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iOS Board Games

Among the best things in life is playing printed games in person with family and close friends. When those are not convenient we like iOS Board Games. News, reviews, previews, and opinions about board gaming on iPhones, iPads, iPods and even Android devices. (iPhone board games, iPad board games, iPod board games, Android board games)

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Preview: Tabletopia

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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To start out, for those that are not familiar, Tabletopia is not a collection of digital board games, rather it is a tool to play board games digitally. This is an important distinction. Like its predecessor Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia does not feature per-game rules enforcement or any other features we’ve come to expect from digital board games such as AI players, tutorials, animations, etc. Unlike Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia features licensed games that you will recognize as well as some light turn and game setup logic built in with hobby board games in mind. Tabletopia lies in a space between Vassal and the digital board gaming singularity. Last week, Dave and I tried a game on Tabletopia and what follows is a report on the results.



The Games
At this early access stage of Tabletopia there is already a good crop of recognizable games. I won’t list them all here but some that stood at to me were: Zooloretto, Scythe, Village, Viticulture, Imperial Settlers, Terra Mystica, Alien Frontiers, Mage Wars Academy, Keyflower, Tigris and Euphrates, Eight Minute Empires, Keltis, and Samurai. They currently boast 223 games though some of those are card or traditional games. It is an impressive list.

Diving in to play last week, Dave and I soon discovered that the games we were familiar with fell into two camps: older games we were familiar with but had not played in a while and newer games that we had heard of but did not know how to play. Since to play we had to know the rules, this provided quite the dilemma for us. Ultimately we decided on Nations the Dice Game and used the included rulebook link to refresh ourselves on the rules.



Gameplay
The game launched after a brief loading process with the first round already prepped. That meant that tiles for the first round were laid out and we each had our dice and tokens. Since we did not discover the forced round rules until later on(it locks the game to you expect when it is your turn), our game started a bit slowly. We decided that I would go first and we figured out to roll dice by right clicking. In fact, right clicking on any object will pop up a wheel of possible actions.

Playing the game worked much like a tabletop board game. We rolled dice, acquired tiles, scored points, and cleared the board. Everything was free and accessible so we had to follow the rules ourselves. Luckily we are friends and familiar with each other, so there was no one cheating or just throwing pieces around (which you can do). Tabletopia is playable with random players, but I fear that you may run across some bad apples.



The End
Things started slow but by the end we felt like true experts. Initially I thought I’d never play like this again, but by the end I was confident I could do this again with friends (still wary about you randos). It really was a total 180 in attitude.

One weird thing about the end of the game is there was no fanfare, I guess like a real tabletop game. We finished, counted out VP and just sort of sat there. Actually, as far as we could tell, there was no official way to close the game after you finish.

The Future
Tabletopia seems to be shaping up well and the game list is quite large. While only on PC and Mac for now, it is planned for tablets. We will for sure keep an eye out on this game as it develops.
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Tue Apr 12, 2016 3:00 pm
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iOS/Android designer diary: The One Night Ultimate Werewolf/Vampire app

Ted Alspach
United States
Louisville
Tennessee
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Preorder One Night Ultimate Werewolf now from www.beziergames.com
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Game design for the One Night Ultimate Werewolf games, including One Night Ultimate Vampire (shipping to KS backers soon, and available in retail in a few months), involves a whole plethora design and development tasks. In my designer diary for One Night Ultimate Vampire, I talk about how the gameplay for the game and roles in the game were created and evolved, and here I’m going to talk about the free app.

If you aren’t familiar with the app, it’s free for iOS/Android and works on phones and tablets. It’s had one major update already, when Daybreak launched, and at that time we added several new features, but for the most part they were all “add-on” features - they just were bolted on to the app however they fit. For Vampire, the app has been totally rethought and redesigned, while ensuring that we kept the things that people love about the app: ease of use and quick in-and-out gameplay.

As a game designer, I spend a lot of time reading reviews and comments about my games on BGG. It’s a little narcissistic if you just read the comments for people who rate the game a 10, and it can be downright depressing to read the 1 2 3 rating comments. But I read them all, because I want to know what is working and what isn’t for players of my games, so I can learn what I need to do to better next time. For games with a companion app, like One Night, I also read Google Play and iTunes reviews to see how the app is being received.

What’s good, what’s bad
The app research resulted in the following takeaways for the app:

Pro: Everyone loves Eric Summerer’s voice work. Player who noodle with the settings like Ashly Burch’s voice work as well, but Eric takes the crown here.

