Dungeon Keeper Vs. War For The Overworld

By Rich Stanton on October 28th, 2013 at 2:00 pm.


Giant corporations traducing classic games to swing a buck – dontcha love ‘em? A top-of-the-line current example is EA Mythic’s ongoing brutalisation of first Ultima and now Dungeon Keeper into bad freemium tablet games. “If you want to play Dungeon Keeper or Dungeon Keeper 2,” says senior producer Jeff Skalski, flipping the bird and using a golden zippo to torch the Bullfrog logo, “go to Good Old Games and download them.” At first I considered this a slightly dickish thing to say but, after playing the kickstarted War for the Overworld, I’ve come to realise Skalski has a point.

Let’s take a look at what happens when Dungeon Keeper gets remade by its biggest fans.


The brainy among you may recall War for the Overworld being kickstarted at the turn of 2012/13 and eventually pulling in a cool £210K, all on the premise and promise of nostalgia – a game heavily inspired by Dungeon Keeper, made by a team that included some of the original series’ most dedicated modders. Sometimes I wring my hands about progress but, in this case, make no apologies for having the excitement of a rose-tinted manchild about the idea.

Since hitting its funding target, development of WFTO shows that – while nothing disastrous has happened – the best-laid plans of mice and modders gang aft agley. The original pitch was rather uncompromising about promising the base game would be released on August 30 2013, a date that has came and went. The ‘Bedrock Beta’, which we’ll look at in more detail shortly, is far from a finished game. So I asked creative director Josh Bishop what’s going on.


“It took some time to take a group of geographically diverse people and grow into a functional group of developers,” says Bishop. “Since then we’ve made significant progress on the game – we’re just about to push out our first release of the Linux-based build with Mac OS X to follow shortly. From a development perspective we’re progressing faster than we have ever been.”

But the game isn’t out. “Our original and regrettably specific date has slipped,” says Bishop. “We think we’ve done the right thing by pushing it to early next year – this allows us to preserve the original scope without sacrificing quality.” By the original scope Bishop means “core campaign, multiplayer, and cross-platform compatibility.”

This looks especially unfortunate following the lead-balloon announcement that WTFO would have post-release DLC (both free and paid), and you’d be forgiven some cynicism. But I suspect slippage of this nature is inevitable among Kickstarter projects, annoying as it is for backers, and that’s the nature of investing in potential. This is a hobbyist group transforming into a game developer and, while that doesn’t excuse talking about DLC before shipping a game, it does explain an over-optimistic release date.


The current ‘Bedrock Beta’ is so-called to emphasise this is the core of WTFO, and things immediately look a lot better. This is a pair of tutorial missions and four sandbox setups, essentially showing off the game’s framework as a pure building exercise with the (very) mild peril of AI knights etc turning up. The game’s three tech trees and a clutch of monsters are in, along with rooms, spells, and a few fixed defences.

The feel of building your dungeon, of lining up long corridors or marking big squares of green for minions to hollow out, is instantly familiar and satisfying. Your dungeon’s vision is spread when minions not just clear but also claim land, and there’s that same mix of anticipation and fear whenever you break through into an unknown chamber. Most importantly, perhaps, slapping minions around still has an odd compulsion.

When you’re just building, WFTO feels like the modern Dungeon Keeper it promised to be – for a while. My first impression of the game was very positive but, when writing this piece, I spent a lot more time digging and liked what I found less and less.

Many of these problems are fixable. The UI doesn’t feel nice – buttons are too small, and important menus are nested away. The variety of dungeonites you can acquire flatlines very early. The current lack of a minimap becomes crippling in a game of any length. But the real concern with WTFO is that almost all of the game’s elements are present and correct, without anything really in the way of balance or direction.


Take as an example the cost of items, whether buildings, defences or spells – everything’s a placeholder 100 resources, whether that’s gold or mana. You’re using different resources to do different things, but the little sums required of a player aren’t there yet. This point isn’t about maths in the abstract, or numbers being added later – it’s about whether the game works as a strategy experience or not.

