Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff Review: Simpsons did it (better)

Apr 15, 2014

The Simpsons: Tapped Out was released for iOS in the first quarter of spring 2012, and later on Android in 2013. Not only has the Springfield-themed city-building game remained a consistently popular download since its launch dates, but it's also one of the top-monetizing free games on the App Store and Google Play.

So it's not at all surprising that TinyCo looked over in EA's direction and said, "Say - look at what they're doing!" before taking pictures and frantically scribbling on a pad of paper. What is surprising is that it's taken this long for a Simpsons-style mobile game to get wrapped up in a Family Guy skin and slapped on the digital market.

Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff

Sadly, the wait hasn't been worth it. With its aggressive panhandling for in-app purchases, long wait times, and (mostly) flat jokes, playing Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff is as sad as watching Rupert the teddy bear grow soggy in a torrential rainstorm.

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Drinkbox Studios' Severed: A little bit Kill Bill, a little bit Fruit Ninja

Apr 14, 2014

The previous game from Drinkbox Studios, Guacamelee! was a wonderful send up of the Metroidvania genre that’s colorful in more ways than one. Its bright Day of the Dead/luchador aesthetic was a cheerful celebration of Mexican culture, while its story and characters were frenetic and entertaining without becoming cloying or clichéd.

Severed looks similarly Central American, but a whole lot more serious. Guacamelee! had its sullen side, but Severed sounds like a tale of revenge. Our warrior protagonist has lost her arm (and possibly more, if I’m interpreting the above trailer correctly) and seeks retribution against supernatural forces.

So far it’s only been announced for mobile platforms, but the devs haven’t ruled out the possibility of bringing Severed to touchsreen devices like Vita, 3DS and even the Wii U. Considering the company’s history with Sony, at least one of those is probably a safe bet.

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UFHO2 dev: Valve doesn't want my game, so torrent it

Apr 14, 2014

Ciro Continisio of Tiny Colossus took to Reddit over the weekend in order to promote his strategy game UFHO2. After nearly two years stagnating on Steam Greenlight, and measly sales through Desura and Humble, Continisio has resigned himself to the fact that "nobody is going to buy it unless it's on Steam" and released a UFHO2 torrent onto The Pirate Bay. The release of the torrent came a little over a week after UFHO2 was released onto the iTunes Appstore where it's available for $3.99.

UFHO2, which stands for Unidentified Flying Hexagonal Object, was posted to Steam Greenlight in August of 2012. Six months prior the game managed to pull in over $10,000 through a successful Kickstarter campaign. However, it is worth noting that about half of those earnings came from just around 10% of the backers. 

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The game is a sequel to the 2007 game, UFHO, also developed by Continisio, which was available to play for free online. The servers for UFHO have since been shut down and the game is no longer playable. 

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Butterscotch Shenanigans and the Art of Speedcrafting

Apr 14, 2014

Butterscotch Shenanigans first appeared on my radar thanks to Gerblins, a cute little puzzle game that was both simple to play and shot through with personality. I liked it quite a bit, but as fun as it was, it didn't inspire me to think of the Butterscotch boys as a potential force in the field of mobile game development. That didn't happen until the March 2013 release of Towelfight 2: The Monocle of Destiny, a game I literally did not stop playing until May of that year, when Quadropus Rampage turned up and sent me on a quest to destroy Pete, the Mad God of the Sea. I'm still playing that one.

I don't want to say that Sam and Seth Coster are a strange pair, but the games they create do make me wonder what's in the water they drink and where I can get some. And now they're in the midst of an even more unusual project: "Speedcrafting," a sort of weekly game jam in which they give themselves ten hours to develop a small but complete game – a "Butterscotch Mini" – from start to finish.

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"Our current plan for production is eight Minis, one every Monday, though that’s only to give us something to shoot toward should things get difficult. It’s much easier to motivate yourself to do another one if there’s an end in sight," Sam Coster recently explained. "However, they’ve been so useful (and fun to make) that we expect we’ll be doing these until our blood runs cold."

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Civilization: Beyond Earth - because strategy games belong in space

Apr 14, 2014

You know who’s great making PAX East announcements? Firaxis. Last year the studio used the Boston convention to announce the mobile port of XCOM: Enemy Unknown which, yes, managed to live up to the lofty promises they’d made. This year, they decided to go one step further and announce the next entry in everyone’s favorite strategy series, Civilization.

Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth will take players on a journey into the stars for the very first time (unless you count 1999’s spin-off Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, which the devs of Beyond Earth love, but stressed they’re going in their “own direction” from in a conversation with Kotaku).

