I’ve been thinking about Planitia lately. And every time I do, the theme music to Sacrifice starts playing in my head.

Sacrifice was a game released by Shiny back in 2000. It was notable for several things.

First off, it was gorgeous. See?


When I first saw screenshots of World of Warcraft my first thought was, “Wow, that almost looks as good as Sacrifice.”

Second, it had fantastic voice acting. Shiny was a company that understood that good voice acting is cheap compared to how much better it makes your game.

And finally, it was notable for being completely unplayable, which is why it failed in the marketplace.

Okay, I’m being slightly unfair with that last one. But Sacrifice had a thoroughly odd design; it was effectively a real-time strategy game and a third-person shooter game at the same time, with an interface that wasn’t suited for either genre. Imagine playing Warcraft III while having to look over the shoulder of your hero at all times and you’ll get a feeling for what playing Sacrifice was like. The clumsy interface combined with a rather steep difficulty curve (the last level is famously difficult) and you get a game that entices players in, but can’t keep them. I came damn close to buying Sacrifice based on the demo but was saved when a friend of mine picked it up, got frustrated with it and then let me borrow it. Which prevented me from buying it.

But the ideas behind Sacrifice were fascinating, and I certainly have never forgotten the game. Those ideas include:

* A world made of islands floating in an etherial void

* A bickering, petty pantheon of gods

* Very obvious display of the power of the gods – there are no atheists in the world of Sacrifice

* A set of standard unit types – scout, brawler, archer, flyer, etc – of which each god has their own unique type

If I were going to try to “fix” Sacrifice, I’d probably pull it back into a more normal real-time strategy mode. I might still have hero characters, but I certainly would not force players to control the game through that one character. Not sure yet if I’d require buildings and resource management, or if I’d keep the game simpler and more free-form.

This will require more thought, but at least I’m back to thinking about it.