Rimbo World

Having completed a successful kickstarter, Rim World is our latest entry into the exciting “Dwarf Fortress-alike Only This Time With Graphics!”, (DFABOTWG), genre.

Set on an unexplored planet in deep space, Rim World attempts to meld gameplay that’s a mixture of Dwarf Fortress and Prison Architect with a graphical style that’s a mixture of Prison Architect and Prison Architect.

The game’s designer has said that this look is temporary, just to get the alpha build out the door. But having played with it I have to say it really works well and, while I understand he can’t keep it, I hope it sneaks back in via a mod. The style is clean, very easy to decipher what’s going on where and just plain works.

The amount of gameplay in there right now is fairly light, as you’d expect for a pre-alpha. The game starts with you “rolling” your team of three intrepid space crash survivors and then you’re dumped onto a planet via escape pods and left to get on with it. Before long you’ll be harvesting plants for food, (or growing your own), mining for metals, building workshops, cursing the weather and hip thrusting at fires until they go out, (note : this usually doesn’t work in real life).

The way the story evolves is controlled by one of several “Directors” you choose at the start of the game. This idea is liberated from the likes of Left 4 Dead and features an AI story teller who will try and keep interesting stuff coming your way, depending on how you’re doing. There’s a casual one who likes to keep things light, “Randy Random” who lives up to his surname and then the Cassandra triplets, who enjoy turning the screws over time to a greater or lesser degree, depending on which of the sisters you go home with.

With the fairly small feature set now noted, I can jump in and say that while a significant number of the other DF-alikes I’ve backed, (Timber and Stone, Gnomoria, Towns, etc), feel fairly sterile, Rim World really captures the most important part of DF for me - story telling. The sheer madness of the level of detail in DF offers such opportunity for events to create a narrative that not only do I enjoy playing the game, I also enjoy creating multiple-thousand-year worlds and then using Legends Viewer to read through them like a history book. Rim World has no chance to touch that kind of depth right now, but the stories that have come out of just a few play throughs from a pre-alpha not exactly bathed in features have been compelling and fun.

I’ve found planets that give me a pleasant environment allowing me to build stable colonies and defend them from multiple waves of raiders and also worlds that from minute one seemed to be conspiring against me. I’ve seen epic gunfights, starvation and madness. I’ve seen sentry guns on fire off the shoulder of my research labs. I watched sniper rifle shots glitter in the dark near the Muffalo herds. All those moments lost in time, like a battery array left out in the rain.

Time to die.

I’ll put a gameplay example in the next post, so that you can see that while, unlike DF, you can’t build an entire defensive system based around a quantum compression room filled with cats, you can save your base with one rat.

Rim World is due in 2014, but offers instant access to the pre-Alpha right now for folks who backed at the “Pirate” level and above on Kickstarter or buy the “Influencer” tier or above from the game’s homepage.

This is the tale of my very first embark in Rim World - I’ve embarked nine or ten different times now and while the current content level means that events are largely the same and in largely the same order in subsequent embarks, the confluence of random colonists, generated worlds, experience and luck have led to many different types of tale, from unbridled success to abject failure to that time lightning hit my almost-covered battery array and caused an explosion not seen since the Empire had a little disagreement with Alderaan.

Unlike DF, Rim World forces you to roll your original colonists, rather than assign points to them. They have a number of skills and traits and these are somewhat affected by the character’s type. An “Oaf” is likely to be heavily into farming and hauling, while an Entrepreneur while have a mix of skills and a miner will, well, you can probably work that one out. Good news for DF fans is that Nobles are still sodding useless. On a later embark I had a Noble who wouldn’t do anything but fight fires and do research. Before we had a research lab he would frequently wander out to the mines and stand around watching the miner hack away at the rock face, then watch him pick up the heavy rocks and move them and then go back to the compound, have a light lunch and go for a nap.

If I could find a way to jury rig an airlock door into a “bridgeapault” I would have fired him into the sun.

Anyway, the three intrepid travelers I rolled were the Commissar Stav, the Settler Kim and the Miner Zu. Zu liked booze, Kim liked cats and Stav had robot legs.

