Real-time strategy games got simpler over time. The genre, which combined base-building with action, began to focus exclusively on the latter. But during its golden age, it was possible to go in the opposite direction. Age of Empires II dared to add the features of civilization games to the pressure of real time tactics. Rough, unadulterated and, yet, beautifully remixed by its Definitive Edition; it delivers on its promise, though not without flaws.
“Games are for children”. No matter how wrong, or misguided we might find this claim, this single idea has shaped the past, present and future of games. In fact, I would argue it’s the most influential belief in their whole history. From the composition of the audience to the way violence is portrayed, it can all be drawn back to this bit of prejudice.
Back in the halcyon days of the Saturn, Sega attempted to bridge the demands of their console with the design principles of their flagship arcade titles. One of the results of this experimentation was Panzer Dragoon, a shooter set in a fantasy world in which we ride on the back of a powerful dragon. Now remade, it’s as fun as it must have been back in 1995, but also as lacking in substance.
Stefan Feld is known for his tight euro games which focus on precision and efficiency. One might think this would make his games impervious to issues of balance, but that hasn’t been the case. Over several editions, Castles of Burgundy had to be tweaked several times, strengthening some of its weaker pieces and toning down the strongest. But one small mistake gave way to the most broken tile in the game.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a builder. No matter the game, I’ve always preferred to focus on getting resources, expanding slowly and lashing out only as a last resort. But, as I’ve gotten older, my play has gotten more aggressive. I started defending my territory, often beforehand. I did little raids. Before I noticed it, I was attacking first. And I started having more fun than ever.