Cut-Price Gold: A Game Of Dwarves Will Be $10

By Jim Rossignol on October 10th, 2012 at 12:00 pm.


The busy game-mines of Paradox have hauled more announcements to the surface. This time it’s the turn of A Game Of Dwarves, which will arrive on the 23rd, and costs $10 to pre-order. And there’s a bonus of sorts: “Every pre-ordered copy of A Game of Dwarves will include access to the Ale Pack DLC, a delectable and delicious add-on that introduces dwarvenkind’s favorite drink to the game and is a must for maintaining happiness in any well-to-do underground fortress.”

I’ve had a little play of this, so there’s some thoughts on that and the trailer below. (There’s also a livestream tonight at 2000CET, here.)

A Game Of Dwarves sits firmly in a familiar and well-trodden tract of our gaming landscape: that of the kind of management/strategy games Bullfrog made their own. In that regard AGOD has promising ambitions and is prospecting in the sort of area in which many of us wish we could find gaming gold. What I’ve played suggests it will be fairly competent in that regard – you can excavate areas with some freedom and build largely as you see fit (unpickable border rocks notwithstanding) and build largely where you please, with limitations of any given level’s resources constraining your ambitions. It’s sensibly straightforward, too, with entirely comprehensible arrays of buildings, resources, and roles for your dwarves. The UI for digging in 3D space is a bit weird, but I suspect I’d get use to it.

However, I suspect that, even for $10, A Game Of Dwarves might disappoint. Clearly I can’t give you any solid verdict, because I’ve only had a bit of time with a preview version, but I can say this: it’s astonishingly ugly by contemporary standards. And yes, perhaps we will overlook that ugliness if the game turns out to be a builder-masterpiece, but nothing I’ve seen of that building/mining aspect really sings. Combine what we’ve seen so far being a bit pedestrian with a void in the presentation department, and right now it’s looking unexceptional. (It’s not simply that the art is ultra-functional, and that there’s (currently, at least) no real shadows or other lighting.)

What I am saying is: I’d wait for the reviews.

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80 Comments »

  1. Neurotic says:

    I think I would’ve plunked the cash right now anyway, except I’m broke, so review-waiting shall be the thing.

    • astronaute says:

      Yeah, I was interested in this game, but they are trying to lure us in with Ale knowing that without it there is no (easy) way to keep your dwarfs happy?
      So we need the DLC in order to enjoy the game…
      No thank you, keep you DLC based game.

      • Prone says:

        Just making sure that you understand that the game will never require any DLC for making progress, up keeping happiness or having fun in the game. The DLC’s are just nice shiny things!

        • Phantoon says:

          No, that’s a cop out. You can’t have Dwarves without copious drinking, or beards, or living underground.

          What’s next? Beard style DLC so your Dwarves can be royalty? Monster DLC so there’s something to do? Dirt DLC so your Dwarves have something to dig? Pickaxe DLC so your Dwarves can mine?

          IT’S MADNESS, I TELL YOU! MADNESS!

          But joking aside, this is still pretty stupid. Turns me right off the game.

  2. caddyB says:

    Dwarf Fortress is better at being a realistic ( haha ) dwarf settlement management simulator.
    There, now that it’s out of the way, DF is not for everyone ( hey, it’s not for anyone other than a select few who can cope with the atrocious ui and the way some systems work ) and this seems more like ( as the article pointed out ) say, Theme Hospital than DF anyway. I just wanted to get the inevitable comparison out of the way.

    Number of graphics aren’t that important in a game like this ( I think ) as long as they are internally consistent and there aren’t any jarring errors or clunky animations. I want to see how they tackled the 3D digging stuff because I’m curious. One of the hardest things in DF for me is turning 3D things I imagine into the 2D model with layers to build them right.

    But at 10$, I think it will deliver what it promises and nothing more, much like Warlock THE MASTER OF ARCANE did. And I don’t think there’s any problem with that.

    • Artist says:

      Wow, you must feel much more intelligent now that you posted this…

      • Tiax says:

        And what about you ?

      • NathanH says:

        This was an oddly benign comment to warrant such a response.

        • Phantoon says:

          YEAH? WELL FUCK YOUR DOG TOO!

          I suppose since we’re on the internet, stupidity and level headedness must exist as yin and yang.

    • Slinkyboy says:

      Dwarf Fortress looks like a complex Atari game. I would like to learn how to play it, though. So many people seem to be going crazy over it and I’d like to approach myself.

      One question: is Game of Dwarves like Dwarf Fortress? If it is, then I can just play Game of Dwarves instead. Also waiting for a review.

  3. Zanchito says:

    I love Dwarf Fortress and Dungeon Keeper, but the more I see of this game, the more I feel it’s not exactly what I’m looking for. Towns and Gnomoria make me feel that way too, and I’m sad, because I want an accessible Dwaf Fortress. I have to get around to playing Project Zomboid!

