Folk Tale: Where is it now? (March 2017)

Folk Tale LogoFolk Tale has been in development and in Steam Early Access for a long time already and this is where a lot of the negative reviews are coming from. The developer, GamesFoundry, has steadily been working on the game and there have been regular updates (game updates as well as communication!) in all that time (please note: I’m using the experimental build which gets updated even more often). So I personally never thought the game to be abandoned (but I do understand people getting impatient). However, this is not going to be the focus of my blog post. What has been or what will be one day isn’t important if you are now sitting here wondering: Should I buy this game? So I will instead focus on this: “What do you get for your money right now?”

For those of you who have never even heard of Folk Tale before: It’s a kind of city-builder / simulation game with some RPG features set in a medieval-fantasy world. Kind of like the Settlers or Cultures. It’s in real-time and apart from managing your city, you also need to defend it from beasts and enemies. So it is not like Cities: Skylines where you focus on building but never have to worry about getting attacked. The game is in its alpha stage on Steam Early access and costs $19.99€. If this is too much for you, you can also wait for a sale.

Folk Tale offers a tutorial, a campaign, a sandbox mode and the editor. The FAQ says that Act I of the campaign is already finished with Act II “nearing completion”. I will try to avoid spoilers here for the story campaign, of course! But let’s start with the bit that a new player would probably start with as well:

The Tutorial

Folk Tale has one, despite being in Early Access, and it’s even voiced already! The tutorial is quite long and detailed and as far as I can tell (as somebody who isn’t new to the genre), it explains everything you need to know.

It is basically a little campaign with some nice humour introducing you to the game and the setting. You start by slowly building the foundation of your village. It’s the typical way of doing things in such games: You have a build menu where you can choose certain buildings like the woodcutter hut or the fishing hut. You need free, peasants (unoccupied villagers) to build a building and you need a certain amount of resources (wood, stone etc. depending on what you want to build). The buildings need villagers who work there and you can choose which of them is the lucky one to get the job. You increase your population by building more huts. If your villagers are happy in general, then new villagers will come when you have the capacity (that is, when you’ve got enough huts). Villagers can also be dissatisfied (e. g., when they’re hungry) and I guess this means no new villagers are coming or they will come very slowly. Either way, your villagers can apparently also revolt and the crime increases. I read something about villagers burning down buildings when that happens… Speaking of burning: Make sure to build a well soon! I didn’t do that (though that wasn’t in the tutorial, but in a sandbox game) and then I could do nothing but watch three buildings burn down. If a fire breaks out, the building slowly burns down unless you have a well and a peasant to run to the well, grab water, run to the building and extinguish the fire. Fire can also travel to nearby buildings. In other words, if extinguishing doesn’t happen or takes too long, more houses will start to burn. That’s why I lost three buildings at once.

Back to the tutorial village: You’re asked to build a windmill, wheat fields and a bakery after the woodcutter hut. Once that is done, your village’s needs are basically covered as they won’t freeze or starve. That’s when Ser Gregory appears! Folk Tale isn’t the peaceful city-building game. It features mobs to kill and loot to gain! Ser Gregory is one of the heroes that you get who will fight for you against the various enemies on your map. More on these heroes later, though. For now, it’s time to leave the tutorial and take a look at the other parts of the game…

The Campaign

As I mentioned above, the campaign isn’t finished yet, but the first act is there already. In the campaign, you get quests that guide you through a story. This part reminds me a lot of the Cultures series. Regular readers are probably going to roll their eyes at me now, because I keep throwing in this game series whenever anything even remotely similar appears in the gaming world. :p But here it just fits! Cultures 2 also had heroes on top of the regular soldiers you could have. And I actually almost exclusively played the campaign in these games. It was engaging and fun and I liked following their stories. As I said, I will not give you any spoilers here, so I will keep it rather short. You get a story, you follow it and the heroes play an important role in there. Also, the characters are voiced and the voices are really well done!

At one point, my hero was asked to enter a cave. After entering, I was inside that cave (well, duh!), with no easy access to my village anymore. At least, not on that map. I didn’t look whether I could switch back to the map at that point. Once I finished the quest (again, no spoilers), I had the option to leave again and then I was on the main map again which housed my village, too. But it’s a very nice feature as it feels a bit like a game within a game. Diablo-light maybe? And again, it lets you get closer to the heroes and get to know them better.

But that’s all I’m saying about the campaign now.

