10Ton’s goofy, pantsless adventure Trouserheart will be hitting the App Store next week. After the chat we had with Jaakko Maaniemi we couldn’t help but have our interest piqued, which makes it nice to know that we won’t have to wait for much longer. So next Thursday you should be all set to take King Trouserheart out and about as he scours his kingdom for his stolen leather trousers!
Instantly accessible hack’n’slash action adventure gameplay
Simple and super fluid touch controls
Lighthearted tone with just the right amount of challenge
Perma-death mode for experienced gamers
Developed with state of the art Unity technology
Epic adventure soundtrack
The first property based on Matsuno’s visionary world will be co-designed by renowned French board game designer Christophe Boelinger, which will be released in 2014. The game introduces the world of Rasfalia in an exciting digital card game played online. The game pits two players against each other in a fast-paced and engaging struggle. Featuring innovative new game play mechanics, the card game will appeal to a wide variety of players through the immersive, strategic game play Boelinger is known for.
Origin8 and 31X Ltd are bringing the classic PC empire builder, Transport Tycoon, to iOS in just a couple of weeks on October 3. This mobile port has been designed and directed by the game’s original creator, Chris Sawyer.
The original was quite a big deal when it first came out in 1994, and fans will no doubt want to get their hands on this once it comes out so they can manage their transportation empire whenever they’d like. No word has been given on a price point yet, but we’ll know first thing next month!
Madfinger Games has recently announced the official release date for their zombie-blasting sequel, Dead Trigger 2, and it’s just a little more than a month away.
The zombie-laden shooter sequel will have a “real time” story that is affected by the interaction and performance of all its players. Each update will shuffle locations around and otherwise change up events based around how everybody performs. Neat!
NimbleBit is following up Pocket Planes with perhaps the next-best transportation option: trains. Yes, Pocket Trains is now a real thing coming very soon, and fans of NimbleBit’s simulation games should be at home here with a refreshed take on the Pocket Planes formula when it releases on September 26th.
This is another simulation game, very similar to Pocket Planes in that players must tote cargo around the world. But instead of flying around, they travel along rail lines. Players start on one continent and must earn money by delivering cargo to various destinations, building new rail lines to more cities, trying to become the head honcho among the world’s railroad tycoons. Oh, and there’s a giant underwater rail that goes from Europe to the United States in the Nimbleverse, apparently.
The game has become somewhat simplified versus Pocket Planes in two key ways: one, because trains only travel on rails, the trains can only travel on paths, and only the rails that they have claimed, so a particularly-colored track can only travel on those colored tracks. It makes managing where everything needs to go much simpler. Secondly, there’s no negative costs incurred through travel anymore, though trains do break down and need repairing with coins or parts from time to time.
New train acquisition has been changed as well, with new parts collected through crates that need to be opened by spending bux. The crates contain random parts, with rarer special crates providing rarer parts. This is the kind of system that some developers could make incredibly IAP-driven, but bux and crates appear commonly enough while playing that they actually feel like a part of the game rather than just a monetization tool.
The bitizens don’t play as much of a role in Pocket Trains: they’re mostly just set dressing, and there’s no customization of the conductors, yet. Still, they provide a flavor that makes the game feel quite familiar. As well, there’s plenty of goofy-looking cargo: why not transport giant platforms of balloons or a giant cola bottle?
But overall, it will be interesting to see how well the simplified take on Pocket Planes goes over: it does feel a bit less stressful while still having some strategy in how rail lines should be laid out. The world will see when the game releases on September 26th.
Mutant League Football is probably one of the (if not the) most beloved alternative football video games in history. At least as far as an adoring, nostalgia-driven cult following goes. And after what feels like decades, because it has been decades, the ultra violent and gloriously twisted take on one of America’s most popular sports is back! Or at least it’s trying to come back.
Series creator Michael Mendheim has turned to Kickstarter to try and bring the spiritual successor of the EA classic to multiple platforms, including iOS! The project is still in the early stages, but the plan is to keep all the violence and tongue-in-cheek humor fans have been craving intact.
As one of those fans who’s been lamenting the distinct lack of Mutant League over the past 20 years, I could not be more excited about this. Of course it’s too soon to know how it’s going to turn out, or even if it’s going to meet its $750,000 goal in time, but simply knowing that the series’ creator is interested in bringing it back is more than enough for me!
Love trains? Well, an exciting and must-see new trailer has released for the upcoming iOS game, Pocket Trains. It features the sexiest sounding horn you’ll ever hear. Well, I guess I can’t say that for sure, but the guy in the video sure got excited about it! Check out the special trailer below!
Ubisoft has announced that Assassin’s Creed: Pirates is being developed for iOS devices, bringing players the chance to sail and explore throughout the Caribbean. Players will take on the role of captain Alonzo Batilla, and it’s their job to manage the ship’s crew, recruit new members, upgrade the ship, and take part in real-time naval warfare. Own the seas!
Assassin’s Creed: Pirates is inspired by the naval battles that were seen in Assassin’s Creed III, which most certainly was one of my favorite things about the game. I can’t wait to take the helm and watch out for those changing weather conditions that will impact the gameplay!
War game fans love tanks. So for the Russian game publisher and developer Game Insight, it seems only appropriate that their next title be a game all about tanks. And with their current focus on mid-core games, Tank Domination should be a perfect fit for the studio when it releases later this year.
Demoed on iPad 4 tablets, I got a chance to take part in several online multiplayer battles with other members of the media, Game Insight’s US staff, and some of the devs – a look at the webcam pointed at them showed them to be focused and determined on the matches at hand.
Tank Domination is a 10-on-10 tank battling game. While Game Insight does focus on free-to-play titles, there’s actual gameplay, not just hands-off simulation! Players drive a tank of their choosing around an open war zone, taking place in a dystopic near future that hopefully won’t come to pass, where mercenaries settle their differences with tanks. Actually, that sounds pretty cool.
Matches are divided into two teams on opposite corners of the map. Each team must try to either take out the other team in its entirety, or to conquer their base, at least in the matches I took part in. There are four types of tanks: light, medium, heavy, and artillery. The lighter the tank, the faster it moves, but the less punishment it can take. The artillery can shoot at enemy tanks that are visible on radar, making the light tanks valuable for scouting out enemies for the heavy hitters to take on. There’s text chatting supported, but the ability to partner up with friends could help out with the cooperative elements. Plus, playing with other people and laughing at them when they’re destroyed is fun.
