Post news RSS Dev blog #1: Dwarves in a new world

An overview of what I'm aiming for in this colony survival game.

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This is a colony simulation game in which you lead a band of merry dwarves to build a settlement in the wilderness. There are two general goals: the first is to grow your colony, by supplying enough food/shelter for your citizens to survive. The second goal is to explore underground. There are monsters, treasures, and many other things hidden in the depths. Some of these things will help you grow your colony, while others may pose a challenge. The world (and the surprises in it) are randomly generated when you start a new game.

Your colony isn't the only thing in this world. There are other settlements, owned by factions that are all vying for control of this land. Sometimes they may ask for support; whether or not you choose to help them will impact how the game unfolds.

A unique experience, in a familiar environment:

Colony simulation is one of my favorite genres, and I want to make a game that keeps the best bits of that genre while tweaking some aspects I think could be better. Here are a few of the things I want to focus on:

- Player Creativity and "building a cool base". When you're just getting started, your base will probably be a few wooden shacks. But as time goes on, it should start to look like a place where dozens of people live and work. From lava pits to underground farms to wizard's towers, I want the structure of a base to be a living story of how your colony got started and where they're going. Some games already do this really well: I love how easy it is to make beautiful towns in Banished, and how it's possible to follow villagers around as they do their daily work.

- Exploration. This is something not a lot of colony sim games do. Most of the time, you're plunked down in an environment where you can see everything and there's nothing to explore. Or, survival takes so much effort that there's not much time to go digging outside of your home base. I'd like this game to be equal parts survival and exploration. Once you've got your dwarves situated, then you can start delving greedily and deep. Exploring should be one of the key ways to grow your colony and attract new members.

- A Living World. I enjoy games like The Sims, Sid Meier's Pirates, and Dwarf Fortress, where the story is not set in stone but instead is created over time by the player's actions. In this game you've traveled to a volcanic island, the site of an ancient dwarven civilization, in the hopes of striking it rich. However, you're not the only colony on this island. Other factions might be peaceful or aggressive, and they may help you or not based on what you do. Most importantly: factions should react to each other, not just the player. War might break out; if you're on the border between two warring factions, expect the unexpected.

The road goes ever on:

This project has been in development for just a few months, and there's a long way to go before accomplishing some of the goals I've set. Most importantly, the design vision for this game is a continual work-in-progress. In these past few months gameplay systems have already been tweaked, added, and removed entirely. Nothing is set in stone. Although the overall goal (to create a colony simulation game) will stay the same, the way we get there may change dramatically. Expect change, and lots of it! Expect features to be added and removed. Expect slow and steady improvement.

If you have any suggestions, questions, or general feedback, feel free to reach out! Drop me a message here, on twitter (@pixelmeal) or on reddit (/u/pixelmeal). Happy digging!

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