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Monday, February 21, 2005

Self-Publishing SuperHeroes

When it came out like a week ago - I coulda, shoulda woulda linked to the IGN interview with Irrational Games where Irrational talks candidly about their decision to self-publish Freedom Force 2:

The long version? Well, that's a bit more complicated. When we finished the first Freedom Force, we were left with a mix of joy and frustration. We had created a game that, besides winning an Editor's Choice from this lovely website, went on to sell over 400,000 units. However, as we looked at the development and publishing of the first title, we realized that Irrational did the vast majority of the work on the project: we conceived it, we built it, we did most of the testing, we supported the community, we paid for and developed the patches (including a full, free skirmish mode), we supported the community for the years following the initial release.

The two big things we didn't do were pay for the development and actually get the product to the retailers.

I've had mixed feelings with Irrational's track record. System Shock II was brilliance in some ways and just annoyingly dunder-headed in others. I didn't care for Tribes: Vengeance, but I loved the original Freedom Force. I might have had a few problems, but overall it was just great fun.

So now that they released the demo for the sequel, I'm going to make amends for not linking it earlier. It's a good title for a niche genre ... and those are two words we don't see put together enough anymore. Freedom Force wasn't really RTS and it wasn't really TBS ... it was just a clever game design for putting together a superhero squad. When I first started up the demo, it annoyed me to get back into the controls of the game - but then I got back into synch and nothing could drag me away. Freedom Force has a pretty specific tempo of pausing and issuing orders not entirely unlike the original Baldur's Gate setup. But while I found Bioware's focus a little dulled, Freedom Force has a very tight frame on the strategy and tactics of controlling various persons of different (super) ability. Like turning a crook into a vase, tossing that vase next to a car, and then waiting for the vase to turn back into a crook so that you can ignite the car.

So I applaud Irrational's decision to self-publish (which, despite some reports, they still are ... Vivendi is only handling some of the logistics). It's great to see someone stand behind their product. And mixed feelings aside, I have enough faith in Freedom Force versus the Third Reich that it's the only game I've pre-ordered in recent history - excluding Unreal Tournament 2004 and Majora's Mask.

1 comment:

Winkyboy said...

I've pre-ordered a very few games in my time... I think the list goes:

Duke Nukem 3D

and now FFv3R. But this is the only game I've pre-ordered specifically because I respect the company's efforts. (I've PURCHASED games out of respect before, but not pre-ordered) I like Irrational and want them to keep making games.