First appearing in fall 2013, RimWorld takes inspiration from Dwarf Fortress mixed with the a sci-fi western setting similar to Firefly and an AI Director driving events like that in Left 4 Dead. The early alpha version was distributed to youtube and streaming gamers to drum up support for a kickstarter campaign in order to complete the art and sound design.
In the default scenario, the player manages 3 colonists who have just crashlanded on a planet filled with everything from primitive tribes to raiders to killer robots. Their goal is to establish a colony, attract more colonists, and research the technology to build a new spaceship.
RimWorld was released on Steam Early Access in July 2016. The last major update was Alpha 15 in Sept 2016, which added drug manufacturing and withdrawal.
Storyteller and Location
At the start of each game, a world is created and a storyteller is chosen. Each storyteller activates events in a different order:
- Cassandra steadily increases the challenge of raids and disasters, often activating two simultaneously.
- Phoebe waits longer between raids and disasters, giving the player time to build their base.
- Randy doesn't follow any pattern and just activates events, good and bad, randomly.
Once the world is created, a location to crash-land is chosen. The major factors of a location are terrain, temperature, and how mountainous it is.
Each colonist (and character) in the game has a list of skills, traits, and relationships. Skills determine what they're good at and how quickly they improve at it. Traits determine colonists' behaviors and mood; for example, a Pessimist will have a constant reduction to their mood, while Chemically Interested colonists will often binge on drugs and overdose. Relationships determine how much they like other characters and how they feel when they die; it's possible for a colonist's father to be in a raider group, causing a bad mood if you kill him.
Colonists can not only get injured or sick, but if their mood gets low enough they start suffering mental breaks like binging on food, wandering around aimlessly, or going into a berserk rage.
Colonists have several needs including food, clothing, and nice rooms.
Materials and Crafting
Crops and meat are needed for food. Cloth and leather are needed for clothes. Steel, wood, electrical components, and various stones and metals are used for buildings, furniture, weapons, and armor. Resources are gathered through mining, planting and harvesting crops, hunting, and trade.
How abundant different resources are depends on the terrain and climate. Flat jungles will have a long growing season and plenty of trees and animals, but very little steel and ore. Mountainous ice sheets will have plenty of minerals, but few animals and no growing season.
Different materials have different effects on items created from them. Wood makes more comfortable beds and chairs than stone, and leather clothing provides more protection than stuff made from cloth.
Temperature and Electricity
Without the proper clothing and heated/air-conditioned rooms, colonists will quickly succumb to frostbite or heatstroke. Non-electrical temperature control, such as campfires and passive coolers, are available, but most forms of temperature control (and most appliances) require electricity.
In the early game, most electricity comes from solar panels and wind turbines. Both sources are erratic, so batteries are needed to store energy for later. Once it's researched, geothermal plants can also be constructed above steam geysers for a steadier source of electricity.
A variety of ranged and melee weapons can be crafted, bought, or looted, ranging from clubs and swords to miniguns and grenades. Ranged combat relies heavily on using cover and flanking, while melee combat involves overwhelming an enemy with sheer numbers.
Protection is provided by various pieces of armor and clothing. Of particular note is the Shield Pack, which blocks a set amount of damage from ranged attacks, but restricts the user to melee combat.
Threats to a colony can include tribal assaults, pirate raids, killing robots landing in the middle of a colony, crashlanded poisonous ships to destroy, and long-range mortar sieges. Some require defense, others require assaulting a position.
Events like solar flares shutting down all electronics and manhunting animal packs cause immediate problems for a few days, while disasters like volcanic winters and toxic fallout can force drastic changes to a colony's operation for several seasons.
Steam Early Access
RimWorld was released as an Early Access Game in July 2016.