Demithoughts on Demigod

By RPS on April 15th, 2009 at 5:28 pm.

Gas-Powered Games’ (with a little help from Stardock) Demigod enjoyed an unexpected early release yesterday, thanks to a silly snafu by Gamestop. Jim’s feverishly working on a full verdict on it to be posted in a few days’ time, but unfortunately it’s been held up by the release version suffering some pretty flaky netcode. It wouldn’t do to judge a game that’s almost entirely multiplayer only on the strength of its offline skirmishes, so while we wait and pray for an ultra-patch, Jim and Alec had a brief chat about their impressions so far… If they both seem a little surly, it’s because their clever brainwave to try and get the damn thing working in LAN mode over Hamachi had also just failed miserably…

Alec: So: Demigood or Demibad?

Jim: Hmm, well, I’ve spent the best part of the last hour looking at “connecting to” messages in Demigod multiplayer. I finally got into a lobby, and someone dropped. I could have cried

Alec: Aye, there are some ‘orrid netcode problems. But then it has been released early

Jim: Well it was due this week in the US even without the Gamestop randomo-release

Alec: I’m finding it’s a remarkably fun time played singleplayer, at least

Jim: This is one reason why the multiplayer problems are so frustrating: single-player has been a ball

Jim: Assassin or General?

Alec: Initially I was all about the Plague Dog Assassin, but I seem to have settled on the Oak general now

Jim: Yeah the Oak feels heroic to play

Alec: He seems a really good mix of crowd control and mega-biff. And about the closest analogue to the all-conquering Rook, in terms of being self-competent but also helping out the entire team

Jim: the sort of base-level presentation of everything from the menu onwards is really good

Alec: some of the UI and voicework falls a bit flat, I thought. Like that giant icon of your character, which doesn’t do anything. It’d be better to use all that wasted screen space for something like health bars for the other demigods on your team, or some comparison of your guy’s stats to whoever you’re fighting

Jim: yeah that’s a bit odd, a couple of the voices don’t ring true either

Alec: The Archer character is the worst for that. He sounds like an extra from a Saturday morning cartoon. I can’t stand playing as him, either. He needs more range, really.

Jim: I mean from a purely critical point of view, i want tear into the game for everything from the hands-off strategy to the lack of tutorial, and yet it’s really engaging, and beautifully /immediately/ playable. Going back to The Rook – icon of the game as a whole – it seems they missed a trick by only putting one giant god into the game. That said, i believe there are more gods coming as DLC

Alec: almost inevitably. Yes, it needs more giants and more building characters. I feel a bit too abstracted from the turrets when I’m playing as as any other Demigod. In fact, I wonder if those turrets are too key to the game generally. They’re really damaging and take a lot to pull down, which means a lot of the fight focuses around them – but they’re an element the player has essentially no control of

Jim: the towers are just a device of attrition aren’t they? They mean there can’t be an early rush – the game is essentially a slow back forth of massive assaults on the enemy front

Alec: True. It’s just not as much fun to spend five minutes hitting a tower as it is to tangle with a demigod. They’re necessary, but possibly a bit too fundamental

Jim: Yeah, you’re probably right – the architecture of the levels would have to be quite different without them. Anyway, we wanted to keep this brief, so any concluding thoughts?

Alec: As you say, there’s a lot of things to snipe at Demigod for, but crucially it works, it’s fast and it’s enormously entertaining. Though I’ve never played DOTA, its similarity to which is one of the key complaints

Jim: I was wondering about the DOTA thing. I mean – is the real issue that there’s nothing else to compare Demigod to? Much like any military mod for an FPS was compared to Counter-Strike a few years ago? Or perhaps, more accurately, any multiplayer FPS was compared to Counter-Strike…

Alec: Yes – if there was a commercial game along the lines of DOTA already, it wouldn’t be an issue. It’s the concept of a business profiting from something that’s free. And I can see why that rubs some people up the wrong way, but I think turning that great concept into something slicker is to be celebrated

