Hello, hello, hello and welcome along to Parcival Plays. This site is a place for a Scottish guy in his 30's to share some of the games he is playing. This will be a variety of older games and more recent titles with most of these being by smaller or indie teams. Please feel free to comment on posts or follow me on Twitter and to drop me an email using the buttons on the right. For details of when new content drops please check my Posting Schedule. For more please check my About page.


Parcival

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Parkitect - Out of Early Access


First off I want to say a big thanks to the guys at Texel Raptor for letting me have a sneaky peek at the full release of Parkitect a couple of days early.  The game will leave Early Access and reach version 1.0 full release on 29th November.

One of the games I sank hours into as a kid was Theme Park on the Amiga 1200.  For a few years there was nothing, then in 1999 a coverdisk from a magazine was passed round the playground at school containing a demo for a new theme park management game RollerCoaster Tycoon.  That demo contained only about 20 minutes of gameplay with the first scenario but I was immediately hooked once more, going into my local games store to check their magical binder behind the counter with all of the release dates regularly.  Over the following 6 years the game saw two expansions, followed by 2 sequels each with their own 2 expansion.  And then...?  Nothing, nada, silence for over 10 years.  Finally our patience was rewarded with not 1 or 2 but 3 new theme park management games announced.  A successor to RCT with RollerCoaster Tycoon World from Atari, a new franchise called Coaster Park Tycoon, which would later be renamed Planet Coaster, by Frontier Developments, who developed both the expansions to RCT2 and RCT3 and it's expansions, and Parkitect by indie outfit Texel Raptor.

Top Left: RollerCoaster Tycoon World; Top Right: Planet Coaster; Bottom: Parkitect

These games all approached the genre in different ways.  Planet Coaster would follow a path that very much felt like they were building on the foundation of their knowledge and experience of RCT3. RCTW had a pretty muddy development being bounced between a number of developers, delayed and was plagued by a number of issues relating to performance and features that players felt were missing, particularly things like no longer being able to set the entry and exit points of rides or colour them as wished.  Parkitect went back to an isometric grid based system reminiscent of the first two installments of the RCT series.

All of these games used an early access model through phases of their development to get player feedback.  This phase started for Parkitect in September 2015 when Kickstarter backers were given access to alpha builds, with Planet Coaster and RCTW following in March of 2016.  Parkitect then entered into Steam Early Access in May of 2016 opening up the game to a wider audience.  The early access model has a generally bad reputation with games not being completed or released in a poor state, but Texel Raptor have shown the way to do Early Access.  They have committed to a schedule of a monthly update and have kept players involved and engaged throughout the process.


A simple mini coaster with plane wreck

Each of these updates has built on the game with systems being added or improved, such as a new lighting engine and a rework of how scenery affects guests, and  steady stream of new rides.  Having owned the game for most of the time it has been in Early Access I would say that the biggest improvement I've seen in this 1.0 version is a massive boost to performance and stability, although admittedly I don't have a huge amount of game time and have missed a few updates.  The big thing being added into this 1.0 version though is the campaign.  This takes you through 26 scenarios in which you will hone your skills to become a true parkitect.  As seems to be the way these days, when you start the campaign you open up a map rather than a list of scenarios, similar to the county map in Two Point Hospital and what looks to be the route Parkasuarus will also go down.  Initially you can only see a tutorial park and the first scenario Maple Meadows set in "a large clearing on the frontiers of a maple forest" (see what they did there?)  As you complete scenarios the clouds will clear, revealing more of the map and allowing you to progress.  As expected, these scenarios will challenge you to make a certain amount of money or have a set number of guests in your park, for a 'bonus' there are additional challenges such as doing it within a set time period.  Sometimes these additional objectives will give your park a financial boost.

