Lady F and I were at the RA this weekend to see the Dennis Hopper photography exhibit, and were greeted by this installation of U-boats lurking in the entryway. None of the young ticket-rippers working that day seemed to know who the artist was or what the work was called. Sorry about the glare — unlike Mr Hopper I’m a crummy photographer.
This week’s Almanac isn’t a story or a rant; it’s just a clear-out. My sinister office here at PT HQ high atop Mount Hexmap is almost completely papered over with post-its and notes written to myself on the backs of Woolworth receipts and racing forms — I can hardly keep my plans for superweapons straight from my schematics for mind control devices. Intolerable.
After the jump: small updates from developers we care about and stuff that has slipped through the cracks over the last couple of weeks.
Spare me your space age technobabble, Attila the Hun.
Soon you shall have more choices of space exploration sims than you have for mobile phone providers, TV talent competition shows, and ways to contract influenza. Aspiring Captain Kirks already have the incomparable FTL, and will soon have Tiny Trek and Interstellaria to muck around the galaxy in: you can add Spacewrights to that list.
Spacewrights calls itself a 2D empire-building game, though you will apparently be a lot more hands on than your average space Caesar. You build your own ships and control them in real-time combat and lead your own away missions to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life etc etc. This empire isn’t ever going to get its crap together if the Emperor doesn’t learn to delegate — but the game sounds fun.
Here’s a note of caution for you: this is the first release planned from Missouri-based ArithmeBit, who don’t seem daunted by such a big project. I hope they pull it off, but we’ve seen ambitious titles from first-time developers get derailed before.
You can read all about the planned features on Spacewrights’ website, and the devs tell me that there’s a Kickstarter in this game’s future. The game is in development for iOS and Android (both phones and tablets and the ever-increasing number of devices in-between) and for desktops. There’s already a playable demo for Windows.
No nation has friends, only interests. And open border agreements.
Like an Albanian eagle, I was of two minds about 2K’s mobile-only Civilization Revolution 2. I was glad to see the game get a refresh as the original game had not exactly stood the test of time on iOS — but I was disappointed that Civ Rev 2 offered essentially no gameplay changes at all from the previous iteration, possibly owing to the fact that Civilization mothership Firaxis weren’t involved in its development.
In my review, I said that the one promising change in Civ Rev 2 was 2K’s promise of regular updates with new challenge scenarios and other content. It’s about a month on from release and 2K are making good on that pledge so far. There’s an update live right now for Civ Rev 2 that adds a new scenario (Guadalcanal, featuring the US versus Japan), some unspecified enhancements, and a new civ leader: the noted kepi-wearer and airport namesake Charles de Gaulle, making his first appearance in a Civ game since Civ IV: Beyond the Sword.
The update is free to Civ Rev 2 owners. If 2K can pump out a few more of these over the next few months maybe I’ll change my tune on Civ Rev 2. Maybe.
In other Firaxis news, I haven’t heard anything about the studio making another Ace Patrol-sized mobile game for us, and they seem to be all-hands-on-deck for the October launch of Civ: Beyond Earth on PC. But the legendary studio announced the other day that they’re going to be hosting a convention at their headquarters in Maryland at the end of this month: Firaxicon, which includes a chance to meet Sid Meier and maybe Jake Solomon and Ananda Gupta, too. Holy shit. If I wasn’t getting married a couple of weeks later, I would be right there for that thing, man. Maybe it’s not too late to move the wedding to Maryland.
Though I’d be the last person to bemoan the current Renaissance of 4X games, you might have noticed that there’s only ever two flavours of them: subjugate various aliens to build an empire in space and subjugate various ethnicities to build an empire in Civilization. Sure, the latter one occasionally subs in orcs and elves. But you get where I’m going.
Antihero is taking 4X mechanics and wrapping them with a theme I’ve never seen before. In a grimy Victorian city, you’re the master thief at the head of a band of street urchins, planning burglaries, blackmailing your betters, and performing other dirty deeds as catalogued by AC/DC.