Pro: The app is super convenient, and the overall UI works really well.

Pro: The app is free. People love free.

Con: The nighttime narration can take too long sometimes.

Con: The Doppelganger role is confusing (this is commentary from both the game and the app).

Con: New players are confused that all the roles aren’t shown in the app (Villager, Tanner, Hunter, Bodyguard, Prince, Cursed).

Con: There’s no way to pause the narration and/or timer when an out-of-game event occurs (doorbell, baby crying, etc.).

Con: It wasn’t obvious where to go to change the Game Timer settings.

Con: It wasn’t obvious where to change any other settings, either.

Immediate fixes
There were also two issues that were (in my mind) egregious enough to fix them in an minor bug-fix update:

Issue: There was a bug on Android that prevented users from changing the hardware volume while in the app. While this didn’t make it unplayable, it caused a lot of issues for people who launched the app with their volume very low initially.

Issue: One of the new Daybreak app features, which added a new screen of dialog (and related narration) to every night right before players were told to wake up (it asked them to move their cards around slightly with their eyes closed), was loved by some and hated by others. Of course, the haters were very vocal about their displeasure with this new feature.

The Android sound bug was simply a bug that was easy to fix (I’m not a developer, and with my background in product management, all “little” bugs are easy to fix…hahaha). The “Move your cards around” issue was different. Because some people loved it I couldn’t just take it away, so instead a new option was added to the options screen that allowed players to turn it on and off as needed.

Getting the app prepared for Vampire
With my list of pro’s and con’s I started making a list of the enhancements I’d like for the app, adding screenshots and as much detail as possible. Of course, I also had the new Vampire-specific functionality to deal with, which meant even more new features and changes.

The most critical things with any One Night game release-related app enhancements are (1) to add all the new roles and (2) figure out how they integrated with the existing app roles. In addition, I really wanted the new narration in place early for testing purposes, even before the final roleset was determined; with Daybreak I waited until late in the process to do this, and it resulted in lots of late-stage changes to gameplay that put more pressure on me than I was comfortable with.

I sent the first list of role narration to Eric Summerer back in December 2014, and because he’s a consummate professional, he turned them around like he always does in a few days. I had the initial set of narration audio on December 10th, and after my developer turned it around pretty quickly, that allowed me to do testing of the app AND the game right away.

The above paragraph makes it seem like I got the audio files, gave them to my developer, and I was able to test, just like that. Nothing could be further from the truth. Prior to getting the script to Eric, I had to figure out the entire order and logistical mess that is now One Night Ultimate [lots-of-stuff]. Some of the ordering was very apparent, because most of the new roles that add Marks into the game happen in a pretty solid block. But others had to be squeezed in between other existing roles. Not only that, but there is a ridiculous amount of logic that is required for the app to spit out the correct narration based on various combo’s of roles. Every audio file/screen has a series of “show if X is in the game” and “Show if X is NOT in the game”. For instance, the narration that tells players to look at their marks halfway through the night only plays if one of the new Mark-adding characters is active…so those characters had to be listed out for that line. Some of the role interactions are incredibly complex too: The Apprentice Assassin and Assassin narration is very different if one or both of them are active.

Then there’s the Doppelganger. Hardcore One Night players love the Doppelganger. I love the Doppelganger, too. However, with Vampire, the Doppelganger has resulted in spaghetti logic that required a two-story whiteboard to comprehend, let alone figure out. There were times that I seriously considered placing a line in the Vampire rulebook that said “You can’t use the Doppelganger with Vampire” which would have saved a ton of time and at least one punchboard from having to be included in the shipping box. But I stuck to it, and worked out most of the kinks (there could still be some edge cases out there that no one has found yet, but I’m sure that the previously-mentioned hardcore players will let me know when something isn’t right).

Here’s a look at a portion of the spreadsheet I use to track the narration in the game:



The other issue that I had been in denial about was that with all the new characters in Vampire (and any unlocked stretch goals during the KS campaign), the roles wouldn’t fit on the screen. They just barely fit for Daybreak/Bonus Pack 1, and they had to be reduced in size in order to work there. I didn’t want to go any smaller than the Daybreak edition of the app, so some sort of way to have more roles would have to be incorporated. Ultimately, we went with a scrolling list, that’s ordered by night wake up order. But even with that, I knew that the majority of players would have just the base set, or some combination of games that weren’t all of them, and to make everyone scroll through characters that they didn’t have was bad design. Buttons across the top of the app that show the different games/bonus packs were the solution to that, allowing players to turn entire games on and off at once.

