Posts Tagged: Sci-fi

The wright stuff: Spacewrights is an empire-builder where the empire is really built by hand

Spare me your space age technobabble, Attila the Hun.

Spare me your space age technobabble, Attila the Hun.

Soon you shall have more choices of space exploration sims than you have for mobile phone providers, TV talent competition shows, and ways to contract influenza. Aspiring Captain Kirks already have the incomparable FTL, and will soon have Tiny Trek and Interstellaria to muck around the galaxy in: you can add Spacewrights to that list.

Spacewrights calls itself a 2D empire-building game, though you will apparently be a lot more hands on than your average space Caesar. You build your own ships and control them in real-time combat and lead your own away missions to explore strange new worlds and seek out new life etc etc. This empire isn’t ever going to get its crap together if the Emperor doesn’t learn to delegate — but the game sounds fun.

Here’s a note of caution for you: this is the first release planned from Missouri-based ArithmeBit, who don’t seem daunted by such a big project. I hope they pull it off, but we’ve seen ambitious titles from first-time developers get derailed before.

You can read all about the planned features on Spacewrights’ website, and the devs tell me that there’s a Kickstarter in this game’s future. The game is in development for iOS and Android (both phones and tablets and the ever-increasing number of devices in-between) and for desktops. There’s already a playable demo for Windows.

Watch a gameplay video after the jump.

Hat-tip to Priestman at PG.

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Robo-stop: Android Netrunner online tools going offline — is the mobile version imminent?

Break the ice.

Break the ice.

PT reader Grzegorz writes:

FFG has been lately issuing cease and desist letters to a number of Android: Netrunner sites. Maybe an online version is being made by FFG after all?

Hmmm. Online tools for setting up and playing games of Android Netrunner like NetrunnerDB have been allowed to exist in an intellectual property grey zone for years now, but as Grzegorz tells us, they’ve been getting letters from board game publisher Fantasy Flight’s legal department requesting that they de-rez.

We’d heard some buzz that FFG was working on a mobile version of the hugely popular cyberpunk head-to-head card game back in January when I inventoried the prospects for digital editions of Board Game Geek‘s top 10 games, and Fantasy Flight have sent out clear signals that they’re getting back into iOS gaming this year with announcements of the Witcher Adventure Board Game and BattleLore.

That’s not exactly an airtight case for it, but I’ve got a tingly feeling that mobile Netrunner can’t be far off. Maybe this is just down to Fantasy Flight’s legal droids having some extra time on their hands, but the last time we saw a clear-out of unofficial online ports of games, it was in advance of Goko’s launch of the ill-fated HTML 5 Dominion back in 2012.

I’ll ping a note over to FFG, but their PR department is quieter than a Scientology silent birth, so don’t bet on me hearing back.

Watch Fantasy Flight’s video introduction for the Netrunner board game after the jump.

UPDATE: Pocket Tactics amigo Austin Walker offers a more conservative take on these developments. Poop.

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Looks like we’ve got us a convoy: Galaxy Trucker coming to iPad this month — and it’s awesome

It's not uncharted. You lost the chart.

It’s not uncharted. You lost the chart.

Dave was right, everybody. I shan’t ever doubt him again.

Neumann has been raving to me about Galaxy Trucker for almost as long as I’ve known him. When he speaks of the forthcoming Galaxy Trucker iPad game, his voice gets all whispery, like a little kid trying to talk about Santa without the Saint of Surveillance overhearing.

Dave’s enthusiasm is moderately infectious, but I’ll admit that (maybe because I haven’t played the board game) I wasn’t totally sold. Until last night. That’s when Dave and I got our press preview builds of Galaxy Trucker, and wow — this game is tip-top.

Galaxy Trucker for has been in the works in-house at board game publisher Czech Games Edition since at least early 2013, and the protracted development cycle mixed with a studio that had never shipped an iOS game before wasn’t exactly a potent grog of confidence. But you can pour that right out. Galaxy Trucker is a great iOS app for a really exciting game and it’s going to go over huge around here.

In Galaxy Trucker, you and your opponents are placed before a random pile of spaceship parts out of which you must assemble a functioning star freighter — in real time. You’re all pulling parts out of the same pile, and there’s a bonus for finishing first. Once the ships are complete, you head out into space dealing with random events that can blast parts off your ship or provide you with a bonus when (if) you reach your destination. It’s a beautiful balance of strategic planning and absolute chaos, and I instantly fell in love with it. For his part, Neumann has wrapped himself and his iPad in a waxy cocoon and from which no sounds have emanated all day — pretty sure he likes it, too.

It’s not just the quality of the game, as that will be no surprise to fans of the board game. The Galaxy Trucker app is great. There’s a significant single-player campaign with a lot of content. There’s a robust online multiplayer suite that sports async and synchronous matches with lots of toggles like chess timer limits and tile selection. The whole thing is steeped in a wonderfully charming sense of humour. This is one hell of a good game.

