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The Weekender: Soft Launched Edition

Another year, another E3 down. There was a bit more mobile love than I was expecting, all things considered, but still not so much that it prevented this week from being a bit on the slow side. Hopefully things will pick up again now that the madness is over. Make sure you check up our round-up of interesting tid-bits from yesterday because, one way or another, we’ve got some exciting things coming to mobile over the rest of the year!

Meanwhile, in the world of mobile gaming…

Out Now

We appear to be in a bit of a draught right now In terms of new releases that have really grabbed our attention. For once there isn’t a new rogue-like card game hitting the market, but neither is there anything else we like to see either.

However, there have been a couple of RPG releases that warrant further inspection, which we’ll summarise below:

Knights of Tartarus (iOS & Android)

This is another Crescent Moon Games release that harks back to the nostalgic days of 8-bit consoles and classic RPGs. It’s a bit on the pricey side, but it’s supposed to feature an vast open world, challenging puzzles and boss fights.

Dark Quest 2 (iOS & Android)

A more tactical-based RPG along the lines we’re used to, this game is inspired by Hero Quest and has been out on PC and Consoles for a while. It features a vast single-player campaign, party-based gameplay and the usual trappings of a game of this nature. There’s some question as to how stable it is right now, so we’ll try and investigate as soon as we can.

As a final note, it seems Call of Duty: Mobile has soft-launched on iOS in Australia, if anyone was interested in checking it out and knows their way around a VPN (or is Australian). It’s also out on Android in certain parts of the world as well.

Updates

Nothing much to ‘headline’ this section this week, but there has been a round of updates from usual suspects. Star Traders: Frontiers continues to put all other devs to shame with a couple of minor content drops, AutoChess has made improvements to its Chess Pass along with some tweaks, and Evolution has updated again, although the description reads exactly like it did last time, so not sure what’s going on there. There’s a Reigns: Her Majesty update as well, but we don’t know what it’s done as of yet.

Deals

A few deals worth nothing this week:

Seen anything else you liked? Played any of the above? Let us know in the comments!

3DS MAX 2020.1 Released

Hot on the heels of the somewhat underwhelming 2020 release, Autodesk have just released the newest update to the seminal 3D modeling application, 3DS MAX 2020.1.  They have also updated their roadmap, showing future development priorities for the application.  The biggest and possibly most game changing new feature of this release is the ability to detach and support up to 3 different viewports, making multiple monitor configurations so much more capable.

Primary features of the 2020.1 release:

There are also several bug fixes and improvements fully detailed in the release notes.  As mentioned earlier, Autodesk also updated their development roadmap, which is available here.

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Haxe 4.0.0-rc3 Released

The Haxe programming language just released Haxe 4.0.0-rc3.  With this release the versatile Haxe programming language just got an additional compilation target, the Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

Other details of the release:

On behalf of the Haxe Foundation, we are proud to announce the official release of the Haxe 4.0.0-rc.3! It is available along with the changelog at https://haxe.org/download.

The new Java Virtual Machine target is available! Generate JVM byte code directly from Haxe bypassing Java compilation step by adding -D jvm to your project targeting Java.

Unicode support was greatly improved across all targets.

Other than that, we fixed a lot of bugs and improved the quality of IDE services (compilation and completion server).

Also, we are considering different options about inline markup. The feature is subject to change in the future: https://github.com/HaxeFoundation/haxe-evolution/issues/60

See the changelog below for further details. Please report any issues here: https://github.com/HaxeFoundation/haxe/issues

Thank you very much for your help!

Be sure the check the link for the full change log.  With the new ability to target JVM, this means you can now create Java based Android applications.  For more details on this process, check this Github project.  If you are looking for a Haxe game engine be sure to check out our list available here.  We have also done a Haxe + HaxeFlixel and Haxe + Heaps tutorial series.

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Valve’s official Dota-themed AutoChess game will hit Open Beta in the next couple of weeks

By Joe Robinson 14 Jun 2019

Yeah, yeah, I know; another AutoChess-related story. Look, it’s pretty good, ok? Just… play it. Or if you’d rather not play AutoChess itself, you won’t have long to wait for Valve’s officially sanctioned version that they’ve been developing themselves.

AutoChess began life as a DOTA 2 mod, so given how popular it became it was inevitable the Steam owners would be keen to make their own version, and last night they revealed that DOTA Underlords would be it.

