The Games Of Christmas: December 23rd

By RPS on December 23rd, 2009 at 11:47 am.

But when is Satan's birthday, eh?
Are videogames the Devil’s work? Sure, probably. But that Devil guy, he’s okay by us. In fact, all his cousins are getting their party on behind the most recent door of our seasonally festive advent-o-calendar. Assuming you’re standing at a crossroads, ready to make the deal, it’s time to follow the hand of the one true leader of the Autobots, and get down in the nine circles…


Solium Infernum!


Kieron: Hello Quinns!
Quinns: Hi Archfiend Kieron!
Kieron: Ah yes – Archfiend Quinns of the pit of eternal salivations.
Quinns: Charmed. I can’t tell you how glad I am Solium Infernum came out this year. It’s genuinely the game that’s letting me look forward to 2010. I adore it.
Kieron: I’m crazy over it. It’s an odd companion piece to Blood Bowl in many ways for me. As in, a Board Game re-imagined for the PC. And it’s fun to see a game I loved from the announcement actually turn out to be exactly what I thought it’d be.
Quinns: I’d barely given it any thought for at least nine months, which only heightened my excitement when it did come out and I suddenly found myself playing something so different, so strange and complex.
Kieron: Totally. We probably should describe it. I mean, RPS has written about it… but not really enough.
Quinns: The complexity is the thing, I think. I love that after spending 15 hours with it you and I were still stumbling across new rules and starting to grasp subtleties. It feels like a game worthy of all the time you put in.
Kieron: Let me do the basics. Hell’s throne is vacant. Satan’s fucked off. The assorted aristocracy now are trying to decide who’ll be in charge. After a period of time – the length of the game – they’ll put whoever has the most prestige in charge. You win prestige by being the best demon. Winning wars, winning duels, insulting one another and owning the finest real-estate. The main twist is that it’s very polite. You don’t get to just start wars – you have to manipulate an excuse to doing so. In other words – it’s primarily a political game, but set in hell, so you get all kinda of fabulous awesomeness to control. In other words, fantastic concept, original ideas, brilliant execution. How can I not love it?
Quinns: If I was going to add one thing to that description it’d be that all that fabulous awesomeness you control, the beautiful armies and the praetors you choose to lead them, the rituals, relics, artifacts and manuscripts you amass, has to be chosen from incredibly carefully each turn. You have so few Orders before the end of each turn that strategy is always a factor. It plays like keyhole surgery at times. You might not have enough orders to equip your legion and send them into battle, but you might have the orders to pull them back until next turn.
Kieron: Much like Armageddon Empires, it’s totally a game of difficult choices with harsh, harsh limits. I mean, for the opening, you’re going with 2 turns a go. Move an army? Demand resources from your slaves? That’s you done. To even buy new stuff or cast rituals, you’re stopping one of them.
Quinns: Right. Possibly the biggest consequence of those orders, and something I love the game for, is even just 2 players ganging up on a third can be devastating, simply because they have more orders to work with. And that’s a feature that simultaneously balances any game and makes it suitably political.
Kieron: The other thing being there’s so many different ways to BE strong.
Quinns: Ah yes.
Kieron: We’re not even near understanding what builds for your Archfiend – and the whole of your forces – are feasible.
Quinns: Right. And I love that the build for your Archfiend, whichever stats and perks you pick, is hidden from everybody else. It means that as a game progresses you don’t learn that “Oh, my opponent Graszk has 3 Wrath, better steer clear of his Destruction rituals,” you just absorb this vibe that people who go up against him tend to disappear. Or if someone’s playing an Archfiend with masses of Charisma and tribute bonuses then you simply tend to notice he can always afford everything. It’s like how in Armageddon Empires you always applied personalities to the AI, just stepped up a gear.
Kieron: Yeah, absolutely.
Quinns: By the end of a 50 turn game your opponents have become real people through nothing but watching their moves.
Kieron: Real people you hate. Even the ones you’re allied with. Especially the ones you’re allied with.
Quinns: I hate my slave. Let’s talk about blood vassals!
Kieron: This is the political endgame, basically. You can’t win? You become someone’s bitch. A prison bitch in hell.
Quinns: Your jealousy is palpable.
