So Gearbox Software was the highest bidder in the auction for the Homeworld license.
While the identity of the winner was kept confidential until yesterday’s announcement, we already knew who the runners-up were – Stardock, the guys behind Sins of a Solar Empire. And in third place was Paradox Interactive (known for Majesty, Magicka and, most recently, the best trailer of 2013), who graciously conceded defeat via the following tweet –
We finished 3rd in the Homeworld auction; I would have loved to work on that IP but wish the winners all the best and hope for a great HW3
— Fredrik Wester (@TheWesterFront) April 19, 2013
A great Homeworld 3 – now, I don’t know much about Mr. Wester, but he’s rather effectively summed up what every Homeworld fan has wanted since 2003. Of course, since THQ’s tragic demise, question marks hung over the future of the franchise, let alone any possible sequel; now, at least, we’ve got room to hope on both those fronts.
However – and this is the bit that concerns me – is Homeworld in safe hands?
The answer, quite clearly, is no.
If there’s anybody out there who still doesn’t believe that Blizzard are the gods of cinematics, you might want to leave the room or something. We’ve got Hydralisks slicing through Marines, Ultralisks stomping on Siege Tanks and Kerrigan gloating over it all. Or was she? Who cares? Honestly, the only way this trailer could’ve been any better was if Mengsk had shown up, screaming ‘YOU SUNK MY BATTLESHIP!’ Wings of Liberty set the bar really high with one of my all-time favourite trailers, but Kerrigan and co. have just matched it.
I’ll hold my hand up and admit it – Heart of the Swarm wasn’t particularly high on my radar before today, but all that’s changed in 3 spectacular minutes. March 12th can’t come soon enough.
In the distant future, three superpowers are locked in an endless war with each other over the scant resources left on the planet. The communist Celts, the theocratic Americans and the theocratic Vikings are all that remain of the dozens of nations that once existed on the planet; with all the other civilizations having fallen before their military might and been assimilated into their burgeoning empires. The war has lasted almost 2,000 years, and the stalemate just about half that. Nuclear fallout has swept the world, rendering large swathes of land uninhabitable. What arable land wasn’t irradiated is now mostly swamp, because it was inundated by the melting of the ice caps. Between nuclear annihilation and famine, 90% of the world’s population is dead. The survivors live in hellish suffering, as military production takes priority over absolutely everything else. Guerrilla uprisings sporadically occur, and are ruthlessly suppressed. The year is 3991 AD, and there’s no end to the war in sight.
Very Orwellian, no? The above paragraph isn’t inspired by 1984, or indeed any other pillar of the dystopian community – it is the state of affairs in a Civilization II game that’s been going on for 10 years. As he describes in this thread on Reddit, user Lycerius kept at it well beyond the game’s usual end point in 2020; because, as he says, “I thought that it might be interesting to see just how far into the future I could get and see what the ramifications would be.”
While the ramifications undoubtedly turned out to be pretty grim, he’s doing everything he can to fix the world based on suggestions he’s received from other Reddit users; and, what’s more, he’s also uploaded the save-game so that others can try their luck. It’s even spawned an entire subreddit – titled, appropriately enough, The Eternal War – dedicated to ending the war; it’s devoted to strategies, comparisons and, inevitably, fan-fiction. (Update – at least one player has managed to end the Eternal War already; check out inigos’ account of his victory here.)
It’s been 16 – sixteen! – years since Civilization II released, and it’s still giving us amazing stories like this. This is why I love gaming.
While I highly recommend you read the thread itself, it’s possible you may not have the time to go through it. So, if you’re interested, join me after the break where I’ve posted a few of the more brilliant bits.
Earlier today, THQ took the wraps off Company of Heroes 2, a sequel to the much-loved 2006 original, scheduled to release in early 2013. Set amidst the frozen battlefields of World War II’s Eastern Front, players will be tasked with taking charge of the Red Army and repelling the legions of Nazi invaders. Sounds tough, but worry not – history relates that the Germans did come a cropper in Russia, partly because they failed to take into account what Ned Stark kept banging on about, and partly because of the Red Army’s aptitude for sheer bloody-mindedness. (Also, I’ve heard that, in Soviet Russia, cold catches y- come on! You knew that was coming.)
Company of Heroes, for me, was the game that made strategy gaming sexy again when it released – kind of like what Call of Duty 4 would do for shooters a year later – and, as a result, I am positively besides myself with excitement that it’s getting a sequel. I’m also glad to see Relic exploring the Eastern Front, as it’s hitherto been woefully under-represented in gaming. Relic’s also bringing an upgraded Essence Engine to the party, which should result in “increased graphical fidelity and new environmental destruction.”
If I’m honest, that’s not even really necessary – CoH was pretty darn close to perfect, by my reckoning. Just give me more of the same, THQ – don’t fix what isn’t broken – and we’ll both be laughing. You, all the way to the bank; and me, all the way to Berlin.
Full press release after the break.