Archive for Bradley Cummings, Editor
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Availability: iOS, Android
Store Links: App Store, Google Play
Steam: Rails to Riches Coming to PC/Mac/Linux on 3/25
Steam: Rails to Riches was an amazing board game port on iOS and Android. Chatting with the folks at Arcam Digital, we’ve learned that the game will be coming to Steam on March 25th.
It looks like there will be a discount for early buyers on maps and map packs. They also say it will have all features at start. We’ll put up a link when it is live. For now, check out an updated trailer:
Screenshots of 8 Minute Empire
Chatting with Arcam Digital we also learned some more details about the upcoming digital version of 8 Minute Empire from Red Raven Games. They are preparing for submission to Steam Greenlight.
They let us know that it will be release simultaneously on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android this summer. The game will feature cross-platfrom asynchronous multiplayer at launch. It looks great so far. Check out these screenshots:
Dungeons & Dragons Beyond Announced
At PAX East this weekend, Wizards of the Coast announced Dungeons & Dragons Beyond, a new set of digital tools for this role-playing game. It is slated to work on a bunch of digital devices including mobile devices.
It will be based upon the 5th Edition rules and is being worked on by Curse. It will include a rules compendium, character builder, digital character sheets, and more. For more details, check out this trailer:
Dropmix Coming from Harmonix and Hasbro
Also at PAX East this weekend, Harmonix and Hasbro announced Dropmix. This is a new hybrid board game/digital game. You have a mobile device powered play space that allows you to remix music on cards. Each card represents a song from a hit artist. Using the board, you can mix the songs together. The app automatically adapts using NFC based on the cards you place.
It looks like the game will be priced at $100 and comes with 60 cards as well as the game board. There will be 16 and 5 card packs released priced at $15 and $5. Word is that by the end of 2017 there will be 300 cards available. This seems like a unique mix of digital and physical games.
Handelabra Announces Bottom of the 9th
Today at PAX East, Handelabra announced an upcoming digital version of Bottom of the 9th. This is more casual baseball game is a bit of departure for them but from my quick hands on at GDC, it seems like they're going to add something special.
You can find out more details on the Handelabra blog.
Here is a teaser trailer:
The Elder Scrolls: Legends Coming 3/23
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is a digital ccg from the makers of Skyrim and Fallout, Bethesda. It has been in Beta for a while now and was released today for PC. I’ve had a chance to play a bit so far and have had some fun with it.
The good news? It will be coming to iPad on March 23rd. This will be followed by a release on Android Tablets in April and Mac in May. You can download it now on PC.
For the unfamiliar, here is a video overview:
Potion Explosion Gets Multiplayer Update
Potion Explosion from Asmodee Digital got a big multiplayer update today. It includes many quality of life improvements that will streamline the experience. This should be good news for those running multiple games of Potion Explosion online.
Here is a complete list of the changes:
Kingdom: New Lands
The original Kingdom was an amazing game on Steam. You are a monarch who must rebuild their kingdom and defend it from relentless hordes. It’s hard to describe but definitely worth a purchase. You will not be disappointed.
Kingdom New Lands is the same game on mobile with a bunch of new features and improvements. I’ll have a First Look up next week but I highly recommend you give this one a shot. It is a unique strategy experience.
Nintendo Switch’s First Touch Only Game Released
Ok, this is a game that many of you likely won’t have interest in playing and, really, neither do I. The release of rhythm game VOEZ on the Switch is important to note because it is completely run on the touchscreen. It is a port of a mobile game previously released on iOS and Android.
This will be one we will want to keep an eye on. If touchscreen games can transfer easily to the Switch, perhaps we will see a slew of digital board game ports in the future! I, for one, am optimistic
App News from GDC
I had the opportunity to attend GDC for my day job and was able to chat with a few digital board game makers after hours. Here are some of the highlights.
Hands on with Inkle’s Heaven’s Vault
As Dave reported yesterday, Inkle is hard at work on their next game, Heaven’s Vault. This one is not a port of a classic adventure game novel, but is an original branching narrative game akin to 80 Days.