Kieron: I couldn’t be your bitch because… oh, this is getting to the diaries. One thing about Solium – well, as good as it is now, I can see it growing to become even better. It’s the other thing which reminds me of Blood Bowl – the Board Game – in that it’s had this sort of living rule-book. There’s some aspects and rituals which I can totally see Vic tweaking in future releases. It’s a horrendously complicated game to balance… and that it’s as good as it is, is totally a testament to its joys. I mean, look at the AI situation – the game’s clear weakness. It’s definitely improved since release.
Quinns: Here’s how Blood Vassals work: If you have less than half of another player’s prestige points and territory you can apply to become their Vassal. Your prestige gets immediately halved if they say yes, but the prestige total you end the game with gets added to theirs, you become free to move around one another’s territory, and while you lose access to all diplomacy options your Lord player’s wars becomes yours.
Kieron: So the whole endgame can be people pairing up.
Quinns: In theory.
Kieron: Talk about power behind the throne!
Quinns: Oh God. The terror.
Kieron: THE WORM TURNS! THE BITCH-MAKER BECOMES THE BITCH-EE!
Quinns: The Power Behind The Throne is a perk anyone can pick which takes up almost all of your character building points, but means if you end the game as a vassal and your lord wins, you win in place of your lord.
Kieron: I mean, how scary is that?
Quinns: And literally never stop laughing for the rest of your life.
Kieron: Which will be exactly be the time it takes for your blood Lord to get a bus, drive across the country and throttle you. Even worse, there’s King Maker. Where you pick a player, and if they win, you win.
Quinns: Which I find more interesting.
Kieron: Yeah. It’s interesting in that it screws that player – they can never win. UNLESS they simply crush you into the ground when they realise you’re doing it to them, and are that weak.
Quinns: Subtly manipulating the entire game from the get go. Watching for when they go to war, then stealing their opponent’s war machines and bribing away their praetors from the sidelines.
Kieron: Because it’s possible, when relationships get bad enough, to actually go to proper non-Vendetta war and wipe them out of the game.
Quinns: I knew this would happen. Instead of us talking about what this game means to us, it’s just become us giggling excitedly about the rules. Which is one of the reasons I know how much I love this game. I find myself explaining the rules to anyone who’ll listen.
Kieron: That’s the thing THIS IS A GAME.
Quinns: YES. GOD, yes.
Kieron: It’s about interesting novel mechanics and using them to fuck people over.
Quinns: And READING THE MANUAL.
Kieron: ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE (AND DO NOT READ THE MANUAL). It makes no concessions to you. It’s just the way it is. If you go along, you’ll have an amazing time. If you don’t… well, it’s your loss, really. File next to Dwarf Fortress.
Quinns: The worst / best thing was in our game where you idly mentioned I didn’t fully understand a very important rule and refused to tell me what it was. I was breathing through my mouth with clenched teeth as I fired up the manual again.
Kieron: I wish I’d actually just lied better then. I could have just lied to you about the rules. And it’ll be just revenge for what I’ll refer to as THE BATTLE OF THE MANUAL INCIDENT
Quinns: I’ve enjoyed how, following that battle, you’ve contented yourself with keeping your armies back and flinging fireballs and obliteration rituals at my boys from the top of your stronghold.
Quinns: (You bastard.)
Kieron: There’s more than one way to skin a cat Especially in hell, where there’s rooms full of people skinning cats. And people.
Quinns: You know what my favourite moment playing Solium was? There was one turn late in our game where the entire game was balanced on the top of a pyramid, and I found myself writing down my plans and thoughts on physical paper with an actual pencil. I haven’t needed to use plant matter and carbon aids for years, but the game had gotten too complex. Or more accurately, my schemes had gotten too twisty. I had too many counter-moves planned, and I was trying to plot in the consequences of my actions after factoring in every way anyone might screw me over.
Kieron: There’s games which need you to upgrade your PC. It’s a pleasure to wrestle with one where the lacking hardware is the fleshy-grey thing between your ears.
Quinns: It’s what I wanted out of Supreme Commander, in some ways. Something so smart and huge I couldn’t help but be tested. God, I can’t wait until the inevitable expansions come along and make Solium even bigger. My three brains and eight mouths must be fed.
Kieron: How many angels can dance on the head of the pin and all that.
Quinns: Depends how tight you make their harnesses.
Kieron: TIGHT. And part of me loves that in this season of goodwill to all men, we’re playing a game based around hell. Oh – there’s a turn in your inbox, sir.
Quinns: Christ. Here we go again.
Kieron: Go to hell, Quinns.

