Alpha3 stabilization builds released

Posted April 11th, 2014 by Tynan Sylvester

APRIL 15 UPDATE: Silently updated to Alpha3f. This version fixes a bug that caused save games to sometimes fail to load. Alpha3f will break save compatibility from earlier versions.

APRIL 13 UPDATE: Silently updated to Alpha3e with one minor fix.

APRIL 12 UPDATE: Silently updated to Alpha3d. Fixes specified below.

I’ve just uploaded Alpha3c, a slightly changed version which fixes a number of rare bugs that cropped up after the Alpha 3 release.

Your savegames from Alpha 3 should still work (though you’ll have to copy the .rim files over to a Saves folder in the new install directory).

The bugs fixed were:

Sorry about asking you to update twice in two days three times in three days. We did a lot of testing with a good-sized test team, but it’s amazing what crops up when thousands of people get their hands on the game. I’m going to have to consider other test and development processes to try to avoid this kind of situation in the future.

Original post regarding Alpha 3b follows:

Someone found a bug that will sometimes make it impossible to load savegame. I’d added error recovery code to the game and re-uploaded it as Alpha3b. If you downloaded the game earlier today, you may want to re-download (using the original link). Your download limit will reset. You’ll know you got the new version because the zip file is called “RimWorldAlpha3b”. Saves from Alpha3 will probably still work (even ones that were broken before).

Alpha 3 – Factional Infighting released

Posted April 10th, 2014 by Tynan Sylvester

The changelog has a full accounting of changes (read between builds 363 and 408).

Anyone having trouble with their download – please see this forum thread.

For mods, you may want to start with the Big Bang Alpha 3 mod pack.

New Stuff

The big new thing is the faction system. Now we have generated factions like pirate bands, outlander towns, and tribes. They even generate names for themselves! This leads to hilarity with three-way battles, buying off factions to get their allegiance so they’ll send fighters to help you, and getting raided by a dude’s friends after you capture him and beat him up. The video shows this in detail.

Alistair Lindsay’s music is in this build! Al is obviously still refining and expanding the music, but I think this is a great start. Listen to the dulcet tones of the mixed sci-fi/Western theme he’s been cooking up for the past 3 months.

There’s now a planning tool, so you can put down inert designations that don’t do anything. This helps you plan your colony visually, on the map. (I recommend you don’t put thousands of them, though; they’re not rendered in a super-efficient way right now.)

The map generates in a more varied way now, using a data-driven algorithm which you can mod (from the MapGeneratorDefs folder).

Tons more stuff is moddable now. And you can write proper code mods that link DLLs into the game, easily, and in a way that’s compatible with other code mods.

There is a proper hunting system which allows you to mark animals for hunting and let your colonists handle the details. Beware sending unarmed colonists to hunt boomrats by kicking them to death. The rats go boom.

The game has partial support for localization now. This was a last-minute addition, so it’s not all locked in yet and not everything can be translated. But lots of stuff can be. Now the Russian hackers can stop hacking the DLL to make the game display in Cyrillic. A rough German fan translation from TheEisbaer is included with Alpha 3.

The bill interface has been redesigned and smartened. You can now set colonists to maintain a certain stockpile of a certain kind of item. No more repeatedly ordering them to cook 4 meals every day. Just set it to “make until you have 10 meals” and it’ll run forever.

Finally, and very important, is the many small AI improvements. The AI in Alpha 2 was a little bit derpy. This was a consequence of the game increasing in complexity but the AI not becoming smarter fast enough to handle the new situations it was trying to deal with. Now, you won’t see colonists eat raw potatoes out of the stockpile when there is a dispenser ready. They will put food in the dispenser, then use it. And colonists who make something at a table will actually put it in storage now. And there are many other improvements.

Have fun! See you on the forums, Twitter, and reddit:


Alpha 2 – Cannibal Modders released

Posted February 26th, 2014 by Tynan Sylvester

Alpha 2 is out! This time we’ve added tons of modding support, butchery and cooking (including cannibalism with attendant psychological effects), an ambience sound suite from Alistair, and a pile of other goodies including various oft-requested features.

Here’s the video with the info:

The changelog has a full accounting of changes (read between builds 334 and 363).

