Dismay trading: The Firm is a frantic Rules-esque puzzler

The gaming equivalent of rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time.

The gaming equivalent of rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time.

The Firm is considerably more casual than our usual fare around here but I’m still waiting for somebody to make a really slick stock trading simulation for mobile — this will have to do in the meantime. Is anybody on that stock trading sim? Somebody get on that. There’s a set of steak knives in it for you.

The Firm is a brain-melter puzzler that reminds me of Rules, in that it asks you to keep a few pieces of conflicting information in your head at the same time. As a trader at the titular outfit, you have to make decisions about buying and selling stocks — and quickly, because your inbox is filling up. You have to correctly purchase or sell long and short options, but act too slowly or make too many incorrect decisions and it’s curtains for you and your career.

If you dug Rules, this will scratch a similar itch. The Firm is iPhone-only and it’s on a launch sale for a buck right now.

Hat-tip to Priestman at PG.

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Ensign Pikov Andropov reporting: Interstellaria reveals new features

Coming in hot.

Coming in hot.

Here’s a true story you can use to delight your friends down the pub or stall for time in your next hostage negotiation: the iconic transporters in the original Star Trek were a cost-saving measure. It was originally planned that the Enterprise would land on the planets it visited, but building additional sets and matte paintings to show Big E on the ground was another big cost for a show that was already prohibitively expensive to film. That’s why Gene Roddenberry and Co. came up with a magical sci-fi whatsit to be able to check out the planet-of-the-week without making CBS executives want to self-harm.

Our man Coldrice has been labouring away on Interstellaria over the past year, and he has no martini-swilling CBS executives to coddle — so the latest feature he’s revealed is planetary landings.

It’s been a while since we last talked about Interstellaria. This is a hugely ambitious game that looks like Terraria if it had been produced by the makers of Starflight. The game will feature a huge universe of hand-crafted planets to explore with your customised crew and ship, while you negotiate and trade with friendly aliens and tangle with hostile ones. It looks extraordinary, though it’s still a long way away — Coldrice deemed the latest release to be Alpha 0.4, and he told me that there’s still a long way to go before launch.

Interstellaria is planned to be out next year sometime on iOS and Android, some time after the desktop release. New video and more gifs after the jump. Keep tabs on the project on its official website.

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Dungeon master: Boss Monster for mobile currently Kickstarting

Dungeon Envy

Dungeon Envy [Image by Dylan Wolf]

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.

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Viral fever: Frontier Worlds is Plague Inc with more than one bug

Go west, young nanomonstrosity.

Go west, young nanomonstrosity.

Given the enormous and enduring popularity of James Vaughan’s Plague Inc, it won’t surprise you to learn that I get a lot of pitches for new spins on his cataclysmic infectious disease simulator. Up until today, they’ve always been half-hearted clones that weren’t worth talking about, but Frontier Worlds: Origins is the first game I’ve seen that makes some meaningful enhancements to the Plague Inc formula, and it does it by adding more infections that you’re trying to out-compete with yours.

Plague Inc is a horrifying zen rock garden of a game. Your goal is to make a disease that wipes out mankind, but it’s not as violent as this sounds. Most of the time you’re just watching it happen, waiting for another million people or two to succumb to your virus and fill your DNA point coffers so you can afford to enhance your bug with a new symptom. Frontier Worlds is similarly a mostly hands-off affair, but it has a big sci-fi twist.

Frontier Worlds is set in the far future where corporations are jostling to be the first to colonise newly-discovered exo-planets. This is a gung-ho capitalist future, so that colonising isn’t being done with unreliable robots or expensive humans; the pioneers of tomorrow are hardy, adaptable microorganisms.

Your bug starts on the world map with microbes from several other companies. As in Plague, you get periodic subsidies of DNA points that you can use to adapt your nano-settlers: make them photosynthetic on sunny planets, or more ferocious in direct competition with other bugs. Once a game really gets going it starts to look like Conway’s Game of Life, but in this case you have the ability to stick your finger in the petri dish and nudge the results.

I doubt Frontier Worlds is going to dethrone Plague Inc: the UI lacks feedback on what immediate effects your choices have, and the human-free sci-fi setting saps the game of emotional impact. But turning a planet into a petri dish full of weaponised bugs is a damned clever idea.

Frontier Worlds is two bucks on the App Store — there’s also a free version that lets you play on one planet and unlock the rest with a single IAP. Watch the trailer below.

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Dealer’s choice: LackeyCCG for iPad will let you play any CCG you’d like

Deal me in

Deal me in

Are you frustrated that Fantasy Flight didn’t announce Android: Netrunner for iPad at this year’s GenCon? Sad that you can’t play Lord of the Rings Card Game digitally? Well, dry those tears, because LackeyCCG was released for iPad last week and, with a little work, you can play virtually any CCG on your iPad.