The game is classified as “mid-core,” bridging the gap between the kinds of free-to-play casual games that have a wide appeal, to the kinds of traditional core games that can be inaccessible to new audiences. The controls are basic, with a single virtual stick to move (and auto-forward option) and a virtual joystick to aim the turret. While figuring out how the tank movement works may take some time, to dive in to it is pretty simple and finding games is clearly meant to be easy. This will help with finding online matches as well – the more seamless, the more populous the multiplayer. The free-to-play monetization aspects come in with currency and credits being earned to buy more shells with different stats, new tanks, and combat enhancements. How free will the game be? That remains to be seen, particularly since the game is clearly still being localized – lots of Russian text remained in the game when I tried it out!
Still, considering that Game Insight is experimenting with a game that features actual, tactical online multiplayer, it’s the kind of advancement in the free-to-play business model that I want to see. There’s no reason why the free-to-play model, which is here to stay, has to exclude the kinds of experiences that satisfy core gamers. Tank Domination, with plenty of tank deathmatches, should definitely be just that.
Everyone loves interactive fiction, right? Ok, I might be a little biased due to my huge love of the genre, but I’m certainly not alone there. Plenty of people love the dark world created by H.P. Lovecraft, too, and his work has proved a fantastic inspiration for many great games and other forms of media. One such title that’s set to capture this spirit is The Moaning Words: a game currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign and looking rather promising.
The game is written by Science Fiction author, Alan Dean Foster, and follows a dark investigation across 18 episodes set to be released daily. Players will be able to shape their own adventure through the choices they make. Uniquely, the app will also offer a form of social adventuring with the ability to share one’s story with others as well as invite friends to unlock new content.
Continuing with an original twist on the interactive fiction idea, a card game of sorts will also feature alongside numerous riddles and conundrums. Plus, there’s set to be even more options thanks to the free writing tool that will allow users to create their own story! Not bad, eh?
We talked to co-founder and designer, Manea Castet, to learn more about this ambitious project.
148apps: Did any other books, games, or films influence The Moaning Words, besides H.P Lovecraft? Manea Castet (MC): The design of The Moaning Words was influenced by the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books and popular video games Heavy Rain, Baldur’s Gate, and the Dragon Age series. In fact, our interactive fiction is built around different video games mechanisms. These mechanisms were specifically taken into consideration when writing the alternative [choices] and when designing how players interact with the story.
The first influence of our story is H.P Lovecraft’s body of work. Our app is designed to be a tribute to this well-known author. We believe it will please veteran readers of the “Lovecraftian” stories. It will also be a very good start for people who discover the Cthulhu Mythos for the first time. The story, written by Alan Dean Foster, is contemporary and its events will take place in many countries around the globe.
148apps: Some of the Kickstarter pledge rewards involve gaining a pack of gold to use in game, how will these help in game? Are they crucial to progression? MC: In The Moaning Words, gold is the virtual currency. It can be obtained for free through card games for example. Users will not necessarily have to purchase gold to progress. Every time a user wins a card game, he or she will gain gold.
When people purchase our “Curious” Pack on Kickstarter, we will provide a ‘huge pack of gold’ to start with. Players will then experience the game with more freedom at the beginning. However, anyone can experience the whole story and progress through the 18 episodes without having to purchase anything with actual money. As in many free to play games, the players will have access to premium optional content if [they] decide to purchase it.
148apps: Will it be vital to recruit friends in order to progress, or will it be possible to see everything the game has to offer without? MC: Although recruiting friends will never be vital in order to progress in the game, we think this feature is a lot of fun. Friends will help you shape the story in a different and meaningful way. They have the ability to transform your own adventure. They can also give you information about what happened in their story. You can experience the whole story without inviting any friends.
148apps: How open-ended is the story? How many different endings will it offer? MC: The story has 6 different main endings arcs. However, each arc can and will be modified by the player’s decisions. Each one will be drastically modified by previous choices and by the final decisions. Different characters in the story can disappear or become insane for example. The changes can affect the environment on different scale, grand or small.
148apps: How simple will it be to create your own story? MC: At any time in the app, players can access our writing tool for free. They can either use it directly in the mobile app or on their computer. It is a simpler version of the tool we use. We want it to be as complete as possible. Users will be able to write their fiction, add choices, grant mental sanity points and implement card games in just a few clicks.
No development skills are required to create an interactive fiction; the writer will only need to have a clear idea of the kind of interactive fiction he or she wants to write. Writers can publish their stories directly through the app and will be rewarded if the story is well reviewed by other users.
The Moaning Words sounds like it’s shaping up to be quite an interesting twist on an increasingly popular genre. Keen to be a part of it? Take a look at their Kickstarter campaign for the pledge rewards available.
We’ll be sure to keep an eye on its development. It’s currently set for release later this year.
If 2K Drive wasn’t already on my radar, it sure as heck would be after watching this new developer diary since I’m such a sucker for customization.
2K’s latest video preview of their upcoming racer goes into a bit more detail about something they’re referring to as your “RaceFace.” RaceFace allows you to snap a photo of yourself and put your face on your driver, so you can see a tiny digital representation of yourself behind the wheel whenever you take to the track. You can also customize the look of your doppelganger with helmets and suits.
Of course it’s still primarily about the cars, but now you can put yourself in the game to drive them!
EA Sports is bringing FIFA 14 to iOS for free this fall. It’s going to be packed, too. Over 600 teams from 30 leagues, online multiplayer, and an all new set of touch controls. It’ll also feature the popular “FIFA Ultimate Team” (FUT) mode, which will let players pick their own play style, manage their own team, and compete to earn coins in order to improve everything. And if that isn’t enough, EA SPORTS Football Club Match Day will add an extra layer of realism to your games by adding in-game stories pulled straight from the real world such as injuries and suspensions.
Three premium game modes (Manager Mode, Tournament Mode, and Kickoff Mode) are also available for any players looking to “upgrade their game.” Sounds cool, right? Well FIFA 14 will be coming to the App Store for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch this fall. Presumably around the time its console big brother releases in late September, but it’s just a guess so don’t quote me on that!
Remember all those puzzle games that involve lining up various tiles of paths/pipes in order to guide stuff (ooze, water, data, etc) from one spot to another? Games like Pipe Mania or the hacking mini-game from Bioshock. Well that’s kind of what SwapQuest is, too.
