Editorial: Nine Months of Early Access

More numbers!

Why do I keep producing more building?

Early access has been running on Steam for nine months now. Out of the ten games that were available when the service launched, only one has graduated to a full release. ARMA 3, sequel to the highly successful ARMA 2, is one of a handful of games that have used the service effectively. There are still over one hundred games on the ever growing list that continue to take consumers money while they struggle on in development. Today I will be looking at a few of the games that I own that stand out from the rest.

Godus

I wrote a review of Godus for the site back when the game launched on Steam. Less than a month after launch, more content was added to the game in the form of new advances, allowing players to enter the previously unreachable Bronze Age. In the two months since the update, there had been little news on the project until a week ago. Molyneux briefly addressed fans through a video update to explain what was next for the project. The result? Making follower behave more realistically. No news on additional content for a game which already lacks any real excitement. Thanks Peter.

Godus could use some extra AI challenges and a few extra interesting objects to find hidden under the soil. Perhaps a reason could be added to carry on building up the population beyond collecting extra cards. Either option would be better than tweaking how followers act, and would have given players who already have played all the content a reason to come back to the game again.

And along every path.

Death is right around the corner.

Kenshi

Kenshi is a squad-based RPG that focuses on sandbox gameplay rather than a story. No character in this game is ‘heroic’, and trying to take on a pack of enemies solo will almost certainly result in the death of the character. Players can try their hand at many different roles in the game, and can even build their own base to operate from. Technologies can be researched so that a players can craft their own equipment rather than buying items from the various stores across the world.

Kenshi was one of the original game available on early access, but the small team responsible for it have been steadily adding new features to the game over the months. The game was far from finished at launch, but allowed for many different gameplay styles. Updates have included female avatars, armor crafting, and new factions. More updates are planned for the future, so while this game looks like it will be in early access for quite a while, it is not suffering for it.

And where did all the merchants come from?

Who designs these space ships?

Dungeon of the Endless

Dungeon of the Endless is only a week old, but shows promise. Dungeon is a roguelike, dungeon crawler, sci-fi tower defence game. This sounds like an odd mashup, but it does work. The player’s group starts off in the center of a crashed ship and must find the exit to the next floor by opening doors to other sections of the ship, all the while protecting the ships core. The core can power adjacent open rooms, allowing turrets to be placed on open spots in the room. Opening doors spawns enemies in any random underpowered rooms on the map. Once the exit has been found, the core must be carried to the exit, all while enemies continue to spawn and attempt to destroy it.

The current game is missing some features, such as science (used for researching new items and equipment), and is extremely limited in playability. The game only has three floors right now, and characters are capped at level five. The developers do already have a game on Steam though, Endless Space, and have proved they are capable of making a polished game. This project excites me, and I hope the floor cap is removed as soon as possible.

Many games are using early access in the manner for which it was intended, but buyers should be aware of what the are purchasing. Unlike with pre-orders, Steam will not compensate users if an early access game never goes into full release. Be aware of any history the developers have, and maybe hold off on buying any game on early access for a week or two.

Do you own any early access games? Have they gone into full release yet? Are they updated often? Let me know in the comments!

3 comments on “Editorial: Nine Months of Early Access”

  1. Godus looked kinda boring at PAX and it still does. Color me uninterested.

  2. Yup, one to be avoided. Molyneux has his priorities all wrong for that game.

  3. @Scott: That could be said about all of his games. “Let’s focus on morality choices rather than a story that isn’t full of clichés. Also, who gives a crap about good gameplay mechanics?”

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