<< Portico: Moving too soon

4/05/2006

Moving too soon

The Rise of Legends demo is proof positive that sometimes a developer's enthusiasm or zeal to get their game before the public can be a PR failure. Complaints about how lacklustre this highly anticipated demo was were legion. The graphics don't look all that good leading to a lot of concern that RoL was just too similar in look and feel to Rise of Nations. In a quick response to the outcry, Tim Train has announced that a second, improved demo is on the way. Considering that the game is only a little over a month away, you would hope that any demo would be an accurate reflection of the final product. Apparently not.

Paradox has recently released screenshots of Europa Universalis III, a game still almost a year away. And the screens are hideous. Of course they are. The game has only just been announced and most of the artwork is in the placeholder or concept phase. Still, with a huge worldwide audience, Paradox is under pressure to release something to the masses.

Part of me misses the days before the Internet, before it was essential for a developer to have an almost continual buzz about their game. Screenshots were limited to magazine articles or game catalogs and most people knew very little about a game until it was released. Then came the Internet and there was more. Then came everybody owning a website and PR companies sending them everything they had to keep the game in the public eye. The sense of surprise is gone, and there is real risk of never feeling that you are discovering a game.

There is an upside, naturally. The public battering that Big Huge Games took for the first demo could only have happened on the Internet. This is a reminder to all of us that sometimes companies care about their customers. For Paradox, early screenshots allow the audience to play along with "what does this screenshot mean?", a popular forum activity where people take a tiny image and try to deduce what the entire game is going to be like. This can make for some interesting conversation.

I would be lying though if I said that my reactions to either of these "premature" releases were positive - or even neutral. The Rise of Legends demo was uninspiring for me, though I suspect a lot of that was because my hopes were sky high. The EU3 screenshots gave me Diplomacy flashbacks as I puzzled over why this game is being done in 3D.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Ken Wootton said...

I sure hope that demo was released too soon. My limited experience with the RoL demo hasn't left me too excited. I think it's a combination of things, though.

The early screen shots of RoL were impressive, really impressive. My monitor has yet to show me some as phenomenal. This issue reminds me a lot of the Age of Empires III shots of the city screens. This wasn't what you'd really be staring out all those gaming hours.

My anticipation has likely gotten the best of me. I don't think they can't meet my expectations. This is a personal problem. But Rise of Nations was great. It's going to be difficult to top, particularly when they choose a new direction that is going to eat a lot of development time.

The demo isn't amazing, especially on the heels of the Empire at War and, particularly, the Battle for Middle Earth demo. Those had some wow moments. RoL has some tough competition.

It's going to be an interesting last month for RoL. I'm still holding out hope.

4/06/2006 08:25:00 AM  

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