There is always a pile of things, ads, press releases, and what not waiting in my inbox every morning.
Because of this, my tendency is to delete unless there is some hook that grabs me. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to run all of this stuff down, so I relay on things standing out. This is the heart of advertising, and that is what most of the things in my inbox are, ads in one form or another.
The award for the hook of the day has to go to Storm Eagle Studios for their Divorce Pack Bundle.
The package itself rolls up their WWI naval combat game Jutland with the three available expansions for a single price 50% off of retail, making the total $74.99.
This ad was in my mailbox because I actually tried out the demo of Jutland a couple years back. In one of those after hours fits of interest, I suddenly decided that naval warfare simulation would be an interesting avenue to explore, and so I ended up at Storm Eagle’s site where I downloaded their demo of many hurdles. One does not simply download into naval combat.
After a couple of hours of tinkering, the realities of the situation were brought home.
As I noted in a past musing on battleships, fleet engagements in the age of 20th century battleships were things that took place at considerable distance. The romance ideals implanted in my brain by the likes of Patrick O’Brein of laying alongside and blazing away were replaced by shooting at small dots on the horizon. Encounters tend to be prolonged sessions of wandering about trying to make something happen, followed by trying to figure out what actually did happen.
Basically, it is a game for a grognard, a hard core wargamer, who wants as realistic a simulation as can be managed. World of Warships (formerly World of Battleships) will pose no competitive threat here.
This is doubly so because, like so many such war games from small studios, the UI feels like it was designed by the IT department at my last company, where “Good Enough” wasn’t just an excuse, but a treasured organizational value.
It was enough to overcome any interest I had in simulating naval battles from the WWI.
But I remain on their mailing list, and so it was that the ad showed up and I decided to head on over to their site, if only to figure out how “divorce” played into this bundle. Thoughts of the studio chief attempting to goose sales in order to pay alimony were in my head.
Unfortunately, the site seems to owe a debt to our old IT department motto as well. Look at the description of the Divorce Pack Bundle in the screen shot above. Yeah, that. It looks the same in Firefox, IE, and Chrome. And I could go on.
In my looking around, I also found out that, among the changes that had occurred since I last visited their site, Storm Eagle had taken their onerous copy protection scheme and decided to turn it into a digital distribution system. They even lay out their features (detailed chart) and ask how they stack up against Steam.
Which is kind of an awkward question to ask, because it isn’t even possible in my mind for them to stack up, as far as user experience goes, with Steam. And user experience is important.
None of which should be taken as an explicit slam of the studio or their products. I get that, in a small studio with a small audience and a complicated, niche product, you have to pick your battles. Realism has to trump for your audience, and they’ll put up with a certain layer of awkwardness to get it.
And you have to have a delivery system for your games and if you expect low volume you like to be sure that you get as many sales as you can in a world where wild claims of 93-95% piracy exist, which means copy protection.
But am I going to buy Tropico IV here rather than at Steam? I don’t think so.
But I wouldn’t buy it on Origin either, so don’t feel too bad. I just already have this relationship with Steam and a desire to minimize the amount of content management software running on my system.
And speaking of relationships, what was the divorce bit all about?
Ah, marital problems. I get it, ha ha.
Look, I play MMOs. Anything with a pause button is like ice cream and cake in my marriage.
But, as I said, the game is also too hard core for me.
However, if you are looking for a realistic battleship fleet engagement simulation, you don’t have a lot of choices, so there it is. And you can even play it for free this weekend.