I’m often confused by the term ‘real-time’ when it comes to games. It gets bandied about and thrown around a lot, but rarely lives up to its literal definition. A new iOS and Android title takes the notion very literally, however, and runs games in actual, real time over the space of a week.
Subterfuge is a stunning-looking multiplayer strategy game that aims to reduce the micromanagement and resource grinding usually associated with this genre, and refines the concept down to a minimalist and accessible experience.
“One of our primary goals with Subterfuge is to respect the player’s time,” says designer Ron Carmel, of World of Goo fame, over on Gamasutra. “We want every minute a player spends in the game to be meaningful and interesting.”
And from the looks of things, the three-man team responsible for Subterfuge has succeeded. The idea is for you to check in several times a day to make your moves and to engage with other players in a chess game of diplomacy and, you guessed it, subterfuge. By expanding quickly and taking control of outposts, you can mine the most Neptunium and begin to dominate the game.
There’s a unique feature that shows you a predicted future while you’re planning your next move. It demonstrates what will happen with your various vehicles, outposts and resources based on the information you currently have. But it doesn’t take into account decisions that other players have yet to make, and neither does it factor in events that take place beyond your fog of war. So the further into the future you attempt to look, the less accurate your predictions will be.
It sounds complex in description, but even watching the basic Subterfuge tutorial videos (see above) quickly helps wrap your brain around the engaging gameplay. Subterfuge is currently in an alpha testing stage, though you can sign up to take part in the run up to its full launch in the summer of 2015.