Campaign screen before (L) and after (R) completing the first scenario

Before jumping in though I would recommend completing the short tutorial.  This is accessed as the first scenario on the campaign map (but can be ignored if you don't want to).  For players of RCT2 much of this will be familiar with a simple grid system and easy to understand UI, however this game does bring some new stuff to the table.  The biggest change is related to your staff and shops.  In Parkitect your shop stock will arrive at you delivery centre near the park entrance.  The stock must now be transported to the shops by haulers.  Whilst you can just allow them to roam through the park with the crates, this will affect the happiness of your guests as it will break their immersion.  Shops can be stocked from behind so you will want to build a network of staff only paths.  Thankfully this is a specific path type within the game so you don't need to rely on no entry signs to block off areas of your park.  For shops which are further afield you can either develop a network of underground paths, but it will take a while for your stock to be delivered, or set up a tube delivery network.  This allows the stock to be transported to a depot at the other side of the park, but are quite expensive.  As with the crates of stock, guests don't want to see your depots or staff pathways.  You can conceal these with a combination of scenery and fences, or even by enclosing them completely in a building.

Decoration overview showing the negative effect (red) of having a depot (magenta) in view and the improvement to the decoration rating after placing some trees and fences

The coaster builder is also very familiar, looking and feeling very similar to that of RCT.  The main difference here is that you can now change the length of a section.  This will provide longer straights, smoother transitions through inclines or banking and is how you alter the radius of any curves.  This can also be a source of frustration and difficulty however.  While you are getting used to the way the builder operates you are likely to find yourself coming back up to the station and not being able to line up your tracks.  This is as different lengths of incline will result in you arriving at different heights.  This has led to entire coasters being scrapped and started over, but is something I am starting to learn how to use better.  My other frustration with the coaster builder is that you can't build backwards from the station.  I would often find myself in the past placing my brakes, or last few sections of track out of the station to help me with lining up, but again is something that you get used to with time.  One of my favourite things about the coaster builder though is that not only will it auto tunnel into the terrain, but it will also generate a tunnel for the coaster to run through, rather than just carving into the dirt as happens in other games. 

Building a mine train coaster with auto-generated tunnels in the terrain

I've mentioned that the campaign is only being added in this 1.0 update, so what have people been doing for the past 3 years?  Up until now the game has had a sandbox mode and a scenario editor.  Personally I would say that the sandbox is more a custom mode.  In this mode you can play on one of the base sandbox terrains of flat, hills, lake and river or you can also play any of the campaign maps which you have successfully completed.  You are also able to enable/disable the financial, research and objective aspects of the game.  If you disable all of these this will give you complete creative freedom, with no financial constraints and all in-game items available from the start.  This has allowed players to create some fantastic looking parks, really showing off the aesthetics of the game.

Era of Exploration park used with permission of Ryan Mooyman from All About Parkitect group.  Park file can be downloaded here

The Steam Workshop is one point where this game has really stood out from the crowd.  Whilst Planet Coaster has recently released their Theme Makers Toolkit allowing player to import 3D models, Parkitect has had a modding community from very early on.  With the included scenario editor, players have been able to create their own objective based scenario maps and share these with the community via the Steam Workshop, at the time of writing there were almost 300 additional player created scenarios.  Players have been able to share not only ride and scenery blueprints, but also other types of mod.  These range from scenery packs such as the Building Kit from Kenney which gives additional walls, roofs and building decorations to the CoasterCam by H-POPS allowing you to ride your own creations.  You can also browse the Workshop whilst playing using the Steam overlay with subscribed items being seamlessly added to your game 'on-the-fly' without the need to restart the game.  There is also a content manager in game which allows you to easily see what mods you have installed.

In-game content manager showing your currently subscribed mods, you are also able to remove mods from this menu

I feel that I've barely scratched the surface of what is possible in the game but I am thoroughly enjoying the campaign and have had more fun I've had with this game in the past 24 hours than I have had in the past two years.  It takes the foundation set in the RCT series and really pushes it forward.  If you are looking for something to scratch you theme park management itch and Planet Coaster and RCTW haven't been doing it for you then I would say that Parkitect is the game for you!  It is available to purchase now on Steam priced at $29.99/€24.99/£23.79 and you can join the community on Discord.

