In an interview with GameSpy, Paradox's CEO Frederik Wester has revealed that the publisher cancelled four games in the past year, in an attempt to ensure that consumers weren't paying for buggy or unfinished titles.
Wester's comments were in response to questioning about the much maligned alternate history Civil War RTS Gettysburg: Armoured Warfare. Wester said, "That was terrible. We did not do our homework. It was a one-man team with some backup... we learned a lot from that release. We've had many bad releases before that, as well, and we learned something every time."
"In 2012, we also closed four game projects. This happened after Gettysburg. We looked at them and said, 'These games are not up to the standards we're currently looking for at Paradox, so we're going to close these projects.' We're not going to have any more games that are unplayable at release."
Gettysburg wasn't the only Paradox title in recent history to launch in an unfinished state. Both Magicka and Sword of the Stars 2 were released with significant problems. Wester admits that previously, Paradox couldn't risk the financial hit of cancelling projects. "We needed to release the best product we could release at the time in order to get at least some of the cash we invested back."
The success of Magicka and Crusader Kings 2 has put Paradox in a position were they can afford to be more diligent. "An internal quality assurance team has been built over the past year," Wester says. "Previously, we didn't have an internal QA team. Now we have a team of eight dedicated people in-house. We have a dedicated QA team for the Paradox development studio, specifically for the Crusader and Europa games, and we also now work with a number of external QA studios to stress test our multiplayer games, compatibility testing so it runs on different hardware, etc."
Wester closes by saying, "That's what you'll see from Paradox – fewer and better titles. The quality improvement is the most important thing we're working on right now."
To the west: the vast, all-powerful expanse of the Holy GabeN Empire. To the East: the notably less powerful, but still somewhat impressive Kingdom of GamersGate. Paradox Interactive have been successfully trading with both for years, but, in a shock bid for independence, they've now launched their own store.
Currently in beta, the Paradox Webshop is selling the publisher/developer's catalogue directly to fans. Well, not quite directly. Rather than providing downloads, users are given a Steam key on purchase. Still, to celebrate the launch, Paradox are offering 55% off the majority of its games.
That means cheap deals on the feudal feuding of Crusader Kings 2, the samurai strategy of Sengoku, the madcap mayhem of Magicka and... lots of other games. Sorry, I couldn't sustain that level of alliteration.
The store's still missing some of Paradox's back catalogue. At a glance, it seems that CK2's trade-based expansion The Republic has yet to dock. But the homepage assures that, "Eventually all our titles will be offered along with lots of other fun goods and surprises."
The Showdown Effect, the upcoming run-and-gun side-scroller from Magicka creators Arrowhead, isn't just about ludicrously exaggerated shooting sprees. It's also about ludicrously exaggerated shooting sprees punctuated by the best sort of cheesy action-movie one-liners this side of a Schwarzenegger quip.
Each character shown in Arrowhead's latest trailer combines all the properties of manly action heroes of '80s and '90s—including classics such as a cop on his last beat before retirement and a martial arts master who owns an antique store—and sets them against each other in multiplayer matches of silly, speedy shootouts. My personal choice? Teacher-come-time-traveler Dutch McClone, who Arrowhead describes as "Bruce Willis merged with that other guy." Sold.
Arrowhead's fourth-wall-busting, spell-slinging adventure Magicka received a new entry in its arcane codex of patch notes today. But in true Magicka fashion, the fixed bugs and slight tweaks were cheekily presented alongside an abundance of flavor text carrying Arrowhead's snappy wit.
The full patch notes are below.
- Added some missing characters to certain fonts. Continuing our commitment to offering characters to all fonts everywhere. - Fixed a pathfinding crash. Took us a bit, but we found it. - Fixed disappearing boss Vlad. Turns out he was just at the bar up the street. - Fixed a crash when killing frozen Khan (and possibly other bosses). KHAAAAAAN! - Fixed camera issue when being revived by the fairy. Fairies weren’t previously aware of auto-focus. - Fixed NPC spellcaster AI sometimes freezing up. After taking some public speaking classes, though, the NPC finally warmed up. - Mobs are now able to spawn their own kind upon death. That sounds kinda gross, actually. - Added some new functionality to scene scripts. Scene scripts run. Run, scripts, run! - Reduced the physical damage resistance of Enraged Goblin Warlocks. Let’s face it, Warlocks sound all-powerful but they’re really just a bunch of pansies. - Fixed a localization crash. Que haya sido reparado. - Fixed a crash with the Performance Enchantment magick. Talk to your doctor first. - Fixed a crash that occurred when firing a water projectile during a level transition. That’ll show those pesky levels who’s boss around here. - Fixed an issue with collision checks that resulted in multiple fall damage. Large Hadron Collider consulted, collisions now in check. - Fixed certain lights being removed when restarting a scene. Disco disco, good good. - Fixed scores being inconsistent between client and host in challenges. Issues resolved with just a couple trust falls. - Fixed script delays being reset when restarting a challenge level. No more delays, the movie will finally be coming out soon. - Fixed element icons getting stuck highlighted when disabled (as in Elemental Roulette). Now if we could only get our car’s dome light to turn off. - Fixed a crash where players were gripped during level transition. Now they’ll just be gripped in anticipation, amirite?! - General stability improvements.
Magicka's hypreractive wizards caused too much collateral damage to accurately fit the "good guys" label, but most of the time their menacing array of lasers and magic mines were pointing at evildoers. In Magicka's new expansion, The Other Side of the Coin, you'll have license to cause as much havoc as you want. You play either as the vampire Alucart, or one of his necromancer entourage on a mission to blow up the elves in their homeland.