It’s currently only available to anyone who owns the Battle Pass on PC, but sometime soon – we’re thinking either this time next week or early week after – it will transition into Open Beta for everyone across PC, Android and iOS. Here’s their official blurb:

Dota Underlords is a new stand-alone game that pits you against seven opponents in a battle of wits that will have you building, combining, and levelling-up a crew in a battle of dominance for the city of White Spire. In this game, victory is determined not by twitch reflexes, but by superior tactics.

At the moment, Underlords allows you to fight against seven opponents, whether they be real people online, offline play against AI (of various difficulties), or some combination of both with a pseudo-‘co-op’ mode, as the official blog post explains. When the game hits open beta additional features such as Ranked, and cross-platform play.

It feels like they’re releasing this earlier than they’d like, but then the battle for the AutoChess throne is already well underway. The Mod’s official mobile version is available on all platforms already, and they’re bringing a souped-up PC version to the Epic Play store, not to mention all of the other clones and me-toos that have already started to crop up in places. Even League of Legends is getting involved.

We will let you know more as we get it, and I’ll definitely be taking it for a spin myself when it lands.

AppOnboard Acquire Buildbox

AppOnboard, perhaps most famous for the technology powering the Google App Store “Try Now” functionality have just acquired BuildBox.  BuildBox is a nocode or codeless game engine that just released version 3.0 and announced a pricing change.  The acquisition will not change the management or structure of the BuildBox team.

Details from the BuildBox blog announcement:

I’m extremely excited to announce the next chapter for Buildbox, and explain how we’re going to vastly expand our product, ability, and community going forward, but before I do that I believe it’s most important to discuss what is not changing.

With this acquisition, every single employee is staying with Buildbox, including myself and Nik.  Buildbox will run independently — as it always has — while being able to grow much more quickly, and tap into the great resources that AppOnboard provides.  Nik and I will still be focused 100% on vision and additions to complete line of our products. We will not be making any changes in product, besides improvements and additions we already have planned.

What we will have access too, that we did not before, is resources to help us hire more developers, content creators and more for Buildbox.  You’ll see our development times vastly improve, and content creation for Buildbox speed up drastically.

AppOnboard is amazingly dedicated to not changing our vision, but helping us see it through to its largest potential.

AppOnboard have also released a statement available here.  BuildBox also released an email to all developers with the following details (thanks J.P for the heads-up!):

A lot of changes are underfoot and all of them positive! Every employee from Buildbox that you know and love are all still here and will definitely be here for a long time. We’re the same Buildbox team that you know and love; it’s just that we have much more resources now to hire more developers, content creators, etc!
So what’s next for us?

  • a FREE version of Buildbox
  • much better Android, ad network, and export support
  • new nodes and smart assets
  • a new smart asset store
  • roadmapping expansions for the MasterCollection software
  • lots and lots of Buildbox 3 Upgrades
  • … and so much more!

At face value, this development seems like a pure win for existing BuildBox developers.

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E3 2019 Special: All the weird and wonderful things that have happened this week

By Joe Robinson 13 Jun 2019

You would have to be hiding under a rock not to realise that this week has been all about E3 – the biggest annual showcase & convention in the world of videogames. As a whole, it’s never really been about mobile games specifically, but It’s position as a focal point for the entire industry means that we always get a healthy smattering of announcements.

On top of that, companies not involved in the show like to try their arm and announce things anyway, which makes for one crazy, news-fuelled week that can be hard to keep track of. As E3 starts winding down, I’m going to take a moment to recap everything that I’ve seen or heard this week that may be of interest.

Phantom Doctrine heading to mobile

Technically not an E3 announcement, this underappreciated PC game marries the turn-based tactical action of XCOM with all the intrigue and espionage of the Cold War and is actually a pretty fun game all around. The turn-based battles have a great system of allowing you to sneak around before hell breaks loose, in theory allowing you to complete a mission without ever getting into a gunfight.

The developers tweeted this week that it’s coming to mobile, which is pretty exciting as we haven’t had a decent XCOM-like game in a while (and XCOM 2 doesn’t look like it’s going to show up). Read our sister site Strategy Gamer’s review of the PC version.

Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad

Ubisoft had a mobile announcement or two for us during their press conference earlier in the week. Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad looks to try and cash on all the love people have for various franchises and characters with a new “real time action RPG” spin-off on mobile.

