The surest tell that you’re playing a good turn-based game is how readily it induces Inter-Turn Apnea. You know what I’m talking about.
You spend your turn carefully laying down foundations for the table-flipping coup-de-main that you’ll spring the next time you get the dice. So with all in readiness, you pass the dice on to the next player and wait for them to come back around to you. You x-ray everyone else’s moves while trying to maintain a Moai-like poker face. You unspool contingency plans in your head. And when the dice get to the player who might unmake everything you’ve worked so hard to set up, you involuntarily hold your breath. Inter-Turn Apnea.
The press preview of Sid Meier’s Starships that I’ve been playing is so good at generating ITA that it’s almost turned me purple.
It is an undebateable fact that Adam Saltsman is one of the most influential game developers still above ground. The creator of Canabalt single-handedly invented the infinite runner, a genre that (for better or worse) grew like kudzu over the App Store. I still get three or four pitches a week for new Canabalt clones, six years on from its release. And we don’t even cover infinite runners here — imagine how many the TouchArcade guys get. Saltsman’s big follow-up was producing the uniquely elegant Hundreds in 2013, which was probably the App Store’s most religiously-played puzzler until the reign of Threes began.
Saltsman’s been quiet for the past year or so, but not idle. He’s been lurking behind the scenes, collecting his various games under the single roof of his new games imprint Finji. The label’s first original production is planned to ship later this year; it’s called Overland, and it’s a turn-based tactical game that’s packing a lot of new ideas.
After the jump, my conversation with Adam Saltsman and the very first publicly released screenshots and concept images of Overland, which will be playable at GDC this spring.
When I catch wind of a new Sid Meier game coming, a sort of primal fight-or-flight response takes over. I have to find out everything I can about that new game, and anything else takes a back seat until I do. Turns out, more or less the same thing happens within Firaxis, Sid’s own studio.
“We have a studio shared drive that everybody can upload to.” I’m talking to Firaxis producers Pete Murray and Stuart Zissu — this is Murray. “Most people just use the shared drive to upload funny gifs and cat pictures — but Sid uploads prototype games. When there’s a new Sid prototype up, I know that I’m not going to get anything else done that day.”
Sid Meier’s name appears on every single edition of Civilization released since the original in 1991, but the legendary designer leaves that cash cow franchise in the hands of his proteges these days. “Sid’s a designer who can also code,” Zissu tells me, “so that gives him a lot of flexibility. Some people will come up with a game idea and try to explain it to you. Sid comes up with a game idea and builds a prototype to show you.”
Every once in a while, one of those prototypes really catches on at Firaxis and moves from Sid’s desk into full production. Sid Meier’s Starships, coming this spring to iOS and PC was one of those.
Maguire, to my chagrin, keeps his secrets locked up tighter than Fort Knox. This is the thing about working with Games Workshop: upon signing the license agreement, several of your closest relatives are moved to an undisclosed location within the Eye of Terror. Breach confidentiality, and your auntie gets fed to Khorne. Skulls for the skull throne, etc.
Last week, Maguire tried to distract me with a bit of misdirection. I can’t tell you about the Games Workshop thing, he says, but I can tell you about something I’ve been building on the side. A football management sim. A football management sim that’s going to save what Maguire sees as an ailing genre.
Misdirection successful. After the jump, all of the details about Title Challenge, coming very soon to iOS.
So: a new Sid Meier game was announced earlier today. When I’m dictator, days like this will be international holidays but in the dark interval until then we’ll just have to make do.
Gather your family around the iPad, friends, because I’ve been on an expedition to find every single morsel of information about Sid Meier’s Starships that’s available for public consumption. Nothing has escaped my Sauron-like gaze, and I’ve got it all waiting for you after the jump.
Since late last year we’ve been keeping an eye on indie digital board game SettleForge, a Populous-meets-Carcassonne jump-off from former EA Phenomic developer Andreas Mank. In it, you’re creating the universe and placating your finicky mortal subjects by ensuring that you arrange the world optimally: wood-cutters need to be near forests, but the nobility doesn’t want to live next to those noisy lumberjacks. NIMBYs — even on the first day of creation.
Mr Mank tells us that he’s just about ready to share this thing with everybody — but he needs more iPad beta-testers. And he’s very sensibly decided to recruit from the ranks of Pocket Tactics readers, swollen as they are with smart, attractive, board game-loving people.
If you want to get one of the 10 SettleForge beta slots that we’ve got to dole out, just post a comment here and tell us which of your New Year’s Resolutions you haven’t broken yet. We’ll pick ten of those at random on Monday and get you hooked up with a beta build.
In the meantime, check out a new gameplay video of SettleForge after the jump. Unlike the previous videos of the game it’s in HD, which finally does justice to the in-game art.
Now that 2015 has started to resolve in the viewfinder of the Prognosti-Scope at the Pocket Tactics Haruspex School and Off-Track Betting Emporium high atop Mount Hexmap, we can finally reveal our most keenly-awaited games of 2015. And let me tell you — this is one hot list.
Our 2014 list didn’t do so well — of our 8 picks, only 2 managed to come out on mobile, with a third out on PC and waiting in the wings for iPad. This year will be entirely different — we’ve taken on a highly reputable mystic as a contractor and he’s vetted all of the following choices, which are guaranteed to ship this year. Yessir.
After the jump, the seven games that we here at PT are looking forward to the most in 2015.
Demonstrating superior judgement and exquisite taste in games yet again, the Independent Games Festival have released 2015’s awards finalists and there’s no small number of our favourite titles on the roster. There’s three finalists for the Seumas McNally Grand Prize that are on mobile or plan to be — that trophy comes with a $30,000 purse so it’s no small reward.
Besides the Grand Prize, the other IGF Awards are well stocked with mobile games, too. I’ll run them all down for you after the jump.