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Old 03-18-2011, 12:56 PM   #1
pwnophobia
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PAX East 2011: Orcs Must Die Hands-on


I'm about to tell you about a game that is going to consume your life. Grip tightly to your wallet and try and not pre-order this game after watching our video and playing the (eventual) demo!

Click the headline to see what it plays like!
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Old 03-18-2011, 12:56 PM   #2
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The stars of this years PAX were not the major publishers but the Indie developers that littered the show room floor. We got a chance to sit down with an Indie game called Orcs Must Die, a tower / hero defense game, and we were blown away by the polish and uniqueness.

Orcs Must Die is a double console and PC title that has you playing as a hero with special abilities and spells. You’re tasked with stopping the hordes of monsters that are trying to make it from one end of the map to the other. To do this you get a bunch of traps and spells, from which you can only pick a few per level, and set them out at your discretion. For the demo that we played we had only a few traps and one spell, and got to choose up to 8 items to use. Among the traps were a tar pit that stopped the orcs from moving, a blade that would fire off every few seconds, shooting arrows and even a catapult style trap.


The only level that I got to play allowed me to put traps just about wherever I wanted. I had set up a tar trap next to a wall and a dart shooter ON the wall. The orcs would get stuck in the tar trap and the arrows would take care of them. For the ones that didn’t get stuck I was able to use my hero to shoot them and slow them with his special abilities. Yeah, you read that, you have to pay attention to where all the orcs are going, what your hero is doing AND what your traps are doing! It’s a frantic, fun, mess of carnage that had me thinking of different ways to dispose of my enemies. Oh, and before you ask, there ARE flying Orcs and boss Orcs after X number of waves. There were no traps available that could kill the flying Orcs, but that doesn't mean they won't make it in the final build. Like I mentioned before, the game is so frantic that it makes you try and prioritize what you want to use your hero for. Is it worth your time to shoot the flying orcs or should you stun them and shoot a few of the faster runners? This is just one of the many questions I asked myself while playing.

Speaking of different ways to dispose of the orcs, you can set traps or spells up to throw orcs into the environment. In fact, the level(s) I played had two different type of hazards; around the edge of the level was lava that you could launch orcs into. You can also interact with the levels to drop chandeliers or rolling spiked blocks at the orcs. These are all one time use abilities but they helped increase the score multiplier which gave you more money to buy traps OR upgrade them OR your spells. I should have mentioned that sooner, but you get money for each orc kill. The more orcs that you can chain together the higher your multiplier goes which in turns gives you a larger amount of cash to use. While your score acts as your money it’s also tracked as an overall because there will be leader boards!


If you remember playing Warcraft 3 and played any of the custom maps you’ll quickly have memories flood your head of heros and tower defense. While Orcs Must Die doesn’t actually borrow anything beyond that, it at least gives you a point of reference. You’ll control your hero to dispose of orcs while dropping traps and increasing your multiplier. You better get your thumbs warmed up, because some of you are not going to be leaving your house when this game launches.
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:18 PM   #3
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Tecmo Deception ruled!
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:26 PM   #4
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Wait. What? How is Robot Entertainment (formerly Ensemble Studios) an "indie developer"? I mean, I guess they're not owned by a major publisher but they're hardly a boot-strap start up working in a garage somewhere.
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Old 03-18-2011, 01:30 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hale View Post
Wait. What? How is Robot Entertainment (formerly Ensemble Studios) an "indie developer"? I mean, I guess they're not owned by a major publisher but they're hardly a boot-strap start up working in a garage somewhere.
Indie has kind of become the term for studios that are not triple A. "Smaller studio", is that better?
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:00 PM   #6
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trailer from their site looks good.
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Wait. What? How is Robot Entertainment (formerly Ensemble Studios) an "indie developer"? I mean, I guess they're not owned by a major publisher but they're hardly a boot-strap start up working in a garage somewhere.
Indie devs, or "independent developers" are developers who are...well, just that. Independent of publishers or owners. While it has, as of late, tended to be used in reference to the smaller developers, Valve and Epic are both indie as well.
They essentially operate on their own, getting involved with publishers as the need for publishing deals arise. They operate independently.
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Old 03-18-2011, 02:41 PM   #8
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There's only one major problem with this newspost: No mention of Steam.
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Old 03-18-2011, 04:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwnophobia View Post
Grip tightly to your wallet and try and not pre-order this game after watching our video and playing the (eventual) demo!
What video? I don't seem to see one posted.
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:54 PM   #10
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It's misleading, but, whatever.
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Old 03-18-2011, 05:56 PM   #11
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Robot has about 40 dudes. While it's not Mojang, it's still a small and independent studio.
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:27 PM   #12
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Swear, I'm always cleaning up after the reds ^_~