Thursday, 22 November 2018

Mewnbase - Coming Soon to Steam Early Access


Why make a moonbase when you can add cats and make a Mewnbase?  This week we take a further look into the games of itch.io with Mewnbase by Cairn4.  You may be able to guess from the title of this blog but it has just been announced that the game will be launching into Steam Early Access next month (Itch.io owners will also receive a Steam key).   

The game sees you take control of a cat who has landed on an alien planet (a catstronaut?) and gives you the simple task of surviving.  Seems like a simple task, except you forgot to bring any kitty treats and only half-packed your supply cases!  At least you remembered a workbench, an airlock and an air filter surely that can get us started?

 Let's get it started - the equipment we brought in our supply chests 

As you have probably noticed from my previous articles I enjoy survival/base building games and this game is a hidden gem that scratches that itch.  You need to explore a 2D world, gather resources and craft various items to aid your survival.  The current version of the game has 3 modes:  A tutorial mode where you begin with a basic station and are introduced to the general gameplay; A Normal Mission in which you have a limited amount of starting modules for your base and must survive for 13 days; And an Endless Mode where you start with the same modules as the normal mission but without a time limit.

For the purposes of the article we are going to ignore the tutorial mode as it starts with a prebuilt base.  Once you load into the game, you will be on a randomly generated planetary surface, it is also possible to set a world seed in the menu before starting the game, but unfortunately you cannot currently see the seed for your current world without finding the relevant save files and opening them with a text editor.  This would be a good addition as it would allow you to challenge friends to see who can survive the longest on the same landscape.  Your first task is to find the two supply cases which have dropped in the vicinity of your rocket as these contain the objects you require to get started.  Without these objects you will not survive very long as they will help you to satisfy the needs of food, oxygen and power for your space suit.  

Gathering resources - a leafy plant which will be very useful.  There are also rocks, ore and ice visible to the edges of the shot

Now it's time to start exploring!  As you wander round the surface you are going to discover a variety of resources which will help in your 13 day mission!  Very quickly you will notice a couple of things.  Firstly, your hunger and oxygen meters will decrease fairly quickly, and there are a number of resources you cannot yet collect as you don't have any tools.  The first order of business is to address these two needs and the best resource for that, at least in this early stage, are the leafy plants that you can see scattered around the planet.  That is because these can be turned into a basic food at your workbench, and they can also be used to power the biofuel reactor.  Without the latter, your base will have no power and will therefore not be producing oxygen.

The next thing you need to do is start building up your tool collection.  For this you need to find some scrap metal to make a shovel.  I would advise collecting the scrap metal whenever you see it as you often find advanced resources such as metal components and electronic circuit boards which will safe you having to refine these.  By now night has probably fallen and your field of view will decrease significantly.  You do have a flashlight on your suit, but I'd advise using this sparingly as it will cause your suit power to decrease substantially.  To recharge your suit power simply enter a base which has a power source, to replenish your oxygen supply you will need to enter a base with a functioning oxygen production unit and close the airlock behind you.

An artifact which allows you to research new techs

To progress you will need a larger base, with a variety of modules.  To get these you will need to research techs.  To do this you will need to find artifacts which are strewn across the world.  By placing these into a Research Lab you will generate samples you can spend on new techs such as additional basic base modules, new power options and eventually even a buggy and trailers to transport resources from further afield.

For being early in development and only about to enter Early Access the game feels pretty accomplished and the only bugs I have encountered so far in my first couple of hours playing are minor graphical glitches that I can overlook (although the MacOS version is marked on the Itch.io page as having launch-crash issues currently).  I discovered this as a gem amongst the raft of games available on Itch.io just after it had received an update and priced at only $5 + any local taxes I thought it was well worth the money (as with all Early Access games, the price may increase as milestones in development are reached).  Just now there are a few things you can do if your interest has been piqued.  Firstly you can purchase the game on Itch.io, you can wishlist it on Steam ahead of it's scheduled December 7th launch, you can check out the roadmap and you can join the Mewnbase community.


