It’s the second half of the 1990s. Everybody wants to jump on the RTS train, put in motion by the success of Command & Conquer and Warcraft. While the talks about genre oversaturation begin to surface, there’s still a chance: unusual setting, innovative mechanic, or exceptionally wholesome implementation of existing ideas—and you win the ticket for a ride. The stakes are getting high, though. Stumble while jumping, or forget to consider a shift in economic winds, and you miss disastrously. It wasn’t SouthPeak Interactive fault that their game wasn’t released as planned in 1998. It was the fault of the publisher, Virgin Interactive, that found itself caught by the financial storm. The game’s pre-release version, almost finished, resurfaced in the year 2000. But it was already too late. It became forgotten. Then, a more successful game was released, using the looser’s name, deepening the depths of the poor soul’s oblivion.
But then a little miracle happened. It is always miraculous when an old piece of software that was considered lost resurfaces and preserves itself with the help of enthusiasts. Several years ago, the pre-release version of the game was uploaded for the whole world to see. May we now judge whether the game had any chance for success if it was released in time? In 1998—perhaps; in 2000—absolutely not. But who cares? It’s an artifact. Let’s dissect it!
Continue reading “Dawn of War: Not That One.”
After trying its design philosophy in an entirely atheistic setting, Bullfrog returned to its god-game roots with a sequel to Populous, making the gamification of the ‘holy war’ concept more fun and ideologically safe. A couple of months earlier, another British developer, Sensible Software, also released a game about gods and their bloody conflicts. But Mega-Lo-Mania’s focus was more human-centered—even almost political, I’d say.
Continue reading “RTS Galore! Episode 3: Mega-Lo-Mania & Populous II”
Since the second half of the ‘80s, Might & Magic series have been accumulating the love and appreciation of the masses. World of Xeen, the role-playing behemoth born from the fusion of Might & Magic IV and V, crowned the series with a luxurious quality cap. New World Computing needed new ideas and technologies to continue the series without the risk of becoming repetitive. Thus it was decided to let the role-playing Might & Magic rest a bit. In the meantime, the studio has made its old ideas work for the sake of its leading franchise.
It was probably the best decision they could have made. For it has led to the birth of the new series in the Might & Magic universe, which arguably became even more popular and beloved than the role-playing one.
Continue reading “Heroes of Might & Magic: The Classical Era”
Technological spike in the mid-’90s kick-started a wave of prophecies predicting a fusion of videogames and cinema. A fresh breath of future was in the air: FMV-games and emergence of realistic graphics fueled futuristic fantasies about highly interactive movies ought to bring eternal joy and happiness to our long-suffering world. Alas, the reality is the most ferocious party pooper: it turned out that it is tough to balance interactivity with cinematography. You have to prioritize. As a result, games with a high focus in cinematography were severely lacking in their interactivity, falling between the chairs of two mediums: failing to compete with movies (because of their still immature cinematography and incomparable budgets) as well as with other games (because of their primitive gameplay).
Cyberia was one of the first games that learned that truth the hard way.