Greenlight Towns

Towns is one of the first 9 games to be ‘greenlit’ on steams new Greenlight Service.  This is amazing!  It is right up there with Project Zombiod, and Black Mesa.  This did not take long considering the game was posted to Greenlight on Aug 30, 2012 @ 2:27pm.  Congradulations Xavi!

It would be helpful if Greenlight also recorded the date the game was ‘greenlit’.  Is that a word we can use?  ‘Greenlit’?

Scrumbleship; more then Minecraft in space. Hopefully.

Minecraft is an inspiration for just about everyone who wants to design games. Everything from straight up copies to ‘inspired by’ titles are popping up all the time. There are plenty of not so interesting clones… cough Yogventures, cough. (Which feels more like a retaliation then a game).  But there are some equally fantastic projects such as Towns and now Scrumbleship. Check below the jump for an introduction to the Scrumbleship kickstarter and game.

In one overly simplified sentence: Scrumbleship is basically Minecraft in space, at the moment. The goals of the developer are to take those concepts much farther. With all the CO2 scrubbers, Engine Parts, and jump gates you might expect. Standard scifi tropes are present: Lasers, missiles and biological carapace hulls. With promises of asteroid mining, enemy ship raiding, and clones aplenty. The sci fi elements are nicely balanced with a hefty dose of real world physics. Scrumbleship has a great balance between fun and verisimilitude.

If successful this game could give Mojang and 0x10c a run for their money. But success is far from certain. The goals in the kickstarter are ambitious and it will be interesting to see if the games creator can pull them all off.

  • Persistent open world multi-player
  • Asteroid mining
  • Simulated collisions, hull strain, and deformation.
  • An AI crew that mines, builds and fights for you
  • Organic ships that need food and can heal damage
  • Many fun Ship weapons
Right now in the demo the blocks are pretty static, while these goals necessitate mobility and the blocks being able to work together coherently. Based my very limited knowledge of most voxel based game engines it’s hard to understand how all that is going to come together… But then perhaps Minecraft’s static nature simply makes it seem difficult to bring cohesion to a bunch of disparate blocks. [Update: Dirkson alters the existing paradigm in my brain, and blows my mind!]
Currently the demo is free to download and play with. You get more of a building toy then a game in it’s current form. It is, however, a nice incentive and a great proof of concept.  The demo proves the kickstarter is worth supporting. They already have something to show for contributions, and are quite a ways toward making their ideas work. Other kickstarters take note, this is how to run a campaign well.

The business model also closely follows Minecraft with a twist. Alpha version is currently on sale and has been for a couple months. As revealed in an interview with the games creator, the Kickstarter is really for getting the word out. They are requesting $8000, and are half way there with 18 more days to go. That is not a lot of cash to ask for and smart considering the game is on sale as well.  Particularly for something that has potential. All in all this is a well run campaign, with clear goals, realistic dollar amounts, proof that the project is underway, and rewards which should not be insurmountable for them to produce.

As of writing this I have not backed this game although I would really like to. When one is unemployed supporting kickstarters is not a wise idea. But maybe some kind folks out there can supply some more funds to support the dream, because it’s an exciting dream. There is a lot to learn here about creating a game, publishing it, and honestly interacting with the community. Good job Dirkson!

[Update 1]: 16 days, $2418 till goal.
[Update 2]: as of 10/6/2012 pledges are at $6,792 with 11 days to go.

Another look at Towns

This past year has been pretty busy for me; unemployment, employment that has caused me to close the blog, the job search.  It means that I haven’t been following games over this past year.  It is nice to see that Towns is still being worked on, and that it’s still improving.  If you like Minecraft and or Dwarf Fortress this is a game to keep your eyes on!

Towns was a very different game a year ago.  It was an RTS/Town Management game almost exclusively.  It was the foundation and framework for something compelling.  Dwarven Fortress like, but not a clone.  It could, very easily, have gone the way of a hack and slash RPG.

Instead the developer is going in a direction that I like very much.  Telling the tale of the unsung hero’s of the gaming world.  The Towns.  The shopkeepers and blacksmiths that supply great adventures.  The economy that exists around the ‘Hero’.  A focus on what is classically a ‘side story’ in most games.

This is a great idea, and it is really excited to see the implementation.  The game seems popular on Steam Greenlight, go and give them a plus.  But don’t stop there.  Go directly to the Towns website and support the developer!  Buy a copy of the game, play through the tutorials.  They have pledged that anyone who buys the game now will get a free steam key.  So there is very little downside to giving the early version a try.

On the business side they appear to be taking a page from the Book of Mojang.  Purchasing now means owning the game forever at a reduced price.  This is a great strategy that gets early adopters a price break, funds the development of the game, and builds a player base.  Then as polish to the game is added, Beta players have to pay a bit more.  Late adopters pay the full retail price.  It worked well for Mojang, will it work for Towns?


How do you review a game that is not completed yet?  You don’t. Fortunately this isn’t really a review it’s a heads up to my readers.  Towns is a neat game, in the vein of Dwarven Fortress, but easier to understand.  The game is graphic, instead of text based and very basic at the moment.  Currently a city builder/management rts game, but who knows where it will go in the future.

Xavi Canal is making this game, which is progressing nicely, and is a really approachable guy.  Check out his blog, at the moment he has time to reply to comments, questions and requests for help.  New features are appearing in each build.  This is a great solution for folks who attempt to play Dwarven Fortress but just can’t get into it.  I’ve tried a number of times to play DF, with mods which make the game easier, to no avail.  I just can’t get into it.  Towns fills a niche within a niche.

Check out the Let’s Play series on Youtube.  Or learn a bit more about town layout.  For the full playlist of uploaded videos go here.

I’m curious to see where Towns goes, and what it becomes.  Will the game be inherently less intricate than DF because it’s based on graphics?  Will it be a nice compromise for folks who just can’t get into DF?  Will this game follow the same business model of Minecraft?  Will it have the same underground following of developers as Dwarven Fortress?  Only time will tell.  I am however very interested in seeing how things play out.