AtomP – (P)review Updates 2

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By Tom Hooper aka Atomp

I’ve done quite a few previews of early games in my articles. 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. This week I present the second article of two looking at the games as they are now and how much they have or have not changed since release. This week contains the newer of the past articles; Don’t Starve, Megabyte Punch and Cataclysm DDA.

Don’t Starve (Covered 11-03-13)

Don’t Starve has advanced hugely since I last covered it, having a full release and a variety of other developments. The game is still available through the Humble Store and Steam now that it’s complete however there are now native builds of the game for Windows, Mac and Linux on Steam which provide an experience on all platforms free of Chrome if need be. This is a great addition as it provides a platform agnostic basis for what is an excellent experience.

Klei have really pushed the bar in terms of game updates, they continued their regular update schedule all the way up to release and then after release they continued it! Whilst the fundamentals of the game have been cemented post-release Klei are still churning out additional content to the game all of which is appearing free of charge. This includes the ability to travel to different newly spawned worlds, adventure mode and a whole cave system providing access to an underworld. This is an astounding amount of content that Klei are throwing at Don’t Starve and to be fair it’s working hugely to their advantage, it has become a popular game with a huge amount of coverage in the gaming and social media.

The amount of content in Don’t Starve has hit a fantastic level and despite being out for some time it still has enough to be fresh. Everything that I praised in my original Don’t Starve preview is still present; the great art style, the good music, brilliant sound and solid survival gameplay however this has been supplemented with even more content. My one complaint would be that once a solid survival technique is established the process of survival can become a grind, however this complaint is countered by the addition of Adventure Mode and the new content. Everything ties together to provide a very full featured package, with various modes of play and a character unlock system based upon points given for survival.

In short Don’t Starve was great during its development and is even better post release. If you’re still not convinced then there are some great youtube playthroughs where the player has gotten so much further than I ever have, one such playthrough would be Sips (yogscastsips) whose playthrough is consistently entertaining.

Megabyte Punch (Covered 29-05-13)

It hasn’t been that long since I last covered Megabyte Punch however the game is still progressing. The current beta version is still the version I initially looked at although there is still news as to the progress of the game and the Greenlight campaign.

The developers have announced that this will be their final push on the game which hints towards a fairly close release date despite it being officially set. It has been confirmed for Windows, Mac and Linux and the release cost is said to be around $15 (around £9.78). This is a pretty reasonable price although remember that you can still get it now for $7.50 if you enjoy the demo. Feature-wise immediate or soon inclusion of online multiplayer does not seem all that likely, the demand for online multiplayer has been recognised by the developers but they are still a small team and are still dividing attention between this and other projects. In short the development team seem to want this game done and the inclusion of online multiplayer for a two man team could well add significant time and resources to the project. Whilst I respect their decision making and understand their situation I really feel that the inclusion of online multiplayer when releasing on PC could push the game’s popularity.

In an interview when this topic came up the interviewer rather than the developers commented that online multiplayer was unnecessary and that requesting it was just ‘PC gamers, right’, unfortunately this is a PC game being sold to gamers on that platform; PC gamers. If the devs release with only local co-op the game will still do fine because it’s a great game, however if they patch in online multiplayer it has the potential to do very well. The harsh truth is that PC gamers just aren’t into local multiplayer, the platform is just not suited to it. What you have therefore is a title that shines brightest in multiplayer, not using the form of multiplayer that 90% of the release platform actually use. PC multiplayer is based around online; MMOs, co-op, competitive and everything in between use online multiplayer and it’s online where these multiplayer communities develop and thrive and these online communities just won’t gravitate towards a multiplayer game they can’t play together.

Onto the Greenlight campaign that does seem to be pushing forward although not as quickly as it should be for a game as good as this. At 18000 votes the game is halfway to getting to the top 50, which is fairly good news and no doubt the steady progression will continue, however the one request that is glaringly obvious on the Greenlight page is online multiplayer. The developers may have a bit of a catch 22 in that in order to gain more popularity on Greenlight and get the resources to respond to this request they first need to have online multiplayer promised or there. I’d hazard a guess that the lack of online is hindering the Greenlight progress, although it could also be down to Greenlight being inherently flawed to an extent.

In all I can still recommend Megabyte Punch as it’s still a really fun and satisfying single player experience for the price, however don’t be expecting to be playing this gem multiplayer with your buddy unless he/she is miraculously sat right next to you. (The interview I was referring to, which is a good listen apart from the jab at PC gamers by the interviewer).

Cataclysm DDA (Covered 20-06-13)

Since my review on Cataclysm there has been a new release; 0.6. This new update introduces a variety of different changes including more persistent dead undead, a switched up view distance implementation, a noise indicator, Windows performance improvements and a few more. I’ve had a bit of a play with this new release and have found it to be nicely done and very enjoyable to play, I found the new circular view distance implementation to be very nice compared to the old square-based one.

The other big update is the start of the Kickstarter to raise funds to pay for a dedicated developer. This was set with a goal of $7,000 with a variety of stretch goals for amounts in excess of that goal. As of now (03/07) the Kickstarter has raised $6,074 and has 18 days remaining to raise the final $1,000 to hit the goal. This is likely to happen and hopefully the donations will push into at least a couple of stretch goals, which is great as they look exciting. Stretch goals include but are not limited to things such as a stealth system, NPCs and a dynamic world based upon these NPCs. The idea of a dynamic NPC system in world, with factions and groups of survivors is a really nice prospect and could develop the give the game a Fallout feel. There are also plans on implementing a z-axis to the gameplay, allowing for multi-story buildings and expanding the world still more. All of these things could well be added to the game through the current set up and without the Kickstarter however the money from the Kickstarter and the subsequent dedicated developer could bring these features about much more quickly. The whole concept of Kickstarting for an open source project is still somewhat new but it strikes me as being a really great idea and an interesting twist on the traditional form of voluntary donation and sponsorship that has traditional funded open source development.

In short Cataclysm DDA appears to be developing rather nicely and considering its free and open source you are free to try it out and if you can contribute to the game, if not by coding then by throwing some money at the Kickstarter. More hardcore games like this with a dedicated community and fan base and generally ASCII graphics are probably in the strongest position in a long time, consider the success of Dwarf Fortress for example. Cataclysm DDA doesn’t have a steep a learning curve as initially appears and once the ASCII graphics feel normal the entire game is highly entertaining and very deep. Give it a try. (Kickstarter) (0.6 Changelog)

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