I got to go hands on and I can say that this is a bold new step for the team. The game is an interesting matchup of comicbook art and 3D environments. You move an interstellar archeologist and her robot around 3D rendered planets learning about long since pass civilizations. Your characters are all represented in 2D art and switch from pose to pose as you walk. As you explore the planet (which will be free movement at launch but was node based in the demo) you’ll make narrative choices which will be recorded and influence future events.
In my demo I was in search of an ancient temple. I could explore certain portions of the planet but had to mindful of a stamina meter that would train as I did strenuous activity on this planet with low atmosphere. I finally found the temple and that was where my journey ended.
I am really stoked for this new take on the Inkle formula. It will be coming later this year.
Handelabra Teases the Future
I had the chance to chat with the guys at Handelabra. They gave me an update on their progress with Season 2 of Sentinels of the Multiverse. They also mentioned that they will be working on Challenge Mode in the future. If you, unlike myself, found the original content to easy, you will be thrilled by these new difficult scenarios.
But wait, that’s not all! They also let me take an early look at their next game. I can’t say what it is but be sure to visit them at PAX East or tune in on Friday to find out!
A Surprise Terra Mystica Appears
While at GDC I had the chance to have dinner with my old friend Tysen Streib (AI developer on For the Win). Turns out he is now an AI developer for Digidiced! It meant I got to check out a playable Alpha of the game. All the functionality was there and we could play full game.
Tysen let me know that the game will be releasing in the next month or so. This will include the base game and easy AI. Following will be an update that includes the Fire and Ice expansion as well as an Advanced AI that features deep learning techniques. It sounds like a great rollout!
Hands on with Hand of Fate 2
Hand of Fate was a surprise hit with its unique blend of action combat and deck building dungeon crawling. Defiant was at the show with the sequel, Hand of Fate 2.
I got to play bit of the game and while holding on to many elements of the originally, there seem to be a lot of improvements. First off, the dungeon system has been modified to offer specific quests to be completed. There also a bunch of new mini-games and dice games. The combat has also been improved with more fluidity and control. There also appeared to be the ability to choose your player character’s gender.
I really enjoyed my brief time with the game. Here is a trailer for a quick taste:
Hands on with Oniri Islands: Children of the River
At the end of my time at GDC, I go to check out Oniri Islands. This game uses figurines that interact with a tablet. The twist is that the game is co-op, requiring two players.
Players navigate through a series of puzzles and must work together to avoid obstacles. The follows two children that have been sucked into the world of spirits and must use their wits and totems spirits they meet to make their way out. The figures are quite cute and feature interchangeable totem masks.
I had to chance to play through the first level of the game and, while aimed at children, it was pretty fun. There is a kickstarted going up on the 16th of March, but you can learn more on their website. For now, here are some screenshots:
Early this week, it was reported that there was an touch only Nintendo Switch game planned for release in Japan. This drew my attention.
The Nintendo Switch is a portable tablet console that can be docked to the TV for bigger play. To this point it was understood that only games that worked in both ways would be featured on the device. The above announcement changes things.
If correct, this would mean the possibility to play digital board games on this device is there. Not only that, but the Switch is touting easier porting for Unity and UE4 games. That means the process could be less than terrible for devs.
This got me thinking, what do you digital board game developers think of the Nintendo Switch? Is it a viable future platform? I asked a handful and below are the responses I received:
Joseph Humfrey wrote:
Despite never having owned much Nintendo hardware myself, I’m extremely excited about the Switch. The flexible way it can be a console, a handheld and a tablet means lots of different genres and scales of games will work beautifully on it. Nintendo has shown a great breadth of both 3d console experiences as well as smaller 2d games, and it excites me that they’re really starting to cater well towards indie developers. As a company we’re definitely thinking about it very seriously as a platform for narrative games like 80 Days.
Justin Gary wrote:
We are always excited about new platforms that help bring the best of the board-game world to new audiences. Ascension was the first deckbuilding on mobile devices and the first to enter into the World of Virtual Reality. The switch represents another potential horizon to create more accessible social board game experiences. I won't commit to any platform until I have a chance to play it, but I am definitely keeping an eye on the Nintendo Switch.
