Solium Infernum: The Complete Battle for Hell

By Alec Meer on January 3rd, 2012 at 12:19 pm.



Normal service resumes tomorrow, at least if four men sleepily trying to remember how to login to our CMS counts as ‘normal service’. In the meantime, pray enjoy Gameboys From Hell, one more vintage game diary from the RPS cellars.

For just shy of a couple of months in 2009 six arch-demons waged a war in hell. For just shy of a couple of weeks, four arch-demons wrote up their perspectives on the struggle. The resulting mass of writing works both as a multi-perspective narrative of a single, increasingly dramatic game, a review highlighting the game’s merits and as an extended tutorial of exactly how six newbies came to understand one of 2009′s most intriguing, subtle and just plain best games. If you’ve any interest in learning more about Solium Infernum, this is where to start. If you haven’t any interest in Solium Infernum, this will hopefully start it.

The main pieces of the narrative are from RPS regulars Kieron and Quinns, and you’ll find them dueling with one another in the RPS-hosted pieces. Scrofula and Poisoned Sponge started their pieces on their own blogs. Any or all of them can be read in isolation, but you’ll get the most accurate view of the politicking and scheming if you devour them all.

__________________

« | »

, , , .

68 Comments »

  1. Heliosicle says:

    These were my favourite of the game diary’s. I think it was the intrigue and being able to read it from 4 different perspectives, and just how unpredictable the game was.

  2. JackShandy says:

    This piece is so labyrinthine I still don’t understand the full scope of it after reading it three times over two years. Time for another shot at it.

  3. LieutLaww says:

    Excellent stuff, enjoyed this the first time round

  4. airtekh says:

    I have no interest in the game itself, but this is still my favourite piece of writing on RPS.

  5. Schaap says:

    I actually just tried this game yesterday, but it’s incredibly boring in singleplayer. The AI doesn’t do anything, I had one real vendetta en 2 single combat vendettas in the entire game, won easily. It looks awesome in multiplayer but it’s unlikely that i’ll ever play it.

    • MrMud says:

      It is amazing multiplayer.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Sadly, the game is wasted in single player. It has a fantastic strategic framework for multiplayer, though.

    • Phantoon says:

      Yep. No way to try the multiplayer in the demo, and I ain’t paying twenty five bucks for this when I generally don’t like strategy games.

      If they’d lower the price, I’d buy a copy or three.

    • Kaira- says:

      Sad that you missed the few -50% sales SI had towards the end of ’11. Anyway, it’s a brilliant multiplayer game, and even if the price seems a bit steep, it’s well worth it.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      oopsie.

      [misfire]

  6. MrMud says:

    Probably RPS’s best work

  7. InternetBatman says:

    Great, now I’m going to have that Sleater Kinney song stuck in my head all day.

  8. deanimate says:

    This is what got me to buy Solium Infernum and it’s one of the best games I have ever played. I still play it and still do not know the game inside out.

    Anyone into games like this should give it a go but only against other humans. The AI is absolute rubbish.
    It’s pretty easy to get a game over at crypticcomet forums so stop dilly dallying here reading words and go command some demons.

    • sendmark says:

      Yeah I did the same thing -went straight out and bought it after reading this. It’s a game you have to play in multiplayer and then it really shines. The only drawback is the turns have to come at least one a day (and I think for the first 10-20 turns in one big playsession upfront). Otherwise I would forget the grand strategies and things can run out of steam.

    • HermitUK says:

      We find setting up a shared Dropbox folder for players is faster than PBEM – Dropbox will instantly inform the host that turns are in when he logs on to his computer; likewise it will inform players when the main save file is updated for a new turn. Makes it much easier to keep a game moving, and easier to see who needs badgering about turns.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Misfire! I fail at RPS.

