Craft the World, Dwarven Shenanigans

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Dwarfs have always been the fantasy race I love the most.  Long friends, strong hearts and a love of drink and mead!  And this title is full of all the best parts.  Battle bad guys, collect gold, dig mines and build to your heart’s content.  This cartoony game will keep you crafting to the last!  Another title in early access, yes, but it is a good time!

I’ve already placed time into previous plays in this game, but with its recent updates I feel it’s nearing a completed state and deserving of discussion.  The first couple times I played it, I was quickly diced to ribbons, so I recommend restarting until you have a little bit of an elevated platform above your surroundings.  Trust me, when night falls you will be glad you did!  Upon start up, you have one dwarf that warps in through a portal, proving they are descendants of an alien race.  You cannot move your stockpile nor your portal, hence the restart need to relocate your spawn.  Once you have a suitable location, you just follow prompts and missions.  These missions give you exp points, which help you to work toward levels.  At each level, your holdfast gets another citizen, but be careful to keep them alive.

Your dwarfs do everything from mining and building to fighting and fishing.  They gather resources, too, but you have to deliver all their orders yourself, making this a fairly active title.  As you gather resources, you’ll get missions to start crafting things, and making new items is always a good idea.  That’s how you’ll get armor and weapons!  You also level up to get a smithy for advanced projects, furniture and building pieces.  With these you can make some nifty living quarters for your dwarfs.  One of your early missions also grants you with this bearded totem-face.  That is what tells you how good their standard of living is, which is bullshit since the bastards are demanding as fuck!  They need all stone walls and secured doors, hand-carven beds and the finest food cooked in the finest kitchen.  But they build it all themselves (albeit under your strict direction), so I guess they deserve the satisfaction.

Creepy wall face watches you sleep.

Creepy wall face watches you sleep.

As you can see, you won’t be starting off with five-star accommodations, but you work up to it.  This fancy hole-in-the-ground establishment took a good hour in real life, a couple days in game, to create.  But you really don’t get much time to wallow in the luxury of mud-lain floors.  Soo enough you get to deal with all kinds of assholes.  Actually, every night a parade of skeletons and zombies come walking toward you, since dwarf is apparently a pungent and delicious dish, and bust your door down!  Not to mention ghosts start swarming all over your stockpile, and if you leave the stuff out too long, it get stolen by goblins.  Yup!  Little green shits, too!  At some point after the third or fourth day, you’ll have a tribe of goblins spring up nearby, and where the skeletons use their shields to boost each other over terrain, goblins build ugly little stick platforms.  So, it is in your best interest to build weapons and armor as quickly as you can.

In order to get all the materials necessary to move away from beating your enemies with logs while wearing lumber-plated chest armor, you need metal.  Sure, you might have to buy some materials from the Ogre Store to grease the wheels at the start, but coin is not easy to come by, so it’s not the best long-term strategy.  Dig deep and you’ll find nice-sized deposits of iron, gold, silver and even mithril!  If that gives you a bearded little chubby, then you’re playing the right game.  This one is all about getting materials and making shit with ’em.  Of course, it’s not all gold, gems and berry sprinkles.  Leave a mineshaft abandoned without lighting, you’ll find it over grown with snapping plant-life.  Or maybe you’ll unwittingly spawn on top of a colony of psychotic fire-ants with a taste for leathery dwarf-flesh!

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No, seriously, that shit happened to me!

You may also have noticed the skeleton timer up there, too.  When that timer runs out after a good 45 minutes, all hell breaks loose.  Alongside whatever other nocturnal terrors you cope with regularly, hell sends a warming party to drag you down into the pits of fire with them.  Often a boss will come through, too.  And walling off that side of your home won’t do shit, either.  They’ll knock down doors, tear apart your ground-hatch; shit, they’ll dig through a stone wall to get at your sweet sweet dwarf meat.  So the only recourse is to forge your way to victory.  The above images, by the way.  Those are from the first world in the campaign mode, and it’s on an easy difficulty.  I have yet to get past it, but I am sure the next realm isn’t exactly a picnic in happy-land.

