FiringSquad: What lessons learned from creating the main game will be put into the expansion pack?
Brad Wardell: The biggest lessons will probably be in the graphics area. The GalCiv II engine was so new that the graphics team was very conservative in what they did with it. With the expansion pack, they’ve started to make the most of the new engine and as a result the ships and such will look a lot better.
FiringSquad: Galactic Civilizations II just had a new patch which added more robust mod support. What sort of mods would you like to see people make for the game?
Brad Wardell: I’d like to see people make mods that allow them to play the game in substantially different ways. I’m a big Civ 4 fan and I’ve seen mods for Civ 4 that let people do some amazing things. I’d like to see mods where the game itself is significantly different to play.
FiringSquad: You are making a decision to make Dark Avatar an Internet only download purchase, despite solid retail sales of the main game. Why was this decision made?
Brad Wardell: The main reason was marketing; we wanted to keep our retail message very straightforward: get Galactic Civilizations II. We also felt that while the game has done great at retail, about half our actual revenue has come from digital downloads and when one adds in the cost of getting into retail and doing the appropriate market development for a strong retail push, digital downloads provided the best return.
FiringSquad: Will there be any chances of a beta for the expansion pack before its release?
Brad Wardell: We’re still thinking about that.
FiringSquad: Overall what is the status of the expansion's progress and when will it be released?
Brad Wardell: Our goal is to have the game out this Fall – before Christmas. Things are moving along pretty well; I will have my work cut out on the AI. I am currently working on Galactic Civilizations II v1.3 which is a free update and then will move on to doing my part on the expansion (I code the computer AI). The ships and asteroids and other goodies are really pretty cool.
FiringSquad: After Dark Avatar, what are Stardock's upcoming plans? Will we finally learn more about your free MMO game Society?
Brad Wardell: I hope so. The biggest challenge at Stardock is building up the team size. We have the budget, we just don’t have enough people. The GalCiv II team will be moving more to Society next year but we also have to get The Political Machine 2008 done in time for the next Presidential Election. We also have a fantasy turn-based strategy game we want to do, as well, so we have to figure out how many people we have to put on which projects and go from there. Society (www.societygame.com) is something we really want to make, but you can imagine the team sizes involved on that.
FiringSquad: Finally is there anything else you wish to say about Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar?
Brad Wardell: Sure. One of our big goals for this expansion pack is to do things a bit differently than one usually sees with expansion packs. It’s not about adding some new units and the like; it’s about really taking the gameplay to the next level. We want to introduce enough new gameplay concepts that will greatly extend the game’s lifespan for players. To put it another way, I didn’t want to have to wait for a sequel or something to get this stuff in; some of the features are really exciting. Being able to design your opponents, for instance, seems so obvious in hindsight that there was no way we were going to wait until some future sequel to do that; it’s too compelling. Hopefully gamers will feel the same way.
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress Preview Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is a standalone expansion pack and follow-up to developer Stardock's previous game in the series, subtitled War of Magic. That 4X strategy game was highly-anticipated and slated to compete with games such as Sid Meier's Civilization V for your turn-based strategy play-time, but was released in an incredibly broken and unfinished state that it never fully recovered from. Lead designer Brad Wardell apologized profusely to fans and set out with his team to go back to the drawing board and try again.
Almost two years later, the result of that proverbial mulligan is currently undergoing closed beta testing. In today's article, Will reports his thoughts on how Fallen Enchantress is shaping up, and will tell you whether or not you should be keeping an eye on it as it nears release later this year.
The Elder Scrolls Online Details Leak - Should Fans Be Excited? The Elder Scrolls Online, long rumored to be in development, was officially announced yesterday. Still in development at Zenimax Online Studios, this MMO aims to combine traditional genre mechanics with the spirit and sensibilities, not to mention setting and lore, of the immensely popular series of single-player RPGs. Though the game is set for a full unveiling in the next issue of Game Informer magazine, what appears to be the entire cover story article has been leaked to the interwebs already. In today's article, you'll find summary and analysis of all the alleged details, as well as feast your eyes on the very first screenshots and concept art from the game. Of course, the burning question now is, should you be excited?
