You know how I keep spouting forth about first-person turn-based dungeon crawlers being the hot new thing? Here is yet another clue to throw onto the mounting pile of evidence for my assertions. Servants! [clap-clap] Come tend to the evidence pile! It grows precariously tall and I fear for our collective safety.
The currently-Kickstarting StarCrawlers takes the dungeon crawler and shoots it into space, where RPGs rarely dare to tread. You trawl for randomized loot in the corridors of abandoned spaceships, tangling with automated security drones and employing the unique strengths of your hand-picked party of ne’er-do-wells. It sounds delightful to me, and to Phil, too — he just wrote about it yesterday next door at RDBK.
Here’s the rub, at least for us here at Pocket Tactics: there’s no guarantees that StarCrawlers will come to mobile. The game is currently billed as desktop-bound, but if you watch the gameplay videos, you’ll notice a lot of “touch to continue” prompts. I asked the devs about those.
“The initial prototype [for StarCrawlers] was built on an iPad so the roots are there,” Juggernaut Games told me. “We would love to port StarCrawlers to iPad and other mobile platforms at some point in the future.”
“Love to” is very different from “will”, of course. I’d love to be the bass player for The Roots and speak Portuguese. So if you decide to kick some money in (the pitch needs twenty grand in as many days) know that you’re only getting promised a PC or Mac version. But it doesn’t sound like StarCrawlers for iPad is too far from reality.
I have spoken often of my love for the games of the Brothers Trese, makers of big-hearted, open-ended fantasy and sci-fi RPGs for Android and occasionally iOS, too. The line on Trese Brothers titles is that they’re rangy big sandboxy things that are beautiful on the inside – none of their games are liable to win any blue ribbons for graphics.
The Treses set out to buck that trend with Heroes of Steel, the turn-based fantasy RPG that they successfully Kickstarted back in February. The quit their day jobs to dive into the project full-time, and even brought in an outside artist for the first time. And today you can see the fruits of that labor: Heroes of Steel is out for Android and the iOS edition is wending its way through App Store approvals as you read this.
You’re still not likely to confuse Heroes of Steel with Far Cry 3, but it’s unequivocally a big leap forward for the Treses in terms of visual design and presentation. I’m looking forward to getting my hands on it to see if it has some of the same magic that’s kept me enthralled to Star Traders for so long.
Have a gander at the Heroes of Steel launch trailer after the jump.
1979 Revolution is brave. This is an iOS game about the Islamic revolution that overthrew Iranian dictator Mohammed Reza Pahlavi 34 years ago, casting you as a Persian photo-journalist documenting the uprising. It’s being Kickstarted right now.
If you’re a check-signer at a big publisher, how long is the list of alarm bells for this game? Just for starters: it’s a serious, nuanced story about a real-life event that is still an open wound. There’s no “relatable” Western protagonist — it’s a game about Persians starring Persians. It’s a game being built for iOS first, and Apple has a track record of cowardly turning away games that treat with Middle East politics. This is exactly what Kickstarter is for: funding the creation of games that deserve to be made but that traditional publishers wouldn’t touch.
Here’s how 1979 Revolution’s Kickstarter explains the plot:
Told through the story of Reza, a young photojournalist in Tehran, during the electric and tumultuous days of the Iranian revolution in 1979. Without political or religious motivation, Reza is impassioned by the idea of change and embittered by the brutal loss of his cousin, he enlists and becomes a key player in the movement to overthrow the monarchy. Only months after the victorious revolt, Reza is betrayed by the new regime at the hand of his best friend.
The game has the general look and feel of a Grand Theft Auto game, as it should, given that producer Navid Khonsari worked at Rockstar starting with GTA 3, an experience that changed games forever. Khonsari has assembled a voice cast to match his ambition — he’s already nabbed Navid Negahban, who played Abu Nazir on Homeland. The game is due out in early 2014.
This image (like most Interstellaria screenshots) is an animated gif — click it to see.
A couple of months ago I spoke with Coldrice (born Jon King) about Interstellaria, a 2D space exploration game he’s building for iPad, Android and desktops. “I want the feeling of commanding a ship – or of exploring space,” Coldrice told me, a sensation he felt was lacking in mobile games. Now Coldrice is looking for a little help to make that happen — and I do mean little. His new Interstellaria Kickstarter is after a very achievable $15,000.
Interstellaria is a lot further along today. Coldrice plans to start a semi-public alpha in January, and much of the open-galaxy exploration (with planets you can visit), crew management, ship upgrading, and other key systems are already in place. He’s brought an accomplished chiptune composer and an additional artist on board to help share the load.
There’s something about this game concept that just clicks for me — I backed this one myself, the minute it went live. Watch the pitch video after the jump and if you are similarly moved, the Kickstarter’s right over here.
Eric Lee Smith considers the El Alamein prototype on my visit to Shenandoah’s office.
Eric Lee Smith is always prepared. A photographer by training, he hangs a professional-grade camera around his neck whenever he goes outdoors, just in case a suitable subject presents itself.
With his white beard and penchant for straw hats, Smith has the air of Richard Attenborough from Jurassic Park. His demeanour isn’t far off from that either — he emits the same genial enthusiasm about the mission of his company, combined with an iron-clad determination that he’s going about it the right way. I don’t think the dinosaurs are going to get loose in Shenandoah Studio anytime soon, though.
“The primary job of a game company is to stay in business,” Shenandoah’s co-founder tells me. “Great games are not enough to stay in business.”
Just because this is the internet doesn’t mean that we have to be seen-it-all-before hipsters all the time. Good job, Gilgenbach. I’m proud of you. There’s a teaser trailer after the jump — it’s scary, man.
Harebrained Schemes, the makers of Shadowrun Returns, have announced a truly ambitious Kickstarter — a big, holy-crap-maybe-they’re-crazy Kickstarter that embodies what that platform is all about.
Golem Arcana is billed as “a digitally enhanced miniatures game”, but let’s call a spade a spade: it’s Skylanders for grown-ups. The game will use real miniatures imprinted with “microcodes” read with a stylus that communicates with an iOS & Android app. You physically move the pieces around the board, battling your friends’ miniatures, and the app and stylus do the heavy lifting of tracking things like hit points and inventory. It is undeniably cool, and though it sounds like it has the potential to be pretty expensive, anyone who’s still reading after seeing the words “miniatures game” knows what they’re getting into.
O’Grady from Deadsville’s Church of the Chosen Ones — he’s based on Ron Perlman.
The population zombie-themed games has grown so unmanageably large that I think it’s time someone proposed a cull. Look, I don’t like it either, but it will be quick and painless for the poor zombie games — we’ll just go through the App Store and euthanize every third one, and see if we can’t get the numbers down to around the level of infinite running games. Any zombie-themed infinite running games will be shot on the spot.
When we do go ahead with the cull, we will of course be sparing Sarah Northway’s excellent Rebuild for iOS and Android. In Rebuild, zombies have taken your whole city and you must win it back (and hold it), one block at a time. It’s a genre-defying game that cobbles together bits from RPGs, worker-placement games, city-builders, and adventure and fashions them all into a truly outstanding whole.
Northway’s been in touch to show us some art from the forthcoming Rebuild: Gangs of Deadsville. As the title implies, there’s more than just zombies in Deadsville; the sequel (first announced back in May) adds different factions to the city with whom you’ll be competing for supplies and space.
Gangs of Deadsville is going to be on Kickstarter in October — I’ve asked Northway to come by and tell us all about when it gets a little closer to kicking off.