In a reversal of fortune not seen since Randolph and Mortimer Duke bought orange juice futures, Android users can today play the classic Infinity Engine role-playing game Icewind Dale on their devices while iOS users are flat out of luck. It’s almost as if everything I’ve ever believed has been proven to be a lie. It’s as if the sun rose in the west and….okay, you get it. I’ll stop.
The original plan was for Icewind Dale to appear on all platforms simultaneously today, but there were some snags with the Apple submission process requiring Beamdog to resubmit the app yesterday. So, gloat while you can, Android users, it should be available for iOS in a week or two.
If you’ve followed any of Beamdog’s other ports of classic Infinity Engine games, like Baldur’s Gate or Baldur’s Gate 2, you’ll know that this release is an “Enhanced Edition”. In the BG titles, that meant new characters, quests, classes and more. Icewind Dale is pretty much a 40-hour long dungeon crawl consisting of very little story and a whole ton of combat. Also, unlike the BG games where you created one character and NPCs would join your group, here you create a full party of six. So, what’s “enhanced” about this new edition, then? We have new spells and items to find, new kits for different classes, quests that were cut from the original, and it also includes both the Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster expansion packs. Put all that together with the original game, and you’ve got a ton of CRPG goodness here.
In August, Wizards of the Coast introduced the latest edition of the venerable Dungeons & Dragons, at which time we also learned that a fairly comprehensive suite of digital tools for tablets was coming down the pike called Dungeonscape. This morning Trapdoor Technologies posted their last post regarding Dungeonscape, indicating that they and Wizards have severed ties and Dungeonscape is no longer a thing. What the serious hell?
As late as Tuesday they were still sending out beta invites to PC and Android users, so I’m guessing this decision came as quite a shock to Trapdoor. Now, instead of more invites we’ve been told that the beta will cease at noon tomorrow.
I was just accepted into the beta earlier this week and found the product to be a bit rough, but serviceable and had been told that the PC version I was testing was the furthest behind with most of their resources focused on the tablet versions. So, what went wrong? We won’t know until we get some more information which doesn’t seem to be forthcoming from either party at this stage.
Anyone who has followed WotC’s stewardship of D&D probably isn’t too surprised. Each edition they’ve produced has had promises of digital tools, none of which ever evolved into what was promised. Will we ever get digital tools for D&D that work on our tablets? At this point, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
After the break, Trapdoor sits with Russ Morrissey from EnWorld at GenCon and shows us what might have been.
Sometimes I wonder just how far we’ll go into the recursive, navel-gazing abyss of games concerning–and styled after–older games. “In Merlin’s Adventure of the Schoolyard Heroes you play one of several fantasy archetypes (represented by digital HeroClix miniatures) reliving a game of tag during recess at their childhood village’s daycare–narrative psychotherapy by the great wizard, Merlin. Hiding is accomplished by angrily throwing dice around Merlin’s office. For each other player your character recalls finding, you engage in a dungeon raid with small dolls, both in your memories and with Merlin, using action figures holding other, smaller action figures.”
More often, though, I just think about the promising line-up of reasonably themed digital “tabletop” games we have now (and that I can always call up my local Dungeon Master if I ever get too close to ludic Limbo). Playtap Games have just released their first update for procedurally generated dungeon crawler Card Dungeon, and it looks to fix many of the quibbles that Owen brought up in his review.
Gilded Skull Games first update on the Galactic Keep Dice Battles website was back in September of 2012, but it’s been floating around since before Pocket Tactics was a glint in Owen’s eye. Many years later and we’re mostly still in the dark. Oh, sure, we’ve had preview builds played and other updates, but the official webpage hasn’t been updated since February.
Turns out I’ve been looking in the wrong place. Gilded Skull has been posting updates in the forums over at TouchArcade, the latest update popping up just yesterday. From the sound of it, Galactic Keep Dice Battles is nearing completion. All the maps and scripted events are finished with the only apparent issue being that the game doesn’t care for closing during a scripted event. They also need to tweak some of the graphical elements, but are expecting to head into the bug squashing and play balance phase soon.
After reading Owen’s thoughts about his time with the alpha version, I can’t wait to get my hands on this one as well. Trailer after the break.
One of the most anticipated titles announced at Gen Con was Obsidian Entertainment porting over Paizo‘s card-based RPG, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. Since the announcement, however, things have been dark on the Pathfinder front. In fact, we didn’t even have any official screenshots, just some pictures of the game on a monitor. Yesterday the darkness began to fade away when I spoke with Shane DeFreest and Nathan Davis of Obsidian Entertainment.
The slowdown in gaming Kickstarters that we could all sense in the air has been empiricized by some data collected by games industry consultants ICO Partners. The big crowdfunding gold rush of 2012/13 that spawned Banner Saga and El Alamein is no more: the overall take for video game campaigns this year is on track to be a little less than half of what it was the year before.
We’re still seeing successes of course, but it’s niche stuff like Yardmaster rather than big commercial projects, but I’m cool with that. If you’re reading this, you’re one of the 0.001% of video game consumers that spends time reading about games — I think that makes us niche. But clearly, Kickstarter projects for games will look different next year: less frequent, smaller dollar amounts.
After the jump, we catch up with the Trese Brothers’ Star Traders 2 campaign and look in on some new ones.
Ever notice that the Air Elemental looks like Mr Glitch from Math Man?
Veteran readers will recall this site’s torrid affair with Dream Quest, a goofily psychedelic and artistically unambitious iOS morsel that just happens to offer some of freshest and most interesting gameplay in memory. I don’t mean to suggest that this affair is over. Oh no.
Months after release Dream Quest still occupies an exalted place on my devices (protected from The Great iOS 8 Update Memory Clear-out of ’14) and is regularly fired up for another couple of runs. The unique combination of deck-building and roguelike is exquisite, and there’s so many cards, enemies, and character classes to learn. It’s a game you could spend months… years mastering.
We’re not the only ones enraptured by Peter Whalen’s gem: Dream Quest’s fans include Richard Garfield, the creator of Magic: The Gathering, Android Netrunner and a giant catalog of other great games.
“He actually sent me a very nice e-mail,” Whalen told me this morning. “Apparently he’s been really enjoying the game and even mentions it on his Facebook page. We’ve talked a bit and he had a lot of valuable feedback. Getting a chance to meet him and talk about design has definitely been one of the high points of my (fledgling) career in games.”
So what’s in this update, and what did one of the most legendary living game designers contribute to it?
I thought fighting was what you were *supposed* to do in the mead hall.
After a summer of teasing that the game was close to release, narrative-driven tactical RPG Banner Saga finally arrived for iOS overnight. Even if you didn’t play the PC version of the game, the name might be sounding a horn for you — it was one of the first wave of huge Kickstarter successes back in 2012.
The Banner Saga is an gigantic achievement of game — it’s all hand-animated and looks like a Viking XCOM produced by Don Bluth. It got mostly positive reviews earlier this year on PC, including a generally agreeable nod from our man Phil. I think it’s a remarkable artefact of the strategy games renaissance that we’re in. Not only are strategy games mainstream again, but they’re objects of extraordinary artistic effort — which isn’t really something you could have said about most of the tactical titles from the first golden age of the 1990s.