Arcania Bugs. Elemental Expansion.

ArcaniaGird2

Ground textures, I think your grid seams are showing.

ArcaniaGrid1

Oh, I see it’s a feature then huh?

I recently picked up two different PC games, and there were some pretty big news stories about both of them. One of them gives me hope for the buggy game I own, while the other just kind of depresses me.

The first game I picked up was Arcania: Gothic 4. Anyone who has been following this blog for almost a year knows that I’ve been excited about this game since the demo was first released. You might ask why I hadn’t picked it up till now, and the answer is simple: I’m a poor college student. I can rarely afford ‘new’ games, so I tend to gravitate toward Steam sales. Well, while walking through Target last week I saw a copy of Arcania on sale for $20. Needless to say I scooped it right up, ran home and installed it.

I’ll go into a bigger review once I’ve finished the game, but so far it’s a little lackluster. The graphics are alright, though nothing to write home about. The voice acting is terrible, though a step up from Gothic 3 and a major step down from Risen. What really made me happy is the combat. The combat is Gothic 3 was TERRIBLE with nothing redeeming about it. The combat in Risen was extremely hard and, while fun at times, more annoying than anything. Arcania really stepped it up here and made the combat something I enjoy doing, so that’s great.

Sadly JoWood decided to carry over a lot of the things that made Gothic 3 nearly unplayable, including terrible optimization and more bugs than a Starship Troopers sequel. Sadly many of these bugs are pretty bad, including the bug that turns most of the games textures black if I leave the textures on high. Instead I have to play with low texture resolution for the entirety of the game if I don’t want to have the landscape a blank black screen.

ArcaniaLowTextures

My landscape and object textures now look far worse than MORROWIND and it runs at a solid 20 FPS. Sweet.

So maybe JoWood will release a patch that will fix it so I can play on high texture detail again? Or maybe optimize it a bit better? Well according to The Escapist and other video game news sources, JoWood has declared bankruptcy. After the failure of Gothic 3 and it’s expansion pack, and finally the poor launch of Arcania I’m not too surprised. Still, this means I have to complete the entire game with it looking worse than Morrowind. Hell I could mod Morrowind and have it look a LOT better than this game, and at least I wouldn’t have to deal with the voice acting.

The second game I picked up on my “buy glitchy, broken games” kick was Elemental: War of Magic. I tried playing through the ‘story mode’, but it was pretty terrible and I ran to the forums to see if there was something I was missing. It turns out the story mode is total broken shit and I SHOULD have been playing in the sandbox mode, where the game is more like Civilization. I haven’t given it a shot in sandbox mode yet, but I AM excited to. I love Civilization and I think I could really enjoy a fantasy themed version.

The big news announced about Elemental is actually a good thing. Stardock announced that it would be releasing an expansion for the game entitled Fallen Enchantress. This in itself is only mildly interesting news, what with me not really playing the game much yet or knowing if I will enjoy it. What made the announcement MUCH more interesting was that the Stardock CEO Brad Wardell predicted that Elemental will end up costing the company money. He said that when the game launched they made the money back they had spent on the development of the game by day one. It has continued to sell, even though it is broken and near unplayable, though it has gotten better in the months since it’s release.

Why is this a good thing? Well, Wardell went on to explain that, while most companies would wipe their hands and be thankful they made us gamers part with our cash, Stardock is going to end up putting ALL of that money AND more back into the game. They don’t expect the game to make them money from this point out but to cost them money. So why do it? Because he feels the Stardock name, and it’s association with quality and support, is more important in the long run than making a quick buck. I can’t think of a single company that has done something like this in a very long time. While Rock Paper Shotgun was less than impressed with Wardell’s honesty, there is nothing that makes me happier than hearing this.

So my faith in Stardock is restored, and my hopes that Arcania will be fixed have been dashed against the rocks. Good thing I’ve got Rift coming up.

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