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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » The Escapist - The Rise & Fall of Troika

Default The Escapist - The Rise & Fall of Troika

December 27th, 2006, 00:35
Subtitled How Interplay's Golden Boys Struck Out on Their Own, The Escapist's The Rise and Fall of Troika offers a broad overview of Troika's career with a few comments from Boyarsky and Anderson (and a relayed answer from Tim Cain). There's nothing new but it does offer another perspective:
"Great Ideas. Never Enough Testing."
Boyarsky, Cain and Anderson's creative vision first came together at Interplay. Together, the three worked on Fallout, the critically-acclaimed, post-apocalyptic RPG that has lived on in the hearts and minds of PC gamers as a sterling example of gaming done right. Cain was credited as Producer, Boyarsky as Art Director and Anderson as a Lead Artist.
More information.

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December 27th, 2006, 00:35
Good write up, I always like to hear about Troika thanks for the link.

I don't really like the site format since the text won't increase in size depending on what resolution your monitor is using.
When increased the fonts come out of the frame running off the page unalbe to scroll down to read them.
I guess the site format looks nice but not user friendly.

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December 27th, 2006, 10:10
The Troika article was okish… but the same issue contains an article called "Confessions of an MMOG cross dresser" which was nice in its own way. I always wanted to know what kind of men play female characters in MMOs. Now I know, and it's safe to say that I am not surprised…
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December 27th, 2006, 15:28
The problem with Troika was that they needed to make make mass-market games, but wanted to make games that didn't have mass-market appeal. The failure of Bloodlines (or any of their games) should come as no surprise. Spector had already stuck his toe in the water with Deus Ex and found it to be luke-warm. The mass-market wants levels and motion sensing, with a bit of ecchi thrown in (motion sensing ecchi, even.) Causality is the place they go when they have an accident with the chainsaw or the BBQ. When Half-Life 2 can be lauded for "emergent" gameplay in the popular press, where does that leave Bloodlines? Virtual reality?

The greater arse-hat media will continue to write obituaries for game developers with ideas for as long as they keep aligning themselves with the three-card-monte scam that publishers are currently engaged in.
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December 27th, 2006, 16:14
That was a nice article. I looked forward intensely to all of Troika's games and I was seriously disappointed when they went under. At least they never had the opportunity to piss off their fans and soil their name by making an MMO, which would have been an utter disaster.

I still think that there's a profitable business model for niche-ish games like what Troika made. I think that the decisions that their publishers made pushing them out the door too early could be classified as "penny wise and dollar stupid". Who knows how profitable both ToEE and Vampire could have been if both games had a couple months of bug squashing before release? Didn't Arcanum sell something like 250,000 copies? Not bad for a game developed by a tiny team. There must not have been much cost to recover. Also, Vampire came out the same day as Half-Life 2. That was just asking for disaster. That game should have been released in 2005 when there was no competition.
Last edited by doctor_kaz; December 27th, 2006 at 17:05.
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December 27th, 2006, 17:45
That was a solid article. I didn't remember Troika was trying to get Darklands MMO deal for themselves. Wonder what kind of cool ideas they could have come up for a MMO title?

Arcanum sold nice amount of copies but it was over the years. RPGs tend to sell better over the time than most other genre types. Not sure about other Troika's two games but I have vague memory they were decent.

But yeah, I agree with you on BL release. Releasing anything on the same time with Half Life 2 was pretty bold for them. Wish Activision and Troika would have sit back for a moment, let HL2 pass by first and meanwhile polished the game.

It would be interesting to hear more where Troika workers left to work after their time in Troika. One guy is making his own space game. I think one or two ended in Obsidian. Wikipedia's Troika article lists quite lot companies. Anyway I hope we see something coming from the three founders in future.
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December 27th, 2006, 18:39
Nice overview of Troika. I think he got ToEE confused with POR2 on the hard-drive wiping, tho. ToEE was a definite bugfest, but I never heard of anyone's hard-drive being wiped.

Looking back, Anderson says, "Publishers aren't interested in games from developers that consistently turn out B titles. Unfortunately, although our games had depth and vision, we were never able to release a game that had been thoroughly tested and rid of bugs. The large quantity of errors in our product automatically rendered them B titles."
I beg to disagree—I hope the members of Troika can take away a sense of having succeeded at the most important level—creating "A level" gameplay regardless of bugs that would make most people use the game cds as coasters. That at least 1 or sometimes all 3 of their games commonly turn up on the Top Ten CRPG lists floating around the internet speaks louder than the whims of idiotic publishers IMO.

