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Carter Dotson

Senior Writer with the 148Apps Network since June 5, 2010

I'm Carter Dotson, freelance writer based out of Chicago. I've been a fan of portable gaming since the days of the black-and-white Game Boy, but now mobile gaming consumes my life. Along with writing about mobile gaming. Which is why you see all these posts below. Also, check out The Portable Podcast, every Tuesday here on 148Apps.

Connect with Carter via:
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Email :: carter.dotson@148apps.com
Personal site :: http://about.me/wondroushippo

Dutch studio Game Oven loves to make games that bring people together, with Fingle, Bam Fu, and Friendstrap. Their next game is a lot more elegant, though: Bounden is made in collaboration with the Dutch National Ballet, and has two people holding two sides of a phone in order to perform elegantly-choreographed moves. Anticipated for a May release with dances created both by the Dutch National Ballet’s choreographer and the team themselves, just watch this video to see how it works:

this_war_of_mine_screen_03

11 bit Studios, who recently revealed their upcoming game This War of Mine, demoed it to us at GDC 2014. While much of the game is still secret as to how it plays, as they’re not ready to reveal exact gameplay footage, the game will have played managing their resources, the moods of the survivors, and foraging for materials. While the game is meant to be somewhat generic to let the player identify with the situation, much of the research around wartime situations was based around Sarajevo, according to 11 bit’s Pawel Miechowski. He also promises that despite the game’s theme and potentially-controversial content, that 11 bit will not cut any content for mobile stores, so while the game is planned for the App Store and Google Play, it might not actually release there if the platform holders don’t allow it, though Android will happen regardless thanks to the distribution channels open there. No release date has been confirmed for the game, but expect it later this year.

Rolocule, creators of Motion Tennis, are back with another motion-based game meant to be played on TVs: Dance Party TV. By using an iPhone with AirPlay output on an Apple TV, up to four iPhones can mimic the displayed dance moves, a la Just Dance and similar games. Of course, it just had to be tested out, so enjoy me awkwardly dancing to the beat, which you too can do in a few weeks.

Godfire

Vivid Games has shown off Godfire: Rise of Prometheus for the first time. Built off of the combat in Real Boxing, players will enter into duels with groups of enemies, with dodging and blocking being the only movement in combat, with light and heavy attacks, along with special attacks that become available as the rage bar fills up. Plenty of large bosses inspired by Greek mythology will be available to fight throughout the game, which will be releasing in a few months.

Rescape-2

13th Lab has launched a Kickstarter for their upcoming Rescape accessory for first-person shooters on iPhone. This rifle-esque accessory is built for quasi-ARG applications: the game uses the gyroscope and camera attachment, and the software can map out real world areas to be turned into game levels. As well, the software can be implemented into existing games – the prototype allowed players to play with a prototype of Quake at their GDC booth. The 3D printed prototype lacks the planned d-pad on the controller and the Kickstarter is looking for $150,000 at a $129 buy-in for the prototype and SDK access for developers with the demo Office Defender game.

Gamevil’s ringing in 2014 at GDC with the announcement of five new games to be released worldwide. Operating under the thought that hardcore online multiplayer games may be big in 2014, here are the new titles they announced at a press conference:

GamevilGDC-ZenoniaOnline

Zenonia Online: Gamevil’s popular action-RPG series goes online for the very first time this year. Already out in Korea, this entry will not skimp on the action-RPG gameplay, but will add in MMO features like lounges to meet with other players, eventually partying up to take on the game’s levels. As well, there are battle royale and PVP modes to participate in for competitive gameplay. This one will release worldwide later this year.

Dragon Blaze: This “simulation RPG” has players gathering a team of heroes, leveling them up and battling them out against other teams of heroes and villains, with the ability to participate with up to 3 other players in real-time. The global launch in the 3rd quarter of 2014 will debut the game’s online PVP mode as well. The game has been a hit in Asian territories where it reached #1 on the App Store top grossing charts according to Gamevil, so it could be an intriguing and very popular US release.

Dungeon Link: Built off of the popular “connect the dots” style of games, players build up a team of four heroes, and then battle enemies in an arena where they must try to connect as many tiles as possible between the four sets of color points in order to attack the enemies, with more tiles meaning more damage. Gamevil claims over 2000 dungeons will be available to fight in. Expect this one in the 3rd quarter of 2014.