The New Features

I then went through and focused on each of the major cons I found when doing my research, attempting to solve them in a way that wouldn’t compromise the integrity of the app.

Expert Mode: To solve the “nighttime narration takes too long” issue, I developed a special mode called “expert mode” where the narration is limited to critical directions, and not the long, drawn out rules that usually are played. This effectively cut nighttimes down by about 50%. The werewolf screens, with this option on are “Werewolves wake up. [pause x seconds] Werewolves close your eyes.” If you change the role timer to 0 (or just turn it off), this speeds through the night like you wouldn’t believe. Of course, to do this required a whole new set of audio files and screens (yay, more busy work).

Verbose Doppelganger: To address the “Doppelganger is confusing” issue, I chose to address the single most difficult aspect of the role: remembering which roles go right away (when the Doppelganger first wakes up), and which ones are done later. With this option on, the narration will list the Doppelganger roles that should do their night action right away. It does this by listing all of the roles that are active and should be done immediately: “Doppelganger, wake up and look at another player’s card. You are now that role. If you viewed the [Seer], [Robber], or [Troublemaker], do your night action now.”

All Roles Available: The app was designed to assist with nighttime narration. From that point of view, only the roles that actually wake up at night needed to be in the app. However, that point of view isn’t shared by players new to the game, and feedback from new players was that the app was “missing” roles, because there was no Villager, Hunter, Tanner, etc. Many users rated the app low as a result, saying it was missing roles. Initially, those kind of comments (and their ratings) can seem irritating, because “that’s not what the app is for” comes to mind. But in retrospect, just because that was how the app was originally designed doesn’t mean that it syncs up with users’ expectations. Initially I thought I would just add the missing roles allow them to be clicked, and (since there isn’t a night action for them) just ignore them in the app.

Then I realized that here was a golden opportunity to address another issue that I personally had run into, but just chalked it up to user error: Having the wrong roles selected. When this happens, it’s halfway (or more) through the night when everyone realizes that somethings not right, like a role that should be called was skipped, and it requires a total redo: cards have to be shuffled and redealt, and the night has to start over again. In fact, I was often doing a lot of math in my head when setting up the app each night: I would count the number of players in the game, add three (for the 3 center cards), and then subtract the non-waking roles, then count the number of selected icons in the app. With weird math like that, it’s no wonder that screwups happen occasionally.

The new feature lists *all* the cards in the game, including duplicates (for instance, there are two werewolves, so now there are two buttons for werewolves). A number appears within the Play button that indicates how many roles are selected. As long as that number equals the number of cards on the table (including the 3 center cards), you’re good to go.

Pause: This seems like a little thing, but adding a pause button to the app so that it stops the narration or timer wasn’t easy. The result is a much more flexible app, and it also provides a way for a group to say “before we vote, let’s just…” and still have the app count down the vote.

Game Timer quick access: The first version of the One Night app allowed players to change the game timer right on the main screen. The Daybreak version pushed that handy adjustment feature into settings, requiring the user to tap the settings button, and then tap the Edit button of the Game Timer options. Not terrible, but definitely not convenient. The new app provides the ability to access the Game Timer directly by pressing and holding the game timer icon, displaying the Game Timer settings instantly.

Gear instead of i: The first version of the app had very little in the way of settings, and was mainly about providing info to the user about the app and game. Thus, a lowercase “i” was chosen to access preferences. Replacing the “i” with a gear was a welcome change, and makes it very obvious where settings are.

2X Complex roles: Testing showed that roles like Cupid and the Priest, where players have to move several items around (in both of those cases, 4 items) take longer than others at night, so there's now an option to double the length of complex roles like those.

Backgrounds
The first version of the app shipped with a crickets chirping background. You could turn it on or off (or change the volume of the crickets). Functional, but a little annoying at high volumes (Tom Vasel’s review of One Night had the background sound on and sounded terrible). The Daybreak version of the app upped the ante by providing two different musical compositions (created by yours truly from Logic Pro libraries) as well as wolves and card shuffling noises.

For Vampire, and really for the whole series, I wanted something that was uniquely, distinctly One Night, so I started talking to composers, and finally settled on one who seemed to get the spirit of the game. The first track he delivered was the Fantasy track (available on the current version of the app), and it had a strong set of melodies. So strong, in fact, that I began humming the melody and eventually came up with words to it, which we ended up using for the One Night Music Video.