It’s a great idea, and it’s being executed by experienced developers. The game is the brainchild of Tim Conkling, a veteran of Puzzle Pirates studio Three Rings Design, where he created the Edward Gorey-inspired puzzle RTS Corpse Craft for iOS. He met artist Jiyoun Lee-Lodge during a stint at Gamelab, and now they’ve reunited to work on Antihero. “I spent about 6 months prototyping Antihero on my own before hiring Jiyoun to be the lead artist,” Conkling told me. “Antihero is a pretty typical indie production, I think — we collaborate over Slack and Skype (I’m in San Francisco and she’s in NYC), and the game is entirely self-funded.”
Antihero won’t require the stamina demanded by Civ — Conkling is intending for it to play fast, with a whole game taking around an hour, either in single-player or in planned cross-platform multiplayer between PC, Mac, iOS and Android. Antihero is due out early next year, with mobile versions to follow the initial desktop release. You can vote for the game on Steam Greenlight, and follow its development on Facebook and Twitter.
Back in June we caught the first glimpse of Rapture: World Conquest, a light RTS that gives Galcon-style games a little Civilization flavour. You play as a god that — in the finest tradition of persnickety old-timey desert deities — picks one tribe as its favourite to lead to blood-drenched victory over all of the rest of the world’s peoples, using your miraculous powers to aid the effort. Of course, the other civs have their own patron gods, and if there’s one thing thousands of years of human history has taught us, it’s that we can’t all just freaking play nice with each other.
I spent a few minutes with the press preview yesterday and it seems quite promising so far. Developers Tundra Games are using the indie dev’s cost-saving measure of employing public domain music, and the game got a real belly laugh out of me when it drolly busted out “Night on Bald Mountain“. I was expecting this game to be a premium title but I must warn you, this one has the unexpected whiff of free-to-play about it. Lots of plus sign buttons next to coin icons and that. Hrm.
This installment of Weekend Price Drops is unusual for a couple of reasons: first, there’s more good games on sale than there has been in recent memory, and second, there’s a game in here that isn’t any good at all. A mystery!
After the jump, if we crack this case I’ll approve your transfer to Homicide.
You probably should have heeded the rock that started whispering to Rostandos last season.
When I am inevitably banished to desert island for making one-too-many pun headlines, one of the things I will take with me will be King of Dragon Pass. This island has got USB plugs, right?
The App Store has enjoyed a long period of exclusivity with David Dunham’s unique fantasy game, which splices together interactive fiction and empire-building in wildly ambitious way a that no one has had the stones to replicate since the game first came out on PC in 1999. But soon there will be a whole new audience that will have a chance to see it for themselves.
Next week, Androiders will be able to settle their clans in Dragon Pass for the first time: KoDP is launching on the platform this Tuesday, 12 August for $9.99. Soon you will know many things about running a fantasy Iron Age society, Android folks. You will know never to trust dragonkin. You will learn just how far you can push the tribes of duck-men. You will learn that I’m not kidding about either of those things, because King of Dragon Pass is gloriously weird and unforgettably brilliant.
It’s hard to overstate how good this news is. Android has been improving as a platform for gaming over the past couple of years, but there’s still some huge gaps in its catalog compared to iOS. King of Dragon Pass will arguably be the single best game available for Google’s ecosystem come next week.
The port to Android is being handled by Russian devs Herocraft, whose track record ranges from “good” to “please shoot me” but the technical quality of their apps has never been in question. There’s a new trailer for game after the jump.
And oh yeah, he casually mentioned, there’s a brand-new game in the works, too: Starbase Annex, a single-player card game set in the Starbase Orion universe. It’s currently in beta and will be out for iOS in the next couple of months.
Bowling, whose inhuman work ethic reveals him to be a robot cleverly disguised as a man, describes Starbase Annex as a hybrid card/board/puzzle game with 4X elements. “Sounds like a lot when you write it all down, but it plays so naturally its like a match made in heaven.” The game is single-player focused and Bowling intends to ship it with 18 different AIs to play against. Because it’s Chimera Software’s first Unity-based game, it will be relatively simple to port to Android if it does well on iOS, Bowling tells me.
By the way, hardcore Starbase Orion players will want to check the Starbase Orion League that runs on Chimera Software’s forums — it’s currently in season 3 and sign-ups are on right now. You can find a changelog for the new update there as well.
Two more screenshots of Starbase Annex after the jump.