Posts Tagged: 4X

Deck Space 9: Rocco Bowling reveals Starbase Annex, a 4X card game

Less than one hour away from a battle simulation and I have to go hand-hold an android.

Less than one hour away from a battle simulation and I have to go hand-hold an android.

The tireless Rocco Bowling dropped me a note today to tell me about a major update that just went live for Starbase Orion, his peerless sci-fi empire-builder, and about another update that’s in the works for Naval Tactics: Captains of the Spanish Main.

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.

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Out Tonight: MTN, To The End, Zombie Puzzle Panic, and Super CCatch

Nah, it's cool. I don't either.

This poor innocent creature had very little time to come to terms with its identity.

For the majority of you, I suspect the big release you were looking for was Civilization Revolution 2 — but that one’s been out all day already. In fact, I had time to dig into it today and I’m fixing to have a review for you tomorrow morning.

Civ Rev 2 isn’t quite what I was expecting. If you’re a fan of 4X games and never got around to playing the original Civ Rev, then I recommend this new release to you almost unreservedly. It’s a cleverly streamlined version of Uncle Sid‘s genre-defining empire-building game that chisels away fiddly stuff like terrain improvements and lets you get straight into the world-conquering. I like the fiddly bits in the PC games, but Civ Rev’s quicker style of play is a nice compromise when you want some Civ but can’t devote five days to it.

But if you do already own the first game, the recommendation waters get rather murkier. Civ Rev 2, as it turns out, is a dramatic 3D facelift on the previous incarnation, but gameplay-wise it’s an identical beat-for-beat cover. So if 3D graphics are important to you (and you don’t mind the requisite additional battery drain), then go for it. But if you’ve had your fill of Civ Rev already then the sequel won’t do much to reinvigorate your interest. 2K does has one new twist for you: free “Live event” scenarios that will be updated regularly.

Anyway. Blah blah blah blah. Let me save some of this stuff for the Civ Rev 2 review tomorrow. Let’s talk about games that are actually coming out tonight.

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To the barricades: Civilization Revolution 2 begins for iOS

The beautiful French Riviera. Nuke it.

The beautiful French Riviera. Nuke it.

2K aren’t waiting for tonight to unleash the recently-revealed Civ Rev 2 onto the world: the game dropped this morning worldwide onto the App Store. It’s a Universal app and they’re asking $15 for it. I pulled together everything we knew about the game on Monday, but there’s still quite a lot left to discover about it. This is the first Civilization game made specifically for touchscreen mobile devices.

Unlike its predecessor, the history-themed empire-building game is rendered in 3D this time, but that bumps up the hardware requirements. 2K warns that the game requires at least an iPhone 4S+, iPad 2nd ten, iPad Mini, or iPod touch 5 — older devices need not apply. I’m going to bump this right to the top of the review queue so hopefully we’ll have a detailed verdict on it within the next couple of days.

But I can tell you this much right now: I’ve done an extensive browse through the options and started one game, and there’s nary an IAP in sight. 2K have called this a premium game and it appears to be just that — a good old-fashioned game that you pay for once and get to keep.

Watch the trailer after the jump which reveals that new leader JFK’s prop is a red phone. 2K should take a page from King Oddball‘s book and let you call him in-game.

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The Revolution will be premium: The mysterious Civ Rev 2 gives us a peek at what’s coming

You really are a poison dwarf, Toby.

Special guest star: Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

2K sent around preview builds of the recently announced and imminently arriving Civilization Revolution 2, and reports are starting to show up online. (Pocket Tactics didn’t receive a preview build but ours is surely delayed by that… ah… internet strike… in France.) The surprise announcement last week wasn’t exactly overburdened with details but let’s see what we can’t suss out from the various previews on other sites.

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The benthic of it: First video of sci-fi backstabbing sim Subterfuge

Darwin help Bridger.

Darwin help Bridger.

Back in January, World of Goo creator Ron Carmel and Amazing Alex designer Noel Llopis gave us the very first look at their forthcoming iOS & Android multiplayer diplomacy game Subterfuge. I checked in with Carmel this week and he was excited about the game’s progress.

“We’re on the verge of entering private alpha,” Carmel told me. “We’re currently testing what we hope is the last major change to the game’s design, and after that we’ll start inviting more players and let them start their own games rather than wait for our organized playtests. The game is far from finished, of course, but the core gameplay is there.”

The slow-playing Subterfuge is a multiplayer-only 4X strategy game where players log into games a couple of times a day to issue orders to the submarine captains of their underwater empires. Fleets take several real-time hours to get from place to place in Subterfuge, leaving plenty of time for you to strategize — or collude with other players. A full game of Subterfuge is meant to last for about a week.

Subterfuge doesn’t have a release date yet, but you can sign up to be an aquatic guinea pig in the closed alpha test on the game’s website. Check out our extensive interview from January for more details.