While we built our nascent base, early fun featured some wild life going slightly mad and trying to attack the settlers. I set Stav to sort this out, which she did by punching a squirrel in the face. This was slightly disconcerting as I’d given her our only pistol, but she chose not to use it. On the plus side, she did choose to sleep with the pistol. So there’s that.

Stav, sleeping with her pistol

Perhaps the most unintentional “fun” thus far was a couple foggy days, followed by an eclipse that came directly after I built my solar panel array. I lost power to the compound for two days and everyone got miserable, sitting around eating in the dark. There are geothermic steam vents a little ways away that I could cap with a generator, but the transmission distance would probably kill someone with wire overloads, fires and failures.

When the eclipse went away it started to rain and the food paste generator shorted and caught fire.

So at least the food paste was hot.

I then built a research table and a comms center, to reach out to passing ships in the hopes of a trade. I needed to trade for door locks fairly quickly, to stop Kim from breaking into people’s bedrooms while they slept to do some cleaning.

Where that session of Rim World went after that left me wide eyed and surprised at the kind of story telling already coming out of a game that’s clearly in the very early stages, missing large amounts of content, has no Z levels and doesn’t even let me build an entire defence system based on cats.

Firstly, we captured a raider called “Mack” and Stav used her consummate charm to convince him to join us. First, she tied him down and force fed him paste (I’ve been on dates like that). Then she hit him repeatedly with a dinner tray, (I… never mind).

Amusingly, Mack was more unhappy about being forced to eat the food than he was about being assaulted.

Mack was a decent researcher, so we put him to work on upgrading our sentry guns while everyone else was out collecting food, as a blight had hit our farms and wiped out our crops. Fortunately we’d been living off the farmed food so long that all the bushes and plants around the base were fat with berries and ready to harvest. Things seemed to be ticking over nicely, as we’d put down a third sentry gun, got a good supply of food and metal and had even begun paving the areas between buildings to speed up travel and to make the general environment nicer to cheer everyone up.

Veteran DF players will know that this is when things go wrong, so it was gratifying to see everyone die in the next two days.

Firstly, the major weak point of the embark was that I’d just settled where the ship’s escape pods had landed and we were a long way from any geothermal power, which left us entirely reliant on solar cells. I’d built four pairs of panels by this point, with a large collection of batteries so that we could get through the regular eclipse cycle. But that night while everyone, (but Kim), was sleeping, there was a loud bang and one of the pairs of batteries I used to power our sentry guns shorted and exploded, breaking the transmission lines and completely emptying the charge of every other battery. With the sun down our panels were producing no power, so the compound went dark.

Kim stopped cleaning and went out to start repairing, followed eventually by Zu when he woke up. Stav got up and had breakfast.

As night turned into a morning an enormous dry storm rolled in and there were countless lightning strikes, each bright enough to spike the solar panel collection indicator. One hit the dry grass behind the base, next to the outside wall of Stav’s bedroom and set a huge fire. Our intrepid settlers had other fires to concern themselves with though, as the main battery array had started to burn and Kim, Zu and Mack fought various blazes for most of the day.

Stav was researching carpet.

This was the point where a group of seven raiders appeared in the far North West corner of the map.

As that night fell, the fires were contained and most of the power routing had been repaired, but I had to let the crew go to sleep, even though the base had no power and no defences, because they’d been working all day without food. Fortunately night passed without an attack but the day brought more storms and after breakfast, as the repaired batteries slowly charged and the sentry guns came back on line there was a direct lightning strike to the power cables out to one of the sentry guns. Kim rushed in to fix this, but was standing in the midst of burning grasses to do so and she caught fire!

She stayed, (ON FIRE), and fixed the lines, but then ran off, clearly gravely wounded and still aflame. This finally prompted Stav to spring into action and she chased Kim down and extinguished the flames. She returned immediately to the compound to try to recover from the wounds and I had Mack take her pistol.


This was the point the raiders decided to make their attack and it was certainly atmospheric, with the compound illuminated by lightning strikes and the ever-growing fire at the back.