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59 Comments »

  1. Ian says:

    Question: is the AI good enough that you could buy it mostly for single-player?

    Or more to the point, is it ever liable to be?

    I realise that’s probably robbing it of half the fun, it just strikes me as the sort of game I’d never actually get around to multi-playering with,

    • JuJuCam says:

      Ian: It’s multiplayer is a play by email function that doesn’t require more than one person running the game at the same time. In theory games could stretch to weeks or months, and you could almost certainly hook up with someone else on the forums here if you lack suitable opponents.

      That said, I haven’t got it yet as I fear for my soul if I ever play it. It seems like the type of black vortex game that would consume my every waking thought.

    • qrter says:

      According to Tom Chick, the AI is pretty bad. He went as far to say you shouldn’t buy the game if you’re only in it for the singleplayer, if I remember correctly.

      Here we go, Tom Chick’s Solium Infernum: a couple things you should know first. He loves the game but only as a multiplayer thing.

    • Vinraith says:

      @Ian

      “Question: is the AI good enough that you could buy it mostly for single-player?”

      I’ve been asking that same question every time the game has come up and the consistent answer appears to be “no.” With a game rooted in deception and dealing, I think it’s unlikely the AI will ever be able to keep up, which is a large part of the reason I’ve written this one off. It’s an awesome looking game, but I can’t be bothered with things that only really work in multiplayer.

  2. Flobulon says:

    So… I should play the demo, yeah?

    • Torgen says:

      The demo is too short, by about half. As much as I tried, I couldn’t get anything really exciting going in the 20 turns of the demo. The demo ended *right* when you’d get a good vendetta going.

    • Dagda says:

      Yeah, do it. The demo lets you play the start of the game an unlimited number of times with full access to custom fiend creation, letting you get samples of all the different playstyles at your fingertips. As a demo, it does a great job of handing out delicious samples while leaving you hungry for the full course meal.

  3. Wilson says:

    Is the title Solium Inferno intentional? Can you replace infernum with inferno?

  4. smokingkipper says:

    First game, with the manual next to me, I best the AI with lead of about 150 prestige. The AI never made any threats, insults etc.

    I found them very weak and have not played since, I really need to get my ass kicked online to appreciate the finer subtleties to the game.

  5. Thesper says:

    Online is a different beast. I went from being solidly the back of the pack well behind all of the other 5 archfiends, barely any prestige and no places of power to having assassinated four of them and be baring down on the fifth within two turns. And any other player in a game you’re playing could potentially do the same.

    Of course getting to that stage required a some long term plotting and had me rather on edge while I waited for the turns to come back. PBEM is a surprisingy nerve wracking form of multiplayer as you can send your boys/fiends/slathering doom beasts off to war and have to wait a day or so to find out the outcome.

  6. Cooper says:

    Minimum resolution? 1024×768

    Bugger off.

    For a game which – given the other minimum specs – would otherwise be something perfect for me to be playing on my netbook whilst I avoid the family over the next week, it fails at missing a not insignificant technology trend of recent years.

    This goes for gratuitous space battles too – or any game with minimum resolutions above 800×600 mean I’m unlikely to ever play these games. These games would fit perfectly into my netbook niche (i.e: not requiring massive hardware capabilities, not needing any kind of speedy mousework so can use a touchpad, and fill train journeys etc. easily with the head-thinky time they require), but the developers have missed a trick it seems.

    • Senethro says:

      What a big moan you are. You can’t expect a one man development team to make sure the game runs well on every silly little device you can think of.

    • Tei says:

      Laptops are dead. You don’t really want to move around 4KG and a big piece of metal wen you can move a precious 1 KG nice thingie that already does the 90% things a laptop/desktop computer do. So gamming will occur in netbooks, and games that can acchieve that with minor efforts sould try it. Indie games, and casual games.

    • AndrewC says:

      I expend even less energy by never leaving my room.

    • Cooper says:

      @Senethro: It’s not that I demand or expect this, it just seems that, as an indie developer, I’d be interested in widening my potential market – what with the current trend in netbooks, relatively hardware easy indie games have a market right there.

