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  • unmanneddrone 7:18 am on July 14, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: , , Strategy Gaming, SunAge, Vertex4   

    SunAge (PC) – Review 

    It took ten years of development for an indie studio to create a classical RTS. Are the fruits worth picking?

    (More …)

  • unmanneddrone 5:46 am on July 5, 2012 Permalink |
    Tags: Dark Colony, , , Strategy Gaming   

    Get Your Mouse To Mars – A Dark Colony Retrospective 

    From the RTS Golden Age, a forgotten title left an unsung legacy.

    (More …)

    • bowlisimo 8:17 pm on July 5, 2012 Permalink

      Interesting, never heard of it. Looking at the screenshot up there, it looks like it clearly falls on the C&C RTS tech path of using a giant sidebar to build units, which was pretty handy back in the day.

      Was it Starcraft that overshadowed this game? Or was it Total Annihilation? Or was it that RTS games were a dime a dozen in the mid-late 90’s, and this one just didn’t differentiate itself enough from the pack to be remembered? The first Age of Empires came out the same year, was very different and is still remembered today despite Starcraft’s long, dark umbra.

      Either way, I’m definitely glad that mirrored faction idea is a thing of the past. Also, I wonder if that day/night cycle was Blizzard’s inspiration for a similar cycle in Warcraft 3.

    • unmanneddrone 10:36 pm on July 5, 2012 Permalink

      An old school RTS appreciation thread sprang up on NeoGAF after someone was trying to remember Warzone 2100…and Dark Colony was mentioned by a fair few folks (undoubtedly genre heavies and obsessed with curios).

      I think it might have been a culmination of all the things you mentioned, the glut especially, but Dark Colony certainly had a lot going for it – symmetry notwithstanding.

      In regards to Age of Empires, thematically it cast its own shadow and enjoyed a position outside of the sphere of its pulpy fantasy/sci-fi contemporaries. Not to mention it had the Microsoft backing…in DC’s case, SSI probably didn’t have the marketing swathe – being a publisher primarily of neckbeard entertainment. Sort of like if Matrix Games wanted to tussle with the big boys.

      The late 90s/early 2000s were my favourite times for the genre. So many interesting and ultimately forgotten titles to sift through. Force 21, The Gladiators, Submarine Titans, Conquest: Frontier Wars, those strange Homeworld B-tiers in Starmaggedon and Offworld Resource Base etc. etc.

      I’ll rustle up another retrospective on a far newer title that I think you’d enjoy, or at least be intrigued to read about.

    • bowlisimo 4:33 am on July 6, 2012 Permalink

      You’re clearly more versed in the genre than I am. Haven’t heard of most of those games. As a teenager without a lot of dough, I pretty much stuck to Blizzard, Westwood, and Ensemble, with a few deviations here and there.

      Yeah, the Age of Empires formula was pretty strong on its own for a while, begat several series like Empire Earth, Rise of Nations, and then went out with a whimper. Its only surviving heir is the facebook game, I guess? Kind of a shame, but Total War satisfies that niche for me now. Tried playing my .01 cent copy of Age 3 last month… yuck.

      On that note, I kind of want to see a graph that shows the entire history, starting from Dune (or whatever), everything that arose from it, and all of the subsequent evolutions that spawned from them up to present day (if they made it). I wonder how that would look. Probably way more complicated than I’m imagining.

    • unmanneddrone 5:31 am on July 6, 2012 Permalink

      Most of my investigations came after the fact, both via bargain-binning and second-hand stores. Dark Colony was a second-hand pick-up of curiosity. Turned out to be a fond favourite.

      I hear Age of Empires 3 is a great multiplayer game, if anything. I didn’t have the massive love affair with the second and, arguably, greatest in Age of Kings, but it certainly has a wide following all these years later. Ever play Galactic Battlegrounds, the Star Wars reskinning? Not bad.

      Would love to see that graph as well, with all the moments of mechanical inception. As far as I know, Eugen Systems’ first ‘big’ title (that’s The Gladiators) was possibly the point of divergence for the Dawn of War squad-based RTT idea. You’ve got other titles prior that feed into the idea, but it’s the closest common ancestor I can find.

  • unmanneddrone 5:00 am on June 18, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: Strategy Gaming   

    @shingro That’s the ticket. Let’s get a little more strategy talk on the Squawk!

  • unmanneddrone 4:20 am on February 20, 2012 Permalink
    Tags: , , Squad Scribbles, Strategy Gaming, The Reboot Quandary   

    Let us not read too deeply into the scrappy mess scribbled, scanned and slapped together! Mere whimsy and fancy. I dunno, when they’re not planned prior to pen pushed upon paper, they’re a little haphazard.

    But yes, the four characters are mere representation of interest and genre. The robot butler, the glue of reason and fraternity. However, what the damn machine was doing with Game Informer’s lowest scoring game of all time (if you count zero as a score), we shall never know. He’s gone now, for both transgressions of taste and lack thereof (apply whichever to either crime).

    But he might be back, the Squad Bot (cheers @tolkoto). Needless to say, the scribble resulted from our end of week discussion and, in classic style, took a hint of creative license.

    It is merely a bit of light-hearted tomfoolery for the Squad. We’ll see what happens next.

    To business:

    @angryjedi The strategy game. Especially the long ones. I think it’s a question of vested interest, and this really does strike at the heart of just what a burden playing the things can be – especially if, at least at first, systems do not telegraph fail-states or the path thereof to new players or players attempting something different. Probably the most wonky genre next to fighting games in terms of tutorials as well, which is all shades of crazy given the systems and mechanics, but player interpretation of the fail-state should be regarded as utterly pivotal in game design.

