The Paradox Convention Preview Blowout

By Quintin Smith on January 24th, 2011 at 2:03 pm.

CAPITAL LETTERS ARE AMPHETAMINES FOR THE SOUL

Last week I was in New York, eating pizza and inventing all-new comparative metaphors for how cold it was (“colder than Bobby Kotick’s eyes”, “colder than a Game Gear’s battery”, “colder than a handjob from an eel”). Why? Because last week was the yearly Paradox Convention, where journalists are invited to meet a whole bag of developers and look at all of Paradox’s upcoming releases.

In short, we’ve got even more to look forward to in 2011 than we thought. I’ll be going through these at top speed, so put on your protective goggles and we’ll take a look. Do I have to remind you of the boy who once read a succinct article of mine and lost an eye? No? Good.

Crusader Kings II
Out Q1 2012

Plenty of fresh details on the sequel to everybody’s favourite political intrigue simulator. So many, in fact, that I’ll be posting about it in its very own preview tomorrow. Stay tuned!

King Arthur II
Out Q3 2011

Neocore seem to be going from strength to strength with their Total War-alike games, and the sequel to 2009’s King Arthur: The Role-playing Wargame looks powerful. Having figured out that the strength of the series is in the fantastical imagery and RPG elements, the sequel is ramping both up significantly.

This time around you’ll have the chance to command (and fight) regiments of flying creatures (including “really powerful” Welsh dragons), and you’ll be fighting gigantic boss demons with new “Mighty” heroes capable of holding their own against dozens of opponents. We’ll also be enjoying lots more little choose-your-own-adventure vignettes, a revamped magic system and all the diplomacy that was introduced in the original game’s Saxons expansion.

As for plot, as you may have gathered from the trailer we’re in for a much darker trip. King Arthur has received a wound which will not heal, and since the King’s fate is linked to that of the land a massive gouge has appeared in Arthur’s kingdom and all sorts of demons are crawling out. This is no good, obviously, and it’ll be up to you to fix it, probably by kicking some witch ass. But which witch? An excellent question.

Defenders of Ardania
Out Q2 2011

This one’s a tower defense game set in the Majesty universe, with an added RTS streak. In addition to building towers you’ll also send troops forward to conquer the enemy base and cast spells. With three playable races and “interactive environments” this game might literally be quite fun.

Sword of the Stars 2: Lords of Winter
Out Q3 2011

My time spent with the developers of 4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate) space sequel Sword of the Stars II went a bit wrong. I ended up getting tangled in a long conversation with the lady writing the lore and backstory of the game, wherein she mentioned that their game wasn’t like Homeworld. After a confusing exchange it turned out that she’d co-written Homeworld and Homeworld: Cataclysm, at which point I perked up, she looked exhausted by my ignorance and if it’d been a party she probably would have made an excuse and left. But it was not a party, and the lady had to stay. Sorry, lady.

Supreme Ruler: Cold War
Out July 2011

The Supreme Ruler series is going stumbling back in time from its sci-fi setting, all the way back to the Cold War! Yes it is. As either the USA or the USSR, players will engage in proxy wars, manipulate their diplomatic options and watch a Defcon meter at the top of the screen go ticking steadily upwards. Excitingly, the initial shots of a nuclear war will, apparently, be modelled, which sounds even more horrific than the game simply ending.

Pirates of Black Cove
Out Q2 2011

Basically, think Sid Meier’s Pirates! except in a darker, more fantastical, Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean style universe.

It’s such early days for this piratical sim that the devs were asking us what features should be in the game, but it still looks neat enough. Greg Tito of the Escapist suggested wenches. Then I suggested grog. The developers told me grog would definitely be in the game. Then Greg Tito of the Escapist decided to stop messing around and suggested whores. Then I suggested grog again. I think we were the last journalists the devs asked for advice.

Hearts of Iron: The Card Game
Out Q2 2011

This actually looks great, and I’m keen to see how it turns out. Paradox wants to move into the online collectible card game space, inspired by the fact that (and I’m taking this from Paradox’s resident Magic: The Gathering obsessive) Wizards of the Coast have done such a half-assed job of it with Magic: The Gathering Online.

Hearts of Iron: The Card Game will be their flagship release, and the only things it has in common with the hardcore WW2 strategy game of the same name is the brand name and the setting. The card game simply has players deploying a line of factory cards, using them to deploy army cards and then sending those army cards forward to attack using doctrine cards. Following our demonstration I already wanted to go pawing through all the cards they’ve made so far, which is an excellent sign.

