Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Summer of indie: Gnomoria

I'm surprised. No, that's not it. I'm shocked. Nope, still not strong enough. I'm utterly gobsmacked. Yes, that's the one. I'm utterly gobsmacked that I have managed to pull myself away from Gnomoria long enough to tell you that I'm playing Gnomoria. It's utterly addicting and I think, perhaps, it's consuming my very soul....

No, not really but it has been consuming my waking hours for the last three days or so, and plenty of those hours should be devoted to sleeping I assure you. I like this game. I like this game so much that based on a couple YouTube videos of it, I decided to check out its spiritual successor, Dwarf Fortress before I played it (I'm obsessive like that). Dwarf Fortress is a terribly complex and user-unfriendly indie game with ACSII 'graphics'. It is so complicated that I had to watch over four hours of You Tube tutorials before I tried it. But I digress. Back to Gnomoria.

In the beginning....
As the game-site says:

Gnomoria is a sandbox village management game where you help lead a small group of gnomes, who have set out on their own, to thrive into a bustling kingdom! Anything you see can be broken down and rebuilt elsewhere. Craft items, build structures, set traps and dig deep underground in search of precious resources to help your gnomes survive the harsh lands. Build your kingdom and stockpile wealth to attract wandering gnomads to your cause, but be wary of also attracting enemies!

I read one post that said if Minecraft and Sim City had a baby, this would be it. I would say, more accurately, that if Minecraft and, say the Anno series, or perhaps the Caesar franchise had a baby, this would be it. It is an indie game that features a 2-d isometric world for you to shape and survive in. Your tools are the Gnomes in your Kingdom, nine of them to start, and you set them to mining, constructing, farming, crafting, and military operations (defence from Goblin raiders and Golems which spawn underground at the moment). It is a management game which is to say you give your orders (mine this, build that) and then your Gnomes go do it.

One of my first kingdoms....which eventually failed.

The Goblins helped bring about my destruction.

You will have to invent certain things like traps and door mechanisms.

Pre-ordering my mining in pause mode.

Then I turned them loose.

Gnomoria offers the creative, manipulative elements of a Minecraft-style experience with the added complexity of crafting, and resource/space/village management. Your people need to be fed, protected, and happy. Everyone, for instance, needs their own personal quarters in order to get a good nights sleep. The quality of that quarters is determined by what you put in- beds, chairs, statues, torches, marble floors, carved walls and the like- and that quality determines how well they sleep. How well they sleep determines how happy and healthy they are and that, of course, affects how they work. It is wonderfully complex. For example, you can easily dig out that room from the rock in your chosen mountain fortress but to really pimp it out you will have to do the following:

  1. Fell trees.
  2. Build a Wood Cutter.
  3. Have the Wood Cutter cut planks.
  4. Build a Carpenter shop.
  5. Now you're thinking, build a bed, but your wrong!
  6. Create a farm.
  7. Have a farmer plant cotton.
  8. Wait a few days.
  9. Harvest Cotton.
  10. Build a Loom.
  11. Spin the cotton into cloth.
  12. Now the carpenter can take the cloth and make a bed with the planks.
  13. Place the bed in the room.
  14. Repeat for every Gnome.
You can, of course, give batch orders for multiple beds (or anything you want to create) and when resources and time permits, they will be made and delivered as per your instructions. You can pause the game and give multiple orders (via the mouse on the screen, not the horrible keyboard system as in Dwarf Fortress) to make life easy. Gnomoria is a game of balance. You have to ensure the resources are in place, but also that you have room to store them. For that you will need space, and you will have to build containers and don't forget about food, and drink, whatever you do...oh, and the Goblins will attack and make your life miserable so you need some soldiers. Ooops, they have no armor. Better find some ore, turn it to metal bars and then have an armorer craft some....oh, and don't forget a weaponsmith for your weapons.....and you'll need to find coal too.....

Building plan for personal quarters at the very beginning of yet another kingdom which also failed.
Gnomoria is horribly addicting, and it could be the best $8 I've spend in a very long time (we won't discuss what $8 USD could buy in Guatemala 10 years ago). Remember the old TV ad campaign "I can't believe it's not butter?" well, I can't believe it's only Alpha. Gnomoria isn't finished and that $8 supports the indie developer and buys you access to every new build and the game itself on release. If you do decide to buy I recommend the developer site rather that Desura simply because you get immediate access to every update whereas Desura seems to take a few days. As for the quality of the Alpha version I can say that it is better than many released AAA titles I have tried (Stronghold III, I'm looking at you). There are a few bugs, and some crashes, but nothing that will stop you from playing the game to it's (current) full potential.

There is also a free demo which allows you to play for 6-in-game days which will give you a taste of what it's all about. It can be a bit confusing at first so I'd recommend a You Tube tutorial or two. I've been following this series, but there are a few out there so pick one based on the voice and personality of the presenter that suits you best (which is what I do)! You can, of course, continue to read about it here if I can every again pry myself away from it to present a play-through.

Current Kingdom, main floor.


  1. Nice write-up. Sounds good - will definitely try it.

  2. Thanks! The demo will let you know if you want to go further. I recommend a few games to get the hang of it and don't worry if you fail the first few times- we all seem to :)