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Seasonal Regrets

December 13th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 36 Comments · Me

It has been a chaotic year in a lot of ways, and the podcast and my writing work – as great as they’ve been – have not always helped.

As I look back through 2010, I see a couple of dozen games that I wanted to play or play more. The podcast schedule often meant that I would have to focus on other stuff or revisit games that I played a long time ago in order to know what the hell I was talking about, and writing meant that I was playing things for work in great depth than I would usually spend.

So here is a short list of things that I regret from strategy gaming in 2010:

1) Men of War: The year isn’t over yet, so I will make more time for this highly praised RTS. But for some reason, I couldn’t get past the opening few scenarios. I liked what I saw, but then something else came up and that was that. Never got back to it. This is professional malfeasance of a pretty high degree, I think.

2) Neptune’s Pride: Rob Zacny played it and, to be honest, did not make it sound very appealing. I think we could do a show on it, but I know that Rob and Julian would gang up on me, Bruce would sit in his isolationist corner, Tom wouldn’t show up and I’d be stuck looking for an ally like Bill Abner who would end up screwing me because he pressed the wrong button.

3) Conflict: Reign of Nations: Worst name ever, and a game that I played enough of to know that I would never get very good at it. I love the setting, though and it is reminiscent enough of Knights of Honor for me to want to give it another hearing.

4) Minecraft: I’m not sure if dwarf architecture and zombie killing counts as strategy, but there are enough Sim-like elements here to make me pause. I’ve resisted the siren’s song this far even though everyone I know is either playing it or thinking about it. Everyone. Why have I resisted? The fear, mostly. I think this low tech game could consume me like Dungeon Crawl does sometimes.

5) Console treats: I consider myself a platform agnostic since I really don’t think one platform is necessarily superior – I just hate gaming in my living room. It feels weird to me. But with so many good light strategy games on the XBox and XBLA, I really need to shake myself out of that feeling. Maybe get a TV for my office and move the machine. Because I am missing a lot of stuff.

I could go on. Star Ruler, Neocore DLC and expansions, more Starcraft 2 multiplayer…

Fill the comments with your own misses and regrets. Don’t let me wallow in self pity by myself.


36 Comments so far ↓

  • Greg

    2010 was another year where I did not find the time to immerse myself in Europa Universalis. This year, that would have been EU3, but I’ve been failing to get to it for so many years that I still have the same regret for EU2. I think I want a 2-day-long tutorial that walks me step by step through an entire AAR as played by a good player. Because if I have to come up with all the energy myself, to experiment and fail, then I guess I’ll keep missing out!

  • Rez

    Elemental – War of Magic: I was _really_ looking forward to this leading up to release, but after all the bad press I was scared off. I know they’ve been patching it and have brought Derek Paxton (I loved the CivIV Fall from Heaven 2 mod) on board, but how will I know when the game is truly ready to buy?! Can anybody comment on the current state of the game?

  • Rez

    @Greg YES! I second the need for a thorough EU3 AAR/tutorial.

  • Troy

    You guys are in luck, since I plan on writing one this month.

  • frags

    Yay awesome. I hope to read a what’s new in Divine Wind. Is there really a big motivation for those not interested in Asian countries to pick this one up?

    Mine is RUSE. I think multiplayer was fascinating. But didn’t get it in the end since no one I knew was playing it :(

  • Blunt Force

    Current state of the game was just talked about over on the Elemental Boards. As far as I know it is STILL being fixed.


    As for Men of War I just couldn’t get into it because it was too scripted. The engine was nice but I dont like being told how to fight my battles or losing because the enemy blew up 4 barrels in 20 minutes. No thanks!

  • frags

    @BluntForce the secret of Men of War is that it’s really just the coop that makes it great. Playing single player scenarios is not the recommended way. And Assault Squad has skirmish coop mode that has a dynamic AI(less scripting).

  • Greg

    @Troy Awesome, looking forward to that.

  • Chris

    Too much Starcraft, not enough Civ V.

    Plan for today’s gaming time: More Starcraft.

    There just are not enough hours in the day.

  • Jason Lefkowitz

    Don’t kick yourself too hard regarding Men of War; I had the exact same experience as you with it — heard great things, loaded it up for the first time, and couldn’t get into it. It’s partly due to the atrocious voice acting and partly due to the structure of the first mission, which is a bit too obviously tutorial-ey for its own good, I think.

