“Synonymy is a non-profit, educational word game narrated by Richard Dawkins in which players are challenged to find the paths between random words through their network of synonyms. By taking the synonym of a word, and then a synonym of that synonym, and so on, you can ultimately arrive at any other word in the English language.”
It is rare when I’m impressed by a word game, and I love word games. The Steam demo is also a good example of a tastefully crafted demo, so please take note.
Winter is here, and with it the next release of Tarn Adams’ Dwarf Fortress has arrived.
Dwarf Fortress 0.42.01 continues to build upon the “living world” features added in last year’s major release, allowing players even more interaction with the larger world outside their fort (or lone adventurer). Troupes, mercenaries, refugees, scholars, and more will now visit your fort. Social interaction will also play a larger role so inns, taverns, and temples have been introduced as social areas. Libraries have also been added for more bookish individuals, collecting the various written works and technological advancements of the world.
To aid in the new mingling scene, the inhabitants of your world will now compose poetry, music, and dance forms. While these are currently only described in text, the Dwarf Fortress community has already begun to provide some fantastic real-world interpretations from those descriptions (Listen:The Superior Rampart; Listen:The Grasping Oaks). Of course, these features are also available in the game’s Adventure Mode. Rather than running a fort, players can instead lead a performing troupe on a world tour!
For a more complete changelog, and to download the latest version of Dwarf Fortress, head on over to Bay 12 Games.
Version 1.0 of Kerbal Space Program, the premier game from independent Mexican studio Squad, has achieved liftoff.
Kerbal Space Program has been under development now for over four years, and this final update before leaving Early Access brings with it some of the most requested features yet. The aerodynamics model has been completely overhauled, making atmospheric flight more realistic – and more challenging, with the addition of re-entry heat. Additionally, interplanetary prospecting and off-world mining have also been added, allowing players to establish mining colonies to gather and process the mysterious “ore” into fuel. And the kerbals that will be stationed on those colonies will no longer all be unisexual: Female kerbals have arrived. Finally, in addition to a collection of new and polished spaceship parts, Squad has also gone through and added interiors to every manned part, allowing players to take a more immersive look through the eyes of their brave kerbal explorers.
Whether you are a veteran kerbonaut, or you’ve never played the game, right now is a fantastic time to check out Kerbal Space Program. Even as version 1.0 leaves the launch pad, Squad is busy planning future updates, with more features, more learning, and more exploration.
Andrew “Zarf” Plotkin is a well-known and influential figure in interactive fiction – on top of penning classic IF games like Spider & Web and Shade, he also developed the Blorb package format, Glx API, and Glulx virtual machine for making and playing them. His latest game, Hadean Lands, is four years in the making (following a successful Kickstarter) and is apparently one of the largest and most complex IF games to date, spanning 73,000 words of printable text and 170,000 words of logic (according to Andrew’s twitter). In the game, you play a young alchemist who has awoken to find him or herself trapped in a crashed starship, armed only with your knowledge of alchemical rituals and whatever ingredients you can scrounge up on the ship.
I’ll spoil some of the unique features of the game after the jump:
I’ve been wildly interested in ants since an early age, and have often wished that there were more games that allowed you to take control of an ant colony, such as the classic SimAnt, or 2008’s Ant Rush. So I was especially excited earlier today, when Formicarium crawled onto Kickstarter.
Billing itself as a strategic simulation game, Formicarium allows players to “become the invisible mind guiding an ant-hive through difficulties and dangers.” Drawing inspiration from other titles such as Dwarf Fortress and The Sims, the game aims to simulate a procedurally-evolving world where insects and arachnids struggle to survive the environment, and each other – with the player guiding their own colony of ants.
Similar to Dwarf Fortress, the colonies or “hives” of Formicarium will consist of multiple “cross-section” levels, extending downwards from the surface. Chambers will need to be dug, food will need to be stored, and new ants will need to be be birthed. All the time, the player will need to keep an eye out for potential dangers from the surface, including antlions, spiders, bees and wasps, and more.
Formicarium is being created by a team of just two people. The development side of this duo is Konrad Feiler, whose history as a mathematician and software engineer is being put to good use developing a procedural world, filled with all manner of bugs behaving in realistic manners. On the design side, artist Dorota Orlof has provided an incredibly eye-catching style, bringing each of the game’s “characters” to life through a clean and colorful approach.
