Posts Tagged: Sci-fi

I’m the captain now: Vlaada Chvátil talks to us about Galaxy Trucker for iPad

Your cards ain't worth a dime if you don't lay 'em down.

Your cards ain’t worth a dime if you don’t lay ‘em down.

If you’ve been hanging out with us for the last couple of weeks, you know that we’re pretty well jazzed about Galaxy Trucker, the iPad adaptation of the board game of the same name that’s coming out this Monday.

After 2013′s flood of top-quality board games for iOS (Agricola, Pandemic, Brief History of the World, Lords of Waterdeep… just to name a few), this year there’s been barely a trickle. Dave and I have been playing a preview build of Galaxy Trucker, and it’s easily good enough to compete with that beautiful 2013 bumper crop.

Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised. Vlaada Chvátil, the designer of Galaxy Trucker and the head honcho at publisher Czech Games Edition has a career that spans the worlds of tabletop and video games. Chvátil is a bona fide board game legend thanks to designs like Space Alert, Mage Knight, and Through The Ages on his CV, but his first notable game design was the 2001 PC RTS Original War, a cult hit that still has an enthusiastic following today.

After the jump, I ask Vlaada Chvátil about Galaxy Trucker and where he sees the intersection of board games and digital platforms taking us in the future.

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The coming of the machines: Legions of Steel in beta, due out on iOS & Android before year’s end

Tom Servo, why have you forsaken us

Tom Servo, why have you forsaken us

“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.

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Out Tonight: Smarter Than You, Anomaly Defenders, Interstellar, and more

It's like Red Rover, but with lasers.

It’s like Red Rover, but with lasers.

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.

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Towering crescendo: Anomaly Defenders turns your coat tonight

"We're not putting up with those leafers this year."

“We’re not putting up with those leafers this year.”

Polish studio 11-bit’s Anomaly series of tower offense games was so popular that for a few years they were an Anomaly factory, steadily cranking out new editions of the game and little else. They’ve been broadening their horizons this year with announcements of the refugee survival sim This War of Mine and the multiplayer strategy game Spacecom, but before they move on they’ve got a good-bye letter to the games that launched them on their way — one where you fight on behalf of the “bad guys”.

The previous games in the Anomaly series imagine an alien invasion of Earth. These aliens have unimaginably advanced technology but — lucky for mankind — have never played a TD game, so they plop their base structures down in a labyrinth for your intrepid human special ops chaps to navigate. Playing as the creeps rather than the towers has always given the Anomaly games a distinct vein to tap in an over-mined genre: there’s multiple paths through the mazes, tactically interesting special abilities, and customisable unit composition. 11-bit’s titles have been the pinnacle of tower defense production values, with big Michael Bay effects and full voice acting.

Anomaly Defenders flips it all around. The humans are the invaders now, bringing the fight to the aliens’ world. The aliens have recruited you to fight a delaying action against your former comrades, giving them time to skeddadle and prevent your race from committing genocide in their lust for revenge. It’s the first “traditional” (if a seven-year-old game genre can have traditions) tower defense game in the series, and it’s got a hell of an interesting premise. You Benedict.

Anomaly Defenders is 11-bit’s final installment in this series, and it’s out on Android right this very minute; it’ll drop for iOS at midnight tonight. Watch the trailer after the jump.

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First trailer for Galaxy Trucker will separate your saucer [UPDATED]

She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself.

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.

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Abominable behaviour: Yeti’s Parole Officer is the latest IF from Choice of Games

Doing "Harry and the Hendersons" was actually part of his sentence.

Doing “Harry and the Hendersons” was actually part of his sentence.

If you’ve heard a better pitch for a game this year than one in which you play the parole officer responsible for giant cryptid in the far future, please post it to me immediately. That’s exactly what Choice of Games have for us this week in their latest iOS & Android gamebook, Yeti’s Parole Officer.

You are the case officer for the Pan-Galactic Prisons Bureau, responsible for not just the Yeti but also Mothman, the Chupacabra, and Nessie. You’re the Men in Black’s version of Loren Coleman, keeping the people of Earth in the dark about the existence of monsters among them. I sincerely hope this game is as entertaining as its premise.

There’s good reason to believe it is: Choice of Games’ interactive fiction is reliably good. Their sci-fi epic The Fleet warped off with our Interactive Fiction Game of the Year runner-up award last year. CoG’s engine is looking increasingly dated in the face of the exquisite artifacts that Inkle make like 80 Days, but good IF writing is still good IF writing, no matter how lovely the wrapper.

Yeti’s Parole Officer is going to be out this week, September 26th, on iOS and on Android.

Ante matter: Sci-fi card game Starbase Annex is out now on iOS

Ante matter.

Cleared to dock.

Starbase Orion creator Rocco Bowling’s latest game is now out worldwide on the App Store. Starbase Annex is set in the same universe as Bowling’s Master of Orion-inspired 4X game but it’s much simpler. Despite the 4X theme, this is definitely the least complex game that Chimera Software have put out yet, so don’t go into this expecting a card-driven Twilight Struggle featuring Bowling’s creepy-crawly aliens or anything.

An individual game of Starbase Annex plays quickly: you get points to buy ship and colony cards that you lay on a hex board across from your opponent, then manoeuvre your fleets to try and capture hers’. There’s no multiplayer here, just a nice, long single-player campaign against increasingly devious AIs. It’s good light entertainment and there’s plenty of it.

Rocco told us right here in the PT Forums that an Android version is in the works, but for now this one’s just on the App Store for $2.

Sunday Almanac: Odds, Ends and Odd Ends

Lady F and I were at the RA this weekend to see the Dennis Hopper photography exhibit, and were greeted by this installation of U-boats on the way in. None of the young ticket-rippers working that day seemed to know who the artist was or what the work was called.

Lady F and I were at the RA this weekend to see the Dennis Hopper photography exhibit, and were greeted by this installation of U-boats lurking in the entryway. None of the young ticket-rippers working that day seemed to know who the artist was or what the work was called. Sorry about the glare — unlike Mr Hopper I’m a crummy photographer.

This week’s Almanac isn’t a story or a rant; it’s just a clear-out. My sinister office here at PT HQ high atop Mount Hexmap is almost completely papered over with post-its and notes written to myself on the backs of Woolworth receipts and racing forms — I can hardly keep my plans for superweapons straight from my schematics for mind control devices. Intolerable.

After the jump: small updates from developers we care about and stuff that has slipped through the cracks over the last couple of weeks.

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