Once the basic melody was locked down, it was time to come up with interesting variations: I had him create a whole bunch of them: A wild-west Spaghetti Western sound, a horror movie soundtrack (you can hear part of it at the beginning of the Music Video), Vampire Rock (think Lost Boys and From Dusk ’til Dawn), disco and others.

To accommodate all the new tracks, the background screen of course had to be entirely redone.

Final voice files
Some of Eric’s voice files were cobbled together just for testing purposes, and those had to be replaced. Eric supplied more then 130 new audio snippets for the app. Ashly Burch provided a complete set of audio files for the update as well.

Testing
This is the final step. All the new features are are being tested thoroughly to see how they’re working. The vampire logic is the toughest to test, and while most of that is complete, the roles weren’t finalized until just before the Kickstarter, so the logic needs to be retested with the roles that didn’t make the cut taken out, and with the roles that have been achieved via stretch goals in. Some of the other new features build on that logic, so they have to be entirely tested as well.

Finally, testing will be done on as many devices as possible, so we can do a simultaneous iOS/Android release.

Shipping is soon!
As you can probably tell from this writeup, a lot goes into making a companion app for a game like One Night Ultimate Vampire and One Night Ultimate Werewolf. But it’s definitely worth it, as I know the experience of using this app makes the game that much better!
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Fri Oct 30, 2015 3:00 pm
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App Preview: Hands-on with Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp

David Neumann
United States
Whitefish Bay
Wisconsin
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In life you have to do a lot of things you don't f*cking want to do. Many times, that's what the f*ck life is... one vile f*cking task after another.
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Hands-on With Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp
One of the advantages of writing this, and other, blogs is that I sometimes hoodwink developers into letting me see what they're working on before anyone else. It gives me a sense of power, which should indicate just how insignificant I am in real life.

This time the victim is HexWar Games, which is usually a developer of hex-based war games. Here, they joined up with Victory Point Games to bring their solitaire world-saver, Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp to iOS.



If you've played the board game before, I really think you're going to love this. The graphics are quite beautiful and the UI is fantastic, taking a page from Eclipse: New Dawn for the Galaxy and having non-essential information off the screen and available via sliding trays. You also have a ton of options when starting a game to make the game as hard as you want, although why you'd want it any harder is beyond me. It's tough.

If you haven't played the game before, it might take you a bit to get up to speed. I'll explore that in a bit.



Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp follows the patterns set forth by most solitaire/cooperative games: you take your turn and try to do happy things, then the game craps all over you. On your turn you will collect proteins and attempt to create antibodies to combat the various strains of the disease in your petri dish. You can place up to 2 proteins per turn, as well as buy new equipment or scientists to give you special powers. Then, the game checks to see if the disease spreads and whether or not the disease mutates. That's the crapping all over you part. It sucks.



Each turn also has events that can trigger, which alter how the game rules work on that turn and keep the game from feeling like you're doing the same thing over and over.

Winning occurs when all the strains of the disease are eliminated by creating the correct antibodies. Losing occurs when all of humanity is dead, no more proteins are available, or there are so many strains of the disease that your petri dish is full. Prepare to experience those last three much more than eliminating all the strains.



The game is incredibly tense, frustrating, and, if you're lucky, rewarding. Pretty much everything you could hope for from a fantastic solo/cooperative games.

The issues that new players might have don't involve figuring out how to play--there is a tutorial, albeit a short one--but what's going on behind the scenes. If you've played the cardboard version, you're familiar with what causes the disease to spread, and what can affect that dice roll. All of that is hidden in the digital version, so new players will wonder why the disease spreads or doesn't spread each turn. This can be especially frustrating when you have a scientist that helps you stop outbreaks, but outbreaks keep occurring. Veterans will know that the scientist is giving you a +2 to a d6 roll, but newbies will wonder why the hell the outbreaks keep happening.



It's not as bad as I make it sound, but my first few games leaned more toward frustration than fun. Once I figured out what was going on (by downloading the rules), everything clicked into place. Also, I spoke to the developer about the hidden rolls and such, and he mentioned that the rolls might be able to be made more apparent in an early patch.

HexWar is a week or two away from submitting to Apple, but they're fully expecting the game to be released simultaneously for PC/Mac and iOS Universal sometime around mid-June. Android is a possibility, but that would be down the road. Way down the road.

We'll keep you up to date with any new information about Infection: Humanity's Last Gasp all the way to its release date in June.


