Heroes That Meander: Towns

By Adam Smith on May 16th, 2012 at 5:00 pm.

In my towns, the farm animals are probably either on fire or starving to death

I spent most of last night and this morning punching things so hard that their skin had no option but to fall off. Most of the time I don’t actually want to play the murderous hero though, even when that hero is a monk who thinks the path to holiness is a fist-inflicted form of trepanning. Sure, that guy’s got chutzpah, but I’d rather be watching him go about his business, perhaps tactically teasing the best out of him instead of steering him around in a more hands-on fashion. If you like the idea of visiting Tristram but don’t have an internet permanently plugged into your face, or simply don’t care for Diablo III, it’d be a fine idea to play Towns instead.

Now at release version 0.46, Town is an indie strategy game with a dungeon full of monsters, a landscape waiting to be tamed and heroes who like nothing more than to drink all your booze and then stumble around slaying beasties. As with Majesty, you have no direct control over the visiting plunderers and there’s some of Dwarf Fortress here as well, with townies following simple lives of their own, pursuing tasks as they’re set. The Diablo comparison is based purely on the fact that there’s a town inexplicably built on top of a horrible monster-hole. If Towns was set in modern times I would call it a Sunnydale Simulator.

Building a few log cabins isn’t as complicated as carving out a cave network with functioning farms, aqueducts and mechanically devious doomsday devices capable of smothering the world in magma, but there’s a great deal more to do than there was when I first took a look. Apart from the massive addition of the heroes, which provides an entirely new set of possible goals and experiences, there are more supply and crafting chains.

There’s a demo available and paying £7.99 provides access to the alpha and all future versions. It’s the hero system that seems to be the focus of attention at the moment, with special skills and the ability to level up being given to the various classes of loot-loving blighter in the most recent update. I feared that more features might mean a less friendly user interface but the game remains welcoming, or at least relatively welcoming. I’d still advise watching some tutorial videos and can highly recommend this extensive series, brought to my attention by the creator himself in a previous comments thread.

I keep promising to build a town of my own and scrawl down a chronicle of its dismal history of siege and invasion. I’ll find the time soon hopefully. In the meantime, it’s fantastic to see that development is continuing at such a rapid pace and without the game deviating from its original concept. I feared feature creep but so far it’s been more a case of greeting the features at the door, having them take off their shoes and then introducing them to the rest of the guests before they start lounging around like they own the place.

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26 Comments »

  1. hemmingjay says:

    The developers keep tweaking this game and it’s really becoming a gem. They are adding complexity to an already nice game. Buy it and you won’t be sorry.

    I suggest buying on Desura so your game stays up to date with the frequent content patches.

    • Smashbox says:

      I concur – I’ve already gotten my money’s worth from this game. I’ve played the Alpha (or is it a Beta) version so much. I’m really looking forward to (and loving) seeing this one progress.

      Also, they update pretty frequently.

      • City Builder says:

        I really can’t praise this game any higher, even though it’s still in relatively early alpha release it’s truly an enjoyable game. It’s kind of one of those games that you can relax to if you would like, or take an active approach to playing it by sending off your Townies to their ultimate demise.

        Every patch/update of Towns just keeps making the game better and better. Ultimately the developers have stated (for those that are concerned) that Towns is aiming to be an advanced Majesty style game and not a dumbed down Dwarf Fortress and I applaud them for that as the original Majesty was a hillariously fun game, as is Towns right now.

        If you’re interested in this style of game I’d suggest that you get in now and any suggestions you have for the game post them to the townsgame.com suggestions forums, and maybe you’ll help to shape the game to make it even more of how you’d want it to be when it’s all finished.

        Yeah it’s got it’s little problems but please believe me when I say that there is nothing in the game right now that is stopping me from having one hell of a fun time playing it. I have both underground towns as well as above ground towns, I’ve got multiple copies of the game installed so that I can play a modded version as well as the vanilla game, and speaking of modding, it’s really got some nice modding possibilities that will only get better as updates hit us.

        Awesome game, truly an awesome game.

    • Dark Malady says:

      IT’s a great game. I bought it through the site, so I’m a BMT micro user… so I have to hang on to my download ink email and go re-download evrything when it patches… which i stay on top of by haunting the towns forums. Not really the easiest way to do things but I don’t mind as it’s quite fast with the updates.

      As for the game itself, it’s interesting how it’s changed. I got it just after the GUI was added, it was a fun time sink for a few days… I put it down, then a patch came out and it was a better time sink, ect. this last patch though means that I pretty much have a little town running in the background while I do other things. I really enjoy the set and wait … except when i want something done instantly like other games would let me… but that’s hardly towns, towns makes you really feel like the townies have to work for every luxury in life.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      Desura – cause we haven’t already got enough content delivery applications running on our PC’s.

      Towns is okay fun for a while, but to be honest it isn’t mature enough yet for serious play.

      The townie AI is woeful – they don’t use containers properly, frequently go miles for something that they could have picked up at their feet, and if what they have decided they want is behind a locked door they simply stop. Given that this is a game where your only interaction with the game world is through these little blighters, fixing them should be a priority for the developers.

      That and the water. If your dungeon springs a leak, nothing can stop it and every floor below it flooding.

      I am holding off spending any more time on it until they fix the AI.

  2. Torgen says:

    Wow, that’s a hugely out of date screenshot. Also, no booze yet. :( I’m actually playing this over Tropico 4, which I haven’t played past the tutorials- the advisors are that unappealing and don’t fit the game in the slightest.

