Friday, February 12, 2016

Craft the World - 16/20 hours

After another seven hours, I am a little farther along than I was before, on my previous, disastrous save file. My headquarters is properly symmetrical, though my slower, more measured attempt to upgrade my walls means that it's still mostly dirt. Basically, the problem is that unlike some other crafting games, Craft the World makes you do everything through the intermediary of your dwarves, and thus your options for advancement are subject to their limitations. When you place a block, you can only do it within a two-block distance of the floor, and you have to wait while the dwarves go back to your main stockpile and fetch the necessary materials.

It really limits the ambition of your architecture, though, of course, that's part of the challenge of the game. I've actually got it mostly figured out, but I'm a little nervous because the last time I moved my furniture, it proved to be a huge mistake. The trick, I think, is to do it a little at a time so that at any particular moment I'm operating at 90% capacity. 

You can mitigate these limitations a little by selecting an individual dwarf and taking direct control over it, but I don't like doing that, because you can't control your other dwarves while you're doing so, which means that once they reach the last of your previously issued orders, all resource gathering, crafting, and monster hunting immediately grinds to a halt. It may be even more inefficient than moving your furniture.

I think I'm going to have to be content, at least for a little while, with a patchwork fortress. I've already managed to upgrade the exterior walls, so intrusions through the walls are no longer a big concern. Now, the biggest weakness in my fortifications is the doors, and unfortunately I still have a long way to go before I unlock a better option.

It may seem silly to say this sixteen hours into the game, but I think I'm just now starting to get a handle on Craft The World's underlying philosophy. It bills itself as a cross between several different games, and it definitely delivers on that promise. The game's hybrid nature is never far from the surface, and I've not yet decided whether that's a weakness or a strength,

You've got to have the time and labor management skills of an RTS, the spatial awareness and design-centered focus of a more dedicated crafting game, and the agility and exploration abilities of a platformer, all in greater or lesser degrees depending on your current objectives. In theory, this presents a set of diverse challenges that keep the game from getting stale as you explore different axes of optimization. On the other hand, it's possible that Craft the World's divided focus keeps it from excelling in any one area.

I don't have a final verdict yet. For now, I'm enjoying myself, and that's probably good enough.

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