Jim: Well some of the DOTA team are making a commercial game now. which makes for an interesting scrap between that and Demigod if/when it finally hits

Alec: Indeed – it’d be fascinating to hear what those guys think of Demigod. Hopefully, though, Demigod will open doors for other studios to take the concept further

Jim: yeah, absolutely – there’s no reason why the “one powerful being” strategy subgenre can’t expand enormously

Alec: I’d certainly rather someone rip off and riff off DOTA than get yet another C&C clone

Jim: Yeah, i mean people need to start copying things that haven’t been plagiarised properly

Alec: Historically, that’s led to stuff like Battlefield and Portal.

Jim: absolutely – commercialise those offbeat ideas

Alec: Anyway, hopefully we can play the damn multiplayer some time soon, as right now I have no idea if I’m any good at the game or not.

Jim: yeah, we’ll get some multiplayer under our belts and deliver a more comprehensive verdict

Alec: Okay. And your favourite Demigod?

Jim: Hmm. Actually I think I’ll go Oak too. The Rook is the standout idea, but he’s not quite right

Alec: He’s not quite powerful enough, is he? He was an odd choice to be the hybrid builder unit – really he should be all about the ultra-smash

Jim: I expected more of a tank

Alec: And on that note, shall we retreat back to our sadly solo Demigoddery?

Jim: I’ll keep trying on the multiplayer – you never know…

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79 Comments »

  1. Jajusha says:

    Had a couple of mutiplayer games since release. Stay away from the pantheon atm, try your luck in the custom games, no more then 4 players for now.

    When you actually get it to work, multiplayer games are alot of fun.

  2. PlayNoEvil says:

    I thought I missed something that there was no tutorial. Who builds a professional game without something to get you started?

    Also, some Impulse comments:

    1. I had to update my video drivers myself – no warning that there was a problem.

    2. Impulse doesn’t seem to allow me to put the game where I want on my hard drive – which is more than a little annoying. I had a temporary problem with the drive being full and the game downloaded, started to install, and then gave up… and then I had to start the 1.8GB download again – ARGH!

    This makes the game feel very unfinished and Impulse increasingly disappointing.

  3. (fish) says:

    http://forums.demigodthegame.com/346463

    I dont have time to try this before the foot-to-ball but if any other RPS-ers are keen please let us know if it works!

    Its really sad that the multiplayer lobby servers are so stuffed, the beta was an enormous amount of fun and there were far less connectivity issues.

  4. Zyrxil says:

    “2. Impulse doesn’t seem to allow me to put the game where I want on my hard drive”

    It does. By default, it uses a set path like Steam does, but you can set it to ask you where to install every game in the options.

  5. viper34j says:

    I actually think that the lack of tutorial is refreshing. I don’t need some thirty minute walk through to explain to me concepts that I probably won’t grasp until I actually play the game. However, a tip system that pops up every now and then hinting at upgrading your citadel or purchasing armor would be nice.

    About the multiplayer issue, I’ve actually had a pretty easy time getting into custom games. The p2p connection has been slow but steady. I’ve yet to have one player drop and the latency has been negligible.

  6. MrMud says:

    @PlayNoEvil

    You can configure the install path by clicking on the impulse icon in the top left corner of the app.

  7. Flappybat says:

    I think it says a lot that Impulse says I have started the game seven times but only played one multiplayer game.

    The best is when you go through the whole matching making and loading gauntlet and then hear “player dropped, player dropped, player dropped” as the game starts. Always check the scoreboard for 0 ping as it will helpfully not tell you the player has become a bot.

  8. Pete S says:

    I’m disappointed in the game, but mostly its my own fault. I got hyped on some of the ‘backstory’ stuff that was written and bought into it without realizing there’s no real single player game. And my god, do I hate the Unreal Tournment style announcements during a match.

    The little bit I did play felt pretty bland to play. Fun to *watch* but not really to play. But maybe I’m missing stuff. No tutorial, the manual is ass, you can’t pause and futz around to figure out how things work, the skill icons are generic as hell and don’t give much indication of what a skill does.