      [deleted]

  9. OrangyTang says:

    Is there a way to play this multiplayer with friends without it being exorbitantly expensive? It looks like I’d have to convince my friends any myself to all fork out $25 for it. $100 for a four player game just isn’t going to happen. Especially when finding another game is so hard and the single player game is (apparently) bobbins.

    I saw the author mention of some kind of deal to make it easier to get a multiplayer game setup, but I can’t find anything about it now. Did anything come of that?

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      [Edit] rephrasing of original message eaten by Spam-o-tron.

      CC, sort of like Matrix Games, never seems really interested in actually *selling* the great strategy games they make, by offering things like competitive pricing or availability at more retail outlets.

      They do have sales for significant discounts, every now and then. So just keep your eyes open for one of those.

    • OrangyTang says:

      It does seem that way doesn’t it? I did some digging and found this reply from the author:

      “I would rather go out of business than sell my games for $6.99.”

      Now I’m not insisting that all indie games should be following the ridiculously cheap pricing that the various bundles etc. are doing, $30 still feels far too expensive.

      Multiplayer indie games are always a bit touch-and-go at the best of times, what with them having a substantially smaller community. It really does seem counter-intuitive for SI to be priced that high. At $10 I’d instantly fork out for it myself, and probably even be willing to pay for another couple to get a small 3 player game going between friends. With the pricing as it is now they’re going to get nothing from me and no-one wins.

      Oh well.

    • OrangyTang says:

      In all my complaining I forgot the most important thing: fantastic write-up chaps.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      It’s the same philosophy we’ve heard from a number of notable indie developers from time to time, about better knowing the actual “sweet spot” for price vs sales than an outside observer. The theory being, their games are so niche, the people who might actually be interested in the game already know about it, and they don’t increase in profit proportionately when exposed to a larger audience, at a lower price point.

      When put in those terms, who am I to argue? It’s true I dont have access to the same sales data they have.

      But of the group that made claims along those lines, I’ve seen about half succumb(Spiderweb being the most recent), and release their games on Steam (along with the requisite Steam sales and pricing), and a few even making use of the indie bundle phenomenon. So I figure there must be some evidence that their position isn’t as unassailable as they might claim, and wider marketing and competitive pricing has its own value.

      All I know, as someone who buys tabletop games, and multiplayer board games (of which SI is essentially an electronic version), the regular pricing for SI isn’t even competitive with a 4 player tabletop game, which are every bit as niche, if not more.

      It is a very good turn based multiplayer game for people of the right mindset, though. He’s just trading on the idea that people who want that experience can’t really get the same thing anywhere else, and so will pay whatever it’s priced.

    • Dominic White says:

      Yeah, Spiderweb Software used to be quite vocally against heavily discounted games.

      And then Avadon was a daily deal several times on Steam, and sat in the top 10 sellers for a while, probably making them a metric shitton of money. I have a feeling they’ve changed their tune now.

    • Vinraith says:

      If you’re only willing to pay $5 for games, eventually developers will only make games worth $5.

      I, for one, am glad there are a few developers sticking to their guns on pricing. I like big, meaty, substantial, niche games, and this $5 for everything model will run those right out of existence.

    • OrangyTang says:

      Vinraith: I’m not suggesting (and I already said this) that all indie games be priced at $5. Abundant_Suede has already put it better than me but I fully agree with him – compared to a 4 player board game (which is a fair comparison I feel) this isn’t even slightly competitive.

      I believe Spiderweb had a blog post about how dropping their price point has made them much more money over the last few months, and they were one of the most vocal of the old guard insisting on >=$30 games.

      Arrgh, I’ve accidentally started the ‘what should indie games be priced at’ argument again. Sorry guys. >_<

    • Vinraith says:

      SI is an exception, in that there really should be a multiplayer bundle of some stripe at a reasonable discount, being as it’s only useful as an MP game. An $80 4-pack would be comparable to niche board game pricing.

