The wonderfully original Galactic Keep is more than just a pretty, multi-mandibled face — it’s also an RPG whose combat requires a little more nous than might be apparent at first. In the interest of preserving the temporal integrity of this timeline, I asked Galactic Keep creator Rob Lemon to write us some tips on keeping your Coalition agents alive. There’s a heck of a lot going on under the hood of this game, and Rob lays a lot of it bare for us. –O.F.
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Anyone who’s played Luca Redwood‘s peerless match-3 puzzle adventure You Must Build A Boat has surely noticed hints of D&D complexity lurking around the edges of the game. Every object in the world has a slew of RPG attributes, from the swords and staves to the monsters and the dungeons themselves, but the game mostly obscures all of that cruft so you can focus on the tile-matching.
One mystery of the game is the Hammerhorn, a macguffin your character picks a quarter of the way into YMBAB. Every once in a while, when your character is just about to slump over in defeat, the Hammerhorn blows and summons your boatload of allies onto the screen, where they blast every visible enemy and give you a final desperate chance to prolong your run.
The Hammerhorn is a great example of YMBAB’s playful deeper complexity: you can intuit some of its mechanics, but why and when the Hammerhorn blows is hidden away from you. This philosophy is one of my favourite things about Redwood’s games: you can’t ever fall into analysis paralysis. Redwood invites you to just play his games by feel and gut instinct. The uncertain universe you find yourself in casts you back to playing as a kid, where the world of a video game felt boundless.
I’ve coerced Luca Redwood into revealing a little bit of how the Hammerhorn actually works — a rare peek behind the curtain of You Must Build a Boat, which Redwood tells me still contains secrets and collectibles that no player has found. –Owen
PT‘s current fixation with Peter Whalen’s roguelike card combat game Dream Quest is a great reminder that a fine game need not be pretty. Or even remotely close to that.
If Dream Quest is an unsightly toad of a game then it’s one that turns into a prince if you spend more than 20 minutes with it — a couple of runs through its randomized dungeons are all you need to uncover its delightful complexity. With a world that includes 13 character classes and dozens of different cards to pick and choose from, I asked Whalen if he would give us some pointers on how to conquer it.
If Pocket Tactics has an unofficial game, it’s Ascension. Played by the entire staff and a significant proportion of site regulars, there’s always a forums tournament of Ascension on the go. Though the existing Playdek-made iOS app won’t be around come 2015, the game’s original creators Stone Blade will be swooping in with an app of their own soon.
Ascension designers (and world-class Magic: The Gathering players) Justin Gary and Brian Kibler told us about their favorite iOS games.
Respected tabletop wargame designer Eric Lee Smith founded one of the first game dev outfits to really take the iPad seriously as a platform for hobby wargaming: Shenandoah Studio. Philadelphia-based Shenandoah won many fans with their first two releases Battle of the Bulge and Drive on Moscow, and their third game Desert Fox is coming out very soon. Owen interviewed Smith last October.
The French duo consisting of programmer/artist Michaël Peiffert and the enigmatic narrative designer FibreTigre vaulted neatly into the list of our favorite iOS devs with the release of the beautiful and atmospheric Out There back in February.
Singapore’s Witching Hour Studios are the makers of the criminally underrated single-player fantasy wargame Ravenmark and its multiplayer-focused sequel Ravenmark Mercenaries. Witching Hour are currently working on Romans in my Carpet.
I would hate to re-ignite the Hatfields & McCoys-style acrimony over which one is superior, but it is is uncontroversial to say that Civilization IV and Civilization V are the collective high point of the long-running PC strategy game series. Soren Johnson was the Firaxian responsible for the design of Civ IV, as well as the creator of its AI and the curator of its outstanding soundtrack.
Johnson recently left a post at Zynga to start Mohawk Games, whose first announcements I am eagerly awaiting.