A key quality of strategy games is in making interesting numerical decisions, whether that’s with army sizes or fantasy gold. One of the games cited as an influence for WTFO’s approach is Starcraft II, so let’s take a simple example of a tech tree from that. The three levels of Terran infantry upgrades are tiered to become more expensive and take longer to research so that, as the game advances and a player’s economy grows, the investment remains a meaningful proportion of income and potential.

A fundamental point here is that as you follow a tech tree, your commitment to it becomes more total. The point is not a straight comparison between the games but the principles underlying a good strategy game: the maths can be simple, but the decisions it forces you to make are not. When the numbers dictate your game, and they’re being worked out later, that concerns me.

There’s the sense you get from playing the current version of WFTO: that as long as the building blocks are in place, the ‘game’ can come from tweaking values later. The effect of this is that what seems like an accomplished updating of Dungeon Keeper soon shows its limitations, and its sandbox rapidly runs out of distractions. It’s fun directing minions and handing out the odd lordly slap, but soon you realise this ecosystem has little in the way of rhythm, decision-making, or even consequence.

It is only fair to emphasise that WFTO is far from finished and has clearly become more of a time commitment than its developers anticipated. So the cake isn’t baked, and they’re doing the right thing by giving it longer.


But the overall experience left me thinking about Jeff Skalski, the Mythic guy who says we should all go and download the original Dungeon Keepers from GoG rather than slagging off EA’s F2P entry. Now just to be clear, you can see what I think of Mythic’s F2P games here (tl;dr – awful).

But in the light of WFTO there’s a profound truth lying behind that advice – along the lines of ‘be careful what you wish for.’ There is a long way to go for WFTO. It has copied many elements of Dungeon Keeper and, if you squint your eyes and play for short bursts, it even plays a little like it. But does resurrecting the dead ever end well? To me it seems like the closer WFTO gets, and nevermind what EA are doing the further away Dungeon Keeper feels.

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79 Comments »

  1. Drinking with Skeletons says:

    Part of why I’m not too excited about a new Dungeon Keeper is that what I want from a Dungeon Keeper isn’t really what the originals offered. They are pretty offensively minded strategy titles: gather troops and kill some guys. The updated Dungeon Keeper I really wanted, which was a more sim-minded game that had less emphasis on building up an army and marching to war, already exists. It’s called Startopia.

    • Jakkar says:

      About half-way through your post I was about to conclude it for you – with the precise sentence you used. Well done. Startopia is indeed exactly what I was left wanting. And I got it. Pity the combat mechanics – for those occasions during which we did want a bit of rough play – were a bit rubbish, in Startopia…

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    • Premium User Badge

      RedViv says:

      Startopia was refreshing, after the disappointment with DK2. I would really want to throw the best of DK, Startopia, Majesty, My Life As A King, maybe a bit of Dwarf Fortress, into a magical blender and make the perfect overlording sim.

      Yes, a less directly interactive game would be better. DK2 went into the direction I really did not want, instead of improving the indirect handling of your minions just deciding to handicap the direct control, but requiring that all the more. Well, and there was less of almost everything in it. That was decidedly boring.

      (Oh, and here’s a nice little not-done game that combines DK and Settlers: http://www.indiedb.com/games/dwelvers)

    • Alevice says:

      Remember dungeon keeeper? It’s back! in the form of an sc2 mod! http://www.sc2mapster.com/forums/resources/project-workplace/15581-hive-keeper-dungeon-keeper-mod/

    • Yosharian says:

      “They are pretty offensively minded strategy titles: gather troops and kill some guys.”

      I spent most of my time in DK1 building dungeons and creating incredibly complicated ways to lure enemy heroes to their doom via boulder traps. Building the perfect dungeon, training up creatures… I don’t see these as ‘offensive’ playstyles…

      Perhaps if what you are looking for is not a game like DK1/DK2, then you should look elsewhere? Cos there are plenty of people that do want a game like the originals, that’s the whole point of this game…

      • Iron Ladyboy says:

        Several of the olden Bullfrog era strategy/sims “suffer” from too much objective and not enough sandbox for some, perhaps?
        It never bothered me way back when, but nowadays when playing DK 1+2 and Theme Hospital I just want to build sprawling dungeons and hospitals but the games keep pestering me with objectives.
        In DK the map will run out of gold eventually (yes, I know it’s more RTS than sim) and Theme Hospital just throws “DO THIS AND THIS AND NOT THAT!” in my face all the time forcing me to not build the hospital I want to build. I wish Hospital was more like Park.
        I guess you can tie me to the stake now. :P

        • BooleanBob says:

          Maybe it was because I was young at the time, but I found the original Theme Park’s vanilla campaign to be the exact opposite of what I was hoping from a game that promised to let you build, well, a Theme Park. Not a Two Shit Rides And A Burger Van Park.

