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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Well, that's disappointing

Just scanned through the IGN review of Cops 2170, a turn-based strategy that just got released. It's not particularly flattering to say the least. Apparently the interface sucks, the mechanics suck, it's not much fun and the production quality is cheap. The reviewer offers a few forced plus points in the music category and pats the developer on the head for not having too many typos. Ouch.

It's pretty scary to read such a thing while developing a turn-based mod for Unreal. I like to think the mechanics are coming together, but it's easy to get narrow minded about that sort of thing. It's the same reason why you let someone else read your essay before turning it in. You've written this thing, stared a this thing and lived with this thing. You know it like you know your girlfriend - and not the one night stand type of girl, but the shares your toothbrush because she knows you won't mind kind of girl.

I don't understand how turn based games keep managing to get it so wrong when they have relatively good examples to steal from. Between Fallout and X-Com, a lot of the bases are covered in terms of what works and what doesn't work. Of course as I say that, Unreal Defense Squad isn't following that mold exactly either. Part of this isn't my choice - there are limitations to taking an engine for a first person shooter and chopping it into time units. Part of them are my opinion, like the feeling that turn based games needlessly hide under complicated menus and interfaces. I'm trying to make a turn based tactics game that still has a bit of shooter's soul to it. One that you can pick up quickly and play quickly.

But it's also disappointing to see this because turn based games have gotten such a bad rap for so long. Real time is just so darned trendy and it's easy to think of it as the natural evolution of Turn Based Strategy, but they're really completely different fish. I'm not going weigh one against the other - but I've played both and they don't feel like playing an advancement over the other. They seem like completely different games to me. TBS has room to advance in many ways that have nothing to do with throwing out turns themselves, but as long as we keep getting titles like this, it will continue to be the ugly stepchild of strategy gaming.

1 comment:

Winkyboy said...

Hear, Hear! I'm so frustrated that none of my friends with whom I play on even an infrequent basis are ever really gung-ho about turn-based strategy games. But then, I haven't seen a MULTIPLAYER TBS that has been so much fun since the original CivNet. (I never got around to trying Civ3 multiplayer because I bought too many lousy, carbon-copy Civ sequels between CivNet and Civ3)

But there's so much POTENTIAL to be seen in a TBS, especially one that as you mention, "has a bit of shooter's soul" to it.

Gotta run.