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RimWorld: A Pre-Alpha Story – Part 1

By on October 15th, 2013 9:17 am

RimWorld - Sci-Fi Colonization with an AI Storyteller

It’s been just over a week since we announced a Kickstarter for the sci-fi colony simulation game, RimWorld. Since then, I’ve gotten some hands on time with an early pre-alpha build. When we talk about Kickstarter games, especially those with a still ongoing campaign, we are generally talking about very rough games.

A Polished Pre-Alpha

I’m pleased to say that RimWorld, even in this pre-alpha stage, is a pretty well polished game. Don’t get me wrong, it is most certainly not a finished game at this point. There is an overall lack of depth, lack of building selections, lack of event variety, etc. I also encountered a few bugs and some performance issues at times (low frame rate at one point). Overall the game plays very smoothly and in my opinion mainly just needs more content at this point. I spent about 10 hours with it, and I think I’ve seen about all it has to offer at this point. I do hope that in addition to the new art style and music, some of the Kickstarter money goes towards adding more content prior to release. I’d like to see some more sci-fi elements as well.

Let me explain a bit about why I feel RimWorld feels so polished. The UI is fully functional and very user-friendly with a plentiful amount of tooltips. It has a tutorial and notification system, and it really helps you keep track of what to do and what’s going on. You aren’t handheld through everything at this point, but it does provide hints and information to help guide you in the right direction For example, when you start a new colony, the game does its best to tell you what you’re going to need to survive, you know, things like a way to process food, a shelter, and power. If you start to run out of an item, or if someone is injured, or if someone is about to have a mental break down, the game warns you about that too.

I think RimWorld has set a nice example for other indie developers. If you want your Kickstarter campaign to do exceptionally well, and you aren’t a big name in the industry, this is the quality bar you want to reach for. The bottom line is that RimWorld is more fun to play than I expected out of an alpha, honestly.

About the Preview / Pre-Alpha Story

There were a lot of ways I could approach providing more information about RimWorld. I know a lot of you have already seen let’s play videos that explain a lot of the basics. So a preview breaking down the mechanics one by one was an option, but for this genre, and this particular game, a game focused on its AI storyteller, I felt like weaving a tale of my own using my latest game’s colony as a guide would be a fun and interesting approach. I’ve added some flavor text here and there, but nearly everything said in the diary below is present in the game and true. If you have any questions about a particular part, please let me know and I will clarify and confirm or correct. Also, I’m calling it a diary, but I want to make it clear that there is no diary system in the game. The diary format is my own creation. I’ve split this diary into two parts due to its length, so part 2 will follow in the not so distant future.

The Diary of Medina the Miner
A RimWorld Pre-Alpha Story
by colonist Medina and AI Randy Random

RimWorld - Sci-Fi Colonization with an AI Storyteller

Day 1 –
Hey there. This is Medina. I can’t remember why we’re here, but here we are. There’s three of us. Me, a guy named Holland, and a woman named Madden. We’ve had a busy first day after crash landing on this rock. Our first priority was to get some power going. I’d heard about some colonies being destroyed due to a reliance on solar power. If an eclipse comes in and your batteries run out, you’re colony’s going to end up in serious trouble. I decided to survey the land, and hoped I could find another source of power. Damn if we weren’t the luckiest colonist alive. Not far off I saw not one, but two geothermal vents. They were almost on top of each other. We were able to build two geothermal generators and a few batteries with the metal we’d landed with. That’s a lot of power, but we also built a solar panel just in case. I keep saying we built it, but I should clarify. Holland actually didn’t do anything. He grabbed a pistol and wandered around. To be honest I don’t think the guy is capable of much else. He was some kind of lord where he came from back home and doesn’t know how to get his hands dirty. Anyway, before the day was out, we also built a nutrient paste dispenser. It turns raw food into nutritious…paste. Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds…

Day 2 –
A female deep space miner named Osborn had landed on our rock, and as it turned out we needed some extra hands. Technically we already had six, but I already told you about Holland. Osborn had planned to just pass on through, but we couldn’t let that be an option. We threw together the smallest room we could along with a prisoner bed and a small light. We sent Holland to make the arrest and also assigned him warden duties. As it turns out he was good at one thing aside from fighting, and that was talking. He decided to play nice with our new prisoner and gain her trust.

RimWorld - Sci-Fi Colonization with an AI Storyteller

Day 7 –
It’s been about a week now and things are looking pretty good. Holland convinced Osborn to join us and Osborn has been contributing a great deal. We got a couple of rooms built and a couple of us got to actually sleep in real indoor beds. We also killed a couple of crazed critters. A psychotic Muffalo, one of the local wildlife, tried to attack us. We killed it not far from where we’ve been sleeping. The blood’s still on the ground. We’ve just not had time for cleaning just yet. We’ve scavenged as much food as we could, but we’ve got more mouths to feed and our food’s gotten scarce, so we started a small potato farm. We now had something worth protection too, so we built some defensive turrets and placed sandbag walls in front of them. I’d heard grenades could take out a turret if you didn’t protect them, so I hoped the sandbags would help with that if the time ever came.

