There was stirring today in the fell fortress in the ruins of Nova Jersey where Gilded Skull Games have been labouring over Galactic Keep. A new development update on the game’s website details advancements made in enemy AI and the game’s map system. It was eons ago that we declared the pen-and-paper RPG-inspired iOS game on of our most keenly-awaited games of 2012, and we’re still a-waiting.
I’m perfectly content to wait, myself. I love the setting: a far-flung galaxy where a band of displaced humans are leading a multi-species rebellion against their alien captors. I love the graphics, which look like they might have popped out of a garage-printed ‘zine. I love the tabletop RPG-style dice battles. I don’t see any other games on the horizon like it, so Galactic Keep might as well take its time.
Gilded Skull have done for-hire app development jobs before, including a SpongeBob game for Nickelodeon. I asked producer Rob Lemon if Galactic Keep’s protracted development was due to contract work competing for time.
“For now it’s ‘all Galactic Keep, all the time’”, he told me. “It’s a big idea. We are still using a game design doc that was written when the project re-started. We’re fine working on it, at our own pace, until our vision has been made a reality.”
That said, the impatient among us might just have a chance to get early access to Galactic Keep somehow. “We’d also like to get it out there, into people’s hands already,” says Lemon. “We’re thinking of ways to get it out sooner… maybe an Alpha/Beta program. We’re speaking to some people who might partner with us on that.”
If you want to make your own mark on the Galactic Keep universe, Gilded Skull are running a promotion on the forums of an obscure games website called Touch Our-Cade where you can design an alien creature that will appear in-game.
You can follow Galactic Keep’s progress on Twitter. You won’t be overloaded with tweets, trust me. There’s a relatively recent trailer after the jump.
The mask is actually bonsai. Huge amount of work, very meticulous.
Though they made their bones with idyllic representations of provincial villages and educational exhibits for science museums, Norwegian developers Turbo Tape Games decided somewhere along the way that the most valuable lessons are that all life is suffering and that there’s no outfit that isn’t improved by a generous splash of blood.
Turbo Tape’s first tablet game UHR-Warlords launched yesterday for iPads. It’s most neatly described as “black metal chess” but the rules are a little more involved than that would suggest. Each turn you’re allocated a certain amount of uhr-kraft, which you spend on deploying units from a customisable deck of cards, and spend more uhr-kraft to move them about the board. You win by destroying the idols that occupy the opponent’s back row. There’s online multiplayer and two single-player campaigns.
A low atmospheric pressure area on the US West Coast originating just north of San Diego puzzled meteorologists this morning, but I know what it was. It was the collective sigh of relief emitted by Playdek as their Kickstarter for Unsung Story crossed the $600,000 funding threshold with just under a day to go.
So what does this actually mean for Playdek’s project to make a spiritual sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics? And for Playdek? And for us? Let’s break it down.
Playdek’s Kickstarter for their Final Fantasy Tactics-inspired Unsung Story is in for an exciting sprint to the finish: they need to pull down more than $30,000 per day over the final 96 hours to hit their $600,000 funding goal. This was a campaign that had stretch goals as lofty as $2.4 million, which seems massively optimistic in hindsight.
As part of their last push, the Agricola makers have been releasing updates that attempt to address some of the criticisms lodged with the strategy RPG campaign so far — lots of new gameplay details have been revealed in the past few days, including a triangular map tile system that offers more tactical nuance than squares or hexes. Yesterday’s update comes straight from the pen of Final Fantasy Tactics designer Yasumi Matsuno. We’ll see if these are sufficient to rally the cavalry charge Unsung Story needs.
Where did Playdek go wrong? Maybe the audience for Final Fantasy Tactics nostalgia isn’t all that big, but I don’t buy that. If I’m going to play Monday morning quarterback, I’d guess that Playdek didn’t do a good enough job drawing a bright line between Final Fantasy Tactics and this project. The fact that Unsung Story is a direct line descendent of FFT is an amazing unique selling point and it gets glossed over in a pitch video with a lot of talking heads and very little game on show. The words “Final Fantasy Tactics” don’t even appear in the text of the pitch until you’re about 7/8 of the way down the page. They should have been shouting that name until their lawyers started to get nervous and then shouted it a little more. Look at how frequently the Mighty No. 9 campaign references Mega Man (in both text and visuals) by comparison.
Unsung Story is a big departure from the games that Playdek made their name with, but I genuinely expect it to be a great game. Playdek’s passion for the project is evident. They’ve said that the game’s development will go forward, crowd funding or no, but I hope this pitch makes it.
Unsung Story’s pitch video and more recent Kickstarters after the jump.
After four weeks of dreary launch nights where worthwhile games were harder to find than a shower curtain in Sochi, at last we have a release Wednesday we deserve, packed to the rafters with interesting stuff.
Most notably, we’ve got Final Fantasy VI arriving at midnight where you live, or 11pm Eastern in the US. This is that unaccountably strange re-mastered edition that arrived on Android a couple of weeks ago. You know, the one where the character sprites look like somebody pulled them out of some 12-year-old’s GameMaker RPG?
I’m talking dirt but I won’t try to kid you: I’m obviously buying it as soon as it’s available on my App Store. No matter how terrible it looks (very) this is still my favorite installment in the world’s most famous RPG series.
Square’s what-were-they-thinking trailer for FFVI and the rest of tonight’s releases are after the jump.
Playdek’s Kickstarter to fund development of Unsung Story came busting out of the gates like it was on fire in its first few days, but with less than a fortnight left on the clock its pace is starting to flag. Kicktraq calculates that the pitch is on course to hit its $600,000 base target, but that Unsung Story will struggle to hit even its first stretch goal. Why is that? I’ve seen three principal criticisms levelled at Playdek’s plot to build a new tactical RPG co-created with Yasumi Matsuno, the designer of Final Fantasy Tactics.
The expansion relocates the cyberpunk/fantasy RPG from the Pacific Northwest to Berlin, and promises a new soundtrack from Sam Powell (who scored the Sega Genesis Shadowrun game from 1994), and two things that the original release really needed: more weapons and equipment (to add a bit of tactical depth to the battles) and a save anywhere system (to replace the oh-god-why-are-you-doing-this-to-me checkpoints).
I talked to Harebrained Schemes today and they wouldn’t be nailed down on the record for anything more specific than “soon” for an iPad & Android release date, but the interval between the PC release and the mobile release last year was two months. I reckon that makes April a pretty safe bet for mobile Dragonfall.
I have summoned the new Dragonfall trailer after the jump.