          Thankfully the infinite money and unlock all research cheats meant I could spend many happy hours playing the game I imagined when I looked at the box – probably the only example I can recall of using cheats improving rather than immediately ruining a game for me.

        • Yosharian says:

          DK2 has my pet dungeon precisely for that purpose =p

          • Iron Ladyboy says:

            (Un)Holy crap it does? :O I feel silly now. I never played DK2 much as a youngling but I got it from GoG a while ago. Now I have to schedule some DK2 time and check that out. Thanks. :)

            Edit: I had a look and it’s just another (kind of) skirmish mode. But with “amass X points and slap minions” objectives.

      • Turkey says:

        It goes from a dungeon sim about defense to a clumsy RTS when they introduce the concept of rival dungeon keepers, though.

        God Sims shouldn’t be symmetrical strategy games, they keep trying to add offensive warfare to them and the results are always awful.

        • bvanevery says:

          The problem is that early offense is the best strategy for messing up those rival dungeon lords. Not sitting around building your own cool dungeon. It’s best for them to come mess up your dungeon too. If I were to make such a game, I’d have a “dungeon building period” first, so that players start their competitions with much more substantial dungeons. They could even load prefab dungeons of a given expense. The battle then might turn into some kind of boring-ish WW I trench warfare slog, but at least the dungeon building and trap laying would be fun, which is what I really liked / wanted out of the games. Babysitting a training chamber and then pushing a horde to victory, I didn’t.

        • Yosharian says:

          I’d agree that enemy Dungeon Keepers were a bit clumsy in their implementation, yeah.

    • Lemming says:

      The aggressiveness arguably comes with the territory of being evil, tbh. When the game was initially pitched I remember previews talking about it as if it was more about heroes raiding your dungeon and you having to stop them ruining everything you’d built, which is a much more Startopia-like quality, and something which would’ve been great to play with. I think Bullfrog cornered themselves the resource management, as gold quickly runs out on a map and then you’d have a rebellion on your hands. The unlimited gems solved that problem, but they weren’t very elegant and the hunting around for a gold seam was arguably part of the charm.

      tl:dr, I agree with you, but I see why DK was like it was.

      For a true DK sequel, I’d like see more of that, with the resource management solved, as well as differences with dungeons depending on location eg. underwater types, ice fortress types, castle-types etc.

    • MellowKrogoth says:

      This just goes to show that nobody agrees on what made Dungeon Keeper great or what they want from a successor. Any remake or sequel is doomed.

      • airmikee99 says:

        As is the case for every video game, book, movie, song, or any kind of art in any kind of medium. Opinions are like buttholes, they all stink, everyone’s got one, and the results are never pleasant when you forcibly shove yours in someone else’s face.

  2. dahools says:

    Is it me or does that WFTO not look any better graphically than DK/DK2 why would you buy this over those anyway? I have fond memories of the DK/DK2 games would love to see just a pure HD remake nothing else, perhaps an extra character or mission or something.

    • Yosharian says:

      I think the idea is that they are bringing more to the table than just a graphics update… Also, it’s a Beta?

  3. SupahSpankeh says:

    WFTO is quite good.

    It’s in development, yes, and the balancing is non-existant, yes, but the bones are there even if the flesh is absent.

    This game is the best hope we have of getting DK3 without EA’s thrice-damned IAP. Could we please stay positive? :P

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      Exactly. I find the constant, GLEEFUL negativity offputting. I kinda just want to stop reading gaming sites altogether. They say things like ” But I suspect slippage of this nature is inevitable among Kickstarter projects,” Without adding that all triple A mainstream games ALSO slip release dates, and more consistently. From when are missed release dates a Kickstarter issue? It’s ludicrous!