      As to Spiderweb, it’ll be interesting to see how their next game sells, and the one after that. You can’t sustain releasing 500+ hours of RPG at $10, your audience will either play them and thus not need to buy the next one for some time, or not play them and thus not buy the next one at all. Either way your revenue stream won’t keep you going. Novelty purchasers and horders only get you so far.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Vinraith: I, for one, am glad there are a few developers sticking to their guns on pricing. I like big, meaty, substantial, niche games, and this $5 for everything model will run those right out of existence.

      Well, that ship sailed a long time ago, probably with the advent of 3d graphics. But that’s another discussion.

      You can cling to that outdated pricing model, while rich turn based strategies become wholly extinct. It is not the same market as it was in 1994. Or even 2004, no matter how much you might wish it were.

      It’s true I’m not a developer of these kinds of games, and so I dont really understand the kinds of challenges they might face. But as a fan of this type of game, if profit potential truly is capped, I’d rather see the games in the hands as twice as many gamers, rather than half as many for the same profit. If your audience is limited, in long run it benefits you to grow your audience, more than it does to maximize profits from a dwindling one.

    • Vinraith says:

      Well, that ship sailed a long time ago, probably with the advent of 3d graphics. But that’s another discussion.

      Whew, good thing no one told any of my favorite strategy developers that. They’re doing just fine, as far as I can tell, and a big part of that is people paying real money for their games.

      Race to the bottom pricing will eventually result in an indie scene occupied entirely by 2-hour-long fluff, nothing else is sustainable by those kinds of prices. Anyone making non-AAA games with substance is going to have to stick to their “outdated” pricing model, and hope there are enough gamers left that recognize that quality carries a price tag.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Vinraith: Race to the bottom pricing will eventually result in an indie scene occupied entirely by 2-hour-long fluff, nothing else is sustainable by those kinds of prices. Anyone making non-AAA games with substance is going to have to stick to their “outdated” pricing model, and hope there are enough gamers left that recognize that quality carries a price tag.

      Well, again, you’d be hard pressed to demonstrate to me that that isn’t the case already. AAA games have plunged in playable value since the advent of 3d graphics which now absorb so much of their budgets, and indie games are already dominated by lighter fare. I dont know if you’ve noticed this, but games are increasingly about releasing a light entry product, and then padding profit with a steady trickle of DLC.

      Or is it that you’ve noticed, and are just clicking your heels together under the delusion that it is going away any time soon? I wish you the best with that, sincerely. If it works, let me know, and I’ll put on my ruby slippers too. (What, I got them on Sale!)

      Neither one of us has the hard figures to do anything here but speculate. But you are sidestepping the possibility that wider marketing and opportunity presented by digital distributors with the number of consumer eyes it has might have a value in itself. That by getting your game into people hands over such a service at reasonable price, you can still profit through quantity of units moved, while still making a game of substance and value. You are insisting that a lower price point MUST result in lower profit, and therefore MUST result in lower value games.

      I don’t see the evidence for that yet, considering how much playtime I got out of a number of indie games this year. If anything, bargain priced indie developers have been FAR more aggressive about regularly getting substantial new content to players, often times for free. Far more aggressive than publishers whose pricing model you are defending, who would be happy to sell you a lousy sprite pack for 3 bucks. Not to mention, moving more games puts your games in the hands of many more people, potentially growing the audience for your next game, or games like it.

      But I know the generation of game consumers coming up thinks unashamedly that digital media is free. Developers face the challenge of convincing them that is has a value, and simply clinging to an outdated price model and pricing out of people’s reach isnt going to do that, and it isnt going to grow their audience, demonstrating the value to a new generation. The older gamers that bought those games for those prices are moving on. You can preach all you want from your soapbox about the value of those games, but until you get them into peoples hands, you can’t make them see it.

