(Space) Colonial Ambition: RimWorld

Ludeon Studios send word of their forthcoming space colony game, RimWorld, and by Uranus it looks like Our Kind Of Thing. In short: it’s Prison Architect reworked as a space colonisation game. In long: it’s a great big Bullfrog/Dwarf Fortress-inspired indirect control game, which makes the game developer in my curse that Ludeon thought of it first. If anything shall make small piles of real world dollars, it’s this.

Trailer and some thoughts south of here.

Yeees, perhaps they should step away from the PA influences slightly, at least on the character art. I mean if anything is a good inspiration, it’s a multi-million dollar-making indie game, but… yeah.

So I had a bit of a play of a (really quite early) preview build and, yes, it’s essentially the same sort of model as Prison Architect – indirect tasks given to your colonists, and then letting them get on with things. As such you build a colony and defend yourself against things that might happen. Developer Tynan Sylvester explains: “The unique element is an intelligent AI storyteller who controls “random” events to make the story interesting (similar to Left 4 Dead’s AI Director).” That means weather events, alien arrivals, and so on. The world itself is large enough for you to need to explore, and there are alien buffalo things on my map.

Yes, and, well, I already love it completely. I was never comfortable with (or really engaged by) Prison Architect’s incarceration theme, but setting up a space colony, defending myself from pirate raids, hostile aliens, and trading with passing ships, well, I am all over that. We’ll be watching the progress of this with keen interest, but I fully expect it to be a hit of some kind.

It’s not available yet, but Sylvester says he wants to get it out “as fast as possible”. So look forward to that.


  1. Dan Griliopoulos says:

    PA has made, what, $7.6m now? I love the Introversion guys, but that’s an amazing sum for a totally unfinished game.

    • Humanji says:

      Minecraft took in a hell of a lot more.

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      Matchstick says:

      I didn’t realise PA’d made that much.

      Amazing turnaround considering the financial hole Introversion had found themselves in just a couple of years ago.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Really? Wow. But yeah, that’s totally well-deserved. Now if only they could find a way to finish off Subversion…

    • mouton says:

      So? They deserve all kinds of money for their previous games.

  2. Ein0r says:

    This game looks promising.
    But i am not sure if this “PA Style” will help or hinder it, since it the minions and the tile sets are so incredibly similar but not the menus though. Can copyright troubles emerge out of it?

    • Cinek says:

      Well, honestly – I think it’s more annoying than anything good. PA never looked nice, it always seemed like a flash game graphics-wise. I’d love to see Rimworld actually having some half-decent 2D arts instead of simple sprites, but never the less – a whole concept of Rimworld seems to be much more interesting than a Prison Architect.

      • Reapy says:

        Yeah, I thought wow this is pretty awesome. Space colony is a great topic, a nice canvas for putting in some really weird shit too. But on look I really despite the art direction, people especially.

        I understand animation can be hard, but just a bit more realistic looking overhead view of generic space colonists would be nice and give the game some more grit. The UI and icon’s are a bit cartoony too, environments seem manageable though. Still flash cartoon seems the wrong art style for the game’s setting.

        Still, will keep it on the track list!

    • Syphus says:

      In another response I already explained why no one would get in trouble. But the short of it is, if I draw a stick figure, I don’t somehow hold the copyright over all stick figures. In addition, the guy has said its some placeholder artwork right now and he’d love to get an arts person.

      I find it slightly amusing that everyone is so hung up on the art style when the game is highly based off of DF. A game with all the graphics of the Based, ASCII map goodness of the Star Trek text game.

  3. Jeremy says:

    This is great news.. I was playing Gnomoria the other day and thought, “This would be a great model to create a space colony/exploration game around.” I will have to follow this closely!

    • geldonyetich says:

      I’ve had similar thoughts. What they’ve put together here looks quite smart and nice. Suffice to say, if this game turns out to be vaporware for some reason, I’m going to have to punch someone.

  4. ralphie says:

    Yikes. I get that game development is all about “borrowing” what works, but it’s generally never this blatant.

    • bglamb says:

      Are you more concerned about the borrowing of gameplay elements or art style?

