Dungeon Twister was the first board game to really plumb the depths of the “control an army of different characters who are looking for treasure in a maze that rotates” genre. It’s not really a dungeon crawl as there’s little or no random or RPG elements to it, and it’s not an abstract even though it plays closer to chess than it does Talisman. There’s really nothing else like it, and it’s coming to a tablet near you.
This week, designer Christophe Boelinger and developer Alexis Diakonoff launched a crowdfunding campaign on the European crowdfunding site, Ulule. They have 25 days left and are already 100% funded, so the drama of whether it will be coming to your device is gone. Still, there are a ton of different incentives for supporting the campaign, so you might want to check the it out and still contribute.
Dungeon Twister pitch and demo videos after the break.
The king is mad and, as the hero of one of the Great Clans, you’ll explore and face off against the other clans to become the next king. The game offers dice-based combat as well as a card system that represents your followers, treasures and spells. Each player will have individual player powers and there is a quest system that will change each game that gives you something to focus on during the game. I’m guessing they’re similar to goals seen in other boardgames, like Suburbia. I was a bit skeptical when they claimed it was going to be a board game, but looking at what they’ve put together here, I’m definitely warming up to the boardgame-ness of it all.
As Kickstarters go (and we’ve seen some bad ones), this one might be one of the best. It’s obvious that League of Geeks did their homework here. Goals are clearly laid out, rewards at different tiers are clearly explained, with lots of descriptions and video to fill you in on the details. The Kickstarter is for a PC/Mac/Linux port of the game (with Android and Windows Phone as stretch goals), so I’m guessing that the iPad version is coming regardless and isn’t included simply due to the problems associated with getting apps to people in different App Stores around the globe. Even if you’re not interested in backing a PC port of the game, I would encourage you to check out the Kickstarter anyway, just for all the information there. It really looks like Armello could be something special. New trailer after the break.
Developer Keith Lee got in touch with us the other day about his Kickstarter for Duelyst, a beautifully realised multiplayer squad tactical game that I fell in love with from the very first gif. I can’t overstate how pretty the game is — it looks like Heavy Metal for NES produced by Don Bluth.
What gave me pause about his pitch is the multiplayer-only tactical part of that. That particular elephant’s graveyard is full of ivory: Outwitters, Finest Hour, RAD Soldiers. What does Lee think he can do to success where so many other game’s haven’t?
“If you’re making a game for mobile, I think async must be the primary use case,” Lee told me. “Synchronous is too tough to maintain attention on your mobile device since you might get interrupted. It’s very hard to have a deep [turn-based strategy game] that can be played in a very short time without losing lots of tactical options.”
Duelyst’s killer app then, if you subscribe to Lee’s line of thinking, is the asynchronous gameplay, combined with a one-of-a-kind aesthetic and a lofty skill ceiling. “The emphasis is on unit positioning, understanding your squad’s capabilities, anticipating your opponent, and maintaining board control,” the Kickstarter pitch says. “At its core, it’s a tactical tabletop board game without all the manual math calculations.”
How are we going to pay for it? The old-fashioned way. “We want to be very clear that our game is buy once, up-front. We will not be free-to-play nor do we intend to have monthly fees.”
Duelyst’s pitch video and more Kickstarters worth looking at after the jump.
Playdek’s Kickstarter for their Final Fantasy Tactics-inspired Unsung Story is in for an exciting sprint to the finish: they need to pull down more than $30,000 per day over the final 96 hours to hit their $600,000 funding goal. This was a campaign that had stretch goals as lofty as $2.4 million, which seems massively optimistic in hindsight.
As part of their last push, the Agricola makers have been releasing updates that attempt to address some of the criticisms lodged with the strategy RPG campaign so far — lots of new gameplay details have been revealed in the past few days, including a triangular map tile system that offers more tactical nuance than squares or hexes. Yesterday’s update comes straight from the pen of Final Fantasy Tactics designer Yasumi Matsuno. We’ll see if these are sufficient to rally the cavalry charge Unsung Story needs.
Where did Playdek go wrong? Maybe the audience for Final Fantasy Tactics nostalgia isn’t all that big, but I don’t buy that. If I’m going to play Monday morning quarterback, I’d guess that Playdek didn’t do a good enough job drawing a bright line between Final Fantasy Tactics and this project. The fact that Unsung Story is a direct line descendent of FFT is an amazing unique selling point and it gets glossed over in a pitch video with a lot of talking heads and very little game on show. The words “Final Fantasy Tactics” don’t even appear in the text of the pitch until you’re about 7/8 of the way down the page. They should have been shouting that name until their lawyers started to get nervous and then shouted it a little more. Look at how frequently the Mighty No. 9 campaign references Mega Man (in both text and visuals) by comparison.
Unsung Story is a big departure from the games that Playdek made their name with, but I genuinely expect it to be a great game. Playdek’s passion for the project is evident. They’ve said that the game’s development will go forward, crowd funding or no, but I hope this pitch makes it.
Unsung Story’s pitch video and more recent Kickstarters after the jump.
The Kickstarter to help finish the development of nuclear research-’em-up board game The Manhattan Project went live yesterday afternoon. We first caught wind of this iPad game a couple of weeks ago, and the developers have expanded their horizons to include Android since then.
Minion Games are running the textbook successful Kickstarter here: well-known property with existing fan base, a fully functioning prototype, and pitch full of screenshots and gameplay video. If I ever become a Kickstarter consultant (please punch me in the face if I do TIA) then I’ll just use this pitch as my primary case study.
The Minion Games chaps are after a very achievable $30,000, and they’ve already raised $5k of that. Their pitch video and more after the jump.
The only new Kickstarter project knocking around these days (at least, that we’ll be interested in) is Lords of Discord, which launched last week. Lords of Discord (would have been a great name for a band) is a fantasy turn-based tactical game drawing a clear line of inspiration from the classic Heroes of Might and Magic games.
That all sounds pretty good to me — here’s the rub, though. This one’s coming from Herocraft, whose oeuvre ranges in quality from Majesty: Northern Expansion (not bad!) to Strategy & Tactics: WWII (augh kill it with fire). That said, the greatest sin of the latter game was the careless implementation of its freemium system, and Herocraft have disavowed free-to-play schemes in this new pitch: “[W]e really don’t want to use the now ubiquitous freemium model, just pay once and get the whole game, no need for further in-app purchases, just pure up-front fun.” I can get behind that.
The game is due out next June for iOS with Android and desktop editions to follow if all goes to plan. Herocraft are looking for £60,000 and they’ve got 20 days left on their pitch.
I’ve got a couple of new Kickstarters to show you but let’s focus this week’s Crowdfunder on checking in pitches we’ve talked about in previous weeks. Some of these stories have happy endings! Many do not, however. I hope you’ve learned by now not to get too attached to these Kickstarters. I know some of you have been giving them names and feeding them from the table. Don’t do that! It only ends in heartbreak.
After the jump, we’ll take a first look at Comic ConQuest (wait, don’t leave — it looks cool, I swear) and we’ll check in on the fortunes of Golem Arcana, Death Road to Canada, Neverending Nightmares, and Timothy Zahn’s Parallax.