Tag Archives: Hidden Path Entertainment

Defense Grid 2 Coming Online

A little over two years back the team at Hidden Path Entertainment, the creators of Defense Grid: The Awakening, ran a Kickstarter campaign with a slate of goals.

The baseline goal was to raid $250K to create a new set of levels for Defense Grid: The Awakening.  Being one of my favorites in the tower defense genre, I was in just to get a few more levels of the game.

But Hidden Path Entertainment had a grander vision.  They had their eyes on Defense Grid 2, a sequel they hoped to fund through the Kickstarter.  For everything they wanted to do… new engine, multiplayer, level creator/editor, support across multiple platforms… the target was one million dollars.

DG2_Short

However, sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp.  In this case, 30 days of Kickstarting only came up with $271,727.  That was enough for the basic goal, more levels for Defense Grid: The Awakening, but nothing else on the list.  And they delivered on that… almost on time.  The promise was for December of 2012 and we got it in January of 2013.  Not much of a slip at all.

But Hidden Path also promised us Defense Grid 2.

You’ll Get DG2

We’re working to cross the minimum and fund Defense Grid: Containment.  But please also understand that by joining the team as a backer, you’ll also get a copy of DG2 when we release it.  We’ll need to do extra work on our end to earn or raise the remaining funds in order to complete DG2, but when we do, you’ll still be a part of the team.  Crossing $250,000 gets you DG:Containment this December, and DG2 when it is complete.

They were going to have to go find another way to fund it, but it was still part of the plan.

Time went by.  I played through all of the levels in the new expansion multiple times.  Hidden Path kept us up to date on funding, which they managed to secure through a couple of sources.  Kickstarter backers were allowed into the beta on Steam earlier this year.  And, today, Defense Grid 2 becomes available on Steam.

Defense Grid 2

Defense Grid 2

At least the Windows version is available today.  Mac and SteamOS versions are slated for mid-October.

Those of us who supported the Kickstarter got our keys this past weekend, so I have already spent some time with the game, and it is good.

The single player game is an expansion on the original Defense Grid: The Awakening, with story missions that carry on from there and all the variations on how to play through a given level you have been lead to expect.  There is still multiplayer co-op and the whole DG Architect, which allows players to create their own levels and share them through the Steam Workshop, still to discover.

Here are a few screen shots I have taken of the game.

The art style has changed, the turrets have all be redone, and the levels are part of a wider landscape now.  The aliens are a bit less interesting so far… though I haven’t made it that far into the game.  The turrets do seems to have more well defined roles now.  And, of course, there are a pile of achievements.  But for the most part it feels like a good, solid tower defense game.

As part of my Kickstarter pledge, I ended up with an extra key.  I am going to give it away to somebody who comments on this post.

All you have to do is leave a comment indicating that you would like the key and make sure that the email address you use when leaving the comment is valid (nobody by me can see it and that is where I am going to send it, so if it bounces you lose) within 24 hours of this post going live (by 15:00 UTC, 8am PDT, or 11am EDT September 24, 2014) and I will use some sort of random number generator to decide who gets it.

I can still do something like “/roll 1d100” in WoW can’t I?

The winner will be notified by email and I will append the result to the post.

And if you don’t win, well, the game is only $25.  And if that is too steep, there is always the Steam Holiday Sale in December.

But so far I recommend the game if you liked the original or enjoy tower defense in general.

Addendum: Prize Roll straight from Ironforge in Azeroth.

PrizeRoll

The roll was 13, which I guess means spoutbec wins the Steam key.  We’ll see if his email address is legit shortly.

Age of Empires II – HD Edition, That’s What I’m Talking About

The Age of Empires II – HD Edition went live on Steam yesterday, and is a perfect example of what I meant when I wrote about games I would like to see revamped.

AoK450

It offers up what I would call “quality of life” improvements such as:

  • Re-mastered for high resolution displays 1080p+.
  • Enhanced visual engine with improved terrain textures, water, fire and ambient lighting effects.
  • New Steamworks features: Achievements, Leaderboards, Matchmaking and Cloud support.
  • Share user created content with Steam Workshop support.

without changing the core game play.  I have been anxious to try it out since it was announced last month.  And given its position on the Steam Top Sellers list, I am not alone.

Top of the Chart

Top of the Chart

Granted, it is modestly prices compared to a lot of that list… just $20… and this is a mid-week reading, but that still shows there is some support for the game.  And it has actually been on that list for more than a week now, with people grabbing the pre-order version which offered a $2 discount.

So last night I was able to download the game and take it out for a run.  And it was good.

Smiting my foes

Smiting my foes

The graphic updates are small but effective.  It looked good full screen on my 1600×1200 20″  monitor.  And one of the first things I saw in the Steamworks mod library were replacement icons for the resources, to change them back to the old ones people are probably used to at this point.  I must admit, I looked at those and kept thinking, “Is that gold?”