Along the bottom of your screen is the hotbar.  You’ll be placing furniture, door, torches etc. out of this tray.  Equip is how you get your dwarfs to wear their armor (as if the marching onslaught of demons wasn’t all too inspiring) and craft is where you craft.  The crafting menu is pretty minecraft-esque, and you drop materials into various coordinations to assemble pickaxes, maces and everything else you can’t dig out of the ground.  Of course, you just have to click on items in your stockpile to learn how to make them.  Of course, blueprints of new items will appear in there depending on how far through the crafting tree you progress.  Technological advances are separated into various types, typically designated by the primary material used to make the items.  Moving up through the tree lets you go from sleeping on a bed of leaves to lodgings fit for a king.  Not to mention increasing dwarf inventory size with back packs, making better foods to keep them fueled longer and healing them faster when they go to sleep.  Aside from just the inventory size, each dwarf can learn different skills related to dwarf tasks.  cooking, logging, climbing, swimming, hunting; you name it, there is probably a book about it.  If there were female dwarfs, I might be scared what other books might get dropped.  Good thing each dwarf is cloned by our alien gods.

Of course this is a developer manor, but I don't have all the time in the world to dig stone.  That shit is heavy!

Of course this is a developer manor, but I don’t have all the time in the world to dig stone. That shit is heavy!

Good for a return game after you get bored with a title you’ve been waiting to play for a year and a half, this one is always a good time.  It gets a little frustrating at times, but the message is always the same: this is all about a good time and freedom.  And after you build as far as you can?  Just move on to the next world.  Face greater challenges, fry bigger fish, make bigger castles.  Whatever your cup ‘o’ tea, just make sure you defend the little dwarfs, cause as stinky as I imagine they are (you sure as fuck can’t build a bathtub) listening to their shrieks and watching their ghosts drift away is a little heart-breaking.  Especially after you spend all that time and randomly-dropped occupation books to customize each dwarf.  And for only 15$ on Steam, you can have your very own dwarf colony.

Many things bring forth my ire, and in this the little shit gets annoying.  The dwarfs are like the ones from Lord of the Rings with a touch of Snow White’s infamous seven.  These guys can make some bitchin’ armor and weapons, but as cool as they look, they sound like adorable, dirty, stinky teddy bears.  Seriously.  They say ‘ow’ when they fall down from climbing trees.  They grumble and bumble and talk in Sims-style chat bubbles.  But that’s ok.  Just wait until it’s night and they’re asleep.  They’ll learn why Maxis won’t let me play the Sims anymore.  Just wall off the exits and put tapestries over the firepits and voila!  Instant dwarf roast!  Of course, even if fire mechanics in this game were advanced enough to do that, they would be the ones placing all the tapestries and walling themselves in like kool-aide sipping cultists complicit with the totem-god in their own mass suicide.  O, well.  You can’t torture all helpless little creatures under your command.

Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville, Post-Apocalypse Mayorship

RebuildlogoEver wondered what it would be like to take the place of Rick Grimes or the Governor?  How would you run things differently? What policies would your band of survivors have to get accustomed to?  Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville is a series that allows you to decide just that.  Lead your rag-tag band of survivors to take back the city from the dead.  Fight the ravenous hordes, train your people in various skills and work to bring back the world of the living amidst the hordes of undead.