CGE told me today that the game has been submitted to Apple for approval and release is soon — before the end of September, they expect. I’ll be sure to let you know when it drops. And when Neumann comes out of that cocoon.

More screenshots after the jump.

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DOOP or die: Tiny Trek must ship this year

Christmas boarding party.

Christmas (boarding) party.

Last week I talked to Chris Carson, the creator of Tiny Trek, one of our most-anticipated games of the year. The open-world procedurally-generated space exploration adventure has been in development since last year and Carson has posted sporadic progress reports on the page of his successful Kickstarter for the title. The game was originally planned for release in May — clearly Carson’s plan to turn back time by slingshotting around the sun in a captured Bird-of-Prey didn’t pan out. Sorry whales.

But Carson tells me that Tiny Trek will be released this year without fail — and there’s a good reason to believe him. “If I don’t have it done and submitted to Apple before the 24th of December I lose the name,” quoth Carson. “Hence, it must be done one way or another before then!”

So there it is. It’s Christmas or bust for Tiny Trek, or Carson will have to find a new name and start drumming up awareness for the title all over again. Carson knows how to ship a title when he needs to; his studio Gamesare has shipped about a dozen of them, including the minimalist iOS 4X Vincere Totus Astrum.

The game itself is looking good — there’s a real Starflight feel to the galaxy map that I particularly appreciate. Watch a gameplay video after the jump.

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Out Tonight: Phantom Rift, Dragon Quest I, Kapsula, and some other stuff I guess

I.. don't know where you heard that, Comrade.

I.. don’t know where you heard that, Comrade.

I’m interested in exactly three games tonight. There’s Phantom Rift, the latest offering from Block Fortress makers Foursaken Media, the most productive all-sibling development team this side of the Trese Brothers. There’s Squeenix’s iOS port of Dragon Quest I (aka Dragon Warrior), the three-decade-old NES game that is essentially the ur-JRPG. And there’s Kapsula, which is the sort of game we’d not usually cover on PT but I have two very good reasons for making the exception.

Those reasons (along with trailers and chat) after the jump.

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Satellite tournament: Sci-fi card game Starbase Annex submitted to Apple

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Xin-krek have mercy.

Xin-krek have mercy.

Rocco Bowling got in touch over the weekend with good news: Starbase Annex has been submitted to the App Store for certification, so barring any Apple objections over the way Director Paramecium reproduces or the game’s depiction of the Vass and Cyban as “enemies“, we should be able to buy it in the next week or two.

You might remember Starbase Annex from when Rocco revealed it to us back in July — it’s a single-player digital board game set in the same universe as his sci-fi 4X game Starbase Orion, which no doubt saved Rocco a bundle on artists’ fees. I’ve played a beta build of Annex and it’s really very clever; a little bit of Hearthstone and a dash of Eclipse that you play against one of Bowling’s characteristically brutal AIs.

You’ve got a face-up deck of cards with different point values, and every turn you get points to put those cards on the board based on how many stars you control. Once per turn you can move those cards around to capture enemy cards of equal or lesser value, and in certain circumstances you can combine two of your cards to make a more powerful one. It’s an outwardly simple thing whose complexity you only start to grasp once you’ve spent an hour with it, like an IKEA couch I tried to assemble once.

There’s no multiplayer in here but there’s a big ‘ol single-player campaign that I suspect will provide at least a week or two of entertainment for most, though if you’re as hopeless at beating Bowling’s AIs as I am, you’ll be able to beat your head against this thing for years.

I’ll be sure to let you know when Starbase Annex drops, and there’s a couple of screenshots below.

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Weekend Price Drops: Hit Yourself Edition

Assassins free.

Assassins free.

I’ve written before of my affection for Square Enix’s beautifully realised Hitman GO, and now (lucky me) I have the opportunity to do so again: it’s the “Free Game of the Month” courtesy of IGN.

Some PT readers have reported that the slightly Byzantine process required to redeem your free copy – which I’m told entails a loyalty oath, a geography quiz, and a small (mostly painless) hot-iron brand of the IGN logo on a forearm — can be a bit tricky, but it’s probably worth it. Hitman GO is one of the year’s best puzzle games and is reassuring proof that AAA studios can make mobile games that aren’t icky free-to-play garbage.

To get your free iOS Universal copy of Hitman GO, roll up one sleeve and visit this URL. Supplies are apparently limited so don’t dawdle.

More discounts after the jump.

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New Release Appendix: Heavy Metal Thunder, Etherlords, and Leaping Lemmings

I can tell you from experience: you're not going to get a good seal on that space helmet if you don't trim that beard, son.

I can tell you from experience: you’re not going to get a good seal on that space helmet if you don’t trim that beard, son.

In my rush to prepare dinner for Lady F and myself yesterday evening (Owen’s famous Coronation Chicken Salad, by the by) it appears that I did an injustice to last night’s releases. Besides Valiant Hearts and the other launches we covered, there’s a fair few other noteworthy titles out worldwide right now.

Let’s have a browse.

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