  4. zaphod42 says:

    “If you want to play Dungeon Keeper or Dungeon Keeper 2,” says senior producer Jeff Skalski, flipping the bird and using a golden zippo to torch the Bullfrog logo, “go to Good Old Games and download them.”

    Actually you’re better off playing Evil Genius.

    BURN!

    • bvanevery says:

      I played the demo of that back in the day. It didn’t thrill me. I think beauty is more than skin deep in this case. Imps digging gold blocks out of the ground turn me on. The spy skinning did not.

    • mouton says:

      Evil Genius looks good but most of its mechanics are horribly broken. It really felt like a game hastily finished and released because they ran out of time or money.

  5. Gallandz says:

    Whenever I see “WFTO” my mind reads it as “What the f**k, over.”

  6. Stardog says:

    “But the real concern with WTFO…”

    What The Fuck Overworld?

  7. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    You’ve almost perfectly alternated between calling it WFTO and WTFO.

    Pun intended?

  8. Jakkar says:

    Dungeon Keeper… I don’t see a real successor ever working without a reunion of Bullfrog/Lionhead/Muckyfoot developers, and that’s far from likely.

    Now a less ridiculous notion would be a good new management game. When WAS the last time a decent management game was released? Lionhead’s ‘The Movies’ was rather dull, lacking the exciting/comic subject-matter of Theme Hospital/Dungeon Keeper/Startopia, there was one about running a TV studio that almost worked. Evil Genius was a fantastic framework for an immensely boring and poorly designed gameplay system, complicating the straight combat of DK2.

    We really haven’t even had a passable management title SINCE Startopia, as far as I can tell. It’s like the world largely gave up after being shown exactly how to do it.

    • dahools says:

      Is startopia any good is it? I saw it come on steam the other day but didn’t give it much attention is it worth an invertment?

      • Jakkar says:

        So very, very worth an investment. RPS ran a Retro article about it just a few days ago, take a look there.

        In short, it’s Mucky Foot, one of the studios formed from the demise of Bullfrog, creating Dungeon Keeper 2/Theme Hospital aboard a large space station, only… More. A more trade/construction/expansion-focused game than DK2, with a minimalistic and rarely-used combat mechanic until the later missions. Contains everything from medical emergencies to agriculture. Absolutely beautiful to look at, even today, and packed with silly humour of a distinctly British sort – with heavy homage to classic science fiction, b-movie science fiction and Douglas Adams’ Hitchiker’s Guide.

        Beyond all that, it’s the pinnacle of its genre, by half a mile =)

      • Drinking with Skeletons says:

        It’s also on GOG in DRM-free glory. And it’s great and really hasn’t aged a day, since there’s really nothing else quite like it.

      • LionsPhil says:

        Just read the comments of this recent retrospective on RPS. The answer is “very yes”.

      • Lemming says:

        Yes. Buy it on GoG or Steam, depending on your preference and add the wide-screen mod. I previously touted the 1.02 developer patch, but it doesn’t work properly with newer graphics cards and an email to the developer from me basically encouraged him to take it off his site because it was so outdated and he couldn’t update it any more.

    • waaaaaaaals says:

      What EA are doing with Dungeon Keeper these days is absolutely disgusting.

      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ea.game.dungeonkeeper_row

  9. Nenjin says:

    WTFO is coming along, just very, very slowly. You’re watching game features go in a handful at a time. The game took a pretty big aesthetic step forward not too many weeks ago, with lighting and lots of animations going in.

    But there’s still so much, aesthetically and mechanically, that needs to happen for this to really become a game. There is no point to anything. There’s no Payday, no real need for sleep or food, no tech tree to work with, monsters randomly plop themselves down in the dungeon after spawning and basically all the ALife stuff that you can see at work in DK hasn’t been implemented.

    Watching WTFO advance is very much like watching a mod team work. While their media updates are quite flashy, what actually goes in the game has a rough quality to it, very much at odds with how awesome their updates read. They talk more about what’s being dev’d internally than what’s going into the live build. You’re watching the game grow in bits and pieces, and it’s kind of a disappointment to get a big update to find the game still doesn’t really play at all.