Developed across two previous titles by Northway Games, Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville is a title that I have been following for a couple years now.  This latest incarnation is by far the cleanest version of the game, but because it is an early-access title, it is not without its issues. So don’t say you weren’t warned.  Where previous games, available in browser or on iOS platforms, drove for a more serious tone with a soundtrack out of a horror movie, Gangs feels more like a video game.  Rather than the realistic portrayals of survivors featured in Rebuild and Rebuild 2, Gangs uses vector graphics to portray its heroes.  Personally, this makes it a lot easier to detach myself from them.  If Rico Simms goes out for food and comes back holding his intestines, I will be more likely to just bury a hatchet in his head.  No worries.  That guy was annoying anyway.  Though the characters are now a little more toony, this has allowed the developers to make the town itself look altogether better.  Where before you had some simple doodles, now you have a more detailed and gritty map.  Granted, sometimes the map feels more like a page out of “Where’s Waldo?” but that makes it fun and slightly nostalgic to pan the view and looks at your surroundings.  One more major add-in for the city itself in Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville were rivers and coastlines.  This way you can reimagine that famous trailer for another run-of-the-mill zombie-smashing RPG at E3 2014.  Did you like this map? Good.  Save the seed and you can regenerate it every time you play or take a random seed for endlessly replayable apocalypse action.

From dismal winter to decrepit post-apocalypse, the styles really inspire the creeping depression of being the last people on Earth.

From dismal winter to decrepit post-apocalypse, the styles really inspire the creeping depression of being the last people on Earth.

Gangs of Deadsville also features other players.  In Rebuild 2 you had the possibility of running into a gang called The Last Judgement Gang.  They would frequently harass the colony, attack, steal food and generally provide villains for the player.  As your colony grows, it eventually becomes evident that you have to deal with them, and this culminates in a final showdown of epic proportions.  In Gangs, you get to deal with other factions.  As of yet, the only interaction I’ve had was with this russian guy named Gustav.  He always comes by and tries to get my people to gamble away precious resources, buy hookers and accept food loans.  That guy is more of an annoyance, really, but if you piss them off enough, their faction comes crashing in guns-blazing.  This isn’t the only other faction, but it is the only one I have met so far.  You can also run into enemy NPC colonies that basically end up battling you for dominance.  Instead of having a typical cut-and-dried enemy, now you have a real us vs. them feeling with a battle for survival with a group of people you might have been best buddies with in another life.

When I started Gangs of Deadsville, I was given the standard options: make a character, pick a profession set town parameters.  As I clicked through the random name generator, I noticed a few fun monikers I might take on.  Among them were Johnny Dangerously, Arma Geddon and James Tyberius  Kirk.  Clearly the character I was concocting was a man of honor.  As if that didn’t make it obvious enough, the selection of former occupations is spectacular: politician, Police Officer and Doctor are fairly well coveted in the real world, but more realistically, you can choose to play as a Retiree or a Shop Clerk.  Each occupation starts your leader off with an item and a bonus quality, which makes them unique.  Being clever and dashing, I chose the Shop Clerk occupation, which made scavenging easier and got me better deals when bartering and trading.  And of course, started me off with the tool most favored by shop clerks worldwide: a crowbar.  I would have pick a backpack or a flashlight, but shop clerk comes with a crowbar.  I mean, I am not disputing the realism of a game where you spend your time fighting zombies, but every self-respecting gamer knows that the crowbar is default weapon of the scientist.  Jeez.

Reminds me of where my in-laws live minus the mindless, brain-eating hordes.. but then again, they do live in Jersey...

Reminds me of where my in-laws live minus the mindless, brain-eating hordes.. but then again, they do live in Jersey…

Each survivor has their own story involving things ranging from baking and homelessness to gardening and shoulder-lizards.  As your people level you will choose news perks for them, skill enhancements, equipment etc.  Equipment becomes important, too.  While your main source of food should start off angled toward farming, you will still need to avidly scavenge for weapons, tools, ammo, fuel, building materials and an array of other goods that are hard to come by and expensive to purchase.  And with other factions and colonies searching for the same goods, you need to move fast.

