Ignore the screenshot. Yes, Hero Generations looks like yet another roguelite, or even a puzzle game along the lines of Triple Town, but the best description of the design concept is right at the top of the Kickstarter page – “The 5-Minute Civilization”. Worlds are procedurally generated and heroes move across them, tile by tile. Each turn consumes a year of the player character’s life so important decisions must be made – will you explore, gather fame by battling monsters and retrieving items, expand a settlement, or find a mate so that you can produce offspring and forge a millennia-long legacy? 4X strategy zoomed in to the individual and personal level. It’s my favourite Kickstarter pitch since Meriwether.
The personal focus – on an individual rather than a tribe or civilisation – doesn’t just change the feel of the game, it exaggerates the importance of every decision. I play strategy games so often that I spend a lot of time thinking about the ‘end-turn cycle’, the point(s) at which any specific campaign becomes a procession of clicks to skip forward, with nothing to do be done in between those clicks. How often does the end-game of Civ come to resemble a Vladimir and Estragon routine without the laughs?
Reduce the concepts and conceits of 4X gaming to the concerns of a single family and every decision becomes charged with meaning. That should be the case, at least. We’ll have to wait a good while to see if it all works, with a release date of January 2015.
The developer is experienced, the concept is exciting and the project is well-mapped. The $32,000 target shouldn’t be a problem and if I’m wrong and success looks unlikely three weeks from now, somebody forward the pitch video to Mark Zuckerberg.