Thursday, 15 November 2018

Creo God Simulator - Upcoming game!



Creo God Simulator is an upcoming settlement God game by 8-bit Bento, created out of a love for games such as Black and White and Populous.  Development started a little under a year ago and the game recently launched a Kickstarter campaign.  As it is still quite early in the development cycle this is very much a first look preview and all of this is subject to change.

You have recently become a lesser god (congratulations!) and now need to build your civilisation.  You start with a small number of items available (the usual suspects of residences, wood cutter and quarry) and will develop over time.  As your civilisation advances and your skills as a god improve, you will have access to a wider selection of items and even god powers with which you can choose to smite your society, although beware the enemy god who can be a bit unpredictable at times!
The plaza with a small temple to encourage loyalty

The first thing you need to do is to place your plaza which will become the centre point of your settlement.  From here you can build, expand and manage your society, hopefully picking up some believers on the way.  The game is very much a sandbox type game, however with resource management, in that there are currently no objectives.  You simply have an area which you want to populate and develop in the way that you choose.  This includes collecting wood, stone and metals but also ensuring the needs of your populous are met with food etc.

A developed settlement

As people build their belief in you as their god, you will gain Willpower.  This allows you to use your god abilities.  At the time of writing I have only been able to experience two.  Do you want to be a caring god and bring rain to the crops to provide food and sustinence, or are you a vengeful god who wants to reign destruction with meteors?  The choice, as they say, is yours.  You may want to combine these and bring some good times, but also remind people who is in charge.  Each of the people who live in your realm have free will and may choose to believe you (and increase your willpower) or not, so there may be times where you cause destruction strategically if your number of believers is low.

Kaboom! a meteor destroys a settlement

The game has some procedural generation, which not only makes the landscape different each time you play with varied distribution of resources, but also with a randomisation engine for 'storytelling'.  This will allow random events (disasters?) to occur which you will need to react to.  Being to zealous in your mining could result in golems terrorising your towns, heretic cults stealing your believers or maybe even zombie outbreaks.

Placing a lumberyard in a forest near the town

Esteban (the developer) has a lot of ideas for the game but is also actively looking for suggestions from the players for how to improve the game and make it something people will enjoy playing, with a plan for an Early Access release during the first half of 2019 but definitely a community approach.  To this end, he is already running an open pre-alpha through his itch.io site where you can download the development builds for free, and provide feedback via his Discord server where he has been very active.  This will allow you to try it out and get a feel for the project and decide whether to contribute as the game is set as pay what you want (even if you download for free you can contribute at a later time).  So far I've played about 30 minutes and very interested to see where this goes.  I'll be keeping a close eye on this and hopefully when we have more content, I'll be able to get another article to show it off in all it's glory.

Edit: Since writing this article there has been an update released to the game (hence the delay as I wanted to check it out).  This has added a couple of features including a day/night lighting cycle and a speed control to increase game speed.  The road system has also had an update meaning that you now have to place a road before you can place buildings.  As with many of these games the roads have an AoE, indicated by a blue highlight, which shows how far from the roads you can build.  

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

MachiaVillain

MachiaVillain is an evil mansion management game, developed by French studio Wildfactor (Freaking Meatbags) and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment (Train Fever, Hard Reset & Oh... Sir! The Insult Simulator).  The game released on 18th of May 2018 and the devs very kindly provided me with a key recently to write this article.

The game started life as a prototype developed during a Ludum Dare Game Jam.  Receiving positive feedback from the event, and attracting a grant from the French Government, the team were able to expand and fully develop the game.  The developers drew inspiration from a variety of places including Dungeon Keeper, Prison Architect and all the clich├ęs of 50s B movies.