    It just doesn’t feel like a complete game to me. Feel’s like an early beta.

  9. Pete S says:

    Oh, and does anyone else have the problem with the game locking up when you try to skip the opening movie? I hit Escape (Space and Return did nothing) and the game stops responding.

  10. PlayNoEvil says:

    @MrMud – Thanks… I wish that was easier to find. Impulse did hang when I moved the default folders, but it seems OK when I restarted it… I hope this didn’t hurt any of my existing games.

  11. unclelou says:

    Bought this last night seeing how the digital download on Impulse is comparatively cheap – the lack of a tutorial isn’t a real problem, I thought. One look into the manual, and two games to try out, and there’s not much left to figure out, really.

    Had quite a blast with the one campaign I finished, but despite what I said the other day, I guess I’ll try to take it online.

    If anyone’s up for a casual game online, I am here. *waves*

    Hm. I actually have no idea if Impulse has a friends list like Steam?

  12. Serondal says:

    Broke down a baught the game. Sadly my computer aparently isn’t hefty enough to run it smoothly. Even with all the settings at low the game is EXTREMLY slow when you get about half way through a match. I have to say the game is a lot of fun and I imagine it would be a lot more fun if it weren’t for the lag I get even off line :P My favorite demi-god has to be Unclean Beast, I just low mauling enemy demi-gods and he is actually VERY good at taking down towers if you upgrade his damage and beastial fenzy attack.

  13. Flappybat says:

    Pete S – I have the game keep freezing up on all kinds of screens.

  14. Philip says:

    So I storm through a Normal tournament with Oak no problem. His targeted attack becomes a great anti-Demigod weapon.

    Try it on Hard and I get whooped every time. Seems I’m always against the archer guy, who blatantly cheats.

  15. Butler` says:

    so they made a multiplayer centric game with awful net code? :/

  16. Blather Blob says:

    @PlayNoEvil: I haven’t tried the new Impulse, but the previous version also let you set the path where the downloaded copy goes, and the path for the extracted copy (yes, it require(d?) 3 copies of the game on your hard drive while installing). And I too experienced the “I’m defaulting to your C: partition which doesn’t have enough space, but I’m going to try anyway and then force you to start over from scratch when it fails!” problem last time I tried it.

  17. Matzerath says:

    The excitement for this game is not palpable.

  18. Optimaximal says:

    so they made a multiplayer centric game with awful net code? :/

    Well, they did manage to make an RPG with out any sort of RPG in it (Space Siege).

  19. Psychopomp says:

    If the game seems to hang up after the intro, or on any creen for that matter, wait 100 seconds. It’s trying to contact the server, but it gives up after 1 minute and 40 seconds.

  20. g-ej says:

    @Butler

    They were trying to make really amazing netcode where being P2P would really reduce the lag… they just ran headfirst into the hurdles which are the reason everyone else uses a server-client method

  21. DMJ says:

    I’m fighting this on the grounds of advanced poverty.

    I could have this, or lunch for a couple of weeks.

    RPS, you’re not helping my abstinence. Kindly cease all coverage of interesting potential purchases immediately. Your cooperation is appreciated in advance.

  22. Serondal says:

    the archer guy is da cheat master. He gots a long range snipe attack that, when fully upgraded, can shoot REALLY freaky far. I used him a lot to destroy towers from a safe distance. Of course I have no idea how this would work out against other players as I stated the game is so laggy for me single player I dare not try multiplayer ever.

  23. Proxii says:

    I’ve come to love the game, but that doesn’t stop it being poor value – only 8 main characters, not that many maps, no tutorial, no single player campaign – all for a full price PC game (£26 digital download is the same price as most boxed PC games from internet retailers).

  24. Gott says:

    @serondal

    I’m really having fun with the archer as well and in the tournament his range doesn’t seem to be an issue and with the aoe wings seems to be able to outkill anyone else on mooks and thus outlevel the opposition. Some potentially nice abilities like mark, but I never really use the bombs. Range, Wings stats and a couple in snipe and maim seem to be the way.