But dedicating your people to one set of tasks constantly will leave other areas of your colony neglected.  There are 5 classifications that survivors fall into: defender (red), leader(blue), builder(green), scavenger(yellow) and engineers (purple).  Each of them play an integral role in the sustenance, expansion and strength of your colony.  Sure, everyone likes to kill zombies, but not all your survivors are good at it.  Send a builder out with a hammer to kill zombies, and he can get small groups, but as the numbers of walking dead rise, they will only be able to support the real fighters.  Likewise, an engineer might be able to lend a hand with manpower when expanding the colony into new sectors of the environs, but he is much better suited in a laboratory.  This is where the leader of the town comes in handy.  Sure, you might be a shop clerk, but you are a special shop clerk.  You are able to use your leader for any task and level him up in all skills, while your other survivors only level in their specific skills.  Of course, that makes it so that you are the only non-drone in a colony of ants, but as long as you address them with titles and call them specialists, they shouldn’t rise up in revolt.  I mean, doesn’t “Rage Specialist” sound so much better than “instrument of my own vengeance and violent will”?  Yea, I know, has a sort of ‘I respect your autonomy and special snowflake-ness despite the fact I control your every action’ feel to it.  Just what you need in a leader of men and women.

Cause you also need to keep those fuckers in high spirits, too.  Now the aforementioned hiring of hookers is a good way but costs food and the dignity of many people involved.  A better option is to renovate a nearby bar or church and let your people spend time there.  They can also do ‘time off’ missions in their quarters, but hanging out in a run-down apartment complex is only fun to a point.  There is more to life than seeing how many birds you can hit with your spit from above. Trust me.  Another neat feature of this game are the random events.  People show up at your gates, animals might attack, someone might find a fucking raccoon in the goddamn shed.  Whatever, the odd-ball and.. uh.. RANDOM fucking nature of these events adds a tangential factor to the game, making it feel like it takes place in a real and changing world.

Now, there are zombies in this game.  Did I mention that? Ok, good. Pay the fuck attention.  Now, when the game starts you have a few straggling zed-heads, which are easily dispatched by your survivors, builders, scientists, defenders alike.  But as you progress, your people, who presumably haven’t showered since the fall of modern civilization and can be smelled in the next state over, attract zombies like North Koreans to a bulgogi buffet.  Thus, the zombies start to shamble toward you in ever-growing numbers like the rotting parade of stank-sniffing gut-munchers they are.  This means you need to seriously amp up your game if you don’t want to end up as fertilizer.  Zombies aren’t the only way to die, though.  Go ahead, rely on scavenging as your main food source.  Your people will die THE DAY AFTER YOUR FOOD RUNS OUT!  And your people might die on a mission, get caught up in a random event or just catch a mother fucking fever.  Still more neat mechanics exist, like the ability to switch between real-time and turn-based strategy.  Seriously, the problem is choice!  So reach out, expand your reach and get that technology research moving!  Did I miss that too?

So as you expand you will encounter labs and drive-in movie theatres and other neat shit.  Now, you could ignore the messages and subtle hints, but as you move your game along, you can even get technology up and going again.  Like, refrigeration, movies, PORN!  Christ’s sake PORN man!  Is there a more noble cause to reach back into the annals of knowledge left by the ancients?!  O, yea, there is also the ability farm more efficiently, build better walls, kill zombies more effectively, but shit, man, who doesn’t like to watch other people fuck on film?  It’s purely for research.. and morale.. and stress relief.. or something..

All-in-all, this game allows you to live the fantasy of leading people to salvation through a gurgling masses of horrifying flesh-suckers, and Sarah, the developer, has done everything to make this a title worth your time and money.  The best part is that the game is still coming out with more content.  I mean, that is good news to me!  It means that if the game’s state bothers you, come back to it in a few weeks and there should be another update to explore.

"You, there!  Peasant!  Throw yourself in front of those zedheads so I can escape." You'll miss the days of just 'tripping the fat guy'

It says “kill 5.651153016444607 massed zombies”.  Documentation of the last fucking time I ever let the engineering team go on defensive maneuvers.