    I have faith this game will get somewhere, eventually. It’s just agonizingly slow. Messing with a new build is about 20 minutes tops of activity and then game returns to its state of feeling still very much like a demo build.

  10. aunshi says:

    Feeling the need to shout down so many people. No… take a deep breath…. ok

    Now, having played both Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper 2 within the last year (basically after seeing WFTO on kickstarter), I put forward the argument that while these were strong games in their own right, they need updating and modernizing, not only graphically (which current WFTO has done rather well) but from a simulation point of view. Playing through these games seemed to be a race to build the certain rooms, get creatures trained up, and ATTACK. DK 1 was pretty fast paced and games tended to be limited by how much gold was on the map, while DK 2 seemed to all be about getting the biggest combat pit available, maxing out on dark knights and attacking the enemy with little consideration for a balanced force. Maybe a slightly slower, more thought out affair would be beneficial? Add some character to your creatures maybe?

    Evil Genius was, to be fair, a very good, if slightly flawed successor to the Dungeon Keeper formula, with the genuine opportunity for intelligent trap design, and metagaming away from your island base. I really think WFTO can learn from this game. Granted minions seemed to lack individual character and often showed the self preservation qualities of a chronically depressed lemming, but there was good humor and fun to be had while working towards a central objective.

    As for Startopia, again; good game, but not perfect.

    • Yosharian says:

      “Playing through these games seemed to be a race to build the certain rooms, get creatures trained up, and ATTACK.”
      I don’t really see what’s wrong with that, and both DK games were never principally about Multiplayer, they were designed primarily for Singleplayer. Some Singleplayer maps were about grinding out a strong army, others were about setting up defenses for an incoming attack, others were about making the most of what you had (i.e. limited creatures/defenses/resources). Those of us that funded WFTO want that gameplay. Besides, WFTO is adding a TON of new stuff so I hardly think that it’s necessary to worry about the old games’ lack of strategic options.

  11. Vegard Pompey says:

    I WOULD download Dungeon Keeper off GOG and play it, but as far as I know, the games don’t run that well on modern operating systems. I tried playing DK2 a few years ago and the narrator would say the same line over and over and over again with only a few seconds’ interval; “The very rock yawns with anticipation of your next fascinating move.” I googled the issue and everywhere it was claimed to be an unfixable issue that happens when you run the game on Windows XP.

    As far as I’ve heard, even the GOG version doesn’t take kindly to recent operating systems. Tell me I heard wrong. Tell me I can run it on W7.

    Though Drinking with Skeletons has me interested in Startopia now, so I will perhaps look into that instead.

    • Simburgur says:

      GOG’s DK2 works fine for many people. I can’t promise anything but I know it works for me and others, and we’ve successfully played MP over Hamachi.

    • Alphadrop says:

      DK 1 works fine on 7, the deeper dungeons new resolution option makes it a lot easier to play on bigger monitors as well.
      DK 2 basically hated XP, or AMD, or both. Works fine on 7 though.

    • Lemming says:

      it took me a while to find it, but I used to have a copy of DK that had been heavily modded to work natively in Windows 7. Might be worth a google-hunt.

      EDIT: Keeperfx, that’s what it was called!

  12. Simburgur says:

    WFTO Dev here, would just like to clarify a few things:

    As Rich mentions, the game is relatively early in development at the moment, and pretty much everything mentioned as a bad point in the article is far from finished. Over half the units and rooms are missing, the UI is having at least one more iteration before release and balance hasn’t even been a consideration yet (and won’t be until multiplayer is added in a month or two).

    Specifically on the tech tree (which we call the ‘Veins of Evil’): You are actually specifically encouraged to invest in multiple veins. They do not overlap and are not mutually exclusive in any way.

    And finally on the DLC: This was only ever mentioned due to people wondering what would happen about the stretch goals we didn’t meet during our Kickstarter. DLC is not inherently evil, and it should not be treated as such.

