When The Little Guy Influences The Giant

28 Aug

Gas Powered Games’ next big title, Demigod, is an RTS-like game where players take on the role of a hero character and help their streams of soldiers overcome the opposing heroes and their streams of soldiers.  Sound original?  Well it’s not, but that’t not a bad thing.  Let me explain.

In an interview I did earlier this year with Relic’s Tarrnie Williams he had expressed his view that the independent scene, like indie film, can be seen as a sort of testing ground for game concepts, letting bigger developers gauge reception and safely iterate.  Whether that was the case before, it is now that Demigod is in production, and could be the start of a new mainstream sub-genre for the RTS.

Why?  Well (and many of you already know this) Demigod got its general concept from a Warcraft III modification called Defense of the Ancients, right down to the hero classes, map setup, and RPG-like itemization.  Indeed, DotA paved the way for Demigod, and if Demigod does well it seems reasonable to expect more titles in the same vein to appear.

PC Gamer had a great article in their October 2008 issue (don’t ask me why I’m reading it in August) that explained in more depth how Gas Powered Games is improving on the DotA formula, taking DotA’s many classes and compressing them into two archetypes, Generals (support) and Assassins (player killers).  They’re taking DotA and adding the polish that only a bigger developer can, several stunning stages (as opposed to DotA’s single stage), more control over what type of minions are produced, and most likely a more pared down and stable roster of heroes.

I highly doubt the release of Demigod will result in less people playing DotA, while a larger number of less hardcore players will be able to access Demigod.  So the independent game gets to continue its cash tournaments full of hardcore players who don’t mind the extremely asymmetrical balance, while the bigger game lets other gamers have a go at the RTS/RPG hybrid.

We can only hope that this continues, because while I’m only guessing at the outcome, I’m inclined to believe it will only be positive for the growth of the industry, in terms of breadth of experiences, nor more money.

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4 Responses to “When The Little Guy Influences The Giant”

  1. Grayson August 28, 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    I have to point out that Dota was not the first of it’s genre
    The currently played mod, Dota Allstars by icefrog was based off an older similar mod Dota from about a year prior before the current evolution of dota became popular
    And years before that a ums map for Starcraft called Aeon of Strife (sp?) came out with the same concept all be it far simpler.
    2-3 lanes of “creeps” from two sides and you rushed out mindlessly killing them and leveling up Zergling>marine>raynor>ghost etc…

    So while the current iteration of Dota may be the most popular and definitely well known it was by no means the first time the concept came to fruition

    That aside though, indie games, (much like how it worked in the movie business) are a good testing grounds for big game companies to see whats popular, whether their initiating it themselves or just seeing what the other guys are doing.

    Good article
    (I’m looking forward to updates on this game be interesting to see how it pans out)

    (btw yell at me on facebook if you have any extra comments)

  2. Grayson August 28, 2008 at 6:17 pm #

    ooh yeah
    “The idea of a “team-based” RTS is still something we’re wrapping our brains around; as multiplayer RTS is nothing new, but Demigod sounds like something different.”

    Teambased RTS has existed for a long time… wc2 had team based rts :\

  3. Miko Wilson August 28, 2008 at 9:58 pm #

    Dota stems from a little known game that pre-dated StarCraft by a good 20-30 years. It’s called D&D. Like most good things in this world, DOTA is similar in base and intent as a good ol’ fashioned dungeon crawler.

  4. Grayson August 29, 2008 at 2:04 am #

    ….. good contribution miko
    but i think d&d was predated a few hundred years before that, i think it was called real life

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