Sunday, February 14, 2016

Craft The World - 20/20 hours

I managed to squeak in just under the wire with my upgraded fortress. I discovered, too late, that you don't need to tear down walls to upgrade them. You can just build a new brick over the old one and the dwarves will automatically do the removal and replacement in one movement. So it turns out that I never had to move my furniture at all. . .

That's something that would have been nice to know a lot earlier. I'm penalizing Craft The World a point or two for its inadequate tutorial.

Mostly, though, I enjoyed the game. I only really have two complaints about it. First, I don't care for the tech system. It does have the advantage of forcing me to craft things I would otherwise overlook, but the balance of costs is not quite right. I shouldn't have had to build a dozen superfluous gargoyles just to get to advanced fortifications.

The other thing that annoys me about Craft The World is the periodic monster attacks. Which, I know, puts me at odds with the central conceit of the game, But the attacks only occur once every 40 minutes, so I'm having a good time with 90% of the game, and it's only the last 10% that bugs me.

It probably shouldn't. When I celebrated the fact that all of my dwarves were outfitted in powerful (and sharp-looking) steel armor, what, exactly, was I happy about? Is it not the case that monster-fighting makes up a large degree of my crafting's utility? A large part of the satisfaction of making something comes from its subsequent usefulness, and a thing cannot be useful if there is not a situation in which the lack of that thing causes problems. If the monsters didn't attack, the armor which I worked so hard to create would be purely cosmetic.

I can accept this on an intellectual level, but when it comes time to drop everything I'm doing and have an epic brawl with a horde of zombies, I can't help wishing that I could just get it over with. I suspect that part of the problem is the design of my fortress. It turned out to be more of a "bunker" than anything else, too close to the surface to offer much of a refuge and yet too buried to command much of the surface (I decided to put my farms right above my main base).

It generally worked all right, because my dwarves were well-equipped and the only vulnerable part of the structure is that hatch at the top, so I was able to channel the enemies down the center shaft and pick them off a few at a time, but I had to replace the hatch so many times.

I'm thinking that I should have worked from a different design philosophy. I probably should have shaped my fortress to be more of a deathtrap, where even approaching it is dangerous for the monsters. Instead, I went for spatial efficiency, trying to ensure that my dwarves had a minimal travel time between gathering surface resources, getting food and sleep, and using the crafting stations. Most of the time, my approach was useful. Most of the time.

I think that qualification really characterizes the game. It's mostly good. I mostly enjoyed myself. Even my complaints are mostly irrelevant. However, there are other games that are better at the parts I like (digging, hoarding, and building), so Craft The World is unlikely to earn a place in my permanent rotation (supposing that I ever actually finish the blog and once again have a "permanent rotation").

That being said, less a few moments of frustration, my time with Craft The World was pleasant. There's just something about the systematic deconstruction of landscape and the obsessive gathering of materials that appeals to me on a visceral level. I'm glad I got the opportunity to play it.

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