|Paradox Convention 2012|
|Posted: 22.01.2012 18:54 by Joe Robinson||Comments: 13|
So here we are – Paradox Convention 2012. Whilst we may not be glamming it up in New York this year, the more rustic charms of Haringe Castle, Sweden, are not to be sniffed at. Not only are Paradox's annual showcase a nice glimpse into what the company are doing in the coming year (only 6 titles on show as opposed to 16 last year), they are also a rather fascinating (albeit specific) glimpse into the state of PC gaming itself.
Fredrik kick started the press conference in the morning with a look back at the last year, as well as a glimpse into the future. As a CEO, Fredrik is probably one of the most interesting. At last year's “ParaCon”, the lovably eccentric leader made several predictions on how well Paradox will do in 2011, and Wester didn't hesitate to own up to the fact that his predictions were wrong.
They only released around 9 titles, instead of the predicted 13, Magicka and Sword of the Stars 2 proved that they still have a long way to go improving their QA practices, and their promise to launch full out with Paradox Connect and their digital titles also fell flat, as that service has yet to be rolled out properly. Despite this, Paradox has shown remarkable growth (which was the only promise of Fred's that did pan out).
Digital revenue now accounts for 97% of their business, as opposed to 1.5% back in 2006, there was also a 75% growth in revenue, and a 250% growth in profit. Looking forward to 2012, Fredrik once again renewed his commitment to QA and their online platform, as well as some internal consolidation and more focus on the gamers themselves. Anyway, now that we've covered the corporate stuff, let's get to the important bit: The games...
War of the Roses
First up during the convention was War of the Roses, which was announced during GamesCom last year, this is a multiplayer-focused medieval combat game, very much in the vein of Mount & Blade. There wasn't a lot to see when we last saw it – we could only talk to the Senior Producer Gorden Van Dyke, but this time around they had plenty to show, and it was impressive.
The first thing that will strike you about this game is how gorgeous it looks. This is Paradox's biggest title to date, with the most budget and the most resources devoted to it, and it really shows off. Think of how beautiful The Witcher 2 looked, and then crank that up to 11, and you may appreciate the level of detail.
And that's without even mentioning the core gameplay – focused around medieval combat during the 15th Century English Civil War, you create a persistent character and fight in a number of different locations ranging from a forest, to full blown castles. There's going to be 60+ weapons, three armour types and plenty of variations within those types, ample customization, a persistent perk and level system, and much, much more. There will be an offline mode of some sorts - it's been mentioned before, but at the moment they're focusing on general gameplay rather then details, so we'll have to wait and see.
Naval War: Arctic Circle
This game has come on a lot since we last saw it. Debuting last year, this naval-warfare simulation looked interesting as a concept, but there was little to physically see to back it up – now however, not only do they have the tech in place, but they're working on an interesting game-layer to go on top.
A mixture of a 2D tactical map, and a 3D rendered environment mode, Naval warfare should go a long way to capture some of the simulation market. It's so hardcore as to be very specialised to who it appeals to, but it is very much a simulation, and there's all the features and elements that this implies.
Salem was once again on show this year. If we're being honest, little has fundamentally changed since we saw it last, but the game is still fascinating in concept, and the more we see, the more we see how interesting it's going to be.
The social dynamics alone, with the developers taking a EVE-like hands off approach, will be fascinating, and as a free-to-play game there's going to be a lot of value for gamers. You'll see from the assets that it's quite low-tech – even by Paradox standards – but it's very easy to look past that and really engage with the gameplay.
Gettysburg: Armored Warfare
Our Game of the Show last year, Armored Warfare surprised us, not so much for it's content, but for the man behind it. In catching up with him this year, it seems that Danny “One Man Army” Green has been up to his old tricks again – if you thought it looked good last year, it's phenomenal this year. The engine is very robust, very flexible, and the quality of the assets and rendering is very high – in fact the only game that looks better is War of the Roses.
What used to be a Paradox Connect lead-title, Gettysburg is now a Steam-exclusive game, with a price point of around £15 / $10. At the moment, there will only be four maps and two game modes at launch, but much like Magicka this is a game that's going to receive a lot of love and attention post launch in the form of DLC. Not to mention it's going to be shipping with a world editor, it probably won't take long for the community to create their own maps.
Warlock: Master of the Arcane
We haven't really seen a lot about this game since it was announced late last year, but at this year's convention we got a first glimpse of the game being played. Think Civilization, with a fantasy twist. It looks like a very competent game, well made, and it'll probably be quite fun, but the main problem is it looks, feels (we imagine – hands off demo) and pretty much plays like Civilization. So much so that we're surprised there's no legal issues involved.
Whilst we could say we're disappointed in the transparency, Firaxis made Civilization V extremely well, especially in terms of presentation and UI – there would be little sense in changing anything for the sense of change. And, being set in the Majesty universe, there's enough quirks and fantasy spin on the gameplay that you won't get a complete sense of deja vu. After all, this isn't a game about managing a civilisation.
Napoleons Campaigns II
Those lovable guys at AGEOD / Paradox France are at it again. Hot of their Pride of Nations title that released last year, the strategy-minded frenchmen have now decided to release a sequel to the original Napoleons Campaigns title. Unlike their past games however, this is a real-time strategy product using Paradox's Clauzwitz engine (seen recently in Sengoku, and the upcoming Crusader Kings II).
Whether this will temper from of the more hardcore concepts AGEOD love to throw into their games, only time will tell. Another thing to note is that this game takes a very Hearts of Iron approach, spanning only ten years, and being very military focused.
A Game of Dwarves
One of the new announcements this year, there was no official booth for this title, but we managed to glean some details anyway. A strategy-management game in the vein of Dungeon Keeper and Theme Hospital, Dwarves is actually a 3D update or a re-release of an existing Steam game called Dwarfs!?, and is a very quirky title about dwarves and their dwellings. Management is handled indirectly, a la Majesty 2, and it's even coming to the PSN and Mac.
Game of the Show: War of the Roses
Whilst we could have easily awarded it to Danny Green again for his still-stunning work with Gettysburg, props this year has to go to the War of the Roses team. The game looks stunning, they're developing the meele mechanics really well, and it's got multiplayer very much in mind. With ex-DICE employees, even some input from a former Mount & Blade frontman, the passion and talent being poured into this game seems to be paying off big time, and we can't wait to get our hands on it.
And that wraps things up for this year's Paradox Convention. Whilst it was a smaller show, talking to Fredrik and Shams, Paradox clearly has a lot going on. There's a ton of 2013 projects that are in existence, but they just won't talk about them. More than ever, Paradox is a company to watch, not just in terms of PC gaming, but in innovation generally. And I'm not just saying that because I happen to be sitting beside a large pile of money.