This game breaks my heart about once a month or once every other month.
I have followed this game for a while now and i visit the blog every so often ( whenever i remember to ) and in all that time I have never in my life been able to have a colony that doesn't completely collapse because people get stuck, or items get left in the build queue or people die / starvation of completely unknown reasons.
I almost wish that the developer would leave the priority queue logging messages in so i could figure out where they are getting stuck and keep my colony alive long enough to see what the game is about.
I tried again today while taking a short break and yet again i watched one person die right in front of a full water barrel from dehydration and another die of starvation while stadning in front of a ration.
And meanwhile we get the addition of lava.
If I could even get to lava.
I will update this if it ever changes. Right now it feels like a tech demo destined for vaporware.
This game has a lot of promise, and the dev is actively involved in it still. However, it has been a long time since I first tried this, and many features are nothing more than game breaking concepts at this time. There are so many things wrong with the state of the game that have remained that way through so many updates I have waning hope of ever seeing this finished. Right now it's pretty much unplayable. Go ahead and pick it up if you want to be a tester, and report things that have already been reported for months or years. Don't get this until 1.0 if you just want to jump in a play. I still have faith we'll get to that point some day... some day...
Been a year that I last wrote something about this game, and considering that the updates for the game come frequently, I think it's time to update the review as well.
Last year I called it "playable". This year I can actually call it entertaining. What's most entertaining, at least for me, is that the colonists are actually very human. Allow me to explain.
In most games, you have people that feel more like worker drones. They will go from place to place, build, mine, craft, sleep, get hurt, go to the medic bay, build, mine, craft... The "people" here feel actually like people. And they don't want to be treated like worker drones. They get stressed out if all they do is build and work.
Of course the idea that people do something aside working isn't new. But this is I think the first game that actually models "stress". I wonder why this isn't a sales argument, but I was actually happily surprised when I noticed this!
You start out with 4 colonists and you can of course make them work, work and work. But don't be surprised if they get really burned out very, very quickly. And that means that accidents will happen, that they get depressed, and that they will simply not really want to work anymore. They start making bad decisions, they start to mess up priorities. And they'll start to complain. Subtle at first, and eventually they'll be anything but subtle. Ever heard of "quitting on the inside"? That's what they do. If only because they can't actually quit, being stuck on an alien planet. They'll just get sick a lot, make snide comments in the emails they send you, complain about their coworkers and actually be hostile to them, work the bare minimum...
A bug? No, probably not. Because if I lower the work load, if I add "stress relievers", if I add more people to spread out the work, suddenly they start to behave "normal" again.
This is actually pretty amazing. I have never encountered this depth of AI in any other game.
Aside of this, yes, there's still a long, long road ahead of them. They now added "missions" to the already existing sandbox game where you get more or less easy tasks to fulfill within a given time. Still in need of some tweaking and balancing, IMO. The alien fauna still doesn't quite have as much of an impact as I'd have hoped it would (basically the alien animals are a backdrop and don't interact much with your base). The balancing in general still needs work, it's VERY hard to start out but if you survive the first 10 days it becomes pretty much a cakewalk, a slow, steady increase in "demand" from the colonists would be great here. And there's still not that much to "do", so to speak. Research now works pretty well, but after about a dozen or so research topcs have been checked off the list, you're done with that, too.
So we're still not looking at much of an "endgame" to to speak, and I still hope that we'll eventually see some sort of "campaign mode" or something that's more than the sandbox (plus the "guided sandbox" callsed missions).
It's not done yet. But with very frequents updates (about one large update per month), we're looking at a game that not only gets active development but one that actually improves with every update. Many Early Access games "break" at some point and start getting worse, losing or throwing away the reason you bought it for. So far, Maia avoided this fate. The things that get added make sense and add depth to the game.
47 people found this review helpful 2 people found this review funny
9.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 24, 2016
Early Access Review
Review as of November 24th 2016, version .59 (invasion update), 5 hours of play time:
I've had my eye on this game for awhile and decided to take the plunge. However, this game is still in a state where it requires testers more than players. The base gameplay is still too buggy and unbalanced to provide much enjoyment, although I can anticipate having a great deal of fun with Maia when it is further along.
I will update this review from time to time as the game develops.
Update October 21rd 2016, version .64
My prime problem still exists, in that the colonists feel wooden and dumb. They do things slowly and often ignore survival-critical tasks. It seems like the AI gets gummed up quickly. From the opening of the game, just attempting to set up the initial base, it feels like you need to follow a set script of actions to be successful. It doesn't feel like there's any room for individual preference or direction.
