Big reads and hands-on
I wrapped up our holiday break with a flurry of New Year’s Eve writings. I explained why XCOM was my game of 2012, the growth and anxieties of the eSports scene in 2012, why I’m anxious for StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, and why I was fascinated by morality in Dishonored.
Paul had a good conversation with Firefly Studios, the makers of the Stronghold series, where they talk about becoming an independent studio, how they are going about navigating this commercial environment, and their plans for the next Crusader.
Paul also revisited Ace of Spades, the Minecraft-inspired shooter and found a good game that’s getting better with time.
eSports and MOBAs
Evil Geniuses are rumored to be getting into the League of Legends business.
I’m conflicted about this news that Age of Empire Online is ceasing development (not shutting down, just not adding new stuff). I thought the game was pretty poor at launch (we were pretty harsh on Three Moves Ahead), and I suspect the weak reception AoEO received probably had a lasting effect on the game. But I’m also not really sure it deserved the second and third chances I tried to give it.
AoEO was a good re-creation of the Ensemble RTS classics, but it was mired in Zynga-ville frippery that steadily leeched what pleasure I derived from the core game. The crafting and leveling elements that were bolted onto the design added little except confusion, imbalance, and grind. Three things that are deadly in an RTS.
I know once you threw enough money and time at AoEO, you were left with a good RTS that recaptured much that was great in the original games. But in the twenty or so hours I spent with AoEO, I never once came close to the joy of 20 minutes with Age of Mythology. The difference, I suspect, is that Age of Mythology was designed for RTS players, and AoEO was designed for a business model. Whatever Microsoft's and GPG's intentions, AoEO always felt like it was 50% things I didn't care about, and they kept interfering with the things that I did enjoy.
The kids are all into that Walking Dead stuff these days, so naturally there’s a shooter in the works. Some footage came out and boy does it look like the cynical, inept cash-in many feared.
Diablo 3 PvP will not be with us anytime soon, apparently.
Elite: Dangerous hit its funding target.
Bioware promise Star Wars: The Old Republic’s best days are ahead of it.
Craig Stern’s Telepath Tactics did not have a successful Kickstarter, but it still may turn out to be a success, he explains.
The War Z developers have apologized, but forgiveness may have to wait, if these DDoS attacks are any indication.
This does not seem to bode well for THQ’s attempts to remain an independent publisher.