Monday, October 14, 2013

The Watchlist: RimWorld

Title: RimWorld
Developer: Ludeon Studios
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
Releasing 2014
Day 7 dawns. The harvest is going well, we should have enough food to sell soon...Out of nowhere, my autoturrets open fire. It's a lone guy...After a couple of solid hits, the stranger collapses. I hastily construct a prison cell, and start nursing him back to health with a view to recruit him...While my warden plies him with food and words, my scientist goes to work on improving food yield. 
Day 8, the harvest is complete, and Archer has agreed to join our little world! He's a trained soldier, so I gear him up with the rifle and put him on construction detail. It's high time we split the dormitory into individual bedrooms. Things are looking up again! Midway through construction, pirates land and start planning an attack. There are only two of them, against my three turrets and a soldier. Easy, let them come...
That story is just one of many from the RimWorld forums, one out of endless possibilities in this sci-fi survival simulator. The premise is simple - "RimWorld follows three survivors from a crashed space liner as they build a colony on a frontier world at the rim of the galaxy" - but the depth and emergent narrative promises to make RimWorld an indie to keep an eye on.
Disregard the Prison Architect-esque visuals for now; developer Tynan Sylvester plans to hire an artist to design an unique art style for the game. What matters is the gameplay and RimWorld plans to deliver a deep expansive simulator inspired by the show Firefly, Dwarf Fortress, and the Revelation Space series. The story may always start in the same general fashion, as your three colonists find themselves on a hostile alien world, but your narrative can go down myriad paths. Fend off pirates and raiders, trade with passing merchants for much needed supplies, research new power sources, maintain crops, take prisoners, recruit new survivors, train them to be soldiers, deal with lightning storms, starvation, rampaging wildlife, fires, insanity, corpse disposal, and more. Thanks to different AI storytellers (which work similarly to Left 4 Dead's Director), the game can craft a diverse variety of random events and occurrences to challenge your growing colony.
RimWorld's gameplay is twofold. You have the colony building simulator, where you must worry about the daily maintenance of your group and their mental health, but when your colony is attacked, RimWorld reveals its other facet: tactical combat. Your defenses such as walls and turrets may keep pirates and other enemies at bay, but when a firefight is unavoidable, you can give your drafted colonists orders to fight. Flanking, taking cover, weapon stats, lighting, line of sight, angles of fire, and other factors all must be considered. And due to RimWorld's unique world, your battles could involve everything from primitive bow and arrows to modern firearms and advanced teleportation devices.
RimWorld is only available as a closed alpha for the moment, but pre-alpha builds and later a public alpha will be available once its Kickstarter is completed. While the game already offers a great deal of mechanics and strategic depth, even more prospective features are planned, including more biomes, the ability to develop relationships with factions or between colonists, religion, archaeology, and modding. You can support the game on its official site or Kickstarter and vote for RimWorld on Steam Greenlight.

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