26 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
5.9 hrs on record
Posted: April 24, 2016
Early Access Review
This could become an awesome game! Once it's finished and here's t he catch, the development is taking way too goddamn long (a common issue with kickstarted games apparently).
It is understandable that one guy alone cannot move mountains, and what Simon has attempted here is simply awesome, on the other hand as a kickstart contributor i've been waiting for 3 years to play.
This review is for alpha 0.55 and it is the first one that i managed to keep running for more than 4 h straight. The bugs are plentyfull and diverse, from annoying to game-breaking.
I am now writing this review after an extended playthrough that i would rate as very enjoyable despite the need for frequent "save-loads" to reinitialize the scripts. It has sadly ended in a save game that loads to crash and i will probably be waiting for at least 0.6x before attempting another run.
The game at the core is truly amazing, a hard sci-fi world with tons of attention to detail and very immersive. You need to pay attention to a million small things to keep your base running and the AI is quite helpful (when not crippled by bugs). The world is a funny and strange mix of Dungeon Keeper meets Alien and it works!
The only big fault I see is the planning... if you budget your game for one man for 2 years but have no chance of finishing it in that time-frame you'll run in a catch 22 , the game is in a too poor state to attract new buyers and thus you cannot hire people to accelerate the process. Nobody is willing to wait 6 years for a game to go gold regardless of how good it may become.
Its a very good insight into what will possibly happen but as it stands right now it is nothing more than a tech demo. There is no save game feature and you cannot progress any further than what you start off with. Basically its a colony game without colonists or any form of expansion.
What is currently in the game is a handful of objects for a handful of rooms. A couple of those objects have an unknown function and nothing is really explained about the objects or indeed the colonists that you have. There is no way to get any more colonists as of yet and pretty much as soon as you build all the rooms and fill them with items you have acheived all that you can.
The graphics are pretty good and although it has some clunky animations and is still rather buggy it will no doubt be polished quite nicely. It DOES have the potential to go far but even compared to other early access titles it just doesn't have enough content to even class as a game yet. Its simply a tech demo.
Keep it on a watch/wish list and get it when its at a game like state.
EDIT: As per the developers response you CAN save the game using keys F5 and subsequently using F9 will load your last save. Again this is obviously an unfinished feature but its a lot better than starting from fresh all the time!
P.S. This review isn't intended to be negative towards the project, I love whats been done so far and im routing for Simon to get an good job done.
The game is promising. It looks lovely, its systems look to be interesting, and its sense of humor is enjoyable. But at this point it's simply too unpolished to really be worth buying.
The most obvious problem is that there are no (reasonably functional) speed controls. The game, as far as its UI will inform me, has exactly one speed, sloth. People move like molasses and completing basic tasks takes ages. And despite this pokey pace, you can't sit back and relax as you strategize as you would with other games in the genre because there's no real-time pause fuction - sure, there's an undocumented pause function if you hit the Pause Break key, but this can often crash the game. The result is that you need to quickly queue up your commands, almost a bit like Starcraft but without the immediately obedient underlings or any of the good UI design that went into that game.
This is made worse by the awful controls - the game's framerate is still not as good as it should be so it's already not quite responsive enough on reasonable hardware, but inconsistent controls make planning out your base maddening. When placing items, right click both returns you back to your regular cursor/interact mode and removes items under your cursor, either queuing placed items for destruction or immediately removing what you just placed. The result is a lot of frustration as you have to swipe away to an empty part of the map to safely right-click your way out, or risk misclicking with the flakey FPS when trying to click the menu item to swap out of item placement.
Placing rooms of course breaks this convention - right click will remove placed floors, but it does so immediately without any queuing so you can very easily cause messy problems that you'll then need your minions to slowly fix, and if you right click in an empty area you don't go back to Interact mode like you'd expect.
And Interact mode, where you can click on stuff and see information or view the station from the point of view of your colonists in first person (which is neat and even has a low-res camera feed filter), also doubles as your mining tool, so you'll frequently be mining things when you're just trying to click on a moving colonist.
Oh, and you have to do all this when it shakes the screen due to eathquakes, meteorites, and cave-ins, which are annoyingly frequent and make it hard to just control the game.