    • Yosharian says:

      I think the game is looking fantastic and it obviously needs some work but that’s the nature of Betas, they aren’t finished pieces of work. One of the great things about the game, in my opinion, is the breadth of ideas you are bringing to the table, all the new rooms and creatures and such – you aren’t just making DK with new graphics (a fact some posters in this thread seem to have missed). Just keep working hard, the majority of us are behind you 100%, I’m sure of that.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      I’m sorry that you have to deal with this level of negativity. As one of your actual backers, I can tell you I’m happy with what I see and wish you luck implementing the rest of the game. As a developer, you are going to get articles that trash you, hopefully most of them will give you the respect to review a finished product.

    • TekDragon says:

      Thank you for the clarification on the DLC. As a Kickstarter backer who has been following the incremental progress of WFTO, I rolled my eyes most of the way through this article but was surprised at the way the author was discussing your DLC plans.

      Glad to know that Rich Stanton was just continuing his click-bait negative troll streak and that the DLC is only for non-funded stretch goals.

  13. Premium User Badge

    c-Row says:

    If the original Dungeon Keeper is all you want, you should check out KeeperFX. Requires the original CD, though, so I don’t know whether or not it will work with the GOG download version.

    • Yosharian says:

      Yeah, KeeperFX is a fucking fantastic way to play the old Dungeon Keeper. It’s a masterpiece, no question about it.

    • Lemming says:

      My version of KeeperFX doesn’t require the CD, but I can’t really link it as it might encourage unscrupulous types that down own the game to download it for nothing.

  14. DatonKallandor says:

    When modders try to make a game from scratch – Worry. When they cite Starcraft or Starcraft 2 (really interchangeable since they’re 1:1 the same game) – Worry.
    If you want a functional good game, just don’t back a bunch of modders that happen to miss the point of the game they’re trying to remake.

    • Yosharian says:

      I’m sure everyone appreciates your constructive and valid comments.

  15. Yosharian says:

    This is why I don’t play Betas, I want to see the game when it’s finished, I don’t really want to see it in bits and pieces.

  16. Yosharian says:

    This whole article just seems very negative without proper justification… you’re basically saying that it’s beta but it should still play like a finished game? I don’t get it… a beta is a half finished game, not a finished one. Your final statement ‘the closer WFTO gets the further away DK feels’ what does that even mean?

    edit: perhaps I was unfair, upon reflection it does seem as if the game isn’t really at proper Beta stage.

    • Premium User Badge

      Arathain says:

      It’s an interesting dilemma, really. Rich’s Starcraft example is pertinent- increasing prices for higher tier upgrades is just as important for the design of that game as, say, pathfinding or basic combat behaviour. It is as much a game about resource management as it is about moving units around. Dungeon Keeper is similar in these respects, since the game (as in, the bit you actually spend most time doing and thinking about) is about allocating limited resources most efficiently- gold, space, labour.

      A lot of what I read about successful game design and implementation suggests that getting something playable that represents your core gameplay ideas quickly is crucial, because you’ll need to know how it plays early to have any hope of refining it into something good. It seems that in this beta, a lot of core gameplay is simply missing, even if the basic tech seems to be present.

      The question, then, is whether we can trust that the design team is iterating that stuff, but haven’t released it, or whether they have focused on the tech side and neglected to make the actual game. Assuming that stuff can be fitted in later is, I would think, a big mistake.

      On the other hand, since they’re balancing on the back of an earlier, highly successful design adding that stuff will be less onerous than a fresh design, and maybe the tech side is the real hurdle, especially for a team unfamiliar with working together. I think there’s adequate reasons for the skepticism present in the article.

      • Yosharian says:

        Well your explanation makes sense, but I just don’t see the number-tweaking being such a big deal, it won’t take that long to come up with the right balance for resource costs of spells and upgrades.

        • Premium User Badge

          Arathain says:

          I disagree there- number tweaking is a huge deal. It’s one of those things that seems simple because it’s much easier as a tech issue, since you’re just changing numbers in a database. Getting those numbers right is very difficult, and takes time and testing. Another thing you constantly hear from developers- something like it takes a year to get a game to 90% complete, and another year to get it good enough to release. It’s the last 10%, the polish, the balancing, and getting the numbers right.

