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RimWorld Interview - Tynan Sylvester

RimWorld Interview - Tynan Sylvester

Interview - posted by Whisky on Sat 5 October 2013, 22:21:16

Tags: Kickstarter; Rimworld


Tynan Sylvester, the sole programmer of RimWorld, has taken the time to answer a few questions about his upcoming space colony simulator.

"Thank you, Tynan, for taking the time to answer our questions. Tell us a little about RimWorld. What would you say is its main appeal?"

I think people really find it compelling when original stories happen in a game that weren't written there by some designer. It's a story created for you, personally, involving you. RimWorld is designed around this concept. On the surface, it's a sci-fi version of Dwarf Fortress. But in the details, and what we're doing with the AI Storyteller, the central goal has always been to create a game that generates awesome stories.

"Will you have direct control over your colonists or will it play more along the lines of Dwarf Fortress where you can only give orders to Military units?"

Usually, you don't control colonists directly. As in DF, you designate where you want them to mine, build, harvest, and so on. You set each of their work allowances so that you an make individuals specialize. And then they figure out how to prioritize themselves to get the work done. The exception right now is in combat - here you can "draft" your colonists into the army and control them directly in small-team tactical engagements. That aspect of the game is a bit of a holdover from back when it used to be a tactical sim like Jagged Alliance 2.

"The background system for colonists looks interesting. Any idea of how many there will be? Got any interesting ones you can share with us?"

Each colonist has a background made up of a couple different modules drawn from a pool - one childhood module and one adulthood. This system is modeled after how a lot of pen and paper RPGs do character generation. Based on the modules, we generate their skills and determine what work they're able and unable to do. So, for example, someone who grew up as a noble lordling will be unwilling to do manual labor, but will be excellent at social skills (trade negotiation/recruiting) and melee combat (because lords are taught swordplay).


"Will there be colonists who are aliens? If so, how will this effect them?"

As it stands, everyone in the game is a baseline human. But we're looking at developing the lore with other types of people. These people won't be true aliens, though.
In the RimWorld universe, humanity is spread wide across the galaxy and split apart by the decades-long flight times involved in slow-than-light travel. So there actually will probably be pseudo-aliens in the game, except that they'll all be descendants of original Earth stock adapted for different planets.
For example, there may be a "dwarf" who is just a short, solid fellow from a group of people who adapted to living on a high-gravity world. Others may be engineered for military or cosmetic reasons, or be the descendants of those who were. Imagine a planet destroyed by war a thousand years ago, where the only survivors were genetically-engineered soldiers. They'd rebuild their civilization and repopulate the planet, and create a whole civilization of people whose genes make them strong, short-lived, conformist, and lacking in empathy. These are our "aliens".

"How long would you say a game of RimWorld would last? Would it be like Dwarf Fortress where it lasts as long as you want/survive, or does it have a definitive endgame period?"

You could play RimWorld as long as you wanted. In the current pre-alpha, you'll tend to have everything in the game after four to six hours, but you could go indefinitely. As the game develops we'll add more endgame content to extend the experience. Ideally we reach a point where there are enough systems and events that they can recombine in near-infinite ways and always present something new. We're also considering an endgame idea where if you want you can try to build a ship to escape the planet.

"While the Firefly "Wild-West in Space" theme is observable, what aspects of it would you say are inspired by Dune and 40K?"

40K is the main inspiration for the disconnected-humanity concept, where many different diverse groups of humans inhabit the stars. I've always thought that this was one of the most interesting ideas in that universe - the idea that a space marine might crash-land on a medieval planet where the people have forgotten almost everything about their ancestors' technologies. Dune is part of the inspiration behind the desert environment and the practices of living in tiny groups in such a place.

"From your Kickstarter's description it seems that there will be a good variety of weapons. How will weapon skills be divided?"

Currently it's super simple - just melee and shooting skill. It'll probably stay that way for a while. I want to keep the game simple as it stands, and I think that detailing a difference between sniping and machine gun skill would demand a tiny bit too much micromanagement.


"On the Kickstarter page, you mention that the engine was originally made to handle a Jagged Alliance 2 style game. Could you tell us a little about this? How far did it get in design?"

There's a little clip of that game in the later part of the Kickstarter video. It was a game where you controlled a group of revolutionaries trying to take down a government by carrying out operations that straddle the border between guerilla warfare and terrorism. I worked on it for about three months before I realized that designing the levels was more fun than playing the game and changed it into a management/construction sim.

"Tell us a little about your experience with Kickstarter. Has it been a positive experience so far?"

Good, but exhausting. There was some worry before the Kickstarter about financial paperwork, but they got that sorted out in reasonably good time. Since then it's just been a storm of publicity. I'm slightly overwhelmed keeping up with it all. I actually find myself at 10pm wondering why my stomach hurts so much, then realizing that I forgot to eat since lunch because I was answering questions, writing emails, and fixing bugs. But overall, it's a pretty darn good ride. I got zero complaints :)

Thank you again, Tynan for taking the time to answer our questions. RimWorld is up on Kickstarter accepting pledges. The Kickstarter reached its goal within 24 hours of opening.

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