Monday, October 12, 2015

The Banished Country

I've written before about Banished, and I'm sure you're wondering "what else can you even attempt to write about this game?" The game is addictive and I've put many, many hours into it, but it's true - there isn't too much to say about it.

"this game is fun 10/10"

The game is a city builder, but it has some distinct differences that make it stand out. You aren't technically "the mayor" or monarch, as there's no treasury or currency or ultimate Collectible Thing that you aim to accumulate.

CC added a governor, but he's a randomly appointed townsperson

All the resources are given to the town itself for use by the populous to survive and to expand. Indeed, other than a couple achievements, you are given no actual distinct goals... at all.

This is one of two of the main criticisms I've seen from people who dislike the game - the other, funnily enough, being that the game has a steep learning curve. Apparently, you won't like Banished if you need to be told what to do, how to do it, when and where to do it, and when you're done doing it. As I've said before, I don't agree that you need to be told what your goal should be in order to enjoy this game.

here is what you do: build the town

But, I've already written about that and I try not to be too repetitive between blog posts.

I was hooked on Banished like crazy when I first got it when it was first released, and after my hectic last many, many weeks, it was the first game that I started up playing again when I finally had free time. It helps a lot that the massive player created mod, Colonial Charter, is being consistently updated and adds far more than double the original content - but Banished is, at its core, Micromanagement: The Game.

look at these numbers

and these numbers

and these

also charts

and resource trading

That's why I love it.

The CC mod does add a tremendous amount to the game, and had been updated since I had last played. It had been a rather long time since I last played so, given all these reasons, my town startup was pretty rocky. My town is currently a sprawling establishment, closing in on 1,000 working adults, but I'm having trouble keeping certain items' production rates up high enough, while others are out of control.

I'm having trouble producing enough furnace fuel for all of the buildings that use it, and I've built almost four precious mineral mines, and still keep running low on ores.

At the same time, I stopped growing sugar cane about fifty years ago and still have over 10,000 in stock.

and tallow. I forgot I could make candles with it.

It's a good thing the methods of preservation this old time colonial settlement uses are apparently incredibly advanced.

The "goal" to the game is basically creating a town that produces enough resources for its population with a population growth that isn't too slow - resulting in losing the working adults you need for adequate production - and isn't too fast - resulting in too many non-working students and children. This is surprisingly harder than you'd think.

tried a little too hard

Overproduction is usually not a problem, but then you have to ensure that your production will still stay high enough to continue to sustain your population once it grows.

The town itself is almost the secondary consideration - you have to place the buildings, but they do nothing without the proper number management - though you do have to be mindful of where you place buildings and homes. While professions will swap between townspeople based on who lives closer to what, you can't forget to build homes near working areas, storage barns and markets near homes, and so forth. The game is played primarily through monitoring, balancing, and controlling numbers. Numbers of people, numbers of products, numbers of workers...

You have to balance this with some other factors, like disasters. You need wells for fires, hospitals for disease outbreaks, and backup plans when infestations occur in your pastures, orchards, and crops. But there is one brutal type of disaster that will simply throw your entire settlement out of wack for several years.

no more tornadoes plz

Tornadoes murder townspeople and animals, destroy buildings and crops, and spawn randomly and move randomly. My first tornado killed every duck I had and a good chunk of people, since it decided to go through my mine and quarry which have the largest number of concentrated workers out of any buildings. The actual destruction was minimal, though the murder rate was high compared to my total population. The second tornado did a jaunty dance through a large amount of buildings, murdering around 150 people, 50 animals, destroying seven orchards and maybe 50 buildings.

Recovering from disasters, accounting for population growth, trading resources, and deciding whether to allow large numbers of nomads to join your town are all things that add to the complexity of the game.

Building the town itself is very fun, too, of course. When your production is doing well and you have time to focus on doing a little creative townbuilding, you can make some neat things.

I think it's neat anyway

The CC mod adds the ability to flatten land, which brings water up and mountains down. This large lake had a naturally occurring island in the middle of it, which I decided to enlarge a bit and turn into a resort. 

There is an Inn and Garden, which is a luxury building where people can go to drink, smoke, and relax from their busy days of being production machines. There are others in my town, but this one is fancy because it's on an island surrounded by water. There is a brewery that creates fruit ale out of cherries, and a quay fishing dock to provide the relaxing townsfolk with fancy seafood while they enjoy the Inn and Garden.

...That's all in my head, of course, but whatever.

bird's eye view of my fancy schmancy resort

It's tough deciding to start building somewhere so far away from other buildings. I had the idea to build this island into a part of the settlement very early on in the construction of this particular town, but I wanted there to be civilization around where the townsfolk would live and work, as their travel time from location to location is a very real factor. I decided the bridges on all four sides would allow enough freedom between locations to keep them from spending too much time running around, and once the town had spread all around the lake in the first place, I figured it would be fine.

I am a big fan of lakes and rivers and enjoy centering my town around them. I'm aware that this happens naturally due to the relatively large number of water's edge buildings in the game, along with trading posts and access to water for fires. With CC, the number of water's edge buildings increased dramatically, so having river and lake based towns isn't exactly unique.

The way the town looks matters for aesthetic reasons, as well as affecting specific parts of the gameplay. All in all though, the game is played through many its different numbers.

crazy numbers, man

I think that's it. I'm not sure there is legitimately anything more to say about Banished. I talked about the player supported Colonial Charters, I defended it from criticism, and I explained the core aspects, mechanics, and functions of the game.

I guess I'll just have to go play it, now.

No comments:

Post a Comment