Tag Archives: mobile games

Saga Kingdoms – Revolutionary MMORTS

Recently posted on Linux Gaming News and certainly a fine Kickstarter campaign for Gnome Templar. This is another project well worth paying attention too.

Saga Kingdoms is a revolutionary real time MMORTS, focusing on questing and empire building.
They say it’s what Star Craft 2 could have been (in terms of gameplay).
It will be free to play (as it seems from the rewards), but you can pay for additional content.
Currently the project managed to get ~$8,600 of the $100k goal ,with 29 days to go.
From past experiences it’s very hard to get the funds for “free to play” games and I personally doubt that this project will reach it’s goal (although there is always hope).
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SAGA was designed to show what is possible in an RTS when it is made for the players and not by the big studios who may be too scared to try something new. We asked ourselves questions such as, What if the world never reset? What if we could figure out how to balance not just two or three factions but six? and most importantly, What if every play session enhanced your virtual empire and not just a rating?

Most RTS games we’ve ever played focus on player vs. player combat. This is understandable because creating 10 maps and relying on players to provide variety is much less time consuming than creating 600 quests. SAGA, however, embraces that players love a rich story and while PvP has its place and is certainly not an afterthought in our design, we felt it was a lot more fun going on quests not just alone but with groups of friends.

In Saga Kingdoms each player will control a capital city that will serve as the seat of their power, however we have greatly expanded on this concept by giving each player a full Island as a starting point. In addition we plan to allow players to take over both resources and outposts on the main continent as their empire expands.

Similar to SAGA, Saga Kingdoms will feature hundreds of quests to test your skill. While some quests do have prerequisites that you must best, you can always go back and do old favorites for loot and XP.

The power of our new engine means we can create much grander quests that can be enjoyed by large groups of friends.These epic battles will be much more difficult but we promise the rewards will be worth it.

Players will be able to choose from one of six factions, each with a unique look and play style.

Primary Race: Elves

The oldest of the races, the elves have long ago learned to live in harmony with Gaia – the spirit of the world itself. Through their allegiance and honor of Her, they have learned to master Her powers, and now control the most destructive forces of Nature. As warriors, they possess terrific skill, and have made strange allies in some of the oldest creatures on Gaia, including treants and elementals.

Primary Race: Orcs and Ogres

The orcs and ogres live for war. They have long pursued it, and have fashioned their living around it. They have traded refinement for mass, and like a blunt instrument, will bludgeon the life out of their enemies. Their spells and abilities are targeted inward, purposed with instilling their warriors with greater power in combat. Individually, their warriors are skillful, en masse: terrifying.

Primary Race: Giants and Humans

Noble, powerful and indomitable – the forces of Light are truly magnificent to behold. Their ancient civilization has reached a glorious age of wisdom and refinement, and their armies have long ago mastered the art of war. They are a balanced and formidable force, able to draw on heavily armored soldiers and powerful magic alike to crush their enemies into submission.

Primary Race: Dwarves

Dwarves are particularly skilled in the arts of mechanical engineering. Hidden deep in their mountain hideaways, they have created terrible machines of war and destruction. In all their tinkering though, they have lost the art of magic and must rely on their own ingenuity and cunning.

Primary Race: Dark Elves

The dark elves are the masters of magic. They have studied many dark arts and have mastered the secrets of daemonology, allowing them to conjure up horrible beasts. By tapping into the powers of the Underworld, they have possession of mighty spells, with which they terrorize their enemies.

Primary Race: Undead

When the god of the Undead was all but defeated he called upon his powers to bring to power the newest of the factions to gain a foothold on Gaia. Adept casters, the undead use their powers of decay to manipulate the course of battle and weaken their foes while gargantuan undead abominations rush forth to devour their prey.

We love variety in most RTS games. Trying to find the perfect balance of troops is an integral part of the strategy. As difficult as it was to balance 6 factions, that task was nothing compared to trying to create over 100 distinct troop types. Saga Kingdoms will bring back many of the old favorites and will commit to creating many more in upcoming free content expansions.
Saga Kingdoms is a Free-To-Play Collectible game

Collecting troops was one of the best received and unique features of SAGA. Booster packs which can now be purchased for gold farmed in game will provide a random assortment of troops. Nothing beats the excitement of ripping open a new pack or the exhilaration of finding a dragon as your rare card.

