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.
I would take the bus a lot more if it were a whale bus.
I am perennially flabbergasted that there are no worthwhile city-builders on mobile. The single video game genre that is most suited to touchscreens is plagued with games that are either buggy and crash-prone (SimCity Deluxe) or cute but vapid (Pixel People) — or just freemium hamster wheels (too many to catalogue).
In my inbox last night there appeared an iota of hope for the city-builder. Underwater Metropolis will be an iOS & Android urban design sim from Eleventh Level Interactive, an outfit in Vancouver with a repertoire of casual games on their CV. You may have guessed already that Underwater Metropolis takes place at the bottom of the ocean, and your citizens are fish, whales, and other sea life.
“We are taking our inspiration from the classic city builders from a decade or so ago on the PC,” the almost-anagrammatically-named COO Troy Otway told me. But in channelling Caesar III and SimCity 4, Eleventh Level are producing something that also borrows from BioShock and Spongebob. I’ll have what they’re having, please.
Ground Pounders — a sci-fi Panzer General with cross-platform multiplayer — is normally a game I’d Kickstart without a second thought. Here’s the thing: developer Kerberos has burned me before — but then they (mostly) won me back.
I was a big fan of Sword of the Stars, a PC 4X game that the studio shipped in a state of disarray in 2006 and slowly patched into a minor masterpiece. So when Sword of the Stars II was announced a few years later, I put my money down in advance. Kerberos had made a fan out of me.
At launch, Sword of the Stars II was worse than shoddy — it felt like a tech demo. For bad tech. Many Kerberos fans (myself included) clung to the hope that SotS II would follow the same trajectory as its predecessor, but that’s not what happened. After publisher Paradox kicked Kerberos to the curb, the studio abandoned Sword of the Stars II while it was still buggier than a Tijuana hostel — and they spouted half-truths and contempt the whole time.
When Kerberos re-appeared last year, hat in hand, looking for funds to make a roguelike RPG set in the SotS sci-fi universe, I didn’t look kindly upon the proposition. But Kerberos held true to their word, and made a good, polished game in Sword of the Stars: The Pit for PC, and supported it post-launch with patches and expansion packs. It would be an exaggeration to say that I love Kerberos again, but The Pit made up more ground with me than I ever expected.