“Ownership is dying, as it should since it’s a dinosaur.”
Mere days after Asher Vollmer and Greg Wohlwend’s compulsively playable puzzler Threes came out earlier this year, clones of the game started to appear. Games like 2048 were unabashedly riding the coattails of Threes’ rush of popularity, and themselves spawned a secondary wave of clone clones. Here at PT we made a conscious decision at the time not to cover 2048 and the imitators that joined it in mimicking Threes’ design.
Wohlwend and Vollmer (who had had their games cloned before), bemused by 2048, reacted by posting an open letter that showed the year of work that had gone into Threes and decried the ease with which the clones earned a profit off of their sweat. Reactions online ranged from full-throated support for Wohlwend and Vollmer to dismissive “that’s capitalism” defences of the clones.
Kurt Bieg of Simple Machine has decided to wade into this debate. Actually, he’s not wading — he’s diving in head-first, and throwing his co-workers in, too. Bieg is open-sourcing all of his studio’s games, starting with word game LEX. “We believe ownership is becoming obsolete,” Bieg told me. And if you’re surprised by that sentiment, he was just getting warmed up.
As the duly elected President of the Mount Hexmap Chapter of The Coding Monkeys Fan Club, it is my duty to inform you that Rules!, the fast-paced puzzle game that they announced last month, will be with us August 7th. The Monkeys call it “one part Simon Says and one part Super Hexagon”. From what I’ve seen I think it’s more like a reflex-focussed Papers, Please.
Rules is a game where the rules evolve as you play, and you have to remember what the previously established rules are when things suddenly switch up. Everything’s constantly changing and you’re never right, basically. I had a girlfriend like that once.
Now I know that when we joined this club, it was on the back of the Coding Monkeys most extraordinary digital board game conversions like Lost Cities and Carcassonne. Some members of our esteemed organisation have pointed out that Rules is not a board game at all, and having consulted the appropriate committees I have no choice but to agree. But to that I say: who cares? It’s a new Coding Monkeys game. The Coding Monkeys have never released anything that wasn’t utterly brilliant, therefore Rules shall almost certainly be brilliant, QED.
Kelsey will be reviewing Rules for us and we’ll have his verdict when the game launches. Meeting adjourned.
Sokobond is a puzzle game about making chemical compounds that requires “no chemistry knowledge” to play. I think that’s downright cowardly, but I suppose I understand the commercial impulse behind not shutting out 98% of the world’s population from buying your game.
It’s lovely, minimalist thing from indie developers Alan Hazelden and Harry Lee, puzzle specialists who were responsible for These Robotic Hearts of Mine and Stickets, respectively. Sokobond released for desktops yesterday on Steam, but its creators say that iOS & Android versions are forthcoming.
The last time we experimented with a chemistry-centric game, it turned out to be a bit of a dud. I figure we’re due for a win. Watch the trailer below.
Edward Brown’s Paint it Back, the picross-style game that PT‘s staff unanimously declared to be our favourite puzzle game of 2013, received a big update yesterday. Brown’s added a new room full of paintings to be restored — 12 to be exact, which include “Satan Explaining to Bigfoot Why He Should’ve Gotten Baptized” and “You’d Better Smile for the Smile Patrol”. You probably remember those from your visit to the Louvre. The update is free to existing owners of the app.
But there’s about to be a whole lot more owners of Paint it Back, probably. Brown told me that he’s engaged the services of Apportable to bring the game to life on Android. They’re the folks that did the Android ports of Ridiculous Fishing and Sword & Sworcery EP, “so I get an excuse to mention PiB in the same sentence as those guys,” Brown said.
That Android port should pop up on Google Play tomorrow, and the Paint it Back update is available on iOS right now.
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.
You try to come up with a funny caption for a word game.
As a general rule, most word games aren’t permitted entrance to Mount Hexmap where the Pocket Tactics magic is brewed. It’s not that word games are loathed here in the comfy confines, in fact some of them can be quite remarkable, it’s just that the remarkable ones are few and far between.
Now we have Alphabeats which meshes Scrabble (can a word game not compare itself with Scrabble?) and music games. Letters fall, Matrix-style, to the beat of a “pulse-pounding” song, forcing you to make words with them as fast as you can. On top of that, it has the aesthetic appeal of QatQi, which is something nobody can complain about.
The game comes with 6 songs from electronic artists such as Disasterpeace and Big Giant Circles, with 15+ more songs available as IAP. The app itself is $2 on the App Store.
Back when I was in college, I apparently spent way too much time drunk and trying to get laid. [emphasis on trying -ed.] As a case in point, let’s look at new developer Bedtime Digital who created Back to Bed as a student project that would eventually lead to a successful Kickstarter campaign which leads us to Back to Bed’s release on iOS and Android this August. Damn, I wasted a lot of time back then.
The entire point of Back to Bed is to control the subconscious of Bob, a narcoleptic, as he falls asleep. As his subconscious, you’ll traverse terrains resembling something from a Dali painting smashed together with M.C. Escher’s drawings. Surreal doesn’t really begin to explain it all. As Bob falls asleep, you need to manipulate each environment to get Bob back to his warm bed and keep him free from harm. Sounds easy enough, if you can handle floating eyeballs, movable fish and giant apples. You know, dream stuff. We’ve all had that giant floating eyeball dream, I’m sure.
Bedtime Digital has said that Back to Bed should be available for all platforms in August, with PC coming first and iOS and Android to follow later in the month. Check out the trailer after the break to see this thing in action.
King George was mightily displeased when he learned of Jeff Goldblum’s treachery.
Two-hundred and thirty-eight years ago yesterday, George Washington and Jeff Goldblum piloted a captured Montgolfier balloon onto the British mothership and uploaded a computer virus which disabled the King’s legions of freedom-hating Sentinel robots, providing an opening for General Lynyrd Skynyrd to lead the Continental Army to a decisive victory over the royalist forces led by Rowan Atkinson.
It is in honour of that historic act of black hat sneaker-net hacking that we celebrate the 4th of July by downloading discounted iPhone games. After the jump, let the celebrations begin.
[UPDATE, Sunday the 6th: King of Dragon Pass is on sale, too. If you're into games and you haven't played King of Dragon Pass, that's like calling yourself a movie buff having never seen a Kurosawa film. You need to play KoDP, and it only goes on sale once or twice a year, so carpe diem. It's usually ten dollars, but it's discounted to eight until Sunday night.]