      I imagine there’s a whole range of UI and other issues which meant this and other games have gone for a 1024×768 resolution, I was just saying it’s a bit of a shame as I’m unlikely to get to play these games.

  7. Dinger says:

    No, the AI is not competitive, at least not after the first couple times you play. It is, however, a fairly decent sparring partner for testing out various tactics and tricks.

    Vic is supposedly working on AI tweaks, but ultimately, in a game where humans and AI play at the the same standing, the only advantage the AI has is a (potentially) more perfect knowledge of the rules and their interaction. So for the AI to be competitive over the long haul, the game would have to be random.

    Alternatively, you can always give yourself a difficult build and try to beat the AI.

    I’m looking forward to trying PBEM in the new year.

    Solium Infernum = Lowest (aka Infernal) Throne, in the Latin.

  8. Psychopomp says:

    Every game I enter, other people start getting sidetracked by other things :(

  9. brog says:

    I’ve had a few games on the RPS steam group: http://steamcommunity.com/groups/RPSatan

    The games that have started with everyone in the channel going quickly for an evening have all ended up being played to the end. Games started by email have ground along very slowly. The moral is: if you want a game, come to the channel!

  10. Velvet Fist, Iron Glove says:

    This sounds like exactly the kind of board game I’ve been looking for. If it was a board game. It’s crying out to be sat on a table with six people sat around it plotting fiendishly and telling barefaced lies to each other.

  11. Hypocee says:

    Davis has ‘missed’ a whooole lot of tricks because he doesn’t know any real programming languages and can’t start at this point. He builds his computer boardgames in a Web presentation tool, and that’s just the way it is. I suspect others may dream, like me, of making him so flush with money that he can hire a graphics/UI programmer. But yes, it is unfortunate that you cannot play this on your netbook. If it helps remove the sting, there is no way this could ever be playable at 800×600 anyway; the interface already gets quite crowded at 1024×768. So bugger off.

  12. Bhazor says:

    So how does this compare to Chaos in the Old World? Or are they too different?

    • Kieron Gillen says:

      Bhazor: “So how does this compare to Chaos in the Old World?”

      Well, there’s less chance of Alec spilling red wine all over the board before the game starts.

      More seriously, similar but different. You played Armageddon Empires? That was a boardgame whose rules would take forever to actually play if you had to do all the maths by hand. It was a boardgame which couldn’t really be played on a board, at least within a reasonable time-frame. Solium Infernum’s a bit like that.

      I love ‘em both.

      KG

    • Bhazor says:

      So same concept, different approaches, both great?

      I kinda wish board games would make better use of computers for all the back end calculations and rules. So you could have a game with this depth but with cute dinky toy soldiers and demons with whores hanging from their horns.

  13. 4026 says:

    I really want this game. I really loved the demo. I’d really love to play some multiplayer PBEM games.

    BUT I’m not sure I want it quite as much as $30. And persuading a bunch of my friends to part with $30 for an unforgiving, lo-fi indie turn-based strategy, however fiendishly clever, will be a frankly impossible task.

    IMHO, Cryptic Comet got the price point a little wrong. Maybe they’ll run a January sale.

  14. Jon.J says:

    How much is Solium Infernum and where would I find games? It sounds like the sort of game I would love

  15. Severian says:

    Been playing a PBEM for the past couple weeks and absolutely loving it. It is totally a different game vs. real humans. Every turn is mind-bogglingly tense. I love how you can develop and implement a long-term strategy, but the ingenuity of other players and certain major game-events (angelic host, for example) force you to revise and adjust on a regular basis.

    My group has been able to average 2-3 turns/day, and we’ll probably be able to finish a 50-turn game in ~3 weeks. And I’m already looking forward to the next one after that.

    Everyone’s hoping for a better single-player AI challenge, but to be honest, I wouldn’t hold your breath, This game is too complex and devious for any set of algorithms (except those generated by our own neural tissue). If you buy, you should buy for the PBEM and trust me, you’ll love it. I wake up thinking about my political war strategy in hell every morning.

  16. Senethro says:

    I’d have bought this already but the price is a little high and high Charisma builds seem too good and limiting on the actual variety the game can have. As long as one or the other (preferably the Charisma) is solved before the MP community dies off I’ll fork out.