      I suspect I buy all of the same games you do. I buy all those Paradox strategy games, Matrix games, etc. But I don’t buy them at full price. I own SI, but only because it was on sale at one point. I still refuse to buy Dominions 3 on principle. It could be the greatest game in the world, as far as I know, but Ive got lots of other good games. Curse me if you wish, but you must recognize the existence of an audience for those games that appreciates their potential, but simply refuses to reward stiff necked marketing philosophy. I occupy the same consumer landscape as everyone else. I buy tabletop games, and niche turn based strategy games, and love them. But I have not found myself wanting for entertainment by engaging in natural consumer behavior. Until that happens, I can’t help but see people who take this position as willfully limiting their own audience, and ultimately destroying themselves.
      .

      [Edit] I actually don’t know why I picked on Paradox at all in my rant-gasm there. They’re actually pretty cool. They have reasonable launch prices, and quicky come down in price over the product’s lifetime. I love Paradox. Everyone, go buy a Paradox game.

    • Vinraith says:

      Sounds like you buy lots and lots of strategy games. Do you ever actually play them?

      I ask because if you’re getting hundreds of hours out of a given game, there’s no need to worry about making sure you get the cheapest possible price on it. You’re buying so few games that you end up saving money over all. That’s not a mentality I want guiding design in the niches I enjoy.

      That, in turn, leads me to believe you’re a horder. So am I, but I recognize it as an unsustainable basis for the games market. It’s a bad habit I’m trying to break, because I recognize that it’s lethal to good game production. Fewer games at higher prices, quality over quantity, anything else leads us down a bad road.

      You can talk all you want about bringing many, many people to the genre, only a certain percentage of them are going to actually play the game they bought. Those are the people that will buy the next one. If you’re going to sell those people the next game at $5, you’d better make sure they aren’t playing the current one for too long.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @Vinraith

      I’m not sure what your concept of a “hoarder” is in this context, nor how you decided I was one, but I generally play all the games I buy (except for digital freebies bundled with), and don’t buy too many games a year because I’m an artist and feel guilty when I spend too much time away from working. I play the ones I enjoy for many hours, because I tend to buy games that support that kind of value. 100+ hours from most strategy games.

      Huh. Isn’t that weird. Someone who spends more on games that deliver better value, even though they might be priced the same as some shooter with a 4 hour SP campaign. Apparently, there is still a point to making a game with extended gameplay value even at a lower price point…

      I still wouldn’t pay full retail price for them. That age is gone. If I get a hundred hours of play out of a game I waited a few months to buy and picked up on sale, it is all the sweeter.

    • Vinraith says:

      Huh. Isn’t that weird. Someone who spends more on games that deliver better value, even though they might be priced the same as some shooter with a 4 hour SP campaign.

      Not weird, good. Very good. Much too rare.

      I still wouldn’t pay full retail price for them. That age is gone.

      What you do is your business, and contributing something is of course wildly better than contributing nothing, but you’d best hope that age isn’t gone. For my part, I’ll keep paying significant money for substantial games, it’s the least I can do to try to keep development of the games I like alive.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @Vinraith

      See, I don’t really think that it is rare. I think most consumers buy what they enjoy, and buy what makes the most financial sense to them. If the same amount of money buys them a greater amount of gameplay that they’ll enjoy than another game at the same price, and they’re forced to choose, they’ll make the same decision every time.

      So in your nightmare scenario where all games cost $5, there’s really no difference than what there is now. A brand new Civ game retails for the same amount as a ten hour adventure game, but people who prefer that style of gameplay and replay value will still buy that Civ game for the hundreds of hours of gameplay value it offers (well, maybe not Civ 5…). So there’s still a point in making a game with good value and quality. There will *always* be a point to that.

      Of course, the people you are selling to need to value that Civ game, and they wont do that if you’ve managed to strangle your potential audience in the new market by pricing that Civ games 5 times as high as competing games and hiding it in some obscure corner of the internet, ensuring that fewer people appreciate it.