Above you will see an excessively accurate detail of how many massed zombies those guys were fighting.  Evidence of the only thing that truly angers me about this game.  Bugs.  Of course, this is a PRE-RELEASE title available on Steam through the combined auspices of Steam Greenlight and Kickstarter.  But that does not make it any less fucking frustrating when you have a memory error appear on your screen after about an hour and a half of non-stop gameplay.  I mean I can’t even fucking binge-playon my favorite goddamn game!  If I want to waste HOURS of my fucking time murdering zombies and micro-managing my people’s lives, I want it to be uninterrupted by binge-halting errors.  The base game is $14.99, but fuck that.  Don’t do that to yourself.  You WILL love this title.  Just spring for the extra 10$ and get the deluxe edition.  You can even download that AFTER you decide whether you like the base game or not as it is listed as DLC!  This DLC will bring you some neat art and such later, but will also grant purchasers 5 extra professions, each with their own unique item.  So, you’ll be cursed with more fucking choices!  And if you’re into that whole ‘instant-gratification’ thing, the DLC ‘deluxe’ version will also give you Rebuild 1 and Rebuild 2 in all their formerly browser-embedded glory.  That way you can formulate your strategies on the earlier (but by no means easier) games.  So go on Steam, and throw 24.99$ at getting this title moving.  Its end state will be a title to make Sid Meier jealous.  I mean, seriously, that guy is probably like making a title called Sid Meier’s Zombies! Too late, ya bastard! Too fucking late!

You can find more from Northway Games here, follow the development of the Rebuild Series here and check out another title by this development family here.

Rust, Naked and Scared Shitless

Rust

 

Garry Newman, the same person at fault for Garry’s mod, is the brains behind Rust, another in the line of games that wish they were Minecraft.  But where in Minecraft there is some sense of decency and still an air of fun for fun’s sake, Rust plunges you naked and screaming into a world that suffers from griefer syndrome.  Before I go off on the playerbase, the game itself is actually quite fun, for a pre-release.

First, you start naked, and who doesn’t like to be naked.  At least it is fun until the sun goes down, then you realize what this game is all about.  If a game about digging in the ground and building is called Minecraft, a more appropriate name for Rust might be Mancraft.  Aside from a free-flailing dangle-down, your inventory includes a rock, a torch and some bandages.  Of course, the bandages don’t heal you, just stop bleeding.  So when you are randomly spawned and an asshole with a fucking pistol chases after you shooting for kicks, your best defense is to fucking run for cover.  I recommend loosing him among rocks, but he’ll still get you with a shot or two.  The bandages help there.   So once it gets dark, you’ll say “Good thing Garry gave me this torch!” but that shit is like herpes, keep it to yourself or someone will cut your dick off.  Take out that torch, O, naked wonder of human deduction, in the middle of nowhere in pitch darkness and what do you become?  A blazing goddamn beacon of newb-dom.  If you have the presence of mind to try gathering resources upon being thrust into a new world, as nearly no one fucking does, you might have some resources, and that is all the reason most people have to cut you open.  For the rocks you were keeping in your bunghole.

So, it should come as no surprise that God’s own multi-tool, a fucking rock, is the most useful thing you begin the game with.  By all means, swinging this rock becomes a sort of divine experimentation when you begin as you try to gain resources.  Look in your crafting section and you might see things you can make and things you need to make them.  Rocks and wood are among the most necessary base materials.  Now, for wood you just hit the rock on trees.  If you find a wood pile, even better.  But when I was looking for rocks, I felt like Christopher fucking Columbus exploring the Atlantic ocean: lost as a cumshot in a snowstorm.  There are TONS of fucking rocks around, especially near the mountains, so you might try harvesting them.  Those are, however, scenery and you are running out of time.  So it is a rock-bashing experiment until you realize which rocks you need.

Do you really need to ask me how it's hanging?

Do you really need to ask me how it’s hanging?