      • TekDragon says:

        I’m concerned about the blatant copy-pasting of game-play elements, sounds, and graphics. Why? Should I not be, because this looks pretty damn blatant, to the point that I thought it was made by the same guys until I read the article.

        • bglamb says:

          I think that this goes on very heavily all the time and is not noticed, nor minded, as long as the art style is changed.

          Whereas copying the art style is suddenly very noticed and complained about, despite, in my mind, being much less of a real issue.

          I mean, prison architect is basically Dwarf Fortress, is basically theme hospital, is basically whatever, but with a different aesthetic. And that’s fine.

          I don’t think you can say that this is less different (gameplay wise) from PA than PA is from DF.

          • Dozer says:

            I would strongly hesitate to compare DF to Theme Hospital. They have grids, you lay out rooms, your characters are indirectly controlled most of the time – that’s about the limit of it though. Theme Hospital is a hospital-themed amusement park. DF is a detailed simulation of the kitten-slaughtering industry.

          • bglamb says:

            Right, which is the same as comparing this to PA, no?

          • Ein0r says:

            The design of the characters, tiles or sounds is the most obvious one which amateurs can spot.
            The basic genre is the same. In this case DF = TH = PA is correct.
            It is also correct to say Theme Park and Theme Hospial are nearly the same. They even share the same type of interface and the same type of graphic. But it was also created by the same company.

            In this case you have another company, borrowing the art style nearly 1:1 from another company.

            Or is this art design prefabricated by the programming tools those companies use? I dont know.
            Copying from other games has always been existant. For example many MMO games. But as mentioned earlier, graphics and sound are the easiest to spot. The behaviour of the AI not so much.

          • bglamb says:

            Just been reading their forums, and the dev says this:

            “I drew some inspiration from PA. Moreso from its own inspiration, Dwarf Fortress. We don’t share any tools. Chris at IV has his own tech foundation; I built this one on Unity. But they do look somewhat similar; that’s my fault. I’m not a good enough artist to come up with a really good original look. There are only so many ways to render characters on a tiny grid without using animations. I hope the differences between the game will be enough for people to look past the aesthetic similarities. And if I get some funding at some point I can get an artist to help develop a more unique look. I do think the similarities are skin-deep. In gameplay the game resembles DF much more than PA.”

          • Dozer says:

            PA is a bit like a themed, vastly cut-down DF with incomparably better graphics and interface, but PA and DF have much more in common with each other than either does with Theme Hospital.

  5. Reefpirate says:

    Rim World and a Uranus reference in the first sentence. Well done, RPS. I must say my groggy mind chuckled a bit.

    • Loyal_Viggo says:

      Glad I’m not the only one, although I do feel misled by the eventual contents of the article. Far less exciting than I hoped.

    • Dog Pants says:

      Also colon. A beautiful piece of punning. I fancied my chances at starting a pun thread, but the comprehensive title well and truly wrectum.

    • slM_agnvox says:

      Also there is a character in the trailer apparently named Ass. That no one pointed that out yet really bums me out

  6. Core says:

    Is copying elements from an another game to this degree even legal?

    • BobbyDylan says:

      You mind like every FPS and Cawadoodie?

      link to fromthedpad.com

      • durandal says:

        Took the words (or images) right out of my mouth!

        So what if it looks like another game, plenty of games looks similar/near identical. It’s obvious where this game got its inspirations from, that’s good! Lets the prospective player have a very good idea what sort of game it is likely to be!

        I’ve been wanting to play dwarf fortress with a better UI and graphics for years anyway. I’m surprised it’s taken this long.

      • phelix says:


    • Syphus says:

      Even if Introversion did decide to sue, which I’m sure they won’t, its pretty hard to exert copyright claims over an art style. Its like recipes, if I make a Bundt Cake, I can’t go around saying I have a copyright on all Bundt Cake recipes.

  7. Belmakor says:

    Yes yes yes!

    I’m with Jim on the whole “I was never comfortable with (or really engaged by) Prison Architect’s incarceration theme”. For some reason after about 30 minutes of playing PA I can’t help but feel sick. I guess there is a reason why people don’t grow up wanting to be prison designers, or prison wardens!

