Mar 01 2010

More big game watching…

Although I write flash games, I certainly admit to playing big studio developed games. :) So, to the best of my ability I’ve been trying to follow Silent Hunter 5 release.

First copies were in user’s hands as early as Feb 27th, but on a large scale the game won’t be available until sometime on March 2nd, when Steam, D2D, etc begin to allow downloads. First players seem to be saying “Good, but not great” which isn’t surprising given the history of the franchise.

An extensive modding community is what seems to make hardcore sims have legs. SH3 and SH4 have extensive mods which address various issues ranging from the size of the stopwatch to making the games conform better with known historical performance and specifications. SH5 appears to support the modding community by providing a scripting engine and tools! Ignoring the elephant in the room, the long term future for this game is pretty bright.

Speaking of elephants, both at subsim.com and on Ubisoft’s own forums, DRM remains a contentious issue, first players appear to be having little to no problem with the OSP system.

Interestingly, while trying to find coverage on the SH5 DRM issue, I ran across Rise of Flight, a WWI flight sim released last year by neoqb* which required users to log in online even to play the single player mode. With their next update, they’re introducing a “Login Offline” mode. Although players are still required to log in and validate their account initially, and to activate DLC, subsequent to that activation they will be able to play offline. This development apparently as a result of community pressure (quote from neoqb’s official blog, emphasis mine):

“Of course, the main gaming mode is still ONLINE, as it was initially designed, so not all game features will be available in offline mode. But this should address the main problems you asked us to handle, which is really our main priority. You can now spend (most of) your time within Rise Of Flight without connection to the internet.”

It will be interesting to see what Ubisoft ends up doing with this. Despite suggestions from the indie community that DRM-free leads to higher sales and better performance, Ubisoft tried that already with the 2008 release of Prince of Persia, sales of which were lower than expected. Still, PoP is far more similar to the contentious Assassin’s Creed 2 than the Silent Hunter series. It remains to be seen whether all PC gamers should be treated alike.

*- High fidelity WWI flight sim? And the first I find out about it is from a DRM discussion? I’ll give a nod to Tom Chick at fidgit.com for initially letting me know that SH5 was near release. However, I think the general gaming press does a very poor job of covering the industry except for AAA releases.

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