I'm a big fan of turn-based strategy, a genre that, like so many others, the mainstream game industry no longer supports because of its insistence on aiming for millions of unit sales, which TBS games never achieved. But games like Jagged Alliance 2 and X-COM UFO are, in their own way, among the greatest strategy games ever created.
In a way, Frozen Synapse is doing what Laser Squad Nemesis did: take the basic dynamics of turn-based strategy into an online, head-to-head multiplayer environment. LSN is, unfortunately, no longer extant, but Frozen Synapse is a worthy alternative.
The Clonk series is fairly obscure, as such things go, but it has its own fanatical following -- and is notable for the huge variety and scope of its gameplay, as well as for its somewhat awkward controls.
Originally designed by Red Wolf Games, a German shareware developer, Clonk is a weird combination of aufbaustrategiespiel, arena combat in a destructible environment, and platformer. You control a clonk, a somewhat hobbit-like fellow, and run about a 2D, platformer-like environment, controlling with WASD keys; you have an inventory, and can, depending on scenario, obtain a huge variety of tools, including bows, swords, grappling hooks, magic spells, explosives, shovels, and so on. Almost everything in the environment is traversable or destructible with the right tools, and in platform levels, traversing is the goal.
Finally a Facebook game that makes you feel like you're on Kongregate! See those blood splatters in the header pic? That's monster blood, the result of killing via explosives and projectile launches. See that array of buildings? That's a non-decorative arrangement I used to express myself, with concerns for both architecture style and radius coverage of my peremeter, which has been optimized - optimized! - to cluster AI paths into areas of maximum overlap. In this game I was allowed to make decisions which affected my success relative to everyone else in a matter that was challenging. Surely italics are better than quotation marks for placing "sardonic" emphasis?
Finally a Facebook game that makes you feel like you're on Kongregate! See those blood splatters in the header pic? That's monster blood, the result of killing via explosives and projectile launches. See that array? That's a non-decorative arrangement I expressed myself through, with concerns for both architecture style and radius coverage of my peremeter, which has been optimize - optimized! - to cluster AI paths into areas of maximum overlap. In this game I was allowed to make decisions which affected my success relative to everyone else in a matter that was challenging. Surely italics are better than quotation marks for placing "sardonic" emphasis?
Yes, the folks at Casual Collective, makers of really neat multiple experiences like Buggle and featuring the maker of Kongregate breakout-hit Desktop Tower Defense, have applied their hybrid of depth and accessibility to that "space" where traditional designers have feared to tread but where angels tread quite freely (the investor variety): The Facebook. Now you can open that book of faces and proceed to start breaking said faces by spawing groups of home-brewed monsters at the door-step of other folks' tower defense arrays. If you succeed in overwhelming you can raid resources in order to grow your tower-defended base even faster. They take the chestnut of setting a timer and coming back for a reward and granulate it to a wide spectrum of time ranges, upgrade this building for 20 minutes, this one over two hours, research this monster for a day, harvest some putty in an hour and a half of the collector will be too full to continue - somehow this juggling act, in contrast to the optimal appointment that games like Farmville or Cafe World offer, appeals to the epic-compulsive drive of the active competitor or manager-type gamer. However according to their chart, people burn out on that and the resulting ratio of daily to monthly players is lower than you'd expect from a demanding strategy game.
The PvP is pretty fun as you raid someone multiple times and they start hitting back, so you reflexively get into these petty rivalries with folks you've never met - would like to see more with my actual friends, structured local leaderboards, short-term races to a goal milestone, alliances and wars and tournaments. But maybe they can roll that stuff out, at 200k DAU they're pulling prolly like 5k a day so they're probably holding onto positive operating-margins with this thing and you're going to see some new stuff roll out over time.
As far as the early game goes, I admire their boldness in not folding to the mainstays of Facebook game design. The interface is kind of a mess from a "casual" (or is that casual) point of view, but they just trust you to deal with it. Most notably, the focal mechanic of the game, attacking other players, doesn't become accessible until after a few days of active play, they even give you 14 days explicitedly when you start up. This kind of commitment, as fickel as it may seem to those who have losts years to MMORPGS, is staggering for a social game.
But hey man, at least we have a game where you can post a newsfeed that isn't totally hokey, and maybe even inspire some badass admiration as you start unlocking that hardcore, high-level monster and warn your friends. I Like that.
Submitted by justin lundy on Fri, 08/06/2010 - 19:27.
Transformice is all about the cheese, or rather, about how to get the cheese and return home safely. You are a mouse navigating 2D levels with pitfalls, obstacles, and the chaos of having up to two dozen other players all scrambling for the prize; the faster you are the more points you get. Play is in a familiar physics-based platformer style, with gravity judging if your mouse can make that jump.
Zatikon is from Chronic Logic, who have produced a whole slew of interesting games over the years, including Gish and Bridge Construction Set. It's a bit of a departure from them, both for its business model and for its gameplay.
Campaign is ostensibly a game of the 2008 US presidential elections; at start, you're given a choice of three Republican and three Democratic candidates (sorry, George). However, your "candidate" is like your king in Chess; they're all the same. 120 hit points, the same list of potential attacks, and so on. It's one of the pieces you move across the board.
The game is played on a square-gridded version of the continental US (guess Alaska and Hawaii don't count), divided into seven regions. In addition to your candidate, you start with three other units -- the possibilities include Hatchetmen, Spinmeisters, Fundraisers, and Operatives; you get to choose what combination you want.
Hundred Years' War is a game involving dozens of players, played out over a period of months, in which each player represents a nobleman of France, England, or one of the surrounding countries--except for the four who represent the Kings of England and France, the Black Prince, and the Dauphin, and to whom most of the rest of the players report. There are two complementary sides to the game--the economic game, which you can play with occasional updates to your fiefs' orders every few days, passing on money and troops to your liege; and the military game, which is played out in realtime, with players on one side messaging each other to coordinate the movement of armies across France and England.
There's nothing like this anywhere. BUT. This is basically a pure-text game, and one that requires a serious commitment to play.
Ticket to Ride was the winner of the 2004 Spiel des Jahres Award, the single most prestigious award world-wide for boardgames. And Alan Moon, its designer, is one of the most highly regarded designers of contemperary boardgames. From its website, the publishers, Days of Wonder, offer a free online-playable version of the game--with some limitations on free players.
The Noks is a very weird game--if it's a game at all.
Partly, it's a system of collectibles. There are several hundred "Noks" in the world at present, and the developers plan to add more over time. You can think of Noks as something like, say, Magic: The Gathering cards, except that they aren't cards. They're animated 3D avatars with backstories. Some of them sing songs or perform music. And most have something to tell you about the game itself, or the backstory of the Noks universe. To understand that universe, you'll need to collect--well maybe not "them all," but lots of them.
Sugar Cube is a kawaii-cute platformer -- responsive and well-tuned, with one unique mechanic that makes it interesting.
At various points on the level are hidden items -- often platforms -- that are revealed, and switch "on," only when you pass through or near them. As you move about, the four squares immediately around you are tinted, and show the hidden items. Frequently, there are small "lights" on the screen that show the hidden items, in ghosted form, until turned on; but often, items are revealed only when you activate them. Finally, by holding "shift" while jumping, you can prevent items from "flipping" from active to inactive state.
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