          Think how *many* numbers there are in a game like Dungeon Keeper. How long does an imp take to reinforce a wall? How fast does that imp run if it gets attacked? How many hitpoints does it have? The warlock that’s attacking it- how much damage does its fireball do? How fast does that fireball move? Zoom out a bit- how expensive was the library that attracted that warlock? How fast does gold mine, anyway? How fast does a Warlock move? Is it faster when possessed?

          That’s a single scenario- an early Warlock trying to prevent a rival’s imp reinforcing walls- that will play out very differently if any of the above values are different. Everything is interrelated to everything else. Even if you get something that has a good balance- say, early attacks will harass and delay imps, but not cripple an enemy keeper entirely, it might not have the right feel to it, or turn out to be any fun. Does the fireball do enough damage to feel like a fireball?

          The other issue is empowering player choice. Once players discover an optimal strategy that’s easy to execute that’s what most of them will use. Choice may be available, but become irrelevant for most players. It’s really, really easy to fall into these pitfalls. Only extensive playtesting will reveal them. The sooner you start doing this testing, the better.

    • bvanevery says:

      Umm historically a *beta* was a nearly complete product that just needed some bugs and further refinements hashed out before being shipped gold master. Perhaps people are starting to abuse the term. An *alpha* is a quarter to half finished game that needs lots more stuff put in, and that you can expect to explode.

      • Yosharian says:

        At the end of the day we’re talking about a game that isn’t finished. But I take your point.

    • Nenjin says:

      Personally, after having alpha’d and beta’d many games over the years……WTFO only now is starting to look like a beta, long, long, long after it went on Steam Early Access. I generally expect to see the core gameplay loop in play and working by the time someone calls their game a beta. WTFO isn’t there yet, IMO. The systems are in place, but none of them feel like they hook together meaningfully right now. Monsters show up so you can spawn some heroes and have them clobber each other. Corridors can be dug and tiles can be placed so they can do nothing.

      I like the project and all, but I think it’s not really worthy of being gushed over or talked up at this point. It has A LOT of work to get done.

    • PegasusOrgans says:

      No, you weren’t unfair, RPS was being unfair. Reviewing a beta (or alpha) is what a glrified troll does, not a respected gaming site. They are just getting worse, going down to Kotaku level. But it’s the same site that put up that laughable Fallout: New Vegas review, so, they had fallen long ago.

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        Mr Coot says:

        I don’t think RPS are being unfair in reviewing the game – because it is available to buy right now on Steam. I happily bought it – and it is feeling quite a bit like a beta now, but originally it was the barest of bare stretching-to-call-it-alpha-even alphas. o.O I am ok with that. Buying at launch was an act of faith for the true believers :D and it was really for those who wanted to experience the creation of the game from its most basic form. I considered it the equivalent of supporting the Kickstarter for those who missed the Kickstarter.

        Now the beta is looking promising and giving the sort of vicarious pleasure aunts and uncles get as their evil baby grows up. Additionally, the best feature of DK/DK2 has been preserved, which is Richard Ridings narration – and in the latest build you may hear his deliciously evil dulcet tones.

  17. Text_Fish says:

    This article needed to feature some sort of interview with the dev team really. As it is, it comes across as a review of a beta rather than a preview of a game.

  18. jorygriffis says:

    Sometimes, dead is better.

  19. PegasusOrgans says:

    “But I suspect slippage of this nature is inevitable among Kickstarter projects,” … because mainstream, big publisher games aren’t known for missing release dates!!!! PLEASE!! As for the nihilistic negativity. IT’S A BETA, and it’s the best we’re going to get. Since we’re now reviewing betas, WHAT’S NEXT? Alpha reviews??

  20. freeg64 says:

    Google is paying 80$ per hour! Just work for few hours & spend more time with friends and family. Yesterday I bought a top of the range Lancia after having made $9458 this month. Its the most-financialy rewarding I’ve had. It sounds unbelievable but you wont forgive yourself if you don’t check it out http://goo.gl/w7ceUX

  21. LintMan says:

    This article premise feels like a non-sequitur to me: The success, failure or lateness of one crowd funded fan-made remake has absolutely no bearing on whether EA (or whoever else) should run their classic IP properties into the dirt chasing the latest trendy buck-making fads or revive them with the care they deserve.