    It could just be the horrible character art (realistic looking faces and weird bodies) though that makes me feel repulsion in the same way that human looking robots do. link to en.wikipedia.org.

    This will be a definite buy for me though.

    • Teovald says:

      Same thing here. PA looks interesting, but designing prisons don’t look like a good Sunday afternoon to me so I never tried it. This, I will try, even though colonization sim is far less original than prison warden sim..

    • Sparkasaurusmex says:

      I can play a warmongering despot, a blood sucking vampire, a ruthless murderer… any number of these vile characters, but yes, something about PA makes me feel dirty.

      But not in this guilty dirty way… it’s like trailer park dirty? It seems NASCARish.

    • Belmakor says:

      Thinking on this more;

      Is it because we feel like we are giving in to animal instincts?

      For me its like that feeling you get when you have just had sex with someone you love. You feel dirty that for even a few moments you were no better than animals.

      Or that feeling the morning after you have had a heavy night drinking. You didn’t necessarily do anything stupid or regretful, but you feel dirty because you let your animal brain take over you and you know you weren’t in full control and had the ability to do something stupid.

      Prison is a lot like that. Its even designed to make you feel like you ARE a caged animal and a lot of people I suppose give in to that side of themselves. Even the guards and warden can give in to sadistic/animalistic impulses (Stanford prison experiment).

      • schlusenbach says:

        Isn’t it exactly the opposite of animalism to be most efficient in confining masses of people? I think, it’s one of the worst things humans – and only humans – do.

        I bought PA when it was in the steam sale and though I like the game mechanics a lot, at one point I was reminded of building a concentration camp. It is somewhat sickening when you realize what you are doing in prison architects’ gameworld. Now it’s hard for me to enjoy playing it. In fact I haven’t played it since then.

        • darkath says:

          You need to read more about ants. What those tiny guys do is really freaky. Like those mercenary ants who impose a mafia-like protection on farmer ants, extorting them food and supplies while defending them against raider ants which would otherwise pillage their colony.

          link to phenomena.nationalgeographic.com

          Btw, someone need to make a new ant strategy games.

    • wodin says:

      I really have doubts that the developer of PA has the ability to think of and design a great FUN game. He delves into systems and mechanics to the point of being blinkered to the actual gameplay and if the game is going to be enjoyable and fun to play. It’s a reason that that game was cancelled everyone wanted..because there was no actual game to it, it was all about clever systems and mechanics.

      I mean why choose a Prison?? Surely he could have though about what people love then taken the concept that way..like Sci Fi or Fantasy..

      Low and behold this game sounds so much more fun than PA>

    • Lanfranc says:

      I think it’s an important point of Prison Architect to make you feel slightly uncomfortable about the whole thing.

    • Syphus says:

      You say that, but I wish the game had Z-levels so I could build a prison hell-hole a mile underground where the only way out is the morgue….or the prison from No Escape.

  8. Fireflower says:

    Looks like a cool game. Space colony sims are always nice.

    • Nesetalis says:

      there really hasn’t been enough in the field.
      Best of the best was Sid Meyers Alpha Centauri…
      then there was the old Outpost game… awesome concept… but so broken and buggy to make it unplayable.

      I’ve been wanting another one for ages.

  9. pupsikaso says:

    So, I’m curious. With more games like this being released, are they all going to be claimed to be “influenced” or “inspired” by Prison Architect while the real progenitor, Dwarf Fortress, will be forgotten? Simply because PA went commercial and is seeing some measure of success while DF remains rather quiet and obscure?

    • bglamb says:

      It’s because this is taking influence from PA’s art style, which is much more noticeable.

    • Cinek says:

      And what about the real progenitor of Dwarf Fortress?! Why DF people think that DF is something completely unique that came out of nowhere and everyone copy it? Some crazy complex?

      • pupsikaso says:

        So? Are you going to finish your post? What is the real progenitor for DF?

    • bluebottle says:

      Prison Architect bears more resemblance to Theme Hospital than it does to Dwarf Fortress. Certainly there are a lot of clones suspiciously close to Dwarf Fortress which have come out over the last few years, but I wouldn’t really class PA as one of them. Seems a little unfair.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Fuck Dwarf Fortress. No User-Friendly UI, no Recognition. Away to the Curiosity Shelf with you – no limelight for you!