    I came back to it months later and once I got past the first couple of missions I finally got to the stuff that everybody has been raving about. There’s some genuinely epic gameplay in there. But you have to struggle to get to it, which is unfortunate.

  • Jason Lefkowitz

    And responding to the other comments — if you accept submissions from readers, I’d be happy to write up an EU3 AAR for you myself! Mostly because it gives me a good excuse to play another round of EU3 :-D

  • Ian Bowes (spelk)

    I have far too many regrets to list them, I think it would be easier to list the games I have spent enough time on!

    I’ve really neglected the Space 4X crop, I harvested a good while ago – Distant Worlds, Star Ruler, Armada 2524. More space themed games I’ve left in the wings, but I’m always trying to find time to spend on them – the expansions of AI War, the expansions of Gratuitous Space Battles.

    Elemental goes without saying, and Civ V has been shelved for too long since release. Even Guardians of Graxia fantasy card/board game has fallen by the wayside.

    Luckily, I’m delving into some operational wargames at the moment and its the first time in a long time I’ve been able to focus my energy on “getting” them. Its quite a revelation. So instead of regret, I’m adventuring into new territory. As least thats my positive spin on it :)

  • Todd

    @Troy. You can get a 1080p PC monitor inexpensively these days which have a HDMI input for the Xbox 360. It makes it easy to switch from Steam and the Xbox 360.

  • JonathanStrange

    I’m so backlogged that I just feel like saying “Hell with ’em all – I’ll wait until the Singularity and be the A.I. I’ve always wanted to face!”

  • Jeff Petraska

    I have two gaming regrets this year, both of which are related to the TMA podcast in that I bought both games after listening to their respective episodes:
    1) Couldn’t get into Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity. I managed to play it solo two or three times, and got crushed repeatedly by the pirates. My interest tailed off after that, and I never figured that game out.
    2) Never made time to play EU3. I played the demo, then bought the game and all of its add-ons, and haven’t touched it since. But I will, someday…

    Instead, I spent the better part of this year chewing through my gaming backlog:
    1) Baldur’s Gate II + Throne of Bhaal- played this through for the very first time. It literally took me six months of dedicated gaming time to do so. I was so worn out by the end that I never finished the final boss battle sequence.
    2) Temple of Elemental Evil – I dragged this game out of the pile, blew the dust off it, and played it to completion.
    3) Freedom Force vs. the Third Reich – likewise, I finally committed myself to playing this game, and finished it just last night. After the previous two games, it was a welcome break from the D&D CRPG genre.
    That should give you some idea of just how many years deep my gaming backlog is!

    I *have* been playing strategy games, though. They’ve just been on a tabletop instead of a PC. In fact, the B-29 Superfortress (Legion Games) online campaign is about to fly our final mission this month. I completed a full 35-mission solo campaign before that.

  • Alan Au

    I still refuse to play Minecraft until I can get a username I’m happy with. Of course, if it’s really the timesink everyone says it is, I’m probably better off this way.

  • LGH

    On EU3 tutotials, there is a decent, though unfinished tutorial AAR on the paradox forums:

  • Peter S (Mind Elemental)

    How grizzled a gamer is your soon-to-be-a-PSP-recipient nephew, Troy?

    If he’s up to it, I’d get him FFT: War of the Lions. Beautiful, mature story; fluid tactical battles; lots and lots of intricacy in how you can form your party. It may make a decent introduction to strategy!

  • Peter S (Mind Elemental)

    … I realised that I commented in the wrong thread. Oops. This is what happens late at night…

  • Don

    >Men of War: The year isn’t over yet, so I will make more time for this highly praised RTS. But for some reason, I couldn’t get past the opening few scenarios.

    Me too. I lost interest when, having got some AFV’s on my team, I found enemy tanks would just drive up to them and fight it out nose to nose. I know you can’t really represent the range of WWII armoured conflict without moving away from realistic graphics and a top down view but they should have kept to the spirit of that kind of conflict to retain credibility.

  • Joe

    Interesting outlook to regret having not played a game. Looking back on my year, one of the things I definitely don’t regret is not playing more games. Almost by definition, they’re not fulfilling experiences. Each game provides only illusory accomplishments. And after you finish you usually walk away recognizing that nothing real has been achieved except possibly developing ADHD or nearsightedness (or the inner peace that comes from verbally abusing people online). It was just an entertaining way to spend some time.