The Other Side of the Coin will land in just a couple of weeks on June 14 and will cost $4.99. It'll add a story challenge, four challenge maps and let you play as a necromancer in Magicka's hilarious player vs. player mode. Grab the full feature list below.
Play as Alucart the Vampire and his henchmen, the Necromancers One exciting new story challenge set among beautiful new elven architecture 4 new challenge maps playing as necromancers: World's End, Volcano Hideout, OSOTC Arena and the Mirror Crystal Cavern Hideout. Necromancer introduced to PvP New achivements Innovative and dynamic spellcasting system with thousands of possible combinations Up to four player co-op in all game modes as well as single player option Experience the parody and satire of a cliché fantasy world
Paradox seems to be cornering the cutesy fantasy market; first Magicka, then A Game of Dwarves, now Dungeonland. Dungeonland's premise is simple; an evil lord, tired of heroes rampaging through his dungeon, takes a loan from the Evil Overlord Foundation and creates a kingdom especially for heroes to destroy, chockful of powerful monsters and magic tat.
Developed by Brazil-based Critical Studio, Dungeon Land is half Left4Dead, half Diablo, half Overlord and totally not about maths. A team of three intrepid adventurers (that's you!) take the archetypes of rogue, wizard and warrior and fight their way through an long open level, battling varieties of minions. Each character has access to a limited variety of weapons, which change their abilities and function. For example, the warrior's sword and shield allows him to block attacks and knock back enemies, but can be swapped for a two-handed hammer.
The level we attempted was about an hour long and was a soft parody of Dungeons & Dragons and Disneyland, complete with endless gift shops and costumed characters to battle. Combat is simple, and works best with gamepads; we ran around frantically bashing enemies, looting crap, and fending off the massed hordes.
Each player had three potions, which enabled a super-attack, and a limited number of friend-resurrections before permadeath kicked in. The feel was very close to Torchlight, with enemies dying very quickly, and abilities more being used for crowd control and survival in a giant melee.
Intriguingly, the Dungeon Lord himself can be either a fourth player or controlled by the AI. With the AI, he behaves like Left4Dead's director, spawning enemies, treasure and minibosses at critical moments. It's not clear how the fourth player will handle it, but we do know they'll have direct control of any bosses.
Like the Elder Dragon (an old dragon wearing a hat and glasses) and Mind Flayer (a giant illithid, D&D fans) we encountered, bosses are huge and normally surrounded by minions. Like all bosses after World of Warcraft, they're big, cartoony and signal their attacks waaay in advance.
There are just three levels planned at the moment, giving the game about three hours linear playtime; it remains to be seen if the Dungeon Master AI will give it greater replay value. Dungeonland is due for release in 2012. You can watch the most recent Dungonland trailer here.
Magicka devs Paradox Interactive have just announced three new games. The Showdown Effect, Dungonland and RED Frontier are all on show at GDC. Paradox say "Action-packed and loaded with adventure, all three of these games will fulfill a unique need in gamers’ lives, whether it is their thirst for blood, fame and glory for their teams, or helpful theme-park-survival skills." We'll have our impressions of all three games online soon. Until then, feast your eyes upon the trailers within.
DRM's the hideous multi-tendriled monster PC gamers pump shotgun blasts into while bellowing "Why! Won't! You! Diiiiiiie!" And, questionable punctuation aside, it's a good question. DRM gives legitimate customers no end of trouble while providing pirates with an allegedly righteous cause for their actions. In the cases of companies like Ubisoft, it's utterly baffling. What gives? Do publishers hate our money?
Obviously not. However, according to Paradox Interactive CEO Fred Wester, we can't aim our pitchforks and torches entirely at maniacally monolithic companies that erupt in a din of evil cackling and ominous lightning strikes each time someone's booted back to a start screen. Business, he says, isn't such a one-sided game.
"I think there’s a lot of politics, especially in bigger companies," Wester said in an interview with GameSpy. "If you’re a CEO, you need to cover your back. And the people who ask, the board, know nothing about games. They’re there because they’re some investment company or something, and they ask 'So what are you doing to protect our game from pirates?' And then they can reply 'We’re buying this solution from Sony.'
Even so, Wester finds the whole "solution" to be incredibly counter-productive from both a business and consumer-centric standpoint.
"I just can’t see why people are using DRM still," he continued. "If you take something like Sony’s DRM, SecuROM - it’s a waste of money. It will keep you protected for three days, it will create a lot of technical support, and it will not increase sales. And I know this for a fact, because we tried it eight years ago, and it never worked for us. Two major reasons: it costs money and it makes you lose money, and the other is that it’s so inconvenient to customers."
"Now, I see no reasonable explanation for why people keep on adding it. Especially the kind where you have to be online all the time, like Ubisoft. I think that’s, to me that’s 2003."
The Stars are Left adds several sinister new campaign missions to Magicka, complete with tentacled Lovecraftian bosses, new enemies and new outfits. The pack also comes with a couple of challenge maps and there's a new trailer, which may be the first H. P. Lovecraft/film noir comedy crossover film ever made. Hopefully it's not the last. The Stars are Left is available now for £3.99 / $5.99 on Steam and Gamersate.
‘Tis a grand weekend for indie gaming on Steam. In addition to the Super Meat Boy Pack, bonkers co-op RPG Magicka is free until 9pm on Sunday, and, yes, developers Arrowhead Game Studios have fixed most of the bugs. There’s also a wizard’s sleeve worth of offers on Steam, including Magicka itself for £1.99, a four-pack for you and three chums for £5.99, and the Magicka Collection - including all DLC - for £4.24. Magic!