Rebuild 3: games you should play while you wait

Rebuild 3 (ahem, I should get used to saying “Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville”)… is going to be awhile. I’ve updated my release date to Spring 2014, which simultaneously feels forever away, and far too close. While you’re waiting, here are some similar games to play that have been a big inspiration for the Rebuild series and the new game.

King of Dragon Pass

inspiration_kingofI can’t believe I only just played this game from 1999, but I can tell you it still holds up. It’s a wonderfully rich storytelling experience, a strategy game where you manage a clan while being barraged with moral dilemmas. It’s set in a super deep fantasy world based on gods and mythology that goes on forever in such detail, all of it illustrated with these huge hand-drawn pictures. I’ve never played anything like it. It’s inspired me to make the text events in Rebuild 3 even longer with more explorations of the world and events from that terrible “first year” of the zombpocalypse.

They more recently released an updated iOS version and have a great development blog for it. I highly recommend it to fans of strategy and storytelling.

Dwarf Fortress

inspiration_dwarffortressNow showing in the New York MoMA, this game is without a doubt a work of art. The product of years of obsession; Toady’s unrelenting drive to simulate the running of a dwarven city in raw and ridiculously minute detail. With ascii graphics. You need to squint and use your imagination to see the blonde/brunette/redhead, but part of the appeal is that the game is in your head. But to be honest… I prefer Mayday’s graphical edition, and though I know it’s sacrilege I’d kill for a full-mouse interface.

Despite their lack of visual representation, those little dwarves have so much character that they inspire epic works of fanart/fiction. I come back to them when I’m brainstorming new survivor enhancements like perks, backstories, individual happiness, relationships, kids… it’s hard to know where to draw the line. With Dwarf Fortress there is no line since it’s a perpetual work in progress, which I guess in a way Rebuild has been too.


inspiration_simcityThough not totally accurate, I sometimes describe Rebuild as “SimCity with zombies”, and my earliest prototype used modified building graphics from SimCity 1. Mostly because I needed some quick and recognizable placeholders, but also because the first two SimCities were defining games from my youth. I later played every other simulation game I could get my hands on, but these were my favorite.

So I was heartbroken that the newest SimCity is riddled with always-online DRM which means I can’t reliably play in the remote places I live half the year. No surprise their servers didn’t handle the day 1 load, but it was inexcusable that EA claimed the always-online was to offload processing, which was a bald-faced lie. I’ve also heard the new game itself is a disappointment, but you can always go back and play the earlier games.

Space Rangers

inspiration_spacerangersRecently remastered as Space Rangers HD: A war apart, this space trading/piracy game breaks up the strategy with delightful interactive fiction events. Sound familiar? This game was on my mind when I came up with the initial concept for Rebuild: a strategy game broken up with text that tells a much deeper story.

Rebuild 3’s going to have even more, longer events with more complicated decisions to make than just “yes” or “no”. They may not have you performing espionage at alien cocktail parties (a plotline I seem to recall…) but hopefully will be just as compelling.


4 thoughts on “Rebuild 3: games you should play while you wait

  1. With regards to a Dwarf Fortress-like with better UI and a graphical representation, I’ve been keeping my eye on Gnomoria, a recently Greenlight-ed, clearly DF-inspired city builder with indirect unit control.

    Nothing compares to the original, as far as inspiration material, though.

  2. I play a game of King of Dragon Pass every couple of years. It’s indeed great fun, and the weird thing is that it’s pretty unique: almost 15 years on, and no one’s really put together a game with that blend of strategy, simulation and interactive fiction/character interaction.

    I’m still on the fence about how I feel about how important knowledge of the game world is to successful play. It’s a neat world, and I like that its morality makes it so that it is “good and right” to launch a friendly raid on a neighbor every so often, but maaan, I always have to play with a reference sheet next to me because I can never remember what god does what and so on. :)

  3. In regards to Space Rangers, I recall a similar but not-as-complex and different-genre game called Adventures in the Galaxy of Fantabulous Wonderment, created by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw. It’s a great and hilarious game, along with most things he does (he made horror games, too, and I got so scared I had to watch LPs on YouTube, but those were great). I’d suggest looking for it on

  4. I wish I could play king of dragon pass or space rangers on my android tablet… Any love for us on android? I am usually playing settlers of catan, minecraft pe, or tripletown when I’m not playing rebuild during a late-night nursing session…. Would love your recommendations to mix it up! :-D

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