Wednesday, June 12, 2024

A Very Small House In The Country - Tiny Glade Demo Microreview.

For lack of a better plan, I'm going to play each of the six demos I've chosen from this Summer's Next Fest in the order I listed them in yesterday's post. Then, assuming I can find something to say about each of them that will stretch to a whole post (Not likely to be a problem. Keeping all of them to just the one post each might be, though.) I'll offer my thoughts, such as they may be.

I'm working this weekend so I'm going to have to get on with it but how long can it take to play six demos?

In the case of the first, Tiny Glade, about twenty-four minutes. And that was at least twice as long as I needed. 

Start-point as provided.

As expected, this is a toy, not a game. In the demo version, it's also quite a restricted toy. Most of the options are greyed out, with a padlock symbol pasted over them, indicating they aren't available.

What's left is still good fun. All the action, such as it is, takes place in the titular tiny glade, a small clearing in a large forest. The game, if we can call it that for now, starts you off with a building of some kind, always a ruin or a fragment of a castle-like structure, then leaves you to embellish it as you see fit.

The controls are very simple and intuitive, which is just as well because there seem to be no instructions whatsoever. There is a Tutorial option in one of the menus but it, too, is greyed out.

About five minutes later.
I didn't find the options one hundred per cent straightforward. I was a little confused about a few things by the time I was done and I was curious enough to google to see what I'd missed, which is how I ended up reading this much more detailed review, from which I learned several important facts about the demo - details the demo itself had kept pretty quiet about.

Doors are locked in the demo but it turns out they generate spontaneously if you run a path into a building. Similarly, arches form in walls when you drag the stones across a track. It does tell you this on the store page in Steam but of course I hadn't bothered to read that.

I'd already figured out you can raise and lower the height of walls and buildings but I hadn't realised you can turn a pitched roof into a crenalated rooftop courtyard by dragging the tiles all the way downwards. There are other nuances in the demo I did spot for myself. 

As seen from the forest.
You can finesse the raising of land to create some interesting effects and various odds and ends of scenery appear when you force doors to appear. Windows open and flower-boxes generate through some mysterious process I didn't figure out. A sheep wanders into the garden from somewhere after a while, although what a lone sheep is doing in a forest I can't imagine.

There are a quite a few options for changing the color or texture of the buildings but most of those are locked for the demo.

You can take photos from an aerial PoV or from the ground, with the ground-based shots looking much more impressive. There's a day-night cycle that you can switch off if you want although since it's purely cosmetic you probably won't bother. You can set the time and the angle of the sun for shots, too.

The glade at dusk.

The demo is locked to Summer but full version will have three out of the four seasons (No Spring for some reason, although there is an option called "Flowery".) as well as something called "Olden". There will be water and trees and fences as well but even with all of that the options seem a little sparse. Still, there's enough for it to be fun.

The thing about fun is, a game generally comes with fun included but with a toy you have to make all the fun yourself. As I was looking through the screenshots I'd taken, I had an idea how I could make Tiny Glades a lot more fun: AI.

Actually, if this brief piece from from New World News, which is not a New World fan site but "The world's longest-running metaverse news and culture site" is to believed, Tiny Glades already uses AI. That wasn't quite what I had in mind, though.

And by moonlight.

What occured to me was that the screenshots I was generating in Tiny Glade might make interesting starting images for generative AI. I wondered whether they might go some way to producing images that looked a little less generic than AI often does.

So I logged in to NightCafe and used a few of my thousand-plus free credits to come up with some variations. Here they are below. I've captioned them with the prompts I used. 

A working, medieaval household with people, animals, plants and crops.

A country house garden party in full swing. A band, tables, people dancing and chatting.

An alien invasion with spaceships and explosions taking place in a the garden of a country mansion.

A village fete in the gardens of a country vicarage in the 1920s.

I did check the store page for any restrictions on usage for images generated with Tiny Glade but I couldn't find anything. I hope no-one at Pounce Light, the developer, objects. Sorry about the garbling of the game's name in the AI-rendered shots, too. I probably should have croped those out. Graphical AIs don't do well with words. 

Also, apparently, with the finer points of architecture. Still, nothing that couldn't be cleaned up in the edit, I'm sure.

Finally, I blew one of my five free credits on the new Animation feature at NightCafe. Here's what I got for my no money.

I've tentatively wishlisted Tiny Glade. I'm not really sure I'd get much use out of it but it looks like it could be fun and I can see some practical possibilities if the AI enhancement is a permitted usage.


  1. Well, based on the strength of this post, I wishlisted it just to keep track of the game as it heads toward release. Here's hoping it delivers on its promise.

    1. It'll be price-dependent whether I buy it or not, I imagine. I'd only pay a small amount for a toy like this. Realistically, it's probably something I'd get on a half-price sale, if at all. Still, wishlisting is free so why not?


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