RimWorld - Sci-Fi Colonization with an AI Storyteller

Day 10 –

Hey, Medina here again. So another new colonist, Ochoa, arrived and willingly joined us. We’ve continued our project to build up our perimeter defenses a bit more and we also added a second farming patch. It was just in time too, as we received word that some raiders had landed. Turned out to be a group of only 3. We were 5 strong with just 1 pistol to our name. We had turrets though, lots of them. By the end of the day, we were 5 and they were 0. Score one for the good guys, I guess. Some psychotic squirrels tried to rain on our parade as well, but we put them down too.

RimWorld - Sci-Fi Colonization with an AI Storyteller

Day 11 –
Bloody doesn’t even begin to describe things. We are literally sleeping in blood. Food’s growing, thanks in good part to the sun lights we installed to let them grow through the night, but it’s still slow going. Some of the colonists have taken to eating raw food now, like animals, and it’s hurting morale. At least we’ve been eating though. Were in not for the comm station we’d recent constructed, we wouldn’t have even known about the farming ship nearby. We were able hail to them and paid for some food to be dropped down to us. Food issues aside, we just found out we’ve got 6 more raiders on the horizon. We don’t have much time to prepare, and things are not going so well. I think Ochoa is on the brink of a breakdown. She’s seen too many dead people, and has spent hours mining in the dark. I have to think it can’t be helping her mental state. Well, nobody said colony life was going to be easy.

RimWorld - Sci-Fi Colonization with an AI Storyteller

Day 12 –
Well, we passed our first real challenge. The raiders I mentioned, the dirty scoundrels, they attacked by night. We took down the raiders, but it wasn’t easy. We’d picked up some shotguns and pistols left behind by the raiders a few days back, so we were a little more prepared and it showed. We also had a new guy, an Oaf named George show up. He crash landed not far from our colony and he was in pretty rough shape. We took him in as a prisoner and told Holland to do his thing, the one thing he was good at.

RimWorld - Sci-Fi Colonization with an AI Storyteller

Day 14 –
A new colonist named Woodard showed up to join us, so we built her a new bedroom. We also arrested and imprisoned an assassin named Choi. Thankfully our food situation is finally turning around with our new crops finally coming in, otherwise these additional mouths to feed would be a bigger problem.

Day 17 –
Choi decided to join us. If you’re keeping track, that means we’re 7 strong now. George is with us too, but I’m not counting him just yet. He’s been here awhile, but so far he’s still resisting to join us. I’m sure he’ll come around. With 7 people, we felt it was it was time to start reassigning roles. It made sense. We had a range of abilities and we could start putting best man in place for each job. When we started evaluating, we discovered that Choi is pretty useless. He is even more useless than Holland, if you can believe that, ha. In a way, he’s just another mouth to feed. I did find out Choi is a crack shot though, and that may come in handy in the days to come. Hmm, what else have we had going on. We’ve had an eclipse for a couple of days now. Our decision to rely primarily on geothermal is paying off right now. I know I sleep better knowing our defense turrets are operational. I should also mention we’ve started researching some new technology. We’re a far cry from where we were just a week ago. We’re actually doing well enough for a few small luxuries, if you can believe that. Yeah, I think we’re going to just be fine after all.

PS. Did I mention we called our colony “Doomed”? Ha, someone thought it’d be funny, but I’m not sure I agree.

RimWorld - Sci-Fi Colonization with an AI Storyteller

I hope you’ve enjoyed the diary so far. Expect part 2, the conclusion, in the days to come!

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  1. David Carron says:

    I must say that the most impressive thing about the Kickstarter was his restraint. He created a solid design and concept with a fair amount of polish before asking for a cent. He also has resisted making blot goals and stuck to his ideas. He has a few gold nuggets of ideas that he is refining and not weighing down the story with fluff.

    I suspect that this game will make for some very pleased gamers. Assuredly it will not be everyone’s cup of tea. But if folks are half as fervent for this as Dwarf Fortress or Minecraft then I suspect that he will have a great future.

    • Keith Turner says:

      I agree with you. I’ve been impressed with the campaign so far. No lofty promises that seem impossible given the budget and man hours available. I feel as though the game is heading in the right direction.

  2. Gunlord says:

    Quite an amusing little story you’ve made here. I hope Medina and her fellow colonists make it through alright XD

  3. Adam Solo says:

    It certainly is a good story. Loved Medina’s personality. You have a way with words Keith. Keep those AARs/stories coming!

  4. Ridon says:

    looks really nice.. i love Dwarf Fortress.. hopefully this game will have a similar deep gameplay :)

  5. eleazar says:

    I’m a big fan of Minecraft. I’m interested in a game that goes *some* of the way towards Dwarf Fortress, without jumping off the cliff of pointless complexity and horrible UI. I’m aware of Maia, but this one intrigues me more.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Hi eleazar. I’ll be covering Maia as well, so keep an eye out for more coverage on that in the weeks/months to come. I think both games will end up being quite different gameplay wise, but we’ll see!

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