I intended to keep at least one of my spider’s worth of eyes firmly affixed to Towns, the indie construction and management sim that makes you the mayor of an olde time Sunnydale. Turns out it was one of my many bad eyes and I haven’t played the game since Britain sipped a Pimms No.1 Cup with a dash of lemonade and wore a straw boater for a couple of weeks. I speak of the summer. Since then, thanks to its community and the magic of Greenlight, Towns has appeared on Steam and, as of last week, so has its demo. Jolly good.
The store page says: “Towns is continually being developed and updated to bring you the best experience possible!” Words in the forum say: “BLEARGHLE”, which means ‘this game does not appear to be finished’. It’s a fair point even if isn’t expressed particularly eloquently. When the game moved to Steam it had recently transitioned from version 0.60 to v7.
Towns’ official website does make it clear that the game is still in some sort of pre-release form though, with a pre-order option rather than a purchase button. It’s a pre-order that gives access to early builds though and that includes the latest version, which is also the one available through Steam.
I think this sort of development funding is great – it’s what all the cool kids were doing before Kickstarter came along – but it’d be helpful if the Greenlight process involved making it clear when a game is still in development. The text says that it’s “being developed and updated” but that could mean post-completion support when, in this case, there are still features and functionality to add. Having the demo on Steam should help potential buyers to understand the state of the current build and hopefully bring some clarity to the situation.
I’ve always enjoyed my time with Towns but, sadly, my next visit to the ill-fated isometric settlements probably won’t come until 2013. In the meantime, I’d be interested to hear from people who are playing. Tell me your tales. Now I need to drink a gallon of coffee because seeing ‘2013’ written down, knowing that it is a year we are very close to entering, just caused my brain to stall. I am OLD.