Friday, April 15, 2011

FortressCraft

FortressCraft is the worst game ever made.  Worse than Superman 64.  Even worse than ET for the Atari 2600.

I had purchased FortressCraft a little over a week ago.  I had no idea that something like this was coming to the Xbox.  Here it was, a simple game about building whatever you could imagine.  A game that integrated the often misplaced Avatar, using it as an actual avatar for the player (shock!).  Here was a game that focused solely on the creativity of the player.  A game that encouraged social play by giving players the ability to switch worlds and build with their friends.

I paid the low price of 240MS Points ($3) and within minutes had the game downloaded and running smoothly.  Sprawled before me was a world without end rife with blocky beauty.  The controls were easy to pick up, and withing minutes I was marveling at the potential.  I think a large part of it had to do with my love of Lego as a child (and man-child).  I started small, building a staircase up to a modest one-story building.  From there, I expanded it two stories, and then a third with a balcony overlooking the starting pool.  After some pestering, a friend of mine bought the game and joined my world.  He built a tower that reached the highest point in the game.  He made a small platform and jumped.  When he landed, he began digging until finally reaching the bottom.  I had no choice but to follow.  What followed was a few hours of adventure in a raw unexplored world with my friend.

It was refreshing.  It was unlike any experience I've had in gaming.  I spent nearly every free hour over the next week expanding my kingdom.  My castle grew and encompassed the entire cliff it was situated on.  I build a bridge that spanned a canyon to a cathedral.  Last night, I began building a village for my non-existent minions.  I saved my world and exited.  I got curious and wanted to see what other players had come up with.  I made my way through various worlds, all curiously bland.  It seemed that I was the only one who had built anything substantial.  I thought nothing more of it and turned in for the night.

I came home today, looking forward to expanding upon my creation.  This was not to happen.  I loaded my world and was greeted by nothing.  My ever expanding kingdom was gone.  "Something must have gone wrong.  A fluke.", I thought to myself.  I quit the game and loaded it up one more time.  Still nothing.  Now, I began to panic.  I went back to the dashboard and launched the game again.  I set it so that no one could join my game.  My creations were no more.  The thing that I had spent a week building had vanished.

I checked the developer's forums and found this is a common problem.  As soon as a player visits another player's world, they lose their personal save.  Many others have lost their creations.  What boggles the mind is that no warning has been issued to the players beyond their site.  I understand that it may be difficult for an Indie developer to make frequent updates because of Microsoft's strict policies.  But this is unforgivable.  Plenty of people have lost hours worth of their work.  I lost a week of my time to a basic design flaw.  What other flaws the game has were easily overlooked by how enjoyable it was.

What makes this the worst game in the world to me, is the sense of betrayal I felt when I realized my game was lost.  What is the point in starting another game if this could happen again.  Supposedly a patch is due to be put in place on Sunday that will resolve this issue.  In the meantime, players have been saving their games to a USB stick as a work around.  I realize that while I write this, I'm feeling biased as I recently had a bad experience with it.  But I just lost a week's worth of work with no warning.  It's hard to recommend the game after this experience.

I'm sure after a patches and updates, this will be a phenomenal game.  But the fact that it was released with this cataclysmic error is unforgivable.  It will be some time before I start again, if I ever do.  So if you have FortressCraft or are thinking about it, make a backup of your game.  Don't trust the game to do it for you.
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