Of course in this instance you have to switch tiles around in order to create a path for your character (either Princess Wilma or Price Wilbert) to walk along as they battle monsters and find treasure. That’s right, SwapQuest is a hybrid of the classic “pipe game” and RPG elements. Personally I think it seems like an interesting combination. But don’t take my word for it, check out the gameplay trailer below and decide for yourself.
SwapQuest is due to hit the App Store “later this year.”
– 12 different areas to explore
– Two playable character: Prince Wilbert and Princess Wilma
– Branching paths and hidden treasures
– Dozens of different enemies to fight
– Magic items, side quests, challenge rooms, fierce boss fights, new game+, and much more…
Halfbrick’s first published title is Band Stars by Six Foot Kid, a free-to-play band manager that shows some promise, or at worst the ability to be amused by random name generators. First seen back at GDC, it’s available right now in Australia, the native country of both developers. I take it for a spin in this installment of It Came From Canada Australia!
The first step to creating a great band is to get a cool-looking band with an awesome name – with nary any great ideas coming to my head, I hit the random name generator a few times, and it came up with “The Black” – simple, succinct, and totally metal. Let’s do this. The goal is to make the band rich and famous by coming up with popular songs, training the band to be better at what they do, and hiring new people to replace the terrible old ones.
Songs are created by assigning band members of different stats to different tasks – imagine the job rankings from Tiny Tower playing a more active role. The band members of Band Stars are multitalented in a way that actual pop stars are often not, being singers, songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, and even willing and able to mix their own tracks. That they even need a manager is kind of a surprise.
Also surprising is that their only real bad habit seems to be energy drinks. Every action undertaken with a band member drains a bar of energy, which can be refilled by letting them rest on furniture or instantly replenished with energy drinks. At least the energy system makes sense as a limiting mechanic here in that a character is actually doing something in-game, rather than it being an arbitrarily-defined limit.
There’s plenty of things to spend the two currencies on. Coins are spent on permanent things like hiring new band members, buying items, and training sessions. Inspirado is used during solos to help raise certain point values on the songs as they’re being created.
How interesting this is long-term and if the monetization gets annoying are still to be seen over time as the game nears worldwide release. Until then, check out footage below of the early days of my band, The Black:
Zynga’s back with another game in their series of -Ville titles. This time, it’s all about building a magical kingdom in CastleVille Legends, currently available in Canada and Australia. I take it for a run in this episode of It Came From Canada!
There’s plenty of the initial hand-holding that many of these building games are prone to have: it starts off by showing everything that’s possible, and giving helpful hints as to what exactly the premium currency, crowns, can be spent on. Because of course that’s necessary. Items that serve as resources can be farmed and used to craft new items which can be sold for gold coins, which help make the castle’s land bigger, which necessitates more gold and more resource farming, and so on ad infinitum. The timers are thankfully short early on, though it’s hard to imagine them staying that way – these games depend on lengthy timers!
Heroes play a key role: they can be sent off on ‘quests’, which means “their avatar disappears for a period of time, after which the player gets a reward.” It’s not a very creative system – signs that anything beyond the idea of questing are not exactly present.
While the game’s mechanics tick off a lot of the “free-to-play gaming by numbers” that many titles have, at least Zynga is focusing on production values here: the art is highly-detailed and everything is well-animated, so it’s one of the nicer-looking experiences of the sort.
The game is currently in testing in Canada and Australia, and it’s likely that its monetization in particular is being put to the test – will this game make any money over time? It’ll be up to how Canadians, Australians, and those pretending to be from there decide it to be. Get a taste of the game now with our video footage.
Avadon 2: The Corruption, the role-playing adventure title from Spiderweb Software, gets a brand-new trailer that shows your enemies gathered and your fortress in ruins. Oh my! This fantasy RPG offers 5 character types, each with unique abilities, and multiple endings to witness. There isn’t an official release date for the game but its currently being pushed for a November launch.
After taking a year to experiment with Madden NFL Social, and then pulling it from the App Store never to be seen again, EA Mobile has decided to try again with taking Madden and making it into a free-to-play turducken. Madden NFL 25 is not the 2025 version of Madden, but is instead named in honor of the series’ 25th anniversary (and quite possibly a way to make next year’s version Madden NFL 14 without anyone being the wiser).
This entry in the preeminent series of American football isn’t actually available in America – well, the United States at least – as EA has decided to test the game in Canada first. This is despite Canada playing a weird game of football with only three downs, longer fields, and something called a rouge. This is American football, exclusive to Canada, making this one strange set of circumstances for an episode of “It Came From Canada.”
The opening tutorial reveals that with the touch controls, this is a much simpler game than the full console versions. But all the important functions are there, all done with gestures. Teams can be built and improved upon through card packs, which can add players from other teams to one’s own team. Yes, it would be possible to get Aaron Rodgers on the Bears, sacrilegious though it may be. There’s the ability to play just standard games, but the bulk of the game seems to be set in challenges and missions, with an energy system to boot.
There’s an asynchronous multiplayer mode where it’s possible to take on someone else’s team, but they’re not actually playing defense; it’s just taking turns playing offense against a computer-controlled defense. The personal element comes in taking on their customized team lineups.
It’s likely that this is as much a test of server load more than it is with monetization as many limited-local releases tend to be, so with the console versions of Madden NFL 25 releasing on the 27th, it’s quite possible that this will be available worldwide on or around then. Until then, enjoy our hands-on footage of the Canadian version of the game.
Behold Studios, creators of the IGF-nominated Knights of Pen & Paper are in the process of making their second game, Chroma Squad; a turn-based manager game that is heavily-inspired by the “sentai” shows of the 80′s and 90′s – such as Power Rangers. And of course, it will feature plenty of the pixel art that helped to define Knights of Pen & Paper as well.
148Apps: How did the idea of Chroma Squad come about? Saulo Camarotti (SC): After making a project like Knights of Pen & Paper, with a lot of references from our childhood, we thought that we could make a game with a theme that inspired us very much when we were ten. So, after thinking about the sentai team, we realized that we could go meta-language with it, and that came to the idea of managing a sentai TV studio.
148Apps: What are you attempting to do with the gameplay of Chroma Squad that you didn’t do with Knights of Pen & Paper? SC: We want more depth. We know that Knights is a great game, but it’s limited when you try to customize your experience. In Chroma Squad, we want that the player could customize everything in his studio, and make a sentai team of his dreams. So we’re planning in skill trees, items, color and jumpsuits options.