Following a series of events that Firaxis refers to as “The Great Mistake,” the Earth is looking a little rough around the edges. As a result, humanity sets off to colonize a strange new world. Unlike past games in the series that draw from history, Beyond Earth will be about making choices to shape humanity’s future. 

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BREAKFINITY's monetization is brilliant

Apr 14, 2014

When developing a free-to-play game, there’s one question every developer faces: how is it going to make money? In-app purchases are one way to go. Ad revenue is another. In many cases, you’ll see a mix of both. Phil Hassey’s BREAKFINITY is no exception – but it’s the way he balances the two that makes it so compelling.

BREAKFINITY is what would happen if Breakout or Arkanoid were an endless runner. Players will clear just enough blocks to see their ball move up to the next stage in a never-ending quest for points. You’ll only get one ball, but – and here’s where things get interesting – you can buy more with premium currency OR get a free ball by watching a video advertisement. You can get two free balls every game in this manner, but since it caps out at two there’s still a sense of competition. Your high score is going to be based on those combined three balls alone, not upsetting the leaderboards (unless you want to buy more with premium currency, of course).

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Plenty of other games provide incentives for watching video advertisements, but the reward usually comes in the form of premium currency, and it’s often balanced in a way that prevents you from exploiting the system and raising an infinite amount of in-game cash by watching an afternoon of commercials. BREAKFINITY goes in the opposite direction – watching a quick 15 second video is BREAKFINITY’s answer to “insert coin to continue.” The more you play, the more ad dollars Phil Hassey gets. It’s a win/win.

But is it working?

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The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile Walkthrough

Apr 14, 2014

Episode Three of The Wolf Among Us is a point-and-click adventure game created by Telltale Games.  In this game, you take on the role of Bigby Wolf, a tough law enforcer who tries to keep the peace among New York’s fantastic population of "Fables." Episode Three sends Bigby Wolf and Snow White on the trail of suspected murderer, Ichabod Crane. Gamezebo’s walkthrough will provide you with detailed images, tips, information, and hints on how to play your best game.

The Wolf Among Us: Episode 3 - A Crooked Mile

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Guild of Dungeoneering: a self-described 'reverse roguelike'

Apr 13, 2014

Guild of Dungeoneering is an upcoming reverse roguelike from developer Gambrinous. The game has players constructing the dungeon gauntlet that the hero will have to venture through, but the catch is that the player does not control the hero. The goal of the player is to, of course, ensure the survival of the hero through a careful balance of gameplay. Make a dungeon too easy and the hero won't get the experience they may need later on to defeat enemies. Make a dungeon too hard and it will more than likely result in a not-so-heroic ending.

Gambrinous reinforces the design aspect of the game through Guild of Dungeoneering's aesthetics. The game has a hand-drawn look that reminds me of the little warriors I used to draw on folders, back in middle school math class. I know I'm not the only one who did that.

While Guild of Dungeoneering is still in Alpha testing, Gambrinous are selling access to the current build for $9.99 on the game's official website. Gambrinous also posted Guild of Dungeoneering on to Steam Greenlight, for voting. Look for the game to be released late this year for Windows and Mac, with the possibility of a Linux release as well. 

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Fight the Dragon Preview: With 450 dungeons in just two weeks, this one's a keeper

Apr 12, 2014

On March 27th, developer 3 Sprockets launched Fight the Dragon on Steam Early Access. The top-down 3D dungeon crawler's main attraction was its allegedly super simple level editor which allows players to upload and share their creations. While level editors are not an uncommon sight in video games, 3 Sprockets have gone to lengths to ensure that their dungeon editor is seemingly the main feature of the game.  After creating my own dungeon from scratch in a little under two hours, I'm here to report back that making a dungeon is just as fun as playing through everyone else’s.

Fight the Dragon

Turns out I'm not the only player to think so. In just two weeks, over 450 dungeons (nearing 480 at the time of this writing) have been generated by players and are now waiting to be discovered by other adventurous players. 

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Evolution: Battle for Utopia Review: Variety is the spice of life

Apr 11, 2014

In my time spent sampling the many, many freemium flavors on the App Store I feel like I’ve gotten familiar with just about everything that’s out there. And yet here I find myself somewhat smitten with Evolution: Battle for Utopia - a game that doesn’t so much reinvent the wheel as it tries to be a whole bunch of different wheels all at once. The weird thing is it actually kind of works.

Evolution: Battle for Utopia

While on a mission to colonize the planet Utopia, the Commander and his crew are shot down while landing and their escape pods scatter them across the land. A land filled with all sorts of very large and aggressive animals, nomadic scavengers, and plenty of other nasty hazards. The Commander will have to fight his way through hordes of enemies in order to reunite his crew, begin terraforming the planet, and start restoring order. And that’s all within the first thirty minutes or so.

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