You’ve got to assemble your team of characters from across Ubisoft’s games and pit them either against other players in the PvP Arena, as well as PvE campaign mode. It kinda feels like it’s trying to draw some of the elements from AutoChess, but they’re not marketing it as a branded competitor, which is a shame because I reckon they’d have gotten a bit more traction (plus an AutoChess-like with Rainbow Six Siege (and other) characters sounds super compelling). It’s due on iOS and Android although no release window was given.

Bethesda

The most mobile announcements, surprisingly, came from Bethesda this year. Their headline announcement wasn’t a game, but a technology – Orion. Perhaps trying to keep with or a least challenge Stadia, this is a streaming technology that’s platform agnostic and tied to specific games engines as opposed to hardware and is supposed to reduce latency and bandwidth usage.

There is a trial planned for iOS later this year and it will involve streaming the single-player content form Doom; you’ll need iOS 11 at least. Plans for Android and PC do exist as well.

bethesda orion

Apart from that, there were a couple of game announcements like a new Commander Keen game, as well as updates for Elder Scrolls: Blades, which is apparently doing very well for itself. We should get on that.

The other Elder Scrolls related announcement was a new expansion coming to Elder Scrolls: Legends. Moons of Elsweyr will arrive at the end of the month on June 27th with new cards and new mechanics and is already available for pre-order.

Final Fantasy

Square were also keen to show mobile some love during their conference this year.

First up they announced that the Crystal Chronicles Remastered edition would be coming to tablet and smartphones when it releases later this winter. Crystal Chronicles was an interesting side-story in the Final Fantasy saga, releasing on the GameCube originally and offering a co-op based action-RPG twist on the usual dynamic. It will be coming to both iOS and Android, and hopefully will feature cross-play between all platforms (including PS4 & Switch).

The other announcement concerned War of the Visions, the tactical RPG spin-off from the Final Fantasy Brave Exvius game. It will be coming to both iOS and Android globally later this year as well. Not sure yet if it’ll also be Free-to-Play like its progenitor, but I suspect it’s likely.

Have you spotted any other mobile-related announcement this week that got you excited? Let us know in the comments!

Epic Games Acquire Houseparty Social Video Chat Platform

Epic Games, the makers of Unreal Engine and Fortnite, just acquired Houseparty a multi person video chat based social network.  Houseparty is available in application form for both the AppStore and Google Play.  The reason for the acquisition isn’t entirely clear, but couldn’t have been cheap as Houseparty was fairly well funded.

Some details were released on a Medium post by Houseparty:

Today is a big day for us at Houseparty because we’re joining the Epic Games family!

Houseparty is the synchronous social platform that lets you connect face-to-face with the people you care about most. By teaming up with Epic, creator of Fortnite and Unreal Engine, we’ll be able to help even more people connect with their friends, family, and peers.

“Joining Epic is a great step forward in achieving our mission of bringing empathy to online communication,” said Sima Sistani, Co-founder and CEO of Houseparty. “We have a common vision to make human interaction easier and more enjoyable, and always with respect for user privacy.”

“Houseparty brings people together, creating positive social interactions in real time,” said Tim Sweeney, founder and CEO of Epic Games. “By teaming up, we can build even more fun, shared experiences than what could be achieved alone.”

So, why would a gaming company like Unreal Engine by a social video chat platform?  My best guess is to support their upcoming cross platform online services initiative although that is entirely speculation at this point.  If you are an existing Houseparty user, according to the FAQ in the linked Medium article, your life should remain unchanged in the near future at least.

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Beginner’s Guide to Cultist Simulator

Any reviewer will tell you that the fun of Cultist Simulator is the mystery. The obscure mechanics and gradual process of discovery are precisely what make the game such an evocative simulation of delving into the chthonic world of esoteric knowledge. While true, what they don’t tell you is that you can also get easily frustrated managing the game’s earlier, more mundane tasks. Cultist Simulator is one of the few games where you can starve to death in the first ten minutes from pure ignorance.

Whether you are brand new to the game or just someone who googled ‘Cultist Simulator Tips’ after staring blankly at its virtual table, this guide is for folks who want a softer landing when they’re getting started, but don’t want the cool stuff later on spoiled. Feel free to stop reading once you think you have enough to get going on your own!

cultist simulator tips 1

The most important rule is this: pause the game. Don’t leave the timers running while you are trying to figure out what to do. Run time with a purpose and keep track of everything that is happening. Stop time when you need to check up on something, read some tooltip text, or sort your cards. It’s easy to get pulled into a complicated task without realizing something terrible is about to happen.