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Wed May 20, 2015 7:08 pm
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iOS Designer Diary: Ultimate Werewolf Timer App

Ted Alspach
United States
Louisville
Tennessee
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Preorder One Night Ultimate Werewolf now from www.beziergames.com
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Possibly the most exciting thing about the Ultimate Werewolf: Deluxe Edition Kickstarter campaign (ridiculously overfunded at $138K) was that we met the Ultimate Werewolf Timer App stretch goal early on. I lined up a developer and started finishing up the spec immediately and made sure the developer could complete the app for a simultaneous release with the game (currently on track for June).

This tells the story of how the app was designed from the ground up. If you just care about what’s in the app and don’t want all the backstory, skip down to the section “So, how did the app end up?” which provides a capsule summary of the final app along with screenshots.

A timer app for Ultimate Werewolf? Really?
One of the best things I've ever done was to start using timers when I moderate Ultimate Werewolf. I've been using an iOS app called "Timer" (really) that for $4.99 did all sorts of things I didn't need it to, and didn't do some other things I wanted it to, but I jerry-rigged it and got it working. And the response from players who took part in those games that had a timer has been overwhelmingly positive as well; the added structure of timed days allowed villages to focus on the job at hand and spend less time on devolving tangents. At various events where I moderate, players will often come up to me and go out of their way to thank me for using a timer. In fact, I believe that the use of a timer is essential to get those players back who've shied away from Ultimate Werewolf in the past...not only does it keep the game moving, but it's a godsend for eliminated players who are watching the remaining events unfold.

While the Ultimate Werewolf rules don't say it's mandatory to use a timer, I strongly suggest that you do, devoting an entire page in the rulebook (in the new edition) to using one effectively. Of course, it's easier now because the Ultimate Werewolf Timer app will be available when the new version of Ultimate Werewolf ships this summer...and this app absolutely rocks.

I've designed apps before, both as games (Suburbia) and game utilities (Start Player, One Night Ultimate Werewolf), so I was able to use that experience along with my use of all sorts of timer apps and desktop timer applications when designing the Ultimate Werewolf Timer app.

Defining the Requirements
Before the Timer app was designed, however, the first thing I did was list all the things I wanted from an Ultimate Werewolf helper app, that would help moderators with their games of Ultimate Werewolf. A full-blown moderator app is definitely something I'd like to do someday, but of all the components of that idea, the most critical one was a timer app that really worked well for Ultimate Werewolf...it was the core of the moderator app idea.

The one aspect of the Ultimate Werewolf Timer app that had to be in place that just wasn’t available in any commercially available app was decrementing day times. In Ultimate Werewolf, each day after the first should be shorter, forcing the game to move along quicker and quicker. This is necessary for two reasons: (1) There are less players that need to speak and (2) there are more players waiting for the game to end. A rough guideline for timing Ultimate Werewolf games is to make each day about 30 seconds per player, so if there are currently 10 players in the game, the day should last 5 minutes. The next day, assuming the village eliminates one of its own via a vote and the werewolves eliminate a player at night time would have 8 players, so the day would then be 4 minutes long, and so on.

Because of this requirement, there needed to be 2 settings present: First, the length of the first day. And 2nd, the amount that the days get shorter by each day. I quickly determined that it was easier to let the moderator choose actual times for both of these settings than to simply choose the number of starting players and do the (very easy) math for them; because players would still want to adjust that very arbitrary “30 seconds per player” guideline, and then there would be a second setting for that, and then there would be the educational requirement of stating why that number was important.

But to throw a curve into the mix, there was another variable, which was that the first day of any Ultimate Werewolf game is a little longer, as there are traditionally player introductions and initial discussions which often take longer than Subsequent days. How much longer (if at all) is determined by the group. So now a third setting needed to be added: “first day”.

At this point, I put all this onto a rough layout with the first crude mockup like this (this included the idea from the original “moderator” app idea which tracked the number of players in the game):



So I had my basic settings, but I also needed to know what I would display on screen while the timer counted down. Obviously the timer, but I thought it would be nice to show what day (of the game) it is, which can help players track who was eliminated and when. I also needed buttons to allow the moderator to move to the next and previous days quickly. And finally, if the discussion is going well, I might want to add some time to the timer “live” or take time away if there’s dead silence. So here’s the mockup for the first “day timer” screen:



At this point I put the app design aside to focus on other things.

