Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Elemental: War of Magic:To Buy or Not to Buy...

And why you should...
Wait for it...
Wait for it...


For those of you who have not heard, Stardock's newest game (and first game developed in-house since the critically acclaimed Galactic Civs 2) got off to a somewhat totally crappy launch when they released this week. Apparently, according to a lot of players the game is nigh unplayable with its loads of showstopping bugs. PCGamer went as far as to warn players to absolutely stay away from the game in its current state. Harsh.

Loyal fans who preordered the game and found it to be a mess took to forums everywhere to cry foul, understandably. Then the outspoken CEO of Stardock, Brad "Frogboy" Wardell, doubled down on the newly generated hate for his game/company by saying ""...please stay away from our games in the future. I consider it ready for release and if others disagree, don't buy our games."

In all fairness, Brad knows a lot of the guys over at the Q3 forums where he made the comments. His comment was directed more for them, and not so much at gamers at large. Still, it didn't look good. He later apologized, and blamed his comment on lack of sleep and frustration about how his game was being judged based on pre-day zero code. By pre-day zero code, he means that retailers broke the game's street date (again). Even so, this doesn't totally wash because, broken street date or not, the game that came in the box was still a mess.

So here we are, two days later, and every single gaming news website is absolutely piling on Brad Wardell and his game like it kicked their dogs. They do this even when most of the journalists writing haven't played the game, in its buggy form or otherwise.

But why? Why the hate? Are gaming journalists, like the ones at Rock Paper Shotgun, really all that concerned about a publisher putting out a less than finished game? Or is it something else? That is when I started reading comments from players that gleefully talked about showing Brad Wardell a thing or two because of his "backwards" and "nazi-like ideas". My ears eyes perked up upon seeing that.

A little google-ing turned up this, Brad Wardell's personal political blog. Now I understand why Brad and his games must go down in flames: It turns out that Brad is a *gasp* conservative! That's right folks, when he isn't writing about Elemental game design he is writing about how high taxes are crippling the economy, how the health care bill sucks, and how global warming is hooey.

Could it be that this is why the gaming journalists are twisting the knife so hard? Hmm...
... Yes, actually.

Okay, okay, so I can't back that up with a bunch of links. What I can say is that in my opinion, based on all of my many years of experience reading gaming journos, I can safely say that I wouldn't put it past them to do such a thing.

For my part, my reluctance to get on the hype train to any Stardock game stems from how they burned me with Demigod. Demigod, as noted earlier, had its street date broken as well. This led to rampant piracy, which led to the matchmaking servers getting swamped, which in turn made it impossible for legitimate players, like myself, to actually play the game in multiplayer (and in a game like Demigod that is kind of like having Quake 3 Arena without the multiplayer). Still, Stardock always promised to make amends and patch Demigod into a non-crap state and... Well, I'm still waiting for that to happen. The game is still a total mess, and all Stardock ever did was give me some half-assed coupons for %50 off of more Demigod so that I could trick my friends into buying the unplayable game and share my fate or something, I suppose.

Still, there is no denying that Stardock has a good Turn-Based Strategy pedigree, even if I am not a fan of GalCiv myself (always seemed like an Excel Spreadsheet game to me). I figure that if anybody can do a sweet update to Warlords 3, it is Stardock. For this I am on board with the game, if maybe not for day one. The game sounds intriguing, is being built by people who know the TBS genre, and Brad Wardell is the effing man. Not to mention that the author of the Viridian Games blog (and damn good game designer in his own right) works for Stardock.

Multiplayer is coming in a patch next week, so get out there and support the game.

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