Of all the “hardcore” game genres that have had recent new life as more casual mobile games, RPGs might be one of the most surprising. With their focus on numbers, organization, and slow, patient play, you wouldn’t expect them to fit in with quick, flashy distractions. However, the upcoming Might & Mayhem offers a pretty clear explanation for this phenomenon. While it has many trappings of a dense role-playing adventure, playing it is a much more straightforward, and arguably stripped-down affair. We find out if it still has enough of the goods in this edition of It Came From Canada!
In Might & Mayhem players build a three-person team of fantasy warriors – from dashing but weak sword fighters to mysterious and buff spell casters – and fight a series of turn-based battles. There’s no real overworld to explore, not much grinding, and little emphasis on loot. Rather, players just take on battle after battle in kingdoms full of enemy robots and goblins before reaching a boss. Fortunately, the combat has some depth to justify its prominence. As each match goes on, players accrue more action points. With more action points, they can launch stronger attacks or multiple attacks at once. However, skills still have limits, so balance and strategy is crucial. Go for the strongest foe or take out the weak healer first? Smart tactics become especially necessary in online battles.
There is some customization to be had outside of battle, though. Players can upgrade their castle home base along with their fighters. While manually reviving fallen units costs precious diamonds, other upgrades are refreshingly freemium-free. Before quests, players can equip special single-use abilities like massive lightning strikes or health waves that can really turn the tide of battle. And more bonuses of all kinds unlock as players progress.
Since Might & Mayhem focuses mostly on its battles, it puts a lot of effort into their visual presentation. Everything is brought to life in colorful 3D environments with great, dynamic animations. Players can even rotate the camera whenever they choose to get a different view of the action. However, even if it is well made, the artwork itself is still fairly generic. Plus battles will glitch out and freeze a little too often, requiring a soft reset.
Might & Mayhem demonstrates how RPGs adapt themselves to mobile by becoming super straightforward. Players can decide from themselves whether or not that’s cool with them when it launches worldwide soon.
Recently announced, Trouserheart looks like quite the quirky, DeathSpank-style fantasy action game. Notably, it’s a game that is being published by established Finnish games studio, 10tons and developed by similarly established and Finnish firm, Dicework Games. With our curiosity piqued, I was able to talk to 10tons’s Jaakko Maaniemi about how the union came to be, and just what players should expect when the game is released next month.
148apps: Why is it called Trouserheart? Jaakko Maaniemi (JM): It’s awesome you ask about the name, as we put some serious effort into coming up with it. We wanted to achieve all kinds of things with the name, and we’re very happy with Trouserheart. We wanted the name to be short, preferably one word – Trouserheart is ok in that regard.
We obviously wanted the name to be catchy, memorable and distinct, as there are hundreds of games released every day. As the name was your first question, I believe we succeeded here as well. The name also had to communicate the lighthearted, humorous tone of of the game. Check! Trouserheart is also the name of the game’s hero, King Trouserheart.
Finally, we wanted to [be] associated [with] the fantasy genre. The something-heart is a pretty well known fantasy convention, all the way from King Lionheart and Braveheart to hit games like Battleheart and Kingdom Hearts. Trousers also feature in the game’s storyline, but we’ll talk about that in detail later.
148apps: Will Trouserheart be a story-led game? JM: Trouserheart is not very story driven, apart from the clear setup and rewarding conclusion. The reason is that Trouserheart’s gameplay is very short form. In other words, a single session of Trouserheart is just a couple of intensive minutes. There’s not a whole lot of time, nor point, in cramming a lot of storytelling in there. And we’re concentrating 100% on making the gameplay as great as possible.
148apps: What inspiration led to the game? JM: We wanted to make a game that’s simple, easy to pick up and fun to play. It takes literally about five seconds from the start of each session to be in a fight with monsters, knee deep in your next quest. Seasoned gamers can probably name titles Trouserheart reminds them of, but there’s no single source of inspiration in that regard.
Visually, we wanted to make Trouserheart look instantly familiar, but with a recognizable quirky tone. The kind of blocky look works well with the gameplay. The bright colors and clear shapes also help the game look clear on the smaller screens of mobiles.
148apps: Are you able to discuss any of the features within the game? It looks quite hack n slash style in the screenshots, is that the case? JM:Trouserheart is definitely hack’n slash. In fact, hacking and slashing is basically the only interaction there is in the game, although you do a few kinds of different things with the whackage. We’re especially proud of how well we’ve nailed the virtual controllers. They’re really good. We’ve always been annoyed by how many bad implementations of virtual controllers are out there, and one of the driving factors in creating Trouserheart is that we wanted to do virtual controllers right.
We should also mention that Trouserheart is as relaxed and easy-going as a good hack’n slash game can be. We hope that if Trouserheart is the first hack’n slash game someone plays, they’ll enjoy it.
148apps: What motivated 10tons to go into publishing rather than development? JM: 10tons has been around for ten years now, and so far we’ve published around two dozen titles we’ve developed ourselves – and we’ll definitely keep developing games in the future as well. We’ve released games on most mobile platforms and know our way around different markets so we already had a nice toolset for publishing games. Both Dicework Games and 10tons are located in Tampere, Finland, so we had a chance to see the game very early in development. We immediately liked Trouserheart’s concept, instant accessibility, and style. A bit later it we found ourselves in a position where we could help each other: Dicework needed resources to finish and launch the game to realize its full potential and 10tons was dreaming of an easy-going fun mobile game that would also work with gamepads.