  17. Dinger says:

    @Hypocee: In all fairness, it’s not too late. If he’s developing stuff of this level of sophistication, it’s a very small step to put it in a real programming language. He’ll then find that development gets faster, as he won’t have to deal with all those annoying middleware bugs. The hardest part is convincing yourself you will benefit from throwing away the training wheels.

    I’m playing this, and imagining how cool it would be with a few cheezy effects à la Military Madness. The infernal conclave animations alone would be worth the cost of all those extra assets. Watching some badass Prince of Hell eat an insult from a lowly Baron while his fellow archfiends stood around agape or snickering — that would be badass.

  18. Quinns says:

    High Charisma builds have Problems. As all the resource cards you end up holding are valuable, you strengthen your opponents whenever they make demands from you or loot your vaults. And in the early game a high Charisma player is going to get their head kicked in by a player with similarly high wrath or deceit.

    • Senethro says:

      Only in theory Quinns. I’ve been looking around and those Wrath/Deceit players will still have 2 in Charisma instead of 3 like dedicated Charisma builds. Charisma builds are never weak as such because they’ll be first to buy legions and can quickly upgrade their Wrath characteristic as well using resources.

      Its easy to understand how the resource gathering characteristic would turn out to be most important but if he just bumped the Draw Card/Keep Card up by 1 for each value of Charisma then the tipping point where spending your initial Avatar points on more Charisma or other characteristics would change.

    • brog says:

      2 Charisma is not “High Charisma”.

    • Senethro says:

      Ok, fine, what I’m objecting to is not the high charisma builds, god knows I love risky gimmick builds in other games. What I’m objecting to is that everyone takes a little charisma. If everyone takes a little charisma then theres no point to having 0 or 1 charisma, so you might as well remove them from the game to prevent new players picking them by accident.

    • brog says:

      This is a better point.
      But still, I think that all it would take to make it pretty well balanced would be some very minor changes, like pushing up the resources you get from low Cha just slightly, or even just giving out a few extra character points to distribute – then you could take Cha 2-3 and still have enough to spend on something good elsewhere, or take Cha 0-1 and take something really impressive elsewhere to make up for it. All the other stats can give you an extra action per turn, which has a multiplicative effect on tribute – you can demand tribute more times – which is better than just getting another point of Cha.
      Reducing the resource cost of Looting the Vaults would help too – as it is, it’s not a viable way to sustain your economy, because you need to keep spending specific resources on it, and you end up running out of those while having plenty of the other two. So you need Cha still to keep it running (plus you make people mad at you in the process, which is a disadvantage), but with a little bit of balancing work it could be awesome.

      Also, it’s just nice to see Charisma have its day, after all the years of being the dump stat for D&D characters..

    • Senethro says:

      I agree and think those ideas are all possible solutions that could do with investigation.

      I don’t think it would take a big change to balance Charisma. I think something like shifting the Draw/Keep values by one place so that 2 Charisma becomes the new 1 Charima would do the trick. Bumping the Avatar points and Upgrade costs a little would probably be necessary in addition. The reduced randomness due to sampling effects of low Draw values would improve the game for everyone – no more hitting Demand Tribute for 5 turns because you can’t get Brimstone. The Bazaar would do a good job of soaking up any excess resources because if everyones richer then everyones going to have to bid higher. Ah, the wonders of markets.

  19. Lambchops says:

    Reading this makes me think this would be the type of game I enjoy – however words of lack of a decent AI are putting my off somewhat as I generally can’t be bothered with multiplayer. Plus it doesn’t sound like the type of game I want to be buying going into the final stages of my degree!

    I think I’ll stick this on me “to try when I have more time” list.

  20. Tyler says:

    The AI isn’t bad, it’s just not playing to win. In the cutthroat sense. Like a human would. If you attack, it’s able to defend alright, but it won’t be the one to come looking for a fight and it won’t do vindictive things to punish you if you make a mistake. It’s suitable as a sparring partner, as someone else mentioned. I’ve put my first 15-20 hours into the AI and I’m not sick of it yet, there’s just a lot of depth to the game system that you’ll want to figure out before you take on humans who ARE vindictive and WILL punish you for mistakes.