    Now that we can set patrol waypoints in Towns, I throw up a quick log palisade around my village, and build two “guard shacks” at the entrance, with a small nearby dining room and food locker. That way, my guards aren’t roaming to the other side of town to sleep and eat, and spend more time guarding the entrance. I dig the entrance to the dungeons outside of town, and built the tavern just inside the gate. That way, if a nasty follows a wounded hero up from the depths, the guards intercept it before it can get to the villagers, and there’s a good chance of a nearby hero helping out.

    There’s some common minmax strategies, but I try to roleplay it a bit when building the town, and try to make it look more plausible. I’m having a good bit of fun with it, and it’s interesting when you get a rare randomized drop from a baddie. Oh, also, the crafted items have randomized stats within a certain range and sometimes you can have what appears to be a sort of critical success when crafting and get something nice.

    • Adam Smith says:

      Yeah, sorry about the ancient screenshot – Desura is being cantankerous with me at the minute so I used one from a previous version. Shall switch it out shortly. As for booze, I believe it’s in everything.

    • Maldomel says:

      Roleplaying is where it’s at! Besides, the whole, guard shack and quarters thing you do seems to be a good way to improve your guards duty. I hate it when a monster comes to close, fights a citizen only for the guards to come from the other side of my town.

      • Torgen says:

        I’m using stone for any building where fire is used – bakery, kitchen, forge, and also the tavern- and use wood for the other buildings. The new tree farms mean you can have a ready supply of wood right next to the carpenter’s shop. Once I’m breached the first dungeon area, I start paving the roads so the townies move faster (plan your buildings with 1 tile space between them so they stay on the roads) and build the badger gladiatorial pit using half-height stone walls.I also use color-coding on roofs for different classes of buildings – residence, food production, storage, hero-related/guards.

        • Maldomel says:

          Neat! My towns are far from being that organized, but I manage…usually. Might try your techniques though, some order can’t do me wrong.

  3. Bluerps says:

    I think I got that one from an indie bundle, and then forgot to look at it. But it sounds interesting, so I can probably use this to bridge the time to Diablo’s arrival at my house.

  4. Maldomel says:

    It’s funny, because I had this in store for a while and I didn’t play it until 0.46 came out. It’s fun, simple (though I agree about the tutorial part, mainly for making a good food chain) and it’s quite entertaining to see heroes come in the dungeon or roaming your town. I love it. Also, I wrote an article about it today on my little blog, so this must be a sign for me to go back playing it.

  5. Torgen says:

    OH!

    There’s a slight mistake in the weretigers- as in, they spawn two levels higher than they should, and proceed to one-shot townies and two-shot heroes. Since dungeons are populated on world gen, you want to go to /Towns/data, open livingentities.xml in notepad (or other text editor) and change the attribute on weretigers from 6 to 9.

    This game is quite easy to tweak to your desire by editing the xml files. I have started reducing the number of surface stone deposits in gen_map.xml from 80 to 35, so I get some large-ish fields for tree farms and wheat farms. I just mine the dungeons for stone.

    • BurningPet says:

      Sadly, i have to agree. we made the weretigers really overpowered. i just lost a 46 level dwarf that got 2 shot by a weretiger. that dwarf had 10,000 hp.

      When developing the game, we rarely have time to emotionally attach to heroes/townies because we tweak and reboot as we playtest, but this dwarf, damn, i really loved him, i watched him grow from a mere squire into a skull crushing demigod. i shall always remember you Durvak, son of Gershon!

      The first thing i did was erasing weretigers altogether out of spite, but then came to my senses and brought them back tad weaker.

      Thank you for much for this post Adam. a series painted with your tales could be fantastic i bet!

      • PodX140 says:

        Don’t thank him quite yet, you haven’t seen your bandwith bill! (seriously though, if previous sites are any indication, more bandwith may be necessary if RPS does a series on it.)

  6. Ranger33 says:

    The initial build when this appeared on Desura was quite bleh. However, it is now to a point where it borders on addictive, with some real potential to be awesome. I hope once they get the heroes fleshed out they will add some more Dwarf Fortress-y elements like traps and switches and what not.

  7. Ultramegazord says:

    This game keeps getting better and better, been playing since 0.42 I think and the improvements since then are huge, this has a great potential and it’s really addicting , it’s the kind of game that deserves all the support.

  8. tlarn says:

    I don’t feel as bad now for leaving the game alone and letting it update, now!

  9. City Builder says:

    I really can’t praise this game any higher, even though it’s still in relatively early alpha release it’s truly an enjoyable game. It’s kind of one of those games that you can relax to if you would like, or take an active approach to playing it by sending off your Townies to their ultimate demise.

    Every patch/update of Towns just keeps making the game better and better. Ultimately the developers have stated (for those that are concerned) that Towns is aiming to be an advanced Majesty style game and not a dumbed down Dwarf Fortress and I applaud them for that as the original Majesty was a hillariously fun game, as is Towns right now.

    If you’re interested in this style of game I’d suggest that you get in now and any suggestions you have for the game post them to the townsgame.com suggestions forums, and maybe you’ll help to shape the game to make it even more of how you’d want it to be when it’s all finished.

    Yeah it’s got it’s little problems but please believe me when I say that there is nothing in the game right now that is stopping me from having one hell of a fun time playing it. I have both underground towns as well as above ground towns, I’ve got multiple copies of the game installed so that I can play a modded version as well as the vanilla game, and speaking of modding, it’s really got some nice modding possibilities that will only get better as updates hit us.

    Awesome game, truly an awesome game.