Nintendo have consistently innovated with their hardware, and should be commended for always trying something fresh, rather than just upping the graphics power like most other consoles.
If the Switch has a touch-screen, and similar system architecture to an Android table, then it makes a lot of sense to bring existing titles designed for this input mechanism to a new platform.
However, it's a fair bet that most people buying a Switch already have a phone or tablet, so I wouldn't expect a massive pick-up, especially given the limited amount of hardware available at launch.
On top of this, 3rd party games usually struggle on Nintendo hardware as they have to compete with 1st party exclusives like Mario and Zelda but, if you can get in right at the start, like Voez, you might be able to establish a strong foothold on the platform.
What is really interesting, is that this could mark the beginning of Nintendo merging their home-console and hand-held platforms, which would be a canny idea as the 3DS has massively outperformed the Wii-U (a quick look on Wikipedia shows the 3DS at 35.3 Million units worldwide, compared to the Wii-U's 13.6 Million). Fusing the two markets could generate a strong uplift in hardware sales, which is great for both developers and consumers alike.
The fact that the Switch has a touch screen on the controller is of particular interest to us, as it's a great tool for creating a physical bond between the real-world player and the virtual-world experience - something we really focused on with Tsuro.
Voez's decision to not support the TV screen is an intriguing one. Having made a number of games on various Nintendo platforms, I know that they can sometimes enforce weird design restrictions around how their hardware can be used, particularly in the early days of a new console or peripheral. That having been said, the gameplay in Voez looks like players need to keep an eye on the touch screen, so I'm not sure what benefit using the TV would bring.
If Thunderbox were to do a Switch version of Tsuro we'd probably want to leverage the unique hardware to reinforce the immersion - sure you'd be able to play Tsuro on the go, just like the iOS and Android versions, but we'd probably put the board on the big screen, and have the players' tiles on the controller, so they could strategise in secret. Hmmm... maybe we should get on the phone to Nintendo!
Don Whiteford wrote:
We are considering Nintendo Switch as a potential new platform for our games, and are excited at the prospect of this new hardware, along with the opportunities it may bring.
TIN MAN GAMES
Neil Rennison wrote:
I'm a big fan of the Switch's potential for game developers and this news has piqued my interest even further! I think this opens up lots of opportunities for companies like us working in the digital tabletop RPG/board game space. Lots of food for thought.
NORTH STAR GAMES
Scott Rencher wrote:
This seems like a great potential platform for board games. Play by yourself on the touch screen, or utilize the TV to play with others in the room. Hopefully they make it affordable for others to join in. The closer a platform mimics the natural interactions of moving physical pieces, the better we can maintain the illusion that the game and the experience is real.
Martin Pittenauer wrote:
It's hard to tell without having touched the final hardware yet ofc. Saying that, it is an interesting hardware package and might be a great board game platform. Being a worrier, I see two issues:
1) I'm sceptical of Nintendo's efforts to support and empower independent developers. Some of that might be prejudice and of course I'm very happy to see Nintendo taking more proactive steps to facilitate indies on the Switch, but well, given it's track record with third party devs, it's an issue to keep an eye on.
2) I'm not sure how well no-tv-mode games will be received by the audience. It's one of the main selling points of the system and violating that implicit promise (made by marketing) will make people angry. Maybe rightly so at Nintendo, but also at developers not supporting the TV mode. Board games are in an especially awkward place here, because they profit a lot from touch controls, but also lend themselves perfectly to local multiplayer, which would be associated with TV mode on the platform rather than handing the Switch from person to person.
