Looking forward to things can be just setting oneself up for disappointment. It’s easy to simply see something shiny and assume or hope that it’ll come together in a way that’s satisfying. And yet, we can’t help but hope that over the horizon there’s something interesting, something that’ll engage us and entertain us and generally feel like a good use of our time.
One of my favourite freeware downloads last year was a little something called Keeperfx. This was essentially a repackaged version of Bullfrog’s classic strategy/god game Dungeon Keeper, reformatting it for a modern widescreen computer and including a dozen custom made fan campaigns. It was a labour of love by a group of modders called Keeper Klan, and I remember browsing their forums where they were discussing the possibility of essentially remaking Dungeon Keeper.
[url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLzBb2BToZI]Dungeon Keeper[/url] was a strategy/god game game with a simple enough premise: You were the villain. You built your own dungeons, laid your own traps, enticed monsters to your lair by building them the places they wanted (libraries attracted warlocks, who would then use those libraries to research spells) and keeping them happy. You mined throughout your subterranean empire to both gather the finances you needed to pay for your research and development and contentment of creatures, but also to hollow out areas where you could build or expand. And in time you either led unwitting heroes to their grisly doom, or fought against rival Dungeon Keepers for control of the map. It was a straightforward, easy to learn and yet addictive and highly flexible god game – knowing what to attract, where to build, what to build, and how to react when attacked was all part of it’s fun.
But the company Bullfrog was bought by Electronic Arts, and while they released a sequel (to mixed reviews), their planned third sequel, Dungeon Keeper 3: War for the Overworld, was scrapped. And while there have been games that notionally ape the series – such as Kalypso’s [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNwLJDAsY48]Dungeons[/url], had resemblances to Dungeon Keeper that went only skin deep and more simple mechanics that had more to do with entertaining the heroes invading your realm than prioritizing the monsters.
More recently, EA pawned the Dungeon Keeper license over to NetDragonWebsoft Inc. The result was a MMO titled [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AwnTxG2b83o]Dungeon Keeper Online[/url]. Reports regarding this game are mildly confusing, it mixes a gameplay style that is a blatant World of Warcraft clone – with a player character running around an above ground world that has little to no relationship with Dungeon Keeper – to a dungeon management system that is apparently tied to your resource gathering in [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5auUOd1lHo]the other area of the game[/url]. Where it not for this aspect it’d be easy to dismiss it as yet another World of Warcraft clone, but even with it it is only a halfway and mandatorily multiplayer stab at Dungeon Keeper’s core gameplay.
Which brings me back to Keeper Klan, the guys who made that excellent modded version of the original game. They’ve gone one further and are releasing a game titled [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYJsSAV3lGA]War for the Overworld[/url], a Dungeon Keeper 3 in all but name (and in name deliberately evoking the subtitle of the cancelled DK3.) While the video acknowledges the influence of other non-Dungeon Keeper titles, the near identical gameplay footage and the voice of Richard Ridings as the narrator, who memorably narrated player’s lives in the original Dungeon Keeper, it’s pretty clear that they want to make the natural heir to the Dungeon Keeper franchise that it never had. Peter Molyneux, the creator for the original game, has given them his [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JsRRzr0eBKc]non-legally binding blessing[/url].
Now it’s easy to expect the world from people who promise things, especially something tinted with a heavy dose of nostalgia for me as the original game. But playing it last year I found that the actual gameplay still holds up to me as being intuitive, challenging and fun, and since all I really want from this release is a graphical overhaul to the original title – and that’s all they’re really promising – then I feel it pretty reasonable to anticipate it.