Category Archives: Gaming History

[ #52Games ] Theme 2: Cold as Ice, Ice, Baby [ DotA2 ]

After last weeks start to the 52Games Project, which came pretty easy, I had a pretty hard time deciding what to write about the 2nd weeks theme: Cold.

I thought about the old, and for many of the younger ones, already forgotten Winter Games,which was one of the first games I played in my life – only the Turtles game on the NES was earlier. It’s a classic and I don’t know how many controllers and joysticks went to hell for this game. – I decided to choose something else, to find something I could write a bit more about.

After that, I thought about games I played, which have a cold setting – like Lost Planet: Extreme Condition, but since I thought this to be too easy (and already handled pretty well by PeteBACK & Dons Welt). Another great Game I dismissed, despite having a huge amount of cold effects, spells and an overall ambient of FREEZING cold about it, is Diablo 2 : Lord of Destruction! But this still didn’t feel like I had the right grasp on this topic.

Then, last night I went to play some DotA 2 from Valve with a few friends of mine. I chose to play a random hero – and by my surprise, I got the Crystal Maiden – a Ice Mage Heroine!

She’s classified as a support character who can disable enemy heroes extremely well, slowing them with nearly every single spell, freezing them in place and dealing tons of damage while doing so. Now, if you think about it, it’s logically perfect to have something that’s frozen move slower or even be frozen in place. On the other hand, Ice is not only slowing things down, but it’s also slippery and sometimes even dangerously sharp and cutting. Now in most Roleplaying Games or Games with a bit of a roleplaying character, Ice spells have a slowing effect. On the other side, if you take Racing Games, Ice is most likely letting you lose your control over your vehicle while speeding you up. But I’m drifting away here… let’s get back to DotA2.

The first time I played DotA2, I was hugely disappointed about it. The overall game Look&Feel had something wrong about it – I had a really hard time to discern which units were heroes and what simple minions, the whole map colours seemed weird to me and it all blurred out to the feeling of playing on mud (Screenshot). The buy menue (and I still think they can improve it) is really confusing at times and gives beginners with DotA2 a really hard time finding what they’re looking for. For me, League of Legends has a enormously lower entry point for new players and I think DotA2 caters too much to the hardcore DotA players and esport fans from the Warcraft III Mod. I finished only a few games before I quit DotA to get back to playing LoL with my friends. Now about a week ago, a friend from my Steam list asked me if I’d like to join on some DotA2 fun. Since I was really interested to see how it works when you actually got teamplay, I joined their Teamspeak and went for a game. DotA compared to LoL is having a much bigger list of things you have to care about – it has a lot of micro management, where LoL is trying to keep you focused on your hero – I actually like to focus on my hero. But the positives about DotA are there, too. It feels (after the 10something games I played) like there is more action overall and your actions are more meaningful to the outcome of the game. Your hero or heroine is a lot easier to be smashed into pieces within seconds than it is in LoL, so you need to play a steadier and more defensive minded game, where mistakes are seldom forgotten and in my opinion also a lot more costly, as you lose a big part of your amassed gold once you die. Ultimately DotA2 and LoL are too different in what their target audience is. LoL is already having a big esport branch with tourneys all over the world and even TV coverage, but the overall look&feel of the game is that it’s targetting a mass audience rather then hardcore gamers. DotA2 set a high standard for their esport future, when they had a 1Mio$ tournament at the GamesCom in Cologne last year, while not even being released to the public (it’s still in closed Beta stadium). I am really curious as to how DotA2 will change the current dominance of LoL in the Free2Play DotA ‘Clone’ market (we still don’t know if DotA2 will be free2play).

Now I wrote so much about DotA2 and beside the fact, that I played a Ice Mage yesterday, it’s not really about Cold. But I can tell you something: It’s cold outside and sadly also in my apartment, which has some really bad heating installation – so I wrote this whole post while freezing and being wrapped up in a fluffy blanket.

Leave your comments and whatever criticism or praise you have down there, and thanks for the read.

Ursu

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[ #52Games ] Theme 1: A fresh Start

First of all, I want to offer my readers a small overview about the Projekt #52Games from the guys over at the german blog http://zockworkorange.com. A few days ago they announced the idea to blog about games around a weekly theme for a whole year. You can find the complete information site for #52Games here! The first topic is: A fresh start!

For me, my first idea in my head when I read ‘Neubeginn’ (german for ‘fresh start’) was: What game was it, that made me decide my current career path. And ultimately the only answer I could give to this question is this:

Jagged Alliance 2 was released in 1998. I played Jagged Alliance – the Metavira Conflict before I heard of JA:2. JA:Metavira was the first part of the series and got released in 1994 for MSDOS. I got it from a friend of mine, who already owned it and sold it to me for 5bucks, together with the gaming magazine in which it was on a CD.

Jagged Alliance 2 caught my attention with the release of its one level demo nearly 1.5years before the release of the game. I played the demo together with my brother for weeks and months. We found different ways to beat it, found ways to play with less mercenaries, found ways to play on for hours and hours on the same small level. It was a great time. That was the time I started thinking about Game Design – about what could’ve been done better and what really made this the outstanding game I still love. Sir-Tech made one of the best games of the 90s.

To give you a small outlook on how much I loved this game even before it was released:

My brother and I pre-ordered the game nearly a year before it was released. We constantly check with our local game retailer if he’s got news about the release date, since we didn’t have reliable Internet at home that time. Both of us were under the age of 16, when the game released – but since we were that enthusiastic about it, we couldn’t wait and already asked our parents if we’re allowed to buy it, even though the game is from Age 16+. They agreed and we saved up money long before the game was in stores. Imagine how shocked we were, when the game was released in germany and the first rating had it rated at 18+. The game of our dreams was suddenly out of our reach, because we knew our parents wouldn’t let us buy the game now. We were desperate and on the release day we went to our local store, but he wouldn’t sell it to us – despite the fact he already tried the game himself the night before and said he’s not thinking it deserves a 18+ rating. So my brother and I went home and asked our parents if we could still buy the game. They declined and came up with ‘you can do better with your money’. The next day we did the craziest thing I ever did for a game. We had the written permission from our parents to buy the game if it’s 16+, but not for the 18+ game – so we asked passers-by to buy the game for us. We explained to them how long we wait for this game and how we really really really need this game. Well, the third guy we asked helped us. He went into the store with our money (100bucks was a lot for two kids around 13years of age), told the shopkeeper that he’s buying it for us, but he still sold it to him. That’s how we got our game, which was re-rated to a lower 16+ rating a few weeks later after the german publisher appealed.

To this day, there is no other game I have loved more and still consider it one of the best made games of our time – it’s a classic and I started my game programming studies with the hopes to build something that awesome myself. The ‘sequel’ Jagged Alliance – Back in Action (Game Preview in German) is about to be released on Steam after years and years of fighting over the rights to the series. Sadly Sir-Tech (the original game studio from canada) went bankrupt and the rights to Jagged Alliance were sold all over the world (from Australia over Russia to Germany). German Gamestudio bitComposer Games now finished the ‘sequel’ nearly 15years after Jagged Alliance 2 was released – I’m curios if they can keep the high standard and can give me as a veteran player the same feeling I had with Jagged Alliance 2.

I hope you had a nice read and I look forward to get your feedback.

To add the Words of famous russian mercenary Ivan Dolvich: Doswidanja!

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