Microprose is back

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bryanb
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Microprose is back

Post by bryanb » Sat May 30, 2020 10:39 am

Some guy in Australia has bought the Microprose name, hired founder Bill Stealey as an advisor, and announced plans to publish three new war games. Should I be excited? I dunno. I am glad the Microprose name has been rescued and hopefully won't be passed around from company to company any further. On the other hand, most of the people who made Microprose great and are absolute legends in my mind such as Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds, and Jeff Briggs aren't involved with the new company. The presence of Wild Bill Stealey gives them clout, but by all accounts he's not actively involved in the day to day operations (he's also in his 70s now).

Maybe it's enough that the new Microprose wants to release games like the ones the old company did. Most of the time I don't really know who coded, created the graphics, and did the music for commercial games. The teams are just too huge, and we expect individuals to come and go from these teams without affecting the final product too much. With Microprose, though, I felt like I knew the team. They put the names of their people out there more than most companies do, especially Sid Meier's whose name is on a lot of games he didn't really work on apparently because Robin Williams thought he had a cool name and should be the star. I'm just not sure Microprose can be Microprose without the people. It was never a faceless behemoth like EA.

We'll see how it goes. For now, I'm rooting for them to make a success of it and will check out the new games. Even if all we get out of the new venture is a few decent strategy games, that's still very worthwhile.

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Ice Cream Jonsey
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Re: Microprose is back

Post by Ice Cream Jonsey » Sat May 30, 2020 11:56 am

I think there's something to be said for making "smaller" games and I hope they go that route. But also - look at how they dumbed down the modern AAA sequels to X-COM. (The "XCOM" games.) All we wanted was X-COM with a better UI. After playing Chimera Squad you could even make the argument that X-COM with a better UI and some neat camera work would be nice. If they kept the strategy elements.
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Flack
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Re: Microprose is back

Post by Flack » Sat May 30, 2020 4:34 pm

bryanb wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:39 am
I'm just not sure Microprose can be Microprose without the people. It was never a faceless behemoth like EA.
Minor quibble; perhaps modern-era EA is a faceless behemoth, but back in the golden era, Electronic Arts very much promoted their programmers. They designed their packaging to look like album covers and "wanted to represent their developers as rock stars." (LINK) They featured the names and pictures of developers both on their game packaging and in advertisements. Many of their early releases included developers names, like Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Kit and Mike Edwards' Realm of Impossibility.

That being said, I agree with everything else you said about Microprose. It will be interesting if they can get some of the old developers back on board or some small teams and put out some simple but fun strategic games.

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AArdvark
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Re: Microprose is back

Post by AArdvark » Sat May 30, 2020 5:07 pm

Maybe they can make Pirates! again and not have it so cartoonish.

I would buy Silent Service with kick-ass gameplay

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bryanb
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Re: Microprose is back

Post by bryanb » Sun May 31, 2020 4:25 pm

Flack wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 4:34 pm
bryanb wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 10:39 am
I'm just not sure Microprose can be Microprose without the people. It was never a faceless behemoth like EA.
Minor quibble; perhaps modern-era EA is a faceless behemoth, but back in the golden era, Electronic Arts very much promoted their programmers. They designed their packaging to look like album covers and "wanted to represent their developers as rock stars." (LINK) They featured the names and pictures of developers both on their game packaging and in advertisements. Many of their early releases included developers names, like Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Kit and Mike Edwards' Realm of Impossibility.
Thanks Flack -- that's a good correction. We could also point out that EA actually published a bunch of Firaxis games that have Sid Meier's name on them, including Alpha Centauri which is one of my favorites. Everyone here probably knows this already, but Firaxis was the company Sid Meier, Brian Reynolds, and Jeff Briggs founded after they left Microprose. It's now owned by Take-Two, a fa...uh, a video game holding company. If I was going to salvage a point here, I think I'd say the difference is that EA never wanted to be strongly associated with any individual developer or artist but rather wanted to be as big and as broad as possible. Maybe in 1983 some people started to associate Paul Reiche III with EA, but that era didn't last long. They didn't even get Star Control out of the deal which is the first thing I'd have asked for if Paul Reiche was working with me.

EA does let subsidiaries and franchises have their own identities to an extent, at least until they mercilessly destroy them. Microprose figured out that if people liked one Sid Meier game there was a good chance they might like others as well, and it turned out that even if Sid just consulted on a game his name offered a nice seal of approval. I'll have to check this, but I think Reynolds and Briggs both get praised and mentioned multiple times in either the Civ 1 manual or strategy guide. Admittedly, that's not the full Archon treatment. You never go full Archon!

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bryanb
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Re: Microprose is back

Post by bryanb » Sun May 31, 2020 4:39 pm

AArdvark wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 5:07 pm
Maybe they can make Pirates! again and not have it so cartoonish.

I would buy Silent Service with kick-ass gameplay
That would be great...I'd buy both of those as well. I remember seeing a magazine ad for either Lightspeed or Hyperspeed that really emphasized the alien interaction aspects of the game. I went into those games expecting to make tons of alien buddies, but it didn't quite work out that way so we definitely could use a jazzed up version. I suggest calling it Hyperspeed 2020: Alien Girlfriend Special Edition. You'd even be allowed to sell it on Steam now!

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Finsternis
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Re: Microprose is back

Post by Finsternis » Tue Jun 02, 2020 12:08 pm

Flack wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 4:34 pm
Minor quibble; perhaps modern-era EA is a faceless behemoth, but back in the golden era, Electronic Arts very much promoted their programmers. They designed their packaging to look like album covers and "wanted to represent their developers as rock stars." (LINK) They featured the names and pictures of developers both on their game packaging and in advertisements. Many of their early releases included developers names, like Bill Budge's Pinball Construction Kit and Mike Edwards' Realm of Impossibility.
Agreed> I remember playing Pinball Construction set and the awesome Spaceflight on one of the original IBM PCs back in the 80's. I was impressed buy how cool they made the team look. I also fondly remember playing Archon on my Atari 800.
Flack wrote:
Sat May 30, 2020 4:34 pm
That being said, I agree with everything else you said about Microprose. It will be interesting if they can get some of the old developers back on board or some small teams and put out some simple but fun strategic games.
It would be nice in a sentimental sense, but really, what's in a name? Even if they have the founder everythjing is so different now in terms of technology, players, distribution, and so on. I wish Maxis were back, now that we're getting all misty-eyed.
"I’d rather have questions I cannot answer than answers I cannot question."

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