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Disappointed by From Dust?

Disappointed by From Dust?
« on: September 19, 2011, 08:30:22 am »

I've played a bit of Eric Chahi's From Dust yesterday (on Playstation). I had been looking forward to it for months. And now I can't remember why.

Has anyone played it?

I'm very disappointed by how both the story and the gameplay seem to be tacked on to some technological idea that looked much more promising in early videos. Either Mr Chahi is completely overrated (or burnt out) as a designer, or Q&A, marketing and/or incompetent interns had way too much influence on the production.

Or am I judging it too harshly and is it just the first few levels (yes, it has levels  Roll Eyes ) that are stupid?
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Re: Disappointed by From Dust?
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2011, 04:57:17 pm »

I haven't played it only because the PC port is supposed to be pretty sloppy. I'll probably pick it up once it's cheap enough on Steam. I actually like god games, I loved the original Populous. Even if From Dust isn't that great, hopefully it will inspire more and better games in this genre.
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Irony is for cowards.
Re: Disappointed by From Dust?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2011, 03:58:16 pm »

Oh I really wanted to play this too!

Strange as I had the chance to meet him briefly at GDC and he said he was really excited with how it was turning out. He seemed to say it honestly.

Will give it a go eventually to see for myself.
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Re: Disappointed by From Dust?
« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2011, 07:46:32 pm »

I played it all in one night. That's not to say I loved it though, it was just one of those nights.

It's a playful game. Given your indirect control and the unpredictable meanderings of mother nature, it loses much of its meaning as a competitive game (not that that'd be what Michaël is looking for). For me, it was more about messing around and se how nature reacted and settled in new shapes. It's a fascinating model of the world simply because there's so much geological truth in it, and the slow pace (where waiting is often an objective) allowed me to get to thinking about what people and societies really are. I think the tribal setting is a fantastic way to explore human nature and quickly reach its core values, and I wish the game had done much more of that. I definitely agree about the structure of the game though, Why such discrete levels? And why structure so many of them like a mechanical puzzle when the heart of the game is about the organics of the world? I can imagine the game would have gained something on focusing less on mechanics and challenge, and more on world/atmosphere and freeform creation. Then again, the freeform creation part at the end is unbearably boring.

In the end though, I still view it as a fascinating and fresh model of the earth and life on it.
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Re: Disappointed by From Dust?
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2011, 01:12:51 pm »

So does it get less rigid after a while? Does it allow you to play? Does it stop feeling like an endless tutorial at some point?
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Re: Disappointed by From Dust?
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2011, 10:18:22 am »

Can't say it does. Really, all of the levels are very high concept and based around a certain feature of the core mechanics. The playfulness is something you have to find for yourself within the scenarios presented. And if you haven't already it's probably not for you.  Smiley
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Re: Disappointed by From Dust?
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2011, 11:53:00 am »

Having finished it I quite liked later levels, but more from their high concept where I liked gushing around lava and water- not much else.

I think the problem for me began when the villagers build a house they pull it out of the ground by dancing. After that anything they did felt a bit cheap and expendable. They are all-together not interesting enough to spend time zoomed in on. If I actually saw them build houses, schools, have some children walking around; demand more flat land to build on; or saw them have a connection with the breath, then I would easily care about them, but at this moment I felt what I heard a lot more; at first you want to care, and then later you realize that they'll stand around going 'help' for-ever unless you just get rid of them.

So in that sense I think the simulation of the elements is the good and certainly beautiful part; but the setting feels a bit "typical tribe" - perhaps there is a tribe who talks about ancients and the elements like this, but it felt a bit white man's idea of a tribe; the simulation is so high-strung that the gameplay means getting to the exit before everything collapses; and it is unrewarding at times because because if you douse fire a village's fire with water, they complain about flood...

I just remember the great way the AI behaved in Populous, with building houses, chopping trees, levelling ground. Here they just dance for a bit and then things pop out of the ground. Later levels where they can fend off water and lava by themselves feel better because I can almost forget their villages exist. Which I think is a painful way to feel about AI.

I do feel the game, like other games with interesting play, could have had a better theme Smiley
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Re: Disappointed by From Dust?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2011, 06:49:41 pm »

I just remember the great way the AI behaved in Populous

Have you played the follow-up to Populous, Black & White? It's truly wonderful in all those areas that From Dust remains lacking (perhaps except "techno-splendor" -but I can't say I'm too impressed with the "contemporary game" look in general, anyway).

(do make sure you play the first Black & White, as the second one is a disaster -mostly due to the fact that they hired a professional game designer who thought it was an RTS or something)
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