      No, your argument hinges on the assumption that the lower price point means less profit, and people wont develop games with good value if there’s less profit to be made. But it precludes the possibility that selling ten games at $5 makes for the same profit as selling a single game at $50, and getting your game into the hands of 10 times as many people at the same time, potentially expanding that audience.

      Do I have the knowledge and sales figures to say whether it is as simple as all that, or whether massive digital distribution hubs like Steam really make that kind of profit/price point feasible in the long run? No. And I’m sure Cliffski or some other small developer could come here and make a case for the difficulties they face. But that traditional pricing was based on a market of media scarcity, mass media advertising, and big distribution and manufacturing costs, none of which apply to the new digital market. It is, as they say, a new ballgame, and there is lots of observational evidence to suggest that people are doing quite well in that market by widening their exposure and dropping their prices.

      Perhaps the profit potential for those strategy game is severely capped. But I cant help but think in that case, they’d be better off getting the games in the hands of more people for the same profit, and work on making a case for their value, and expanding the audience for the next game they make.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      The absolute most important thing in pricing is know your audience – the more heavy duty wargames are a good example.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @FunkyBadger3

      My position would be that some of them don’t know their audience as well as they think. Any time this article comes up, a bunch of people (you can see it happen in this thread) get clued in to the existence of Solium Infernum, and think, “hey, that sounds like something I could get into”, at which point they head over to the only dark little hole on the internet where you can buy it, and their next response is “What the…HOW MUCH?”. And then they never think about the game again.

      Even if those people had committed the unreasonable act of buying an electronic file of an over 2 year old game with nice illustrations but no real gameplay graphics to speak of, little real single player value, and requiring coordination of at least 4 people to really see the game shine, for the offensive amount of $6.99…that still would have been that many more people aware of the game, familiar the company’s work, talking to other people about the game, and available as players for other owners of the game. Games that derive their value from mulitplayer, always benefit from expanding the player base.

      So they don’t seem actually interested in their potential audience. Only the dwindling number of people willing to pay those kind of prices in the modern market. I know of few other businesses that expect to succeed by not aggressively growing their customer base, and gouging those they have. Only U.S Cable media monopolies come to mind.

    • Vinraith says:

      I find it difficult to articulate just how much I take issue with the use of the word “gouging” there. To say these games aren’t worth the asking price and more is flatly absurd. You said yourself you get hundreds of hours of entertainment out of them.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @Vinraith

      I get hundred+ hours of play out of a lot of games. I got a hundred+ hours out of Terraria, the maker of which keeps giving far more new free content/value to the players than anyone you’re defending. If that’s not your thing, I get a hundred + hours from the typical Paradox strategy title I buy, who actually come down in price in a timely manner, and sell their games in more than one location so consumers can benefit from competition and purchasing options. The games you’re speaking of are not priced competitively, and Ive given my reasons for not accepting the “niche” argument at face value.

      You’re still hung up on some perceived profit per consumer mandate, rather than seeing the possibility of a profit per game situation, and that you can make the same amount of profit overall with different price points. That may or may not apply in every situation, but a developer clinging to the former when there’s a strong case to be made that experimenting a bit might be better for them in the long run in terms of growing their audience, seems to smack of ego.

      If you’re really a fan of these strategy games, it seems to me you’d want to see these games in the hands of as many people as possible, so they can find the same value you find, so they might buy more of them in the future, so more of the games might be made, so more players might be around to play MP, with, etc.

      But you seem to wear that willingness to pay that price as a badge of honor, as some sort of mechanism to keep out the “riff raff” who don’t value them as highly as you. I don’t think that attitude is actually as helpful to the games you claim to value as you think it is.

    • Vinraith says:

      $5 sales cannot and will not support a thriving, substantial game industry. If everyone in the world bought strategy game x and $5 at actually played it for hundreds of hours, the next dozen strategy games would see no sales at all. There’s only so much money and time in the pool, and the only way for game developers to maximize profit in an environment of $5 price points is to make shorter games, when all is said and done.

