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DevLog Watch: XenoRaptor, Citybound, Dwarf Fortress

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Featured post How colourful videogames are. Even ASCII.

It’s Monday and, if you have the same system shocked headache as I do, you might find it comforting to peruse a selection of in-development games. There are videos, there are GIFs (but only one!), there are fine anecdotes. There are promises of a brighter future somewhere on the horizon. It’s videogaming ibuprofen.

Cyberdragons! Colour blindness! Dwarven rumours!

XenoRaptor

“In XenoRaptor, you play as a cyberdragon fighting against armies of rocket propelled chainsaws, bulldozer tanks and other demonic warmachines. The game is designed to be fast paced, responsive and challenging.” Alright, sure. It’s a top-down shmup.

“You can build an enormous amount of distinct weapons by combining components dropped by bosses, making anything from an antimatter chaingun to a weapon which teleports attack bears into the cockpit of enemy ships.” Oh, that sounds interesting.

I read a lot of websites for indie games and you would be amazed at how many of them fail to describe their game in any meaningful terms. DevLogs are different, as they seem to focus designers on the meat of the mechanics of what they’re making. The first paragraphs about XenoRaptor on its TIGSource thread do a wonderful job of explaining what’s interesting about the game: the variety of its enemies, the manner in which you can manipulate its AI, and that it has singleplayer as well as 8-player coop.

There’s even a demo build. A demo! Most finished games don’t have demos.

In the later pages of the thread, its developer Peter “DarthBenedict” Cleary responds to feedback and explains the decisions he’s making as he goes along. And yes, there’s a lot more GIFs.

Citybound

Nathan already covered Citybound when it first took Reddit by storm with the suggestion it might offer what the latest SimCity didn’t. Things like large cities and an offline mode at launch, for example.

Since then its one-man developer has continued to work on the project and, for my purposes just as important, continued to write weekly devlogs of his progress.

Skipping last week’s April Fools entry, the last update included the video above and the first look at the game’s interface. While it’s tempting to think of the game as simply SimCity-done-right, it’s already starting to differentiate itself: in Citybound, you paint zones rather than dragging them out from a grid. That sounds like a recipe for more organic, less Americanized cities.

The same update also shows that there will be a mode to help those who are colour-blind continue to play the game. Kudos!

Updates seem to appear around every Tuesday, so subscribe to its newsletter and you should have a new changelogs, GIFs and videos delivered soon.

Dwarf Fortress

Thus far I’ve focused these columns on new games, or games I hadn’t previously heard of, but someone in the comments last week suggested Dwarf Fortress and how could I resist? The long in-development roguelike isn’t only one of the most complex and fascinating games, it also has one of the longest-running and most detailed development blogs.

The posts alternate between the short, such as a link to a list of newly added plants, and the long, such as stories of ToadyOne’s own experiences playing the game.

“Apparently this was the second army that was sent after the massacre to occupy the site (very non-elfy…) for the Parched Wasp, so they weren’t overtly hostile. I’m not sure when the initial invasion happened, since I didn’t listen to the rumors before I left from Whirllancers. It could have happened any time during the previous two weeks before my adventure. The elves told me that there had been a ‘dispute over the treatment of plants’”

Dwarf Fortress is an intimidating game to play, due to its obtuse interface and startling depth. I think it’s worth overcoming your fear. Grab the Lazy Newb Pack, clear a weekend in your schedule, and learn to play. The wards you will reap – in fun anecdotes, in a long relationship with the future of this decades-long development project – are more than worth climbing over that initial hump.

If you haven’t yet found the time or the confidence, the development log provides plenty of inspiration. “Site riling now includes little groups that try to track you down after the rumor has gotten around that you’ve done something bad,” begins one entry from the 19th of March. “I was robbed properly today. The miscreants approached me south of the well in front of several onlookers. Their leader made small talk as two others surrounded me. Once everybody was in place, the tone changed and they demanded that I yield, which I, being unskilled and alone, did promptly,” reads another from March 8th. The best posts are like this; a mixture of story and feature list.

Or you can read their monthly financial reports, where they openly discuss how much money they’re making in donations. So much good stuff!

From the archives

This is a week for posting some of the initial inspirations for this column, like Citybound and Dwarf Fortress and, yeah, Cliff Bleszinski. If you’ve seen him on Twitter, you might not be surprised to discover that the former Epic Games designer is an opinionated man. You might not know that he used to so openly share his opinions about Buffy The Vampire Slayer though.

SUBJECT: BUFFY AND 8 MILE

Buffy

Buffy is back. Two weeks ago I said to my co workers “Buffy is back with the comedy…but can they bring the tragedy?” This episode was very, very emotional and really got to me. Willow and the blonde punk chick “ghost” reminded me of the best scenes from Ghost… and the scenes with Dawn rivaled Poltergeist. The writers did a great job on this episode and I’m excited about this season.

I was THIS close to giving up on Buffy.

8 MILE

Good movie. There were times I felt that the supporting cast was told “act poorly, so Eminem looks good” but I won’t hold the movie to that too much. (Ahem “WHAT HAAAVE YEEEW EVER DUUUNE RAAABIT?”)

Anyways, am I the only one who thinks this movie is based on “Through the looking glass/Alice in Wonderland?”

Never give up on Buffy. (Except for the comics, which I gave up on.)

Are you making a game, writing a devlog, or following along with one you enjoy? As always, email me. My head still hurts.

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Graham Smith

Editor-in-chief

Graham is to blame for all this.

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