The Sandbox

You can play freely here with no quests telling you what to do. The heroes and villagers are still talking every once in a while which makes it more lively than if they’re all silent. You start with nothing but a handful of villagers, Ser Gregory and Willow. The latter are two heroes who can fight and protect your village. Before you can do anything, you have to set your supply wagon on the ground. I guess it’s best to have a look around the near area to check for a good place. Don’t ask me what a good place for it is, though. I don’t really know… I usually choose something that’s probably going to be the centre of my village, but I also try not to use the only open space as that’s probably better suited for the mill later which requires wheat fields nearby and thus, needs quite a bit of open space!

You can order your peasants (the unoccupied townsfolk) to go gather resources, e. g., wood or berries. But this isn’t as good as having professionals, of course. I often look for the river and see if there is fish in there. You can see them swim, but it’s easier to open the building menu, choose the fishing hut and just look for the fish icons at the river. As soon as you give the order to build the fishing hut, peasants will come build it. As is often the case with such games, you can only order them to build that fishing hut if you’ve got enough resources for it! So, you hopefully sent your other peasants collecting some wood in the meantime. Also, don’t forget to assign somebody to work as a fisherman / fisherwoman from now on. The next thing on your agenda should be the woodcutter hut. One of the tooltips said the foresters also plant new trees, so you shouldn’t worry about running out of resources. I am not sure what happens with stone or iron mines. They obviously can’t just be refilled. Also, as I noticed in the tutorial: Don’t wait too long to build a well! I also learned that wells should not be too far away from my buildings as the peasants need to run to that well, get some water and run to the burning building. As you can see, these peasants actually do serve a very important purpose!

In general, I like that there are so many different things to build. You have the usual resource gathering buildings, the food production ones, but also a herbalist den which produces medicine for sick villagers. Each building can get upgraded or you can choose to invest in some “research” to improve productivity, for example. Some buildings also have crafting options, but I have nothing to craft yet. The tooltip mentions finding recipes as loot. Speaking of loot: When your heroes defeated enemies (spiders, for example), you can loot them. Sometimes, the enemies even drop some upgraded armor for your heroes. And not only do these items come with stats, they also have skins that change the way your characters look! Willow is a healer type of hero and she reminds me a lot of the Sylvari in Guild Wars 2. Some forest-loving fae-thingy, I assume. But with my fighting Ser Gregory and Willow, I have a nice strong pair of military to fight against the nearby bears, wolves, spiders and… I think they were goblins. Unfortunately, when my village got attacked, my villagers always ran to fight instead of running away. In Cultures, when attacks happened, the regular villagers tried to get away or, if it was enemy tribes, I could even ring an alarm bell which made all villagers run into the main building to hide there. That’s the much smarter choice, after all! Especially since my villagers have no weapons to defend themselves. Thankfully, new villagers arrive fast enough when the general happiness isn’t too low.

The Editor

You can make your own maps if you like or you can load other people’s maps from the Steam workshop. I only loaded the editor, but did not feel like getting into the controls. I did play a lot with it back in the early days when the game wasn’t really there yet and the most you could do was create maps. It was fun, but in the long run, I lack the patience to really build like that. I just felt I should mention it if you happen to like making maps in games. And, of course, being able to load other people’s creations is always great because we can all benefit from others’ creativity that way!

General personal impressions

What I have seen so far is working very well. The game crashed only once so far and the loading time when I first start a game is really bad sometimes. As in really really bad. Up to a couple of minutes, actually. However, once it has loaded, everything reacts fast – and it’s not always that slow. And hey, the developers probably have to worry about other things like optimizing the game loading times. If Folk Tale was released already, I’d say this is a negative point that’s annoying. Until then, it doesn’t count. Other than that, I really enjoy the game! The graphics are cute (“good” graphics aren’t important to me as long as the style fits to the game and it certainly does here if you ask me). The buildings are really neat and I like looking at all the details. I assume it takes quite a while to unlock everything for your village (buildings that can be upgraded, having all buildings filled with workers, doing all the research associated with the buildings and so on). The campaign seems to be quite entertaining, too. The characters’ voices are amazing if you ask me! They add a lot of personality to the characters and it all fits together. So, if I hadn’t already bought the game, I would definitely buy it now.

