Jan 26, 2011

Let's play Goblin Camp!

As it happens, Minecraft doesn't actually run on my personal laptop, because my display drivers are just that old. It's a good thing, really, as it means I have to do something other than just play Minecraft. These days, that other is Goblin Camp.

Now, if that looks like a totally incomprehensible blob of ASCII art, it's because it is. Never fear; I'll walk you through it.


Goblin Camp is an opensource indie game developed by some goon. You can get it on the website here, and we impartially reviewed an earlier version here. This is version 0.13.

As that goon has it, Goblin Camp is a roguelike citybuilder. Your mission is to build and manage, well, a goblin camp in the wilderness. This is what you start with:

The blue "o"s are orcs, and the grey "g"s goblins. Using your initial population and the tools you're given, your job is to transform this forest clearing into a thriving camp.

The first steps are to place some stockpiles and farm plots. Everything you gather and produce in the game is placed in stockpiles, and crops are grown on farm plots. In the picture below, the three brown rectangles are my farm plots, and the larger rectangles are stockpiles.

Placing stockpiles and farm plots is easy; select either one from the Build menu and paint them onto the map by click-dragging.

When you click on a stockpile, it opens a window where you control what kind of goods get placed in the stockpile:

Similarly, on a farm plot you toggle what kinds of crops get planted in the plot. Crops are planted in spring and harvested in the autumn.

After placing stockpiles and farm plots, it's time to get building! The basic building material in Goblin Camp is wood, which comes from trees:

Getting your goblins to chop down trees is as easy as anything. All the commands in the game are simply accessible through a right-click menu:

There, simply select "Orders" and "Designate trees":

And select an area.

The trees in that area will be tagged for cutting if and when wood is required.

You manage your inventory through the Stock Manager, seen here:

We're going to need some logs to build a saw pit, so we just order up logs in the Stock Manager.

Building a workshop is as easy as anything else: select the building in the Build menu and place it on the map.

Alas, I can't place the saw pit yet because I don't have any logs. Don't worry; Koppak the goblin is here to fix that problem!

You can see what your orcs and goblins get up to in the Jobs screen. The tasks are color-coded for priority, with green being highest and red lowest.

The last step to getting your camp up and running is to place the spawning pool. If you look closely at the above screenshot, you can see some brown tildes (~) scattered around the camp. Those, dear readers, are filth. In this game, goblins and orcs reproduce via the good offices of the spawning pool: goblins dump filth and corpses in the spawning pool, and orcs and goblins crawl out. As more filth and corpses are dumped in, the pool expands.


Once you've placed your spawning pool, you sort of start playing and forget that you were supposed to be making a blog post. And before you know it, the camp looks like this:


One of the cardinal design principles of Goblin Camp is that as your camp gets more complex and you're able to do more things, it also gets more dangerous. The grey area on the map is exposed rock, and the square in it is my stone quarry. All the carnage around it is a result of the quarry's twofold nature. On the one hand, it gets you stone, which is handy for a lot of things; on the other hand, soldier ants occasionally attack from the quarry.

Above, I've added more hazard-producing constructions next to the quarry: a charcoal burning clamp and clay pit. You can see how that's worked out from the blood spattered all over them.

Here's another innovation: a pontoon bridge. There's a bog on the other side of the river, and I've sent my goblins to gather bog iron from it. The bridge is there to speed up the trip.

As you can see, the camp gets pretty muddy, so I've built duckboards through it; they're the brown double exclamation mark. Without duckboards, the interior of your camp will fast become unnavigable. When you've placed some duckboards, you again forget that you're meant to be writing a blog post, and so don't have any more screenshots.


As I've said, this is still version 0.13. Most of the features that goon is planning for his game aren't there yet, so at the moment it really is just a sort of ASCII Simcity with orcs. One big warning, though: it's a fun ASCII Simcity with orcs. This thing is eating up my leisure time like, well, Minecraft.

If you're at all interested in this kind of game, go check it out. It's an open source project and there are functioning forums, so if you get into it, you can get involved with the development. I have some faith this game might be going places, but even if it doesn't, it's fun right now.

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