  4. Zeewolf says:

    “Every pre-ordered copy of A Game of Dwarves will include access to the Ale Pack DLC, a delectable and delicious add-on that introduces dwarvenkind’s favorite drink to the game and is a must for maintaining happiness in any well-to-do underground fortress.”

    So if we don’t pre-order, our underground fortress will be doomed to unhappiness? Hm.

    • razgon says:

      Hah – thats a great point. I wonder why marketing thought was a good idea!

      Its a shame if the game isnt great, because I’ve been waiting for the next great thing in this particular genre (Dungeon Master, Startopia, Themse Hospital) but this doesn’t seem to be it.

    • tedlin01 says:

      The DLC is NOT required to maintain happiness in the game. It’s tons of other ways to recieve happiness and the ale-tree is simply just one of them :) Also, you will get it for free if you preorder the game, so why complain? :) It’s a gift not a demand. The game will be fully enjoyable without any DLC , no worries, I am lead programmer of the game and I assure you ;)

      • Faldrath says:

        It’s not that I don’t believe you, but when you describe the DLC as “is a must for maintaining happiness”, you’re kinda shooting yourselves in the foot there.

      • Phantoon says:

        Yeah, no, this was incredibly stupid. You could make the DLC a penny cost forever, and I’d still be annoyed you decided to take content out that you could’ve just put in the general game. If it’s finished, JUST PUT IT IN!

      • Kazang says:

        Pre-order exclusives that effect gameplay are bad.

        I’ve been looking forward to this game for a while but this kind of stuff leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

      • LintMan says:

        Also, you will get it for free if you preorder the game, so why complain? :)

        Because you only get it for free if you preorder. If we don’t have the money to buy it now or just want to wait to see some reviews first, then we have to pay for the DLC. Bad enough, but then the marketing makes it sound essential.

        Also FYI: This sort of thing also can work against games. If I miss out on a free pre-order DLC, I’m far less likely to buy the game later because it feels like I’ve gotten an incomplete game if I don’t get it, but I’ll be damned if I pay for it when most people got it for free.

        Pre-order bonus DLC in effect immediately reduces the value of the game starting on day 1 of release for all post-release purchasers.

      • BunnyMaz says:

        Dude. Do you have any idea how shady you’re coming across right now? You’ve copy/pasted an identical response to two different people on this one comment thread who’ve criticized the DLC, that’s full of smileys and sort of looks… spambotty… if you see what I mean.

        If you want to reassure people, provide actual reassurance. Is alcohol necessary in your game in order to keep dwarves happy? Is keeping dwarves happy WITHOUT alcohol in your game much harder than with it? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, you’ve messed up.

        Day one DLC is pretty heavily frowned upon right now even when it’s a purely cosmetic thing. Purposefully keeping content out of the game that was finished and ready in time for release is considered by some miserly, and money-grabbing. Doing that and having the DLC be something important for gameplay is a seriously bad move – you’re going to alienate potential buyers with that.

        So you need to either reassure us that alcohol is not going to have an effect on gameplay, in which case you REALLY need to talk to your marketing people, or you might want to reconsider this plan. If you want to do DLC, just make a range of hats. Make a DLC hat that’s clearly made out of cats!

    • LionsPhil says:

      “We made a game about dwarves where the booze is DLC.”

      I want the developers to just repeat this to themselves a few times. Or the publishers. Whoever decided this.

      Maybe eventually it’ll dawn on them.

  5. Bhazor says:

    Complaining about graphics?

    Et tu Jim?

    • RedViv says:

      Aesthetics, not graphics.

      • Aedrill says:

        “it’s astonishingly ugly by contemporary standards”
        That’s not about aesthetics.

      • Bhazor says:

        Graphics/aesthetics/eye candy/scenary porn.

        Whatever you call it I do not expect RPS writers to spend an entire preview complaining about what a game looks like.

        • Harlander says:

          And I guess spending 30% of the preview on the topic is a bit much for you too..

          (Graphics look fine to me, though… *shrug*)

        • danimalkingdom says:

          Why can’t a writer comment on how ugly a game looks in preview? Don’t you want their opinion? Is that not why you come to their website? Also, I agree! It looks pretty ugly! It’s not a matter of graphics – Minecraft looks great – it’s in terms of colour use, character design, animation, and that unquantifiable feel you get as a player. This doesn’t look like it’s delivering on that front yet.

          I would say the same for Salem too, unfortunately, as I’m excited about that game. But the artwork so far is dog ugly :(

        • HexagonalBolts says:

          What if I gave you a game where the screen was just entirely blue and told you that there was rich gameplay and all sorts going on on the screen – but you have to overlook the somewhat simplistic graphics?