Elements: Epic Heroes: Revealed for the first time at their GDC press conference, Gamevil showed off this 3D action-RPG for iOS and Android. Featuring online play with touchscreen-friendly controls, players will level their heroes and fight through various dangerous environments for glory when it releases later this year.

Mark of the Dragon: Gamevil finally revealed their take on the Clash of Clans genre of game that has become popular. Build defenses, train attackers, and go after enemies. Their game’s big difference is that players can summon dragons which they control to attack specific enemy structures, giving this well-worn genre a potential fresh take. This one is planned for summer 2014.

WZ_shot01_1-13-14

Former Zynga Boston developers formed Proletariat Studios, and now they’re hard at work on their first game: World Zombination. This casual strategy title puts players in control of either zombies trying to destroy protected human safehouses, or the humans protecting the safehouses. Sounds bleak, sure, but the game is bright and colorful. As well, there’s online elements with other players planned, and plenty of new units to collect and deploy. Release is planned for later this year; check out gameplay video below, and check out their Twitch channel for regular livestreams of the game’s development.

TiltToLive2-BrimstonePinball

One Man Left is bringing the first new game mode to Tilt to Live 2: Brimstone Pinball. Based off of the brimstone ball powerup added to the game, this mode is based entirely around it, with a ball that stays in the arena. Bounce it off of enemies to take them out, bounce it off of the walls to activate a super laser, but be wary: the enemy spawners occasionally spawn chainsaws. Ouch. The update is coming soon to both iOS and Android.

Dragonwood Academy GDC

Dragonwood Academy from XMG is a casual collectible card game: players will build decks and battle various opponents, but without the need to do advanced deck optimizations like other games, hopefully reducing the barrier to entry for casual players. This project, which came together quickly according to Andy Smith of XMG, will be releasing worldwide in a couple months for iOS and Android, with full tablet support – not just a scaled up interface.

Framed GDC

Loveshack Entertainment demoed their upcoming puzzle game, Framed, at GDC 2014 today. Inspired by comic books, players must rearrange panels in order to get the protagonist through them without being detected by cops. The 50-or-so levels will require much thought and knowledge of perspective to figure out just how to navigate them. Look for this one in a few months.

Unpossible

Acceleroto, creators of Air Hockey, have a new game, Unpossible, inspired by games like Super Hexagon and Pivvot. From a first-person perspective, try to avoid oncoming obstacles in one of three difficulties, including daily challenge and a casual mode. The easy mode is designed for the less-skilled and for those just getting used to the game; the later ones will put skilled gamers to the test. Look for this one in a few weeks.

Dudeski Review

Dudeski Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Dudeski takes a surprising amount of inspiration from that hit roguelike platformer, Spelunky.

Read The Full Review »
Amber Halls Review

Amber Halls Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
This game's existence is reason enough to coin a new term for what it is: a microroguelike.

Read The Full Review »

The Collectables

Crytek’s making a big push on mobile, and with the help of DeNA, they’re releasing The Collectables later this year. One of the producers of the game is joining us on Twitch to chat about it as we play — feel free to join the Twitch chat to ask questions and find out all about this upcoming game. The stream goes live at about 4:15 PM EDT (3:15 PM CDT, 1:15 PM PDT, 8:15 PM GMT), click here to watch on Twitch with chat, or watch embedded live below. We’ll have an archive of the broadcast after the show.

First Strike Review

First Strike Review

iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad
War, what is good for? Well, it makes for an entertaining real-time strategy game at least.

Read The Full Review »

Are the fine people at Halfbrick rather angry? Their last game, Colossatron, was about destroying humanity as a giant serpentine robot. Bears vs. Art can’t escalate on that concept, but it does try to go for something a bit higher-class: namely, destroying art as a rolling bear. The game’s currently in its soft launch phase, so I put on my monocle for this edition of It Came From Canada!