I had built sandbags behind the sentry guns, so that our settlers would have cover from which to make a defence and Stav took to the most forward, while Zu and Mack manned the one to the side, meaning we had three upgraded sentry guns and three pistols against seven raiders armed mostly with pistols, but also with molotov cocktails and a sniper rifle.

The gun battle was intense and seemed to go our way at first as we dropped two raiders without loss, but then the sentry guns started exploding and we got into a protracted fight with three pistols against four raiders, one of whom could stand beyond range and hit us with his rifle. First to fall was new recruit Mack, followed by Zu. Stav was now being flanked, so I was forced to wake up Kim and have her sprint to the sandbags where Zu and Mack lay. I wish I could have instructed her to pick up both pistols there, (and hold them sideways), but she did manage to knock off the sixth raider. This was the point where Stav was finally mortally hit by the rifle dude and with his range advantage, everyone else dead or dying and Kim seriously wounded I just set her to sprint toward the remaining pirate to get into range.

Zig-zagging from rock to rock she got close enough without being hit again. She was showing serious signs of pain from the fight and the earlier fire, so when she raised her pistol her aim was unsteady. I still like to think that what happened next was intent on her part though. She pulled the trigger and the shot appeared to be going wide of her target, except that it perfectly hit one of the indigenous “boom rat” rodents who lived up to his name and exploded, killing the final raider with a spray of flame and rodent bones.

Kim turned back toward the burning compound, but she never made it. She got back to the sandbags, tried to lift Stav to take him back to the base to recover and promptly succumbed to her wounds.

After YOU DIED I stayed to watch the world burn for a little while. The fire effects look really nice. This is good, because everything in Rim World has two states : On Fire and About To Be On Fire.


Nice two states… “On Fire”, “About to be on fire”. haha. Good :)

Nice to see a thread for this game! I’ve been playing the alpha the past couple days as well, and despite the game being at such an early stage, I’ve been really enjoying it and keep coming back for more. I haven’t lasted past about the third or fourth raid (on Cassandra) yet, but I feel like I’m getting better each game and learning how to make better use of the turrets. In my last game, I ended up creating kill zones filled with dumps to slow the raiders down while they get plinked from three directions by turrets and my colonists. Still ended up with everyone dead, but it gave me some ideas for the next game!

By the way, I was introduced to this game by this Let’s Play series on YouTube. There have been a few minor changes to the game since this was recorded, but watching these videos was enough to make me want to back the game on Kickstarter.

Sounds intriguing. I really want to see what the art style evolves into.

I enjoyed the writeup, Mr Bismark. Seems like a game I would like, and that it captures DF’s definition of FUN pretty well. I am curious about one thing: sometimes you said “I had so-and-so pick up the pistol and go here” and sometimes it was “so-and-so decided to do this.” In DF, of course, it’s always “so-and-so decided to do this.” How does it work here?

How it works here is a three layer type thing:

  1. Mostly, you just build a task list in a DF style : Build a wall, build a battery, mine this. Then the colonists will get around to those tasks, whenever they feel like it, dependent on their job assignments.

Job assignments are handled by a tick box system, where you can turn on or off whether someone will do a job (hauling/cleaning/constructing/repairing etc) and is graded in importance from left to right, so that anyone who has firefighting selected will put fires out before they cut decorative plants for the flower pots, for example.

However you can set this to manual and then give everyone a value from 1-4, (or null, for don’t do this job), which they’ll then use to decide on what to do, with jobs ranked “1” taking priority.

People will ignore tasks to eat, sleep and socialise.

  1. Intervention - at any point you can left click on a settler to select her, then right click on something you want done and select “Prioritise X.” This is really handy for when you want crap hauled out of the way so you can build something, because crap hauling is pretty low priority. It’s also useful for making sure you bury raider bodies quickly, so people don’t get squicked out walking past a corpse for days on their way to breakfast.