    Is it up to developers to telegraph outcomes with player choice? How much can we blame ourselves as gamers for simply not having enough experience or making bad choices? Even if, for the most part, the correct choices were made (in itself a very subjective notion) and we still “lost” – either against opponents or against our better judgement – are we to conceive that as a learning experience, poor design by developers, a mix of both? Anyway, I’m still ruminating. It’s a nebulous topic, and the sheer variation on integrated systems and mechanics makes it very much a case-by-case talking point.

    More to come when the upstairs porridge starts bubbling.

    @sinfony I’d love to jump into DF, but I’m already balls-deep (how crude!) in JA:BiA and Wargame and adding a third to the mix would be hellish for the schedule. I look forward to folks’ impressions, though. Probably the most enigmatic game around.

    @impynickers Here’s one for you, good sir! I’ve been wondering about this for a while, especially with Syndicate upon us. So much so that I’ll bold the son of a gun. Wait for it…


    As the resident Syndicate fan and cyberpunk connoisseur, I’d like you to go deeper on your views regarding the Starbreeze effort. What stock do we place on mechanics versus aesthetic when it comes to reboots? Is it holistic? Is it easier or harder for fans to take if their hallowed IP is rebooted within the same genre or as a completely different experience? XCOM fans were horrified (although I half think this was incredible bandwagoneering by folks who simply latched onto the franchise without experiencing it, in an attempt to embellish their own gamer cred) at the 2K Marin reboot, but I didn’t hear their proclamation of joy at the indie Xenonauts title prior to the Firaxis unveiling. By the same token, JA:BiA falls relatively close to the old school tree and fans are utterly torn over it. Would they have found a shooter set in the same universe easier to dismiss?

    Just curious for your thoughts, and any other Squaddy on the topic.

    And as a flimsy epilogue and to salve the wounds of not getting more time with it over the weekend, a little screenshot of two of my JA:BiA mercs stalking through a swamp to flank a roadblock. Fox and Grunty getting their feet wet, with Hitman (offscreen) down the road, nuzzling the smooth wooden stock of a dirty old Soviet rifle in the bushes.

    Still quite taken with Back in Action. Just one of those games that insults the inflexible old war dogs who hold JA2 as the finest of the fine, but when stripped of all responsibility and onus to the old games and system, is a remarkably fun experience in its own right.

  • RedSwirl 2:13 pm on July 12, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , Strategy Gaming   

    @cptcarnage I actually suggest we do restrict a Hitman mission to just Blood Money. In my opinion it’s the only one you really need to play. Silent Assassin was cool, but BM has completely out-done it.

    Anyway, now that you guys got me posting, I should bring up some absolutely infuriating shit I just read from Take Two about XCOM.

    “The ‘90s generation of gamers all love Xcom and we own the IP, so we thought OK, what do we do with it? Every studio we had wanted to do it and each one had its own spin on it. But the problem was that turn-based strategy games were no longer the hottest thing on planet Earth. But this is not just a commercial thing – strategy games are just not contemporary.

    “I use the example of music artists. Look at someone old school like Ray Charles, if he would make music today it would still be Ray Charles but he would probably do it more in the style of Kanye West. Bringing Ray Charles back is all fine and good, but it just needs to move on, although the core essence will still be the same.

    “That’s what we are trying to do. To renew Xcom but in line with what this generation of gamers want. The team behind it is asking themselves every day: ‘Is it true to the values of the franchise?’ It’s not a case of cashing in on the name. We just need to renew it because times are changing.”

    I still haven’t played that complete X-Com collection I got for $5 at a Steam Sale three years ago, but this is what I hate about AAA gaming today. It’s killing genres.

    I know real-time strategy games have never really worked that well on consoles, but turn-based has worked out just fine. Just look at all the stuff from Nintendo Intelligent Systems or Final Fantasy Tactics. The one game the new XCOM should be trying to emulate is probably Valkyria Chronicles.

  • unmanneddrone 3:50 am on February 2, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , Strategy Gaming   

    Questioning the level of interest and/or anticipation for a nice new Euro-style infrastructure title, but there’s an open beta for Traffic Giant’s spiritual successor a’going on – Cities In Motion!

    A great experience thus far, good for a relaxing change of pace. No mutants, no spikey-haired androgynes, no overwrought narratives. Just you and your self-styled civil-engineering public transport dreams.

    • Explore four different cities: Vienna, Helsinki, Berlin, and Amsterdam
    • Engage in a campaign with 12 scenarios, as well as a sandbox mode where all campaign cities are playable
    • Experience realistic 3D graphics with more than 100 unique, highly detailed buildings
    • Use the advanced map editor to create your own cities
    • Immerse yourself in an advanced economic simulator as you struggle with banks and shifting economic trends
    • Play through 100 years of transportation history throughout four eras, spanning from 1920 to 2020
    • Choose between more than 30 different vehicles based on real-life models of buses, trams, water buses, helicopters, and subways, complete with an underground view
    • Meet residents’ travel needs as 7 different social groups exhibit different passenger behaviours
    • Experience a real-time city and traffic simulator as each location’s bustling population commutes between their homes, jobs, and leisure sites

    So, if you dig the more intricate of the Maxis games – SimTower etc. – you might find this a nice little diversion. It’s not as similar to Transport Tycoon as a lot of people are suggesting, but quite good nonetheless.

    309MB – http://bit.ly/hG7I8r

    Full version comes out via Gamersgate on the 22nd of Feb for a cool $19.95.

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