      Eventually the hording crowd is going to catch on, stop buying games they have no time to play, and when that happens we’re going to see one hell of a crash. I’m hoping the niches I care about survive that because of people that value them as highly as I do. I’m certainly going to do what little I can to see that they do.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @Vinraith

      I don’t think Ive ever said that every game should cost $5, other than using it as an example that pricing is relative.

      What I have been careful to do, is say frequently that I dont have the inside knowledge to know what things are working, what isnt, and whether the answer for one game is the answer for every game.

      By the same token, neither do you, and I dont think you have any evidence as to what price can or cannot support a thriving pc game industry.

      If we go by observation, though, I think there’s more evidence for my argument than yours, unless your position is that the prices you’re seeing through digital distribution are causing people to lose buckets of money, and the “industry” is in peril.

    • Vinraith says:

      My argument is that the industry is currently riding a bubble created and sustained by hording behavior. Eventually, it will burst.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @Vinraith

      That’s an interesting argument, but it’s not the one you started with.

      You started with “if games are cheap, all you will get is short/ poor quality games”.

      I have no idea about the former, but it bears thinking about. The latter I think is patently inaccurate.

    • Vinraith says:

      No, it’s very much the same argument. First the bubble bursts, then the industry has to adjust to the new state of things. At the point that people are no longer hording, you can’t afford to have them spending $5 per hundred hours of game time if you expect developers to be able to eat and pay rent.

    • JackShandy says:

      Hold on – sorry to intrude, but can we go back a bit?

      “compared to a 4 player board game (which is a fair comparison I feel) this isn’t even slightly competitive.”

      Is everything just cheaper outside Australia? Here, board games are $50-100 apiece. The ridiculous big-box games like Twilight Imperium – the category Solium Infernum would probably fit into- are $150. Multiple people can play that copy, of course, but that still makes Solium Infernum a pretty reasonably-priced board game.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      No, it’s very much the same argument. First the bubble bursts, then the industry has to adjust to the new state of things.

      Okay…maybe. I guess its something worth consi…

      At the point that people are no longer hording, you can’t afford to have them spending $5 per hundred hours of game time if you expect developers to be able to eat and pay rent.

      No. You have no evidence for this. And there is much evidence to the contrary, that some small developers are indeed supporting themselves at those prices. Yes, some people are buying games that they are not playing. But many other people are buying more games AND playing them, because games are more affordable and convenient than ever before. Digital distribution is growing the PC game market for games of all price points.

      Again, I wish you could get over the “all games for $5″ thing. I never suggested that be the case. But theres a whole range of possibilities in between $5 and the old price points which were based on an entirely different retail market, distribution, and production costs.

      And there’s a whole world of difference again, between a game that debuts at one price, but drops in price over time, and is available from multiple outlets to allow for competition and different consumer purchase options, and one that hovers at the same price as when they were released, for years, with infrequent sale pricing on some obscure storefront that no one ever sees because they are a “niche” game, and the developer has no ambition to change that. Which was, in fact, what the original discussion was about.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @Jack Shandy

      Generally, you can get a high end boardgame for slightly less (but not a huge amount less) for a 4 pack of SI at current pricing. Here they tend to retail for 50-100$, with an average somewhere in between and sometimes quite a bit cheaper for opportunistic shoppers in online outlets.

      But it brings the whole question of value of owning physical media, vs owning an electronic file, which, fair or not, people do not value as highly. As someone who sometimes contributes to the making of board games like that, I can tell you there’s a significant production and distribution cost on *top* of whatever it cost the developers to make.

      I simply don’t expect an electronic file to cost the same I’d be willing to pay for that boardgame.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Mr. Suede: the only way to fully explore the potential audience is to experiment with pricing structures as you rightly point out, but… unforseen consequences rule, as vin intimates say 1000 gogs will pay $50 for a game, repeatable and provably true in this example, then the maker says “After 12 months I’ll offer the game for $20 to get the casual players”, fine and dandy, more sales come in. Then what happens with their next release? DO the original 1000 who were always going to buy buy at $50? How many of them decide to wait the 12 months for the inevitable discount?

