Welcome back to the list of things I want to change in the strategy genre - my Christmas wishlist for it, in fact. Continuing on....
If there are no chimneys, Santa will find a different way to
deliver these gifts....
5. A Strategy Game Set In Pre-Columbian America
Quite honestly, I sometimes get bored of seeing the same periods of history covered in strategy games. If it isn’t the ancient era, then it’s the Medieval Era or the Future Era, and that’s not even mentioning the generic World War 2 games of which there are so many that you’d probably overload even the strongest servers by trying to download them all. Although these are good and all, the history nerd inside me wants to experience other periods of history, perhaps those that you’d only hear dusty lecturers talking about, or only see in overly educational documentaries providing a slide show of still images. I want to see more interesting places than Hastings or the Soviet borderline, and I think that the strategy genre really should focus on doing this.
World War II, the Medieval Era... is there no space for a llama?
In the fifth place on my Christmas wish list, I have a game that I think any developer should pick up and try to make. Pre-Columbian America is a fascinating time, and I want so desperately to experience ruling the Incas, building Machu Picchu and laughing at the fact that future people would find a small little town more fascinating than the grand city of Cuzco. I want to charge Aztec warriors at Mayans, or vice versa, and form a huge empire based merely on interesting wooden weapons.
I don’t know why game developers won’t take an opportunity to make a strategy game that’s about such a fascinating part of world history, devoid of all that previous strategy games have taught us. Actually, I do know. The generic World War II strategy game is more certain to bring in the daily supply of Starbucks coffees, whilst a niche game is a lot more risky. However, it would be a dream come true if someone, somewhere over the world, decided to make this happen.
With next-gen graphics.....
4. The Reopening of Bullfrog
Peter Molyneux, before he became famous for thinking people wouldn’t write expletives for the world to see on a cube if given the chance, was once known for his inspiring insight into making strategy games, when he ran Bullfrog Productions.
People told me that greatly thought out, interesting
strategy games were boring, so I came out with something
amazing. Something spectacular. It's...a cube...
They came out with great strategy games that I still fondly remember, such as Theme Park, akin to Rollercoaster Tycoon and allowing you to make a theme park, and Theme Hospital, one of my favorite games which was about building and managing a…hospital. (Which turned out a lot better than it sounds). The fact of the matter was that he made amazing games that you just should play one day, and can find on gog.com.
Yes, yes. We will force him to reopen Bullfrog! Mwahahaha!
Unfortunately, Peter Molyneux soon showed his other talent, which was giving up on everything and starting over. Bullfrog, after making games like Dungeon Keeper 2, apparently wasn’t good enough anymore and Peter Molyneux made Lionhead Studios, which produced the RPG Fable and Black and White. This was a terrible day for gaming. Although Lionhead’s games were okay, if Peter Molyneux had continued with Bullfrog, his insight may have continued to make amazing strategy games. When he gave up on Lionhead as well, he formed 22 Cans, a company that has swayed far from Molyneux’s original dreams and insight. The solution: reopen Bullfrog and make a sequel to Dungeon Keeper 2. Then, the fourth wish on my list shall be complete.
3. A Paradox Game Set In the Dark Ages
Barbarian hordes charging at the last remnants of the Roman Empire, sharing the same conviction as their horses that killing is an addiction they may need to control one day, but don’t really care about now. The entirety of Europe is being cast into turmoil for hundreds of years, whilst new empire borders form. What? No, I’m not having a hallucination, I’m describing why the Dark Ages is an exciting time to base a Paradox game on. And, as the third best thing I want for Christmas, I would probably cry of joy if this actually happened.
Right, where is that game I asked for?!
“But Goldenapple,” you say, your eye brows set in a determined frown. “Crusader Kings 2 has the DLC The Old Gods, which is set in the dark ages.”