  21. syrion says:

    Sadly, decent AI won’t happen in any kind of interesting strategy game. The computer just isn’t good at taking account of broad (rather than deep) decision trees. The more branches of decision-making a game has, the less likely that someone can write evaluation functions, etc. Look at Go (my favorite board game). Hundreds of people have been trying to build an AI for it for years… and now, in 2009, after twenty years of trying, they can almost play as well as someone who’s been playing the game for six months. Although SI’s decision tree may not be as broad as Go, the wheeling and dealing add an additional layer of complication.

    • Vinraith says:

      @syrion

      “Sadly, decent AI won’t happen in any kind of interesting strategy game.”

      I couldn’t disagree more. Gal Civ 2 and Sword of the Stars both have excellent AI, even the likes of Civ 4 manages to put up a pretty good fight. Slow paced strategy games are among those most in need of a good, competitive AI because organizing and playing drawn out games with real people is such an unbelievable chore. I go out of my way to reward strategy games that prioritize a quality AI opponent, because ultimately IMO they’re the only ones worth playing.

  22. syrion says:

    @Vinraith

    Those are 4X games, though; that’s an entirely different beast from something like SI (or Go). In GalCiv 2 and Civ 4, as much as I love them, the decision tree is not particularly broad and each move is not heavily weighted. You can move every unit on every turn; you can change your city/planet setups on the fly; and an opponent’s decision cannot immediately ruin you even if you don’t react correctly for a few turns. In games where each move is pivotal, AI is a much bigger deal and its deficiencies are hard to hide behind programmatic cleverness.

    • Vinraith says:

      @syrion

      OK, I take your point now, but you needed a better adjective than “interesting” in front of “strategy” there. :)

      Yes, the kind of games you’re talking about are very hard to program AI for, but then by and large they were originally designed to be played by two people to begin with. I think the fundamental issues of AI in computer strategy games can be handled, broadly, by “programmatic cleverness,” asymmetry, and the like.

      To me, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to build a game that requires nothing but human players as a computer game in the first place. If I have people to play with, I’ll play a board game. Computer games are for those occasions when I’m either the only one interested in playing or I can’t summon up enough people to make a full game, so good (or at least adequate) AI opponents are a bedrock necessity.

  23. Jon.J says:

    I’ve just downloaded the manual and read it through…. it really does seem awesome game, I think I might have to buy this after my January exams.

    And fingers crossed the price might have dropped by then.

  24. Tyler says:

    Bueno de Mesquita offers an interesting discussion of the difficulties of predicting in political systems.

    http://www.booktv.org/Program/11007/The+Predictioneers+Game+Using+the+Logic+of+Brazen+SelfInterest+to+See+and+Shape+the+Future.aspx

  25. The Innocent says:

    I’m really looking forward to getting this. The reason that I haven’t purchased it yet is because my circle of friends is currently playing a drawn-out match of Dominions 3, which is also a PBEM game that is absolutely amazing and filled to the brim with options (70+ nations, 2000+ unit types, 700+ spells)… and our game will likely go another four months before one of us finally takes absolute control.

  26. syrion says:

    @Vinraith

    Yes, it was an unfortunate turn of phrase.

    However, the thing about using the computer instead of a board game is that you open yourself up to many more potential opponents. Sure, it may take a long time to play, but because it’s on the computer there are PBEM opportunities and plenty of people to have a game with. As an example, I own Tigris & Euphrates, and love it. Like Go, it appeals to my territorial-control preferences, but there is nobody in my vicinity who will play with me. Unlike Go, T&E has no robust online interfaces… so I’ve played a total of maybe ten games of T&E, while I’ve played hundreds of games of Go online.

    By the way, what am I doing wrong with this reply interface? It seems completely off-the-wall.

    • Vinraith says:

      @syrion

      I occasionally forget that some people enjoy playing games competitively with strangers. It’s an alien mindset to me, so it’s easy to lose track, I always game with friends or alone. I think you’re exactly the kind of person Solium Infernum is designed for, and that I’m very much not.

      As to the reply interface, all you should have to do is hit the “reply” button on the post you wish to reply to, but some people seem to have a lot of trouble with it. It’s safest just to mark your post with the name of the person you’re talking to, then you don’t really have to worry about it.

  27. belko says:

    Has Trine been featured in one of these? And if not, then why?!

    I’m almost done with it, and it just has to be one of the games that are a complete pleasure from start to finish. It has this charm about it that no other game has had for me, with the exception of Braid maybe.

