All posts for the month December, 2016

RPS has a news item about how Robot Entertainment is making big changes to Orcs Must Die: Unchained.


In a nutshell, they’ve figured out that their silly PvP MOBA model is not what people want, so they’re rejiggering things to behave more like OMD/2. Well, duh.

These guys must have their own Scrooge McDuck / 3D Realms money vault, because I can’t imagine how their microtransactions are paying for the game’s development, which seems to have its version 1.0 clock set to geologic time.

Also, there’s a level design problem. I haven’t read the patch notes, but merely omitting PvP and making tactical/mechanical changes to traps and weapons — yeah, this isn’t going to do it. OMD2 had larger levels than OMD1, but it was still built from the ground up as a two-player co-op game. OMDU (unless they start completely over) is a multiplayer project with sprawling real estate. Just changing player/trap/enemy behaviors isn’t going to fix the strategic and tactical problems you’ll have when trying to play OMD/2 in those giant rooms. A big issue right now is having to run through miles of hallways to get to hotspots (and the portals and speed-up treadmills don’t help much). This is going to conflict with the single-player re-do, because single-player tower defense games must account for every inch of geography.

The only way to manage this without completely starting over is to (a) make the player much faster and much more powerful, and (b) make traps much cheaper, much easier to acquire, and far more effective. Even then, the levels will have to be revised.

Since the game was designed with microtransaction creep bolted in from the get-go, I don’t see how anything less than a complete overhaul will salvage the product or make it profitable.

I’ve tried really hard to like Westworld. I really have. I’m just not getting the allure.

I admire the concept. What could be cooler than to revisit the ideas behind Michael Crichton’s 1970s movie and develop a AAA HBO series using twenty-first century CG tech?

The problem is that Crichton’s movie was rather stupid, just as Jurassic Park and Timeline were rather stupid in their common thesis that money-mad, undisciplined corporate baddies would take a wonderful notion and let it get out of control because, you know, greed and hubris.

Never mind that such theme parks would never be remotely profitable or even possible, even if you could pull off genetically engineered dinosaurs, time travel, or cowboy/saloon girl robots. No one is capable of managing anything like this, and even if they were, any profit would quickly be eaten by operation expenses — even if you managed to find enough “guests” to pay such absurd entry fees.

But that’s not the problem with Westworld.

The series is just dull. No matter how much HBO hypes it, no matter how vigorously people try to make themselves believe in its edginess and originality, the show is a tedious soap opera that suffers from the same plodding development characteristic of all miniseries.

Then there’s the writing. Soap operas are silly, but you expect that. You anticipate absurd plot twists involving improbable identity revelations, incestual pregnancies, alien abductions, and so on. In a multi-million dollar uber-class HBO series, you really should not have to put up with such idiocy, but Westworld is full of last-second plot dumps wherein you discover that someone is X when you thought they were Y, or someone’s apparent escape was not a result of independent thought but part of a grand narrative, etc. The explanations for these silly reversals are on a par with Obi Wan’s rationalization that Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are the same person. The dumbness staggers the mind.

Game of Thrones requires patience. Westworld requires the suspension of reason and any expectation of quality writing.