Every aspect of your empire can grow in power. This means that every play session will reward you with some type of progress.

  • Buildings will be constructed, which will provide additional benefits.
  • Research will reward you with new abilities and benefits.
  • All troops will gain experience during combat, making them more powerful.
  • Magic items will be found during quests and crafted in your city.
  • Every quest completed and booster purchased gives the possibility of new and exciting troops to enhance your army.
  • Even logging in for just a few seconds and collecting resources brings you closer to purchasing that next building upgrade or booster pack.

Each unit in your army will be led by a hero as detailed as any character in an MMO. Heroes can gain levels, learn spells and possess a range of abilities and bonuses that they confer to the unit they lead.

We’re also expanding the number of available heroes slightly from the dozen available in SAGA to many hundreds. (OK maybe more than slightly)

Not only will be we able to create items with a larger variety of abilities, but Saga Kingdoms will feature many thousands more magic items since Heroes can equip armor in multiple slots in addition to weapons and trinkets, rather than the limited 2 slots in SAGA.

Since Units in Saga Kingdoms are built around heroes not troop types, you will have much more freedom when designing your units. Each troop type will possess a special ability, allowing you to have much finer control over the type of army you field. For example, if halberdiers grant increased damage to the whole unit and swordsmen grant increased armor, a unit consisting of 15 halberdiers and 5 swordsmen will play very differently than one with 15 swordsmen and 5 halberdiers. Adding a hero who brings its own set of unit enhancements means an unlimited set of strategies.

Using the Unity engine means being able to do battle on a PC, Mac, or even using Linux. While the client will be available for all of these platforms, developing in Unity means that when you’re at work or school and can’t resist checking your empire or doing a quick quest, Saga Kingdoms will also be playable in a browser. In addition, developing in Unity opens the possibility for a mobile version.

We have been working on Saga Kingdoms for over a year. Some of our players have even had a chance to try the Alpha version.

We can field troops, move them around, and cause havoc to our enemies as well as build a city. The funds raised on Kickstarter will help us port the remaining SAGA features, finish our quest design tools and make the necessary changes to magic items and heroes to bring Saga Kingdoms to the next level.

Source: Linux Gaming News


Owlchemy Labs' Alex Schwartz on going mobile because that's where publishers aren't

Just making great games


Owlchemy Labs is the studio responsible for Smuggle Truck, a satire of American legal immigration policies which landed in a George Lopez comedy spot – and in expressions of outrage from immigration special interest groups.

Rejected by Apple when submitted to the App Store, a replacement of sprites and some other changes resulted in Snuggle Truck, which was accepted and became a success.

At GDC 2012’s Indie/Press mixer, PocketGamer.biz had a brief encounter with Owlchemy Labs co-founder Alex Schwartz, but missed him at PAX East where the studio’s new title, Jack Lumber, was being shown to attendees.

So we stopped by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s GAMBIT Game Lab to meet with Schwartz and finally get a proper catching-up.

Pocket Gamer: Your first professional experience in game development was with Seven45 Studios, where you were a technical artist. What lessons did you learn?

Alex Schwartz: I was really lucky to get into a position directly out of school as a tech artist, because a tech artist is not a normal, “Get your tasks, do them in order, get your shit done” type of position. It was kind of a company-wide problem-solver position … Basically my job description was to keep everything going, and I was a fire hose for problems.

So I think that definitely played a direct role in what I do at Owlchemy. I call myself the CEO and Janitor of Owlchemy Labs.

You wear your marketing hat, you wear your development hat, which thankfully I’ve been doing less and less of. Devon, our programmer, is amazing and so I don’t have to split the code 50/50. But there are so many things outside of our code and design that need to get done, so I do everything else.

I think being able to manage 70 screaming people with questions definitely helped [with] running a business.

Most of your press has been garnered around mobile development, but Owlchemy identifies itself as a developer of games for downloadable platforms. Do you have any concerns about being identified so strongly with mobile?

There’s a trend: Everyone and their mother is forming mobile studios. If you look at the news you see, you know, three, four triple-A veterans from wherever … now forming its own small, indie, mobile studio, right?