Here's the promised video, and I'll do you two more. I'm a fan of this game, I love seeing what people are doing with tower defense, which is one of the few games that qualifies as a new genre in the modern era.

Orcs Must Die is an over-the-shoulder view fantasy tower defense game, with a twist. You're the only tower, and you're a magic user, and the defense is your castle.

Gameplay revolves around exploiting your massive magical advantage against the orc's massive manpower advantage--they breed like rabbits apparently. Actually that would make sense, maybe they are genetically related. They seem more piglike. And pigs actually do breed incredibly fast too. Perhaps not quite as fast as rabbits, but the simile holds for pigs. Especially pigs in the wild.





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Old 03-18-2011, 06:29 PM   #13
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Only a matter of time before we see tower-defense pierced through with character progression and other tried and true RPG elements. Hell, I could see a tower defense mechanic like this being imported into fantasy MMOs in no time. How about an instance where you're defending like this rather than invading as usual.
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:26 PM   #14
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It's misleading, but, whatever.
I think it's fine, and not misleading. There's lots of "indie" in other media (film, publishing, etc.) who are not small but still not affiliated with any of the major players in their market.

If you want a word for "really small," try "garage." This has the connotation of something literally made at a home, in the garage, and works best I think if you are talking about the smallest of the self-made media in any field. A garage game developer would be one or two guys (or gals) working out of their home.

"Home brew" works too, but has a slightly more amateurish connotation, imo.
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:30 PM   #15
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Just because "indie" has connotations of smallness doesn't mean it doesn't already have an explicit definition met by companies like Epic and Valve.
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Old 03-18-2011, 07:57 PM   #16
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I love the term "hero defense", nice coinage, Pwn
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:06 PM   #17
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I think it's fine, and not misleading. There's lots of "indie" in other media (film, publishing, etc.) who are not small but still not affiliated with any of the major players in their market.
Need we remind people of famous indie movies of the past. Terminator was indie. You can barely tell, except for some of the slightly cheesy special effects by today's standards.

So were Sideways, Reservoir Dogs, Clerks, Slumdog Millionaire, Fargo, Blair Witch, and Napoleon Dynamite.

Thank god for indie devs too, it's the sign of a healthy industry to have far more indie production going on than big-biz production. Indie ends up being the fast moving and nimble force for change in an industry, and thus who will blow up into tomorrow's big producers, just as James Cameron has after Terminator.
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:56 PM   #18
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I'm really upset that I missed seeing this game. Though Daggerdale coming out in spring soothes my spirits.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:30 AM   #19
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I think it's fine, and not misleading.
I think it's fair to call it misleading, just because the term has become one synonymous with 'small' for most people. In the past, there was almost always a correlation between team size and publisher affiliation, but and independent pretty much always meant you had a much smaller team/available resources. But times have changed, and having to have a publisher fund, or have a traditional publisher at all, is far from the only way to fund decent sized projects. As a gamer, should a team that's funded by investors be in a totally different category than ones funded by a 'publisher'? I want to support an 'indie' when they get more cool stuff done with less resources, when 'independent' means no more than 'they got their pile of money from Joe instead of Bob', it looses it's relevance to me.

The term 'independent', used in a purely technical sense, just doesn't mean what a lot of players think it means, nor does it really have much meaning at all, IMO.
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Old 03-19-2011, 02:38 PM   #20
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I don't care how many people it takes to make the game as long as it's awesome fun. Orcs Must Die! is gonna be awesome fun.
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