Friday, March 29, 2013

Just Tactics 1.0 Release and Promotion

Just Tactics, a 1v1 multiplayer tactics game featuring deck building and lots of teleporters, has officially launched with version 1.0 for Windows and Linux. You can try Just Tactics for free which includes ranked or unranked quickmatches against other players. If you like it you can pay $19.99 for the full featured version with expanded matchmaking features and more customization.

Much of Just Tactics strategy revolves around teleporters to shuttle your units quickly from one end of the map to the other. The underlying mechanics are simple enough, but the many different unit types, card decks, and teleporters add plenty of strategic depth. Take a look at the trailer below.

To celebrate Just Tactics official release, the developers are holding a promotion. Once 200,000 people have bought the full version of Just Tactics, the first 10,000 buyers will each receive $100 USD.

Here's a pretty detailed description of Just Tactics from developer Hit the Sticks' press release.

"Just Tactics is a turn-based, 1v1, online multiplayer, tactical war game involving squad based combat, deck building, and a pretty awesome teleporter-based movement mechanic.  A Deployment (army) is comprised of three squads and a customizable deck of cards.  The free version of the game allows you to play with a Default Deployment.  Paying for the game unlocks the Deployment Editor which unlocks every unit and every card and gives you the ability to customize your Deployments.

Unlike many strategy games, there is no dice rolling or similar random mechanic in Just Tactics.  Movement and Unit versus Unit Combat is deterministic, governed by stats such as Action Points (AP) and Hit Points (HP).  Uncertainty is achieved via the Deck/Card system.  Controlling Satellite Uplinks on the map allows players to draw Cards from their Decks.  Other than choosing which player will take the first turn, the only randomness/luck in the game is the shuffle of the Deck.  However, a player could build their entire Deck out of the same Card, which would leave literally nothing to chance.  Just Tactics has a great balance between determinism, which allows the most skilled player to win, and uncertainty, "does my opponent really have another hard counter in their hand?"

Beyond your deck, are your customizable Squads.  Right now, Just Tactics has 26 Units to choose from: artillery, tanks, heavy infantry, spotters, cloaked snipers, support units, and swarms of infantry teleporting into close combat.  How you compose your Squads is up to you.

Teleporters don't have an attack, but they are probably the most important units in the game.  One teleporter on its own is basically useless.  Put two teleporters within range of each other and they form a wormhole that other units can travel through.  You can network many teleporters together, allowing you to assault, reinforce and retreat with ease.  When you have a vast teleporter network spread across the map, the match is typically going well for you.  When the enemy has cut your teleporter network apart and your Squads are isolated and relatively immobile, the match is usually going badly.

Just Tactics is now at Version 1.0.0, however the game's developers plan to continue adding content (more units, more cards, etc.) to the game.  As Just Tactics gains more content, the price of the game will rise, which creates an incentive to purchase it now.  When the price of the game rises, anyone that has already purchased the game is still good to go, you do not have to pay for downloadable content."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

March 2013 News #2

Battle Academy: Operation Husky DLC is now available.

New XCOM content teased. Will it be less buggy and slow than XCOM: EU? We'll see.

XCOM:EU announced for Android and iOS.

Panzer Corps will be getting a DLC Pack consisting of all 10 separate expansions.

Gameplay demo of Space Hulk, an upcoming tactics game for PC. Check out some impressions here.

SD Gundam G Generation Frontier announced for iOS and Android. The first G Gen iOS game was called SD G Gen Touch.

Details on Devil Survivor 2: Break Code. New content, new story elements, etc.

Super Robot Wars OE announced for PSP. It's a download-only SRW that will be released as episodic content. Check the official site here.

Indie Corner sourced from Rui Castro's Facebook page.

Battle World: Kronos interview.

Frozen Endzone interview.

Just Tactics 1.0 released. New Just Tactics trailer.

Breach & Clear hands on demo. Looks like a sluggish version of Frozen Synapse.

Telepath Tactics Kickstarter has made 25k with 19 days to go.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Battle World: Kronos Kickstarter Success

Battle World: Kronos has met its $120k funding goal on kickstarter, with about 30 days to go to reach stretch goals. It's a promising looking tactics game inspired by the Battle Isle or Advance Wars series. That means military units and deterministic mechanics. Visit the official site and check out some screenshots below.

Friday, March 15, 2013

March 2013 News

Hi all, news incoming.

Panzer Corps is up on Steam Greenlight. Go vote for it to get it on Steam.

Slitherine links with Games Workshop on new licensing agreement. They'll be working on a new Warhammer themed tactics game I'd guess. Sounds good!

History: Legends of War has been released for PC, PS3, and 360. This is a port of the PSP game Legends of War: Patton's Campaign. It's a squad based tactics game with gridless movement.

Frozen Synapse developers have announced a new game, Frozen Endzone. It's a WEGO tactics game similar to Frozen Synapse, except with a sports theme. It's also up on Steam Greenlight for voting.

Civilization V: Brave New World expansion pack announced.

XCOM: Enemy Unknown coming to the Mac

Details on Rainbow Skies, sequel to Rainbow Moon on PS3/Vita

As expected, Devil Survivor 2: Break Code for 3DS has been announced.

Info on Panzer Corps final DLC update, Panzer Corps ’45 West. Of course, there are still tons of user made maps, campaigns, and mods to try out.

Unity of Command: Red Turn DLC

More Super Robot Wars UX Scans.

Dogs of War Online, a F2P tactics game for PC. Interview here.

Indie Corner, mostly sourced from Rui Castro's Facebook page.