Your plot with some evil trees and rocks blocking contruction

You are tasked by the League of Mechiavellian Villains with running a haunted mansion.  Unfortunately they have only provided you with a meagre supply of resources and a piece of land in the middle of a forest.  They do also provide you with 3 minions who will do your bidding.  When you start you are given a choice of a number of minions, each with different abilities such as how many jobs they can have assigned, which jobs they are better at and various traits like coffee maniac which reduced sleep requirement or quick feet which increases movement speed, but they also have weaknesses, for example send your vampire minions outside during the day and they will lose health.  These minions are 'brain dead' in that they can't think for themselves and must be assigned jobs or they will stand around doing nothing.

The first order of business is to clear some space so that you can build, and then establish a home office so that you can write invites to lure your unsuspecting victims to the mansion.  To do this you will need to set areas of resources such as trees and stone to be cleared by your minions.  It's easy at this point to wonder why they are just standing about. As I mentioned earlier they can't think for themselves, so you also need to assign the individual minions to resource gathering in the jobs screen.  Once you have some space, there are various rooms you can build which will allow you to progress in your mission to become the ultimate Machiavillain.  Building a room is as simple as placing down floor tiles and surrounding these with walls and a door.  The type of room is determined by what items you place in the room, for example a writing desk will make a home office, beds will make a bedroom and a butchers table will make a kitchen.  The first room you will need is a home office.  Without this you won't be able to attract your victims... umm guests, to visit your mansion.  Once you have placed your writing desk you will need to assign someone to make adverts.  Once you have some you can select an ad campaign such as 'You Have Won A Luxury Cruise' which will determine the number, and types, of victims who will come.

The starting ad campaigns available to you

Once your victims arrive you don't want to spook them too quickly.  You can make rooms with specific items, such as lights, televisions and bookcases, which will put them at ease but if they see your minions or blood on the floor from previous visitors they will become increasingly suspicious.  These victims will be the food source for your minions, but you can't just kill them without some planning.  Initially you will just want to hide your minions whilst the victims arrive and then attack once they have arrived.  As time goes on though you can build a lab and research new items.  These will allow you to build items such as traps and false walls making it easier to separate and kill your victims.  The League of Mechiavellian Villains also have a series of rules they expect you to follow.  Most importantly you should try to kill the victims when they are on their own.  Failure to do this will result in a slight penalty. 

Clearing stone whilst building a room for victims with other minions

In addition to building your mansion and attracting your victims, you must also look after the needs of your minions.  As mentioned earlier some minions must stay inside during the day or will lose health.  They also need to get time to rest and fed.  Failure to provide these needs will result in lowered loyalty.  Minions with a low loyalty will not want to work for you.  There are various ways you can boost the loyalty by improving how you fulfil the needs.  For example, whilst they are less hungry when they eat they are unhappy if they have to do so standing or without a table to eat, and will be better rested (and happier) if they can sleep in a bed.  They also won't be happy if your mansion is of a low prestige and isn't spooky.  These are rectified fairly simply.  For the spookiness there are certain items (candles, skulls etc) which boost this rating for you minions.  The prestige is increased by having larger rooms with more and better items (similar to Two Point Hospital).

A mansion with various rooms for both minions and victims

I find it difficult not to think of Don't Starve when playing this game.  This isn't a bad thing though and is probably due to the similar art style and the dull lighting, which add to the atmospheric of the game.  The cartoon graphics also make the game generally light hearted to go with the relatively black theme of the game.  Whilst I've only played this for a few hours so far I am thoroughly enjoying it and it has become one of those '5 more minutes' games when you suddenly realise that it's 2am.  I had also only scratched the surface of the possibilitoes with the items, primarily as I spend so long gathering resources and making rooms that I forget to make adverts to entice victims.  If you have a dark sense of humour and are looking for something which can while away a few hours then I'd say this game is very worth picking it.  It is available on Steam for $19.99/€19.99/£14.99

Also whilst the game is not an early access title, development is continuing with a current public beta for owners of an update including new items and features including electricity.