  25. Serondal says:

    In the trailers and stuff they showed another giant with a huge club fighting with the ROOK, where is this character? Is this one of the upgrades you can get for your home base? Most of my games end far before I get enough money to get fully upgarded. I get the priests and the angels and then I normally win :P

    I’d be interested to have a new class of heros that can help win the game without ever leaving the base. Like logistics heros

    About the archer – the range is an issue at first when you gotta get REAL close to use your normal attack but you can upgrade it to be pretty good. I used the mines every now and again but I focus on sniping and rasing my over all stats along the bottom so my guy can stand toe to toe with enemy demigods longer and getting speed boots and heavy armor.

  26. Gott says:

    The giant is the final upgrade on the priest —> angel —> catapultisaurus —> giant chain of base upgrades.

    I prefer the attack speed/dodge boots and plenty of crit gear on the archer. Couple that with aoe basic attacks and weapon damage+ and you start doing silly damage.

  27. unclelou says:

    - all for a full price PC game (£26 digital download is the same price as most boxed PC games from internet retailers)

    It cost me something like € 28 off Impulse, which is significantly less than a full price game here in Germany. I guess the weak pound together with the fact that boxed PC games are as cheap in the UK as nowhere else makes for different point of views, as I’ve seen similar complaints about Tales of Valor.

  28. psyk says:

    tales of valor pricing is screwed.
    play.com £17.99 Free Delivery
    amazon.co.uk £17.99 & this item Delivered FREE in the UK
    steam £29.99
    impulse £27.99

  29. unclelou says:

    Yeah, that’s just what I meant, though. Seems likeretailers still stick to the pricing scheme UK customers are used to, while the digital download services simply do exact currency conversions based on the US$ or €.

    £29.99, converted to € at the current rate, is the typical addon price in most European countries.

    It’s an annoying situation either way. At the moment, you people obviously complain about the inflated DD prices from your perspective, but I guess the rest of the world would complain if Steam sold games significantly cheaper in the UK.

  30. Serondal says:

    I got 2 Gigs of ram , 100 Gigs of hard drive space, Nvida GT 7600 graphics card with amble power supply and a single core process around 2.5 GHZ and I can’t run this game with all the setting as long as possible : ( Me very sad because I actualyl do enjoy it. I guess I’m going to have to go get WC3 again and play DOTA lol.

  31. EtsSpets says:

    Start rant: this is released by GPG (gas powered games) isnt it the same team that released the SupCom. Do you guys know that SupCom is probably the buggiest multiplayer game ever, i felt like was crawling through a mosqitos butt to join a game. And the hell to go through before i even got there, i spent couple of hours every week configuring and reconfiguring my router ffs. And GPG sucks donkey balls, for not resolving the SupCom issues and taking on Demigod. And if you look at it, the strategy is the same, hype the game, release it, say “never mind the little net bug” live on the hype, sell 1 expansion and then dissappear and leave the gamers hanging. So GPG youd better not do that, or ill find out where you live, take my copy of SupCom and come stick it up yours, ill even add a copy of demigod while im at it: End Rant

  32. EtsSpets says:

    To Serondal: GPG is famous for writing pointlessly un optimized code.

  33. bookworm8at says:

    I saw amazon.de selling the game for 50 Euro today. I wrote a review containing 6 paragraphs describing the game + 1 paragraph mentioning that it’s only 30,- on impulse.

    Amazon posted the first 6 paragraphs :(

  34. bookworm8at says:

    @EtsSpets
    The net code for demigod was developed by stardock, not by GPG. At least that is what they say.

    And the last thing you can say about Demigod is that is was “hyped”.

  35. Heliocentric says:

    You mix statements like that into the text so they require editing to remove.

  36. Philip says:

    I managed the first hard game in a Tournament.

