AtomP (P)review Updates 1

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By Tom Hooper aka Atomp

I figured that I’ve done quite a few previews of early games in these articles and the early nature of the builds means that they are probably different today than they were when I covered them. I’ve decided therefore that it would be a good idea to do an update article on occasion where I give a brief update of the current state of these games and what has been changed, that way any niggles that you or I had about the game can be examined again. I’ve pretty much compiled a list of updated games and due to the length of each update I decided to split it into two parts to avoid throwing a ridiculous wall of text at you. Therefore I present to you the first part of two in which I give you a quick update on the preview games that I’ve looked at before. This week we will have a look at the older articles; NEO Scavenger, Kerbal Space Program and Kentucky Route Zero.

NEO Scavenger (Covered 17-01-13)

This is an old preview and whilst the base game is pretty much the same, there is a great deal more content than before. The addition of an updated crafting system appears to have provided a solid basis for the addition of new recipes and items which have been developed well. There are now more ranged items including a selection of firearms to complement the single rifle in the early build that I reviewed and also the addition of bows. (Which recently are becoming very common in games and I couldn’t be happier about that.) There are also a selection of appropriately bodged weapons, such as the broken whiskey bottle as a weapon or a simple craftable shiv. The inclusion of additional content to the game just give the whole thing more of what made it great to begin with, the ability for emergent gameplay and story creation. The idea of picking off bandits with a bow, or shivving some horrible creature in a desperate attempt to survive the encounter just introduce new elements into what was already a great stew of story-creation potential. The developer has also introduced new mechanics such as non-lethal options in combat where unconscious victims can be looted and left alive, this means that moral choices can come into play in combat where before kicking to death that passed-out bandit with no boots was the only option. This may not have any explicit result on how the game world reacts to you, but it doesn’t need to as the urge to role-play can often over-shadow the implementation of game mechanics designed to force such a response, such as Bioware’s rather obvious morality system.

The addition of these changes means that the game is only getting better and everything that I praised in the original review is present and correct whilst also growing and getting refined. The developer has a very open development process and there are regular updates through the news section of the game’s website. In all the game has progressed and the good public relations of the developer and relatively open development process makes it easy to follow everything going on. If you felt that at the time of my initial review that the game had a solid foundation but lacked content then perhaps it’s time to go and check it out again.

Kerbal Space Program (Covered 31-01-13)

Kerbal Space Program has come a long way since my January preview and gained a significant amount of publicity and popularity. The fundamental game has remained as is and whilst the Career Mode is in development the current build retains Sandbox as its sole game mode. There has been an improvement in the fundamental engine of the game, which means better visuals and performance in an already impressive game. On the subject of engine the game now has fully featured Windows, Mac and Linux native builds available which is just so great. These builds are also integrated into the now fully cross-platform Steam which is once again a fantastic development.

Whilst gaining engine improvements and native ports there have also been additions to the content, including more space-station elements, a selection of rover parts and general additions to other parts of the construction kit. From what I’ve gathered the developers are now focusing their time to finishing the base game and the Career Mode rather than adding content, however if more content is your fix then they’ve provided an officially sanctioned add-on repository for the multitude of great community produced content. The amount of content now available for KSP is just amazing and the potential is there for just about any of your space-based desires. I’m personally very much looking forward to where they go with Career Mode and eagerly anticipate that particular update.

All in all KSP has become a widely known and supported game, which is really great to see. There has been some controversy over an off-hand statement about paid-DLC which meant that the developers felt it necessary to compromise with a vocal minority that felt that their early access should give them access to all content for KSP forever. Whilst it’s fantastic that the developers  responded as such all this does is set a precedent for more lawyers in the indie game sphere in order to counter the whiny idiots that can’t give the developer’s a break. This is a bad thing as the lack of lawyers and a good community spirit was one of the advantages indies had, but alas this is being eroded by unpleasant and vocal people, probably Youtube commenters.

Despite all of that stuff, certainly try out Kerbal Space Program as it’s worth every penny and will only continue to get better as the developers near completion and the community continues to grow.

Kentucky Route Zero (Covered 14-02-13)

My initial coverage of this game was not so much a preview as it was looking at the first episode of an episodic release. After some delay the second act finally snuck a release on 31st May, this is (obviously) a continuation of of the story and as such I’m going to avoid covering story elements. In all though the second act is a strong successor to the first and retains everything that made the first act enjoyable. The release of the following three acts have been promised over the course of the year, however it is an indie studio working on something as gorgeous as KRZ, so to be fair I would prefer a ‘when its done’ attitude with any delays that might result over some arbitrary solid release schedule.

There has been some change to the purchasing means; there is no longer the option for individual episode purchase meaning that there is only a pack option. The reason for this is to simplify organising ownership for a small indie studio which is reasonable, although it somewhat changes the episodic nature. The game is also now available through Steam in addition to the Humble Store and is also natively cross-platform on both, which is plain fantastic.

KRZ remains a great title and the episodes whilst possibly delayed remain of high standard. Whether you want to buy the pack now and wait for the episodes to release before playing them, or buy and play the complete package once it’s done is up to you.

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