148Apps: Why go with Kickstarter for Chroma Squad? Did the popularity of Knights of Pen & Paper push you in one way or the other with this decision? SC: Yeah sure! We wanted to make a game with the help of the community. With a Kickstarter project we would listen to all feedback and promote a game where the community felt that they belong to it. We want to create a nostalgic experience, and for that, we need all the help. With the previous experience with Knights, we managed to get a lot of posts and reviews in major websites, and this was one the biggest reasons for our project success on Kickstarter.
148Apps: Now that the Kickstarter is a success, do you feel any different pressure in developing this game versus Knights of Pen & Paper? SC: Sure thing. When we did Knights, no one knew that the game was being developed, and no one had great expectations from our team. But now, we need to deliver what they expect us to. We really hope that we don’t frustrate any one =) For us, the game is already awesome!
Why target PC platforms before mobile this time around? SC: We wanted to make a deeper experience, and for that we wanted to use a bigger screen for the game. That’s why we’re just releasing it for PC, Consoles, and Tablets.
Thanks to Saulo for his time. If you’re interested in helping Behold Studios to get Chroma Squad (hopefully out in December of this year) funded, head on over to their Kickstarter page!
Warhammer 40K has been around for years, but its recent spike in popularity has been great for introducing new players (and entirely new generations) to real Space Marines. And the licensing continues with Herocraft and Games Workshop‘s upcoming free-to-play iOS title Warhammer 40,000: Space Wolf.
Space Wolf will be a combination of turn-based tactical combat and card collecting. Moves, weapons, and pretty much everything else is handled via cards while the action plays out in 3D. More powerful cards can be acquired through victory (glorious victory!), upgraded through the Iron Priest’s Forge, and presumably purchased with various forms of currency.
Follow the path of the Grey Hunter, Wolf Scout, Blood Claw, or Wolf Guard as you face-off against Word Bearers and Necrons in what is being described as “An epic campaign with branching storylines, spanning hostile environments on a far distant planet.” Personally, I can’t freaking wait.
Space Wolf will be coming to iOS (and Android and PC) sometime in 2014.
When ZigZaGame‘s Dragon Island Bluewas released on the App Store, many iOS gamers heaved a sigh of relief. It was (and arguably still is) the closest thing we’ve got to Nintendo’s exclusive monster-collection RPG series, while providing more than enough of its own unique gameplay elements to stand on its own. Now, just under a year later, we’ve got Hunter Island to look forward to. We recently had a talk with Ryan Kelley, COO of ZigZaGame, about Dragon Island Blue‘s reception, and what he and the rest of the team hope to accomplish with this spiritual successor of sorts. And I have to say, things are looking good so far.
148Apps: Would you consider Hunter Island to be a sequel to Dragon Island Blue, or something like a spiritual successor? Ryan Kelley (RK):Dragon Island Blue should get a separate sequel sometime in the future. We’ve been building a collection RPG engine for the past 3 years. We released Dragon Island Blue approximately a year ago, then spent the last year improving the engine based on user feedback, which led to Hunter Island.
148Apps: Were there any lessons/techniques/etc you were able to apply to Hunter Island after working on Dragon Island Blue? RK:Dragon Island Blue had 3 major sources of critical feedback: lack of a gripping storyline, lack of visual appeal (especially the interface), and the lack of updates (new content). Just in case some of the readers are considering picking up Dragon Island, I would like to note that it has an average overall rating of 5/5 Stars in the U.S., and we gave it our absolute best at the time. For Hunter Island, we wrote an engaging main story separate from side quests, added NPC interaction, and more importantly added a grand goal for each section of the game which directly ties in with the overall story. As a result, the game feels less of a chore although the actual story is 10 times longer.
We also overhauled the entire UI, changed the monster art direction, and implemented a tile-based map system. The new map is also a solution for updates. In Dragon Island, each section of the map was a large image, so the more maps we added, bigger the file size. This is a serious issue for iOS Apps because of the 50MB over-the-air download limit. However, in Hunter Island, whatever new world we decide to add in an update would be generated from tiles already existing in the game.
148Apps: Aside from the story and visuals, what is it you think will really set Hunter Island apart from its predecessor? RK: The tile based map system enabled us to make the map a whole lot bigger and exciting. In terms of size, this game is at least 10 times larger. Aside from that, we added what’s called a Bonus Attack system. Monsters are able to act twice in a row if they trigger this bonus action (similar to critical hit in most games). Each unique monster in Hunter Island has a random “grade” assigned to it ranging from S to E, with S monsters having the highest probability to perform a Bonus Attack.
We also introduced many new skills designed to make battles more strategic, such as chain attacks that splash damage to enemies of the same element, ally attacks that get stronger when you have monsters of the same element in your party, and playful ones like Roulette which kills a random monster in battle, friend or foe. Since the game eventually allows you to add 30+ monsters in your party, the combat feels like a mix of traditional RPGs and Collectible Card Games. A lot of the monster skills were inspired by games such as Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh. Another huge addition is the online component. While you can complete the full single player story offline (no pay wall), we are introducing online missions and online multiplayer via game center which was one of the most common requests. In online missions, players compete to beat dungeons and maps added regularly to get a special prize monster.
148Apps: Do you think fans of Dragon Island Blue might be less interested in the more “cutesy” style of Hunter Island? And if so, is there anything they can look forward to that you think will change their minds? RK: The “cutesy” style was actually another common request made by players. Also, there are plenty of cool-looking monsters at higher levels and rarities. Even if you are not a big fan of the style, we believe that the depth and scale of the game will satisfy fans of Dragon Island Blue looking for a similar but greatly improved game experience.
148Apps: I don’t suppose there are any Easter Eggs hidden in Hunter Island for fans of the first game to stumble upon, are there? Any returning characters, monsters, or the like? RK: There are a couple of monsters that came from Dragon Island Blue, like the Unhappy Bird. Also, the game offers something special for Dragon Island players. In the first town, there is a little tombstone that you can tap on. It will ask the player a question related to Dragon Island. If you answer correctly, a special exclusive monster will crawl out to join your team. We have a few more throwback monsters planned for online mission rewards as well.
Major thanks all-around to both Ryan and the rest of the team over at ZigZaGame! If you’d like to keep an eye out for Hunter Island – and really, why wouldn’t you? – it should be hitting the App Store sometime in September of this year for $0.99 (Universal).