The First Major Revision to the Design
A few months later, inspired after moderating a few games of Ultimate Werewolf one night, I started working on the PRD for the app, and the actual design of the screens. At this time I was working in a portrait orientation for the setup screens, with the idea that you could rotate the device for the timer display to horizontal or vertical orientation when it was running. So the first mockup for the setup screen looked something like this:



The timer screen itself looked something like this (note that it now has a Pause button, a critical element that had been missing from the original mockup). This design was a weird combination of the typeface for the then-not-quite-released-yet One Night Ultimate Werewolf game and the graphics from the Ultimate Werewolf Ultimate Edition game:



At this time I also included a settings screen, which at this point was simply a sound control settings screen:



Again, this was shelved for a bit while I worked on other projects.

Ultimate Werewolf: Deluxe Edition and Revision Two
I had wanted to do an updated version of Ultimate Werewolf for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to it. The original game was out in 2007, and the Ultimate Edition followed shortly after in 2008. I wanted to do a five-year anniversary edition with new (or updated art), but as 2013 started drawing to a close, I realized I wasn’t going to make the date in time. And the more I looked at it, the more I realized I wanted to change with the game, so the Deluxe Edition was born. I decided to make the timer an integral part of the new edition, and when the Kickstarter project was being developed, making a stretch goal to help cover the cost of development for the app seemed like a perfect match.

Of course, with a new design for the cards, the app I had designed wasn’t going to really match, so I went to work redesigning the app, and really digging in deep to make sure that the app would be the the definitive timer to be used with not just Ultimate Werewolf games, but all werewolf games.

As I looked with a critical eye at the planned timer, I realized I had missed two important elements: Night time and player defense. In Ultimate Werewolf, several things can happen at night, including werewolves deciding who to eliminate and the Seer picking someone to inspect (she learns if that person is a werewolf or not). So a timer was added for that phase. When a player is accused of being a werewolf during the day, quite often I would stop the time and allow the player to defend themselves and answer questions from the other players. With time stopped, however, that could take a long time, and players could often devolve the conversation into totally unrelated areas to the point where some players would forget who is “on the block” (nice for the accused, but bad for the game). So I added a defense timer as an interrupt; the idea is that when there is an accused person, the moderator taps the Defense button and a new timer starts just for that person’s defense. When the defense time is up, players must vote on the accused. Afterwards, the day timer continues from where it had been prior to the Defense; if the player is eliminated the moderator can press “next” to get to the night timer.

I continued to revise and modify the feature set. I dropped the ability to change orientation because the timer looked much better (and was easier to read) in horizontal view, and developing it for vertical view was an unnecessary use of development time. I added a few other niceties, like hiding and showing most of the elements on the screen and a rising sun animation with floating clouds, and then submitted the PRD to the developer so he could start working on it.

Feature additions and changes during development
The first few builds from the developer were focused on getting the timer right, including the ability to adjust the time “live” and it took several iterations to get to the final set of controls: tapping the “+” increases the time by 00:10, while pressing/holding the “+” increases the time by 01:00.

I used a projector in one of my Ultimate Werewolf tests, and discovered that in a brightly lit room, the contrast was acceptable with the white numbers on the blue background, but it wasn’t great. An option was added to settings to hide and show the background so that the contrast would be as extreme as possible in those situations.

A few of the tests resulted in a couple of players being ardent clock watchers, and as a result of them informing the other players of the time remaining every 10 seconds (or so it seemed), the ability to hide the time in settings was added, for a more natural experience of watching the sun rise and fall each day.

With the feature set locked down it was time to make some cuts. I haven’t included any info here about the features I wanted that we cut from the initial release in order to make the release schedule, but as always, it’s a painful process with much soul-searching, despair, and occasional cursing. The app is currently in testing, with only a few features not implemented yet, but it is definitely on track to be available in June as scheduled.

So, how did the app end up?
The most impressive part of the app is the one you (and your players) will be looking at all the time: the Day Timer screen. This fully-customizable screen (you can turn most elements on and off in Settings) displays the time left in that day in minutes and seconds in giant numbers superimposed on a background scene of trees and a nice summery sky with clouds floating by lazily. It also shows the day, the “real world” time, and a series of control buttons at the bottom (below the treeline) allowing you to go to a special “Defense Timer” (that’s right), pause the time left, or skip to the previous or next timer.

But the one thing you can’t see in a screenshot is the movement. The Sun subtly moves across the sky, rising at the beginning of the day and setting at night. And what’s super cool, if you don’t want the countdown timer to display, the Sun can still move across the screen, giving a much more analog feel to your games…the village will slowly notice that the sun is setting, and rush to eliminate a werewolf (they hope).



