Hello, hello, hello and welcome along to Parcival Plays. This site is a place for a Scottish guy in his 30's to share some of the games he is playing. This will be a variety of older games and more recent titles with most of these being by smaller or indie teams. Please feel free to comment on posts or follow me on Twitter and to drop me an email using the buttons on the right. New posts will generally be weekly on a Wednesday.


Parcival

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Creo God Simulator - Upcoming game!



Creo God Simulator is an upcoming settlement God game by 8-bit Bento, created out of a love for games such as Black and White and Populous.  Development started a little under a year ago and the game recently launched a Kickstarter campaign.  As it is still quite early in the development cycle this is very much a first look preview and all of this is subject to change.

You have recently become a lesser god (congratulations!) and now need to build your civilisation.  You start with a small number of items available (the usual suspects of residences, wood cutter and quarry) and will develop over time.  As your civilisation advances and your skills as a god improve, you will have access to a wider selection of items and even god powers with which you can choose to smite your society, although beware the enemy god who can be a bit unpredictable at times!
The plaza with a small temple to encourage loyalty

The first thing you need to do is to place your plaza which will become the centre point of your settlement.  From here you can build, expand and manage your society, hopefully picking up some believers on the way.  The game is very much a sandbox type game, however with resource management, in that there are currently no objectives.  You simply have an area which you want to populate and develop in the way that you choose.  This includes collecting wood, stone and metals but also ensuring the needs of your populous are met with food etc.

A developed settlement

As people build their belief in you as their god, you will gain Willpower.  This allows you to use your god abilities.  At the time of writing I have only been able to experience two.  Do you want to be a caring god and bring rain to the crops to provide food and sustinence, or are you a vengeful god who wants to reign destruction with meteors?  The choice, as they say, is yours.  You may want to combine these and bring some good times, but also remind people who is in charge.  Each of the people who live in your realm have free will and may choose to believe you (and increase your willpower) or not, so there may be times where you cause destruction strategically if your number of believers is low.

Kaboom! a meteor destroys a settlement

The game has some procedural generation, which not only makes the landscape different each time you play with varied distribution of resources, but also with a randomisation engine for 'storytelling'.  This will allow random events (disasters?) to occur which you will need to react to.  Being to zealous in your mining could result in golems terrorising your towns, heretic cults stealing your believers or maybe even zombie outbreaks.

Placing a lumberyard in a forest near the town

Esteban (the developer) has a lot of ideas for the game but is also actively looking for suggestions from the players for how to improve the game and make it something people will enjoy playing, with a plan for an Early Access release during the first half of 2019 but definitely a community approach.  To this end, he is already running an open pre-alpha through his itch.io site where you can download the development builds for free, and provide feedback via his Discord server where he has been very active.  This will allow you to try it out and get a feel for the project and decide whether to contribute as the game is set as pay what you want (even if you download for free you can contribute at a later time).  So far I've played about 30 minutes and very interested to see where this goes.  I'll be keeping a close eye on this and hopefully when we have more content, I'll be able to get another article to show it off in all it's glory.

Edit: Since writing this article there has been an update released to the game (hence the delay as I wanted to check it out).  This has added a couple of features including a day/night lighting cycle and a speed control to increase game speed.  The road system has also had an update meaning that you now have to place a road before you can place buildings.  As with many of these games the roads have an AoE, indicated by a blue highlight, which shows how far from the roads you can build.  

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

MachiaVillain

MachiaVillain is an evil mansion management game, developed by French studio Wildfactor (Freaking Meatbags) and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment (Train Fever, Hard Reset & Oh... Sir! The Insult Simulator).  The game released on 18th of May 2018 and the devs very kindly provided me with a key recently to write this article.

The game started life as a prototype developed during a Ludum Dare Game Jam.  Receiving positive feedback from the event, and attracting a grant from the French Government, the team were able to expand and fully develop the game.  The developers drew inspiration from a variety of places including Dungeon Keeper, Prison Architect and all the clich├ęs of 50s B movies.