An insect’s life is harsh and dangerous. However it can also be quite beautiful, as is evidenced by the upcoming bug-riddled hidden object adventure, Morphopolis. This gorgeous looking story of an aphid grub trying to rescue its friend has been in development since July of last year, and it’s still in early alpha, but things looking really nice already. We were able to talk with Dan Walters and Ceri Williams, the game’s authors, about what to expect when we visit this lovely/brutal world.
148Apps: Morphopolis is certainly gorgeous. Where did you get your visual inspiration from? Dan Walters (DW): The art style emerged over a five week workshop during which we experimented with different techniques alongside developing the game narrative. We aimed for a hand-drawn aesthetic using rich, saturated scenery that suits the genre of game. Intricate line drawings and ink wash techniques had been used previously by Ceri while producing architectural drawings and we wanted to see how they would suit a more organic subject. Ceri Williams (CW): We used macro photographs that we took to build up a catalog of source images and investigate the depth of field effects seen at that scale. The content was drawn from these photographs and was heavily inspired by watching old David Attenborough documentaries on plants and insects.
148Apps: Aside from the “painting come to life” quality of the graphics, what do you think will set Morphopolis apart from other hidden object games? DW: The game is all about metamorphosis. Between each chapter you change through metamorphosis or inhabiting the bodies of larger insects. In each chapter, as you grow in size, the scale of the world you are in shrinks so that more becomes visible.
Taking narrative from the environment, creating places through the division space, and evolving this world as your awareness of scale, mechanics, and inhabitants change. These are concepts we discovered in architecture school, but they can be handled so much more playfully in an illustrated world. CW: The tone of the game aims to strike a balance between the beauty of the close-up natural world with the captivating visceral qualities of the insect kingdom. Familiar, but increasingly alien as you peer closer; we want Morphopolis to appeal to the inquisitive. We are trying to tap into the almost universal experience of being toddler/child and peering closely in the grass or plant pots and seeing a tiny world of insects and plants. This experience is both fascinating and beautiful and also slightly scary and gross which is the balance we are trying to strike with the game.
148Apps: I’m a little afraid to ask, but what do you mean by “a parasitic crusade?” DW: You’re right to be slightly afraid! In Morphopolis you will take the role of an aphid grub and as part of the gameplay you parasitically inhabit larger insects. This metamorphosis allows the narrative and complexity of the world to develop as the game progresses. In each Chapter the new body that you occupy allows you to interact with the world in a new way and gets you closer to achieving your goal of rescuing your companion. CW: There is nothing gratuitous about this metamorphosis as the game is designed to be accessible to all ages but we want to capture that sense of fascination and discovery found in nature documentaries that show the realities of the world.
148Apps: About how many different kinds of bugs do you think will be in the final build? Do you have a particular favorite as far as artistic rendition or just general species goes? CW: There will be about 20 types of creature in the game with the players’ character also changing between each of the chapters. I’m personally a fan of the stag beetle but this is possibly because this piece of artwork has remained almost unchanged from the very first test illustrations. DW: Without revealing too much, some of the bugs in the later chapters are quite amazing. By this point in the game it becomes apparent that perhaps this organic world is not quite as natural as it seems and the bugs begin to reflect this sense that there is a greater intelligence to the Morphopolis world. CW: I’d love it if players chose to keep the game on their screens as a kind of insect vivarium screen-saver. I’m a fan of bugs and insects but I’d like to categorically say that no spiders will feature in Morphopolis!
148Apps: How long do you think it may take the average player to complete Morphopolis? Will there be any incentives for players to jump back in once they’re finished? DW: The time to complete the full game will vary greatly but we expect an average of 5-6 hours with players able to easily dip in and out if they choose. CW: We hope that players will enjoy the experience and not feel that they have to rush through the game. Hidden object sets and puzzles overlap one another in a way that allows the player to progress at their own pace and in the order that their exploration leads them. Because of this we expect that replaying the game will not result in repeating an identical process. DW: There are some features that we are exploring at the moment such as a system of randomizing the positions of certain hidden objects. We don’t feel that this will be necessary given the type of experience we are aiming to get across with the game however.
Thank you very much, Dan and Ceri, for taking the time to talk with us. If Morphopolis sounds like the kind of thing you’d like to play, you can sign up for early Mac/PC access or preorder all versions at once right here on the official website. Otherwise you can wait until later this summer when Micro Macro Games brings the iPad version to the App Store.
The original Anomaly Warzone Earth made some significant waves when it turned the tower defense world upside-down. Well, backwards, really. Now the sequel, Anomaly 2 is ready to make the jump from PC to iOS this fall.
The new-and-improved intense “tower offense” gameplay is being crammed onto mobile devices; with a solo campaign, multiplayer, tactical view, shape-shifting war-mechs, and more. All that, plus some fantastic visuals. There’s no official word yet on a price, but there’s a good chance it’s going to be priced similarly to previous titles ($1.99 – $3.99).
It can be tough to please a demanding parent. Sometimes it feels like the only way you can truly make them proud is to give them the world – or at least a world. And that’s exactly the kind of problem Captain Bubblenaut is facing. The only way to earn his father’s (Admiral Pop’s) respect is to take over the planet ERF and destroy all the ERFLINGS inhabiting it. Thankfully, Captain Bubblenaut designer and AAA game industry veteran, Dean Tate, has taken time out from his busy ERF-destroying schedule to try and explain all of this craziness to us.
148apps: Where’d the idea for Captain Bubblenaut‘s gameplay come from? Was it a product of the inspiration provided by games like Tiny Wings and Jetpack Joyride, or was it more of an instantaneous “Eureka!” moment? Dean Tate (DT): Originally Owen [Owen Macindoe, doctor of computer science] and I started by asking the question “What sort of skill-based actions are really fun to human beings?” and I think at the time I’d read something about how, evolutionarily, humans have succeeded as a species by being really good at judging parabolic arcs. ie. if you’re a caveman and you’re good at throwing a rock or a spear at a mammoth, you’re gonna go far, baby. For that reason, humans really enjoy judging parabolas, and if you look around, there are many, many games based on that concept that are very successful (eg. the Worms series, Scorched Earth, Angry Birds, Tiny Wings, and so on) as well as pretty much every type of sport ever conceived (football, basketball, golf, and on and on and on). So, weird way to come at the design of a game, right? We basically started with that blank slate, asking ourselves the question “what sort of game can we make about parabolic arcs?” Strangely enough the only game we really looked at closely in the beginning was Wave Race 64, which is all about looking at ocean waves (parabolas, kinda) and being really good at riding them on your jetski. A lot of our early prototypes were about water and waves.