Battle Worlds Kronos kickstarter. Looks to be heavily influenced by Battle Isle and Advance Wars. Currently at 40k out of 120k with 38 days remaining.

Breach & Clear, a new squad based tactics game for Android and iOS

Telepath Tactics now has a Kickstarter up to fund further development.

More updates to Diesel Tactics' Blog

More updates to Chaos Chronicles

Xenonauts news updates.

Enemy, a voxel based tactics game with lots of game physics.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Is it time to give up on JP tactics games?

I was disappointed with the recent Fire Emblem: Awakening. Terribly balanced, bland map design, grinding encouraged, and absurd amounts of fanservice. That got me thinking about what formerly good tactics series have either died, gone MIA, or fallen by the wayside. I won't bother discussing tactics series that have always been that way (FFT, TO, Disgaea, other NIS or Idea Factory games, etc.)

Front Mission: DEAD

Front Mission was a good turn based cover shooter series that succumbed to poor sales and Square's financial troubles. Read this article on the definitive demise of the series, namely that "with pretty much the whole Front Mission team gone from Square Enix, this will also likely be the end of Front Mission, for good".

Military Madness: DEAD

Hudsonsoft went out of business in 2012. Their Military Madness (or Nectaris) releases on consoles and iOS a few years ago got almost no attention. Konami now owns the rights to the series and it will likely stay buried for good.

Shining Force and Valkyria Chronicles: MIA

We haven't seen a new Shining Force tactics game in over a decade. Shining Force III was the series' last big hurrah and given Sega's recent financial issues, it's not likely they're going to take a big risk on a tactics game revival. In fact, Sega seems determined to wipe Shining Force from the public consciousness because they don't want people to confuse it with the newer non-tactics games in the Shining series. Talk about burning your bridges.

Valkyria Chronicles is another Sega franchise with slim chances of reappearing. Recall the 2012 Sega reshuffle when they shut down several offices and made a press release stating their new focus on "strong and balanced IP such as Sonic, Total War, Football Manager and the Aliens franchise" as a result of "extraordinary losses". Also note that Sega refused to fund Bayonetta 2's development or publishing costs.

Even if we happen to see VC4 announced for Vita, what are the chances it will be localized? Not likely given how badly Vita is doing outside Japan.

Advance Wars: MIA

The original Advance Wars had a great start and inspired many western tactics developers and gamers, but later series entries stumbled in sales, especially in Japan. Days of Ruin was a last ditch attempt to appeal to the western market and it didn't do as well as Nintendo wanted, apparently. I say apparently because the Japanese localization (subtitle The Lost Light) was cancelled despite being fully translated in Japanese at the time of NA release.

Nintendo is struggling financially with the Wii U bleeding money and 3DS barely hanging on against smartphones and tablets. I'd love to see a new Advance Wars (assuming it's not turned into a mess like Awakening), but it's looking increasingly unlikely.

Fire Emblem: Forsaken?

Fire Emblem: Awakening feels more like an Idea Factory game such as the deplorably bad Record of Agarest War series than a traditional Fire Emblem. It has abandoned efforts towards balanced and well designed tactical combat with varied and interesting level design. Forget about depth utilization or scoring systems, it's apparently just another fanservice laden, broken sandbox grind SRPG series now.

It's too bad Fire Emblem's combat and level design went from great (FE12) to mediocre at best (FE13) in the span of a single game. To say nothing of the Idea Factory level fanservice permeating the whole experience. Unfortunately its sales success means we're likely to see more of the same in the future. If we see another Fire Emblem with combat as good as Blazing Sword or Heroes of Light and Shadow, I'd be surprised.

Daisenryaku: Forsaken?

Daisenryaku is a long running realistic military tactics series for consoles, typically Japanese only. Unfortunately we've been seeing a lot less Daisenryaku and a lot more of their "Moe Moe" series, which simplifies the game mechanics and challenge while being about as perverse as a console game can get. There is a new Daisenryaku Perfect for 360 and PS3 scheduled for release, but it has faced multiple delays even while Moe Moes continue to be cranked out for every console imaginable. It would not be a surprise if Daisenryaku Perfect was the last we ever see of the series, assuming they release it at all.

So what tactics games are left from Japanese developers that still has some semblance of strategy to it? It's not all doom and gloom if you're willing to import and learn Japanese. Regardless, I see myself increasingly playing western developed tactics games from now on, such as the great games published by Slitherine.

Namco-Bandai: Still going

Namco-Bandai is one of the few Japanese developers with good long running tactics series. Their two main series are Super Robot Wars and SD Gundam G Generation. Both of these series ride on the strength of their IPs. Although they both have some fanservice during the battle animation cut-ins, it's nowhere near Idea Factory or FE: Awakening's perversity. They still tend to be on the easier or casual side of tactics games outside of challenge runs.

Sting: Still going

Sting has carved out a niche for themselves as developers of tactics games with unique and somewhat complex combat mechanics. This includes the Union series, Knights in the Nightmare, and Gungnir. While quite a lot of their recent games have not been localized, they still seem to be active for now, although they have partnered with Idea Factory - who knows where that will lead. But who knows, they might disappear at any moment, much like the developer Success (Operation Darkness, Rondo of Swords, Drone Tactics, etc.)

Devil Survivor: Still going

Devil Survivor is a relatively new tactics game series, but it's a welcome one as it's both a pretty good tactics game and commercially successful with surprisingly little fanservice.

So what do you think? Did I miss any good Japanese series or tactics game developers dead or alive?