This can be difficult because the playing field is larger than you might expect, especially on a tablet. When you pause, be sure to zoom out and check the state of all your Action timers, and make sure no unexpected new ones have appeared. In addition to your standard Actions like Work, Study, and Dream, temporary ones will appear and are often an emergency you’ll want to deal with right away, like Sickness.

cultist simulator 4

The most important one to keep track of is Time Passes, which consumes one Fund every minute and spits out a new Season that keeps things interesting. When Time finishes Passing, pause the game and check what new hell has been dealt to you so you can try to take it on. Once you are familiar with the Seasons, you can preview the one on deck by opening the action, giving you a chance to plan ahead.

Daily life

Your first priority is to acquire the Funds that are necessary to feed the Time Passes timer. For this task of course the Work action is what you need. Each of your basic resources, Passion, Reason, and Health, can feed Work. Using Health will spit out a single Fund for menial labor, plus a Vitality. Passion lets you try painting, which is unreliable in terms of Funds and generates Mystique that may be used against you but is good for your mental health. The most reliable is using Reason to get an office job. This generates a steady stream of Funds, but the job card will decay, so you have to show up to work constantly. This will continuously occupy the Work action, preventing you from using it for anything else. It’s hard to be a cult leader when you have a day job.

cultist simulator tips 3
Mental health

After going destitute the next easiest way to prematurely end your life as a master of secrets is by going mad. There are a few cards you’ll want to keep track of here. Dread is one you’ll pick up frequently, and if the Despair action appears on the table it will draw Dread into it—three Dread will end the game. Contentment is what you need to counteract that, and the easiest way to obtain it is to use a Fund on Sleep to buy opium. Painting also generates Contentment on occasion, and painting can consume the Restlessness cards before they decay into Dread too. Fascination is the opposite of Dread and accumulating three of those can also doom you to madness. Luckily you can actually use Dread to consume Fascination through Sleep. Dream is also the action you’ll use to care for your mundane health, helping you clear any Afflictions with Funds (medicine) or Vitality.

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Self-improvement

One of your first projects can be upgrading your Abilities. All three basic Abilities have an Advancement that you can Study two of to give said Ability a boost. Two Vitality gets you more Health, a pair of Eruditions gain Reason and a couple Glimmerings net Passion. Studying any of your basic Abilities will get you the Advancement cards, but there are plenty of other ways too, so keep your eyes peeled. Each further level  will take more and better Advancement cards.

Baby’s first cult

Eventually you’ll pick up your first piece of Lore, probably from reading a book you really shouldn’t have. These are the color-coded cards with inscrutable descriptions that are your first step to the deeper mysteries. One of the first things you can do with Lore that you might not have thought of is put it on the Talk action. This sends you out proselytizing to the streets and will probably get you a new Acquaintance that can easily become your first cult member.

That should be enough to keep you playing for your first hour without dying in a gutter. After that you’re on your own. I fear I have written too much of the deeper mysteries already. Remember: “The Wood grows around the walls of the Mansus. As any student of Histories knows, the Mansus has no walls.”

Do you have any tips or tricks for getting through the early stages of Cultist Simulator? Let us know in the comments!

Creature Runtime Licenses Changed To Apache Open Source

Kestrel Moon just made a change to the licensing of the runtimes powering their Creature 2D animation software.  These runtimes enable you to fully utilize animations authored in Creature in your game engine of choice.  Runtimes exist for the follow game engines and platforms:

The terms of licensing for the runtimes are now as follows:

The Creature Runtimes operate under 2 License types depending on whether you own a Licensed copy of Creature or not.

  • People who own a licensed copy of Creature: You use the standard Creature License included with the runtime code. TLDR: You are free to publish/modify/sell your product with the Creature runtimes without needing to state you are using the runtimes/put the copyright notice in your code/app. If you already have been using the Creature runtimes as a licensed owner of Creature, nothing changes 🙂

  • Everyone else: The runtimes are released under the very permissive Apache License 🙂

Both Licenses allow for private use and do not require any disclosure of your source code.

The previous licensing required developers to have a license to work with a runtime, making integrating Creature runtimes into various game engines and technology impossible if you didn’t already own a license.  This change should make it easier for example for a game programmer to work with the runtimes using art generated by an artist, not requiring an additional license in this scenario.

If you are interested in learning more about Creature, be sure to check out our hands-on video available here and embedded below.

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