We didn’t intend for the products of our labour to be necessarily mobile [games], but some of the best platforms to release and make money on and get a good audience are mobile right now.

I think that’s just going to get more and more the case over time. You could say from a high-level, 20-year standpoint, there’s going to be less console and there’s going to be more stuff going on in your pocket. I think a lot of companies will end up being mobile companies when they weren’t founded to be.

We knew we just wanted to get on platforms that didn’t require publishers, and that’s where we are.

So would you call yourselves a mobile developer in actuality if not in name?

Well, we have our Steam/PC/Mac version [of Smuggle Truck], we also were in the Humble Bundle with a Linux version, and then we have AaaaaAAaaaAAAaaAAAAaAAAAA!!! for the Awesome, which was developed with Dejobaan Games – that was also PC and Mac.

So we have four platforms that are non-mobile. I guess that doesn’t make us a mobile developer, but we are known for our talents in mobile, and knowing what players want us building for that platform.

Do you think you might focus on mobile platforms going forward?

Jack Lumber specifically is a heavily touch-driven game, and so it’s hard to abstract that touchscreen to something else.

We’re working on a Steam version. We’re looking at whether [we can] make the game fun with a mouse. We think we can, with some various changes to gameplay and controls and input and smoothing and all that kind of fun stuff, but we’re focusing our primary platforms as mobile.

When our next title comes out, it’s the gameplay that drives the platform. If we come up with an amazing idea that will work with Kinect, then we’ll be going there. I think you should come up with the game and then figure out where it comes out, or where it should be released.

You’re a fan of using licensed engines, notably Unity. Why?

I had bought into the Unity kool aid really, really, early back in 2007, when Unity was a Mac-only platform. It wasn’t building for iOS, the iOS App Store did not exist at the time. [Unity] was a relatively unknown engine.

Yilmaz and I, we said, “Okay, let’s try this out, let’s start doing some student projects in it,” so we got better and better at it, and one of the things I wanted to do was go all in with that one engine. We felt that it would be kind of the future.

It turns out that was a good guess. Unity is one of the biggest engines out there now, but we had already known what we were going to build everything in from the start. We were going to stay a Unity shop, and every project we’ve done so far has been in Unity.

It’s been a great business partner for us too. It’s promoting our games on its site, and it has its porting platform [Union], which is bringing Snuggle Truck to platform such as Roku and LG TVs.

And it’s expressed it really loves our games. When we go out to the Unity conference, we get bear hugs from the CEO. It’s a great community to be part of.

Game jams and crowdsourced QA are part of how Owlchemy does business. Is that a viable long-term plan for the company?

That’s an interesting question, and something that we definitely struggle with as an indie. A lot of companies, they start and their main goal is to grow. Our main goal is to make great games. If that means that we’ll stay under 10 people for the next five years, then so be it.

If we did any move to change our core philosophy … one of the things you mentioned like crowdsourced QA. Bringing our game on an iPad to a Starbucks, and just talking with regular people and introducing yourself and saying “Hey, would you like to try this out?” I think is a great, it’s a great thing.

If we did something that would make it disallowed, it would probably be a bad choice for our company, or it would turn it into just a different company, so, yeah, I don’t see that changing any time in the future.

How did you land Bill Tiller? He’s an established vet who went to work for a start-up of fresh faces. There’s got to be a story there.

Bill was my boss’s boss at Seven45. I was tech artist, there was a lead artist and he was the art director. They brought him in because he had 25 years’ art direction experience – Curse of Monkey Island, he was basically the background artist and the creative guy behind that style.

We both ended up leaving the company around the same time, and he heard about our game. These guys were making a game that was a satire on legal immigration, and basically he called us up and he said “I want to do the art for this game. And I don’t care if you pay me, or don’t pay me, I’m doing it.”

And then he basically like pitched himself, he’s like “I’ve been doing this for 25 years. I was an art director on this and that.” [Laughs] “You are going to let me do the art.”

How could you turn something like that down? The only concern was, is he going to have enough time to be able to finish the art?

He shipped off a couple assets to us in the beginning, and they were just spectacular. The art style is amazing. He does great work. And so we were sold, and he’s been working on all of our projects ever since.

How did it feel to have Bill Tiller pitching you?