LackeyCCG has been around on PC, Mac, and Linux for some time now, and if you scour their forums you’ll find people playing all the FFG living card games, Legend of the Five Rings, Magic: The Gathering and everything in between. It’s not just a card database, either. LackeyCCG offers online head-to-head play as well as a solitaire mode to test out decks or build/test your own CCG. I’m guessing solitaire mode would work great for games like Pathfinder Adventure Card Game or the LOTR living card game as well.

What’s the catch? Find out after the break.

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This week’s Calculords STARDOG update adds STARDOG, a dog from the stars

Dog day afternoon.

Dog day afternoon.

Seanbaby and his team stopped working on comedy math-’em-up Calculords entirely earlier this year, moving on to a new project. But a special UN delegation (led by Pope Francis, the ghost of Mister Rogers, and a kitten) persuaded them for the good of all mankind to return to Calculords and make one of the year’s best games even better.

Some time in the next few days, the Android port of Calculords will grace the Google Play shop (the third coup for that platform in as many weeks) and it will arrive with new content — which will also be arriving on iOS as a free update very shortly, pending Apple’s acquiescence.

“The update has a new boss between FANCYBOT and CPL KRAK,” Seanbaby told me today. “The main criticism of the game was that the difficulty ramps up too hard and fast, so players intimidated by ASYLUM ZOM can now stop off at PLANET STARDOG and battle STARDOG. He’s a dog from the stars, and he drops 18 new cards.”

If you somehow managed to avoid getting swept up in PT‘s Calculords-mania earlier this year, this is a game where you use addition, subtraction, and multiplication to defeat your fellow Star Nerds and earn the privilege of avenging the destruction of Earth. If that doesn’t sell you on Calculords, then art is dead.

Two more screenshots from the Calculords STARDOG update after the jump.

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False flag: A Dark Room prequel The Ensign is out for iOS

Goodbye to all that.

Goodbye to all that.

The Ensign, the prequel to the bleakly minimalist A Dark Room is now out on iOS — developer Amir Rajan revealed its existence to us a couple of weeks ago.

I suspect that, as it was with A Dark Room, the less said about The Ensign’s plot and circumstances, the better. Rajan “highly recommends” playing A Dark Room first, and I recommend that, too. It’s a completely unique game that’s part ascii-art adventure and part interactive fiction. With the barest minimum of graphics it manages to create a grim, unsettling atmosphere that few AAA games can match.

For veterans of A Dark Room, The Ensign is an expanded version of the first game’s A Dusty Path segment. Rajan apparently thinks you aren’t up for it. “Best of luck to whoever attempts this game,” he says in the app description. “I imagine few will succeed in completing all of it.” All right tough guy, we’ll see about that.

The Ensign is a dollar on the App Store.

Goblins at Agincourt: Fantasy Flight reveal BattleLore Command for mobile

Orcs don't do chivalry.

Gobbos don’t do chivalry.

At GenCon in Indianapolis this past week, Fantasy Flight revealed something exciting. No, it’s not the tablet version of Android Netrunner we dared to hope for, but you won’t be mad about this. Turn-based fantasy wargame BattleLore will be making its way to iOS, Android, and PC in the form of BattleLore Command. There’s no release date announced, but the game was playable at GenCon and reports by PT readers who wrote in to tell me about it were uniformly positive.

This is a wargame based on the Command & Colors system, but the setting is really neat. BattleLore takes place during a historically accurate Hundred Years’ War, but one where goblin and dwarf mercenary bands fought on both sides of the conflict. That’s quite a whimsical departure from history — goblins exclusively fought alongside Italian condottieri in this era, of course.

Fantasy Flight have been doing the hokey-pokey with mobile gaming for a few years now. The Minnesota-based company is a prolific publisher of tabletop board games that are renowned for high-quality components, and in 2011 they released a mobile game that upheld that reputation. Elder Sign: Omens was probably the most polished game on the App Store way back when (and it’s still an impressive product today) but Fantasy Flight didn’t make another peep about mobile games until earlier this year, when they announced a collaboration with CD Projekt to make an original digital game set in the Witcher universe.

There’s apparently no plans for online multiplayer for this one — just single-player campaigns and same-device multiplayer, though phones will be supported in addition to tablets. The BattleLore Command reveal trailer is after the jump.

UPDATE: The specific setting of this game is a matter of some doubt. Some PT readers in the comments here have said that the video looks like BattleLore Second Edition, which is set in an original fantasy world with no ties to the real Hundred Years’ War, others have suggested it’s a new setting that simply uses the BattleLore game system. Fantasy Flight haven’t released any press materials yet, but we’ll get clarification ASAP.

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