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Three Moves Ahead Episode 18 — Franchise Diagnosis Day

June 24th, 2009 by Troy Goodfellow · 11 Comments · Podcast, Three Moves Ahead


This week, the panel takes the pulse of strategy franchises. What makes you strong? What makes you weak? And is any particular franchise in trouble?

We also give you a preview of our next epic multiplayer gaming experience. Will Tom and Julian redeem themselves after such a terrible showing last time? Not with this game.

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • Cubit

    As always, great podcast. The only franchise that I can think of that was missed would be Heroes of Might and Magic.

  • spelk

    Another enjoyable podcast folks. Since I’m a new Dominions 3 conscript I’m very much looking forward to your AAR’s and commentary on the play. I don’t suppose theres anything like “replay” functionality in the Dominions 3 game is there?

    The Star Wars game with a “board game” feel was indeed Rebellion, although I had some trouble remembering it, because over here in the UK it was renamed (for whatever reason) to Star Wars Supremacy [1]. All I remember about it is that I SO wanted to like it, but ultimately couldn’t find my rhythm with the game.

    Regarding Magic the Gathering: Duel of the Planewalkers on XBLA, I have to applaud it for opening the door to the strategy behind Magic, which for me is where the pleasure is. I find the proper card game impenetrable simply because I’m at a stage in my life where hanging around comic book shops and card gaming areas with teenagers isn’t where I want to be. I also find the progression into the PC version of Magic the Gathering Online again a hefty price to pay in terms of having to focus totally on buying and trading specific cards to build competitive decks, with players who have way more time and money devoted to this pursuit. I enjoy the strategy behind card battling mechanics, I rarely enjoy the race through the cut and thrust of card trading and expansion consumption. Since your starting point for deck building is the cardbase you have at your disposal, and with MTGO that cardbase is as overwhelming as it is, I just can’t find the motivation to spend hour after hour, trying to secure a deal on key cards, paying more and more money with the hope that I’ll settle on a card selection I then want to build a deck from. I much prefer the already balanced decks of Planewalkers, and the play exhibited by games such as Astral Masters[2] or Spectromancer [3] with their defined limits and explorable but finite strategy interactions. So I think not only does Planewalkers open the beauty of Magic the Gathering to a whole new audience it also gives strategists out there a place to explore the actual mechanics of a balanced game rather than have to climb the high wall that is presented to you when trying to get into the game properly.

    Stormrise was mentioned, from the Australian wing of the Total War devs, and I’d just like to comment that I think Stormrise had a lot of very clever concepts built into it, but from what I have gathered it was killed off because of financial concerns. Essentially it was released way too early, it was still riddled with game altering bugs. It was pushed out the door, so that it could be bundled as part of the previous fiscal year, and not affect the upcoming years prospects. It released as a broken product alongside Halo Wars. If that’s not an assassination I don’t know what is. Even broken there were workarounds for the faults, and some enjoyment could be clawed back from the game. The game could have been the next iteration of what Endwar was, a tactical eye view of a squad based RTS, but with “Verticality” (to use their marketing term for taking the units up into the third dimension, and inside of buildings). Soon after release, a desperately needed patch was in the works to fix the broken aspects of the game, this patch was pulled, and no further updates will be made to the game. Its a lost cause.

    The franchise that I mourn the loss of is the Kohan [4] series by TimeGate Studios, the first two in the series (although one was an expansion to the other) showed us a new way of thinking with RTS, adding elements of supply, fortification, custom fighting groups and chain of command. The sequel Kohan II seemed to want to be Warcraft III just a little too much.

    Lastly, it was mentioned that Demigod will be releasing DLC (new maps and demigod’s) on a 60 day turnover, do you think the strategic elements in Demigod can support a much wider variety of Demigods and their interplay with each other?

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_Wars_Rebellion

    [2] http://www.astralmasters.com/

    [3] http://spectromancer.com/

    [4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kohan

  • George (Stuttgart)

    ever wondered what the bottom of a podcast’s post look like? well, BAM

    look no further

  • vendolis

    Well One franchise that I was missing was the Anno-Series (or A.D. Series) They are just bringing out Anno 1404 (or Dawn of Discovery) and the PC Demo played very well, the reviews of the Wii version where quite good. About the DS version I heard nothing yet. Would be nice to hear from you a comparison of this three (or two) games.

  • vendolis

    Ah well .. I just noticed that Anno 1404 has a 3 activation Tagès copy protection.. sad.. they are allready getting the 1-Star reviews on Amazon in Germany. … But anyway .. nice Demo … no multiplayer though.

  • Paul

    My only complaint was rectified when Paradox was mentioned. I was going to be more than surprised if they didn’t even get a mention.

    Anyway, great ‘cast as ever.

  • SwiftRanger

    “it was mentioned that Demigod will be releasing DLC (new maps and demigod’s) on a 60 day turnover”

    Wardell said that would be his wish when Stardock/GPG would have unlimited funds which they haven’t. Demigod is doing good digitally (those deals clearly helped) but not so good at retail. I am more interested in how the mod support will turn out, that’s gonna be a deciding factor for the future of the game.

    Strategy franchises lost (forever probably)… too many to name:
    * Dark Reign, Star Trek Armada, Battlezone (all Activision published series, a big shame that company is now only focusing on action games while its only ‘strategy’ title now is developed-by-the-book StarCraft II, which isn’t really made by them but by Blizzard)
    * Total Annihilation (Atari did a great job f*cking this one up, denying Chris Taylor to work on the sequel after Cavedog was shut down and after some Korean company couldn’t work it out anymore)
    * Master of Magic (again, Atari making unreasonable deals to Stardock for getting these franchises back up and running, just like with MoO)
    * KKnD (dare I say Atari again? KKnD 2 wasn’t that good but Melbourne House deserved better than working on console license games after that, the first is still a great game and the first RTS to introduce veterancy)
    * Seven Kingdoms (this series didn’t deserve 7K: Conquest as an ‘end’)
    * War Wind (introduced quite a lot of new features when both games came out but now it’s another old IP in the hands of a big publisher, Ubisoft I guess, which doesn’t understand how to revive an old franchise, proof is HoM&M/M&M of course)
    * Uprising (wondering what happened to this after 3DO’s demise, Ubisoft again?)
    * Warlords (the turnbased series then, Warlords 4 imo proved again Ubisoft doesn’t know how to handle the production of these games. Though even if it would have been properly finished it was still out of touch with Age of Wonders, Warlords III was decent enough for its time though)
    * Battle Realms (not a real franchise perhaps but it did get an addon, still Liquid’s best title to date but Ubisoft/Crave don’t even want to keep the website up)
    * Earth series (I still find the first to be the best, though Zuxxez/Reality Pump are more interested in making RPG games nowadays apparently)
    * …

  • clever id

    Enjoyed the podcast.

    Loved the Serf City reference, that was a favorite game of mine.

  • S.Kirk

    Talonsoft’s “Battleground’ series of the 1990’s

    I am surprised you don’t here/see more about this series. It was, I believe, the first animated (showing human figures as opposed to unit symbols) Civil War computer game. The maps, for the time, were well done and could have served as a guide to any of the battlefields represented.

    It also covered Shiloh and Chickaumauga as separate games, battles I have not seen on the PC since.

  • Morkilus

    I’m sure you left out the Combat Mission series because we all know how that ended.

  • BaldFat

    Where are the list of Board Game Podcast Tom Promised?!?!? :P

    BaldFat signing out.