Game of the year 2013 and The Fruits of Kickstarter.

So this post isn’t one of those personal ones, this is a post about Gaming in two parts. Part one is about Kickstarter –specifically Planetary Annihilation and Broken Age- and part two is about my Game of the Year for 2013.

Let’s jump headfirst into Kickstarter, shall we? For those who don’t know (and frankly how can anyone who has any interest in the digital age not know?!) Kickstarter lets you give money to companies to create a product they wish to make. It is not tech-exclusive, however, many tech and gaming companies have certainly taken to it very strongly. The reason? Companies can’t take risks as publishers won’t fund games unless they know that they’ll make much more money back on their investment. Don’t get me wrong, I understand this stance, it is a business after all and the idea of a business is to make money. But some companies just want to make a certain kind of game because there is an audience who has gotten lost…

Enter Double Fine and Uber Entertainment. Let’s start with the latter. Uber Entertainment are made up of the core team of engineers and coders who created two of the greatest RTS (real time strategy) games of all time. The revolutionary Total Annihilation (which I still play 17 years since its release!) and the modern ‘sequel’ Supreme Commander. They were annoyed that no-one had created an Epic RTS since SupCom –especially after the travesty that was SupCom 2- and so went to Kickstarter with the desire to create Planetary Annihilation. They asked for a paltry $900,000 but 44,162 dedicated RTS fans screamed “IT’S THE GAME I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO PLAY!! TAKE MY MONEEEEEEEEY!!!!”. I was one of these fans who threw my wallet at the screen until they blasted (puns!!) through 900k and went on to get $2,229,344 which means the game will be CONSIDERABLY more awesome!

They’ve so far very much delivered on their project as it is THE most Epic RTS ever. I’ll go into much more detail another time, but needless to say it is everything and more than I hoped. It is a masterpiece and only in beta! If you’ve ever thought that having the biggest weapon is the way to win this game laughs at your naivety and crashes a friggin’ ASTEROID into your base! Ka-BOOOOOOOOM!!!!

Moving away from Supreme Destruction on the other end of the spectrum we have Double Fine. For those who don’t know Double Fine is a studio based in San Francisco and is headed by non-other than the Legend that is Tim Schafer –that’s the Tim Schafer of classic Point ‘n Click LucasArts Adventure games!- and if that means nothing to you check out Grim Fandango and the bunny scene from Full Throttle to understand how awesome this guy is! They’ve done some much larger games like Psychonauts (a true classic) and Brutal Legend (best gaming soundtrack ever? Certainly on the shortlist!). However, they wanted to make an old-school point ‘n click adventure game like back in the early 90s. So Tim went to Kickstarter and said they wanted to make this little Adventure game… We heard his plea and we threw our money at him! He asked for $400,000 and we dedicated DF fans scrounged $3,336,371 between the 87,142 of us!

The first Act of Broken Age (the above game!) was recently released and –being a backer!- I got to play said act. It is the exact opposite of Planetary Annihilation in terms of pace. It is a cerebral challenge with a wonderful story and truly beautiful art and music. It is a modern artistic masterpiece of gaming and a pretty good game too. The puzzles aren’t exactly difficult but that means you don’t end up horrifically stuck and get frustrated. Well worth playing regardless of your age or gaming expectations. I would very happily play this game with kids if I had them!

A few more quick words on Kickstarter before I move on, it’s worth checking out War for the Overworld which is a Dungeon Keeper spiritual successor. It’s –like the above games- still in development but it is very enjoyable. I got to have a bit of a chat with the lead dev back at Rezzed when he noticed my City of Villain T-shirt, we spoke for a while –he’s a REALLY cool guy- and he invited to sit with him and his team and chat games… I shouldn’t have missed that opportunity (especially to pimp out my composition services!) but alas I had trains to catch. Regardless worth checking out, and on a City of Heroes/Villains theme The Phoenix Project is worth checking out. It’s being made by fans of City of Heroes which was killed dead by NCSoft because they are… Idiots.

It’s a community made game funded by the community and I cannot wait to see what they come up with (and I certainly plan on sending some composition stuff to them!). These are all games to watch coming this year and beyond. But what about last year?

Singling just one game out from the plethora of games released this year is tough. Especially in a year there anything XCOM related came out. Pretty much anything from Firaxis is an Automatic GOTY for me. However, I can confirm that it is not the XCOM expansion… However, I must admit it was a close run thing!

The game of the year for me is a game that isn’t even fully released…

Ladies and Gents I proudly name Starbound as my game of the year.

Why? ‘Cause it’s freakin’ Awesome!

There is currently no story to really speak of outside of a vague origin story (that is not yet even fully implemented) and a few tutorial missions. Like Terraria –they are similar games however you want to look at it- the beauty is in the sandbox. Unlike Terraria which gives you a single world to explore Starbound gives you a WHOLE DAMN UNIVERSE!! You can go to any star system, pick any planet or asteroid belt, fly there and explore. Build. Mine. There is a super huge crafting system and a procedurally generated weapon and monster system so you never know what you’ll see or meet.

Best of all: This is stage one of the beta. There’s a lot more to come but the game is –generally- solid. The building, crafting, farming, fighting, exploring and multiplayer is fantastic and so far I’ve spend more than 40 hours –half of what I’ve spent in Terraria!- in the game, playing both single and multiplayer.

I am mighty impressed and I look forward to what happens next. Right now we’re awaiting the final “wipe” which will wipe literally everything. Characters, worlds, the universe, everything! They shouldn’t need to do any more wipes once this one is done, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Regardless this game is stunning and it’s my game of 2013. I’ll be writing about Starbound a lot throughout this year I am sure but I am going to leave you with a “mock-trailer” for a character I’ve created to play with in the game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pN6j3CVXUo0

Take care all! \../

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