Turn-based gaming: how commercially viable is it?


Commercially speaking, Dominions main flaws are that it’s hard to learn, and single player isn’t as compelling as multiplayer. Spiderweb’s games have plenty of flaws, and in general I far prefer Dominions, but they don’t have these key barriers.


I enjoy silent storm almost as much as X-com, I don’t find a problem with AI thinking, never really took that long for me. only thing I had a problem with silent storm is you can order someone tho literally shoot 5 walls and hit someone as long as you have a spotter. basically it come down to a bunch of sniper + 1 scout = FTW.


Attempting to learn Dominions as a new player is somewhat like trying to learn tensor calculus from a geometry textbook while chained to an anchor that has been dropped into the Marianas Trench.

I’m probably crazy, but I suspect this has something to do with it.


That is probably also a very important factor. As a software developer, if one enjoys a non-game development job, I don’t think there is much incentive to go full-time on game development (which, ultimately, is just the same job with games)? Dedication accounts for a lot.


I don’t think it is a question of dedication, but of priorities and necessity. Had JK and Kristoffer been dependant on dominions for their livelyhood a number of design decisions would likely have been made different. Some of the charms of dominions would likely have been sacrificed for greater accessibility. But even as dominions stands today taxation etc might very well mean it would have been viable to live off dominions in the US, even when it isn’t in Sweden.


I think the answer is probably pretty simple (leaving aside whether they would want to live on it or not). Dom 2 was released in 2003, right? And Dom 3 in 2006? What did they do in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008? Vogel releases a new game every year - maybe more than one.

Avernum 5 was out in late 2007 for Mac, the PC version early 2008 and the Geneforge 5 will be out for Mac late this year. He doesn’t do extended support beyond patches, because he knows he has to move on (his stuff always works, anyway).


I guess it is simple.
There is commerical viability in TBS, however, one must establish connection to the playerbase or know how to find and tap the existing interested members of the genre (as drawing new members will require massive hype/ad which is beyond the budget) and develop “simpler” low-budget games.
And big companies sway off the market since they consider it too small, going for games that have project sale figure of 0.5-1+ mil units (mainly consoles at that) instead…not to mention the MMOG craze.


Well, that is what I meant. :-)

I don’t know about whether it is much easier for small businesses in many other countries. Sure, taxation is tough in Scandinavia, but then you have the safety net that you don’t have to worry about college funds for your kids, medical expenses, etc. And the Nordic governments are actually quite keen on stimulating game development companies with both funding and other types of support.

Granted, there are many things that could be much, much better, but I don’t think the conditions for small game companies are particularly worse than elsewhere. I did the calculations on this once while I lived in Sweden, and I didn’t find the numbers particularly frightening. But I didn’t find them compelling either - given I already have a job where I do what I like doing, why bother with the additional stress?

That aside, I would mostly consider turn-based as a game mechanic, not a genre in itself. I don’t think the presence or absence of turn-based mechanics really determine whether a game is commercially viable or not.


I agree, there really isn’t any doubt in my mind Dominions, and particularly Dominions 3, is one of the greatest games made in the last 10-20 years.

I actually think that if Illwinter wanted to snag more sales going after the Linux distribution angle would be the best one to try. The best description about the interface and experience of playing Dominions that i have is something like… on the Mac/Win/Linux scale of usabilty, power, and functionality, Dominions falls solidly on that powerful but arcane Linux side of things. Of course, Linux-heads want free, and Dominions isn’t free…


I enjoyed Dominions 2, but I didn’t feel there was enough new in D3 to itch when I looked at it last that D2 didn’t already scratch. Am I wrong? I’d be tempted to pick it up but I’d probably again be a victim to people who know every stat and counter inside out ;)


Ok, all this got me thinking about Conquest of the Aegean.

I LOVE the idea of the pausable realtime and hexless warming. Feels so much more genuine and realistic to me (which is the damn point of wargames I thought), but a couple of questions I’m hoping the readers can help me with.

  • I beta’d AA:H2TR and found it really hard to work out wtf was going on. Didn’t really have a manual mind you. Since then I’ve had a bit of military training and can probably get “in” the game more. Is it hard to get “in”?

  • Are there many people here who would be good multiplayer opponents? Is there even a multiplayer game? Can you save it and pick it up again?


169 pages say: “Hell yeah, you are wrong.” ;)

Dominions 3 is what Dominions 2 should be in the first place. The differences are not dramatic, but they make huge impact overall. Basically devs have listened to all that people have disliked about Dom2, and have tried to address it as best as they could, without messing with the stuff that have worked great in the forst place.

The result is still not perfect, it is much more refined, balanced, and enjoyable system. It a bit surprising to see how a lot of small changes can go such a long way.

My advice - go ahead and buy Dom3, you will not regret it.


I will definitely check it out. Conquest of the Aegean has my fancy right now. Dom 3 I’ll keep on the back burner!


I finally finished my breakdown on X-Com and what worked and didn’t work for it in my opinion, and why it hasn’t been successfully copied since. Here is the blog article I wrote relating to it, http://chronicgamedesigner.blogspot.com/2008/04/breaking-down-x-com-or-how-to-build.html . I think a really good TBS game, basically a true successor to the original X-com could make the genre more viable again.

Re: Dominions series, personality I think there is a great game hidden in there but I could never get passed the interface. From accounts in the Dom3 thread there was some effort made to make it more accessible in 3.


CotA has been bought and downloaded. Now working through the 200+ pages of manual, tute guides and tips! groan. I like it tho.


10 years later, it appears I was right–turn-based games have not only proven to be viable, but sometimes wildly profitable (look at Hearthstone). I’m extremely glad that things worked out this way; there’s a ridiculous amount of choice in the market now.

My one disappointment is the area of big-budget RPGs. They’re overwhelmingly not turn-based (or even tactical) nowadays. As much as I love The Witcher and Bloodborne, I’m sad that there’s no real turn-based/party-based equivalent.


It’s just a matter of time until someone makes a XCOM combat / RPG mix. After all, we’re living in a world with a turn based strategy Mario game, sky’s the limit…


There are some of these things already on the way, in fact.


Well that mix has definitely been done for the small/mid-budget RPGs, and it works well. The Shadowruns and Wasteland 2 come to mind.

However, it’s been totally absent in big-budget RPGs, which is unfortunate. I think part of that is that there’s so few big-budget RPG developers nowadays. CDPR and Bethesda, both of which are unlikely to swerve from their real-time combat. Maybe Bioware, if the next Dragon Age is a megahit and they try a turn-based spinoff or something? Nintendo with Pokemon. Square, if their TB games overperform and their real-time games underperform–problem is, that’s been happening for a while but they can’t seem to get the message.


Bioware is owned by EA and I cannot imagine EA allowing them to make a turn-based game ever. If anything, they’re moving further away from that, as witness Anthem.