      The idea about growing customer base is a red herring in this instance, you only need to grow to survive if you’re a public company, private companies don’t need to, a stable and consistent consumer base is all they need.

      Given all that, and the general awful state of business awareness in gaming gernally (table-top and computer) I’m loathe to suggest any changes to any company that’s making its money already…

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      The idea about growing customer base is a red herring in this instance, you only need to grow to survive if you’re a public company, private companies don’t need to, a stable and consistent consumer base is all they need.

      We simply differ here, I’m afraid. I’m afraid when it comes to rich turn based based (or any sort, really) strategy games, I don’t see the act of growing the audience as unimportant. I don’t believe the lie that the potential audience is capped as servery as is sometimes suggested. We’ve seen it in this thread, and I know it from my own personal experience of being a fan, yet refusing to submit to some publishers stiff necked philosophy, even though someone has a game I might otherwise like to play.

      The genre is sorely in need of growth, and fresh blood in both developers and audience, and hiding your games behind a consumer-hostile barred gate is not the way to get there.

      As for your first question, I don’t know. But that very situation is happening in the market right now, so you tell me. Personally, I dont see any compelling reason to pay full retail price for a game, but some people must, because they keep releasing them at those prices. Some people must value being able to get their hands on a game as soon as possible, enough to pay that markup.

      But at least those games are putting themselves out there with wide exposure, and letting the price come down over time, and through competition. The developers in question here just sit on their games.

      In the end, they’re their games. It’s their right to do whatever they wish with the fruits of their own labor. But I wish they would reconsider for the good of the genre, and I dont subscribe to the argument that things wouldn’t be different, or it would result in fewer quality games if they actually put themselves out there competitively to a much wider audience.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      In the end, they’re their games. It’s their right to do whatever they wish with the fruits of their own labor. But I wish they would reconsider for the good of the genre, and I dont subscribe to the argument that things wouldn’t be different, or it would result in fewer quality games if they actually put themselves out there competitively to a much wider audience.

      For the good of the genre you want them to lower their prices but for the good of the genre you won’t increase what you’re willing to spend.

      Let’s not dress enlightened self-interested up as something grander (on anybody’s part).

      Again, I don’t have the answers because I don’t have the data. The people who do – the developers/publishers – are doing what they do and everything is guesswork, although the truism in publishing is you only need 1000 fans to become self-sustaining.

      (Thanks for sharing an interesting viewpoint though :-) )

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      @FunkyBadger3

      [Accidentally replied to you in the thread above this one. Because I'm just that smooth. ]

      Your tone is a little more condescending than I think is warranted. I want the genre to do well, because obviously it’s a genre that I’m interested in. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I want the player base to expand, because as an owner of that multiplayer game, it gives me more potential players. It’s obvious that those are self interested sentiments, and yet perfectly true. I didn’t say, “for the good of the genre because it would be better for the starving children of the world”.

      This conversation was started about the practices some specific strategy developers. I didn’t exactly stealth in my interest in that specific genre into a generalized conversation.

      As for what I’m willing to pay, and why I think they’d be better off dropping the price in general,the case for that has already been made, and I wont repeat it to drive everyone nuts. The point is, the games are an aberration. They are claiming they should command higher prices by nature of the niche they represent, and that they would not benefit from a wider audience and competitive pricing. I think there is evidence to the contrary, and disagree. We can never know for sure, I guess, because we aren’t privileged to every single concern a small developer has, and as long as they don’t *try* in the wider marketplace, they can never be disproven.

      But I can know that a developer can be mistaken. And based on the developers flipping their positions on this issue, suspect that my point will become moot before too long. I really believe it’s just a matter of time.