          Graphics and gameplay are inseperable, if a game is so badly presented that you struggle to decipher what is going on then it isn’t going to be very much fun.

          • NathanH says:

            You shouldn’t describe graphics that impede playing the game as “ugly”, rather as “anti-functional” or something like that.

            I think the graphics look quite suitable for a game like this, so it would be nice to hear whether “ugly” refers to whether Jim thinks it just looks bad or whether the graphics would be bad even if you liked their appearance.

          • Bhazor says:

            Dude. I play Dwarf Fortress.

            Given RPS’s reputation I just don’t expect a preview to boil down to “Don’t bother buying because it looks a bit icky”

          • Phantoon says:

            But haven’t you noticed the general decline from when the site was new and we were new and all these new people weren’t here and hipster yadda yadda blah talk.

            Though, once, an asshole in the comments was a rare thing, rather than expected. And I still blame kotaku, despite having no evidence other than kotaku also having assholes in the comments.

    • Everyone says:

      Yeah, I’m a bit surprised too … especially as it looks rather swish to me … as long as I squint past the animations!

      • Sparkasaurusmex says:

        Yeah it’s a tad prettier than Dwarf Fortress

      • NathanH says:

        I haven’t watched it in action because I don’t really care about animations; the screenshots look quite nice and bright and cartoony, quite suitable for what this game seems to be.

        • Gnoupi says:

          I don’t care as much about graphics, but I like coherence. Those animations are lacking compared to the graphical quality. They are stiff, and basic. At this point, it would almost be better to go for a stiff figurine, instead of a badly animated 3D character.

  6. JamesTheNumberless says:

    My biggest worry for this game is that they’re more focused on cashing in on all the people who’ve read about Dwarf Fortress and would love to play it, if it were more approachable; than they are on making an awesome dwarfy sim/mining/crafting game. My greatest hope for this game is that they make something different from Dwarf Fortress but still more of a sandbox style game than Dwarfs!? turned out to be.

  7. eks says:

    “build largely where you please, with limitations of any given level’s resources constraining your ambitions.”

    Does this mean there are only campaign levels ala Theme Hospital? Or is there a sandbox mode too?

    These days I don’t think I’d be willing to front up cash for a building/management sim that doesn’t offer some form of sandbox mode.

    • Artist says:

      Yes, thats the question!
      Jim? Sandbox mode?

    • Artist says:

      Looking at some gameplay vids it has a “custom game” option, but whats behind that??

    • m3lda says:

      The game includes both campaign and a custom mode.

      You don’t have to buy any DLC stuff to play it. It’s just cozy fluff.

  8. frightlever says:

    If you didn’t like it, you probably weren’t playing it right.

    • Didero says:

      There being a wrong way to play indicates bad game design.

      • NathanH says:

        There are clearly lots of wrong ways to play any game. You can I suppose ask whether a game that people can easily play wrong by accident is bad design or has been played by bad people, but I think that question is roughly meaningless.

        • Phantoon says:

          What if I play something right and still don’t enjoy it? Like, say, Borderlands?

          • NathanH says:

            That means it is either a bad game or you just don’t like it. Which of the two it is depends on how many other people liked it, and how much you believe in the objective correctness of your opinions.

          • Phantoon says:

            A lot of people liked Jersey Shore, does that mean taste can be based of a reference of consumers of the product?

            Because it doesn’t.

            So really, the two options have zero to do with what other people thought, because the public is wrong a lot of the time.

    • eks says:

      “You weren’t playing it right”.

      I vaguely remember some incident with a PR company spouting this when the game was criticized. This didn’t end up well for them, they got “fired”/lost the contract with the developer. I want to say it was for the recent Duke, but I’m not sure, anyone else remember?

      • BurningPet says:

        If i am not mistaken, it was APB.

      • Hmm-Hmm. says:

        Ooh.. that does strike a chord somewhere. I’m not certain it was regarding Duke Nukem Forever, though.

      • Phantoon says:

        I don’t remember, but it sounds like something Bioware has said in the past few years.

        Are they dead yet? They’ve been losing their talent for a while- the smart ones jumped ship early.

      • Bhazor says:

        The example that jumps to mind is Hydrophobia.
        http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2010/09/hydrophobia-developer-defends-game-attacks-critics/

        To be fair to them they’re right. The gunplay is rubbish and really shouldn’t be used when the much more entertaining water/physics based stuff is available. Most reviewers just dismissed the gameplay without even trying the physics stuff which is a bit like someone playing Thief the same way they’d play Quake.

        So yes. I’d say it is possible to play it wrong. But if you do then it’s still the developers fault.

        • Gnoupi says:

          While some users can “do something wrong” (usually because they are not accustomed with the type of task), in most cases, it’s a problem of UX in the program. In this case, you have a pc reviewer, who we can expect to be used to gaming, third person movement, etc.

