Run for higher ground, for the deluge has begun. As you may be aware, the GDC is in full swing now, which means announcements of a ludic nature are flooding my inbox and I only need to adjust the intricate series of valves that is my protective system ever so slightly to let them slip through, one at a time. Or maybe three at a time, as Paradox have announced a trio of games.
The first two are Dungeonland, in which three players control heroes in a twisted theme park while a fourth plays the Dungeon Master attempting to kill them, and RED Frontier, a multiplayer RTS. Let’s start with the new game from Arrowhead, creators of friend-murdering simulation Magicka. Going by the name The Showdown Effect It’s a side-on multiplayer action game. Here’s how it looks.
A trailer that is happy to mock its grave brethren is alright by me. It’s the kind of trailer I’d be happy to buy a drink for if it sidled up to me at the bar. Maybe even several and we could see where the mood and chemical disorientation took us. It sure does look pretty.
Arrowhead are going with the principle “more is more”, and say that goes for weapons, characters, modes and stages. Lots of flexibility in the way matches are set up, plenty of ways to kill your opponents, including rocket launchers and broomsticks, and some nifty environmental damage. Yes.
Another trailer that has japes on its mind, although all the insulting stuff about folk who play, make and write about games doesn’t apply to me or you because we’re not actually at the conference. We’re above all that and I don’t even want to be in San Francisco anyway. I’m fine right here.
If I’d been asked to guess which one of the three games was from the Magicka guys, I would have picked Dungeonland. It’s a cooperative game that actually places one player in a role where he’s supposed to kill the other players, which seems like a natural evolution from a cooperative game where every player accidentally kills every other player. It can be played single player, with the Dungeon Master being AI controlled, maybe in a Left 4 Dead kinda way, changing things up on each replay.
And that’s the last of ’em. Twelve players per server, minimal downtime with immediate respawns, commander development and unit customisation.
Paradox is an increasingly interesting publisher. Is it only me who still idly thinks of them as the grand strategy people and then sees something like The Showdown Effect and remembers how times are changing? For the better, I reckon, because The Showdown Effect in particular looks like something I’d like to play. Their motto at GDC has been “small development teams think big” – a major publisher with an indie ethos? Maybe so.