Skip to main content

By The Way, CRAFT THE WORLD

After the disappointment that was X Rebirth, I really needed some game to restore my faith that somebody out there knows how to make a good game.  As usual, respite came not from a company whose triple-A game budgets meant they were desperate to invent some art-ruining methodology to recoup their investment.  Instead, it came from an indy development house that kept their belts tightened and just banked on just making something good.

You don't get much more humble than Dekovir Entrertainment, whose previous games were the usual casual fare of solitaire, hidden object games, and so on.  These kinds of games do not attempt to reinvent the wheel; they just make a good-quality product by using known mechanics.  Normally, that's a formula I absolutely hate, because it just creates derivatives of games I'm already bored of.

Yet, something special happened when these developers turned to improving the established wheels of Terraria and Dwarf Fortress: theyembarked upon territory that actually is quite mysterious and not too heavily overused (though it's getting there) and their practiced eye for recognizing fundamental game mechanics then enabled them to make Craft The World, and the result is actually quite a bit better than the originals!
Craft The World's genetics would seem to be mostly steeped in Dwarf Fortress, right down to the focus of the game being about supervising dwarves.  Terraria is mentioned as an influence, but the only aspect I see if it here is in the side-perspective with parallax scrolling.  Dungeon Keeper is also mentioned in the Steam description of the game, but its resemblance is as fleeting here as it was for Dwarf Fortress.

This is a pretty ballsy accusation when leveled against games that shook the Internet: Terraria was based on the most profitable indy game ever made, Minecraft, while Dwarf Fortress remains a marvelous geek singularity.  Yet, it seems to me that one need to play Craft The World briefly to feel secure the conviction it's a genuinely better game than either.

To be fair, the developers of Minecraft and Dwarf Fortress were outnumbered, Craft the World was developed by a team of about six people that has several released products in different genres, and so it was a reasonably sure formula of success: take the general game flow methodology proven by Dwarf Fortress, present it as a two-dimensional, foreground-and-background-tile-based, side-perspective game with rudimentary fluid simulation (Terraria's shtick) and then utilize Dekovir Entertainment's professional developer expertise to realize this concept.
There's definitely no shortage of quality pixels to be seen in Craft The World, though you do not need to zoom in this far to notice them.
The quality of the work in Craft The World is evident even at face value: the dwarves, creatures, and even the environments all animate surprisingly fluidly, with a definite respect to characterization.  Yet, if this was simply a skin-deep thing, I would probably be lambasting this game as shallow garbage for players who were easily dazzled by pretty lights.  I'm not; Craft The World has a great focus on the game design, too.

At heart, this game is mostly Dwarf Fortress in focus: you assign tasks for a number of dwarves under your command to do, and they follow your orders.  The main goal is to survive while progressing the overall progress of your little dwarf civilization.  However, Craft The World adds a number of supporting gameplay mechanics, such as:
  • A timer that counts down the time until the next major siege of monsters is due to hit the stronghold  This reinforces a sense of suspense that you are up against the clock.
  • Your colony has an experience level.  Increasing that level rewards you with increased maximum dwarf capacity, more maximum mana, and sometimes bonus items.  Experience is primarily earned by defeating monsters and digging up precious ores.
  • A task diary that gives you about 4-6 things to do at any given time.  Completing a task awards bonus experience and sometimes free items.
  • An extensive "craft tree" of new technologies to unlock by completing the previous one on the tree.
By lacking these features, one could say that Dwarf Fortress might be a more effective storytelling medium, as it leaves the happenings more up to the players' imaginations.  However, I find improved game mechanics to be a worthy enough replacement.

As Craft the World currently stands, version 0.9.004 is an extremely polished product for an "Early Access Game," but it's not without issues to earn its, "Early Access" status:
  • It does occasionally crash.  Fortunately, automatic saves are in and being done frequently, so lost progress from crashes is fleeting.  
  • There's quite a bit of balance work to do.  Most crafted items provide a benefit that is not balanced against the resources that went into producing them.  Many of the monster encounters are too strong, often wiping out my poor fortress (but being a better player may help with that).  Mana currently seems to regenerate too slowly.
  • Some features are undocumented, such as controlling time with F1 (normal speed), F2 (two times normal speed), and F3 (three times normal speed).  Speeding up time is known to cause buggy behavior.
  • The crafting interface is somewhat Minecraft-based: there's a 3x3 grid that you drag items in your inventory to produce.  I find that to be an unnecessary step, I think the grid should load items automatically by default.
  • The artificial intelligence that drives dwarven behavior will likely continue to be a work in progress.  For the most part, they're rather intelligent about what they do, but they still have a number of strange hangups that may be frustrated in extended play.
  • A few features are not yet implemented.  One such feature is a store that looked to be manned by a particularly large green monster - currently, it perpetually has a "clozed" sign hung in front of it.  Another feature is additional maps besides the first "small" sized map.
Despite those flaws, I think Craft The World is fantastic, and a bargain at the $14.99 they're asking for it right now.  I've already got my hour-per-dollar out of it, and look forward to seeing the improvements the developers will add between now and release.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Sometimes, The Cat Skins You

The formula for cat girls is simple enough: young girls are cute, cats are cute, so young girls who are also cats are cute times two, right?  ... Cat Planet Cuties (a.k.a Asobi ni Iku yo) does not stop there, it includes girls with guns, nudifying weaponry, and even failed romantic comedy that shows lots of skin.  Cat's out of the bag: Cat Planet Cuties is basically straight up wish fulfillment.

The overall plot is pretty simple.  The Catians are a race so advanced that they have not changed in over 70,000 years.  They discover Earth, a planet whose people have uncanny resemblances, right down to speaking the same language!  Desiring an escape from their cultural stagnation, they rename their own planet from Earth to Catia and dispatch a scout to assess the viability of first contact with this new Earth inhabited by humans.  High jinks ensue.

Other than an excuse to see some fun sci-fi devices, the plot sucks. Let me count the ways:
Kio Kakazu - The male center of our harem, a 1…