since developers who make a lot of extra money want to continue to impress their fans with better graphics, bonuses and mechanics. So I have to weigh my choices carefully and decide whether to give them more money than they need or to wait for the Steam release to buy.

Rimworld is actually the sixth video game I have contributed to on Kickstarter. The first being Banner Saga, the second being Wastelands 2, the third being There Came an Echo, the fourth being Mage’s Initiation and the fifth being Stonehearth. They are all great games with features I’m interested in. Rimworld almost escaped my radar, since I have been largely bland about simulations since the new SimCity (I played it for IronManMode – not my best game experience). I have also Green-lit a few duds on Steam, as well, so color me jaded at this point. It took some prodding of a friend to get me to even look at the Kickstarter for Rimworld. Which I’m glad he did. I Kickstarted Rimworld after asking a few questions and watching a few videos.

AI selection screen

The game is still in the pre-Alpha stage, which means there aren’t a lot of great graphics to look at yet. When you start a new game, you choose which AI you want to write the story for you. You have five options as I write this. Four of them decide the escalation of raiders and danger to the planet as time progresses, and the fifth – Randy Random – is supposed to be totally random/luck-based. I have yet to witness a game that is totally random with Randy – it tends to drop a ton of raiders on me early. Or put me in the dark far away from a thermo-vent. Either way, that AI can be both fun and extremely frustrating. Same as Tough Kassandra Classic.

Once you finish picking an AI to give you events, you choose your small squad of three survivors. The story goes that your ship had a catastrophic failure in orbit around the world, and your three people had to evac to survive. These three people are initially important to the story. You pick their name, and then you let the machine randomly choose their childhood and adult backstory. This is important, as it also determines their final job and skill levels. You might want to include one combat strong (usually a Commisar), one miner/builder and one research/first aid heavy character to your party. You’re then dropped on the randomly formed map with a pistol, three sleep areas, a place to store anything you collect and a place to throw away stuff. That’s where the simulation begins.

Character Chooser

It’s pretty straight forward after that. You need metal, food and energy to survive. This requires some effort on the part of your colonists. Metal and food can sometimes be found as parts of your old ship come crashing down on the surface, or from random stockpiles that were already present. You can mine metal from lodes and you can grow/harvest food from gardens you create. Energy is a little harder – you need to build solar panels or a thermo generator over a steam vent. It also requires your colonists to build batteries out of metal to store energy. Energy drives your equipment, such as the nutrient vat and the comm unit.

Weather comes and goes frequently, either blocking any solar collection, shorting out your electronic equipment or hitting your stuff with lightning. The occasional solar flare and eclipse events also hamper energy collection and use. There’s crop blights that kill your crops. To top it off, there’s the escalating raider attacks on your camp. Which can end a game pretty quickly if you are neither prepared and armed enough to stave them off.

Random eventThe AI spices things up, and it’s only partially developed. It may seem unfair now, or somewhat lopsided, but the developer Tynan Sylvester is constantly working on the AI storyteller. Last update helped immensely with the addition of more tame AI. I personally don’t mind, since the constant build up of trouble makes it more challenging and entertaining for me.

While you’re working on building your base, you have to consider the mental state of your colonists. They are easily buy valium online depressed by just about everything – standing in the rain, being in darkness for an extended period of time, being in cramped quarters, being wounded, eating raw food, eating nutrient paste, etc. They also cheer up when things go their way, such as having a nice talk, getting sufficient sleep and being in good surroundings. You may want to build graves just to put dead bodies in, because those also cause negative emotions.

Base Beta BetaYou need to prepare your defenses. You can do this by building sentry turrets to fire back at raiders. You can also equip your colonists with weapons. The best way to get weapons is to kill raiders and take their gear, but you can also buy weapons from traders who randomly visit your planet. You have to have a comm desk built for this, which takes both metal and energy. And you must assign a colonist the task of calling the orbiting vessel. You can sell any excess metal, food or gear to get money to buy guns. Which doesn’t always work in your favor. This part of the game is also in the development stage, so it’s rather crude.

Every now and then, a person will wander through your map. You’ll be alerted to their presence, and you can watch them go by. Or you can go round them up if they are assassins/criminals. Sometimes, during raids, you can render a raider incapacitated. In these circumstances, you can capture these people. You need an open bed sealed away from the rest of the beds designated for prisoners. Once you have them incarcerated, you can choose how to treat them. You need one colonist to act as a Warden, too. The Warden can feed them, talk to them, beat them lightly or heavily, or execute them as you see fit. So far, I’ve mostly worked on recruiting raiders to my base, because their skills come in handy. It never hurts to have another person with a gun ready to repel raiders. I’ve only ever beat a prisoner to death once by accident.

Colony in trouble

Eventually, you’ll be overrun or your colonists will all abandon you when they get unhappy. Which is okay at this stage – we’re merely giving it the good ol’ Alpha test. Raiders eventually get powerful equipment, such as automatic weapons, grenade and rockets. You’ll be stuck with Molotov cocktails, shotguns and pistols, if you didn’t buy better guns. Research is limited to mostly base improvements, only one improving your sentry turrets to shoot an extra bullet. There’s a huge list of other things to add over time, which will only make the game better.

The game presently runs on most machines with Windows, Linux and Mac support. I’m not sure what the end graphic/processor minimum is going to be. They are using sprites in the spirit of Prison Architect with the permission of those people. It’s not a graphically heavy game, although a lot of raiders with a lot of guns can slow it down a little.

The game and the developer has a lot of promise, and I think this game will only get better with time. They are inspired by games like Dwarf Fortress and Sims. If you’re burned out on Kickstarter, it doesn’t hurt to comb through the Games section every few weeks to find games like these to support. I highly recommend at least giving Rimworld a try when it finally has a public release and beta.

Now excuse me while I try another round.

 

About emceekhan
Nathan is a 40-ish year-old gamer, father and programmer. His hobbies are board games, video games and watching his son. He wrote for http://www.ironmanmode.com/ for the years of 2012 and 2013 to make money for Child's Play. He has been basically playing games since the 1980's in one form or another. His very first favorite video game was actually an arcade game called Dig Dug. He has played every generation of video game console (including the Magnavox Odyssey)