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A Beginner's Impression


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According to Steam, I've played Timberborn update one for 62 hours in the last two weeks. I think that qualifies me to give you my impression of the game.

 

First off, kudos to your development team. I encountered one crash and very few glitches during game play. After the game crashed once, I took a break and just continued onward after restarting the game.

 

You warned me that the game was early access, and I appreciate your honesty. I've recently played another “finished” game, Gas Station Simulator, that's had four updates and at least four bug fixes since I bought it. I'm happy they supported their work, but not as happy that they sold the game as finished.

 

I bought your game because of the game play I saw on Real Civil Engineer's YouTube videos. I came to your game with no other information than what I saw on his videos.

 

So, here's what happened. I opened the game and started on the Plains 256 x 256 level, normal difficulty. I went through the tutorial. I think I paid attention. My beaver colony perished two days into the first dry season because I hadn't built a dam to hold back the water.

 

I think that's a major omission in your tutorial. The only reason I knew dams existed was from your game display and Real Civil Engineer's videos.

 

Okay, I started beaver colony two, but this time, somewhere before I built houses for my beavers, I built a dam. I was about halfway through the tutorial when the first dry season hit, which I survived. I made it all the way through the tutorial, and ran out of logs.

 

I don't remember why beaver colony three perished. Colony four is the first colony to survive multiple cycles. I'm currently near the end of cycle 36. I've created 12 districts and deleted two temporary districts. Yay me.

 

So here's what I've encountered.

 

Occasionally, the key bindings of your game don't respond. What I mean is, I press the WASD keys to move around the map, and there's no response. The map just sits there, with the cycle time just counting away. I think this is the fault of the game engine, as I've encountered similar key bindings problems when playing Railway Empire and the aforementioned Gas Station Simulator. No problem, I just saved the game, took a break, and restarted the game.

 

I'm using a 3840 x 2160 4K monitor. So, I went into the settings and bumped up the UI scale to 125%. Nice feature. I appreciate it. Unfortunately, I couldn't see the entire inventory display on the left hand side of the game once my colony grew. I had to back down the UI scale to 110%.

 

My colony has around 220 beavers. I'm getting too many information messages in the lower left about births and maturing to notice when someone dies of hunger or thirst. It would be nice if those messages were highlighted. It would also be nice if you noted the district of the beaver that died of hunger or thirst, so I'd know where to respond without checking ten active districts.

 

Too many warning messages are meaningless, which leads me to ignore the important warning messages. I know that creating a mine will take a lot of resources I don't have on hand, so I don't need the warning message. I also don't need to know that every beaver powered factory loses power at night or windmill powered factories occasionally lose power. It would be nice if I could acknowledge certain warnings and turn them off. That way, when a truly important warning comes up, I can respond.

 

I've played the game for 62 hours and I still have no rough idea how much water and food it takes to keep one beaver or 10 beavers alive for seven days. I either waste time providing too many resources that my district's have to store or lose a district's population because I didn't provide enough resources. I think the game should give me a generous estimate of the food and water needed for a district. Something like 20 liters of water for 10 beavers for a day. Substitute the correct values in my previous sentence. I need the same information for berries and carrots. The more advanced foods should be less important.

 

Speaking of districts, it would be nice if I could name them. I don't remember which districts (7, 8, 12) are my special metal scavenging district that needs food and water carried in by other beavers I don't remember which district is my special forestry district because I created a lake to support my colony's water needs and long term tree growth. I spend way too much time cycling through the districts using the district menu on the upper center right to find the district I'm looking for. When I had three districts, that's tolerable. It's painful with ten districts. I can't image what 20 districts, each with its own special needs, would be like to manage.

 

I think I understand your menu, submenu system on the lower toolbar. In theory, it's nice that you have to select a submenu option before anything happens. In practice, reasonable defaults would help the game flow better. Many times, I've clicked on a building to delete it, and nothing happens because I forgot to click on the submenu option. I appreciate the “are you sure” option when deleting a building. I've clicked on the wrong building a few times. But I think some of the menus should have a reasonable default submenu selection.

 

Speaking of forgetting, I've lost count of the number of times I set up a lumberjack flag and forgot to mark tress for cutting. A more prominent warning that the flag has no resources would be nice. The other resource gathering flags just work without marking anything, so I find it difficult to remember tree marking.

 

It would also be nice if the beavers acted a little more intelligently. I remember watching a beaver die of thirst while swimming across my lake. A farmer beaver should be able to uproot and repaint carrots without my having to mark the dead carrots for deletion. I do appreciate that the beavers build things without a direct path to the object.

 

A problem with all resource management games is that the management becomes too difficult when the game scales up. I don't know how you can fix this. Maybe some management assistance when you reach a certain population level or number of districts?

 

I thought that building two large lakes would solve my water problems, but they didn't I find it amusing that 300 liters of water fits in a tank taking up six squares, but a 300 square lake one block deep dries up in a couple of days. I understand that it's a game, but here's no intuitive sense of proportion to guide me when making decisions.

 

To sum up, thanks for creating an engaging resource management game. I hope you appreciate what you've accomplished, as well as take my suggestions seriously.

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