My verdict

If you like what I’ve written here and you think this is worth 20 bucks, then go buy it! Or wait until it’s on sale… or check out YouTube videos (but make sure it’s more recent videos as the game is in development, after all) if you need more information or want to see the game in action. I think that right now, the game offers quite a lot already and it’s worth it – but I did buy the game at a cheaper price when it went into Early Access, so my “anchor” is lower than the current price.

However, do not buy it if you say “It will be worth it, once it has feature X or Y!” – If this is what you think, then wait until the game does have feature X or Y. And definitely don’t buy it if you only want to play a game that’s officially released. It is in its development stage, so bugs and everything related to it are to be expected.

Oh, and if you are now wondering whether you want to buy Folk Tale, but have unanswered questions about it: Feel free to ask them here. Maybe I can help you!

Win one of 10 Streamer Dream Boxes for Trove!

Trove recently launched its console versions (XBox One and Playstation 4) and in order to celebrate the occasion, they gave 10 codes for Streamer Dream Boxes to participants of the Creator Program – in other words: We have 10 codes to give away (according to Trion, they’re for all three platforms)! One code will give you one box. However, to make as many players as possible happy, we will only allow one entry per person, so you cannot win more than one code from us (but I’m sure there are lots of other creators with codes, so it’s always a good idea to hunt around for some… also check out Trove streamers on Twitch, as I would assume that streamers who are part of the Creator Program get codes regularly!).

According to Trove wiki, there are 12 items in the box, out of which you will randomly get one that you don’t already have unlocked!

Here is what can be inside (all are pictured above): The Balefire Wings, the Robo Raptor mount or one of the following allies: Wee Dawg, Timely Dismantler, Playful Scytheling, Pandering Panda, Midnight Minion, Lovely Lapin, Li’l Bae, Itty Bitty Bawk, the Cerebral Cephalopod or the Classy Kiwi.

In order to participate, read the following rules and then leave a comment to this post here and answer the question.

The following rules apply.

  1. One entry per person! Please stay fair! Your IP address gets logged when you comment, so we can see if you try to enter several times.
  2. In order to enter, leave a comment containing the answer to the question: If you had to choose one console, would it be the XBox One or the Playstation 4 (or PC either way :p)?
  3. Leave a valid email address when commenting. It will only be used by us for contacting the winners and nothing else! Enter said email address into the “email” field, do not add it to the comment field as that one is public! We will send an email to the winners with the code(s) you’ve won. If your email address is invalid, we may not be able to send you the code!
  4. The giveaway will have a stated deadline. All valid entries (as stated under no. 1 and no. 2) posted before the deadline will be entered into the drawing.
  5. No debating about the outcome! Unless otherwise stated in the respective giveaway, we will randomly choose the winners. This is done by me making a list of all valid entries, re-checking the list to make sure it’s correct and then using random.org to roll for the winner.
  6. You promise not to sell your prize! If you decide you don’t want it after all, give the code to a friend or guildie – for free!

Please note that the codes will expire on April 30, 2017. So if you win one, enter it in your Trion account page before that date!

The giveaway will close on March 26, 2017, at 9pm German time. Winners will be drawn as soon as possible after the deadline. Real life may happen, so please allow me some time to get the codes to you. :)

Six years… wow

Today marks our 6th anniversary of the blog. We have posted a total of 593 published posts (594 as soon as I hit “publish” on this one) which means that we have about 100 posts per years which translates to one post every three to four days. This is not bad!

I often wish I could write down more posts here, but real life happens and it’s been hitting us with lots of non-gaming content lately. I will definitely not complain, though, because I still love my job and I love writing my dissertation thesis. We are also in the middle of preparing our wedding come August. And even though I have fallen asleep more often than not recently while trying to play a game in the evening, I still do have some time left for gaming. It just means that there isn’t a lot of energy left to write down my thoughts on the game I’m playing.

Elder Scrolls Online Dragonknight

But just to give you some information on what I’ve been up to lately: I started playing a magicka Dragonknight in Elder Scrolls Online and a stamina Dragonknight together with bookahnerk (well, we will play together once he’s not in a different part of Germany most of the week with only his non-gaming laptop accompanying him). Thanks to Wildstar offering a free level 50, I have jumped back into the game to check out the Dominion side with my new chua esper. In Rift, I am thinking about starting a new dimension-building project. Not that the first one is finished or even anything spectacular, but I’d really like to have something else. I haven’t really decided what exactly I want, only that its focus will on the training dummies that are available. Kind of like a fighting/training arena, but with some more style… :p And then there is Trove… a game I have neglected quite a lot lately, because I had some weird performance issues and couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I think my issue may have come from enabling multithreading in the options and as a result, I had quite a lot of stuttering in the game. After disabling this setting, the stuttering hasn’t appeared anymore, so I hope that this really solved the issue because I would love to jump into Trove again.

