Alex Walker visits a Gold Class cinema in the middle of Sydney and walks away with a newfound respect for fans.
By Alex Walker on August 13, 2013 at 12:22 pm
I’d never actually been to a Gold Class cinema until last Wednesday, when I rocked up to Event Cinemas on Sydney’s George St for a night with the wonderful games.on.net community and some developers from Paradox Interactive.
It’s not that I have an aversion to big screens, big comfy chairs and a lot of alcohol. The experience, on the whole, seems rather pleasant, minus the irritation of people walking up and down the aisles serving drinks, snacks and what have you. Maybe I’m just not accustomed to having staff when I watch a movie.
Watching the live demonstration of Europa Universalis IV and War of the Vikings though? Bring on the bubbly. Well, I wish: it was small bottles of Coke and a box of popcorn each, which was still nice even if the sugar hit was a massive contrast to the slow, methodical scheming that fostered by the EU series.
Come to think of it, playing EU on a massive projector wouldn’t be a bad idea. It worked nicely enough for the EU4 demo, which was mostly a walkthrough the game’s various management screens and a short showing of the combat towards the end.
I don’t have a background with Paradox’s strategy catalogue, so War of the Vikings was the title that intrigued me the most. Nevertheless, Gordon Van Dyke, executive producer of War of the Roses and Henrik Fahraeus, representing Paradox as the EU4 developer (the company is split into separate developer and publisher teams), happily engaged with their fans and delivered in-depth presentations for both games.
Van Dyke’s approach to War of the Vikings was particularly interesting in that he showed off the exact same spiel that was given to local journalists. Even though that ended up amounting to a lot of Powerpoint slides overlaying some alpha footage of one of the multiplayer maps, it was interesting to listen to the philosophy behind the War franchise, learn a few different things about Viking history and just generally get an idea of what to expect.
Rather cutely, Van Dyke even showed off some alpha gameplay footage after saying at the start that there wouldn’t be any gameplay in the presentation. I think he meant to show it all along, but perhaps tripped up on his words; nevertheless, it was so warmly appreciated by the GON crowd that they happily lapped up, and applauded, an encore.
After both presentations closed out, Fahraeus and Van Dyke took a stack of questions from the audience, which never seemed to stop coming. The queries were what you’d expect from an intelligent and well-informed audience, covering things like technical issues (would EU4 have the same synchronisation issues? No, and the multiplayer uses Steam’s API so it should be vastly improved) and balance problems (did Van Dyke hate shield bashing as much as the crowd?).
The pair were even quizzed on some of the stranger aspects of their franchises, including gems such as whether it’d be possible to win in EU4 while playing as the Mongols, whether the AI was more intelligent with its defensive positioning and what happened to vassal states. There was an incredible amount of love for Crusader Kings 2 as well, although no commitment was made on a sequel beyond Fahraeus saying that he’d be rapt if the opportunity came around to continue the series.
I couldn’t hang around in the bar (I needed to eat!) afterwards, but I left the event with a deep sense of respect for the level of intelligence and passion a dedicated group of fans can have for their game. It also left me a little worried for the level of depth within something like EU4 — although as Fahraeus said, a game can be complex without being complicated.
And what about War of the Vikings? Well, that’s all about bashing skulls. I’ll wait until I get my hands on it, but so far that’s looking a much simpler concept to digest. To arms, my friends.