Anyone having trouble with their download – please see this forum thread.



Alpha 1 released

Posted January 27th, 2014 by Tynan Sylvester

It’s finally here – Alpha 1!

Everyone who has the game got this on January 27th via email. If you didn’t get it, more info here.

(Mac users: Please install the Mods folder alongside your app folder, not inside it. This will be rearranged for next build, but for now Mods needs to be there. Also, if your mouse right-click isn’t working, go fullscreen.)

This version brings a host of improvements on the venerable build 254b from last November. Take a look:

To install the new version, just delete the old one and unzip the new one somewhere. Old saves will be unusable in the new version.

The game is on sale at

Here’s a rundown of the new features and changes:


Resources no longer vanish into a magical storage number in the sky. Everything in the game is now present on the map at all times.

  • Players can now designate stockpile zones. These are areas on the ground where colonists are supposed to store certain kinds of items. Zones don’t cost anything because they’re not physical – they’re just AI directives.
  • Stockpile zones can be configured using a hierarchical interface to accept any combination of items. You could have one that takes all resources, or all guns, or just pistols, or only molotov cocktails, potatoes, and dead animals.
  • Stockpile zones can have priorities. Haulers will fill the highest-priority zones first, and even move items from lower-priority zones to higher-priority ones.
  • The storage and priority interface is also used for storage buildings, like food hoppers, graves, and the (currently-pointless) equipment racks.

One nice natural side-effect of this change is that your colonists will no longer starve if they have a huge food reserve but no nutrient paste dispenser. They can eat the raw food right from the stockpile – though it’s not efficient, and they hate eating raw potatoes. Also note that animals will sometimes eat food out of your stockpile.

Putting everything on the map required re-jiggering a lot of existing systems (which is why we did it now, so we won’t have to re-jigger even more systems to do it later):

  • Selling goods to space traders now requires that you physically move goods to an outdoor launch pad. This is done by building the pad and configuring stockpile zones on top of it.
  • Nutrient dispensers can no longer draw food magically from the sky reservoir. You must build food hoppers adjacent to them, and keep those hoppers filled with raw foods.
  • There is a new Cooking work type added. Currently, all it does it refill food hoppers. In future it will actually cook stuff. However, we added it now because sometimes you want filling the hoppers to be at a different priority from general hauling.

Adaptive tutor

There was a janky tutor before, but he basically ran on a rail and told you the same things every game, whether you needed to know them or not. The new adaptive tutor is much smarter in providing only the information players need.

The AT watches everything you do and keeps an internal database of how much he thinks you understand various game concepts. A concept is something like, “you can zoom the camera”, or “you can capture enemies by doing X”. He also watches what’s happening in the game, and works out a measure of how much you need to know each different concept at the moment. And, in his database of concepts, each concept has a natural priority. For examples, camera movement is considered more essential than opening the wiki.

Finally, the AT keeps track of the player’s “relax desire”. This is how much the player probably doesn’t want to see another tutor message right now. People only want to absorb information so fast, so we don’t want to overwhelm. Relax desire peaks just after a message appears, and falls off over time.

Evaluating all these together, the AT shows you training messages if the combination of their priority and immediate need-to-know exceeds the player’s desire to relax. The final outcome is:

  • If you already know a concept, you’ll likely demonstrate it before the tutor tries to teach you anything in it, and you’ll never see the message for it.
  • If there’s nothing you urgently need to know, the tutor will give you nice long intervals between messages.
  • If you really need to know something, it gets bumped to the front of the list and overwhelms the relax desire, and is shown nearly immediately. This is for cases like, “You can rescue your bleeding-to-death colonist by doing X”.

There’s more to do to perfect this guy (like making messages point to elements on the map or on the UI), but so far I think it’s a great improvement on the old non-adaptive tutor.

Also, the AT’s database of player knowledge is now saved separately from maps, so it will stay between games. To reset it, delete Knowledge.xml in your RimWorld saves folder.


Modding support is started but not finished.