148apps: It looks like you had a lot of fun coming up with all the different ERFLING designs. Was there a limit on how many you could add to the game or did you just run with it and see how far you could go? DT: The only limit was my time and energy. It took around a year of experimentation to land on a set of rules and guidelines that allowed me to quickly create new ERFLINGS. Once I had those down pat, and a huge list of types that I wanted to create, I just aimed to crank out 3 or 4 new ones every week or so, and did so through to now. I probably redesigned each one around 2 or 3 times. We’re shipping with around 90 designs, and I’d love to do another 90 and release them in an update some time.
148apps: Aside from experience, are there any particular insights from working in AAA development that you think might benefit your work as an indie developer? DT: For me it’s just design process. I learned a lot in AAA about design iteration fundamentals, philosophy, etc. How to fail fast and “find the fun”. How to tackle new design challenges. In some ways I think that allows me to work fast, but then I also think a lot of the more talented indies out there who don’t have AAA experience have an advantage in just being scrappier and more focused in their work than I am.
148apps: Between the music by Chris Remo (Thirty Flights of Loving, Gone Home), sound by Danny Baranowsky ( Super Meat Boy, Binding of Isaac, Canabalt), your own design experience (Bioshock, Bioshock 2, Rock Band), and Owen’s programming skills, it sounds like you’ve assembled an amazing team! What’s it like having so many well known (and super-talented) people working together on Captain Bubblenaut? DT: It’s great! It’s part of why I wanted to become indie. I love everyone I’ve met in this community and am thrilled to get to work with some of them, and hope to work with more!
148apps: Do you have any reservations about this being your very first iOS release? DT: Only that the market is very crowded and it’s hard to stand out. From my perspective as a creator and a designer, I feel like my best chance of success is in building something that is high in quality, original, built to take advantage of the unique aspects of the iPhone, and most of all, FUN. For me I think that’s the best way to succeed.
Our thanks to Dean Tate and the rest of the team for all their hard work (past, present, and inevitably future)! Captain Bubblenaut will start exterminating ERFLINGS at the end of this month. If you’d like to help the little guy out, the full game (no IAPs) will only set you back $1.99.
A great robot once asked: “You guys like swarms of things, right?” How right he was to make that assumption. There’s just something about overseeing a churning mass of critters that feels oddly right. Or perhaps that’s just my inner overlord talking. Regardless, Wobbles, from Play Nimbus, offers up such an experience by letting players guide their aimlessly wandering charges through perilous maps in the name of technological progress. Sort of. We had a chat with Play Nimbus’ Nick Mudry (Producer, Creative Director, Marketing) to get the lowdown on these odd little characters.
148Apps: What sort of game is Wobbles, exactly? I can see some definite similarities to Lemmings but it also looks like there’s more to it than that. Nick Mudry (NM):Wobbles is a 2D side-scrolling puzzle platformer where you guide a line of adorable creatures, called Wobbles, across a dangerous landscape. You do this by placing gadgets, such as fire, aqueducts, tunnels, etc, which the Wobbles interact with. For example, the fire lights their butts on fire and they fly into their air (think Mario 64) while the aqueduct allows them to safely land from falls in a pool of water.
Wobbles was inspired by Lemmings back when we were originally conceptualizing what game we actually wanted to make. It came up as “what if you had a ton of Lemmings running across a level and you were just throwing platforms in front of them?” That initial concept exploded into the game we have today. Minutes after we talked about that idea, we were already drawing concepts for the characters, mechanics, etc.
148Apps: About how many different eras are you expecting to include in the final build? Any plans to release more in the future? NM: We are launching Wobbles with a total of 6 eras: Cavemen, Roman, Medieval, Industrial, Modern, and Future. Each era has 10 levels, which adds up to 60 levels for the initial release. Each era has their own specific gadget, ranging from the fire all the way to one that reverses the Wobbles’ gravity. We’ve had many ideas for different eras and gadgets that we would have liked to do for release, but they have been put aside for now. If Wobbles has a good reception, I’m sure we might work on a few new ones and release them.
148Apps: What made you all decide on the name “Wobbles?” NM: This is an interesting story. It goes back to the night when we were initially conceptualizing the game. When we first saw the Wobbles’ concept and the way it was shaped, we were wondering what to call it. We threw a few ideas out in the air, but at the end of the meeting, we decided to call them “Wobbles” for the time being. It ended up sticking and being an adorable little name for them.
148Apps: Where did the Wobbles’ look come from? I think I see a little Alice the Goon in their design. NM: A lot of the game originated at that meeting many months ago, and so did the Wobbles’ look. During our brainstorming of how the game played and what we wanted it to feel like, our amazing artist, Laura, was already drawing concepts for what they should look like. When I turned around, I saw something that I could easily remember and adore and knew that would be the design we’d pick. Funny you mention Alice the Goon as part of their design. While I haven’t thought of that until just now, it does have a little bit of the same style. We’ve noticed the Wobbles also look like a few other characters in games. I won’t say exactly which ones, but just picture a Wobble with a space helmet and then think what other characters look similar.
148Apps: Were there any mechanics that you wanted to include but had to cut due to time/balance/other reasons? Anything you’re hoping to add later? NM: Before we went into a full production cycle this summer, we spent a decent amount of time in pre-production preparing. We had many meetings discussing what we should have in the game, and what we shouldn’t. This made us know exactly what we’d need to do, and didn’t have to cut anything. Surprisingly, things came together pretty well and almost on time. We did cut one feature, the stone bridge, since it was a bit redundant, but we didn’t miss it at all. There are things we hope to add later though. We have plenty of features in mind that we thought of during our production that we just didn’t have the time to add before release.
Wobbles is expected to wander onto the App Store sometime this month, where the curious and the insidious will be able to get their hands on it for $1.99. We’d like to thank Nick for his time and wish the team over at Play Nimbus luck with their game’s release!
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!
I freaking love mech games. It’s just a shame that this is a largely ignored genre on the App Store. Or at least it was, until Small Impact Games took it upon themselves to show it some love.
M3CH looks to be the answer to iOS mech combat fans’ prayers. Of course showing a little love yourself on the developer’s Kickstarter page might speed things up a bit. It evokes a similar feeling to other gritty/semi-realistic mech piloting titles and sports some pretty impressive production values. I had to pry myself away to ask M3CH’s animator, James Rowbotham, about Small Impact Games’ baby.
