Developer Appreciation Week is here! For the uninitiated the concept of Developer Appreciation week dates back to 2010 and was started by Couture Gaming the Blogger formerly known as Scarybooster. The idea was simple, spend a week talking about all of the things you love about various game development companies and studios. As a blogger we spend plenty of time pointing out what is wrong in the games we love, and talking about ways that they could be better. That said it is important to understand that for most of us this critique comes from being a huge fan of the games and genres as a whole. So during this week we point out the things that are going right and make a point of mentioning all the things we really appreciate out there. If you too are a blogger please feel free to join in by posting your own Developer Appreciation Week ideas.
Today draws to a close this years Developer Appreciation Week and there are always more things that need to be talked about than there was time to do so. During the week I wrote about five different studios. Some of them were pretty pointed discussions, and others were just nostalgic romps. What is always left at the end of the week however are a bunch more than I COULD have talked about. So the purpose of today’s post is to recap where I have been this week and do a few shorter blurbs. Here is the rundown of studios discussed this week.
Now here are some topics that ultimately got left on the cutting room floor for lack of time.
Bethesda Softworks / Zenimax Media
Ultimately had I not taken a break for a day this would have been the missing topic. I have this huge love for Bethesda games in their own right, but over the years they also snatched up iD software and became a third party publisher for amazing studios like Arkane. The root of my love however comes from the modern Fallout and Elder Scrolls Franchises. These are games that I can lose myself in for hundreds of hours and still feel like I have not even begun to scratch the surface on what there is to see. There are so many times in the past where I have lost entire weekends to exploring Tamriel or the burnt out husk of the Capitol Wasteland. I will also always have a soft spot in my heart for Elder Scrolls Online, since it feels like I have a closer connection to that title than most. It has made me pretty happy to see that the game is now thriving after a pretty rough start.
I love this company, in spite of the fact that they have seemed horribly confused as to what sort of game company they actually wanted to be. They have this world that is amazing, and each game they have released has told a piece of the story of its background. The only confusing part is that each game for the most part has been in a vastly different genre. You have Divine Divinity which was originally a Diablo style game… and then the follow up Divinity II which has a very Elder Scrolls/Dragon Age type feel to it. Then there is Dragon Commander which is this strange 4X mixed with RTS elements. Finally you have Divinity: Original Sin that feels like the game they always had been meaning to create. The title is so insanely content dense that I have trouble actually making any progress because I keep finding something else that is interesting to check out. In the very first town it felt like every single NPC had some interesting backstory to delve into. I just love that a game company is out there trying to create all of these different game types, and for the most part succeeding at it. I have thoroughly enjoyed every single Larian game that I have set my hands on, and look forward to playing more in the future.
This company makes some really amazingly detailed and well crafted games. Bastion had so much going on, from the physical mechanics of gameplay… to the amazing running narration. I was also a huge fan of the soundtrack and have spent many an hour with it running in the background. When Transistor came out, I was shocked that I loved everything about that game even more. We have devoted at least three podcasts where we have gushed about Transistor, and how well written the story was… which combined amazingly with the soundtrack and gameplay. Now Supergiant has a brand new game that they showed at Pax East called Pyre. At first look it doesn’t exactly seem to be my sort of game, but I know from past experience that if they have crafted it… then chances are I will ultimately love it too. I am amazed how they can seem to do it every time… build this completely unique experience that I still love just as much as their others.
This company comes with some baggage. I unequivocally love the Borderlands series of games. It has such amazing characters and writing, and manages to pull off a sort of self aware comedy that is extremely hard to do in a game. Most “comedic games” fall short, and end up not quite translating into actual humor. Borderlands has mastered the art of telling a real story while making me go into full on belly laughs at times. This in itself wouldn’t been all that amazing, but it is on top of a really damned solid shooter. When I first heard the concept of “Diablo with Guns” I was not 100% sure I would be sold. However playing the first Borderlands I was completely bought into the concept, and then Borderlands 2 came after improving quite literally everything. Now I am not sure if I am sold on the notion of Battleborn, but I am giving it a shot because of the pedigree and some of the single player videos remind me a lot of the things I loved from Battleborn. Now when I say the company has some baggage…. this is also the studio that released Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines. I am just hoping that Battleborn ends up feeling more Borderlands… and doesn’t add to the detractor column.
I feel like I have to write about Bungie, but I also didn’t really feel like I had enough ammunition to really do a full post. I was never a Halo player. I never owned an Xbox, and when I played the PC port it didn’t feel all that amazing as compared to the game I was super into at that time Unreal II: The Awakening. I feel like Microsoft did a massive disservice by keeping a strangle hold on the Halo franchise, and does to this very day. However when I first saw Destiny… I knew this was going to be a game for me. In fact this was the game that ultimately made me buy my PS4 and learn how to play a shooter with a controller. While the game didn’t really grab me and keep me during year one… year two and the Taken King expansion have been amazing. I love this game so much and over the course of the last few months it is really my primary game. While I loved the Diablo 3 season launch last night, there was a little part of me that would have rather been playing Iron Banner in Destiny. The game has its hooks in me hard, and it really has become this perfect package of game play feel, with a reward system that makes it feel like my time spent was worth it. Seriously bravo to Bungie for the creation of this game… the only thing that could make it better is if it released on the PC as well.