Today’s Best/Worst Internet Thing: Strafe

the stupid spiky 'gaming' mouse I own means this is an accurate depiction of my desk, actually

It’s funny! But it’s hideous! It’s entertaining! But it may be morally wrong! If only we lived in a world where good was good and bad was bad, eh? Then I’d know exactly what to think of the increasingly… surprising trailer/pitch video for proc-gen, faux-retro, blood-heavy shooter Strafe.

Don’t watch this anywhere which contains people of a nervous disposition or with a conscience, I guess:

Aping the superlative-ridden, MTV-styled dumb-wank of 90s videogame marketing isn’t anything novel, but this both pushes it to extremes – WOAH! – and then diverts off in its own horrific direction.

I wouldn’t be posting a trailer, no matter how many shocking scenes are in it, if the game it was promoting didn’t hold at least some interest. Strafe has a fair few things going for it: if it works out as planned, we’re looking at a procedurally-generated Quake with buckets of persistent blood.

The traditionalist in me worries that mastercrafted levels for this kind of shooter simply can’t be replaced by randomly-arranged corridors, but the hungry-for-the-new part of me thrills to the idea of a different experience every time. We’ll see, I guess. Depends on if Strafe can round up the $185k it’s after on Kickstarter. It’s ‘only’ $33K there already, and that’s not the kind of Only I’d otherwise deploy a couple of a days into someone’s Kickstarter month, but given Strafe’s benefited from web-wide cheering due to its trailer, I imagine it’s squeaky bum time for devs Pixel Titans.

Maybe the Quake aesthetic doesn’t mean enough to enough kids. Maybe Steam’s already flooded with old school shooters from yet-to-be-famous devs. Maybe everyone just spent too much on Exploding Kittens this week. Or maybe it’ll all work out as the trailer goes increasingly viral. Maybe one day I’ll buy that new pair of socks I keep thinking about.

51 Comments

  1. RARARA says:

    Reality always hurts.

    • Rizlar says:

      Wait, what was that at 0.37?

      • coppernaut says:

        I’m pretty sure he was testing the temperature of the pie he had hidden under his console monitor…

    • Koozer says:

      What just happened to that guy’s eyeballs?

      And why are 90s adverts so dystopian?

  2. Banks says:

    Yeah, that trailer will definitely go viral.

  3. strangeloup says:

    $25 is a bit more than I’d normally pay for the “get the game” tier, especially from an unknown dev, but it does look pretty great. We’ll see, I suppose.

    • Snidesworth says:

      Yup. I was all ready to back but $25 pushed it into SERIOUS MONEY territory.

      • wengart says:

        Yea, it looks cool but for $25 I could buy 2-3 games from my Steam wishlist. A few of them might be early access, but they are all more real than Strafe is currently.

        Alternatively it also gets me halfway to GTA5.

        If I could donate a smaller amount and get that discounted if I ever wanted to buy the game I might do that. It does look interesting.

        • tangoliber says:

          There is also the delivery date. June 2016 for the final game. (August 2015 for early access tiers).

          I really love procedural death FPS, and I love Quake. When it is released and finished, I would probably pay 100 dollars for it if that was the cost. I would have paid 100 USD or more for Ziggurat, I get that much enjoyment out of it. I’ve been anticipating Strafe for probably half a year now. (Also, Spire from Hitbox, which is my most anticipated procedural death FPS.)

          Yet despite that, I’m not all that tempted to pay $25 now to receive the game in over a year. It’s too far away.

          • Shadowcat says:

            For a moment I thought you were saying you didn’t think they’d given themselves enough time to make a good game (which is generally a sensible sort of thing to be concerned about).

            Being put off because you think they’ve given themselves too much time to make a good game is just weird.

        • Shadowcat says:

          If I could donate a smaller amount and get that discounted if I ever wanted to buy the game I might do that. It does look interesting.

          I like that idea! I wish people would implement it.

  4. FoSmash says:

    ID – reckon that was some good Software…

  5. Irishjohn says:

    I know this is very old man of me, but I hated this. To be fair, becoming a parent has ruined lots of things for me. Just, too much.

    I also hate “shock” value. It’s lazy and boring.

    • Zankman says:

      Nah, this isn’t supposed to be “shock value”, it’s supposed to be over-the-top, campy and ridiculous. Which it was.

      Now Hatred? *That* is dumb shock value for the sake of it.

    • misterT0AST says:

      I don’t get any shock value. It’s the usual gore.

    • Reapy says:

      Pre parent this is campy, post parent this hurts too much. It is like I got a switch installed in me and I can’t physically take watching children get harmed, even in extremely campy ways.

  6. stonetoes says:

    “The insanely detailed worlds of STRAFE®: From concept art to breathtaking reality.”

    This bit of their kickstarter page, with the accompanying screenshot, had me chortling away. Fantastic.

  7. fdisk says:

    Obviously it’s working out for them, but I feel it’s a little hypocritical to spend a fairly substantial amount of time and money on a video like this while asking people for money to finish your game…

    • daimonahte says:

      I don’t see anything wrong with spending money on advertising. Yes, the money spent on the video could have been put toward the game, but would we even be talking about the game if they hadn’t gone quite so batshit on the video? By spending on the video, they’re much more likely to get funded.

