We live in a cynical world. And we work in a business of tough, often magical, competitors.
So, here’s the thing: nobody actually likes heroes. I don’t mean the real sort who extinguish fires and provide stable infrastructure for a community–I’m talking about sword-slinging, spell-blasting a-holes that occupy much of fantasy gaming. “Hey, dude, thanks and all for killing that ghoul in the crypt, but… did you really need to crack open each and every coffin to check for spare change? And, like, you’re just sort of going around asking every person you meet if they have a quest. Is this a moral obligation thing for you or- oh he’s left for the next dungeon.”
Epic Manager, from developers ManaVoid Entertainment, looks to be the next in an increasingly long line of management sims which take a wider look at the high-fantasy adventuring lifestyle. Unlike obvious contemporary Adventurer Manager, Epic Manager casts you as more of a sports agent looking for prime talent, rather than a bureaucrat contracting out to some heroes in order to focus on balancing your hamlet’s budget. Scouts find warriors, thieves, and mages you can bring onto your team, and who can then in turn raid dungeons and add to the agency’s coffers. The developers promise a fairly dynamic world, and combat affected by the composition and temperament of your line-up (though if the battles end up not quite as engaging as your managerial tasks, well, that’s the point).
The Epic Manager Kickstarter goes live on October 27th. Take heed, this one is still early on, and iOS and Android versions are stretch goals, which means they may as well be written in invisible ink on a ghost’s skin.
I’ve reviewed a lot of interactive fiction here at Pocket Tactics. We’re talking tons. Maybe more than I should have? Maybe not enough? At the end of the day, however, I’ve never played interactive fiction like Hadean Lands before. That’s not totally true. I remember playing games much like Hadean Lands between cutting notches in my floppy disks, but I haven’t played games like this on an iOS device.
Hadean Lands tells the story of a lone survivor of a crashed starship who also happens to be an alchemist. It’s like peanut butter and chocolate from where I’m sitting. Instead of the choose-your-own-adventure style of IF you may be used to, Hadean Lands goes the route of games like Zork and other Infocom classics of yesteryear. You are given an environment usually littered with tools and items you can interact with and then you tell the game what you want to do. We used to call these “text adventures” and solving puzzles while “talking” to your PC was as close to solo D&D as a pimply 13 year-old could have hoped for.
The man behind Hadean Lands is Andrew Plotkin who’s no stranger to this type of thing. He’s written several other award-winning interactive text adventures such as Shade and The Dreamhold, as well as being a major force in keeping interactive fiction relevant today. Oh, and he’s also the guy responsible for creating an entire genre of game with Werewolf.
Hadean Lands successfully Kickstarted nearly 4 years ago, but was just submitted to the App Store and should be arriving on October 30.
Cosmic Encounter is a board game from 1977 that has been republished and recreated many times in the past 35 years. It’s truly one of the most influential board games ever made, introducing mechanisms like individual player powers, free-form negotiation and the concept of expansions. Lots and lots of expansions. Of all the games I wouldn’t think would transfer well to a digital version, Cosmic Encounter is near the top due to the fact that the entire game involves talking, bluffing, and the making and breaking of deals. It just wouldn’t work without the face-to-face element.
Apparently the designers agree, but they’ve come up with a clever way to still get Cosmic onto an iPad. It’s called Cosmic Encounter Connector and consists of apps that will allow you to use real-time voice chat with the other players as well as all the bits you’ll find inside the current Fantasy Flight Games version of Cosmic Encounter. From what I can tell, it appears to be more of a sandbox that will allow you to play Cosmic Encounter with all the pieces you’d normally play with. It’s like VASSAL for iPad, only with voice chat and focusing on one title.
While the app isn’t backed by Fantasy Flight at all, it appears that they will allow all the art and bits from their version to be used in the app and they’re even talking about using the Connector system to port other Fantasy Flight titles to the system.
Cosmic Encounter Connector is currently on Kickstarter. They’re looking for $128K and are only at about $2.5K now, but they still have 29 days to fund. The initial goal of $128K includes iPad support, but there are stretch goals for other platforms as well as including different expansions and player-created content.
If you’re a Cosmic Encounter fan, you need to check the Kickstarter out. If you’ve never played before, check it out and realize what this could mean for board gaming in the future.