Your plot with some evil trees and rocks blocking contruction

You are tasked by the League of Mechiavellian Villains with running a haunted mansion.  Unfortunately they have only provided you with a meagre supply of resources and a piece of land in the middle of a forest.  They do also provide you with 3 minions who will do your bidding.  When you start you are given a choice of a number of minions, each with different abilities such as how many jobs they can have assigned, which jobs they are better at and various traits like coffee maniac which reduced sleep requirement or quick feet which increases movement speed, but they also have weaknesses, for example send your vampire minions outside during the day and they will lose health.  These minions are 'brain dead' in that they can't think for themselves and must be assigned jobs or they will stand around doing nothing.

The first order of business is to clear some space so that you can build, and then establish a home office so that you can write invites to lure your unsuspecting victims to the mansion.  To do this you will need to set areas of resources such as trees and stone to be cleared by your minions.  It's easy at this point to wonder why they are just standing about. As I mentioned earlier they can't think for themselves, so you also need to assign the individual minions to resource gathering in the jobs screen.  Once you have some space, there are various rooms you can build which will allow you to progress in your mission to become the ultimate Machiavillain.  Building a room is as simple as placing down floor tiles and surrounding these with walls and a door.  The type of room is determined by what items you place in the room, for example a writing desk will make a home office, beds will make a bedroom and a butchers table will make a kitchen.  The first room you will need is a home office.  Without this you won't be able to attract your victims... umm guests, to visit your mansion.  Once you have placed your writing desk you will need to assign someone to make adverts.  Once you have some you can select an ad campaign such as 'You Have Won A Luxury Cruise' which will determine the number, and types, of victims who will come.

The starting ad campaigns available to you

Once your victims arrive you don't want to spook them too quickly.  You can make rooms with specific items, such as lights, televisions and bookcases, which will put them at ease but if they see your minions or blood on the floor from previous visitors they will become increasingly suspicious.  These victims will be the food source for your minions, but you can't just kill them without some planning.  Initially you will just want to hide your minions whilst the victims arrive and then attack once they have arrived.  As time goes on though you can build a lab and research new items.  These will allow you to build items such as traps and false walls making it easier to separate and kill your victims.  The League of Mechiavellian Villains also have a series of rules they expect you to follow.  Most importantly you should try to kill the victims when they are on their own.  Failure to do this will result in a slight penalty. 

Clearing stone whilst building a room for victims with other minions

In addition to building your mansion and attracting your victims, you must also look after the needs of your minions.  As mentioned earlier some minions must stay inside during the day or will lose health.  They also need to get time to rest and fed.  Failure to provide these needs will result in lowered loyalty.  Minions with a low loyalty will not want to work for you.  There are various ways you can boost the loyalty by improving how you fulfil the needs.  For example, whilst they are less hungry when they eat they are unhappy if they have to do so standing or without a table to eat, and will be better rested (and happier) if they can sleep in a bed.  They also won't be happy if your mansion is of a low prestige and isn't spooky.  These are rectified fairly simply.  For the spookiness there are certain items (candles, skulls etc) which boost this rating for you minions.  The prestige is increased by having larger rooms with more and better items (similar to Two Point Hospital).

A mansion with various rooms for both minions and victims

I find it difficult not to think of Don't Starve when playing this game.  This isn't a bad thing though and is probably due to the similar art style and the dull lighting, which add to the atmospheric of the game.  The cartoon graphics also make the game generally light hearted to go with the relatively black theme of the game.  Whilst I've only played this for a few hours so far I am thoroughly enjoying it and it has become one of those '5 more minutes' games when you suddenly realise that it's 2am.  I had also only scratched the surface of the possibilitoes with the items, primarily as I spend so long gathering resources and making rooms that I forget to make adverts to entice victims.  If you have a dark sense of humour and are looking for something which can while away a few hours then I'd say this game is very worth picking it.  It is available on Steam for $19.99/€19.99/£14.99

Also whilst the game is not an early access title, development is continuing with a current public beta for owners of an update including new items and features including electricity.



Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Chris Sawyer's Locomotion


Chris Sawyer is probably best known for creating the Rollercoaster Tycoon (RCT) series and developing the first two games in the series.  He has also recently been involved with the team who recently made the mobile port RCT Classic, which is essentially RCT2 with a touch interface for tablets/phones and the RCT1 scenarios and content reworked in the RCT2 file format.  This is not the only games he has made however.  In the 80's and Early 90's he worked on a number of projects including the PC version of Frontier: Elite 2 with David Braben.  This would develop the relationship that would lead to Frontier developing the Xbox port, expansion packs for RCT2 and going on to make RCT3.  He also created transport management game Transport Tycoon.  It was actually whilst working on a sequel to this game that he became sidetracked and made RCT.  Following the success of these games, he returned to the transport game and Chris Sawyer's Locomotion was released in September 2004. 

