Congrats to Slime Rancher on Leaving Early Access!

Slime Rancher is a really cool, relaxing fun game to play. Monami Park released the game on Early Access in Jan 2016, and it left Early Access as a full game yesterday – August 1st.

So a big shout-out to the guys over at Monomi Park for sticking to their guns and completing their game!

Back in Jan 2016 I did a developer review on Monomi Park and gave them a glowingly positive recommendation for Slime Rancher. Glad to see they didn’t prove me wrong!

The Good Side and Bad Side of Dice

A couple of years ago Battlelog.co, which is powered by the Revive network, provided a way to play Battlefield 2 after the central GameSpy servers went down. Now, you can download the entire game, including expansions, for free from Battlelog.co, and play as much as you want.

But there’s more 😉

Just over a week ago, they released the full version, including expansions, of what I believe is the best Battlefield game ever released – Battlefield 2142. The whole lot is also free – you don’t have to pay for the game. Just create an account, download the launcher, and download the game. The servers are already there for you, and the launcher lets you download both or either game.

This is old news though, so why write about it?

In my opinion, what Battlelog.co has done highlights the best side, and worst side, of DICE. Battlelog.co has released Battlefield 2, Battlefield 2142, and all their expansions, for free. Unlike Lucasfilm, who stopped a fan-made Star Wars game from being created, DICE has allowed Battlelog.co to release BF2 and BF2142 for free (I would also imagine there has been some behind-the-scenes communication as well). This is a great move by DICE; they’re essentially helping and clearing the way for our community to continue to play what many believe are the best versions of this franchise. A nice touch, and something that is heartening to see.

But if that highlights the best side of DICE – supporting its community in its desire to continue to play older games – it also brings into sharp focus what DICE is doing right now with Battlefield 1.

The fact we could host our own servers in BF2 and BF2142 is what has allowed Battlelog.co to revive those two games. The later generations of Battlefield games, including Bad Company 2, have not allowed us to host our own servers – we’ve had to go through DICE-approved server providers. So unless someone gets hold of a Battlefield 3 server exe, what’s been done for Battlefield 2 is not going to be done for Battlefield 3 and later games.

It’s this gradual erosion of trust in its playerbase, and continuing removal of player options, that is highlighted by what Battlelog.co has achieved. The latest step in DICE’s constrictive process appears to be their move to remove any choice in where we rent our servers from for Battlefield 1. By all indicators it’s going to be DICE who is the PC game server provider for BF1. And it also looks as if they’ve even removed the ability for admins to use 3rd party tools such as ProCon to admin servers. I released a video on this a couple of weeks ago, and it’s linked at the end of this post.

This is where the dichotomy comes in. How can a company which supports its community so that they can continue playing its older games, move in such a totally dictatorial direction with its new games? How can a company which gave us the genre-defining Battlefield series, and support its community in playing those older games, then remove so much of what made the franchise what it is in the first place?

I understand the cost of each generation of games is increasing rapidly. DICE has hardly been able to increase the base cost of the game, hence the reason for other revenue streams such as Premium and server rentals. But they don’t need to carve out a large part of the reason many of us play just to achieve a certain $ return. Dumbing this game down to the lowest common denominator, which is precisely what we’ve been accusing the CoD franchise of trying to achieve over the years, will simply remove that section of the community which has helped build the game to where it is now.

Perhaps the senior folks at DICE need to take a look at ARMA 3, or if they do not want something quite so complex, then they should cast their eyes over Squad. In fact, Squad was made by the same team that made the Project Reality mod for Battlefield 2. Today they would not be able to do that, because DICE does not allow modding of its games.

Is there any better example of how far DICE has fallen than that?

Some Early Access Successes

This last few days there have been a couple of games which I have been watching for some time come out of Early Access: Warhammer 40K Eternal Crusade and Fractured Space. It’s great to see these two games making their way onto the main part of Steam and I wish them all the best!

The Early Access program is a great idea, and can provide development companies with a much -needed avenue to be able to raise money and create games that otherwise would not have a chance to be made. Even more so than places like KickStarter, it creates a way that games which otherwise would not be made can be made, provided of course the community wants them to be made, and the company behind the game can deliver what’s promised.

Unfortunately though Early Access is not a panacea, and it’s my belief many games are not going to make it out of the program, instead descending into a never-ending spiral of smaller and smaller updates. Steam need a way of being able to help these games, because without this large parts of Early Access are going to consist of games that will never be finished.

Still, today is a good day as two games have made it out of Early Access. So to end this blog post on a positive note, here’s their two release videos. Enjoy! 🙂