After the Witchfinder’s critical article last week, King Dinosaur Games have released an update video for the first time in nearly 5 months along with the first build code of the Game’s Map Builder. The Witchfinder tries out the map editor and it is promising.
Fair is fair. Your Inquisitor had harsh words for the King Dinosaur Games (KDG) last week after repeated delays to promised rewards from the Kickstarter for their evil Elder God simulator ‘That which Sleeps’ (TWS). This week the news is much better. KDG have released a fresh video to their supporters –
Beta backers have also received the alpha map editor. By way of background, TWS was originally conceived of as being mechanically like Dominions 4. The original map was a single large image with linked ‘Points of Interest’ overlaid much like Dominions’ provinces.
The stretch goals for the Kickstarter introduced a certain amount of dynamism (e.g. peasants harvesting fields in good times, or deserted, burning fields in bad ones). To implement the dynamic effects required a dynamic map constructed of components rather than a single image. This in turn enabled a map editor.
The alpha editor, finally released, underlines your author’s point to the developers that a slightly glitchy release is far better than nothing. There is clearly much promise here.
When the alpha is launched (by an as yet uncustomised Unity launcher) it loads quickly, acquiring two separate sets of graphical map assets for two different styles of map, ‘Cartographic’ and ‘Realistic’. What follows is a very functional hexagonal map editor equivalent to full price games.
The game lets you paint various terrain, which at present includes all the standard fantasy types, plains, badlands, rough (rocky), desert, tundra and marsh. Scrolling is very smooth even when extremely large maps were enabled. The Witchfinder created a size 500 map and after a minute or so chugging to create it, the map appeared and edited very smoothly.
The art is appropriate to the genre and there is a neat feature to cycle through various coastline shapes. Map makers can run with a vanilla straight shoreline or switch to various alternatives with coastal shapes suggestive of tendrils, outstretched claws, or mouths. At present there is a limited selection of shape but the developers promise more on release. This would be wise because having every landmass on the entire planet looking like it has sprouted tentacles might be a bit gauche.The Witchfinder suggests a mix of mundane, High Fantasy and Eldritch coastal shapes consistent with the use of those themes elsewhere in the game.
There are a few minor glitches, which is only to be expected in an alpha. River drawing is in but the river does not quite reach the coast. It is possible to scroll well outside the map area into the blue void. When making a small map after a large one the screen does not re-centre, again leaving the user stranded in the void. The mountain drawing allows the user to manually switch between mountains but left to its own devices does not do so, plonking down the same graphic again and again. The facility for zooming in an out would be nice, too. These glitches are minor.
Releasing alpha code to backers is always risky, but KDG has a small and supportive group of beta purchasers and have the luxury that they will be forgiven far more glitches than delays. Indeed the entire point of beta access is to help shape the product, a goal which is defeated if a timid development team hold off to polish the release.
In any event, the Map Editor looks like what KDG claimed – a themed, commercial quality map editor very close to completion with a few pre-release rough edges. Hopefully, more of the same will follow.