Many of the definitions in the game – some buildings, all sounds, hair, training concepts – are now exposed in a Mods folder, in the Core mod, in editable XML files. However, some data is still not exposed, like most Thing properties (especially the ones essential to making weapons or plants), race definitions for making animals or alternate humanoids, trader profiles, storyteller tunings, and so on. In addition, there’s not yet a system to install, activate, and deactivate mods. All you can do is destructively edit the core files.

Development tools have been added to the game. You can activate them with the “development mode” checkbox in the menus. For more info on these, check out the basic RimWorld modding document.

This system will be finished in a future release. Hopefully soon, because I grew up as a modder and can’t wait to see what people will do modding RimWorld.

Menu art

You’ll notice some beautiful new art for our menus. Thank Ricardo Tomé, Portuguese digital painting expert, for spicing up the menu backgrounds and giving some life to the AI Storytellers.

Character art, apparel, and hair

The character art in game has been redone by Rhopunzel, combined with some fun color-randomizing code by yours truly. So pawns can come in a variety of body shapes, skin colors, and head shapes.

And that’s just when they’re naked. In addition, there is a new apparel system. Characters can wear multiple layers of clothing, and the clothing itself is randomized. So you could have a guy in a green T-shirt. Or a dude in a white T-shirt, with an armor vest and a tan duster. The number of combinations is nearly infinite. Finally, hairdos are now randomized as well.

Currently, they’re just randomized for everyone and cannot be changed. In future, apparel will be fleshed out systemically, and you’ll see different clothing and hairdos for people from different cultures. One pirate band will wear all leather and spiky mohawks. A nearby tribe will send raiding parties in animal skins with tribal hairdos. And you could enforce an all-pink-clothes-with-pink-afro colony uniform if you wanted.

Overall we’re looking to get to a point where colonists and pirates can be characterized and recognized just by looking at them. The tools to do that are now in, but they’re used haphazardly. Upcoming versions will have characters spawn with proper clothing and change their clothing as appropriate. Clothes will also help protect characters, affect their movement speed, and so on.

Fixes and tunings

Tons of things have been fixed and tuned, including recruiting chances, storyteller difficulties, and so on.

Creative content

If you got the Name in Game or Backstory in Game pack and had your content approved before Friday or so (when I content-locked the Alpha for final stability testing), your content will be in the game. It’s quite refreshing to have a nice deep pool of content to draw from. There aren’t a massive number of backstories – you can become familiar with individuals if you play a lot – but there are enough that the game isn’t under pressure to repeat anything.

Also, the options menu now has an “encouraged spawn list” of names. Put a last name on here, and the game will prefer spawning characters from this list. So you’ll want to put your own name on the list, and perhaps those of your friends, and watch yourself spawn in!

Great thanks to all the testers and the two creative rewards moderators who helped make this happen. Have fun and watch out for the raging muffalo!


Phoebe Friendly’s portrait

Posted January 17th, 2014 by Tynan Sylvester

And, the last of the lineup, Phoebe Friendly!

In other news, I’ve been working hard on the January release, which is healthy and on track. To see what I’ve been up to, check out the changelog.


Randy Random’s portrait

Posted January 8th, 2014 by Tynan Sylvester

Here’s the second portrait of the lineup, Randy Random!


Cassandra Classic’s Portrait

Posted January 3rd, 2014 by Tynan Sylvester

Portuguese digital painter Ricardo Tomé has been working on key art for RimWorld. Here’s his portrait of Cassandra Classic (click to expand).


These portraits will appear in the menus. We’re also looking at having them pop up in-game when the storyteller takes certain actions, to remind players just who they’re dealing with. I’ll post Randy Random later.

Creative content system open

Posted December 12th, 2013 by Tynan Sylvester

Hey, all you people who got the name-in-game or backstory-in-game rewards! We’re finally ready to accept your wild and wacky creations! Web wizard Hypolite has created an online system that will allow you to add your character names and backstories into a database. Each time we release a new version of the game, I’ll pull the data from the database and put it in the game itself.

RimWorld Creative Rewards System

As a reminder, you should keep the Creative Rewards Guidelines in mind while coming up with your creations. I can’t wait to see all the wild ideas you put in.

Also, I’m still looking for creative rewards moderators. If you’re a solid, clear writer and interested in helping, please contact me. Thank you!