          If you put features in the game which are not satisfying, fix them or remove them (or disable them in some places). But don’t come saying someone “played it wrong” just because they didn’t go the way you thought they would. If they went another way, that’s because you allowed it.

  9. Snids says:

    I remember DKII having lovely looking lighting. That game IS a cup of tea and a biscuit to me.

  10. harvb says:

    Speaking as someone who’s always always wanted to get into Dwarf Fortress but been too thick to work it out, I really wanted this to be the game that was what DF would be if it had a graphical interface. Sometimes it even convinces me that’s what they intend.

    And yet the more I read about it the less I think that’s what it will be.

    • BurningPet says:

      I am one of the duo who develop towns. just had to say that before my reply.

      Now, if you want something similar to DF but more accessible, i whole heartely suggest you try Gnomoria, it as faithful as an accessible DF like game can be, has nice “engineering” mechanics and can allow some degree of emergent gameplay.

      if you want a DF style game with a mix of Majesty on the way, grab Towns, it is also accessible and allow for super duper mega projects while maintaining populations of hundreds of townies and a few wandering heroes who take all the credit.

      If you want something that is kinda like DF and DK, id say have a look at Maia, it seem to have huge potential.

      I am like you, Cant seem to be hugely impressed by A Game of Dwarves, but damn, those are good times for the genre lovers!

      • Faldrath says:

        Gaslamp’s Clockwork Empires also aims to have a DF vibe to it, so add that to your list :)

        • BurningPet says:

          Aye, true, Although, i still haven’t understood if it will be more of a tropico style game or a DF style one, either way it looks good.

      • harvb says:

        Cheers for the info, really appreciate that (and for the other replies). I always feel like a second or even third class gamer not being able to get into DF, but bugger me with a nine iron I just can’t do it. And it looks SO much fun.

        I’ll give those games a try, thanks kindly.

  11. wisnoskij says:

    “Every pre-ordered copy of A Game of Dwarves will include access to the Ale Pack DLC, a delectable and delicious add-on that introduces dwarvenkind’s favorite drink to the game and is a must for maintaining happiness in any well-to-do underground fortress.”

    So according to the games marketing there is day one DLC that is absolutely needed if you are going to play the game?

    • tedlin01 says:

      The DLC is NOT required to maintain happiness in the game. It’s tons of other ways to recieve happiness and the ale-tree is simply just one of them :) Also, you will get it for free if you preorder the game, so why complain? :) It’s a gift not a demand. The game will be fully enjoyable without any DLC , no worries, I am lead programmer of the game and I assure you ;)

      • Phantoon says:

        Assuring us, especially with a bunch of smileys, is no longer good enough. People finally caught onto the fact that people can, and will, lie. How about telling us why this isn’t required, and how it’s not mandatory for my Dwarves to not just be hairy Gnomes?

        • The Random One says:

          My dwarves need alcohol to get through the work day!

  12. NathanH says:

    It is worth pointing out that when they say $10 they mean £8.

  13. MythArcana says:

    There will be DLC. Oh, yes, there will be DLC.

  14. Belsameth says:

    Pre ordered it anyway, since it looks fun and it’s only 10,-
    Screw you and your whining, guys! :p

  15. Drshotgun says:

    I see a lot of sites calling every game ugly. For the most part i don’t see it. With AGOD. For 10 dollars i doubt it would be much disappointment. Its paradox we are talking about. The single company i know of that makes niche games with a good record of success.

    Half the hate this game suddenly developed would be done away with if Paradox didn’t call preorder content DLC.

    Funny story, this is the only god damn time someone asks for proof of something. Tell them the game will have more options for happiness and everyone demands you phone the devs to ask them. Putting aside the ale “DLC” pack deliberately says it brings more happiness. So Alcohol is a different story as simply having it bumps the game up to a Teen rating. So it being in the base game may very well have been some legal issue. Especially given its cartoon aesthetic they could have easily been slammed for marketing booze to kids. You should all know by now how much the “think of the children” shouting twits hate gaming. Of course, this discounts the idea that crops you farm could be used to form alcohol.
    Think before you bitch.

    Rating is pending BTW.

    • Belsameth says:

      There’s also the repeated assurance of one of the devs, in this very comment treat, that not having the DLC is anything but game breaking. That it’s just a funny extra. The way it’s worded has this dragged way out of proportion…

  16. ichigo2862 says:

    Hold on a tick, Ale is DLC? What do they expect the vanilla dwarves to live off of? Water? Are these elves in disguise or something? Something sounds fishy here…

  17. Chris says:

    Paradox are the publishers that the phrase “Caveat Emptor” was made for.

    Beware of them, for they are infamous for shovelware, Sword of the Stars 2 because the most egregious example.