The slowdown in gaming Kickstarters that we could all sense in the air has been empiricized by some data collected by games industry consultants ICO Partners. The big crowdfunding gold rush of 2012/13 that spawned Banner Saga and El Alamein is no more: the overall take for video game campaigns this year is on track to be a little less than half of what it was the year before.
We’re still seeing successes of course, but it’s niche stuff like Yardmaster rather than big commercial projects, but I’m cool with that. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the 0.001% of video game consumers that spends time reading about games — I think that makes us niche. But clearly, Kickstarter projects for games will look different next year: less frequent, smaller dollar amounts.
After the jump, we catch up with the Trese Brothers’ Star Traders 2 campaign and look in on some new ones.
PT reader Mark Sable wrote in to point us in the general direction of Hard West, a currently-Kickstarting tactical game set in what the developers call “the Weird West”. I think they mean Portland.
Hard West reaches right into my brain and fervently prods the desire module: turn-based XCOM-style combat, exploration in the strategy layer, a world where George Washington Carver might play hold ‘em with Cthulhu. Here’s the rub: there’s no plans on their Kickstarter page for a mobile version, just PC. But that’s where Mark comes back in — he’s talked to Polish devs CreativeForge, and they’ve told him that Hard West for tablets is entirely possible. Hmmmm.
Watch the pitch video for Hard West and three other intriguing crowdfunding campaigns after the jump.
Boss Monster is already a Kickstarter success story, having successfully Kickstarted a cardboard version of the game back in 2012. Actually, Brotherwise Games didn’t just succeed at that Kickstarter, they slaughtered it, raking in $200K more than their initial funding goal. Well, Brotherwise is back on Kickstarter to bring the now published cardboard version to iOS and Android.
If you’re familiar with games like Dungeon Keeper you’ll have an idea of how Boss Monster plays. You and your opponents each play a boss monster in a video game and need to construct a dungeon to lure in annoying do-gooders and destroy them. Everything in the game is done with a fantastic 8-bit art style, and everything about the game is reminiscent of old NES platformers from the 80’s.
The intention of Brotherwise is to include both single player against 3 levels of AI as well as online multiplayer. The Kickstarter is already more than 50% funded, and they still have 24 days to go. There are pledge levels that will get you the app and the cardboard version, if what you see looks interesting.
Video of the Boss Monster digital prototype after the break.
We live in a world that has walls, and those walls have to be guarded by robots with guns. [Image by Chad Ellis]
Battle for Hill 218 is one of those games that, sadly, gets overlooked on a lot of “best of” iOS lists. It’s a shame, really, as it’s a great little 2-player game and it’s digital implementation is spot-on. Recently, the publisher, Your Move Games, started a Kickstarter to reprint Battle for Hill 218 as well as its sci-fi sequel, Battle for Sector 219. While cardboard versions of games are amazing, what struck me was that $10K stretch goal that would bring Sector 219 to iOS.
The iOS version would most likely be done by the same developer as Hill 218, Large Visible Machine. This means we should be excited, people. Not only did they do a great job with Hill 218’s UI, but they created an AI so evil that they were forced to add a weaker AI in an later update due to the complaints.
Check out the Kickstarter for more info, or go download Battle for Hill 218 from the App Store. You won’t be disappointed. Kickstarter trailer after the break.
Core Worlds was one of the many deckbuilders that sprang to life after Dominion invented the deckbuilding mechanism a few years ago. The difference between Core Worlds and a lot of other bandwagon jumpers is that Core Worlds is actually a really good game. It takes the basic deckbuilding experience and adds a rich theme of building fleets and conquering planets on your way to the central planets (some might even call them Core Worlds) to take your place as rightful ruler of the galaxy. Or something like that. It’s really just a lot of fun.
Earlier this week, Stronghold Games announced a new Kickstarter to bring Core Worlds to iOS and Android. The game will have a 3D interface and the early screenshots look pretty sweet. They’re looking for a paltry $20K, and already have about half of that. Unfortunately, if you want to get either of the expansions digitized (and I’ve heard the first expansion makes this game utterly fantastic) they’ll need to hit stretch goals of $75K and $100K before the timer runs out.
Go and check out the Kickstarter to see all the pretty pictures, or watch the Kickstarter trailer after the break.