So far, the duo has a working prototype of Formicarium, and they are now moving to bring the project to full fruition as a game on both mobile devices as well as PC and Mac. To reach that goal, the Formicarium Kickstarter campaign is aiming to raise just a modest $20,000. If the idea of being the overseer of a virtual ant colony – struggling to survive in a procedurally-simulated world of competition and danger – appeals to you, head on over to the Kickstarter page for Formicarium to learn more and pledge. You can also keep an eye on the game’s website and Twitter for more news, and even vote for it over on Steam Greenlight.
Band Saga is a musical roguelike—basically it generates action roguelike dungeons based on its own Genesis-like FM sequencer, which can then be played through. You can generate levels based on importing your own MIDI music, or by composing music within the game (which can be shared with a text string online with other players). Also interesting is that you can change a song while playing through the dungeon based on that song, which would then affect the dungeon you are in. And as you can see from the trailer, the animation is also very nice.
I interviewed Rekcahdam to get a more in-depth look into how it all works, read it under the jump!
Dog And Pony Studio (DAPS) is looking to raise just $10,000 in the final four days of their Kickstarter campaign for Pyrella, a Metroidvania-type game where the female protagonist is the only light burning against an unholy darkness. According to designer Jim Burner:
DAPS needs to raise $10,000 before the end of the game’s Kickstarter in just four days, but the team is hopeful. The game has been submitted to Steam Greenlight, and the campaign has several stretch goals ranging from character customization and alternate endings to entirely new game areas and even a PlayStation 4 port of the completed game.
If this project sounds like one you would like to see completed, be sure to head over to the project’s Kickstarter page to learn more and contribute.
After more than two years since the last update, a new version of Dwarf Fortress has been released by developer Tarn Adams. As always, the game is entirely free, despite it being Tarn’s full-time occupation – he is supported by the generous donations of players.
One of the largest and most notable features of this new update is that the in-game world will no longer be static after its initial generation, but will continue to change and evolve on its own in the background. This will include events ranging from civilization-scale events like foundings and conquests, to more individual actions such as births and deaths of historical figures. Additionally, forts that the player has “retired” will continue to operate within the world, rather than simply becoming abandoned, allowing for the player to visit them in Adventurer Mode and interact with the citizens.
Other notable changes with this update will include multi-tile trees, new site designs for several races, and overhauls of various systems including combat, conversation, movement, and AI. A more extensive changelog can be found here.
Image: Forgotten Beast, by Torgeir Fjereide
Indie studio Ctytivo Games has just launched the Kickstarter campaign for their first big project, The Universim.
The Universim certainly aims high, promising to be a god game (presented by Crytivo Games as a “planet-management” game) in which you are tasked with guiding a race from the stone age to the space age. The player will achieve this primarily through indirect action, such as influencing the technological aspirations of the race, deciding where they will found their cities, and even when wars will be fought and for how long (and to what end). Once the player’s race has developed sufficiently, they will take to the stars in search of other planets that they may colonize. Each planet will have different environments and present different challenges to habitation, but the player will continue to guide their race in their efforts to become a universe-spanning empire.
Although the game seems to verge on being a Molyneux-ian pipe dream, the gameplay trailer unveiled today with the Kickstarter campaign shows that they have already completed a significant amount of the game. With Kickstarter, they are now hoping to raise the final funds to complete the game, setting the goal at $320,000. Beyond that, they have laid out potential stretch goals that they hope to be able to implement, such as planet and building editors and a multiplayer mode.
To see more and keep up with The Universim, head on over to the game’s website and TIGForums devlog. If you like what you see and want to help fund the game through to completion, be sure to stop by the game’s Kickstarter page and pledge.
In a turn-based reality, an alternate spacetime of real-time has been discovered. Unfortunately, the conflicting spacetimes have ripped apart the cosmos in a “real-time/turn-based time-vortex.” That is the setup for Funktronic Labs’ upcoming game, Nova-111, where turn-based strategic planning meets real-time reactions and urgency. The player is placed at the helm of the titular Nova-111, a relatively harmless research vessel tasked with exploring cavern after cavern in an effort to rescue survivors stranded after the vortex smashed the two spacetimes together.
Along the way, players will discover powerful upgrades to their ship and encounter many different types of obstacles in the form of environmental dangers and monsters. Some of these monsters will attack in turn-based time, and some in real-time. These two time scales, along with the monsters’ differing attacks, fuse together to create an almost puzzle-like experience, and the player is quickly taught to approach enemy encounters more in dances of infighting and timing rather than simply engaging in direct combat.