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December 28th, 2006, 00:02
I think the sad fact is, bad reviews due to bugs aside, the market for Troika's games wasn't huge. How many people in just this community alone would buy any Bio game over ToEE even if ToEE had zero bugs? What Michael McCarthy is doing is what all the Troika devs should be doing. If they could have found non-publisher funding and released their games through steam they would have made a good amount of money I think. I hope McCarthy makes millions and they all jump ship and go with that model. For Christ's sakes, one of the best game developers in the world is selling houses for a living.
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December 28th, 2006, 01:48
I think ToEE was a poor choice of an old PnP game to develop. It had no plot worth mentioning and after the story in Arcanum, it came as a let down. While some parts were extremely well done, after awhile the game became tedious and I didn't quite finish it. Bugs I can tolerate, tedium I can't, which is why I have issues with NWN2!! Vampire games are just too niche; I wouldn't buy one no matter how great it was, I just don't like that genre!!

If God said it, then that settles it!!

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December 28th, 2006, 01:52
are you telling us you haven't played bloodlines!?!
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December 28th, 2006, 02:13
I love ToEE; I would love it even more if the bugs would relent just long enough to let me finish the game already. Troika had planned sequels for the game — the other classic PnP modules — and I think that would have been the major draw: an engine to replace the old God Box series. With that fantastic combat it would have been a dream come true.
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December 28th, 2006, 03:29
I enjoyed ToEE but I'm with Corwin that it got tedious…I still can't believe Troika put out a game with such a lame opening (the town of Hommlet). But…the combat was simply fantastic and I would have been onboard for a whole range of modules using that engine. It was definitely the wrong module choice — but they could have always fleshed it out themselves more fully. It's such a shame it didn't work out the way it could have.

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December 28th, 2006, 08:40
What was also annoying, was that much of the extra content was cut. Co8 restored some of it, but even that was unfinished. The opportunity for some quest variety there was sadly missed.

No, I have not and never would play Bloodlines!!

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December 28th, 2006, 11:13
Originally Posted by Acleacius View Post
I don't really like the site format since the text won't increase in size depending on what resolution your monitor is using.
When increased the fonts come out of the frame running off the page unalbe to scroll down to read them.
I guess the site format looks nice but not user friendly.
You can get the article text in a more readable and usable format if you click on the "text" link under the article!

Originally Posted by Ionstormsucks View Post
I always wanted to know what kind of men play female characters in MMOs. Now I know, and it's safe to say that I am not surprised…
Of course, there's not just "one" kind of man playing female characters in MMO's. In fact, the vast majority will think nothing of it and just do it because they think it's fun.

Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
No, I have not and never would play Bloodlines!!
I thought the original Vampires: The Masquerade had a pretty good atmosphere, myself! It was one of the first 3D games I played, I think, and the lighting was awesome. As a role-playing game it should definitely be considered, whether you like vampires or not.
Last edited by Thaurin; December 28th, 2006 at 11:20.
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December 28th, 2006, 12:09
Originally Posted by Corwin View Post
No, I have not and never would play Bloodlines!!
Too bad - that is one of my favorite games of all time!

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December 28th, 2006, 13:51
Yep, one of my favourite games of the last few years. You're definitely missing out, Corwin.

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December 28th, 2006, 14:13
I have to agree with Corwin on Bloodlines, even though I have enjoyed all (2)of Troika's other efforts—it's about role playing for me—playing a vampire , even a "good" vampire—doesn't attract me—I just don't think I could get past the feeding part.

I recall Anne Rice having Lestat confine himself to rat's blood but I'm not going there either.

Also, I have some resentment about being in the middle of a slew of bugs in ToEE, and everyone at Troika just abandoning that game to finish Bloodlines—as I recall, they had one poor guy trying to do a patch(Steve Moret, I think) on his own time while they chased the dollar with another game they couldn't make properly. If not for the Circle of Eight efforts, ToEE wouild still be virtually unplayable. It just turned me off to the whole thing.

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December 28th, 2006, 14:17
As long as we're talking about The Escapist, does anyone know what ever happened with Escape Radio? They had like four episodes and then it went away.
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December 28th, 2006, 14:51
Originally Posted by magerette View Post
I have to agree with Corwin on Bloodlines, even though I have enjoyed all (2)of Troika's other efforts—it's about role playing for me—playing a vampire , even a "good" vampire—doesn't attract me—I just don't think I could get past the feeding part.

I recall Anne Rice having Lestat confine himself to rat's blood but I'm not going there either.

Also, I have some resentment about being in the middle of a slew of bugs in ToEE, and everyone at Troika just abandoning that game to finish Bloodlines—as I recall, they had one poor guy trying to do a patch(Steve Moret, I think) on his own time while they chased the dollar with another game they couldn't make properly. If not for the Circle of Eight efforts, ToEE wouild still be virtually unplayable. It just turned me off to the whole thing.
If I remember right Atari gave them a hard time about patches, Troika went so far as to go around Atari and sneak some info/help to Co8. I could be wrong, and my fanboyness could be clouding my memory though.
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December 28th, 2006, 20:25
corwin i can't believe you're that stubborn! the game offers many ways for you to keep your humanity and as a vampire you can be far more 'humane' than in many non vampire games. bloodlines is easily one of my favourite games of all time. the first vampire game was good too, but comparing them would be like comparing a space craft to a sports car.
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