    I tend to not look back and wish I’d taken it easier and relaxed more. Maybe it’s because I relax too much already. Also, since we’re making wishes, it’s too easy to wish that you’d worked harder in the past. Having had fun in the past doesn’t really do much for me in the present. On the other hand I wish I’d spent a year studying Spanish or writing a novel. Or exercising! Then I’d be somewhere today. I definitely don’t wish I’d spent the past year indulging myself and playing more games. That’s how I always want to spend my next year (or just tomorrow for starters).

  • Shaun

    Hearts of Iron III. The early bugs turned me off. I kept telling myself that once things got fixed I’d be back and I’d conquer the world with France, but I have yet to pick it back up. Maybe I’ll put that in my New Year’s resolution.

  • Oak

    Victoria 2 and Patrician 4 have been lying on my shelf, silently pleading with me to stop playing so much TF2 for some time now.

  • kongming

    Jason cares about voice acting in strategy games. lol.

  • Oak

    In his defense, it’s really, really, really bad voice acting.

  • Javier-de-Ass

    oh yeah Oak that’s a good mention, Patrician 4. I haven’t gotten around to that yet either, but I really want to play it soon. likewise Cities XL 2011, I’m pretty certain they got it right this time as opposed to the original Cities XL and hopefully I’ll get around to picking both of those up soon. meanwhile in the land of games I have picked up I also regret not having had the time to start screwing around in EU3 Divine Wind yet, it’s been downloaded and installed since it went up yesterday morning damn it

  • Peter S (Mind Elemental)

    (Posting in the proper thread now…) I’d say if anything, I killed too much time playing strategy games this year — Sins of a Solar Empire, Company of Heroes, etc. As a result, I didn’t spend enough time playing “meaningful” titles: I still have Dragon Age, Bioshock, Mass Effect, NWN2 (!), Persona 4, and many more in my backlog.

  • Chris

    Define meaningful?

  • Evan N

    I’m not sure if its a regret or a relief, but I still haven’t been able to make time for Hearts of Iron III. It’s been sitting in the “New & Unplayed” category on my Steam list for over a year now along with IL2: 1946, World in Conflict, Darwinia, and the first Dawn of War. Then there’s all the great games I haven’t had time to pick up like Victoria 2 and Men of War.

    I could blame it on this being my last semester until graduation, but if I’m going to be completely honest, it’s Minecraft. Yeah, I could wade through menus and sliders to learn HoI3, or I could escape to my cozy log cabin on a snow-covered island in the middle of a giant frozen ocean, the scenic fort in the middle of a vast desert, or maybe take a ride on my trans-oceanic minecart railroad.

  • Masta De Gumbo

    Troy, I hope you get to have a proper ‘Men of War’ experience. It’s a tough nut to crack, but some of its later missions are incredibly satisfying for their epicness, and sense of pace. It uses spatial tactics and squad management in smart level design in a way that few games right now are doing. Stick with it, man!

  • Masta De Gumbo

    ps, here’s hoping the upcoming the new Men of War Assault Squad epxan(dalone) smooths out the rough edges which have turned away potential fans.

  • kongming

    Men of War didn’t really click for me until I started using the Dynamic Campaign Generation and playing MP. The campaign missions are fun but there’s just something missing from them.

  • Peter S (Mind Elemental)

    @Chris: Meaningful = I walk away from the game feeling enriched by its story or themes or characters, or even just the experience of playing it. There are plenty of strategy games that fit the bill (Dominions, X-Com, probably Civ, the TRPGs if they count…), but while I had a lot of fun with SOASE and COH, I’m not sure I’d include them.

  • Jeff leigh

    Must be a bad name if you can’t remember it right :-)

    Isn’t it “Reign: Conflict of Nations” not ‘Conflict: Reign of Nations”?

  • Troy

    ha. Thanks, Jeff. I will leave the error as a reminder that all names like this are terrible.

  • Javier-de-Ass

    hehehe. nice. reign conflict of nations is the 1c game of the day over at gamersgate btw, around 6 euros if anyone is interested.

    I liked the game quite a bit, it has got some ai problems. and could stand to have more complexity overall. I seem to remember 1c announced on the russian site a while back the devs are working on a sequel, but could remember that wrong.