Ben Murch wrote:
It's an interesting piece of kit, and I find it curious that not all the games will support TV mode given that's one of the big system selling points. Feels like Nintendo are cannibalising their handheld market. Are they trying to phase out their DS line of products? The controllers themselves don't look that great for digital board games, and the handheld screen itself is smaller than a tablet.... which makes me think tablets or PCs are still the leading platform for digital board games. Would I be tempted to make something for Switch? Sure. However, that something would most likely be a port from an iOS game, and not something totally bespoke and new. Nintendo are positioning themselves in a very odd space in the market, and it will be interesting to see how the next year progresses for them.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain
Store Links: App Store
Mage the Ascension: Refuge
Availability: iOS, Android
Store Links: App Store, Google Play,
Availability: iOS, Android
Store Links: App Store, Google Play,
I thought it was just Thursday, turns out it’s crazy news day. Buckle in and get ready for a huge influx of news.
White Wolf and Asmodee Digital Release Vampire the Masquerade and Mage the Ascension
Just a week ago, Dave let us know that Asmodee Digital had revealed unknown digital versions Vampire the Masquerade and Mage the Ascension. Now they are live on the app store!
According to White Wolf, they are interactive fiction games based on these classic role-playing properties. They are inspired by classic choose your own adventure stories. From these trailers, they appear to have pretty interesting art styles. We will be posting First Looks on these early next week.
You can find them here:
Vampire Prelude (iOS)
Vampire Prelude (Android)
Mage the Ascension: Refuge (iOS)
Mage the Ascension: Refuge (Android)
Here are quick trailers for each:
Onirim Screenshot Surfaces
Just a quick update. The Asmodee Digital Twitter posted what I believe is the first screenshot of Onirim. Check it out and let your imagination run wild:
Evolution Delayed, but for a Good Cause!
Scott from the North Star Games digital team dropped us a line to talk about the future of the digital version of Evolution. If you attended Gen Con or checked out our coverage you saw the game in a pretty complete state.
Well, the team felt they could do better and has gone back to the drawing board with a whole new style. You can read more details in their full blogpost. All in all, it sounds like it will result in a better product.
For now, check out these new screens:
Hearthstone Enters the Year of the Mammoth and More
There are press release and there are press releases, this is the later. Today Blizzard announced the Year of the Mammoth, basically the starts of new season that removes some older cards from play. But really, that is not all. Let me try to unpack it all:
1. The Year of the Mammoth is starting which means sets released in 2015 will enter the Wild format, not legal for standard and tournament play. That means say goodbye to the cards from Blackrock Mountain, The Grand Tournament, and League of Explorers.
2. That’s not all, we also learned about the expansions for 2017. Rather than alternating story expansions (where the cards are set and everyone gets them) and standard expansions (where you buy cards in blind buy packs), we are getting 3 full 130 card expansions. Story expansions are gone, though there will still be some single player content included with each release.
3. The biggest surprise of all is that several cards from Classic set are being moved to the Wild only. They are calling it the Hall of Fame. These include: Azure Drake, Sylvanas Windrunner, Ragnaros, and more.
4. Lastly, if you come back and win 10 games of Standard Hearthstone, you will be awarded a brand new Rogue Hero, Maiev Shadowsong
Here is a trailer detailing all the changes:
D20Studios Reveals Summoners Fate
Remember Hero Mages? We reviewed this turn-based strategy game back in 2012.
Designer and founder of the studio Ross has announced he is working on a brand new project. The title is Summoner’s Fate and it appears to be a shiny new spiritual successor to Hero Mages. It’s slated for release in fall 2017 and promises more crunchy strategy gameplay. They’ve got more details on their website and we’ve got the first screenshots below:
Duelyst iOS Beta Signups Open
Duelyst is a turn-based card strategy game that has received praise from all over the industry in its PC debut. It also none other than Eric Lang on its design team.
The game is coming to iOS soon and you can sign up now to apply for the beta. I’ve heard good things, so don’t miss this opportunity.
Fowl Play! Released
We just received word from BGG User ycyclop that they’ve released an iPad version of Fowl Play! designed by Richard Breese. It features AI play with up to 3 other players with varying difficulty levels. It looks like a great take on this classic design.
You can pick it up in the App Store now.
Descent: Road to Legend
Availability: iOS, Android
Store Links: App Store, Google Play,
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