The way Paradox are monetising it sounds smart, too. It’ll be entirely free to play, with players receiving a number of free booster packs each week depending on how much they play, what achievements they unlock and how many “Propaganda Missions” they complete (how much they shout about the game on social networking sites). Booster packs are also given as rewards for touraments, but it’s the tournaments that have a small entry fee. Simply buying extra boosters will get Paradox their money, too.

Salem
Out 2011

Alright, how’s this for a setting. Salem is a casual massively multiplayer crafting game where everybody plays settlers in a fantastical re-imagining of 17th century New England. You’ll be able to forge into the wilderness and build yourself a homestead as a good little pilgrim, or travel a darker path and become a murderous witch (or anything in between, since there aren’t any classes). The example of witchcraft that the developers plucked out of the air for us was that witches will be able to “curse their neighbours cow so it starts making blood instead of milk,” which is nice.

Nice, and completely at odds with the twee and cartoonish art style that the team are pursuing for the game. The in-engine stuff I saw looked more like Maple Story or Farmville than the concept art above (albeit in 3D), but while the developers did cite Farmville as a point of reference Salem will have more in common with the studio’s previous game, Haven & Hearth, than anything else. Like Haven & Hearth, Salem will feature perma-death, which as I gather is quite an exciting feature! Thanks, Kotaku.

Naval War: Arctic Circle
Out Q1 2012

I know, I know. “These games are all well and good Quinns, but where’s my immersive RTS about contemporary naval warfare in the Arctic Circle with realistic modelling of weather and sensors?” It’s right here, you bastard! Just give me a minute!

Naval War: Arctic Circle is an immersive RTS about contemporary naval warfare in the Arctic Circle, with the player controlling and fighting aircraft carriers, submarines and even “orbital” units. Play will be focused around detection and evasion, with plenty of devastating guided weaponry ready and waiting to be employed if you can just find the sodding enemy, which is where the weather comes in.

Sounds interesting, no? No footage of the game itself just yet, but I’ll be watching this one on my radar.

That’s what we call a “joke”

in this business I like to call

“games journalism”.

Gettysburg: Armored Warfare
Out 2011

Hm. You know what, I’ll give this one its own post too.

Pride of Nations
Out Q2 2011

Paradox has a couple of its trademark absurdly detailed historical turn-based strategy games coming out, and this one looks pleasingly glossy. Set during the 19th century’s scramble for colonies, it promises a rich array of colonial options and difficulties, as well as an awesomely complex economy. Just for starters, your region’s wealth is divided into government money and private income, and both are earned and spent in different ways.

Magna Mundi
Out Q4 2011

Dialling the clock back from the indsutry and riverboats of Pride of Nations, Magna Mundi sets out to provide something much older, but no less imposing. It lets you take command of one of 400 countries, from the Vatican to China to a province in India to an area of South America ruled by some tribe that nobody’s heard of, and simply deal with all the tribulations of being that country in a continent packed tightly with other countries.

As the developers kept saying to us, “You’re not trying to paint the world one colour.” No, in Magna Mundi you’re just trying to please the groups within your country, maybe expand here, unite the tribes there. Just enjoy the day-to-day struggles of a people. As somebody who always abandoned their Total War game the moment I had more than 12 cities, I understand and approve.

The Magna Mundi team are actually all modders for Europa Univeralis 3 who decided the game, with all its girth and heft, simply wasnt big enough. Excellently, they’re making sure Magna Mundi is even more mod-friendly than Europa Universalis 3, leaving the doors open for a bunch of modders to come in and decide that their game isn’t big enough, and so on. Presumably in 20 years the progeny of Magna Mundi will be so enormous as to dwarf history itself, and it will try and devour our reality. I say we kill the developers while we still can.

If you skipped to the end of this article, just take that with you. Kill all developers. That is all.

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64 Comments »

  1. Lukasz says:

    manga mundi…

    is that like victoria but few centuries earlier?

    • Malawi Frontier Guard says:

      Yes.

    • VPeric says:

      Magna Mundi was originally a mod for EU3, so the game is basically a pimped up EU3.

      Should be great stuff.