Despite the name, the focus is on multiple transport methods, rather than just railways.  You have access to rail, road and air transport options depending on the scenario you are playing.  Some you are limited by the time period, whilst in others you may be restricted to using, or not being able to use, a given form of transportation.  You are challenged with providing and developing a diverse and thriving transport network in the region.  You do this by providing trains, trams, goods vehicles and busses to meet the needs of the various buildings in the area.  This also means managing a production network, for example transporting grain or cattle from farms to food factories, and then that food in to your cities.  Of course, you also need to ensure the infrastructure exists, so can build new roads, rails and tram tracks in the region.  You also need to set stops and stations.  When you are placing these there is a useful highlight showing the catchment area, helping you ensure that as many buildings are covered without overlapping.

Scenario selection, clearly heavily inspired by RCT

The game is split into a number of scenarios which are divided by difficulty (Beginner, Easy, Medium, Challenging & Expert) in a format that will be familiar to players of RCT and RCT2.  These have a variety of objectives such as delivering a set number of passengers or goods, or achieving a set performance index which is a score based on your network efficiency.  In most of these you will also need to compete with AI companies.  Like you, they can also build roads, stops and rail meaning that you may have to react to the placements of these, particularly the rails as you cannot run trains on lines owned by other companies.

Once you have placed your transport stops (train stations, bus/tram stops, cargo depots, ports or airports) you will be able to select these to see an information pane.  This will give information, such as items waiting collection and items accepted for delivery, which will help you plan your routes.  You also need to think about the best placements for your stops, for example most houses will produce both passengers and mail, however only certain buildings can accept the mail.  As the towns will develop dynamically based on how well you are providing services, the items accepted at a particular station may change, new industries may develop or industries may even stop production.  You will get a notification for these events and may want to change the services you are providing as a result.
A town serviced by trams and busses with shared stops

Setting road routes is as simple as popping some stops on existing roads and purchasing a vehicle.  If you don't set a route they will move between the stops in their own priority, however you are able to define a set route to control which stops it will visit.  If you are connecting industries, or setting a route between two towns, you may need to add more roads.  Setting up tram routes is very similar to road routes, except you need to place tram tracks.  These can be placed either over roads or completely off road.   These will use the same stops as the busses which will help you to increase the speed at which passengers are transported from popular stops.  Air and sea networks are similarly simple to set up - place the port, select the type of ship or plane you want and set a route between them.

Simple rail circuit

Setting up rail routes can get very involved.  Firstly you must build rails and stations.  Then you purchase a locomotive and select your carriages based on what you want to transport on a given route.  The simplest train route you can have is a straight line with a station at each end.  On this you won't need to set a route as trains will shuttle between both ends, however you can only run one train.  The simplest solution to this would be to create a circuit where you can have a train running between each station.  A more 'elegant' solution is to split the track after the stations and run a train in each direction.  This involves the use of signals.  To do this you need to pull a branch off the line a few tiles away from the station (making sure there is enough space for the entire train to clear the junction) and run the rails to a similar position at the other station and linking them back up.  You can the use the one way signals to determine a direction of travel for each of the tracks.  As you learn the system you can also expand to use branches off the main line to supplement deliveries and also even utilise complex junctions with multiple platform stations.

Signal controlled station with multiple platforms

In all the game is a very solid management simulation, although sometimes it can feel like the available loans are a bit OP and sometime the AI companies can expand very rapidly.  If you enjoy this style of game though it's very worth the purchase, although the main downfall is the lack of an endless/sandbox mode (although there is a 100 year challenge on some scenarios), but that is more a sign of when the game was released as it was less common at that time.  I've had a good number of hours enjoyment from the game and even picked up a version of it which Sawyer worked on as the iOS and Android release of Transport Tycoon in 2013, although there were some changes in that version.  You can pick it up on Steam for £4.79.