The pair posted a tutorial video a couple of weeks ago that is also our first glimpse of Subterfuge in motion — it’s after the jump.

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4X marks the spot: The Trese Brothers release Star Traders 4X

Look at me. I'm the space captain now.

Look at me. I’m the space captain now.

Los Hermanos Trese are sentimental favourites around these parts. Their Android and iOS RPGs aren’t super high-concept or beautiful to behold — but they’re made with real love, man. The Treses update their games with a frequency that resembles a rabbit husbandry schedule. Improvements and new content laid are on almost weekly for their entire stable of titles, including space freelancer RPG Star Traders and fantasy dungeon crawler Heroes of Steel.

So let no one doubt the work ethic of Cory and Andrew Trese — and they’re going to need it. Their new game Star Traders 4X: Empires in Exile belongs to that most fearsome of all game genres: the empire-builder. 4X games are consistently popular but their complex clockwork is famously maddening to build. Like skyscraper architecture, dentistry, and cannibalism, making 4X games isn’t a pursuit that anybody dabbles in.

As a result, it’s tough to get all four of your Xs in one game on mobile. You’ve got the ancient (and soon to be superseded) Civilization Revolution, the stripped-down “casual” 4X Vincere Totus Astrum, the iOS port of the classic PC 4X Ascendancy, and Starbase Orion from Rocco Bowling — possibly the only dev on the App Store as industrious as the Treses.

The Treses are putting their hat in the ring with a game that takes place in their Dune-flavoured Star Traders universe, where four interstellar trading guilds compete for commercial dominance. All four of the Xs are represented here, with planet colonisation, espionage, research, trade and more.

I don’t honestly know how well the Treses have carried this off, as I haven’t had time to play it yet. But they’ve got that free version to try, and you know this thing will still be getting weekly updates when the Earth falls into the Sun.

Star Traders 4X has been out on Android for a couple of weeks and is now out on iOS, too. As always, the Treses have offered a free demo version. After the jump, watch Andrew Trese (the elder one, I think) play through 20 minutes of the game.

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Wonders never cease: Civilization Revolution 2 in the works for iOS & Android

With a little luck, these guys can kill a tank.

With a little luck, these guys can kill a tank.

2K have announced a follow-up to Civilization Revolution, the streamlined console version of the genre-defining Civilization series that was ported to iOS way back in 2009.

The first Civ Rev stripped a lot of the complexity out of Civilization, meaning that you could take your chosen people from flint-knapping to Alpha Centauri-colonizing in the space of an hour or two. It wasn’t a bad little game, all in all, though the iOS port initially suffered from sporadic crashing and UI misfires. Last time I looked in on it (which was admittedly at least a couple of years ago) it played just fine.

From what I’ve seen, 2K have studiously avoided mentioning franchise custodians Firaxis in their announcement, which suggests that Sid Meier’s studio isn’t involved in the development of Civ Rev 2. They certainly have their hands full, as they’re working on Civilization: Beyond Earth for PC, and though it hasn’t been announced you’d be a sucker to think they weren’t working on a new XCOM as well. If I were a betting man… oh wait — I am a betting man. I’d wager that Civ Rev 2 is being led by 2K’s mobile specialists 2K China, who have a somewhat decent track record at this point. Nobody really compares to Uncle Sid, though.

No gameplay details as of yet, but from the screenshots it’s evident that Civ Rev 2 will be in 3D. The original version only had 3D graphics on Xbox and Playstation — the iOS port was based on the version of the game for Nintendo DS. 2K say that Civ Rev 2 is being built for mobile from the ground up.

Civilization Revolution 2 will be out for iOS on July 2nd, with Android to follow. After the jump, the trailer for ye olde Civ Rev 1, as there’s no video for this new incarnation yet.

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In Space, No One Can Hear You Scream (for Joy): Starbase Orion 2 coming?

The stuff that dreams are made of

The stuff that dreams are made of

If you haven’t already, take a good look at the image at the top of this story. A really good look. Yes, you have to read it. From this little blurb, it appears that a sequel to the fantastic Starbase Orion is in the works.

OK, now you can stop jumping up and down and hugging yourself. Really, it’s getting embarrassing.

For those not in the know, Starbase Orion is the best 4X game currently available for mobile and it’s developer, Chimera Software (and particularly Rocco Bowling), have fine tuned it into a sleek and deep masterpiece. What can we expect in the sequel? Well, we don’t know. In fact, this image from the Chimera website is the only news we have that Starbase Orion II is even a thing. It doesn’t link anywhere, and combing the rest of the site I could find no other mentions of it anywhere.

Rocco is well-known for supporting his titles more than any other developer around, so I figured he’d be up to his mizzenmast in supporting his latest release, Naval Tactics: Captains of the Spanish Main, and maybe he will be. Maybe this is just a typo or sinister joke on his part. Until we know for sure, I’ll just keep dreaming.

Thanks to gosenbach for the tip.