Then there's just the bizzare key placement. Y and N are something you need to frequently hit, and I mean frequently, which is rather uncomfortatble since the game expects you to have a constant WASD grip. The three main building tools - the aforementioned Interaction, Room, and Item modes - are bound to J, K, and L respectively. These keys are nowhere near WASD where your fingers will be resting most of the time, while Z, X, and C right underneath remain unbound. Why? The keys are at least rebindable, though you'll have to spend a good amount of time figuring out what keys are important and which are pointless from experience. The tutorial doesn't even bother telling you want the keys are, and the UI doesn't bother listing the keybind either on its icons.
These may seem like small nitpicks, but bad controls combined with time pressure in what's usually a more methodical genre make for an incredibly frustrating experience.
And then we get into the typical EA problems.
The game provides very little feedback on why your colonists aren't doing what they need to do. I can have three full barrels of water and water fountains everywhere, yet my colonists will mysteriously die of dehydration regardless. Hopefully this eventually changes, but for now it's complete guesswork as to what's wrong. In a good Dwarf Fortress-like game you don't always know immediately what little cog in your operation is causing a holdup, but at the very least you have tools at your disposal to figure out what's going on. Those tools apparently don't exist yet, mousing over a colonist gives some physical information but you can't get useful stuff like the last letter they wrote or recent complaints or anything like that, instead forcing you to dig through the often busy feed (while the game is still running in real time, mind you). And since the game is buggy, you can't ever feel confident that you're losing because you messed up, you're always wondering if the AI is just being bad and not doing obvious things like eating when it's hungry.
Then there's the lack of content, bugs, and general unfinished state of the game that you'd expect out of an EA title. Yeah, it's nothing shocking, but it's nothing special either that really demands your money now like Kerbal Space Program or Darkest Dungeons or Space Engineers. Updates happen, but they sure as hell take their time. This game's been in EA for a long time and it still feels like it has a long way to go.
The game simply isn't ready for your money. I want to love the game so much and it feels like in two years maybe there will be a game worth playing, but as it is now it's just a really pretty piece of junk compared to other Dorflikes like Dwarf Fortress, Prison Architect, or even other EA games like Stonehearth. It's not Spacebase-DF9 levels of terrible, there aren't unexplainable oxygen leaks that eventually kill everyone with no further promises to improve, but it just gets so many little things wrong that it can't hold a candle to a game like Banished.
Wait and see, the game has the potential to be great.
Unless you really like frustration and lack of information as to why things aren't working, I'd steer clear of this for now.
Maia's concept basically takes Dwarf Fortress and puts it into space, on another planet. That's both a good and a bad thing.
Like DF, you decide what needs to get done, and the colonists go off and do that on their own, with no direct control. Unlike DF, if a colonist is unable to do something, you don't actually get any sort of message as to why — it just doesn't get done.
Like DF, it's being built by a solo developer, who is focusing way more on adding new features than on fixing bugs, even old or important ones. Unlike DF, those bugs aren't things like "military training isn't working" — they're game-breaking things like "none of my colonists will go outside to make a wind turbine to generate power for the atmosphere generators, so they all die due to lack of oxygen".
Even once you get through the first few steps and get a real colony going, it's only a matter of time before colonists just up and decide they can't do some critical thing and they'd all prefer to die, and you don't get any indication why.
My suggestion to the developer would be: Even if it's not part of your vision on how the final game will look — for now, give us some debugging tools! Even if they're off by default, we need some way to show us what our colonists are up to, what tasks need doing, why they aren't being done, how priorities work, etc. For one, it's just too frustrating to play without those right now; and two, they would enable us to give you actually helpful bug reports, instead of just vague statements like "nobody would go outside so they all died".
Sadly, my experience playing Maia for several hours today was basically the same as my experience back in 2014. A ton of stuff has been added, but the game feels exactly as inscrutable and unplayable now as it did back then. I love the concept, I hope it becomes a great game someday, and I appreciate the difficulties a solo developer faces on a project of this size, but I can't base a review on hope and speculation.
198 people found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: April 5, 2015
Early Access Review
Early access review of build 0.47. Ignore the steam playtime; I bought this outside of steam at 0.3x.
It's not often I write a negative review, especially of early access games - either it's too soon to tell, or the game is so bad that Jim Sterling will deal with it. Maia, though, I want to warn people off, for now.
Maia should not be in early access at this time, and it certainly should not have a ticket price of $25. This is an alpha stage game, with serious, fundamental flaws that need to be worked on before this can be an enjoyable beta experience.