Yes, alert reader, I reply, although you cannot see my facial expression, as I am merely text. But what about the period between the fall of the Romans and 800’s? That period has never, as far as I know, been in games. Guiding a troubled Europe just trying to survive its sudden drop into barbarism is missing from the Paradox games. Perhaps the most important thing for me is that my Paradox mega campaigns could extend from the Ancient Era (With Europa Universalis: Rome) to 1991 (with East vs West), with no gap in between! That is a history nerd's dream, and leaves them jumping up and down uncontrollably in the same way that I would if I got a lifetime supply of croissants (which I love).
The old Roman Empire in Europa Universalis? If this game exists...yes!
A game set in the dark ages would provide some very interesting mechanics. Religion would play a large role, since this was in a time where Christianity was growing in Europe. There would be deep systems based on raiding, which is a nicer way to say murdering and stealing. That’s not even mentioning the constant change of politics and the rise of feudalism, which would be very interesting. I realize that I’ve been very demanding on Paradox in this list….but please! *bows on knees and pretends to cry, but ends up actually crying.*
2. Paradox and Creative Assembly Team Up
Ooh, this is a risky one to put up. Paradox and Creative Assembly teaming up would be quite a hard feat to accomplish, and there are so many things that can go wrong, but if it manages to be pulled off it would be the best game I ever play. Just imagine it. The brilliant complexity, openness and grandeur of Paradox games, mixed with the historical, well thought out and challenging battles of Creative Assembly’s Total War games. Or, to imagine it in another way, you could picture playing the later stages of Europa Universalis IV and every battle turns into an Empire Total War battle. Wouldn’t that be great? Or, if it spans across the entirety of history, and allows for you to experience so many different atmospheres.
Of course, there are problems. One of the main ones is the sheer complexity that would result. With Paradox games, all your attention is focused on diplomacy and politics, so there isn’t much space for dealing with the battles. However, add the Total War battles that require a lot of attention, and soon the complexity might send you to go crazy, running down the street shouting gibberish. Maybe, instead, Paradox and Creative Assembly should change their formulas to suit each other, or make a whole new formula instead. Maybe they’ll even make something entirely different. I can just imagine them making a 4x strategy game, to rival Firaxis. Either way, I think this definitely deserves to be the second most wanted thing from me this Christmas.
1. A Larger Strategy Scene
BOOM. A huge generic term that gives me the opportunity to rant. The strategy genre used to be big, as you’ll find out when I write about the history of strategy games. (You will read it….right?) However, over the years it’s been dragged further into obscurity as the new popular genres took over. Although I don’t mind these (I’m quite optimistic with most games) I find it sad that the strategy games became less and less appreciated. Sure, a few companies still hold out, but the thing I mostly want for Christmas, when it comes to strategy games, is for the strategy genre to become larger again.
Strategy games...into obscurity?! I'll show you!
How would this be done? Quite simple. We need fresh new ideas and more people who stick to their love of strategy games. The first thing is already happening. Already indie strategy games are becoming popular, and many are bringing fresh ideas to the table that people are willing to accept, such as FTL, Reus, and the Democracy franchise. People are fascinated to see new ideas, and the gaming community is generally a widely acceptant one. Soon, the community will begin to enjoy strategy games more.
One thing that shouldn’t be done is dumbing down the genre, in order to appeal to a larger audience. Strategy games are our love, and the people should come to us. We shouldn’t be forced to compensate what we love for a quick few bucks with a new audience.
See? Strategy games aren't too complicated!
The second thing can be accomplished merely by remaining enthusiastic to the strategy genre. If we keep playing, telling about, making Youtube videos about and modding strategy games, we will eventually rise its popularity, and make it a more appreciated genre in the gaming world. I can just imagine an esports tournament that doesn’t just have Starcraft II, but instead a lot of different strategy games. These things can happen, and it is up to us as a strategy game community to remain true to your favorite genre. This is why I have started Strategy Gamer, in the hope of spreading the love of strategy games.
When you’re opening your wrapped present or tipping out your stocking, there are some gifts such as the ones described above that would be really great, and for me these are what I want in the strategy genre. What do you think? Anything I inevitably missed? What would you most like to see? I know I don’t really have much of an audience yet, but if you’re here let me know.