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.
Your high school cafeteria lunch table Magic game was never this attractive.
When Blizzard first announced Hearthstone back in March of 2013 my heart sank. I didn’t want another collectible card game—aka: money pit—released for iPad? Why weren’t they bringing games like Diablo or World of Warcraft to the mobile space? Then they released Hearthstone and it wasn’t just a great card game, it also became a sensation boasting 20 million users and so many gamers streaming it on Twitch that it is now the 2nd most-watched game only losing out to League of Legends.
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.
If you find yourself disillusioned with Kickstarter, blame FTL. Many of us hit the jackpot on our very first pull of that one-armed bandit, and have been pulling and pulling since with only a sore arm and tragic updates to show for it. In 2012, the PC version of the game made “roguelike” a household world (also “rougelike”, spelling being the challenge that it is), but it didn’t just reintroduce a once-ubiquitous game type. Instead, it executed that with a spacefaring setting, a utilitarian, understated style, and clever writing. Also, it’s charmingly open about kicking players in the crotch.
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.