    • esbates7 says:

      pimped and ho’ed up. the devs/modders of magna mundi attempted to make the base EU3 game more realistic/harder. the mod was always a good deal harder than the actual game. but once you MM’d you could never quite go back to the base game b/c it was so damn easy. actually the divine wind expansion for EU3 is kinda a cheap knock-off of a system built w/n Magna Mudi modelling feudal japan. now i’m sure they added more stuff, but they got the idea from the mod. hehe.

    • Kelron says:

      MM was good in the earlier days of EU3, but I felt it got too bloated to the point where you couldn’t go 5 minutes without being spammed by events and popups. The EU3 expansions incorporated some features introduced by MM, but fitted them into the interface properly and generally made a game closer to what I want to play. It’s definitely not easy without MM, at least since Heir To The Throne.

    • esbates7 says:

      kelron- Yeah, i’d agree MM suffered from feature creep towards the end. started off well enough but it got to the point where it was nigh impossible. i stopped playing at the “portuary capacity” version. lol

    • Enigmatic Gray says:

      @Kelron
      Well, now that they can mod the interface to their liking, they can better integrate the features. I agree though, it will be nice to know your administrative efficiency without having to get out a calculator.

      Plus, it apparently is going to have an actual tutorial, which hopefully will help to reduce the learning curve a bit.

    • pipman3000 says:

      i hope they don’t bother porting over all those horrible “fuck you player” events from the mod (FRAMED!).

    • Shih Tzu says:

      World of Manga?

  2. The Pink Ninja says:

    As far as I know there is no good online collectable card game where you can build your own unique deck over a long period of time.

    This seems utterly bizzare to me as it just looks like a licence to print money. I hate micro-transactions and I’d still go for this.

    Is it just even if they’re offline M:TG’s market share is just too dominant?

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I don’t think there’s anything resembling a good reason why there’s no good online CCG. I’ll be watching Paradox’s next moves here with interest.

    • Epsz says:

      MTGO doesn’t completely suck.

    • Tuco says:

      @Epsz: except for the focus on exploiting customers.

    • Snargelfargen says:

      There’s a free-to-play/micro-transaction online card game called Elements. Hopefully, paradox has looked at it and learned from its faults. It plays just like magic, but you get points for purchasing new cards by winning matches. This wouldn’t be so bad, as most cards are cheap, but there are upgraded *better* versions of each card that are ridiculously expensive, so those who pay get a huge advantage.

  3. Malawi Frontier Guard says:

    Haven & Hearth is one of the few MMOs that does permadeath and player killing right, even if what they do seems counter-intuitive at first. It can’t be quite explained in few sentences but must be experienced firsthand. I hope they keep the idea with Salem, which just looks like H&H in 3D with actual funding.

    • Chris D says:

      Do we like the idea of permadeath in MMO’s? I mean, I get the appeal in something like Nethack where the increased stakes raise the tension, but the critical difference seems to be that there the responsibility is yours alone.

      Losing a character you’ve invested months into because you lost connection at a bad moment or because you get ganked could get a little frustrating.

    • Flakfizer says:

      From what i’ve read there is nothing ‘casual’ about Salem. They intend it to be a free for all PVP sandbox with permadeath so it’s closer to pre-trammel Ultima Online than Farmville.

    • jalf says:

      Do we like the idea of permadeath?

      Depends on the game, obviously. It worked well in Haven & Hearth, maybe partly because the game had so much non-combat content, and because character progression was relatively low-key. You never became an invincible superman.

      Something like World of Warcraft, on the other hand, would break down completely if you introduced permadeath. So much is tied to the specific character, and so losing a character would be devastating. And the character progression means that lower-level characters would be cannon fodder.

      Permadeath can *potentially* add a lot to a game. But only if the game is designed from the ground up to support it.

    • dadioflex says:

      “From what i’ve read there is nothing ‘casual’ about Salem. They intend it to be a free for all PVP sandbox with permadeath so it’s closer to pre-trammel Ultima Online than Farmville.”

      Sounds a bit like Wurm Online as well, not that I’ve ever played it. That whole homesteading thing.

      Some awesome looking games coming out by the looks of it. I think Paradox are one of my favourite publishers. Very often they’re publishing games vastly different to the mainstream.

  4. Mr_Hands says:

    This, all of this, looks tremendous. Paradox, you’re after my heart, aren’t you?

    Well, you can’t have it. I need that to cycle my blood through my veins and keep my body running. In short, it’s my heart and you can’t have it.