    The trick is to not let them out-level you. (which is bloody difficult) so you have to go looking for battles/flags to capture. That sometimes means ignoring Demi-gods and going for the minions for some free XP.

    It seems the friendly AI is turned down a bit because, at the end of the game me and all the enemy AIs were at level 20 and all of mine were at 16.

  37. jackflash says:

    @Serondal : A GF 7600 is also a pretty old card at this point, though.

  38. Serondal says:

    It is yah, my computer in general is old :) It is 8-10 years old. I’m thinkin about finally getting a new comp, I know getting a multi-core machine will go a long way to getting me better game play and also getting PCI-express on a mobo! LOL STill I can play most of the games I want. Men of War runs fine even in giant battles and FO3, CoD4 ect Crysis on the other hand chewed my computer up and spit it in my face :P

  39. Tei says:

    /me tried to play a skirmish
    /me have fun but lose, because the AI demigods where not defending
    /me try the MP part
    /me try the “idiot button” matchmarking.. don’t work
    /me try the custom games don’t work.
    I have not tried hosting myself a game, but my experience is that will also fail.

    Can I say this game is good, but there are more FAIL than win on it?

  40. Serondal says:

    In my experience with Star Dock if something is wrong with will fix it, period. It may not work now but it WILL work soon.

  41. Drifter says:

    @Serondal

    Yeah, that 7600 along with your revelation of the computer being 8-10 years old is probably why you’re having issues with playing the game. I have an older computer as well (although probably not as old as yours – I at least had a PCIe slot, lol) and had a BFG 7600 GT OC card. I honestly felt that it got the job done just fine with all the games I’ve played. However in preparation for The Last Remnant and Demigod, I replaced it with a 9600 GT card. Let me tell you, it’s a major improvement! Saying that everything ran fine on a 7600 card, we were only fooling ourselves. :)

    Seriously, it’s a good card and still gets the job done, but it won’t do justice to games being released today.

    …back to Demigod.

    It really looks like fun but I haven’t been able to spend much time with it. The few games I’ve had time to play have been a lot of fun and very easy to lose track of time. The game is very easy to pick up and learn.

    The one thing I wish I had (and hopefully they add it to the site) is a list of all the choices (skills, items, etc) so that I could review them outside of the game. The game doesn’t pause so I always feel rushed to make a quick decision and get back into the game. Although playing vs. the AI on normal it’s not critical to micro manage 100% of the time. I know the more I play this game, I’ll know exactly what options I want to choose.

  42. Evangel says:

    @EtsSpets

    GPG didn’t get to patch up SupCom because THQ where a bunch of dicks who withheld funding for a patch.

  43. IvanHoeHo says:

    Some impressions from several skirmishes with my not-so-moral friends:

    - like you guys said, Rook’s not quite strong enough for a dude made entirely out of stone
    - the frost torchbearer is utter crap – mostly due to the next to useless stun effects that wear off the second it gets attacked
    - some truly useless yet overpriced items, like that dagger that does 300 damage, then takes about 15 seconds to recharge
    - it only takes 2 upgrades for the archer dude to out-range the towers, enabling him to just slowly wear them down. Seems massively over-powered in general
    - default creeps are just an annoyance after lvl. 3

    Verdict so far: I’m crying myself to sleep while my friends lauhg at me for spending money on any game that doesn’t have demo. Needs 4 more months of rebalancing.

  44. malkav11 says:

    Turn off reverb. I’ve got a computer that can handle Crysis fine (albeit not at the very tippytoppest settings at the very largest resolution) and Demigod would slow to a crawl midmatch. Turning off the reverb solved this immediately. Something is Not Right ™ with that particular feature.

  45. no says:

    I spent $40 on this and am sort of regretting it. I played through a full single player tournament and I’m not sure if I’ll ever play it again. There just isn’t very much to it. You really don’t control anyone except your own main character. All of the other characters in your army do their own thing automatically. You just upgrade your guy and buy him stuff and send him out to destroy one thing after another — hopefully faster than the opponents do.