    Also, it’s on sale now on Steam for a great price.

    • The Hammer says:

      Was about to ask exactly the same question! Trine! :(

    • Vinraith says:

      @belko

      I’m just now finishing Trine as well, and have to agree that it’s downright revelatory. I’ve not played a platformer I enjoyed in ages (that sadly includes Braid, actually) but Trine is absolutely wonderful. It’s charming, clever, challenging without being obnoxious, and absolutely gorgeous as well. I’m very surprised by how much I’ve enjoyed it, and hope to talk the wife into trying co-op sometime soon. I’m saddened that it didn’t turn up in the RPS games of Christmas list.

    • invisiblejesus says:

      Trine really is lovely stuff. I just finished my first playthrough the other night, and I expect I’ll fire it up again at some point just to see what other ways I can find to work through it. Also, the thief’s grapple reminds me a lot of old-school Bionic Commando, which makes me want to get back to playing Bionic Commando Reloaded. This is not a bad thing. But yeah. Check out Trine.

    • Baris says:

      I’ll just go ahead and agree with everyone here, albeit far more crudely: TRINE IS AWESOME.

      This probably border on crazy, but I’ve played through Trine in one sitting 7 times so far, three times in one week once. Easily my favourite game of all time.

  28. Tanner says:

    I agree with Cooper. At the moment, my netbook’s the only computer I’ve got, and will be for a while. That resolution requirement has been driving me insane ever since RPS first posted about the game after its release.

  29. bookwormat says:

    In Computer Science, most of the algorithms from “artificial intelligence” are not about making computers think like humans, but about solving problems efficiently, mostly using statistics.

    In video games, AI is usually code that tries to create the illusion that there is a real artificial intelligence, when in fact there is not. And that’s how we decide if a game has good or bad AI: How long does the illusion lasts?

    Galactic Civilizations II creates a illusion that is good enough for most people to play the game for many hours. Solium Infernum, as the feedback suggests, creates a illusion that breaks after an hour or so. The AI simply does not “know” how to play the game.

    I do not believe a second that “Solium Infernum is so complex that you cannot make a AI for it”. It might be deep, but not that deep. Go is so complex that you cannot make a good AI for it. And not only is Go much more complex than Solium Infernum, all these bad Go programs out there are at the least good enough to beat me almost every single time I play.

    I hope that when Vic Davis manages to fix the AI, he will advertise this big as an “free AI expansion” or something similar. So that reviewers will notice and test and report about these improvements. As it is, my guess is that most of Vic’s (already very small) target market is going to stay away from Solium Infernum. Which is a shame, because we do not have that many people who can make games like this.

    • syrion says:

      bookwormat, SI is not as complex as Go, but it has some complicating factors that make an AI difficult compared to its complexity. For one thing, it’s a game of subtle implications–wheeling and dealing. Computers are always terrible at this (even in GalCiv, where I find that tech trading must be turned off to maintain any type of competition between human and AI). It’s a game of high impact turns–meaning that missing a subtlety has an immediate and terrible impact. Computers, because they are so bad at ‘broadness,’ often miss those crucial subtleties… and there are also several other players to think about, not just one opponent.

  30. Samson says:

    This game’s core is phenomenal but the AI is not up to snuff and I’m too impatient to wait two or three days per turn in the PBEM games I’ve attempted. I’ve also been getting occasional script errors that cause CTD…no biggie but it just feels more unstable than Armageddon Empires.

    My GsOTY go to AI War and Knights of the Chalice.

  31. Lanster says:

    The thing about Vic’s productions is that he is always on the move to kills off any bugs and improve the AI. You can be sure in a while, he would have made the AI a lot better than it is now. And I played against the 1.0 AI, they’re not that bad. They put up a bit of a fight.

  32. Inferno says:

    I’d really like to buy this or armageddon empires but neither seem to be found on steam :(

  33. Testicular Torsion says:

    A superlative game. Yes, the AI is meh. But you’ll still lose against it sometimes, especially when trying out new strategies. And there’s lots to love in here.

    Would it be possible to nominate the first 90% of Trine and pretend that the rest didn’t happen? Just consider the last level a mistake so dreadful that it’s actually non-canonical, like the Star Wars prequels.

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