    But the ephemeral wishywashy emotion stuff that’s flying from my every pore in neon pink heart shapes? You can have all of that.

  5. megalomania says:

    Magna Mundi has piqued my interest. I’ve often wanted to play a trading nation, or a smaller country just trying not to get gobbled up by neighbouring empires, in historical strategy games, but they always seem to force you down the world domination route (that or the “bored to death” route, anyway). And that team’s EUIII mod was indispensable, so I think the project’s in good hand.

  6. Atic Atac says:

    YES! This is the CCG model I have been waiting for! Magic Online is a joke really and I’ve been waiting for someone to get smart about online CCG monetization. Count me in as a day 1 supporter of Hearts of Iron The Card Game.

    Well done Paradox!

  7. CMaster says:

    American Civil war with self-propelled guns, battle-airships and body armour.
    Could be interesting, or could just be another C&C in a world that’s (thankfully) moved on from that.

  8. Turin Turambar says:

    Gettysburg: Armored Warfare… is that… steampunked Gettysburg? Interesting!

  9. Vadermath says:

    I’m really, really glad Paradox is earning more and more cash as time goes on; they certainly deserve every penny. I admit I am most interested about CKII (because I loved the original) and the HOI TCG (because it’s an entirely new concept for this company, it’ll be interesting to see how they do a TCG).

    Though I see no info here on the announced HOI3 expansion? “For The Motherland”, I think?

    • Quintin Smith says:

      Oh yeah. They announced that, but it wasn’t available to look at, or anything.

    • Vadermath says:

      That’s kinda the impression I had, seeing as no gaming websites reported anything beyond the Paradox press release.

      Though I think you can be proud of being the only one who spotted that the Salem guys previously worked on Haven and Hearth. I played that game for a while, but I didn’t realize that Salem was made by the same people. Paradox is turning out to be quite a heaven for niche and indie gaming developers, eh? They’ve certainly grown a lot during the past decade.

    • Commisar says:

      Well, I can’t wait for Sword of the Stars 2 and King Arthur 2 and we will see what that Arctic Circle game is all about.

  10. Sam Crisp says:

    The Crucible is now a casual MMO?

  11. Devrey says:

    Wow, there are five games on that list in which I’m genuinely interested (CK2, HOI TCG, Gettysburg, PoN and MM). Looking forward to all of the previews/reviews/articles on RPS for the coming months :)

  12. Strabo says:

    Can we not have a proper preview for Pride of Nations.

    I am unreasonably excited for that game. It look like Victoria 2, but actually interesting to play.

    • Quintin Smith says:

      I fear I might not be the man for the job. My demonstration with the developer consisted mostly of him explaining to me why it might be in your government’s interest to give millions to your country’s industry, thereby allowing them to sell their trade goods to the rest of the world at a lower price.

      (In short: so that the rest of the world buys your goods, rather than anybody else’s. Ultimately, you end up turning a greater profit than your competitors.)

    • Om says:

      Subsidies? Cool

      I wasn’t too keen on PoN (AGEOD’s fare is notoriously difficult to get into) but this Rhodes-inspired converted me. Yeah, I’m shallow like that

      http://www.gamersdailynews.com/userfiles/image/pride_of_nations_packshot_2D_esrbtmp_cd_lores.jpg

  13. Nameless1 says:

    “4X (explore, expand, exploit, exterminate)”

    I lol’d :D

    • Nimic says:

      Alternatively, since we’re talking about Paradox games here, 4E. Europe Exterminates Everyone Else.

  14. HermitUK says:

    I had a Game Gear. It would completely consume six AA batteries in the space of five hours.

  15. outoffeelinsobad says:

    Zeppelins!

  16. Nimic says:

    I am ridiculously excited about Crusader Kings 2. I’m a very big fan of Europa Universalis 2 and 3 (and also Rome, to some extent), but Crusader Kings just had a slightly more personal feel to it. Which is obvious, since you are, for all intents and purposes, one character. I just loved building up a dynasty, perhaps splitting it up quite a bit (handing out kingdoms to sons like candy) if the game got too easy. It was also much easier to feel that the game had a ‘narrative’.

    As for Magna Mundi… honestly, I was never a big fan of the mod. At no point did I prefer it to the base game (base game meaning expansions included).

  17. westyfield says:

    How are they making so many games?