Rhopunzel in the house

Posted December 10th, 2013 by Tynan Sylvester

I’m happy to announce that we’ve got eminent pixel and game artist Rhopunzel working on the in-game art for RimWorld!

Rho has worked on several awesome indie games. The most recent was Starbound, with pieces like this scary skeltal dragon or this crunchy mech. Before that, Rho did pretty much everything for Gnomoria.

Some people have asked how much the final art will change. Up until now, I’ve done all the art in a simple, iconic style. Rho will be working in a similar style (though at a much higher level of ability).  We’re sticking with the vector look because it satisfies RimWorld’s design constraints very well. The goal with this art isn’t just to look good – it must satisfy a specific set of design goals as well.

First, it has to convey a lot of complex gameplay information in a really intuitive way, even when compressed to a tiny space on-screen. For example, looking at a character will tell you:

  • Their identity (who, exactly, is it?)
  • Their team (raider, colonist, trader, etc)
  • Their general category they fall into (fighter, worker, researcher, farmer, etc)
  • Their facing
  • Their apparel (possibly several layers)
  • What they’re doing
  • Maybe, in the future, their current equipment or weapon

Packing that all into a space as small as 32×32 pixels and making it look good is tough!

Second, it has to balance abstraction with specificity. If it’s too abstract, people can’t intuitively understand what’s going on. If it’s too specific, it fills in too many gaps so players have no room to subconsciously interpret what’s happening. We need to leave room for players to interpret, because player intepretation is the real engine of game-driven story generation.

Third, it has to be lightweight in content, so it runs and loads quickly, can be iterated quickly, can be modded easily, and can be expanded to a wide variety of objects and characters. We’d rather have 100 kinds of characters with 3 frames of animation each than 3 characters with a hundred frames each. Because what matters is the final experience of the game, which in the case of RimWorld is best served by variety, not detail.

I’m happy to say Rho has been rising to the challenge. We’ve already been passing pieces back and forth and watching the style develop. Here are a couple shots of random colonists in various mixed outfits. Yes, one of them may be naked.

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Modding and audio progress

Posted November 24th, 2013 by Tynan Sylvester

Hey all, just a quick update on what I’ve been doing. In short: audio and modding.

I’ve been working on the system that our audiopath Alistair Lindsay is going to use to define the sounds for the game. Up until now I’ve created simple sounds myself from free source files found at The code would then just play the appropriate sound file directly when triggered. This filled the gap enough for my own pre-alpha purposes, but now that we’re getting serious about audio it’s clear something much more is needed.

Al wrote me an awesome document describing the kinds of features he needs in an audio authoring system and I’ve been working on getting it done for him. He’ll be able to define sound containers that the game will randomly choose between (like creating several sounds for a punch hitting someone). It’ll avoid repeating sounds frequently, if desired. Loopers can now define a maximum number of voices, so if there are 40 fires near the camera, Al can choose to have the player only hear the closest three of them, fading between sources as the camera moves around. Soon I’ll be doing a loop-shuffle system where he can define sounds in a container and the game will crossfade between them to create one long sustained sound. So, there might be several short samples of fire burning that the game will shuffle up into a never-repeating fire mixture.

After that will be the really fun and hardcore stuff – tying sounds to game parameters. So we might tie a fire size parameter to some processing in the fire sound. It might fade from a small fire sound to a big fire sound, or change EQ settings or volume as it gets larger. I’ve created an editor to define these things while the game is running, even adding and changing sound files without stopping play.

This progress isn’t just about the audio, either. This editor generalizes to anything you can define in the game. It is the in-game mod editor. Some day it’ll be usable to creating new weapons, configuring them, creating audiovisual content for them, and playing with it all while editing it without ever closing the game. I’m hoping that a really powerful modding interface will encourage modders to create lots of new content. Here’s what it looks like now after a week of development:


Another fun detail is that this interface with line-by-line editing and collapsible objects is really modeled after the property editor in UnrealEd, which I used for many years at Irrational and before. It’s funny how some things stick with you and you end up using them where you might not expect.

I don’t know when the next public content update will be. There is some pretty heavy technical lifting to do over here – I’m doing this audio/modding system and planning to switch the game to use Dwarf Fortress-style on-map stockpiles. It could be a little while.