Erik Asmussen bravely detailed his struggles to get PWN to generate revenue on the App Store, but mobile game development isn’t all doom and gloom. If you land a hit, Sarah Northway tells us, you can knock it clear out of the park. Northway and her husband Colin have been travelling almost continuously for the last four years, developing games from exotic corners of the globe. This is her story. — Owen
This place is dead anyway.
I’m Sarah Northway, writer of the post-apocalyptic strategy series Rebuild. This month I’m Kickstarting Rebuild 3: Gangs of Deadsville. I never expected to end up writing games from a hammock in the tropics, but it appears that yes: this is a thing that can happen! Here’s the story of how I did it.
After his most recent release failed to breakthrough on iOS, indie developer Erik Asmussen has soured on developing for the App Store. Erik was kind enough to share a very detailed post-mortem with us about his experience. Come back this afternoon for a take on indie iOS development from someone who’s decidedly more bullish about it. — Owen
I’ll walk through my approach to the development process all the way from idea to launch. Hopefully players can use this to get an interesting behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to make an iOS game these days, and other developers can avoid some of the unexpected pitfalls I encountered.
The guys at inkle changed interactive fiction earlier this year with Sorcery!, a lavishly-produced hybrid gamebook and video game RPG like nothing else we’d ever seen before. Creative director Jon Ingold took some time off from working on Sorcery! Part Two to tell us about what it takes to translate a famously difficult adventure from the 1980s into a modern touchscreen game. — Owen
It’s Old Spice, if you must know.
Last May, here at inkle we released our first self-published game onto the App Store. And we decided to take a risk: we didn’t make a physics puzzler, a match-3 or an endless runner. Instead, despite knowing full-well that it’s 2013, we decided to release a text-based game.
Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! is an interactive fantasy adventure in which the player takes the role of a hero (or, since our most recent update of Part One, a heroine) on a quest across the Old World of Kakhabad to recover the Crown of Kings, an artefact of great power stolen by an evil Archmage.
It’s standard sword-and-sorcery stuff, although the world through which you travel is anything but standard: a weird blend of Nepalese influences and more classic D&D medievalism, it’s a place plagued by traps and tricksters, in which almost everyone and everything is out to get you, and to do it as deceitfully as possible.
If there’s one game that universally bewitched the Pocket Tactics team this year, it’s Talisman Prologue, Nomad’s adaptation of a classic Games Workshop board game. I asked Carl Jackson to come tell us how his studio brought the game to life. — Owen.
How to dice with Death (and live to tell the tale).
Hi everyone! Carl Jackson here, Design Director at Nomad Games, standing in for Owen whilst he takes a well-earned break. I’m here to talk about development of the digital Talisman games – how we went from creating Talisman Prologue to the work we’re doing now on Talisman Digital Edition.
“You encounter a long article about the development of the Talisman games. It will remain here until it has been read.”
Back in September 2011, we started work on Talisman. As a big fan of the board game myself, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to work on a great license. The first version we created was much like an old text adventure.
To kick off the guest posts that will be providing cover for my holiday, here’s Civilization V designer Jon Shafer. Shafer is head-down in development of the successfully Kickstarted At the Gates, his first independent project. He took a break to come talk with us about how he’s going to make a big scale PC strategy game work on a tablet. — Owen.
Shafer’s forthcoming 4X game At The Gates.
The first project out of my new studio is the strategic empire builder At the Gates, a hardcore strategy game being developed for both PC and the iPad. This is our first foray into the mobile market, but as a power user of mobile devices back when the iPhone was still just a twinkle in Steve Jobs’ eye I’m certainly no stranger to what makes for a good mobile experience.
And alas, I still find that the majority of titles targeting a hardcore audience fail to properly adapt to the platform. What is it this growing development community needs to consider when making the next generation of games?
PT‘s staff is off for Memorial Day. In this guest post, Mode 7‘s Paul Taylor gives us a PC game developer’s view of developing for the iPad. Mode 7′s iPad port of their PC hit Frozen Synapse has been out for a little over a week now. — Owen.
“Quick games with real decisions, different every time.”
Almost as soon as we released Frozen Synapse on the PC in 2011, people were clamouring for a tablet version.
We knew it would be a huge challenge to take a complex PC UI and condense it down into a meaningful tablet form. I’ve written about this process elsewhere, but suffice it to say that it wasn’t an easy ride.
Ian Hardingham, our Lead Designer, described the genesis of the game like this: “I first envisioned FS as a game I would play on my DS while sitting on the sofa watching Diagnosis Murder.” Instead of a hardcore PC strategy game, it was supposed to be more of a deep-but-quick turn-based portable distraction.
Now, with the iPad version, we’ve started to see some of the reality of that. Firstly, the game does work in a portable context, even though it’s still quite intense to play.
Just like the PC, the interface has mostly gone down very well, but isn’t for everyone. We’re completely happy with that position: it’s actually astonishing to us that the iPad market has embraced the game, given how much that arena is dominated by cheap casual titles.
Keeping a moustache going post-mortem — that’s grooming on a new level.
With this much-talked-about strategy game exclusive to Windows Phone for the foreseeable future, and lacking a Windows Phone of my own, I enlisted Strategy Core editor and Pocket Tactics chum Geoff Byers to put Skulls of the Shogun through the paces for us. — Owen
Skulls of the Shogun might be the finest piece of faux-East Asian entertainment produced by Westerners since the Wu-Tang Clan.
Skulls of the Shogun attempts to make a satisfying turn-based strategy game out of a mere handful of unit types and no grid (no. grid.), bucking your expectations for the genre. With a pace maintained by compact force sizes, a five-order per turn limit, and non-renewable and very limited resources, it seems to have mobile play firmly in mind, keeping the tempo up and the tactical range curbed. It can be a visually messy game, because despite the faux-Japanese aesthetic by way of thick-lined Western comic art, the lack of a grid means lots of units gathering for a fight overlap and jumble together. Given that unit colour differs by force, but unit design does not…you would seem to have a formula for confusion. But those brave enough to stick with it will find a game of surprising subtlety and unmistakable polish.
If you’re a grognard that’s been on the internet for a while, you might remember The Wargamer from back when it was the village pump for the strategy gaming community. Scott Parrino has recently been given the job of picking The Wargamer back up onto its feet — no small task, that, but one that needs doing. I invited Scott to come do a review for us while he gets into the swing of things at his main gig. — Owen
Either these cards are really blurry or your opponent has played the “Conjunctivitis” card.
Collectible card games are seeing a revival on tablets, which gives the player the benefit of not getting paper cuts, spilling milk all over their cards, or dealing with the odd unwelcome furry visitor. Even better: the game’s rules are automated, and give the ability to face an AI without need of finding opponents that might eventually upturn a table in the face of a loss. [Why you gotta bring up old stuff? -- ed.]
The Healing Blade is one such CCG that was originally released in physical form in 2010 and just recently got a release on iTunes for the iPad and iPhone. The premise itself is very interesting: using living manifestations of diseases and antibiotics, players must wear down their opponent to zero health while utilizing spells and items. Seeing that I have zero medical school experience, I felt that mayhaps I’d be at a disadvantage. But the Healing Blade was developed by two physician/gamers with the hope of educating the rest of us about medicine, so it can’t be too difficult, right?