ANNO 2070 Review
The year is 2070. The majority of life on Earth was devastated when global sea levels surged after the melting of the polar ice caps. Swaths of previously habitable land are now deep underwater, and sovereign nations are a relic of the past. But there is still hope...
This city-building RTS/simulation game from Ubisoft tasks you with re-colonizing what little land areas are left on the planet following a global warming apocalypse. Does it have what it takes to be worthy of your time and money, or should it be cast out to sea with the rest of civilization? Find out in today's review!
Mass Effect 3 PC Review
This latest release from EA/BioWare is the final entry in their trilogy of sci-fi action RPGs, putting you in a dire situation: rally the troops to save Earth at all costs. There was a lot of hype surrounding the final act of what has been a vast and highly-customizable story-telling experience, and the reception among many hardcore fans has been less than stellar. Even people that haven't played the game have probably heard about all the nerd rage going on over Mass Effect 3's ending...
If you want to cut through all the crap and find out whether or not the rest of ME3 is worth playing, come check out Will's spoiler-free take on the first blockbuster game release of 2012.
Batman: Arkham City PC Review Batman: Arkham City is the sequel to 2009’s smash-hit action game Batman: Arkham Asylum. As the name suggests, you will be reprising your role as the Caped Crusader and going against an even larger 'prison' filled with Gotham's criminals and villains. A textbook example on how to do a proper sequel, Arkham City takes what worked in the original, excised or improved upon what didn’t, and elevated everything to an even greater scope. The PC version suffered from a few months of delay, but in that time, Rocksteady worked closely to NVIDIA to implement some familiar technologies from the last game, such as PhysX and 3D Vision, along with new DirectX 11 optimizations. But how well was the whole package executed? Read on to find out!
Saints Row: The Third PC Review Saints Row is one of most unique series of games to build upon the open-world action template forged by Grand Theft Auto, and has met with plenty of critical and commercial success since it began on consoles back in 2006. This latest iteration, titled Saints Row: The Third promises the most outlandish fun and freedom of customization of them all, and in a much more PC-friendly package than its predecessor. Does it live up to those expectations and, more importantly, is it worth the price of admission? Find out in Will's latest review!
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC Review The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is Bethesda Softworks’ latest offering in their series of epic fantasy RPGs, as well as one of the most highly-anticipated PC titles of 2011. As the Dovahkiin, or Dragonborn, prepare to take the fight to the mythical beasts that have returned to the realm after centuries of slumber, all the while exploring a huge and highly-detailed open world.
The PC version of the game promises enhanced graphical fidelity, standard RPG trimmings such as hotkeys and quick-save, as well as unbridled mod support, something we’ll all be thankful for once they release that SDK. Skyrim has already sold millions of copies and set records for play-time on Steam... Find out why in today's review, which happens to be one of the biggest and most in-depth articles on the subject out there!
L.A. Noire Complete Edition PC Review L.A. Noire, as the name clearly states, is a video game built on the tropes of one of the greatest periods of American cinema: film noir. Developed by the now defunct Australian developer Team Bondi and published by Rockstar Games, this title has been out on consoles for a full six months before finally making its way to the PC. This “Complete Edition” of the game features improved graphics, keyboard/mouse controls, and every bit of previously-released DLC for free. But was it truly worth the wait? Read on and find out!
Mass Effect 3 PC Demo Impressions Mass Effect 3, EA/BioWare's third iteration in their series of sci-fi action RPGs and one of the most anticipated titles of the year, is fast approaching its March 6th release. This week, though, they released a playable demo on PC, Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 that offers a glimpse into both the single-player and multi-player portions of the full game.
Whether you're waiting impatiently for your download to finish or don't have the time to check it out yourself, go ahead and read some impressions of the demo from resident FSers Synch and Vandy in today's article!
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Xbox 360 Review
The self-appointed "most anticipated game in history" launched worldwide this past Tuesday. Why, it's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, of course (of course), what else? Unsurprisingly, the military FPS debate between this and Battlefield 3 rages on, but now that both have been released, surely we can take a look and objectively evaluate them both? Luke's taken the Xbox version of MW3 for a spin this week, so to find out what he thinks of it in today's review!