BearsVsArt-ICFC-7BearsVsArt-ICFC-4Players control a bear who hates art because museums wrecked his home, so he goes to various museums and wrecks up their paintings – and occasionally the snooty patrons there. Makes plenty of sense. This bear prefers to get around by rolling in the cardinal and ordinal directions, perhaps because he’s a big fan of Sonic the Hedgehog, and he can only roll in a straight line. There are also a number of parameters dictating just how many times the bear can roll in a level, or how much time there is to complete it. Okay, now we have stepped deep into video game logic.

Most levels just feature the bear and the paintings on the wall to destroy, but patrons are a frequent occurence. The patrons behave chaotically, though with certain rules: they always move if the bear gets near them. Thus, this requires an intelligent approach to taking them down; though if time and moves are a factor, this can be rather difficult. This is a system I’d be kind of wary of since it seems like it could be a real energy-drainer, but Halfbrick’s a reputable enough company that I would trust to not use this kind of system against players.

So, the levels become about figuring out the proper sequence to solve the various puzzles. Some paintings require rolling from a specific spot. Being able to roll diagonally really opens up the puzzle design. The introduction of timed levels, and ones where players must try to take out patrons and thieves (or even avoid them!), add even more variety, especially as levels start to blend each type together.

BearsVsArt-ICFC-12BearsVsArt-ICFC-9This game gets a lot of clever details right. For one, it’s legitimately pretty funny – from its rhyming storybook intro, to all the bear-themed art that can be destroyed. There are some art history students who made this game – perhaps disgruntled ones – because of all the parodies of real paintings and pretentiously-named modern art pieces that can be destroyed. Oh, and the destruction occurs by the player slicing up the paintings in a Fruit Ninja-esque way. The dialogue before some levels from the snooty patrons is often quite humorous and at one point self-aware that these museums were built without doors for some reason.

The game is ruled by an energy system, though energy gets refunded for completing a level successfully. There are coins to be earned and costumes with different effects to buy with them, along with extra turns and rage mode. There are permanent turn and time additions, but they come at rather expensive costs: $14.99 each as of the soft launch. The energy bar is lengthy, but later levels start to use more than one unit of energy and it refills very, very slowly. Like “16 hours of waiting didn’t refill it all the way” slow.

Of course, since it’s a soft launch these could all change as time goes on, and it’s quite possible they will. Free-to-play requires some exploration to see what works, and this game feels like it could be enjoyed long-term for free, so paying customers may need to shell out more for the game to be financially viable. Still, time will tell how players will take to it.


RollBackHome

Dawn of Play has a new, IMGA-nominated, game, Roll Back Home, releasing on March 20th. The developers will join me on Twitch at 4:30 PM EDT (1:30 PM PDT, 3:30 PM CDT, 8:30 PM GMT) to chat about the game as I play. Click here to watch and ask the developers questions in the chat, or just watch live below:

Update: Now that the show has ended, catch the archived stream here!

As well, watch a highlight of the second world of the game, and hear about the game’s tilt-based controls.

Game creation is not easy. Edmund Koh and Personae Studios want to change that with the upcoming PICS Tower of Defense – a way for players to make their own tower defense levels, and eventually their own tower defense games, as a way to lower the barrier that comes between having an idea for a game, and actually creating it.

PICSTD-Screenshot (6)-7The app’s concept was born from his studio’s previous game MechWarrior: Tactical Command. Koh says “People were asking for more missions after we released [the game]… so we realized that with all the suggestions on what we should do, we should just open it up and let people make their own games… basically facilitate people to make games in their own genres. The intention with PICS Towers of Defense is that it would be the first in a series of game creation tools.”

PICSTD-Screenshot (8)-9The plan for PICS Towers of Defense is to start the game off with level creation only, but eventually, the idea is to let people create full-fledged games with narratives and progression that they define. However, it will be possible to customize all sorts of details, such as attack power of towers and enemies, and even whether the game will be a standard mazing game or an open-field one like Fieldrunners.

Koh says that, “With game development, essentially what you’re doing, most of the time, you’re just guessing what the audience wants… the approach that we’re taking is that we’re gonna ask people what do you want, and let them do it.”