So, if by some fluke of merciless fate you spawn during the day time and you were blessed with ample time to figure all this out and get the necessary resources, you might just be able to survive.  Did you go looking for food too? O, yea, forgot to mention that.  You have a hunger bar that depletes over time, and the more active you are, the faster it goes down.  So that shit goes down but fast when you start just about fucking anywhere naked.  Basically, unless you lay your ass down and prepare for death, your health bar depletes faster than you realize.  Now aside from the locations where prepared food can be found (and those are usually camped by tuna-eating lunatics with hatchets hoping for the last chocolate bar on Earth) you have to take that rock, which is a more reliable inanimate best friend at this point than the companion cube, and chase down chickens, pigs or deer.  Should you be the asshole undaunted by the challenge of running around in the open naked whacking deer with a rock, you find the reward is… chicken.  Wait, what?  Yes, everything you kill provides, for the moment, little, raw chicken cutlets.  Eat up! And promptly spew your guts out, because somebody just had to make it realistic and give you salmonella poisoning!  I swear to god, people – including me – are paying money for this.  So, once you have your materials and chicken, you can build a little campfire and get cooking.  It’s a good thing they didn’t include stomach grumbling noises for all the players on the island or it would sound like you were constantly being stalked by ninja whales.

By this time, it is likely the middle of the night and you have died at least three times.  Aside from hunger and salmonella, which is shown above by the green health bar, you will get cold.  At the time being, campfires are the only thing that can warm you up with torches and furnaces expected to do this as well in later updates.  At night is when the scary things come out.  During the day you have bears and wolves to contend with.  Originally it was zombies, but the devs thought this enemy was just too played out.  So they went the realistic route and make it so that you have to outrun bears and wolves that will maul you to death, slobbering over the idea of gnawing on your femurs.  The scary things I am referring to are the other players.  And these assholes are relentless.  I have played a number of servers that advertise their friendliness to noobs and ‘outlaw’ the killing of nakeds.  This just amounts to bandits not killing you on sight every time.  Sometimes they will see you, follow you a bit and then kill you.  And I have run into groups of players that rove and hunt noobs and still others that just kill whoever they feel like at that moment.  It’s like a page out of The Lord of Flies without the little boys.  That would end in rape, given the mentality you’ll regularly see.

But that really is the fun of the game.  That and building houses out of foundation and wall segments.  You can customize your own little mansion on a mountain, craft a rifle and start taking potshots at people wandering by.  You’ll probably be killed by someone doing just that during your first days.  Survival against all odds.  Every once in a while, as if the game wasn’t brutal enough, an airplane flies by and performs an airdrop.  This makes me laugh.  It’s as if civilization knows were here and, not only do they not care, but they are throwing finite amounts of supplies down at us and watching the battles ensue.  Did I mention areas are randomly irradiated? Yep, usually around where there is pre-packaged food.

just wait 'till I build an RPG launcher, you smug sons-of-bitches.

just wait ’till I build an RPG launcher, you smug sons-of-bitches.

So what pisses me off the most in this game?  Aside from everything else in this game that makes no fucking sense ever again, one thing that stands out are the visuals.  They developers put a lot of time and effort into making the game pretty.  The trees are variegated enough that you feel like you are in a  forest.  The grasses look like fields of gently-waving grass.  I mean, everything looks very very nice, so you get that ‘beauty of nature’ fix before dying a brutal death at the hands of almost anything within sight-range.  It’s like somewhere above the trees you can hear a melody soft and sweet that is clipped short by the gunshot travelling through your skull.  One of the most frustrating things about the game is that it is multi-player only.  You have to go find a server and deal with it.  There is no ‘remember your first game of Rust’ discussions on the Rust forums.  That shit reads like  a PTSD support group.  The benefit, however, is that all servers are using the same map.  No procedurally generated randomness to contend with here, so if you find a great place to build your house, you can fight over the same beachfront property with other people on another server.  Ain’t life grand?

Can you spot the socio-pathic, hatchet-weilding psycho?

Can you spot the sociopathic, hatchet-weilding psycho?

All-in-all, it’s definitely worth playing, especially for the $20 asking price on Steam.  It’s a bit of a niched game that caters to the “minecraft isn’t realistic enough about survival” crowd.  Weird that such a deranged genre would arise from such a harmless source material.  Well, as harmless as any source-material where zombies chew on your bones at night.