Thanks to Jaakko for taking the time to answer our questions. It’s great to see indie developers working together towards a common goal. We’ll be sure to cover Trouserheart in more depth when it’s released in September.
As Spiderweb Software’s fantasy epic hits its 18 year anniversary, the final game’s App Store debut is looming on the horizon. But it’s not just the second iOS release for the series, not counting Avadon as it’s a separate thing, it’s the final chapter to a second trilogy. That’s six games, total. And I was lucky enough to be able to ask series creator Jeff Vogel about it.
First and foremost, what made you all decide to create a role playing game in the first place? I’ve been obsessed with role-playing games since I first learned to play Dungeons & Dragons, around 32 years ago. Sometimes there is something about a genre that just grabs you and doesn’t let go.
I have to ask, when you all began work on the first Avernum, did you have plans for a 6-part series? Avernum is a rewrite of my very, very first game, Exile: Escape From the Pit, which I started in 1994. When I began it, I honestly thought it was just a hobbyist thing, and I didn’t look for one second past the first title. Happily, the world I created turned out to be very versatile and have a lot of stories in it.
And why six games specifically? Two trilogies. I think three games is a really good length for telling one epic story. So the whole series is two almost self-contained arcs.
I imagine you’ve learned quite a bit from working on so many titles, and not just the Avernum series. Were there any particular bits of experience you’ve gained along the way that have been more useful than most? I have learned so much since I started, and 18 years in, it feels like I learn more every year. Things about how to design, to code, to test, to market. It’s a huge, complex field, and there is no shortage of mistakes and foolishness on my part I need to correct.
In that vein, have there been things that you know now that you wish you knew back at the beginning? I wish, when I started, I knew to pony up the money and find good freelance artists. I made a lot of the art in-house, and I should have had real people doing it. Especially the interface.
Have there been any unique challenges in developing any of the Avernum titles for iOS as opposed to Mac or PC? Adapting from a mouse/keybords interface to a touchscreen was difficult and required a lot of thought. Touchscreens don’t work as well for hardcore, tactical games. Happily, people seem to be happy with the interface we developed.
I imagine iOS distribution is fairly different than Mac/PC. Have you found there to be any specific hurdles in releasing, selling, and supporting a game on the App Store? Marketing. Visibility. It’s a hugely, HUGELY busy and competitive platform. It’s so hard to stand out from the teeming masses. Happily, we are about the only ones writing this sort of game for iOS, which helps.
Has there been more notable success on one platform as opposed to the others? Avadon: The Black Fortress continues to do really well for us. I recommend it. It’s fun.
Now that the final game in the series is coming to iPad, might there be plans to bring earlier titles to the platform? Yeah, a few. I’m adapting Avernum 6 now, and I hope to have it out in October. However, the older games use an old code base that would be extremely difficult to adapt to iOS.
On a similar note, are there any plans to make the series available for iPhone? No. The screen is too small. I will need to rewrite the engine from scratch to adapt to it.
I hope to someday write games for the iPhone. I’m really thinking about it. But that sort of thing needs to be baked in from day 1.
Lastly, how’s Avadon 2 coming along? I noticed the little blurb about it on the website. Will that be available for iOS alongside the first one? It’s going. Slowly. I want it to be out next summer, but I’m having a little bit of mid-life burnout. But it is happening. And it will absolutely be out for the iPad.
Freemium social games are all well and good, but a number of them are decidedly lacking in certain places. Namely in action. That’s probably why it’s so easy to take notice when companies like Pangalore announce a game like Knightly Adventure.
Knightly Adventure is indeed a social game, and it does indeed possess a bunch of typical fantasy RPG elements; stuff like medieval kingdoms, quests, hostile monsters, colorful storybook-like graphics, and so on. But while it adheres to many freemium norms, it also attempts to deviate in that one key area. Amidst all the kingdom building, character customizing, friend gathering, and so on is a much more interactive action RPG approach to the quests. With the option of choosing between four character classes (swordsman, wizard, bowman, or knight) available to further sweeten the deal.
This free-to-play cross-platform (mobile, tablet, or Facebook) super-hyphenated fantasy adventure will be setting up shop in the App Store sometime next month. Presumably and preferably soon.
I’m not being sarcastic when I say that I wish more browser-based games made their way onto iOS. A lot of them are fantastic, but due to various software/hardware constraints they typically don’t function on handheld Apple devices. It’s a shame, really. But what isn’t a shame is that another browser MMO is coming to iOS. And it’s going to be playable across all (read: iOS, Android, HTML 5) platforms.
Dragon Eternity affords players many of the luxuries they expect in their MMOs; more than 1,000 quests, loot drops, 200+ crafting recipes, mounts, powerful bosses, crafting professions, pets, over 500 monsters to fight, custom character development, and five different PvP modes. So yeah, there’s a lot on offer here. The beta version is already sporting over a million registered users, so I think it’s safe to say that it won’t be one of those Massively Multiplayer Ghost Towns that some of these games tend to be when they first launch.
It’s still in open beta via the browser version, but once Dragon Eternity is complete it will be available for iOS (most likely iPad) and Android devices as well. It’s also going to be free-to-play so there’s no need to start saving up for the eventual release.