      It’s important to point out I guess, that I own the game. I bought it on sale at what I consider a fair market price for the value offered (sorry Vinraith), and many more strategy games like it. But just because one is a fan of beachfront property, though, doesn’t mean one will buy it unseen in swampland territory.

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare at my vast storehouse of horded, deliberately un-played games to await the inevitable collapse of the gaming industry. (Sorry Vinraith, that was a cheap shot)

    • Dawngreeter says:

      “My argument is that the industry is currently riding a bubble created and sustained by hording behavior. Eventually, it will burst.”

      In the most general of terms, I agree with you. As in, I too believe monetary economy will cease to exist. I’m not sure, however, that you realize what your argument is.

      Consumer society is built on the assumption of people buying non-essential things. You’re saying that people need to buy only what they really need and that, in those circumstances, a hundred dollar chair is worth the money because you plan to sit in it every day. People who buy a new cheaper carpet every year and adorn their house with trinkets they just keep on throwing away and replacing are ruining your desire for quality furniture.

      I’ll leave it up to you to figure out how valid that is.

    • Muzman says:

      Somewhere in this argument for cautious prestige/niche pricing and marketing for strategy games is also the answer to why many beloved old strategy properties are bought up and turned into FPSs.

      We should point nostalgic purists here next time it happens.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Suede: certainly wasn’t my intent to appear condescending, apologies for poor phrasing.

      Another concern is indie-games, or at least Steam/social-media powered indie games are an incredibly immature market. The strategy/boardgame segment is much more mature, so they have more data. Which isn’t to say they don’t have to adapt, or at least may not have to.

      Be cautious of councilling to go after the flavour of the month, it might be the new MySpace…

      Agree completely about the community being the most important part of a multiplayer game though, group discounts would seem to be the way forward – or at the very least multiplayer demos…

  10. Bullfrog says:

    These multiplayer efforts are some of the best stuff on RPS, do more of them, I command it.

  11. Abundant_Suede says:

    So it seems we’re trotting out the RPS greatest hits this week. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Song of Onionbog to make an appearance before tomorrow.

  12. A-Scale says:

    You guys, all of this nostalgia is making me really sad. I’m worried RPS’s best days and my best PC gaming days are behind me. Please prove me wrong.

    • TheWhippetLord says:

      There have been retrospectives on this site in the past that left me with more fear of the future than these recent ones, which have left me unusually cheerful (even the NP one where it gets all odd.) I can only come to the conclusion that the RPS crew have somehow lost the ability to make me morose and lost in the past.

      Nostalgia’s not as good as it used to be.

    • Jesse L says:

      I don’t think RPS’s best days are over, but Kieron and Quinns certainly are gone and I really miss their work.

      At least Shut Up & Sit Down exists, and is so, so good. Mr. Gillen is out of my life forever, though, because I don’t like cartoons.

  13. Underwhelmed says:

    God I loved this game. I would love to see a sequel with a little more refinement to it, the core concept was genius.

  14. Moth Bones says:

    Ahhhhhhh. These pieces introduced me to RPS and to Solium Infernum, possibly my favourite computer game (and just about the only one I play multi-player). Sheer brilliance.

  15. Strange_guy says:

    I really enjoyed that write up. Tempted by the game, but no real single player, me lacking any friends who I could probably persuade to play and the fairly high price means I won’t bother.

  16. FunkyBadger3 says:

    Où est le Capitaine Smith?

  17. Skabooga says:

    Thanks to reading this retrospective, I didn’t get anything done at work today, so when I came home, I had to get all that stuff done here. I didn’t though, because I just continued to read the Solium Infernum diaries. And here I thought a break in RPS reporting would allow me to be more productive.

  18. Tiax says:

    We’re three RPS readers who are desperately looking for a 4th player willing to join us in a SI PBEM.

    If anyone’s interested, add me as a friend on Steam.

    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mrtiax/