    The game is very attractive and perhaps mutli-player – assuming there is voice chat in this game – would be more compelling. As it is, this seems more like it should be a $10 casual game than a $40 full fledged title.

  46. Stromko says:

    IvanHoeHo: Any ‘General’-type demigod can outrange towers, just by buying the ranged summonables at the shop. The Rook can get a trebuchet that can wear down towers at range as hell, and at higher levels his structure absorption power makes him the ultimate siege engine. Oddly not that great in a stand-up fight, yes, he’s actually fairly squishy for a giant stone thing.

    Really though the towers are just to stop early game rushes and slow down the pace of conquest altogether. At mid/high levels they’re pretty easy to destroy. Catapaultsauri and Giant creeps are designed for just that, but most of the rounds I’ve played (all singleplayer) we’ve already broken through the defenses and are wailing on the enemy stronghold before these high-level reinforcements are available.

    I’m finding the Oak to be my all-around favorite as well. His spirit-summoning and heal-on-kill powers mean he’s best on the front lines where the action is, and these mix very well with his later area-of-effect and self-buff powers. Just march in and plant the raise dead banner, fire off the area-of-effect and gain a big allotment of spirits that boost your weapon power, give additional offensive punch on their also, and also heal the surrounding reinforcements + your own retinue of summons up to full. So he hits quite hard, has an army of many spirits + the six General summons, and can heal himself and his allies every time he kills something. It’s a good mix of epic + win.

  47. (fish) says:

    “default creeps are just an annoyance after lvl. 3″

    You can turn their strength up in the game options menu when you’re in the lobby. I tend to put them to low, exp rate high, tower strength low, death penalty draconic for a nice quick game. The later upgrades will hurt you, especially giants.

  48. Serondal says:

    will try turning reverb off

  49. Stromko says:

    After spending one hour on a single match vs Normal AI, which has never been close to really beating me before (I was just trying out a new Demigod and wanted to get a feel for his power), I’ve learned something about team balance. Essentially if your team are all Assassins and the other team are all Generals, you will lose.

    The Beast, Rook, and Regulus vs Sedna, Oak, and Erebus never stood a chance. Sedna would regularly walk right past our defenses and her healthbar would barely budge thanks to her massive (and area effect!) heals, the Oak would throw dozens of spirits at us, Erebus had his own hordes. They’re strong enough on their own, but only Generals get minions and minions are also rather durable and hard-hitting.

    I’m not exactly sure what the purpose of the Assassin demigods is. Even Sedna was utterly shredding The Unclean Beast in melee combat, while the Oak is of course very strong when he has a full complement of spirits as I already knew. By the end of the round I’d gotten to level 20 and had the best armor I could get, but I still couldn’t get Sedna’s health bar to move with a fully powered-up spit attack, even when she was getting smacked by my citadel’s Finger of God and several light towers!

    I think possibly this early release has caught the game in the middle of a massive rebalance. I should hope so at least, because you’d think there’d be more room for skill to make a difference. Maybe they were planning to give all Demigods the ability to buy Minions, as it seems Assassins and Generals are already equal in power and adding the quite strong Minions to the mix just pushes it over the edge entirely.

  50. EtsSpets says:

    Good points Evangel and Bookworm, and im not saying that the game is crap, it obviously has value. The thing is i sort of hate that developers are releasing “immature” games that are buggie and get away with it, even if its the 10th game they have released thats full of bugs and left a trail of miserable and frustrated gamers behing. They almost remind me of politician, who promise you a good thing then when its time to do something eg game launch they say “oops, didnt work out guys, but we will fix it later sometime”. And sure its hard to get some code to work on gazillion differently speced systems but cmon, networking is the most uniform section ever i mean TCP/IP protocol is just that, no matter is it Realtek or Nvidia who made the chip.

    I think the developers need to take pointers from the likes of Valve and lets say Blizzard, they always release almost buggless code and its always fun to play and even the major updates dont create a “bug wave”.

    So my suggestion, test the code until its “mature” and then release it.

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