Were there any particularly major influences in the design of M3CH‘s world? I know it’s not exactly the same but I’m getting a pretty strong Steel Battalion vibe from it.
At the time 3D iOS games exploded, we were playing a very mixed bag of games but fortunately they were all with the same genre, Mechs! We just loved the direction the iOS store was heading, it was screaming for a game with user-friendly touch-screen controls but with the in depth details you get in our favourite mech games.
Surprisingly however, Killzone 2 was a big inspiration in terms of AI and cover based action. What some mech games lack is the use of buildings as cover and enemy’s that work together to out flank you, something we saw that had been untapped in the genre (a lot of open spaces/terrain), so we looked at the great AI in Killzone and their behaviour and found a way to work it into our game.
You folks have done a bang-up job with the control scheme. Was it the product of rigorous testing and polishing or did you know right from the start how you wanted to handle it?
The aim with M3CH since the beginning has been to try and create an iOS game that doesn’t feel like it’s an iOS game, and more like a console experience. Touchscreen controls are notorious for being hard to use and something that we really wanted to nail. We went through a lot of different iterations to get to where we are now; having both shoot buttons on one side, holding down shoot instead of the auto toggle system, putting the shoot buttons on the thumbsticks and a lot more. We are keeping open minded about it and although we are getting later into development if we have an idea for an even better control set then we will be sure to test it out!
Were there any mech designs you wanted to include that ended up being scrapped?
There are quite a few that didn’t make it into the game (we already have 40 different mechs in the game). At the moment we have a mix of legs styles such as reversed legs in the game but [an] animalistic style is something we are keen on in terms of animation and how the mechs behave.
What exactly are your plans for the multiplayer?
We are hitting some technical limitations which means it most likely be 1-on-1 to start with. We would love to get a larger number of players battling at the same time (8v8 is the dream!), especially where the winning players get new weapons unlocked and credits to spend. At the moment its deathmatch style gameplay but we have plans set for objective based multiplayer.
Are you allowed to talk pricing?
It’s still early days but we are hoping for around the £1.99 [$2.99] price range. One thing we are certain of however is that we don’t want pushy monetization and in-app purchasing interrupting your gameplay experience, all mechs and weapons are attainable without too much grinding and we reward dedicated hard working players with big payouts.
How about a release date?
As for a released date, a lot of that depends on the kickstarter campaign, if we are successful then we are aiming for an April release this year.
Greedy Bankers Vs. The World was only the beginning for Alistair Aitcheson. Now we have Slamjet Stadium to satisfy our same-screen multiplayer desires. Think football re-imagined by a bunch of aliens who were trying to piece the rules together a couple hundred years from now and you’ll have the basic gist of it.
Where exactly did you pull Slamjet Stadium‘s inspiration from? Not just the wacky-looking gameplay; I’m talking about the physical roughhousing, too. Super-intense family game nights as a young boy perhaps?
Haha, I don’t know really! I’m generally a fairly calm and friendly guy. I was never into rough-housing at all when I was a kid! I am very competitive though, as my friends know – I’ll always be looking for a way to mess up my rivals in any game.
So I wanted to experiment more with this kind of game design. The original prototype for Slamjet Stadium came out of a big batch of experimental multiplayer games I did over the summer and tested out in the pub.
Often you’ll find yourself scoring by spotting a really awesome shot or powerup, so paying attention to the board is really important. Hand-grabbing is certainly a useful tactic, but it’s only one way of doing things. That makes play really dynamic. One moment it could be best to play rough, the next moment you might need to think fast, or play accurately.
While we’re on the subject of the multiplayer, how are you going to influence players to stop being polite?
People tend to jostle as much or as little as they feel comfortable with, and surprisingly that’s usually quite a lot! There’s typically a “eureka” moment when one player realizes they can get in the way of their friend, or use their opponent’s characters instead of their own. The physicality often grows from there!
So I’ve put messages in the loading screens suggesting ways you can “cheat.” The game’s advising you to play foul, so it must be okay! That eureka moment has to inspire creative play, so it’s important that players know that the game isn’t degenerating into chaos.
Would you mind going into a few specifics? Stuff like general gameplay, number of teams, differences between teams (if any), etc.
Each player gets two characters on a team, and the rules are fairly simple. You grab a character with your finger, pull back to charge their engines, and let go to send them flying across the screen. You want to hit the ball into your opponent’s goal, and the first to score five points wins the match.
There are also various power-ups and stage hazards that appear: rage power to smash up your opponents’ characters, freeze power that traps them in ice, multiball release, powerful gusts of wind.
My favorite activates “Last Man Standing” mode, where traps come in from the side of the screen, and it’s up to you to avoid them (or throw your opponents into them); a point is awarded to the survivor!
There are nine different arenas in the game, with different effects and hazards. As for the teams, there are six to choose from and each has different physical properties: shape, weight, boost power and grip.
Are there going to be multiple game modes? Might we be able to look forward to something similar in a future update?
Right now it’s split into Multiplayer and Solo Play. In solo, you take on a gauntlet of computer-controlled opponents over three leagues of increasing difficulty. Beating each one unlocks an extra multiplayer stage, and you can compete via GameCenter over your fastest completion times.
In Multiplayer it’s very much a quickmatch format: you choose your teams and arenas, and can have a rematch or pick new teams after someone wins. I’ll probably add some extra variations and setups in updates; I guess it depends on what players want to see after the initial launch. My focus was on getting players into the action as fast as possible.
All the elbow-slamming, wrist-grabbing, butt-nudging madness of Slamjet Stadium can be unleashed upon your iPad on March 14th for $2.99.
With Real Racing 3’s stateside release right around the corner, we figured it might be fun to take a look at the game’s extensive lineup of vehicles and pick out a few of our favorites. When a game has over 40 real-life vehicles to choose from, the competition is bound to come down to the wire. So in no particular order, we present to you the five hottest rides of Real Racing 3.
Porche 918 Spyder Concept
Planned for release in September of 2013, this beauty accelerates from 0-60 in a mere three seconds, can stop on a dime and starts out at a beefy 200mph. The most remarkable thing about this piece of motorized madness is that it in real life it burns up the track with Porche’s first ever hybrid, 580 horsepower engine, buoyed by the aid of two electric motors outputting a healthy 243 horses apiece. But be warned, this beast is going to set you back almost $850,000 in in-game cash, so start saving your pennies early and often.