Tower_conceptsOne of the features for creation that they’re working on is to be able to modify levels that other players have created. Koh puts it like this: “If I gave you a clean sheet of paper and asked you to design a car, the chances are, very few people are able to do it. Whereas, if I ask you, what’s wrong with your car and what would you want to change on it, I’m sure you can come up with a lot of things.” So, powered by this philosophy, Personae is aiming to make attributable changes to levels, and to help make creation easier for people.

The way that PICS Towers of Defense intends on making money right now is through theme packs for levels and towers: the game is expected to be a free download, but additional theme packs will be available as in-app purchases, and there is talk of crossovers with other games to get theme packs into this creation tool. Koh says, “We want this to be more of a community-driven platform where people could write in suggestions on what kind of theme packs that they would want to see, and we’ll try to create it for them.”

art-nouveau_flyers_01The plan is for the game to release at some point in the second quarter of 2014, though the initial release will not be the be-all end-all of the game, with more features down the road. And perhaps if the game does well, then more genres could be added to the PICS brand. But for now, Koh and Personae have their hands full with this ambitious app, which in its current state definitely delivers on its promise. But making it widespread and accessible will be the key to the game’s success.

Frontline Commando 2 Review

Frontline Commando 2 Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Frontline Commando 2 is deep and well-made, but expect to spend money to do well.

Read The Full Review »
Wave Wave Review

Wave Wave Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Wave Wave shows that minimalism can be compelling - but it can be hard to adhere to.

Read The Full Review »

Today on Twitch, we’re doing two game streams, one in the US afternoon and one at night though we’ll have archived video of all the streams afterward. Here’s the details on the what and when of both:

FirstStrike_Bild2 (1)

First Strike: This IMGA-nominated game about nuclear war from Blindflug Studios packs an interesting message, and I’ll be talking about the aims of the game with the team. Feel free to join and ask questions when the stream goes live at 5:15 PM EDT (4:15 PM CDT, 2:15 PM PDT, 9:15 PM GMT)

Wayward Souls: Rocketcat Games joins us again to show off some of the later parts of their upcoming free-to-play action-RPG based off of Mage Gauntlet. The last stream had some juicy details about the details of the game and what the next iteration could be, so join up and possibly hear more juicy info and see more of the game!

WaywardSaga

This stream goes live at 11:15 PM EDT (10:15 PM CDT, 8:15 PM PDT), though if that’s too late, we’ll of course have the archive. Watch the previous stream to see some of the earlier parts of the game.

Follow us on Twitch to find out when we go live next!

It might sound crazy to say, but Farmville is one of the most influential games of this millennium, being perhaps the popular spark for the simulation genre that has become wildly popular through the rise of Facebook gaming and on mobile. There’s probably no Clash of Clans without Farmville. While Zynga has seen better days, Farmville 2: Country Escape is still a big deal because it’s one of the few free-to-play games with history and a sort of gravitas. Well, as much gravitas as a free-to-play game about farming can have. Right now, Zynga’s soft-launched the game in Canada and we’ve gotten our straw hat and overalls on to lead a more rustic lifestyle on our non-rustic technology in this edition of It Came From Canada.

The game essentially follows a simple pattern: water crops and feed animals to get basic resources. Combine these resources into more complex resources and even specific products, and then sell them for gold and experience points in order to buy and unlock new crops and buildings, ultimately expanding one’s farm through buying new plots of land. Repeat until satisfied. It’s a classic formula, and one that Farmville 2 tries to set up early on with teases of online elements like selling to other players. Ultimately, it doesn’t really rock the boat too much.

Farmville2-ICFC-7Interestingly, FarmVille 2 gives players a lot of keys (the game’s hard currency), at least to start out with: a total of 90. Of course the game tries to get players to use them in a variety of fashions in small increments when starting out. Skip a pesky wait timer with a key? Well sure, why not, I have plenty of them! Be able to produce twice as much flour by paying five keys to unlock that option? Sure! It’s easy to see those keys running out at some point.

Farmville2-ICFC-2That should be one of the interesting things to keep an eye on as the game nears its worldwide release: the keys could definitely be tweaked to give out more or fewer when starting and while playing – leveling up and buying new plots of land gives out more keys, for example. Another unanswered question is just how this game will fare in a world where simulation games have grown up to become Clash of Clans and its similar ilk: will people be willing to jump back in to Zynga’s familiar rustic experience? We’ll find out soon enough.