During the day, you can opt to use a Defense timer when a player has been accused of being a werewolf. That gives them a very limited amount of time to defend themselves and for the rest of the village to ask questions of them before the vote. When the Defense timer is up, an angry mob can be heard (though all sounds are customizable), and you can call for the vote immediately.

At the end of the day, there’s a night time timer; this is great for those moderators who take FOREVER to get through a night phase (I’m talking to you, Frank DiLorenzo, my Night of the Black Moon co-author), and also works so you can be hands-off of the timer (one of the things I’ve run into as a moderator is that when recapping the events of the night for the village first thing in the morning, I forget to start the timer again). After the night time timer is up, the next day starts automatically.



After the game, the timer setup you used is remembered and you can just start another game with the same timers, or you can make adjustments in the easy-to-use Setup screen. This is where you turn on and off things like how quickly the time of each day gets shorter after the first day, if you want there to be a separate Defense timer and Night Time timer, and how long each of the timers should be. Find a setup you really like? You can save it and load it in the future, even if you totally muck around with the times. You can save any number of sets of times and load them this way.





On the Settings screen, you can choose which sounds sound for which alarms, to turn on and off display items, and to set your device to stay awake while the timer screens are present (though it will still fall asleep while in the setup/settings screens, so you don’t have to worry about quitting out of your app when you’re done using it).



The app was developed on both iOS and Android platforms simultaneously via Corona, but the iOS version will be out the door first, with the Android one following closely thereafter. Ultimate Werewolf: Deluxe Edition should be available in stores this summer.

And yes, the app will be free!
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Tue May 6, 2014 2:00 pm
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Ascension: Immortal Heroes - iOS Video Overview

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: Universal
Reviewed On: iPad 2 and iPhone 5
Current Price: $2.99
Developer/Publisher: Playdek
Version: 1.3
Size: 87.3 MB
Multiplayer: Yes.
AI: Yes.
Itunes link: Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer


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Mon Jul 8, 2013 12:02 pm
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My Week with Warhammer Quest

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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My Week with Warhammer Quest



For the past few days I have been able to play through some of Warhammer Quest. Having never played the board game before, I do feel at quite the disadvantage when trying this new version (if anyone has a copy for trade, do hit me up). However, it is clear that Warhammer Quest on iPad is going beyond its board game roots. It is a single player experience that has players traveling around the Warhammer Fantasy world completing quests and fighting enemies. Reviewing a PDF of the classic game's rules it appears similar, but the game definitely polishes it with a video game sheen.



Warhammer Quest appears to be split into towns and the regions around those towns. Upon arriving at a village you will be given a main story quest. These main quests usually involve multiple dungeons and story events. Upon leaving any town you will also be able to go on optional side quests that generally have a specific goal or reward that you are going for. In towns you can also buy items in a shop, level up your characters, and pray to gods.



Within the dungeons you explore with your team of four heroes. They are the originals from the board game: Barbarian, Dwarf, Elf, and Wizard. They each have unique abilities, as many of you may know. The Barbarian can go berserk which can help him get more attacks or possibly limit him. The Wizard uses magic and the Elf can do strong ranged attacks.



Dungeons are explored tile by tile (or room by room) and each may contain monsters are could just be a hallway. Also if you move too slowly you can be randomly jumped by a group of monsters. Combat is a turn based system with all heroes moving and attacking followed by the monsters. The combat does not show you the die rolls but, rather, handles them in the background. I found combat to be really quick and clean, unlike others of this genre on iOS.



I have played for a few hours already and just touched on some of the content. There are seven main cities, and you can visit the Balklands to face off against the Skaven via IAP. Also available for purchase are new heroes like the Troll Hunter. There is plenty of content there in the standard game, but you have the ability to add on.



Graphically the game is really great. Having been a casual Warhammer player in the past, it was great to see how much care they have taken in getting the models to look like their plastic brothers. They are so well done I wish they added in some different camera angles to show them off, maybe for special abilities. The tile designs of each dungeon are also really interesting and there is quite the variety(though they do repeat occasionally).



Warhammer Quest should be arriving within a month or two, and I am looking forward to spending more time with it. It seems like an excellent marriage of the original game and modern sensibilities. This is one to keep on your list.

If you have other questions about something I didn't touch on, please put them in the comments and I will answer if I can.

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Tue May 14, 2013 7:49 pm
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Preview: Eclipse UPDATE: Gameplay trailer now embeded.

Brad Cummings
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Connecticut
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Hello Everyone,

BDC does not want us to talk too much about Eclipse before the review, but we have been allowed to give a brief preview. Our full review will go up on the day of launch.