Maia is a colony builder, like Spacebase DF9 or Rimworld. It takes the Towns approach of letting you set tasks and build spaces but not directly control the colonists. With good AI and balanced priorities this works well; without it, you get issues as with Towns. Maia is somewhere in between: the AI isn't very good, but there is so little going on in the gameworld that it's just about good enough, unless you do something weird.
Graphically I like Maia. It's got a 1980s styrofoam-and-foil aesthetic, with big-head robots and Space: 1999 jumpsuits. The graphics are very unpolished, but this game I think qualifies as alpha at this stage, so that will come.
The UI is just so bad. It is clunky, awkward to use, with unintuitive keybindings, an absence of necessary information in the overlay, no easy way to check what your colonists are doing, and an annoying over-sensitivity to screen scrolling when you're trying to get the obnoxious and imprecise mouse cursor over the icons. Drawing rooms is a chore, which is an issue when that is pretty much the only thing you can currently do in the game.
It's also very poorly optimised. Running on min settings, with a mid-range computer in excess of the recommended specs, I get memory crashes, terrible frame rate issues, and periodic freezing as the game tries to calculate something. I've spent a lot of time on forums trying to find ways to address these issues at my end, with no luck; I'm not the only person with this experience. A certain level of poor optimisation is to be expected with early access, but not to the degree where it derails your playing.
Development is okay. I feel like they should be further along than they are at this point. For over a half a million dollars in funding and a year and a half since the first playable build, it should be further along than this. I think Maia, Towns, DF9 et al illustrate one central truth about town-management games: they take time to develop. If you over-promise, you get DF9; if you rush and then run out of hype, you get Folk Tale; if you don't nail the AI, you get Towns. Dwarf Fortress didn't happen overnight; without having to worry about graphics or platform integration that game took years to get to anything like a quality gaming experience.
And that's principally why I am warning against Maia. For a well-funded game to be charging $25 for an early access build that isn't optimised, isn't visually polished, doesn't have basic features, lacks solid AI, and is without the diversity of content you need for a game in this genre, that's not a good investment. I accept that an early access game will be content-light, will have areas needing to be polished, but when a colony-manager after this much work still doesn't have basic UI, AI and optimisation sorted out, they are going to have no chance of adding more content without bringing the game crashing down.
I want this game to succeed, but they don't need more money, and you don't need the current experience of Maia. Give them until the end of the year, see where they're at then; they will either have fixed these issues by overhauling basically the core of the game, or it will have gone the way of Folk Tale. Either way you'll have your answer.
110 people found this review helpful 4 people found this review funny
7.2 hrs on record
Posted: August 2, 2015
Early Access Review
EDIT PLAYING 0.62:
This game still sucks :( The interface is terrible. Text is not well visible over the background, the UI switches to things happening outside while you are placing objects inside of base. Or it shows some random email while you are building - why is this engine in charge of what I see all the time???
There is almost zero sesnse of the base's resources. Sometimes things don't get built but I can't figure out why. Do I not have enough material? Is the building itself bugged? I can't tell because there is no UI to get this info!!!
The game still crashes while playing.
The missions are too hard. It's not easy to fulfill objectives unless you have every single move planned upfront. I.e. after failing numerous times.
IMHO, the developers keep failing in game design. Yes, building your own engine is great, well done, you can pat yourselves on the back. Now get someone who can actually make things playable for people!
REVIEW OF 0.49:
I just had a look at the 0.49 and regrettably I must say I wouldn't recommend this game. I bought it around 0.47 because it looked so good on paper but here is why you actually shouldn't get it in my opinion, at least in its current state:
- the updates have been increasingly rare - the updates that it does get add new functionality that seems random while it doesn't improve the (lack of ) core game play - there is no sense in the game of what you are supposed to be doing - e.g. how much material / food / colonists in total you have. They just added reports on power which is great, but every game like this has an overview window that shows you your resources so that you know what you need to be getting next. That, to me, seems more important than adding weapons, for instance. - there is no sense of why accidents happen - e.g. all my atmosphere generators exploded all at once - I have no idea why! And the colonists don't seem to care, they just walk around. You would expect major panic if something like this happened in the real life (the game is supposed to be a simulation, right?)
Before you all start accusing me of not knowing what alpha is - I know very well. I'm a dev myself.
In my opinion, the devs here should stop adding more functionality that create more breadth and isntead focus on improving the gamer's experience to create depth. Make a game out of this. Because at the moment, it seems like bunch of functionality stitched together. Give us a reason to play! Experimenting with new features is great, but wears off after you've built everything. The game is not interesting after that. Give us a sense of what we are doing and why we are doing it!