Benedict Fritz and Gerald Kelley of Static Oceans joined Carter Dotson live in Chicago to chat up their upcoming game Dudeski, releasing on Thursday, March 13th. We discussed the origins of the game, and how Spelunky played a big role. Catch the archive of the show here, and catch some highlights below.

Find out about that aforementioned Spelunky influence:

Learn about how the game started off as a radically different game, with different controls and a different level structure:

Want to see what it takes to beat the game? Watch this and pick up on some good tactics!

Follow us on Twitch to find out when we go live next!

Devious Dungeon Review

Devious Dungeon Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Devious Dungeon has some good ideas but it fails to execute on them, missing what makes its inspirations great.

Read The Full Review »

Wind-Up Knight 2

Wind-Up Knight 2 from Robot Invader is nearing release, and we’ll be streaming a preview build with the developers this afternoon. We’ll be showing off the game and some of the new things that players can expect to see – and viewers can join up in the Twitch chat to get their burning questions answered. Sadly, we don’t have a DDR pad available to play the game with.

So join us at 4:15 PM EDT (3:15 PM CDT, 1:15 PM CDT, 9:15 PM GMT) to check out this upcoming game. To watch and chat, just watch on our Twitch page. You can also watch in the embedded viewer below. Here early? Watch our previous livestream of Frontline Commando 2 while you wait.

Miss the live show? No sweat, we have an archive of the whole thing below:

See the basics of the game and some of the new stuff:

See the challenging new ice sections, find out how the team at Robot Invader approaches level design, and why gamepad support was so important to them:

Learn about why the new side-missions are so important to progress, and just how they change the way you play:

Follow us on Twitch to find out when we go live next!

One Spear Savage Review

One Spear Savage Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
One Spear Savage has a good idea at its heart, but a spear gets tossed through it.

Read The Full Review »
Mines of Mars Review

Mines of Mars Review

+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Mines of Mars is a fantastic crafting game with a Metroidvania progression structure that helps make it a unique experience.

Read The Full Review »

FrontlineCommando2

Join 148Apps’ Carter Dotson and Glu Games on our Twitch channel to see gameplay footage and chat with the developers of Frontline Commando 2, which is now available worldwide on the App Store. We’ll be discussing the game, perhaps getting some tips for PvP, and more! Join us at 5:15 PM EST (4:15 PM CST, 2:15 PM PST, 10:15 PM GMT) on our Twitch page to watch and chat, or watch below. Miss the stream? We’ll have an archive with highlights after the show right here.

Watch the archive here:

Watch the first chapter and get the rundown on weapon upgrades and squadmates:

Find out how PVP works:

See the second chapter of the game and the impressive Human Armor boss:

MinesOfMars-Plants

Tonight, Crescent Moon Games releases their Metroidvania-meets-Minecraft adventure game, Mines of Mars. Featuring procedurally-generated 2D worlds, players must dig through Mars to try and discover the secrets beneath it. Josh Presseisen, founder of Crescent Moon Games, joined me on 148Apps Live on Twitch to discuss the game’s origins, how Crescent Moon’s publishing helped shape the title into something radically different from a year ago, and how PC gamers approach titles in totally different ways from mobile gamers.

Catch the recorded broadcast below. (Pardon our dust -footage may be choppy due to technical issues)

Catch some of the best footage here:

Follow us on Twitch to find out when we go live next

WaywardSouls

We’re getting the 148Apps Live train started back up in a big way this week! At 4:00pm EST (3:00pm CST, 1:00pm CST, 9:00pm GMT), Kepa Auwae of Rocketcat Games will join 148Apps on Twitch to chat up Wayward Souls – formerly known as Wayward Saga, and as the spiritual successor to Mage Gauntlet. We’ll run through a fresh build of the upcoming game, and chat about what’s gone into the development of the game. And of course, you can ask your questions as well in the Twitch chat.

So feel free to join us! Watch live below in the embedded viewer below, or join us on Twitch to chat with us.

If you miss the show, keep an eye on this page as we will upload the archived broadcast and embedded highlights as well. Be sure to follow us on Twitch to know precisely when we go live next!

Watch the footage of the Spellsword in action, and the first boss:

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