I have not had the game for long but have been able to play several local games and have seen the online system.

Here are 10 features and design choices that have stood out thus far:
1. The game, while using a unique UI, stays very true to board game. It is in a nice middle ground between a direct translation and a complete departure. The game has a lot of info involved so this is all stored in trays that can slide and out.
2. All races are available to play with in the $6.99 purchase.
3. You can play with up to 6 players both online and off (AI and/or pass and play). Online uses BDC's own login system.
4. There are 3 AI levels. I am relatively new to the game so I cannot speak for the strength.
5. The game screen can get quite large but it will move to show you each action. You can also zoom in and out as needed.
6. There is a round summary that quickly tells you the standings as well as the new tech available.
7. There is an Undo function but there are certain cutoffs when it is not possible to undo. These are all mentioned in the game text.
8. Scores are shown as a range of numbers based on hidden tokens. This is great as it quickly does the math for you so you can see in what range a player's score may be.
9. Each race has unique ship designs. These designs show up on the board and in the battle animation segments.
10. You can tap any ship on the screen to find out how it is built so you can easily measure what you will be up against if you attack.

If you have anything else you are dying to know, try posting your question in the comments and perhaps BDC will chime in with an answer.







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Wed Apr 24, 2013 4:55 pm
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Thoroughbred Miniatures announces IRONCLADS Boardgame App kickstarter

Walter OHara
United States
Burke
Virginia
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News Release
For Immediate release: April 7, 2013


For Further Information Contact:

Toby Barrett
Thoroughbred Figures, Portsmouth Virginia
Thoroughbredfigures@yahoo.com
www.Thoroughbredmodels.com
Phone: 757-686-1048



Toby Barrett of Thoroughbred Figures and creator of the popular 1/600 scale naval miniatures of the American Civil War wishes to announce the posting of a funding campaign on Kickstarter.com:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/293087222/the-ironclads-...

The project will create an IoS app which will run the famous Yaquinto board game “The Ironclads” re-adapted for miniatures play around the tabletop or regular boardgame play.



The App will contain everything from the original Ironclads game - all the rules, data cards, scenarios, and such for miniatures play. Game set up will include flexible scales – 1/600 and 1/1200 mainly – and quick generation of orders of battle. The groundbreaking heart and soul of the app will include a computer-assist game referee and a combat resolution module to greatly help to speed up the operation and ease of the game. What happens on the table will still be key with the app freeing the players to be more able to concentrate on movement, decisions and tactics (e.g., the fun stuff) instead of searching through bulky charts, ship data and modifier lists.

This app is really a first of its kind, there few apps for miniature games and no game assist apps.

Pledge rewards will be new Thoroughbred 1/600 kits and finished collector sets as listed on the right side of the Kickstarter project web site.

Toby Barrett

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/293087222/the-ironclads-...

Full disclosure: I have a cameo in this kickstarter...
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Mon Apr 8, 2013 2:51 pm
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iOS Overview: SolForge Demo

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: iPad Only
Current Price: Free
Developer/Publisher: Stone Blade Entertainment
Version: 1.0.0
Size: 465 MB
Multiplayer: Pass & Play.
AI: Yes.
Itunes link: SolForge



Conclusion:
This demo certainly achieves the goal of making me want to know more. It is great to see the level up mechanic in action and it brings new control to the lane based genre. My biggest complaint so far is that it has a pretty drastic runaway leader problem. This is common with CCGs, but with 100 life, it can be a long while between when you know you have lost and when you actually lose. The collectible aspect and deck building aspect of the game will be a nice touch and I look forward to trying them out. It interestingly really a deck building mechanic built into the game as the cards you don't use this round will come up in the next deck (along with those you have leveled up). I am still not a champion of the lane based mechanic, but I am anxious to see if they can fix the balance issues and deliver a great complete experience.
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Tue Jan 8, 2013 2:48 pm
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iOS Overview: Nightfall: Martial Law

Brad Cummings
United States
Connecticut
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The Stats:
Compatibility: Universal
Current Price: $1.99 IAP
Developer/Publisher: Playdek/AEG
Multiplayer: Yes
AI: Yes,
Itunes link: Nightfall: Martial Law




Conclusion:
This expansion to AEG's Nightfall adds several new cards and new mechanics. It is great to see more support for this app and the expansion is an affordable way to bring new variety. It may not change your opinion on the game if you are not a fan, but if you enjoy it then this is more great content.
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Thu Sep 27, 2012 3:38 pm
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