If there were ever a car that epitomized high speeds and sleek design, this bad boy would take the cake. Its twin V-12 engine manages to produce a staggering 730 horsepower that to start top out at 222mph, but when upgraded can exceed 230mph. The Italian produced dream machine is also highly touted by the good folks over at Top Gear, having crowned it the fastest street-legal vehicle in the program’s history, completing their coveted track in 1:13.8. As mind blowing as that may be, it also comes with a bit of sticker shock as well, because it will set you back 1.35 million big ones to park this in your in-game garage.
Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4
Though it may sound odd to say, the Aventador is a bargain relatively speaking, clocking in at only $597,700. Without question, it is one of the crown jewels of Real Racing 3’s S Class. Originally put into production back in 2011, the vehicle’s availability is extremely limited, with only 4,000 ever planned on being produced. The in-game model has a top speed of 217mph, and a 0-60 in an impressive 2.9 seconds, making it one of the highest performing cars under three quarters of a million dollars.
Originally dubbed as, “…The finest driving machine, yet built for the public road,” this extremely specialized vehicle was one of the most beloved and coveted sports cars ever produced. Despite production on the model ceasing way back in 1998, it is still thought by some to be one of the most perfected pieces of machinery on the planet. The $1.25 million price tag not only reflects the car’s rarity, but also its performance as well. Starting out with a 234mph cap speed, you can only begin to guess how high it can go with the help of a few, albeit expensive, part enhancements.
Koenigsegg Agera R
Last, but most certainly not least, this Swedish supercar begins to blur the lines between vehicle and rocket. Don’t let its sleek exterior fool you, because this slice of heaven is just as much about performance as it is about perception. Holding an impressive six different land speed records, this is the type of finely tuned excellence that can accelerate to 300kmh in only 14.53 seconds. Needless to say, but a top speed of 273mph is not going to come cheap. In fact, it is so expensive that it can only be purchased using 800 in-game tokens, not even cash! To put that amount into perspective, it would cost $99.99 in real life money to purchase 1000 race tokens, so watch your wallet. Perfection comes at an extremely hefty price.
Don’t worry, this is just the tip of the gas-guzzling iceberg. There will be plenty more affordable hot rods awaiting you when Real Racing 3 launches later this week. Until then, keep those engines revving, gearheads!
A number of players have been able to enjoy Command & Conquer: Tiberium Alliances in all its meticulously strategic glory for almost a full year now, but the experience has been tied specifically to web browsers. That’s a problem that will cease to exist in the near future.
Fans of the series should note that this isn’t a typical C&C. It’s not real-time strategy and its not divided into small half-hour long skirmishes. Each of the game’s 50,000 (that’s “fifty-thousand”) player servers houses a gigantic circular world map. Players begin on the outside and attempt to fight their way to the middle, which is far easier said than done. Simply reaching the center of the map can take months of planning and teamwork, and then there’s the matter of holding on to the bases that sit within those areas. Comparing this to the original series is sort of like comparing checkers to chess.
Tiberium Alliances is an incredibly player-driven experience. Hence the “Alliances.” NOD and GDI exist pretty much in name only here as player-formed groups can and will consist of both. Once these alliances have been established it’s up to the participants to figure everything out. Who wants to play the heavy hitter? Who wants to act as support? When will so-and-so be on so that you can coordinate an attack against a nearby enemy outpost in order to take it over and gain its bonuses for your alliance? There’s a ridiculous amount of strategy to be found if players are willing to travel deep enough into the rabbit hole.
Combat is also a rather involved affair with specific units gaining an automatic advantage over specific defenses and vice-versa. By the same token, different buildings within a base have different levels of importance in a fight. The Defense Facility, for example, will repair other buildings over time. Take it out and the base will take a while to get back to full strength. Or there’s always the Construction Yard. Kill that and the base is toast regardless. Of course not all bases can be overrun in a single attack, which is why it’s vital to communicate with other alliance members and really plan complex maneuvers ahead of time.
The overall experience is largely unchanged from the browser-based version, with the exception of a new touch-based interface. However, once the iOS version is released Tiberium Alliances will be totally cross-platform with players able to manage their bases and assemble armies on their computer, then immediately jump in where they left off on their mobile devices if need be. Which will be a boon for any serious players as the community is looking pretty intense and involved. In a good way.
Anyone interested in checking out Tiberium Alliances can do so right now through their web browser, of course. But in another month or so the entire life devouring, free-to-play strategy monster will go cross platform. And then there won’t be anywhere left to hide.
Posted by Blake Grundman on February 12th, 2013 iPad Only App - Designed for iPad
Remember grade school recess, trolling the library, looking for interesting new books to read? Who needed all of that pesky social interaction when literature was the only friend that a kid could ever want? A bastion of that glorious reading joy was the widely consumed Choose Your Own Adventure series. Nothing could better engage the creativity of a youth’s inquisitive mind while simultaneously boosting their reading comprehension and decision-making skills. All these years later, Linden Lab is attempting to put an interactive spin on the genre with the introduction of their upcoming digital fiction platform, Versu.
Despite drawing a heavy influence from the popular book series, Versu prides itself on being far from a standard, “Choose Your Own Adventure,” experience. While there are plenty of similarities between the two forms of media, the interactive nature of Versu renders it a far more flexible storytelling medium than its print-shackled counterpart. The scripted interactions available in the narrative change every single playthrough, thanks to an AI system that reacts to the player/reader’s decisions in real-time. Additionally, if there are multiple non-playable characters in a given scene, their dialog options and reactions will also play off of each other, creating a far more realistic group dynamic.
Overall, the storytelling mechanics of the application are fairly straightforward. There are a series of actions that can be pursued at any given point, which will in turn effect how other characters feel about the player controlled avatar. Both dialog options and other physical actions are then triggered as a result of each decision. It is amazing to see how differently stories can play out, especially when replayed while controlling a completely different character in the scene. In another interesting touch, there are certain narratives where a diverse variety of characters are available to use as both NPCs and the reader controlled avatar. The selection of a separate cast can even influence how a given plot will play out.
As was previously alluded to, this is not just a collection of three interactive stories, but rather an entirely new literature platform. Versu has a store available at launch with an additional story that can be purchased, as well as the promise of many more to come. Even more exciting is Linden Lab’s announcement that they will eventually release authoring tools to the general public. It is going to be fascinating to see how other authors can put Versu’s unique toolset to work for their storytelling purposes. Be sure to keep an eye out for its launch, later this week.