From a tiny spark may burst a mighty flame – or not, in the case of Project Spark. Microsoft’s sandbox game creation game never caught on in the same way as its various inspirations and so it’s now been pulled from download effective immediately.
Age of Mythology [official site] came out in 2002, a more innocent time when people spent their time pretending Half Life was actually going to get a sequel. “Valve can’t count to two,” guffawed the internet. “Ha ha ha.” More fool the internet, which failed to predict the appearance of Left 4 Dead 2, Dota 2, Portal 2 and, yes, Half Life 2.
The short-sighted global system of interconnected computers we now know as Charlotte’s Web also failed to predict Tale of the Dragon, an expansion for Age of Mythology, which came out yesterday, almost fourteen years after the game originally launched. Stupid internet.
RPS Feature Meet the people making official expansions to an ancient game
Scant few games stand the test of time and retain a large active player base sixteen years after release. But not only has Age of Empires II endured, it has thrived. It’s gained new steam thanks in part to an official high-definition re-release but mostly due to the ragtag group of modders-turned-developers who made that release possible. Forgotten Empires filled the game with new stuff and rebalanced the multiplayer in one enormous mod and then two HD expansions: The Forgotten and the recently-released African Kingdoms. I spoke to the team to find out about the challenges of transitioning from mod team to professional development studio, and of continuing to expand a game within its ancient limits.
Many ‘HD’ re-releases of older games fix them to run easily on modern systems, tart them up a touch, then pop them onto (virtual) shop shelves, but Age of Empires II HD has actually brought the game back into active development. Sixteen years after AoE 2’s initial release, AoE 2 HD has received its second new expansion. Age of Empires II HD: The African Kingdoms [official site] just came out, adding four new civilizations with four new campaigns, along with new maps, units, and, y’know, expansion stuff.
As far as I can see, the only mention on RPS of vintage JRPG Grandia II is in an interview with the makers of Child of Light. I can’t say I’ve played it myself, but I have heard folks talk warmly about it. It you missed it back during the early noughties, hey, don’t worry – that port was a little wonky anyway, and you can catch it now.
Game Arts’ RPG has now returned as Grandia II: Anniversary Edition [official site], tarted up a little for modern PCs and whatnot.
I’ve always though that Rise Of Nations never got its due. Developed by Big Huge Games, it was a real-time strategy game which looked like Age of Empires but took inspiration from Civilization. Mainly that inspiration was that you could advance your civilizations across eight ages of history during a match, meaning that you could begin with Hoplite and end with stealth bombers just an hour later. If you missed it, or if you miss it, then there’s now a Rise of Nations: Extended Editions available on Steam.
It’s been ages since I played Rise of Nations, but my memories – admittedly not adjusted for the ye moderne days of nowe – tell me it was fantastic, beautifully expansive RTS. Back in those days, Big Huge Games a) existed and b) made brilliant strategies instead of sprawling fantasy RPGs that tried their best only to get chewed up and spat out by the ugly gears of the gaming industry. And Rhode Island. Rise of Nations: Extended Edition is being handled by Skybox, the same folks who brought us Age of Mythology: Extended Edition, which Alec liked quite well. The feature set is similar, too: better graphics, Steamworks integration, Twitch support, etc.