Posts Tagged action
Two things are a constant with dwarves, regardless of the fictions they appear in: they’re incredibly sturdy, and they have a thing for digging. TinkerHouse Games has taken these two concepts and run with them to create Dwarven Delve. Billed as an “action puzzle crawl,” it’s a combination of elements that tasks players with rotating entire sections of dungeon as they attempt to guide a small band of dwarves to the treasures within. It’s a unique and interesting concept we wanted to learn more about. Fortunately, Mark Jessup (Creative Director and Lead Designer for TinkerHouse Games) was on-hand to answer our questions.
148Apps: So what led to the creation of the world’s first action puzzle crawl?
Mark Jessup (MJ): I really like pipe puzzle games like Pipe Dream and old-school top-down dungeon crawls. One morning when I was half-awake, the two merged and did a merry jig. When I was finally ambulatory I wrote it down immediately. Lane built the physical prototype in two days and had the first digital prototype a week later. He was a ninja. We were both really fired up about it and hit the ground running.
148Apps: I noticed some of the abilities seem like they’d work really well together (i.e. the Tinkersmith’s Hovermine and the Wayfinder’s Echo Lure). Was it tough to balance?
MJ: Thanks for noticing that combo so quickly! It’s one of our favorites and the ideal we’re shooting for with regards to other ability combos down the line. So far, the biggest trick hasn’t been with individual or combo effects, as much as cooldown durations and the frequency of enemy spawning. None of the abilities or their power progressions threaten game balance in themselves, but they should be meaningful moments in the level, not just something you spam. And of course, we have to have a steady but not overwhelming number of enemies to keep you on your toes and make those abilities count.
148Apps: Are there any later skills you think are particularly cool that you wouldn’t mind sharing?
MJ: Well, it’s still early in development, so I really shouldn—okay, you talked me into it. Our dwarves’ abilities are augmented over time by rediscovering their history; ancestral relics and lineage. So our Tinkersmith will eventually find a relic from the Age of Automata called the Gloam Mag. It upgrades her hovermines so that they shoot towards enemies in any adjacent hex, threatening a much larger area.
One of the Spellforger’s more powerful relics is called The Oculus of Maddening. It changes his ranged attack into a domination effect, so he can turn a group of enemies into monster-eaters. It’s quite fun.
148Apps: Was it always the plan to have a team of six, or were there originally more/fewer dwarves? And if there were initially more, were there any classes that you regret having to cut out?
MJ: Actually, the biggest decision we had to make early on was whether the game would be centered around a small cast of characters or a large group of units that you essentially built into warbands. It was a fundamental design decision, obviously. We decided to go with the small group because the story is a very important part of the game for us, and we thought we could tell a better one with a small cast that you got to know and helped evolve over time. And for the record, we also realized the dwarven unit model would likely be much easier to monetize and more lucrative in the long run. But we didn’t do it because we really thought it wouldn’t let us design the best game experience. There’s nothing wrong with free-to-play in itself, but it wasn’t right for this game.
Fools? Possibly. But fools who love dwarves.
148Apps: I really like the concept behind character “leveling.” Was this Lineage system always the plan or was it something the game grew into over the course of its development?
MJ: The lineage leveling system definitely grew out of conversations over time around the office. When we were thinking about the warband approach, finding your ancestors actually unlocked new units, which was cool, and gave the player something more satisfying than just getting a better score. And the idea of a lineage tree showing progress was a visual concept we really wanted to keep. So when we went towards the character approach we realized we could still keep that concept. Each dwarf is a member of a clan that extends back into the dark of history. Discovering the forebears and accomplishments of their clan makes their own abilities increase.
Our thanks to Mark Jessup for his time, and to the entire team at TinkerHouse Games for working on the first ever action puzzle crawler. Assuming everything goes according to plan with Dwarven Delve‘s Kickstarter funding it should be breaking ground on your iPad (sorry, iPhone owners) in December for $4.99. It’s apparently going to be a big month for dwarves.
Whenever zombies and/or mutants have overrun the Earth, iOS gamers are always more than happy to take to the streets and start blasting. However, they haven’t had many opportunities to do so with friends. That’s why James Petty, president of Action Mobile Games, and the rest of the development team have been working on 2013: Infected Wars. They’re hoping to push the limits of what iOS gamers have come to expect from their action games, and James was gracious enough to answer a few of our questions about their soon-to-be-released project.
148Apps: What made you decide to create a co-op action game as opposed to a more typical single player affair?
James Petty (JP): There were a few reasons for that. One, it has never been done before on mobile so I wanted us to do something new and fun to try and stand out. Two, I thought it would be really well received by the community since playing multiplayer is always more fun. Three, because it is so difficult to pull off; my hope was Apple would feature us in the App Store at release.
148Apps: I was also wondering just how big the environments might be. Are there multiple paths to explore?
JP: They are not as big as some of the huge PC or console hits that many of us are familiar with. There are different paths you can take to some extent but we had to be creative to allow for the large number of creatures spawned at any given time. I wanted to make sure the player felt like the world was covered with infected. Most people probably don’t notice, but on mobile each unique creature takes a ton of resources which is why many games with higher end graphics will cap them at 3 or so. This wouldn’t work at all if we wanted to create hordes of enemies. So we were able to optimize the Unreal Engine to such an extent that we can have around 10 at any given time and have some amazing graphics to boot. With our custom spawn system you often don’t even notice the cap as we can have another enemy spawn as soon as one dies to really give you the feeling of an enemy ‘horde’.
148Apps: It looks like there’s a good mix of classes available (Field Support, Marine, Sniper, Sapper). Do you find that some compliment others better, and was it tough to balance them out?
JP: Yes, this was extremely tough to balance out. It would have been easy to just get rid of the classes and have a bunch of weapons but I think that removes some of the depth you can achieve when you get to choose a strategy and see if it works. The field support in my opinion is the easiest class to master, and I suggest this for any player who isn’t as experienced with mobile gaming. The sniper and Sapper are the most challenging and work better in multiplayer.
148Apps: What sort of persistent character progression can we expect in 2013: Infected Wars? Do the characters actually learn skills or become more powerful, or is it more of a rank-based system that unlocks new gear?
JP: There is no gear unlocking in 2013: Infected Wars; instead, the more money you earn from killing infected and the less you die the more money you have. However each class gets benefits with certain weapon types, and as you level up the weapons in that class become more affordable. You also get unique bonuses for each class but there isn’t a special move per say. The game is designed to offer fun replayability and you are meant to die. If you challenge players and they realize a mistake is going to cause them to die, lose weapons, and then have to try a mission again it really ups the intensity. I believe the mobile gaming community is really wanting a challenge and I stand 100% by 2013: Infected Wars being the most challenging mobile shooter that will be in the App Store.
148Apps: What would you consider to be 2013: Infected Wars’ most significant feature?
JP: Definitely the fact we have a true full co-op campaign with a ton of content and true hordes of zombies and other infected to kill. And larger than life bosses that actually move around. This has never been done on mobile before and I really hope the community enjoys it. In fact we are already working on our first new content update before the game even hits the App Store.
We’d like to thank James again for taking the time to answer our questions. If you’re anxious to get your co-op mutant blasting on, keep an eye out. 2013: Infected Wars should be hitting the App Store within the next couple of weeks and set you back $6.99. Expect a full review from 148Apps when it does!