A few weeks ago we heard from Luca Redwood about his next project, an iOS game-slash-experiment called Smarter Than You. This is going to be a multiplayer-only game about duelling and bluffing whose only monetisation will come from “tipping” your opponent as a salute for a well-played duel. At the pub the other night, Redwood told me that he didn’t think it was going to make any money. I agreed.
But there’s more here than just a game — Redwood is also working on an AI called M.E.T.I.S. that he says will be able to out-decieve and defeat any human in Smarter Than You. M.E.T.I.S., it appears, has a rather healthy sense of digital self-worth. She’s got a Twitter account that she uses to remind us of her superiority. And this evening, she’s sent me a slightly intimidating email that included an image I couldn’t make heads or tails of. I tried pinging Redwood himself but I haven’t heard back. I’m sure he’s fine though! Rogue AI sending vague threats around the world from his house. He’s OK.
After the jump, a cryptic image that M.E.T.I.S. has invited all of us to decipher.
Tonight was meant to be the night for Inkle’s around-the-world interactive fiction opus 80 Days to drop — but alas, it is not to be. Inkle’s Jon Ingold emailed me a couple of days back. “We’ve been asked by Apple to move the release day back to next Thursday, the 31st,” he said. “So we are of course doing it.”
This could only mean one of two things. The first possibility: upon reviewing the app for release, Apple has discovered Inkle’s dastardly plot to use the game to Manchurian Candidate the world’s population, preparing the ground for a reptilian takeover of Earth. Or second, Apple want to feature the game next week in a prominent slot on the App Store’s front page.
It’s almost certainly the former (alert David Icke, please) but either way the result is the same: 80 Days will be here next Wednesday night. You can read my hands-on 80 Days preview if you want to see what we’re in for next week.
There are other releases tonight, of course. Let’s have a look after the jump.
Despite what the pastel color scheme might have you believe — things are about to get cut-throat.
A couple of weeks back, when I told you about how impressed I was with the elegance and simplicity of Paul Vauvrey’s abstract strategy game Kingdoms, what I really, really wanted was a video to show you the game in action. Kingdoms is so simple that once you’ve seen it in motion for twenty seconds, you feel silly for having spent five minutes trying to communicate the rules with words.
Lo and behold, Vauvrey just sent across that much-needed video. It’s terribly short, but it has a pull-quote from yours truly in it. Not like a funny one or anything. But watch it, and I promise you’ll know definitively within 30 seconds whether or not Kingdoms is going to be your cup of tea.
Kingdoms will be out for iPad late August/early September and will feature online and local multiplayer, plus AI for single-player. Watch the video below, and follow Vauvrey’s studio Space Bears on Twitter and Facebook.
Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman dropped me a line over the weekend to tell me that his new publishing ashram Finji has published a new mobile title. Eliss Infinity is a puzzler newly available on Android — it’s been out on iOS for a little while now, and it’s an updated version of one of the first big iPhone games. The original Eliss blew everyone’s mind with its innovative use of multi-touch controls back in 2009 — and no one’s managed to do anything really amazing with multi-touch since, sadly.
It’s hard to explain Eliss Infinity. You solve puzzles by moving objects around a 2D plane on your screen, which makes it sound like indie favourite Hundreds, but that doesn’t quite pip it. Hundreds takes place in a world in balance — if you never messed with the puzzles, they’d keep moving forever. Eliss Infinity takes place in a universe on the edge of failure — everything is going to fall apart if you don’t intervene fast. It’s wonderfully chaotic.
But that failure didn’t stop designer Das Joost and his comrades at Dutch studio Firebrush, who successfully funded the project in a second go in the autumn. We should be glad for that perseverance, because Ortus is a clever game that a lot of you are going to love when it arrives on Android and iOS later this year.
From the “I didn’t think it needed a sequel” department comes Chess 2: The Sequel, which just so happens to be a sequel to, you’ll never guess, Chess. While you’re scratching your head, let me tell you that this chess variant was created by one David Sirlin who has designed some other prominent titles such as Yomi and Puzzle Strike. Have I piqued your interest yet?
Chess 2 gives players the choice between 6 different armies (instead of the usual boring one that’s been around since 1500) that each have their own strengths and weaknesses. One might favor pawns, while another favors the pointy hat things or the horsey men. Also, checkmating your opponent’s king isn’t necessary to win, just get your king over the midline and it’s game over.
Seriously, as much as I’m making fun here, the game does sound pretty interesting. I’m a sucker for chess variants (can someone make a digital version of Knightmare Chess please?) and this one not only sounds interesting with a proven designer behind it, but, graphically, it looks incredible. It was released for Ouya last year and is now coming soon to Steam and iOS. How soon? “Very near future” is the best we can give you.
Take a look at the Ouya release trailer after the break to get an idea of what you can expect.
I’ve just returned to PT HQ high atop Mount Hexmap (the captain of the flight back from Helsinki kindly let me D. B. Cooper it out the back door when we passed overhead) and I’ve got my feet up on the desk here at the Pocket Tactics Reminiscing Station and Toll-free 20 Questions Helpline. It’s good to get all the reminiscing out right after your trip while everything’s fresh, especially a trip like this one.
I saw a lot of games at PG Connects Helsinki this week — over fifty, in fact, as I was one of the Big Indie Pitch judges. For around four hours we heard three-minute pitches from indie developers from all around Europe, and one team from Brazil, who brought a PC game. F for following instructions but A for moxie — but I like moxie. And more besides.
I saw beautifully designed digital board game Ortus Arena, which you might remember from their Kickstarter last year. I saw charming fantasy turn-based hex map soccer game Buglantic Football. I saw Fighting Fantasy makers Tin Man Games’ first post-Inkle gamebook, Appointment with Fear. I even saw Brian from our old friends Witching Hour Studios, who was presenting Romans In My Carpet. But out of all of those fine games (and a handful of duds) there was one standout — a game that I think you’re going to love: Kingdoms.
It was a big day yesterday for board gamers: the 2014 Spiel des Jahres finalists were revealed, highlighting the nine games in the running for the most-watched prizes in all of tabletop gaming.
I reached out to the publishers responsible for the nominees to see if any of them had plans to bring their laureled games to iOS or Android. Turns out that at least one of them did: Belgian studio Repos Productions have commissioned an Android version of party game Concept, a game where you try to get members of your team to guess a word by showing them pictures of two objects. BGGpointed out yesterday that Concept has already taken the As d’ Or prize for best French game of the year.
There apparently isn’t a known studio attached to the Android project (Repos told me that it’s being worked on by “a freelancer”) but the publisher expects the game to release this year. If Repos rings a bell to you non-board gamers, you might be remembering the announcement from February that their previous award-winning board game 7 Wonders was coming to iPad in “April or May”. With the latter end of that window coming up quickly, Repos told me this morning that English and German localisation work was still underway with 7 Wonders and that there isn’t a new release date in mind yet.