In 2014 Triumph Studios revitalized the niche 4X strategy series Age of Wonders with the excellent Age of Wonders 3. After two solid expansion packs the studio quietly began working on their next project, and was acquired by Swedish publisher Paradox Interactive, known for big, densely packed strategy games.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall is the long-awaited next step in the franchise. It’s less of an evolutionary leap forward, but builds upon the successes of Age of Wonders 3 along with several smart and fun gameplay improvements and dozens hours of replayability.
At age 21, Jon Shafer was asked to be the lead designer for Sid Meier’s Civilization 5. It was a dream come true for a young designer who had been creating mods for Civ, just a few years before. Within three years of shipping Civ 5, though, he’d quit lucrative jobs at Firaxis and Stardock and suffer the crushing reality of being an isolated programming prodigy with ADHD, trying to make his dream game. It all came crashing down in 2015. “I had nothing left, financially, physically, or mentally,” he wrote. “The last shreds of creativity and productivity finally slipped between my fingers.”
Since 2015 Shafer has been slowly building his life back up from ruin. He spent six hard years on his passion project At the Gates, finally finishing and releasing it this January. Here’s how he got there.
I interviewed Paradox Interactive and Free League Publishing on Paradox’s recent board game licensing extravaganza, including the Kickstarter-funded Crusader Kings: The Board Game.
You can read it in the October issue of Tabletop Gaming Magazine, available now in print and digital.
My top ten favorite games of the year, presented in ascending order each day leading into the holidays. Look for my full Top Ten list with categories and awards on December 24!
#10 Pokémon GO
#9 Skylanders Imaginators
We officially crack into my Top Five Games of the Mid-Year with Stellaris. Though it ultimately fell a few places in my final ranking, that’s more a testament to the incredible line-up from the second half of the year than any failing on how much I enjoyed this grand strategy space game.
Paradox Interactive’s grand strategy titles were always a cut above what I could enjoy, steeped in deep complexity and complicated interfaces. Stellaris rises above all that with an awesome sci-fi theme to create a surprisingly accessible grand strategy title. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2016: #8”
Stellaris captures the craziness and fun of sci-fi in an engaging, infinitely replayable strategy game.
Grand Strategy games have been around for awhile – a genre coined and perfected by Swedish developers Paradox Interactive. Previous Paradox titles dove headfirst into Medieval and World War history, and Stellaris finally takes us to the stars.
Managing European provinces is trite compared to large-scale galactic conquest, allied federations, and playing god to lesser beings. Stellaris isn’t just Paradox’s most accessible title; it’s also the best space empire management game I’ve ever played.