      That being said, I’m going to echo the sentiment above: Looks fun, would like to play, but not interested in spending $25 on an unproven dev for a game that won’t be out for yonks and will probably cost a similar amount at retail anyway.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      Why? The Kickstarter is at $42,000 after two days for a total unknown, so the ad’s either paid for itself or will soon (I dunno how much a good face-melting effect costs these days).

      You should try your “advertising is an ineffective way to market a product” hypothesis out on an actual businessman, though. I bet he’d get a laugh out of it. :)

  8. Jamesac68 says:

    There’s a post on their Tumblr explaining that, while randomized, it’s built from pre-constructed rooms that can be linked together. They can do either door-to-door or wall-to-wall to construct bigger areas from hand-designed smaller ones. Can’t really say why that info isn’t in the Kickstarter, but here’s the link-

    link to strafedevblog.com

  9. tangoliber says:

    The main appeal of this game for me are monster closets. I love monster closets. I love Doom maps that start out with complex, labyrinthine architecture…but slowly starts to widen into a big open space as all monster closets start to open up.

  10. Shardz says:

    The trailer was funny, but what is this game about exactly? Seriously…from the video, it seems like just a Doom clone or something with new modern hardware support. I’m really confused. Why not just play Doom/Doom2/Heretic/Hexen/Strife?

    • klops says:

      Yeah. The game will most likely break through big time because of the good video but I don’t understand it either. Why an endless amount of procedurally generated maps in FPS is a good thing? That’s their #1 selling point in the selling point list. Why are the endless amount of procedurally generated maps looking like Quake maps? They were boring and ugly already in Quake games and were human-made.

      Back to 90s. Why?

      • Shardz says:

        Yeah, the procedural content is interesting, but that really hasn’t been a fruitful venture for anyone in this genre that I can recall. Plus, this rips the ability of user-created content (WAD creation) from people’s grasp. Half the fun of the ID games was to make your own environments…and learn something in the process.

        • April March says:

          I dunno, Tower of Guns was pretty great. I also rather liked Roguelike Shooter, but I’m the only one apparently.

        • Premium User Badge

          Phasma Felis says:

          Tower of Guns and Paranautical Activity both seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. (At least until the Paranautical guy threatened to kill Gabe Newell on Twitter and got pulled from Steam, as hilariously referenced in the STRAFE Kickstarter.)

        • Shadowcat says:

          “Heavy Bullets” is another one (which I greatly enjoyed).

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      Why play Doom 2 when Doom exists?

  11. Revolving Ocelot says:

    Well, I’m rewatching Raiders of the Lost Ark again thanks to this trailer.

    Meeeeellllllting.

  12. vorador says:

    The game looks…well, i’ve had my fill of retro styled FPS, so i will give it a pass.

    But i agree the trailer is absolutely fantastic in it’s ’90 glory.

  13. Simon_Scott says:

    I might be being naive here, but don’t these types of games live or die by their multiplayer?

    And is proc-gen levels really bringing that much to the party?

    It’s a really fun pitch. I too chortled at the “concept art to game” illustration. I think it’s actually quite interesting that the trailer provides a reductio ad absurdum (coo!) dismissal of “games is ruining out kids!” criticism. I just don’t see the draw of the game. Proc-gen aside, this is just a bit of a nostalgiafest, but here’s the thing – we’ve still got all those old games…

    • Vandelay says:

      Quake and Doom may be remembered now as kickstarting the multiplayer mode, but I can’t imagine many of the buyers bought them for that purpose.

      The FPS singleplayer genre has changed significantly since those days and many would love to go back to those days of labyrinthine levels and fast paced dodging of projectiles, so something that harkens back to those days will appeal to many (myself included.) Whether this can achieve that, particularly the level design with it being procedurally generated, is anyone’s guess, but I’ll certainly be keeping an eye on it.

    • Crafter says:

      Try Ziggurat if you want to see what this game is aiming at.

    • Premium User Badge

      Phasma Felis says:

      I might be being naive here, but don’t these types of games live or die by their multiplayer?

      No.

      The games that this is emulating were towering rockstars just before and during the dawn of the internet, when most people didn’t even have dial-up and broadband was virtually unknown. The lucky few who had access to a college T1, or who could get LAN hardware and make it work, or who could somehow manage to enjoy deathmatching with half-second-plus lag times over dial-up, made a lot of joyful noise about the multiplayer experience, but singleplayer was still the primary sales driver.

  14. Dinjoralo says:

    The Kickstarter blurb says that one of the dev’s directs commercials and music videos for a living. That should explain a lot.

  15. April March says:

    “How could you? He was just a boy!”

    “THIS GAME HAS BEEN RATED 16 AND OLDER. YOU ARE AN AWFUL PAREEEEEEENT”

  16. CMaster says:

    Looks kinda like if Doom was made in the Unreal engine.

  17. Guy Montag says:

    I’m surprised to not see mention of Teleglitch here in the comments, because this looks very much like that (minus the crafting), but 3D. I liked that, so I imagine I might like this.

  18. death_au says:

    I maintain a better ending for the video would have been the mother vowing revenge and taking control of the game herself (and kicking arse)