      • Talksintext says:

        Pretty sure that was said with some bit of sarcasm, but I agree anyway. Really, the DF dev has put 0 effort into making the game playable to a wide audience, and though there are excuses for why (doesn’t want to distract from the core elements’ progress), it’s a case of extreme unbalance between underlying mechanics and gameplay. He doesn’t want to take a major production cycle to build a GUI that’s intuitive, non-ASCII, and well actually usable. He also doesn’t want to add any sort of graphical polish. Given the money he’s raked in (not nearly as much as PA or many other games, but certainly more than a lot of Kickstarter campaigns), at this point he ought to be able to afford to bring in an outside dev to help with that side of the game. But he wants to do it all himself and take 30 years to complete it. Yes, it will be the Matrix when it’s done, but I’ll probably be dead before he finishes. In the meantime, it’s GUI and interactions are such a PITA that it’s nigh unplayable for most people.

        As I also was seriously put off by PA’s theme, I’m really excited about this. I assume it’s far less involved than DF, but even if it’s 15% of that game, it’s going to be a must-play for me.

        • unistrut says:

          I’d ranted to my various DF playing friends for the past year or two that something like this was bound to happen. DF is an amazing game absolutely crippled by it’s UI. The fact that people play it at all is a testament to how much desire there is for that sort of game, and it was only a matter of time before devs who aren’t allergic to decent UI start releasing similar games, only with mouse support and graphics.

  10. Radiant says:


    Why has no one… I don’t even…
    WHAT’S HAPPENING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!?
    *throws chair out the window*

  11. wodin says:

    My name is Jason RIMmer…so this game could be just right for me!!

  12. Stardreamer says:

    Fantastic! I am ALL over this. Been waiting for something like this for years, and Unclaimed World is taking a galactic age. Now it’s a race!

  13. Lemming says:

    I always root for Introversion, but none of their games ever grab me. This however, looks right up (space) alley.

  14. brotherthree says:


    This is looking really good… I’m of the same opinion as Jim in that I love the PA style, but the way it currently stands feature wise I just cant get interested.

    Colonizing an alien planet though… with space pirate raids, trading with ships, and aliens?
    Now that I can get on board with! (terrible pun not intended)

  15. zain3000 says:

    And here I thought the walking/talking penis-man art style was going to be a one-off phenomenon. Oh, happy days!

  16. Shadowcat says:

    “Red Dwarf Fortress” is what I’ve taken from this discussion. (Not as a description of this game; just the phrase on its own.) Would anyone like to make that game? You’ll have to figure out what it means first, but that should be fun :)

    “And we’re going to….. live.”

  17. aircool says:

    Looks great, but they really need to change the cock shaped dudes. It also looks like it will be a nightmare for the colourblind.

  18. edwardoka says:

    I played DF yesterday for the first time in about a year and it really is light-years ahead of Prison Architect in terms of interesting FUN things happening.

    In what appeared to be a very innocuous embark site, within 2 months 5 of my dwarves were dead thanks to a flock of GIANT LOVEBIRDS that pecked them to death. I only managed to salvage the fort thanks to a wave of immigrants who turned up just in time to see blood, guts, and body parts all over the shop, one tantruming dwarf throwing his friend’s foot into the river, and my one remaining sane dwarf stockpiling mutilated corpses.

  19. christonian says:

    Just a update on my end with a great game

    We are now 8 colonies in. Videos for 2 separate builds everyday. One survival the other Phoebe with 20+ colonists

    Playlist is at 40 videos and 9hrs of gameplay
    link to youtube.com

    Cant wait till everyone can play it is definitely worth the wait everyone, even if you have to wait another 2 Weeks just means Ty can fit more great stuff/refine and fix bugs into the release build

  20. surethingbud says:

    Man people keep saying this game is just a clone. Had to log in and give my two cents: the combat in this sets it apart. Combat is tactical and awesome. When the game is finished, it will be awesome.

  21. DoomerDGR8 says:

    For fun, you may want to hack the save file for this lovely game: rimifier.codeplex.com