GDC 2012 Hands-On: A Game of Dwarves - Preview

By Nick Pantazis, March 15, 2012
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If you’re like me, you probably play a pretty wide variety of games. If you’re really like me, you probably get pretty addicted to time management games. Since the early days of PC gaming, time management games have been a big part of the platform. If you haven’t played this type of game in the past, the strategy comes in by managing resources and expansion while seeking to constantly advance further. Unfortunately in recent years it has fallen off to some extent.

A Game of Dwarves is a game made to fit perfectly in this genre. Dwarves, of course, are digging creatures, and your main goal will be to expand down and out. As you dig you'll uncover new resources and rooms with enemies, and you'll use those resources to assemble new items and equipment. The deeper you go, the better the resources and the stronger the monsters. Think minecraft but with lots of little creatures and an economy to manage.

The dwarves themselves can be one of four classes. You'll have workers who manage equipment, diggers who dig, craftsmen who build, and soldiers who protect your other dwarves from attacks.  As each type of dwarf levels up, you can change them into advanced specialty classes, which will offer unique advantages. For example, the warriors can be specialized into massively defensive shielded soldiers or offensive ranged-musketmen. Technology will advance with your dwarves, allowing for more modern weapons and equipment.

You will dig through the Earth in various levels of depth as you expand. The isometric map system lets you view individual depths, and the camera is freely rotatable to allow you to get a variety of viewing angles. Of course, as with all games of this type, you don’t directly control the dwarves, but rather give orders and wait for the dwarves to carry them out. Time can be sped up to avoid waiting for your dwarves to complete the desired tasks.

It’s easy to enjoy A Game of Dwarves, and it seems to be coming along well. There are some moderately confusing interface designs, but I was reassured that these will be ironed out and are a product of early development. I also had some mild issues with camera control, but I had only played for about 15 minutes and hadn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet. Strategy and managemenet enthusiasts can look forward to A Game of Dwarves later this year.

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