    Fan remakes are not the same as having a major developer revisit the game. Even then, it’s no guarantee the updated game will be good, but we have seen some notable successes, like Deus Ex HR, and XCOM.

    • The Random One says:

      I imagine it’s possible and desirable that, in a near future, fan remakes of famous game will satisfy fans who would like new installments of their favourite games, freeing developers of their horrible burden to bolt beloved franchise names to grim first person shooters to try to get sales that will be identical to what they’d get from a new IP.

  22. MellowKrogoth says:

    But… but… aren’t modders much better than lazy devs, and basically Gods Among Men? They can’t possibly have trouble making their favorite game, can they?

    /sarcasm

    Or maybe developing games is hard, modding is a lot easier in comparison, and people glorifying mod makers are idiots.

    This article is poor, btw. You’re complaining that a game in development doesn’t look like the final game.
    At this stage of any game you could maybe complain that it progresses too slowly, or emit the opinion that it seems to go in the wrong direction, but as it is you lost an occasion to shut up.

    • airmikee99 says:

      I think Rich did a fairly good job of reporting that while the game isn’t finished, it’s still looking promising.

      He mentions that the problem was probably just due to the nature and pitfalls of first time crowdfunding and chalks up the missed release date as simply, “over optimistic” and once he gets his hands on the beta, things look immediately better.

      He says all of the problems he encountered are fixable and reiterates that all of the basic functions of the game are present and working, and then goes on to list more problems, and ends those complaints with mentioning the game is still unfinished, they’re working on it, and he praises them for taking the time to flesh it out.

      I’d forgotten the game was coming, because I’d since picked up Dungeon Keepers on GoG, and reading this article reminded me of its existence and left me with a feeling that I can keep playing Dungeon Keeper for a little while longer while WFTO finishes baking.

  23. antinmol628 says:

    my friend makes $83/hour on the laptop. She has been fired for nine months but last month her income was $21331 just working on the laptop for a few hours check it quickly>>>>>> http://goo.gl/XjXcH1

  24. skrekkur says:

    I came to this site because I wanted a review. So please back of off rockpapershotgun. We live in times games stay in alpha/beta for years even, some of them are really good at that stage others not so much. I’ve tried to quantify what made the bullfrog games so really awesome, and its hard to point out one thing. They all had pretty original gameplay, humour, soul and character (also hard to describe excactly what that is in terms of games). I hope this one will come close to the original dungeon keeper eventually, but it is insanely hard to get close to it. Only game I feel was a true spiritual successor of the bullfroggers was Startopia. Peter molenoux and lionheart seemed to try there was something missing. After all these years I look back at most of the bullfrog games and see how really unique they were in every way (I play and enjoy tons of both Indie and AAA). I still hope we will have more bullfrog style games in the future. Or that some have been made already and I haven’t found them. Also hope that This isn’t like with the ‘First love is the greatest’ and the bullfrog games weren’t as great as I feel they are, but that they were sort of the first truly awesome games I got my hands on.
    That being said if this game comes close to dungeon keeper I don’t care if they have 20 DLCs if they are decent enough. /rantend

  25. Selvec says:

    Evil Genius is pretty much everything you could ever want from a dungeon keeper sequel. Its just not Dungeon Keeper unfortunatly. I’ve watched so many games developed over the years, to create the “New Dungeon Keeper”, when it could pretty much just be done by modding Evil Genius.

    So yea, someone mod Evil Genius so we can have a decent sequel to DK.

  26. descalabro says:

    “This is a hobbyist group transforming into a game developer and, while that doesn’t excuse talking about DLC before shipping a game, it does explain an over-optimistic release date.”

    Once the game gets funded in Kickstarter, this can no longer be a hobbyist group, it has to become a group of people doing a full time job.

    About the game, I haven’t played it so I don’t know, but I’m missing the filthy look of the first DK, it’s all looking very tidy and clean, and all those green lights are too much, it looks like an airport.

    I really hope this game will be good, but I’m not too confident, because modders aren’t necessarily game designers. They can bring in all the good elements of a previous game and still make it result in a desaster when there’s nothing particularly interesting or clever about it.