In a London tea shop earlier this year, two-thirds of the Inkle crew that built 80 Days told me something remarkable.
“It was only meant to be a small project, something to break up the back-to-back Sorcery! projects,” Inkle co-founder Jon Ingold told me.
“The ideas just kept coming,” said 80 Days lead writer Meg Jayanth. “The project took on a life of its own, really.”
How big did it get? When it shipped in July, Inkle claimed that 80 Days was a tale with over half a million words in it — the equivalent of a 1100-page book. That’s more than a life of its own: that’s a parallel universe.
So many cards it’s like Justin Bieber’s in the hospital.
Now that Realms Unraveled is out for Ascension, there’s different seven core sets you can choose to play with, plus a mess of promo packs. I did the math, and there’s now three digital Ascension cards for every man, woman, and dog on the planet. If we actually printed all of these cards out, the Earth would collapse under its weight and become a black hole, which would be pretty cool for Interstellar cosplay, I guess.
Clearly, playing with every single set is only good for the occasional lark or if you want to drive an OCD friend to insanity, but which sets should you be playing with? I decided to take this question straight to the source: Ascension designer Justin Gary.
Make something great out of all these random parts.
Making a good board game port is hard — just ask the developers of Manhattan Project, Quarriors, or Mr. Ludo. It might seem as though translating a board game to digital saves you a lot of work. After all, the game design portion of the job is done, and in many cases you’ve got your art sorted as well.
But board gamers are a picky clique, and the increased expectations that come with developing a popular existing property might just wipe out the cost savings. When Czech Games Edition told us that they were developing Galaxy Trucker as a digital app in-house, with no institutional experience of video game development to aid them, we gave them our most sincere smile of encouragement and then started cracking jokes as soon as they were out of earshot.
First-time dev? Famously intricate game with tricky real-time elements? It was never gonna work. And then it did.
Do they know it’s Christmas on this hellish lava world? No, I suppose not.
Good news, citizens! Father Christmas always comes to Mount Hexmap a few days early (he’s a big fan of the site — absolute bastard to play Ascension against) and this year he’s left something for you under our tree: ten copies of Mi-clos Studio’s stupendous sci-fi adventure Out There, five iOS and five Android for you to play or give as a gift. Or to use in your sinister science experiments. I’m not judging.
If you want to win one of these copies of our Adventure/IF Game of the Year Runner-up, just a comment right here on this post with a holiday greeting for the PT community. Tell us about something you were grateful for this year. Or maybe recall a comment you saw here on the forums that really made you laugh. Be sure to also note if you want an iOS or Android copy.
Sunday morning I’ll go through and randomly choose our winners. If you don’t have a PT account, make sure you read this before you sign up. I’ll go through and approve new accounts later tonight.
This year’s strategy game of the year runner-up takes one of last year’s finest games and makes it better. XCOM: Enemy Within was an expansion pack for 2012’s XCOM: Enemy Unknown on PC, but for us on iOS & Android it comes as a standalone app, and it’s without a doubt the best mobile game to come from publishers 2K all year.
We’ve actually got an editors’ choice award coming for FTL a bit later today, so I won’t write a vast amount here but I can only agree FTL for iPad is one of the year’s standout releases. We don’t tend to give all that much side-eye to moderate-effort PC-to-mobile ports around here. I really appreciate it when big crunchy PC games make their way to my tablet, and I’m sure that predisposes me to overlook a little UI wonkiness that I’d typically scowl at in a native game.
The Canon Templar does not approve of your Lifebound-Mechana shipping.
In the wee small hours of the morning, Playdek dropped another expansion on us. Realms Unraveled is a highly respected box for Ascension, the durable deck-building card game that would almost certainly be elected the official pastime of Pocket Tactics if we ever put that to a vote. The expansion is available as a single $2.99 purchase within the Ascension app, and it’s on both iOS and on the recently-launchedAndroid port.
With the release of Realms Unraveled, digital Ascension has now achieved parity with the tabletop version. Ever since Playdek and game designers Stone Blade put aside their differences earlier this year the duo have been cranking out card sets; after Rise of Vigil and Darkness Unleashed, RU is the third expansion to get digitised this year.
For those somehow still unfamiliar with Ascension, stop reading this and go play the tutorial already. There simply aren’t any hobby card games that are easier to get into, and certainly none whatsoever that are so well-supported by mobile apps.
For Void-weathered Ascension heads, this expansion introduces multi-faction heroes that play with the Unite and Transform mechanics from earlier boxes. I’m still wrapping my head around it but I’ve enjoyed my couple of online matches already. Ascension artist Eric Sabee is also at the very top of his game with this set. Make sure you read my interview with him from earlier this year if you want to understand how Ascension’s one-of-kind card art comes into being.