Sunday, March 8, 2015

Settling down in Kenshi

Michelle, Doc, and Soo ganging up on a dust bandit

I'm still playing Kenshi like crazy. (See my previous posts about the game here and here.) I've recruited nearly 30 followers, so far - all women - and I've started to build my own city.

I intended mostly just to post some screenshots here. (As usual, I got carried away.) But first, please note that Kenshi is still in development - still in alpha, in fact. It's unfinished. It's buggy as hell. It's still lots of fun, but this is very much a work in progress.

Nice doggie (not as friendly as he looks)

In my last post, I described a journey through the desert from one town to another. I've continued that, because I need to recruit more people for my faction. You can only recruit people in bars. Two people are available for hire in each establishment, and there are two bars in most towns.

Of course, I'm only recruiting women (don't ask), and you can change everything else about your recruits, but not their gender. So, on average, I find slightly less than two potential recruits per town.

Woo, hoo! Four new recruits from a single town!

NPCs don't respawn - not yet, anyway. And sometimes bandits kill these people, or some of the merchants in a town. But after visiting every town to gather followers, I can just import my saved game into a new game. That repopulates the world again. I keep my existing followers, while getting new people to recruit.

There are animals in the game now - in the experimental version, at least. Wolves (wild dog-things) are everywhere, and very, very tough. We encountered one beak thing, too - like a carnivorous giraffe, very large - but that's all, so far.

We fight a beak thing.

Unfortunately, animals don't drop any loot. I can't even figure out a way to kill them, after they're unconscious. If you stick around, they're likely to stand back up and start fighting again (admittedly, much easier to strike down again, since they remain critically injured).

The neat thing is that all of our enemies are enemies of each other, too. We were resting up in town, almost recovered from injuries, when we were attacked by hungry bandits. No problem, since I had my best fighters in the squad, and hungry bandits are easily the weakest faction.

A broad pass through the mountains. A city might do well here.

But as we were finishing them off, a band of dust bandits ran into town and attacked all of us - my people and the hungry bandits both. And right on their heels came a pack of wild dogs. Apparently, the dogs had seen the dust bandits and were chasing after them. But they smacked into the free-for-all and attacked anyone within reach - dust bandit, hungry bandit, and my people, alike.

Fun! (Luckily, the dogs came from the same direction as the dust bandits - as I say, they were probably following them - so those two groups were on the same side of the battle and mostly fought each other.)

Looking north to the future site of Darwin (that pass through the mountains is centered in this view)

Anyway, while traveling from town to town, I wasn't just recruiting, but exploring. I was looking for a good location for founding my own town. First, you need resources - stone, iron, water, and/or fertile... um, sand (with irrigation, you can grow crops at low elevations).

Then you need defensible terrain. Yes, you can build anywhere and put walls all around your city. But that takes time. At first, it's useful to have impassible terrain in some directions - natural walls, basically.

Very rough ground to the east.

Finally, I was looking for a place that made sense. Ideally, I wanted a location on a natural trade route (whether or not that trade route existed in the game, I wanted a place which would make the most sense in the real world).

And I found a great location towards the east of the map, far from any existing towns. Stone and iron were both abundant on the ridge, and there was a deep, narrow, dead-end canyon just to the north with water and fertile soil.

Looking NW, another view of the pass. That steep, dead-end canyon - for water and crops - is just to the right.

There's a range of mountains dividing the desert to the north from the rougher, higher land to the south, and this location was very near one of the few passes connecting the two. A narrow ridge next to a narrow valley made two clear trading paths to the town of Bark, far to the south. This was where trading caravans would travel, if the world were real.

Another narrow ridge led northeast into very rough land (I haven't explored that yet), so we had natural defenses from the northeast to the southeast. The north, as I say, led into a dead-end canyon. The west was relatively open, but I could start my town on a narrow ridge and expand into the open area later, if I wished.

Looking southeast - easy, but defensible, passage to Bark.

Basically, there were only three ways into my starting location, all quite narrow. Now, when I first came through the area, there were bandits everywhere. But we cleared them out, before traveling on to Bark. Since we've returned and started to build the town of Darwin, we haven't seen any bandits at all - or only from a distance, at least.

We haven't had any problem with wild dogs, either, but we've seen dogs attacking bandit gangs - again, just from a distance. In most directions, it's difficult to get to us. And for bandits and dog packs alike, too much backtracking is likely to find them other enemies before they get here.

Another view SE towards Bark.

As I say, Darwin is a long, long way from other towns. That means I can't rely on trading to get supplies. (If you build a town near another town, you can grow wheat and make rum, for example, and trade that for the money needed to buy building supplies from the existing town.)

Given our location, I needed to make my own building supplies, which meant bringing enough with me to build a stone quarry, a stone processor, and an electrical generator to power them. With that, I can make the building supplies needed to build everything else. It takes awhile, but your people become more effective at everything the more they do it.

Wide open to the southwest, but abundant reserves of iron, too.

Right now, my A-team of fighters is looping around the world again, recruiting more NPCs (a town requires a lot of laborers). The rest of my people are guarding Darwin, building it, and researching new technologies. (The game has a huge technology tree, with multiple levels. I still don't know how far it goes.)

I imported my existing characters, and our existing research, into a new game, just before I started building the town. Importing buildings is supposed to be very buggy, so it's possible that we'll lose what we've already built when I do that again.

But no problem. I'll need to keep importing the game in order to get the number of people I need. Before I do that again, I'll make sure my engineers have plenty of building supplies in their backpacks, enough to start the process of building all over again, if necessary.

The initial settlement of Darwin - stone mine, stone processor, electric generator, and storage boxes - looking NW towards the pass.

Note that dismantling structures is very quick, but you don't get any supplies at all from it. On the other hand, your people keep their skills. Your engineers become faster at building through experience. Your researchers become faster at researching through experience. And your laborers become faster at producing useful supplies through experience.

If I do have to rebuild my initial structures in Darwin, it will go much quicker the second time. And as I research new technologies, I often have to do that, anyway. (Most structures can be upgraded, but others have to be torn down and rebuilt.)

Kenshi is addicting, it really is. It's been years in development, and I'm sure it will be years before it's finished - if it ever is. It's really buggy. The game crashes frequently, there are a lot of things that don't work right, and you have to save the game regularly, to avoid complete frustration. (There's an auto-save and also a quick-save key, as well as regular saved games.)

But it's been worth every bit of that, so far. I expect to build up my city, then set the game aside for awhile. When I come back to it, months later, there will be new features to check out. (In particular, they're supposed to be developing a brand-new map. That sounds intriguing!)

Note: My other posts about Kenshi, and many other games, can be found here.


Sarah Kelly said...

Nice post.. Was a good read mate :)

Anonymous said...

Way to change gender of recruits is to import them, pick folder at top to go back to previous selections and choose the second character -customise to your liking and thats it!

WCG said...

Neat! Thanks for the tip.

I've started a new game by now - just messing around until the new map is released - and I've got a more balanced selection of recruits (gender and species, both), but that's still good to know.

I still love this game. I've played nearly 200 hours, and it's still in alpha!