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May Strategy Preview

May 7th, 2007 by Troy Goodfellow · 4 Comments · Preview

A weak month, I suppose, because everyone would rather enjoy the spring weather than crunch on code to get the game out in time.

May 10Circus Empire (Enlight)

May 15Nanny Mania (Dreamcatcher), UFO Afterlight (Cenega/Altar)

May 29Space Force: Rogue Universe (Dreamcatcher/Provox)

The fantasy RTS Stranger (Fireglow) has also been announced as a May release, but no firm word on that. Both Gamespot and Gamespy list UFO Extraterrestrials (Chaos Concept) as a May 21-22 release, but Matrix Games has had it available since May 4.

UFO Extraterrestrials has been getting some heat from the X-Com fanbase because the new game, clearly a descendant of the X-Com idea, will not kill your troops. Think of it as one of those RPGs or RTS campaign scenarios where the game can continue so long as someone survives. But wasn’t the tension caused by the death of your troopers one of the big things in X-Com?

Probably, but only for some players.

Chaos Concept has noted that allowing trooper death just encourages constant reloads for many players who don’t want to lose anyone. There will always be ironmen/women who see the casualties as part of the game, but the developers think that their way of doing things is at least as good. And remember guys – it’s not X-Com; it’s just a reasonable hand drawn facsimile.

In any case, UFO Extraterrestrials will be my big title for the month. I’ll let you know how it goes.


4 Comments so far ↓

  • Scott R. Krol

    You know, I was thinking about the issue of save games in computer games the other day and how 90% of computer gaming is really running through an experience, and not really playing a game. For example, take a FPS or a CRPG, what happens when you get gunned down or a TPK? Reload and do it all over, right? Invasion of Russia not going so well in a wargame? Reload and start over.

    I can recall a friend who had just bought Quake and played through the game in god mode. I thought what was the point? Why did he spend $40 to play a game he can’t lose? But other than the length of play, what’s really the difference between god mode and dying and reloading?

    In a boardgame you don’t have that. One person wins, the others lose. The only “save” comes from not having enough time to play. You leave it out on the table until the next weekend. Can you imagine sitting down to play a game like Russia Besieged and then five turns into it tell your opponent, “Oh crap, I should have attacked you in the south instead of the north, let’s start over from turn three.”

    With computer gaming though there’s no incentive for actually playing like that. Then again, maybe it’s an impossible problem to solve. You have to have saves, because people can’t sit down and finish a game in a couple of hours. You also need saves because of the sheer amount of bugs that permeate games. But it would be nice to see more games encourage a style of play outside of try/fail/reload.

  • Alan

    Yeah, I really need to dig up that old draft of my “why losing should be fun” essay. The key is recoverability. For example, consider that Thief does stealth properly, and getting spotted is recoverable. Contrast that with any number of “insta-fail” stealth missions in other games, where being spotted is cause for hitting the reload button.

  • Dave Long

    There is a schism in gaming between the people that come for the movies and people that come for the games. I don’t think this UFO game is as obvious an example as some others, but there are a lot of people who just want games to tell them a story while they push buttons. Anything that causes them to fail is preventing them from seeing more of the button-pushing movie they came for.

    It pisses me off because I’m on the opposite side of the coin. I want games to be fair, but I also want them to challenge me. I expect winning and losing. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy playing real-time strategy games in skirmish and online modes. That’s the game to me, not the silly story-based puzzle scenarios. Those are usually just brain teasers disguised as gameplay.

    A large segment of gaming wants the developer to hold their hand and make sure they don’t ever “lose”. I don’t like how that group is influencing game design into something that’s centered more on stories and less on competing in a game.

  • JonathanStrange

    I can live with “no death.” However, I prefer having character death as a reasonable possibility – and not just as a consequence of a catastrophic mission in which the whole squad gets nominated and voted into the Hall of Fame. I’ll do the occasional reload but I’m not one of those “I can’t lose ANYONE ever” players – and I’m aware that there’s quite a few who play that way. It makes no difference to me if they do – but I don’t think the “solution” is just to make characters deathproof so they don’t have to reload. I’d rather that the customary variable difficulty levels be used. Don’t like troopers dying? Don’t play on Insane. I understand a lot of the younger gamers like to brag they never lose a man but come on, virtual death gives meaning to virtual life. Those tactical “life or death” battles are more involving then “life or a week’s hospital stay” scuffle.