Chua Esper Wildstar

Other than MMORPGs, I’ve been trying out Folk Tale again recently. A game that’s been in Steam’s Early Access for a few years already and which has received lots of negative reviews because of that. Once I’ve gotten a good enough impression, I will report here about the game, but I will not focus on the past, but instead I’ll look at what you get if you buy the game now. In general, I’ve gone “back to the roots” with some city-building games like Folk Tale, Cities Skylines etc.

I also got Total War: Warhammer in Humble Bundle March’s bundle, but to be honest, the game felt very overwhelming!

Either way, even after six years, there are no plans to stop blogging! Real life is keeping me from blogging as much as I’d like, but that still won’t stop me from blogging once in a while, at least. :)

Rift: New mount 6th Anniversary Parade Tuskar (Giveaway soon!)

Rift Mount 6th anniversary parade tusker

Isn’t this a real beauty? I’ve received this mount, the 6th Anniversary Parade Tuskar, as a member of the Trion Worlds Creator Program!

Rift is turning 6 years old this month, so that mount is part of the 6th anniversary celebration. I have no idea if there are other ways for you to obtain the mount, but I do happen to know that us content creators are getting codes to give away. As the subject line already suggests: We’re going to have our very own giveaway for these mounts here in our blog soon. So yeah, consider this a little teaser! :D

Quick First Impressions Review: Northgard

Northgard

I’ve promised to write down my impressions of Northgard on Twitter. The game released tonight, exactly two hours ago and since it is an early access game, you will not get my usual first impressions review, but a very quick first impressions review. :p I will – depending on the outcome of this first glance – report about significant changes and added features and write a more in-depth first impressions piece later on!

Now, for the most important part: What exactly is Northgard? – To answer this, let me first ask you: Did you play Settlers? Did you play Cultures (shown below)? If you did play Cultures, come here, sit down, take a cookie, say hello and be my best friend! Cultures is the game that got me into gaming in the “modern age” (after my C64-days). Cultures was – is, rather – a game about Vikings. It has single player campaigns and multiplayer coop and PvP maps. I liked it a lot more than Settlers, because you could name every single of your Vikings and you assigned each of them their job and determined which one got married and so on.

My main problem is: There is Cultures and it got so many things right in my opinion. And here is Northgard. A new game just freshly released into Early Access. Several features like multiplayer are not yet implemented. But even when all features are in the game, I need to remind myself that this isn’t Cultures! Comparing it directly will only disappoint me. But enough about these games. I merely mentioned them, because when I saw Northgard, I immediately had to think about Cultures and after Valhalla Hills being rather disappointing, my hope was that Northgard would be a worthy successor. However, it is probably better to keep that nostalgic feeling at the back of my mind and look at Northgard with fresh eyes. Shiro Games are different developers and apparently they (or one of them, at least) did not even know the Cultures series existed. Shiro Games are the developers of Evoland and Evoland 2, by the way. I never played these games, but I know the name. Northgard still very much reminds me of Settlers and Cultures. It’s a real-time strategy/simulation game where you build and grow a village of Vikings. You need to gather resources and food and defend against various enemies as well as attack others to gain more regions for your tribe!

So, let’s look at Northgard: You start with a tiny little piece of land and a few villagers. There are only men around which I am not a fan of. Yes, I know there is always a huge debate whether there were women fighting for the Vikings, but that’s not what I mean! It’s a village. It should have men and women. In Cultures, women tended to the house, brought home food (= carriers ^^) in Cultures 2, they also took care of bringing home dishes and stuff and they gave birth to the Viking children. It just made it more believable!

The first thing you will probably build is a Scout camp. Scouts explore the surrounding areas. Your territory is very small and you are only allowed up to build 4 buildings in there. So you need to expand and claim more areas for yourself (and you can only build 4 buildings in each of them). Then you do what you usually do in this kind of game: You place a woodcutter lodge, a hunter’s lodge if your area has deer, maybe you can place a fishing hut if you have fish nearby. Of course, you also have things like a training camp for warriors or a defense tower. Houses will allow more villagers to come to your village. The user interface is pretty clean, intuitive and easy to navigate.

