Gnomoria Defies Name By Leaving Early Access

Gnomoria [official site] is a sandbox village management ’em up that tasks you with helping a group of outcast gnomes on their way to building a kingdom/gnome utopia. After a few years in Early Access, and a few years development prior to that, it’s now launched itself into full release and I surely can’t get to the end of this intro paragraph without mentioning its spectacularly puntastic name. Lovely.

Inspired by games such as Dungeon Keeper, the Settlers series, The Sims, and of course Dwarf Fortress, Gnomoria follows a team of gnomes who’ve been ostracised by wider society simply for being different. They’re out to start new lives and it’s on you to aid their quest by way of overseeing the construction and development of their new settlement.

In typical city builder fashion, you’ll source shelter, water, food and defense measures; and will train citizens in a variety of occupations – including military ranks to fend off goblins and other unscrupulous visitors – so as to ensure the evolution of their new surrounds.

This is a few years old now, but here’s an alpha gameplay trailer with developer commentary so as to see how the basics operate in practice:

Developer Robotronic Games have issued a steady stream of updates throughout the game’s development, each including a bundle of fixes and tweaks, not least version 1.0. I’ve dabbled in Gnomoria on a couple of occasions over the course of its development span and have had fun, however I’ve not had the chance to dive into version 1.0 just yet. That said, it does seem to have gathered some pretty nice reviews over on Steam.

Gnomoria is out now on the Humble Store for £10.99 and on Steam for the same price.

34 Comments

  1. Shiloh says:

    I’ve been enjoying Gnomoria for a while now. Sure, it ain’t Dwarf Fortress, but that’s not a bad thing – what it does, it does really well, and there are plenty of options for turning off baddies etc if old fashioned city building is your thing.

    Just fired up a new game this morning when I noticed Steam had updated it. I need to come up with a better settlement name than “Shilohville” though.

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      The Shiloh-Silo? Sorry, I am not great with town names.

    • Llewyn says:

      “Shilohstadt”, surely.

      • Shiloh says:

        Hmm, alliteration apart, that got me thinking about casting the net a bit wider than the usual English suffixes, and I’ve ended up with Shilohgrad. Cheers for the suggestions, everyone.

    • Hidoshi says:

      Doesn’t “Godzilla’s Playground” have a nice ring to it (or Gnomezilla if you want to stay in the theme)?

    • Deverz says:

      Shilohopolis

    • subactuality says:

      I realize you’ve already come up with your name, but “Shireloh,” of course!!

    • Premium User Badge

      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      New Shilohville?

  2. MrFinnishDude says:

    I would instead recommend Dwarf Fortress with Stonesense added. I understand that Gnomoria is easier to access, but you’re truly missing out (you filthy casual). I read that Dwarf Fortress runs more complex simulations than when calculating the aerodynamics of a wing.

    • Rizlar says:

      As someone who also didn’t bounce off DF I was wondering what the appeal of Gnomoria might be.

      Also didn’t notice the pun in the title, clearly a big selling point. Anyways I fucking love Dwarf Fortress. But there is also plenty of room in the world for DF derivatives so no hard feelings towards Gnomoria.

    • Shiloh says:

      I’ve played a fair bit of DF as well, and while Gnomoria doesn’t aim for the complexity of sim that DF does, it’s good fun in its own right.

      There’s more than enough room in PCGamingworld for the two to co-exist happily, I think.

  3. Herzog says:

    Any chance for a WiT? As someone who bounced off Dwarf Fortress more then once this always seemed like a nice alternative. Always wanted to wait for the full version though.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      As someone who also bounced of Dwarf Fortress, this scratched that itch a year ago for me, so it can only be better now.

      I’d say this and Rimworld are best alternatives to the DF model right now. Rimworld still has a long way to go, but it’s still fun right now.

      • Solomon Grundy says:

        I second Rimworld as a great alternative to DF. In addition to the clunkiness of the UI, whenever I fire up DF, I can’t help but see a bunch of half-finished simulations glued together in a creaky mess. Rimworld does a better job of making you care about your little mini people.

      • rexx.sabotage says:

        RimWorld is an accessible alternative to DF but, waaaaaaaay too light on content for it’s present price point ($30 US).

    • Aetylus says:

      I also bounced of DF but Gnomoria has become one of my most played games. Its often described as DF-lite, but considering that DF is ultra-dense, that pretty much means that Gnomoria is just the right weight.

    • tafoya77n says:

      I have tried to get into dwarf fortress countless times and everytime made it further and like it even had FUN! But somehow I can never pick my self up and start over again, it just feels like work instead of fun. I always come back and try again in 6 months and have the same experience.

      Gnomoria on the other hand while less complex falls much less into that pit of feeling like its work when something completely fails. Sure it is possible to get a fully functional town with a military so badass and remove any danger. At that point the lack of depth does make it a weaker game than DF and gets slow and repetitive which sucks. The thing is, it is possible to get to that point because it isn’t so utturly dense and complicated that something will make you fail like DF, and the journey is enjoyable.

  4. davethejuggler says:

    I played a ton of this maybe a year ago. It’s a lot of fun. It can get a bit tense when the raids start getting stronger, but i think you can scale that back down for more relaxed gameplay. It’s kinda like a fantasy version of rimworld but with height levels so you can build quite complicated layered structures, mines and corridor systems.

    Will definitely have another look now that it’s got a full release, but stardew valley is being released tomorrow! The choices the choices!