    • MrMud says:

      They are publishing so many games.

    • westyfield says:

      Ooooh, I always thought Paradox were self-publishing developers. That makes much more sense.

    • Om says:

      Yeah, CKII and the HoI card game (plus unmentioned HoI expansion) are the only games being developed in-house. Which is probably a good thing as I think P’dox need a year of consolidation. On the other hand, their publishing arm has really gone from strength to strength in recent years. They’re still niche but its a niche that they’re exploiting the hell out of

    • Javier-de-Ass says:

      yeah. I think their development stretches out like; one team on a full new game and two small teams on expansions.

  18. Eclipse says:

    And then there’s Magicka, it’s out tomorrow and sounds just great

  19. Pijama says:

    If they get Victoria 2 up to speed as the original I will be just damn glad already. :D

  20. Schaulustiger says:

    No signs of a Victoria 2 expansion? That’s a bummer.

  21. Dolphan says:

    Everything on this list is pure PC. Gotta love Paradox!

    • protorp says:

      Indeed – Paradox fly the flag of the obscure, involved and nerdy higher than anyone else out there, and I absolutely love them for it.

      Here’s to much more power, publishing freedom and profit for Fred and co. in 2011…

  22. frags says:

    Cant wait for the Hearts of Iron card game. My guess….if this takes off, they’ll make actual physical cards.

  23. omicron1 says:

    Paradox is the publisher nobody outside of PC territory seems to know exists. And I must say, it’s an interesting business model. Publish hundreds of small, niche titles with low development and marketing budgets that cater to subgroups of the PC audience, and don’t worry about being triple-A. I love this approach, and wish the guys at Paradox all the best! (and I may be approaching you someday for publishing…)

  24. GenBanks says:

    ‘Gettysburg Armored Warfare’ just makes me sad that there’s no sequel for Sid Meier’s Gettysburg in the works :(

  25. Arathain says:

    The Sword of the Stars 2 lady would have been Arinn Dembo, who I consider to be one of the most talented sci-fi writers working in video gaming right now. She’s great on the SotS forums- very willing to engage on the fiction of the various races and events in the game. The depth and detail of world creation is astonishing- far more coherent, interesting and even believable than almost anything else. It’s a surprising perk for a 4X, which tend to be more about creating your own story- however, when you know the lore you see it has influenced the game design itself in ways you only spot and appreciate once you know it.

    It’s looking like having the potential to be a very special game indeed. Again, I strongly recommend RPS keeps an eye on it.

  26. nuh uh no way says:

    Who the fuck says we don’t learn from history? That’s total bullshit.

    There’s plenty we’ve learned; The ones in power just don’t use that information

  27. Navagon says:

    “King Arthur II
    Out Q3 2011″

    Yay! I hope they’ve nailed down the balancing this time around. I don’t mind a challenge but being forced to play it on an easier difficulty just to make some bits of it possible dented the overall experience.

    Pirates of the Black Cove and Salem both sound good. I like the idea of a classless RPG. What doesn’t work for me so much is the MMO bit.

  28. somnolentsurfer says:

    I always thought the moral of the Salem story was that there were no witches?

    • thebigJ_A says:

      I live in Boston. I’ve been to Salem on Halloween night. There are witches.

      They are mostly wankers.

  29. Kryopsis says:

    “King Arthur has received a wound which will not heal[.]”
    I thought Excalibur made King Arthur invulnerable and able to recover from any wound. At least that’s the impression I got from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur.

    Nonetheless, it’s great that King Arthur 2 is getting a sequel. This is probably the best dark fantasy turn-based title since Disciples II.

    • jaheira says:

      It was the scabbard that protected Arthur, not the sword. Morgan Le Fay nicked it off him, which is why he died in battle.

  30. TimA says:

    Wow, there’s plenty here I didn’t know about and I am now looking forward to! Particularly the HOI card game and Naval War. Awesome.

  31. Demiath says:

    Can’t possibly think of anything more nerdy than a freakin’ Paradox convention….

  32. Mattressi says:

    What about the Mount and Blade expansion!?! I want details on something that could potentially take another 400 hours of my life! (that was Warband btw…I think I missed every game that came out last year because of it)

    • thebigJ_A says:

      Yeah, why no mention of that?

      It’s Mount & Blade…. with MUSKETS!

  33. Spacewalk says:

    Why no “too many tags” tag?