Gateway Games

By – Trevor Shanahan

Have you ever wanted to play a type of game but felt like there was something in your way; something impeding the possibility of a new and desired experience?  I have, and I believe I am not alone.  Radiant Entertainment’s Rising Thunder and Robot Entertainment’s Orcs Must Die Unchained are attempting to lower the barrier-to-entry for genres that seem enmeshed in the presumably serious setting of eSports; fighting games and MOBAs.  Now don’t misinterpret my words; these are not the only two titles making an attempt to bridge a gap between professional and casual play, and there is nothing inherently wrong with casual and professional markets.  Both of these titles, however, are being developed to familiarize video game players with genres that have some rough stereotypes and are perceived as having considerable barriers-to-entry.

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Why “talk it out” when you can use your robot foot and robot fist to do the talking for you?


Rising Thunder was born from the minds behind EVO – Evolutionary Championship Series – annual fighting game eSports tournament.  Former Capcom and Sony Santa Monica employee worked with Tom and Tony Cannon of Radiant Entertainment (all EVO co-founders) to develop a fighting game that streamlines playability at all skill levels with forfeiting advanced play (pro level stuff).  Rising Thunder was born.  The game uses 8 buttons (3 normal attacks, 3 super attacks, a throw, and an overdrive/super attack) breaking industry conventions of chains, combos, and difficult button sequences.  Six characters currently occupy the roster, customizable via in-game purchases of cosmetic items – the free-to-play titles source of revenue.  Still in an alpha state, Radiant Entertainment is using fan/user feedback to further shape the game while staying within the confines of their vision.

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Traps: Because a sign that says “keep out” sometimes just isn’t enough.  A glimpse into OMDU’s gameplay.


Orcs Must Die Unchained (OMDU) is the latest entry in the franchise and a continuing evolution of the formula established in the original Orcs Must Die.  Players will choose from a group of heroes, each with traits and abilities tailored to “attack” or “defense,” and assault another group of players.  Akin to other MOBAs, players need to defend their home portal while simultaneously assaulting their opponents’.  Players will use their chosen heroes abilities, unit cards (which spawn your forces at regular intervals), and traps to accomplish victory.  Though these back-of-the-box selling points don’t seem too unique, it’s the implementation of these via a user-friendly format that makes the game approachable.  The game doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s this laid back attitude that is meant to relax any user tensions about the term “MOBA.”


“Gateway” is an adjective often used to imply something as a means to something else (usually worse like in “gateway drug”), but gateway games are a positive use of the descriptor.  Titles like Orcs Must Die Unchained and Rising Thunder have willingly taken it upon themselves to appeal to seemingly diverse audiences and give them both something to love.


I’ll keep an ear to the ground and keep you updated on the progress of these two titles; they’re just getting started!


About the blogger

ccccccMy name is Trevor Shanahan and I am pursuing a graduate degree in video games/media studies. I am interested in video games and everything they touch (their industry, development, games as art, psychology of games – like gamification, industry issues, culture, etc.). I have come to realize that the more I learn (and learning is so important) the more I do not know. Learn as much as you can about what you love and try to give back to it.