[Laughs] He had such strong opinions that he wanted to build a game about this immigration satire that he was pitching hard. It was an interesting experience. It felt great, I mean, we definitely wouldn’t be in any kind of spotlight without like really great art.

Because on iOS you can make a great game, and if it doesn’t … people just, they skip all the text [in the App Store], they look at the first or second screenshot, and they say “Is this valuable to me?” And having his art there seals the deal for our games.

What’s the planned monetisation model for Jack Lumber?

We haven’t announced our monetisation model, whether it’s paid or free to play.

Do you worry people might look at Jack Lumber and dismiss it as a Fruit Ninja clone?

I think that’s kind of the core of what we’ve been thinking and talking about for a while with the game. I would say the game is much closer to games in the line-drawing genre than Fruit Ninja, but the fact that something basically moves vertically up the screen and then falls off the screen, instantly that parabolic trajectory of things going up and moving down, people say “Oh, Fruit Ninja.”

We know that we’re speaking to a crowd that probably has played Fruit Ninja, and so we need to challenge some of those assumptions … It’s step one: You stop time. At that point you’re closer to Max Payne or other time-stopping games.

Step two is you’re drawing a calculated path. Wording such as “down the grain” really clicks with people.

Thankfully at PAX, we had over a thousand people just playing and playing. That condensed QA period really helped us. We could A/B test the next person and say “Hold your finger on the screen, and then draw a smooth path down the end of the logs,” or “From end to end” or “Down the grain,” and that wording really clicks with people. We’ll see maybe a 99 percent success rate when you tell them that first off.

If we can get someone to play the game they’ll definitely understand. I think we’ve done a good job of separating ourselves in theme, in humour and things like that.

We just need to make sure that screenshots are poised in a way that they show that dotted line for example, so that you understand that there’s something [else] going on.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctr4CYnuZPI&w=480&h=360]

So instead of bullet time, Lumber Jack time?

Lumber Time. You’re close.

Are you expecting controversy from environmental groups and praise from PETA? You know, environmental groups upset about killing trees, PETA being happy because when you kill animals in the game you fail…

[Laughs] I think no one will bat an eye. That’s my guess. That’s kind of like how South Park makes fun of everyone equally?

We should establish ourselves that we are just building silly games, and we’re not going after any certain groups.

Thanks to Alex for his time

You can keep track of what the company get up to next via the Owlchemy website.

by Dennis Scimeca


Open Source Platforms for Mobile Apps and Games


Not every application should provide a game-like experience, but game-like animations, sounds, mechanics, and user interfaces are appearing more and more in the latest mobile and web applications. This information should come as no surprise. After all, “gamefication” of products continues to be a hot topic at many major technology conferences, and games themselves dominate both minutes spent and revenues in the highest-growth platforms of the last 5 years: social networks and mobile devices.

Team Meat says mobile developers have a "lack of respect for players"


Team Meat found resounding success with the launch of Super Meat Boy across multiple platforms. Their newest project? A completely reworked version of Super Meat Boy for mobile platforms. What started as an April Fools joke has turned into a full project, similarly to Saints Row 3 and its Enter the Dominatrix expansion.

Unfortunately for Team Meat, along with their success has come a large portion of drama. Mere mention of Linux ports or Super Meat World set gamers’ tempers aflame. Edmund of Team Meat almost welcomes this incendiary atmosphere, and as he introduces Super Meat Boy: The Game for mobile devices he erupts.

NORWALK, Conn., Mar 27, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) — TMC and Crossfire Media today announced an impressive lineup of presenters participating in their upcoming DevCon5 — HTML5 Mobile App and Developers Conference, April 25-26, 2012 at the Network Meeting Center in Santa Clara, California. Led by experts from Adobe, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Joyent and Qualcomm, the complete DevCon5 speaker list includes foremost authorities on HTML5 development and its impact on the web user experience. DevCon5 was created for web developers; software architects; graphic artists; and business executives. The DevCon5 conference program encompasses a multi-track program covering important topics related to HTML5 adoption, including: browser compatibility, user experience design and Web 3.0.

Presenters from Adobe, Google, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Joyent, Qualcomm Highlight Conference Program at DevCon5 — The HTML5 Mobile App and Developers Conference

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