All is not perfect in the world though.

The launcher does not draw correctly on my system.

Funky Launcher - Their Term

Funky Launcher – Their Term

There is actually a link at the bottom of the of the launcher that says, “My launcher looks funky?” which actually shouldn’t be a question because my launcher clearly looks funky. (Might I suggest “Does your launcher look funky?”)

Clicking on that link brings up a page… explicitly in Internet Explorer because Microsoft is involved with this.. that say that if you have your desktop text size set to anything besides 100%, the launcher gets screwed up.  I have mine set to 110% because I need the text just a little bit bigger on my monitor to be able to read things comfortably without getting out the reading glasses.  And, frankly, I am not going to change that… it requires a reboot if I recall right… just for a game.

Fortunately, it is just the launcher than has this issue, and I only see that for a brief time.  But this is not the first time the desktop DPI setting has caused problems with a game.  I got into the End of Nations beta at one point and the game threw an error and would not launch if your setting was anything but 100%.   That made it “end of beta” for me.  Damn young engineers and their good eyesight.

Also on the iffy list are achievements.  They do not appear to be hooked up correctly.  I played through a couple of quick games last night which, if I read the achievements right, should have netted me a couple.  But none were awarded.  Plenty of time for that later I suppose.

The game also seemed to be confused as to whether it should use the name I entered in the game, Wilhelm IV, or my Steam user name, Wilhelm Arcturus, when playing the game.  It seemed to use one or the other at various points.  I might not have noticed this except for the fact that the in-game name field won’t accept a name as long as Wilhelm Arcturus.

And, not really going out on a limb here, I am going to guess that unless you already have an account, that this being a Steam only game is probably an issue for some.

Still, for me, none of those got in the way of playing the game.  Now I have to get Potshot to get a copy.

I do wonder what the impact of this game will be.  For example, there was a group that created an unofficial expansion for the game back in December.  Will they forge ahead separately or will they embrace Steam and move what they can into the Steam Workshop?

And what about Game Ranger, the service that basically picked up the slack for Microsoft on the internet game play aspect of things.  Age of Empires II and its variations look to be the most popular game played on their service.  Will this hurt them?

And what will success on this front mean in the gaming industry?  The current fad is to remake old games in a new image, something that has not been wholly satisfactory.  The people who played the original often balk at changes.  Would we better served with efforts like this that leave the core game play alone and merely polish things up so that the game plays and looks good on current systems?

And do game developers even want to do that sort of thing?

I recall being in college back in the 80s, back when the Japanese were going to take over our tech industry.  They had conquered manufacturing and were producing software engineers at such a rate that they would clearly destroy the US software industry next.  A professor, who wast gamely trying to teach us Pascal, stated that this would never happen.

His evidence was a then recent survey of computer science grads and what sort of projects they hoped to work on in their career.  The survey showed that a vast majority of the Japanese respondents wanted to go on to established projects and help maintain and improve them over time.  The US respondents went completely the other way and mostly wanted to work on new projects.  That desire to strike out into uncharted territory, he said, was they key to ongoing success.

Now, I do not know if that actually played into things, but the Japanese clearly did not take over US software development regardless of how many Japanese cars there are in Silicon Valley.  However, that survey remained in the back of my mind for all of these years because the desire to work on something new and interesting seems to be quite a common thread where ever I ended up.

And reworking old games to bring them up to current standards doesn’t seem to fall into that category.

Does that have any influence on how often these sorts of revamps get done?

What do you think?

Age of Empires II – HD Edition

Keen tipped me to an announcement today that Hidden Path Entertainment is working on an updated version of Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings.  It is called Age of Kings II: HD Edition.

AoK450

The game will include both the original content as well as The Conquerors expansions and will add the following features:

  • Re-mastered for high resolution displays 1080p+.
  • Enhanced visual engine with improved terrain textures, water, fire and ambient lighting effects.
  • New Steamworks features: Achievements, Leaderboards, Matchmaking and Cloud support.
  • Share user created content with Steam Workshop support.

All of which is curious timing because just last week I posted about Age of Kings getting an unofficial expansion.  It will be interesting to see if the team at Forgotten Empires will be able to (or even want to) include some of the changes they have done to the game via the Steamworks user content option.

This is such big news that Microsoft even has a page up about it.  Maybe this means that they will update their ancient Age of Kings page.  It still has ads from 2001 running on it.

Anyway, I have no doubt that Hidden Path, who made one of my favorite tower defense games, will do a good job bringing this classic into the 21st century.   But we will find out in about a month, as it is slated to ship on Steam (and only Steam I gather) on April 9, 2013.