The only thing harder than making a hit video game is making a hit video game twice.
Sweden’s Mojang has ridden the truly phenomenal success of Minecraft — their first and only commercial game release, originally the project of solo coder Markus “Notch” Persson — all the way to a $2.5 billion acquisition by Microsoft last month. Following up on a hit is tough (Rovio and OMGPOP and Vanilla Ice all nod somewhere), but following up on what might be the biggest hit in history… how do you do that?
Last week, I spoke with three of the folks at Mojang who are charged with that very task. Owen Hill, Måns Olson, and Henrik Pettersson who are working on Scrolls, Mojang’s sophomore effort — a fantasy card game that they plan to release on PC, Android tablets, and iPad simultaneously next month.
FNG Alex picks a game we hadn’t even covered before. That kid’s got moxie.
The summer — horrible, horrible summer — is finally over. The fickle sun now favours that mysterious other hemisphere and won’t throw its awful unblinking glare onto your iPad screens any longer. Put away your parasols and desert canteens. The outdoors are safe for gaming again.
What games did the PT druid circle choose as their favourites of the summer’s twilight? After the jump, Jacob, Clancy, Kelsey, Owen, and FNG Alex tell you all about their picks.
If we ain’t outta here in ten minutes, we won’t need no rocket to fly through space.
This week’s Almanac was originally going to be a rant at EA over the new SimCity BuildIt details that they divulged to Pocket Gamer‘s intrepid Mark Brown. But as Typhoid Mary once said: I’m not worried about all that crap.
I interviewed designer Vlaada Chvatil about this game on Friday and if I interpret the howls emanating from the PT Writers’ Dungeon correctly, Neumann should be putting the finishing touches on our review momentarily. But here’s the short version: this game is damn good, and you’re going to be playing it tonight for longer than you’d planned. I’ve taken the liberty of preparing some excuses you can use when you turn up to the office an hour late tomorrow morning.
“The boiler exploded.”
“My wife/husband has become the Gatekeeper/Keymaster of Gozer the Gozerian.”
“Time is an illusion/flat circle.”
One of those should do the trick. Sunday links after the jump.
“Far in the future,” says the fluff for Slitherine’s forthcoming Legions of Steel, “factions from the Milky Way are forming a military coalition. Their target: The Empire of the Machines, a fearsome robotic authority that endangers the whole galaxy.” If you bought one of those fancy AI thermostats for your house, this is all your fault.
Legions of Steel is borrowing a page from Terminator there, but it’s borrowing the rest of the book from a semi-obscure board game of the same name from the early 90s. Tabletop Legions of Steel was a tactical miniatures game that developed a cult following but never broke through to the same level as Warhammer.
But some folks have never forgotten it — especially not the guys at French developer Studio Nyx, who acquired the rights to Legions of Steel a couple of years ago and have been toiling away ever since. The game is now in full-on beta for both PC and tablets, and unusually for a Slitherine-published game, it’s planned for a simultaneous release on all of those platforms.
Legions of Steel is due out before the end of the year, Slitherine tell me, and the turn-based sci-fi corridor brawls will no doubt be welcomed by those who were a little underwhelmed by Space Hulk‘s rough-around-the-edges adaptation last year. There’s both online multiplayer and single-player scenarios in the mix. Slitherine are looking for beta testers on all platforms, and you can find those details here.
More screenshots and a gameplay video after the jump.
We already talked about Anomaly Defenders this morning, 11-bit’s sci-fi tower defence game that casts you Ender Wiggin-style into the role of protecting the aliens you were once trying to exterminate. Edgy, but that’s not the most new interesting story on the App Store tonight. That crown belongs to Luca Redwood, the maker of the wonderfully original puzzle game 10000000.
Redwood has got a very unusual new game for us: Smarter Than You, which he’s calling a “social duelling game”. It’s a Game Center-driven asynchronous paper-rock-scissors game where the power of the attacks varies every round and you have the chance to deceive your opponent about your intentions. But that’s not the weird bit. I’ll tell you that (and show you the rest of tonight’s worthwhile releases) after the jump.
She may not look like much, but she’s got it where it counts, kid. I’ve made a lot of special modifications myself.
“Hey, didn’t you just write about Galaxy Trucker last week?” Yep. I did. Here’s the deal: I am head over heels in friggin’ love with Galaxy Trucker. I never knew before that I wanted to be the captain of a galactic garbage scow cobbled together from random parts and race other junkers on freight-hauling runs, but I did.
Galaxy Trucker is the top-class board-game-to-digital adaptation we’ve been waiting all year for. It’s strategic and rewards planning without feeling heavy or inaccessible. It’s light-hearted and fun but in a clever, knowing way. The quality of the app takes a little while to truly appreciate because of the cartoony graphics, but it’s one of the best thought-out UIs I’ve seen in some time. It’s got more multiplayer options than an octopus brothel.
Basically, if you read this site because you share my taste in games, then you’re going to want to get Galaxy Trucker for iPad when it comes out in the next week or so. It’s that good.
If you don’t share my taste in games, then please accept my humble apologies now, because there’s going to be more Galaxy Trucker content coming from us. I’m working on an interview with designer Vlaada Chvatil and Dave’s cracking on with our review.
In the meantime, watch this first trailer for Galaxy Trucker — it perfectly captures the game’s droll sense of humour and shows off some gameplay. It’s after the jump.
UPDATE: Czech Games Edition have said on Twitter that Galaxy Trucker will be out next Monday, the 29th of September. Why Monday and not the more typical Wednesday, you ask? QUIT COMPLAINING.
Woohoo – Apple approved us just now! We still need a few days to prepare everything, but we are ready to roll on Sept 29th!
This has been Hunted Cow’s Summer of Licensing Love. The Scottish developers have already lined up partnerships with Victory Point Games and Decision Games to bring their tabletop titles to digital, and they just told me that they’ve got one more hook-up to announce.
Hunted Cow have agreed to bring Dan Verssen Games’ Lightning War series of hobby card games to iOS, Android, and desktops, with the first title arriving in Q2 of 2015. The Lightning War games include five tabletop card games released between 2004 and 2008; four WWII-themed games and a modern “War on Terror” one. Hunted Cow’s deal extends to the entire quintet.
The Lightning War games are quick, low-complexity card games that simulate historical battles. In the D-Day game, for example, there’s five cards in the middle of the table representing the five beaches assaulted in Operation Overlord — each of the two players (Axis vs Allies) has cards marked with historical units that he plays to counter his opponent’s moves and take the beaches. A whole head-to-head match takes less than an hour.