  2. Direct Control - if you draft someone into the military, (done by clicking on them, then clicking a crossed swords icon), then you can directly control them, by right clicking somewhere on the map, which tells them to go to that place. This is handy when Raiders attack, because you can have your armed colonists stand in places that make crossfires with your sentries and you can tell your unarmed colonists to go indoors. Also, if a Raider shows up with a sniper rifle, you can tell your pistol armed dudes to hide behind walls or in buildings, to negate the range advantage.

You can also then right click on specific things and say “shoot this dude.”

So the answer to does this control like Dwarf Fortress, something else, or control directly is “Yes.”

Thanks for the writeup Mr. Bismark! I remember seeing the Kickstarter for this, but I opted not to back it at the time. After reading about what it’s like already I might just give in and give it a try tonight.

It’s been said before, but I’m glad I live in a world where there’s such a thing as a Dwarf Fortress-like. :)

One other thing to bring up, quickly, is that not only is the UI more friendly than DF’s, (to be fair, a UI that fires a spike into your groin at random intervals is only slightly less friendly than DF’s), but it’s full of nice touches.

For one, the background of the “Research” button changes colour over time to show you how close to completion your research project is. Also, when you’re on the big tickbox screen to set jobs, the background colour and border of the check boxes show you at a glance how good someone is at that job and you can roll over any individual check box for a pop-up showing you a straight out number out of 10 if you a numbers person.

The colonist job assignment control is pretty much Dwarf Therapist, but in-game. It works pretty well so far, especially in “manual” mode (assigning priorities from 0-4 as Mr Bismark mentioned). There’s not a whole lot to worry about here at the moment, but half of the colonists’s stats don’t do anything yet, so I’m sure it’ll get more complex and interesting as development goes on.

Congratulations Sir, you made me want to play this.

edit: oh wow $30 for the alpha, im not sure i want to pay that much yet :|

I’m in! I really like Prison Architect in theory but after backing and playing around with a few alphas I haven’t gone back. Nothing wrong with the actual systems but the premise is all too bureaucratic. I find pointlessly clicking in Godus more entertaining. This looks like it strikes a nice balance between work and fun.

I played a bunch of this over the weekend and I love it! It definitely needs more content as that runs out pretty quick, but just building a base and fighting off waves of raiders is a blast.

I think the thing that surprised me most about this was how good the AI is at tactics. When the raiders attack they do so in pretty smart ways… flanking, keeping snipers back out of turret range, using cover, slowly advancing, etc.

I’ve pretty much had my fill of the game for now, but really looking forward to seeing what gets added and improved.

I wish it was cheaper. :/

I found a map with in-rock steam vents, so I’ve got a camp right now that’s almost entirely indoors and underground, except for a few sentry guns. I then mined and hauled away the rock the raiders would use for cover and it turns out if there’s nothing to hide behind, the snipers will just roll up to your base doors, same as the guy carrying a pistol. With sandbagged sentry guns, I usually get two of the raiders on the way in - more if anyone gets frightened by the cages full of dead raiders I placed on their usual approach routes as a warning.

I also have sentries indoors who can fire out through gaps in the walls, but can only be engaged by raiders standing directly in front of the gun.

Now I have the hydroponics tables going, there’s not a great deal of reason for my colonists to go outside. I feel properly Dorfy.

Till an extended flare event… Lost my indestructible colony in a growing number of raiders, fires, and no power.

My current base is pretty secure and mostly underground, but my biggest weakness the closest steam vent to where I chose to build is halfway across the map. I’ve got lots of solar power, and enough batteries to last without any input for 5 or 6 days, but yeah I expect eventually I will be done in by a badly timed eclipse/raider combo, although I’m not as reliant on auto turrets as I used to be. I have 10 colonists now and all of them have energy rifles, sniper rifles, or M-16s, plus I have all the approaches heavily mined. I probably would have lost it a while ago if not for my use of overwhelming amounts of blast charges.

Here’s a shot of my latest, most successful colony:

All in all going pretty well, but a solar storm following a big attack has started putting the hurt on morale.

So my boomtown rat post got tweeted by the game’s creator.

Nice. Keep the updates coming :) Enjoy reading them and thinking that I should really get this game soon :)

It’s funny how much it looks like Prison Architect. Sounds like it could be an interesting game.