Something I did not understand at first: In order to survive winter, you should probably have a fishing hut. Where I got placed, there were no fish, though. I also had no fertile land despite claiming three areas out of which one was very green all over. The game did not tell me what counts as fertile land. I started a second game to see if I had more luck there (spoiler: I did! I found fish, but no fertile land).

Fighting is very straight-forward. Tell your warriors where to go, right-click the enemy. I had my two warriors die to wolves. After recruiting two new warriors, I was a bit surprised to see one of my warriors still alive. Maybe I’d just had tomatoes on my eyes? I told my two new warriors to join their buddy – by right-clicking on him. The next thing I knew was that a message informed me that the leader of the neighbouring clan was not happy about my hostile action. Now I know that a) the warriors aren’t too easy to distinguish (or I do indeed have tomatoes on my eyes – both equally possible and likely! ^^) and b) the other clans don’t immediately go to war just because you accidentally killed one of their warriors. Good neighbours, I would say. The kind of neighbours I like. Such a simple little unimportant mistake shouldn’t lead to resentful actions, right? But without fish or fertile land, I decided to start a new game and see where I would be placed here. Maybe I would be luckier…

The second game indeed went much better: I had fish! But I was at the maximum of 5 Vikings and I needed more to grow (and I had negative food production, that is, more food was consumed than produced). I wanted to hurry up with the wood production as I was lacking wood for another house and added my last free Viking to the woodcutter lodge. Then there was no Viking left to build that house. But no problem, I’ll just unassign… nope. It’s either not possible, not yet possible or I could not find the option*.

Thankfully, I had a warrior standing around that I decided to send into a kamikaze run to nearby enemies, so he’d die and I could have one more Viking which would come to my village with no assigned role! Other than assigning regular villagers to build buildings, they gather food in the area when they have nothing else to do. At least, when it’s not winter. I like this little touch of having the seasons affect the game!

There is also something like a tech tree in the game. I am gathering lore points a— HEY! While I was typing this, the game made a weird sound… it was the clear sound of an alarm! The minimap showed one of my areas flashing in bright red. Something attacked me! But no, not something. Somebody. The one clan I had found already which had been neutral to me. Apparently, as we are right next to each other, as it’s winter, and as I have fish, they thought they could just attack me! I had also just sacrificed my one warrior, so I was defenseless. I am happy to report, though, that you can assign every Viking to your training camp to convert them into a warrior. Two warriors later, my area was successfully defended but I am down to one warrior again. And only one woodcutter, but I had only wanted to have one in the first place. So no big deal. Except that I had no food anymore and still had a negative production, because there were no free villagers left to gather food. But one new villager arrived just in time! Phew. We’re safe!

Back to the lore tree: Once I am at the maximum amount shown (which is 100 lore in the beginning), I can unlock something. I decided my warriors should get fur coats, so their attack power isn’t reduced in foreign areas during winter. The next unlock costs 120 lore.

 

Just so we know that this is not everything to the game… look at that black cloud on the picture. It appeared together with a pop-up tooltip window informing me that portals opened and I would have to make sure my defenses are strong enough…

Northgard

And with this, I am going to end my very first impression piece.

What’s the verdict here? So far, the game runs smoothly on my PC. No technical issues, no bugs that I noticed – and just when I was wondering whether it could become a bit too boring, the neighbouring clan attacked me! So far, so good. Northgard is in Early Access, so the game is still being developed and more features will be added. I do not regret the purchase! Speaking of purchase: ‘What’s the price?’ you may ask. It’s currently on sale for $17.99€ on Steam Early Access until March 1, then the price will go up to $19.99€. Still a good price if this is the kind of game you enjoy playing!

However, as with every Early Access title: Choose wisely whether you want to invest now as the game does lack some features! Inform yourself first and make the judgment based on what is there now, not on what could maybe eventually end up in the game in the not-so-soon future. If you like what you see, then yes, go ahead and buy the game! It isn’t expensive, after all. If you’re uncertain, better wait and check YouTube or Twitch for Let’s Plays before making a decision.

*It’s the latter. I looked at the steam community hub for this game and found a thread about this where they mentioned how it works: You select the worker you want to convert back to villager and send him to the Town Hall (the main building you start with) or to one of the houses you’ve built and that puts them back to being a regular villager. It also helps spreading houses around the map as it means less travel time for this task.