Posts by: Owen Faraday

Revealed — Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion bursts from the chests of Rodeo Games this summer for iOS

Are you feeling lucky, xeno-punk?

Are you feeling lucky, xeno-punk?

If you need a secret kept, you can absolutely trust Rodeo Games with it. Over a year ago we learned that the next game from the makers of Warhammer Quest would be another Games Workshop property, but aside from that we knew nothing at all. I prodded. I pleaded. Rodeo would divulge nothing. Pocket Tactics spies skulked off into the night to uncover what they could.

“It’s a game about 40K Inquisitors,” reported one. Other reports corroborated this. “It’s about Inquisitors, but it’s based on Cooking Mama,” said another. Eventually, I began to suspect that our spies had been turned. “It’s not a game — it’s an app that turns Siri into an Ork.”

Finally last week, after months of fruitless hypotheses and unworkable theories, Rodeo’s Ben Murch reached out to reveal what the Guildfordians had been working on. “Deathwatch: Tyranid Invasion is set in the Warhammer 40,000 Universe, and focuses on the Deathwatch,” Murch tells us. “Our game is set in the Astolat Sector which is under threat of being consumed by Tyranids from Hive Fleet Leviathan. The Deathwatch are tasked with undertaking high risk missions to turn the tide of war and defeat the invaders.”

No Inquisitors. No Cooking Mama. But lots and lots of Space Marines and their most famous foes. “It’s a turn-based strategy game,” says Murch, “with the emphasis on strategy.” Now we’re talking.

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Read receipt: Cancel your Wednesday night plans for TouchTone

The lives of others.

The lives of others.

What are you doing Wednesday night? Cancel that. Oh it’s that thing? Listen, the judge will understand. Tell her you’re with me.

There’s a new game out this week from Mikengreg, the nom de enterprise for indie game dev heart-throbs Mike Boxleiter and Greg Wohlwend, who together created the endlessly delightful Solipskier and the latter of whom was responsible (to varying degrees) for Hundreds, Ridiculous Fishing, and Threes. Basically, these chaps have figured out how to bottle a very particular and highly habit-forming kind of fun. And they have a new bottle for you.

Mikengreg sent me an advance copy of a new game called TouchTone to mess around with, and I adore it. They’ve asked me not to lift the cloche too high just yet so I won’t, but I’ll tell you that this is quite unlike anything we’ve seen from them before: it’s every bit as compulsively playable as Threes, but it’s framed by a politically subversive theme that I quite like. Wohlwend called it a game that “crowdsources” national security.

I’ll leave it there for now. But this is a Wednesday night release worth staying up for. iOS-only, I think. I’ll ask about that.

Back to school: “Massive” update for Auro will overhaul HUD, tutorial

Remedial lessons.

Remedial lessons.

As much as we’ve enjoyed Auro around here, there was a lot of chuckling in the Writers’ Dungeon over the game’s epic 30-stage tutorial, whose combination of extraordinary length and unforgiving difficulty reduced more than one PTer to tears. Nowadays we expect loving, maternal tutorials that coo at our every click, but Auro’s pedagogical prologue was more like a hard-drinking step-father that couldn’t possibly be impressed.

Without a doubt, the game behind the tutorial is a gem (read Davy Lane’s review if you haven’t already) but creator Keith Burgun told me this weekend that he knows the feature-length tutorial was a bit over the top, and a new update is on the way to address that. “The biggest thing [in this forthcoming update] is making the game less intimidating for new players, by cutting the number of tutorials by a third.”

There’s more to the forthcoming tune-up than just that — experienced players are getting some love, too. “There’s also a new HUD, way more feedback for stuff to make things more clear, and like a billion other improvements,” Burgun tells us. “Like the gameplay and difficulty are completely re-tuned now. Defensive play works really well in 1.28 – meaning, just get a few points and then survive until the end of the level. What we’ve always wanted was players to DIVE into the fray, take damage, make something happen. You now really kinda have to do that at higher levels.”

We’ll let you know when that update hits. Watch the Auro trailer after the jump.

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Field promotion: You can sign up for the World of Tanks Generals closed beta

Matilda deck OP.

Matilda deck OP.

Around here, we write about free-to-play games about as often as Uri Geller gets invited to antique silverware conventions — but our position shifted ever so slightly last year. Hearthstone and World of Tanks Blitz showed us that–while 99% of free-to-play games are still hot, smelly garbage–it is possible to have an F2P game experience that isn’t skeevy and condescending to the player.

World of Tanks makers Wargaming.net are bringing another of their unusually beguiling F2P games to mobile: World of Tanks Generals is rather a more abstract combat simulation than Blitz — it’s a head-to-head multiplayer card game. Like Hearthstone, it’s a collectible game where you unlock new cards customize your deck with. Wargaming say that there’s 200 cards in the game at the moment, with more coming. There’s three different factions (the US, USSR, and Germany, following the WWII and early post-war setting of WoT) and you can probably count on the British, French, and Japanese eventually showing up, too.

Generals just started a closed for desktop web browsers that you can sign up for here. The game will be available for iOS and Android “in the future”. Trailer (with dramatic voiceover!) below.

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Buzz kill: Apple rejects Buzz Aldrin-designed game for featuring Buzz Aldrin

Touch-and-go landing.

Touch-and-go landing.

I was over at Slitherine yesterday talking to director Iain McNeil and–you’re gonna love this–he told me that Apple have rejected Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager because the game “contains well-known third parties”. Bwuh?

Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager has been in production at Polar Motion for a couple of years, with Slitherine publishing. The game is meant to be a spiritual successor to the classic space sim Race Into Space, and is being made with significant input from Buzz himself — America’s most storied (and pugilistic) living astronaut. So for maximum clarity: this is a Buzz Aldrin-endorsed game being made (in part) by Buzz Aldrin. How Aldrin can be considered a third party to a game he worked on (a fact that Slitherine’s App Store description trumpets all over the place) is beyond me. Meanwhile, just a week ago, Apple approved a game taking the mickey out of Kim Jong Un, so somebody tell me how this “well-known third parties” thing is supposed to work.

McNeil just sort of shrugged his shoulders about the whole thing. “We thought we were pretty safe this time,” he told me. “It’s one of the only Slitherine games I can think of with no violence or guns.” The game does feature flags, though — we know that Apple gets touchy about those sometimes.

After the “realistic violence” fiasco and the German/Soviet “enemies” affair, I feel bad for the Apple approvals people. They get mocked when they mess up and don’t get noticed at all when they do their jobs right. So let’s just thank them for giving Slitherine a reason to tell us that Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager will be out for iPad soon — assuming this nonsense gets cleared up.

Read my preview from last year to get a feel for what’s coming.

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Screenshots from Gambit, the first expansion for Star Realms, coming to iOS & Android later this week

Less than 12 parsecs?

Less than 12 parsecs?

The thing I get the most emails about is beard-grooming advice, followed closely by mewling requests to stop holding the world for ransom from my sinister lair high atop Mount Hexmap. But number 3 is definitely PT readers wondering what the heck is up with Star Realms.

The sci-fi flavoured deck-building card game got a good write-up from us last year and it did even better over at Board Game Geek, where it pulled down a fistful of Golden Geek Awards. It’s a nifty little card game that had some UI wonkiness in its iOS and Android incarnations, and it had a strong tang of “pre-expansion” gameplay — there were a lot of obvious open sockets waiting to be hooked up to more elaborate gameplay mechanics.

The Gambit expansion for the Star Realms base set came out on cardboard back in 2013, and it’ll hit desktops and mobile versions of Star Realms this Thursday, White Wizard Games told me this morning. Gambit cards are randomly dealt to the players at the beginning of the game and allow the player that holds them to bend certain rules, encouraging players to pursue different gameplay styles. It’s a neat idea and the expansion is generally well-reviewed on tabletop. Perhaps even better: there’s two new chapters included in the much-admired single-player campaign. Gambit will be available as a single in-app purchase for $4.

Besides the new cards, there’s been some welcome tweaks and additional functionality to the Star Realms app, and everybody will get these improvements when the game updates this week, whether or not you buy the new card set. There’s a new update feed which will help you stay on top of your asynchronous games (a big pain in the engines in 1.0), an option for faster card animations, online leaderboards, and new tips and hints to smooth out the learning curve for new players.

Lots more images from the expansion after the jump.

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The weekend that time forgot: The Curious Expedition is available to play until Monday

Edgar the pack mule has an astounding array of salty jokes.

Edgar the pack mule has an astounding array of salty jokes.

As you are all contractually obligated to follow us on Twitter (it’s in those iTunes terms & conditions you never read before agreeing to) it will be old news to you that The Curious Expedition is free to play on the web this weekend.

Now before you start clicking links from your iPad or Android tablet or Chumby — this current pre-release alpha build of The Curious Expedition is a weighty HTML 5 monster that runs best on a desktop browser. I got it running on my iPad once but the incantations required are much too dark to share on a public forum such as this. So take a break from House of Cards and play it on your computer for a bit this weekend. If you like it (and I reckon you will) you can shell out a few bucks to get early access.

The Curious Expedition is a crackerjack of a game we’ve talked about a couple of times before: you take on the role of one of the great names of the 19th and 20th centuries like Nicola Tesla and Amelia Earhart and lead expeditions into randomly-generated (and increasingly more dangerous) jungles, testing the patience of the indigenous folks and avoiding wild animals to find lost treasures. It’s actually even weirder than that: there’s Toltec gold and valleys full of dinosaurs and a lot of other stuff that might have been mined from a drunk Jules Verne/Arthur Conan-Doyle spitballing session. The Curious Expedition will get a native tablet app edition once development wraps on the web-based game, German devs Maschinen-Mensch tell us.

It seems like the Game Mechanic of the Year for 2015 is going to be sanity: keeping your characters in touch with reality figures prominently in The Curious Expedition, as it does in Darkest Dungeon and Sunless Sea. Is that a sign of our growing preoccupation with mental health as a new generation of combat veterans reintegrates into civilian life? Or a murmur in our collective subconscious as the Great Old Ones awaken in the black depths of the Pacific? It’s gotta be one of those two.

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New Release Appendix: Arnhem Airborne Assault and Blastball MAX

There's an option to play with counters or 3D busts of Gene Hackman.

If you want pretty, play Drive on Moscow.

Two new releases that are flaunting the usual Wednesday night release convention and just popped up on the app stores this morning. It’s anarchy, I tell you! Dogs and cats living together. Mass hysteria.

The first is Arnhem: Airborne Assault, a scrappy little wargame from Richard Berger. It’s not going to win any beauty contests unless all of the other contestants are members of AC/DC but it seems like a pretty good little hex-and-counter wargame. It’s a WWII affair that puts you in charge of the Allied paratroopers making the ill-fated airborne assault on Holland in 1944. The combat model is big on fog-of-war, so considerations like moving your troops through forests and maintaining contact with the enemy are a big deal. There’s a couple of genuinely tough scenarios in there, but I haven’t spent enough time with the game to decide if it’s Clever Tough™ or Throw Your iPad in the Canal Tough™.  You can find out for yourself for two bucks: it’s available for iPad and for Android, too. This one’s got online multiplayer for up to four players, too.

A gameplay video of this, plus another new release below.

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