  5. Sin Vega says:

    Happy to see more games doing “Dwarf Fortress but playable”, but that music is horrible, I can’t believe they left it in for the trailers on their sale pages.

    • aleander says:

      You can switch it to a different instrument set in game, because it’s all MIDI, yay.

    • ritsl says:

      One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. I actually like the music and copied the world-building song to my music player. :)

      • ritsl says:

        oh and to aleander, the music may have been midi created but the game uses ogg files of it.

  6. Oakreef says:

    Maybe I’m just a bit slow today but I don’t grasp the connection between the name Gnomoria and it being early access. Something to do with “no more”?

  7. Schnallinsky says:

    i think it’s a play on the LOTRs “moria” – the gnomes personal moria because sooner or later everything goes to hell.

  8. Sauch says:

    When this first came up on my discovery queue, I admit I immediately pressed ‘Not interested’. I haven’t played Dwarf Fortress before, perhaps mainly due to its steep learning curve, though I might give this a try.

    Guess you can say I’d really like to Gnomoria ’bout this game.

    Okay I’ll show myself out.

  9. photoheathen says:

    So I’ve been generally aware of this for years but have never really explored it. Would it be a good fit for those people that enjoyed but were ultimately burned by Towns?

  10. albamuth says:

    Love this game’s design.

    There’s a host of valuable lessons for makers of sim-type games and tactical games as well:

    * This games isn’t about micro-management so much as macro-management. Instead of directly controlling the Gnomes, you give them tasks and assign them roles. This is akin to delegating the details of work to underlings. I so wish games like Cities:Skylines or even RTS games had intelligent agents that self-manage to accomplish tasks and fill roles you design.

    * Crafting trees based on materials and skills, with logic – I just don’t like the whole “I have to kill four jaguars in order to carry more smoke grenades” type of crafting, with arbitrary item requirements having to do more with unlocking xp levels/map areas than things that make sense. Same goes for Fallout 4 : the crafting is just arbitrarily locked by level and perk requirements, not, “you need to make stone tools to make a sawmill to refine logs into lumber to make into furniture at a carpentry bench.”

    * Skills and stats have to do with practice, not character level – Having your Gnomes spend all day at the dojo pays off. Having a skilled metalsmith make your armor and weapons makes more powerful weapons. A skilled carpenter takes less time to make things, and so forth. This is meaningful character progression. When you kill twenty Deathclaws and then suddenly gain the ability to have people establish supply lines, it makes it all seem meaningless.

    Anyhow, that’s just a few insights that playing Gnomoria gave me. You guys have any?

    • frightlever says:

      The game punishes you relentlessly for succeeding, in a non-random way. Mine too much, produce too much food, expand the worth of your kingdom too much, and it will trigger some kind of monster or raid to appear. The game is literally about nothing BUT micro-management, as you manipulate your stocks to either prevent or encourage these incursions, more or less at will.

      It’s been in Early Access so long that there’s a “right” way to play the first few years, which if you don’t slavishly follow it, you’ll probably lose your settlement.

      It was actually great fun a year and a half ago, but RoboBob made some lazy design choices and stuck with them.

      It’s something which modding may be able to fix, though I’m not sure how open it is.

  11. SomeDuder says:

    Managed to sink 300 hours into this while it was still getting weekly updates. The game is stronk in this one. While the visuals are horrible and not that effective, it’s horribly fun designing the rooms, layer by layer, and watching the various gnomes perform their tasks.

    Only for all your work to be ruined by a goblin invasion :<

  12. Zankman says:

    I checked this game out, like, a month ago – to see where it was – and the recent Reviews were negative, citing a lot of missing features, the Developer slowing down work, deciding not to implement many promised features and content…

    And now the Reviews on release are all positive but NONE of them mention anything about content.

    I fear that people that played Gnomoria in the past few years (but not necessarily recently) just saw the game releasing and decided to leave a positive Review, without checking on the state of the game…

    • rexx.sabotage says:

      “The fewer the facts, the stronger the opinion”

      I believe is what they say.

  13. Malibu Stacey says:

    I gave it a go in summer 2013 & it was pretty dire. Might try seeing if it’s improved in that time as there were so few updates for a while I gave up expecting it to ever have any more development.

    Also the community were no better than Dwarf Fortress. I posted actual reproducible bugs on their support forum with a full list of steps to reproduce & was repeatedly told by various people that “it’s meant to be like that, you’re just no micromanaging it enough” which put me completely off the game (because if I want to play a game where the answer is “micromanage more” I would just play Dwarf Fortress instead).

  14. edgepixel says:

    I bought Gnomoria in early access because of the concept, forgetting my rule of never buying anything in early access. I had fun with it, for a bit of time. Then stopped playing and never returned.

    What bugged me the most was the arbitrariness of some mechanics: First and foremost the convoluted way to get a damn needle. You can’t advance your tech much until you get a needle. You can only make needles from yak bones (Uh, sorry, what? Why?). Meaning you need to kill one. Meaning you need to have at least three yaks, so you’re left with a pair. Meaning you need to wait a lot for the initial pair to produce the third; or get lucky with trading.

    Second most annoying thing is how those damn dwarves never seem to do what they’re told; and there’s always something stopping the manufacturing chain.

    So yeah. Arbitrary. Micromanagement. Unreliable. Crisis management.

    There’s still a certain alluring quality to it, a “it would be nice to play a bit more of Gnomoria. Or something like it.”