Monday, March 4, 2013

The Frame of War III

Where are all the good men dead, in the heart or in the head? – Grosse Pointe Blank

I’m not often surprised by developers, which says more than a few things about developers and me, to be honest. Lucas Arts by way of Disney, for instance, is ‘putting on hold’ Star Wars 1313. While you may not have heard of it, 1313 was creating the kind of buzz that companies pay millions of dollars to generate; a Star Wars game worthy of the name people were hoping. Disney it seems wants to collect on the new trilogy it’s putting out and make games based on 7, 8, and 9 in the Star Wars saga. To put it kindly, games based on movies have a history based solely on mediocrity; all this from a company that decided to market John Carter to twelve year old boys. Needless to say the internet was decidedly unimpressed with the move. All of this came as little surprise to informed gamers; Disney has long since abandoned most gaming outside of the casual market. One need only take note of the demise of Warren Spector’s Junction Point Studios to see case in point. So I especially cherish when a developer surprises me in a good way. 

Digital Extremes has been working hard on its original IP Warframe. I was originally skeptical of the idea but I’ve slowly laid down time and money in a nod to how good this game has gotten and how good I hope it becomes. More than anything, I’m impressed with how well DE is moving forward with its vision of Warframe and how quickly it throws out material that isn’t working well. As gamers we often see companies who barrel straight ahead even when the warning signs brightly point to the cliff ahead. It can be difficult for companies to step back and take a second look at something that has consumed their days and nights for months or years, even when it’s warranted. The number of developers that would bother to take a second look on the say so of the gamers who enjoy their games is small. 

Constant updates, daily discussion between developers and players, vibrant arguments between gamers on what should and shouldn’t be included in the game; it seems to be working. Warframe is twice the game it was just two months ago. Major updates every month or two, reworking of basic fundamentals in the game when it becomes unbalanced, tweaks in every facet of the game; it all points to a game that is quick and adaptable something of even greater importance given the small size of Digital Extremes. Warframe is not the game it will be in six months, it is not yet a AAA title; slow but surely however it’s getting there.

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