Initial Impressions: Grid 2
I love a good racing game and from what I've played of it so far, that's what "Grid 2" is. It's not amazing or mind blowing. It's not the "Forza" or "Gran Turismo" killer I'd have liked but it's certainly not bad.
The obvious positives would be its presentation, which is superb, and the feel of driving the cars, which is slightly improved over the original "Grid."
On the down side, the driving physics are still very arcadey and floaty. I was really hoping for a more Forza-like handling model given the increased emphasis on accurately modeling tires and their interactions with the surfaces being traversed but that effort seems to have gone into a more sophisticated drifting mechanic as opposed to wholesale improvements to the driving experience.
It's as if the new handling characteristics only kick in during a drift, which feels very artificial and gamey. Similarly, every car I've driven in the game so far feels like it's been set up specifically for drifting in terms of chassis, suspension and the like, which tends to diminish the unique handling characteristics of each car and make everything feel pretty similar.
I'm only a few hours into the game, so it's possible that the feel of the driving will improve and become more diverse and interesting as I progress but I can't help feeling like "Grid 2" has already made a major mis-step by not providing a compelling or sufficiently-innovative driving experience right out of the gate. There may be a great racing game here beyond the initial experience but I've yet to find it. So far, it's simply good.
Grid 2 (via Steam)
Alpha Strike: The Dead Linger
Playing games in alpha has become all the rage of late. With the release of the "ARMA III" alpha and a slew of "Early Access" titles now available on Steam, those intrigued and passionate enough about certain games have more opportunities than ever to get their hands on early, still-in-development versions that they can play and critique. While the degree to which such critiques are addressed varies from developer to developer, it's clear that "Early Access" is something a lot of people are willing to pay to have for a variety of games.
"The Dead Linger" is a game aspiring to join the ranks of other post-apocalyptic, zombie survival games like "DayZ" and "Project Zomboid–" the later of which having already made its way through Steam's "Greenlight" process.
It's fair to say that I have a soft spot for these sorts of games so I'll freely admit to happily looking beyond many of "The Dead Linger's" obvious shortcomings in its current state as I see a lot of potential in it. In fact, of all the would-be challengers to "DayZ" that have cropped up over the past year, this is the first one that I think has a legitimate chance of giving it a run for its money and pushing the DayZ Dev Team to make their own game better.
As such, I'd like to see "The Dead Linger" succeed in its attempt to get onto Steam and would encourage you all to check out the game's "Greenlight" page and show it some love if you're so inclined.
The Dead Linger (via Steam Greenlight)
Been a while since I've done one of these. Sorry this is a bit long but I want to get a few things off my chest and I suspect that if you care enough to start reading this, you won't mind reading the whole thing.
As many of you know, I've been working for a little over a year now on my next game. What very few people know is that I've actually worked on a couple different game prototypes during that time. The first was a turn-based strategy game for iOS that I mentioned here on the blog at one point. The second was a top-down action game built in Unity. I've even gone through the process of documenting a few other game concepts to the point where it would be pretty easy to kick off development of them if I had the resources to do so.
Despite all that progress, I've faced a myriad of challenges with regard to game development. Of course, money is always the elephant in the room but I've also found myself struggling to come up with a concept worthy of carrying through to completion. The things I've worked on over the past year, while very useful from the standpoint of learning more about advanced aspects of iOS and Unity, haven't produced what I'd consider unique or compelling games, and certainly not games that I'd feel comfortable or confident trying to sell to anyone.
It's only been in the past several weeks that I've finally hit upon an idea that I feel I can fully get behind– that "A-ha! There's nothing out there quite like this and there damn well should be!" moment that turns development from a technical exercise into a sort of fevered quest for awesomeness.
A lot has changed since I first released "Powergrids" for iOS back near the end of 2011. In some ways, things were in the process of changing even as I shipped that game. Free-to-Play, In-App Purchase-driven games were really coming into their own on the App Store and I remember thinking to myself that I should probably jump on that train. To be honest, I really should have but "Powergrids" was a very indulgent project for me. It was me making the kind of game I wanted to make and play with no compromises beyond budgetary constraints. You see, I'm the sort of person who looks at a game and decides based on its description, feature-list, screen shots or perhaps a video, whether or not it's a game I want to play and if I do, I tend to want to simply pay for it and be done.
I'm not a fan of micro-transactions, DLC or the season passes that have become so pervasive in gaming in recent years. From a business perspective, I completely understand why they exist and clearly, there are plenty of folks out there who love them because they sell like hotcakes– but I was very resistant to the idea of building "Powergrids" around such concepts because I was making the game with my heart and not my fiscal head.
But at a certain point, reality sets in and you realize that it's a fool's errand to try to buck the system too hard or too frequently. For every cinderella story of a developer charting their own course and being showered with praise and piles of money, there are hundreds of people filing for bankruptcy and that's a conservative estimate.
Fortunately, I've not only managed to find a game concept that I'm giddy to be working on, but that also fits nicely into the established norms of what the video game industry has become.
With any luck, you folks will all be playing the first public version of the game later this year. For now, I'm going to shut up and get back to work. :)
Until next time, have a good one folks!