I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Early Access (and the same concept under various different names) has only improved my gaming life.
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RPS Feature Little promises
It’s a good day for lovers of silly patch notes. First, Dwarf Fortress – ever the best source for strange bugs and changes – tweeted to say that you no longer needed to soap your eyes. Then an update for Clockwork Empires – a Lovecraftian town management sim with more than a little Dwarf Fortress in its DNA – came with tales of angry fishpeople.
Also some other, genuinely useful new features for the game’s Early Access build.
RPS Feature The Cabbage Patch Over Innsmouth
Clockwork Empires is a citybuilding/Lovecraftian survival sim from Gaslamp Games, they of the splendid Dungeons of Dredmor, in which you manage and protect Imperial colonists attempting to build a life on a new frontier. A new frontier which just so happens to contain Other Creatures. While it might be a dramatic departure from the successful roguelike that went before it, it does retain the horror-comedy tone. It arrives on Steam Early Access tomorrow, but I’ve been playing it for the last few days.
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The whole idea of Steam Early Access is that games on it aren’t finished, but people rightly expect certain (and sometimes unreasonable) levels of completeness, workingness, and polish. If a game is a bit too wonky when it hits Early Access, it may struggle massively to overcome spreading word that it’s a garbage scam. Needing time and more testers to give Clockwork Empires a going-over before it’s ready enough for Early Access, the gang at Dungeons of Dredmor creators Gaslamp Games are today launching it into what they cheekily call Earliest Access.
If you absolutely positively cannot wait to have a crack at the colonial city-building/Lovecraftian nightmare fun that made our John fizz and foam so much, Earliest Access will open tonight.
John got to play Clockwork Empires during GDC, and he became instantly and irrevocably reviled by the rest of the RPS Hivemind. We might have evolved beyond such base pursuits as love, non-telepathic word-o-mancy, and ever doing anything other than playing games and furiously scribbling about them long ago, but boy do we do jealousy well. I daresay we do jealousy at a 14 millionth grade level. So John will continue to wilt under the minimal pressure of our passive-aggressive ire, because goodness gracious does Clockwork Empires’ fusion of simulation, oddball steampunk antics, and peerless AI sound magnificent. Good-ish news, though:
John Q Public Nathan Q Me will be able to play it this summer. It’s so close, yet so far away.
RPS Feature City building gets personal
Imagine if so much of the bullshit Peter Molyneux has talked over the years was actually in a game. A simulation game where each tiny human lived their own lives, had their own thoughts and feelings and memories, and behaved accordingly. It’s a claim we’ve heard so often that it’s hard not to dismiss it out of hand. So much so that when Dungeons Of Dredmor developers Gaslamp Games were claiming it, I demanded they stop and prove it to me… They did. Clockwork Empires, a colonial village building sim (of sorts) pulls you in with the cult monster worship, but you stay for the extraordinary AI.
If you place some kind of weird one-trailer-per-day restriction on yourself and are currently fretting about finding Mr or Ms Right: The Extremely Brief Videogame Preview, then look no further. Clockwork Empires, the latest ball of bits and bytes from Dungeons of Dredmor developer Gaslamp Games, just got its first trailer, and it’s sending RPS’ hyper-sensitive Delight-O-Meter into a tizzy. The game is a 19th century steampunk colony builder, but the trailer reveals that it’s so very much more than the staid stew of trite aesthetic cliches that description seems to imply. Somehow, it manages to prompt tearfloods of both uproarious laughter and bitter sadness within the span of, like, a minute. Also, there are giant squid monsters. Enough of my blathering. Watch.