I’m guessing most of you learned what dysentery was at a young age, and I’d also bet that your teacher wasn’t the reason why. MECC found a way to incorporate real history and fun gameplay into a groundbreaking educational game to teach players not just what happened, but what it was like to be there. What The Oregon Trail did for the Oregon Trail, Sortasoft’s Meriwether aims to do for the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
In 1804, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned Meriwether Lewis and William Clark to travel across the United States to the West Coast. They were to catalog and study the plants, animals, natural resources, and geography along the way. They were also charged with establishing trade and U.S. sovereignty over the Native Americans along the Missouri River. Helping them in these endeavors was a small group of volunteers known as the Corps of Discovery.
Gameplay in Meriwether consists of two types of levels. In Lewis levels, the player will be navigating handcrafted levels focused on storytelling and dealing with situations that faced the actual expedition. In the travel mode, players will control the entirety of Meriwether’s Corps of Discovery through procedural wilderness as you gather resources, discover wildlife and ration whiskey. In both modes, Sortasoft seems committed to delivering a historically plausible account of the expedition. They have even gone so far as to have a Lewis and Clark historian involved in the project. However, Meriwether isn’t meant to be just a fun experience for history buffs, but for anyone looking for an entertaining survival/exploration game.
I actually had a chance to play this game about a year ago and found it extremely involving, even at such an early state. From the looks of their Kickstarter page, the game has improved by leaps and bounds since then. Check it out for tons more information on the project and the expedition itself. Who knows, you might even learn something!
Desperate Gods is an open source “digital board game” developed by Wolfire Games for Fuck This Jam, a week-and-a-half-long game jam based around making games in genres you generally dislike. In his design overview, Wolfire’s David Rosen describes how he enjoys board games but feels that their video game counterparts lack a lot of what makes them fun. Check out the video above to see how he and artist Aubrey Serr tried to overcome these problems while developing a unique board game from the ground up.
Even with the genre showing that it is still alive and kicking with the recent return of two industry names, Chris Roberts (Star Citizen) and David Braben (Elite: Dangerous), it is especially exciting to see new, indie blood enter the space-sim scene.
Limit Theory is the newest space sim to launch a Kickstarter and, though it launches amid a wave of similar games, it has really caught my eye. Having been in development for only three months so far, the footage and screenshots that sole developer Josh Parnell is showing off on Kickstarter are already gorgeous. I don’t know if Mr. Parnell knew when he began this project just how much of a sucker I am for both open exploration in procedural worlds and spaceflight, but I feel like this game is fueled by my fever dreams.
A sandbox RPG/RTS in a procedurally-generated universe filled with procedurally-generated planets and traversed by procedurally-generated ships all fighting and trading across infinity. Limit Theory promises a lot, but also has substance to show and definite passion to drive it into the future. Go check out the project’s webpage for more information, and be sure to drop any questions in the Kickstarter’s comments section, where Mr. Parnell seems quite active in responding to the community.
After six years in development, and on the ten-year anniversary of the original Half-Life mod, Unknown World Entertainment’s Natural Selection 2 has finally been released into the wild.
Natural Selection 2 combines the multiplayer FPS and RTS genres in a showdown of the alien Kharaa vs the Frontiersman marines. Although the gameplay of the two sides differs in units, weapons, and attacks, each is commanded by a single player who views the game from a bird’s-eye perspective while their teammates duke it out on the ground in gun-and-tooth combat. Securing and holding resource nodes, researching (or evolving – in the case of the Kharaa) more powerful upgrades and units, and working as an organized team are key to winning in NS2, and it will be interesting to see what sort of strategies emerge and shift over time.
Speaking of shifting gameplay, NS2 also boasts an impressive suite of mod support, and players have already created new content ranging from new maps to entirely different gameplay modes. This active community element, in combination with steady support, feedback, and events from the development team over at Unknown Worlds, ensures that Natural Selection 2 will continue to evolve well into the future.
I’ll be honest, part of me was expecting that we’d all be brains in jars before Cortex Command reached 1.0. But no! After almost a dozen years in development, Dan Tabar’s opus has hit that milestone and is now available on Steam. Players who have already purchased the game, either directly or through a Humble Indie Bundle can get a Steam key here. A Linux build is still in development, according to Dan’s announcement post.
The release marks the completion of the game’s campaign mode or “meta game”, which allows players and CPUs to engage in large-scale warfare, building bunkers and attacking one another across the face of a planet. To find out more about this new mode, check out Dan’s latest playtest video below. And if you’re new to Cortex Command, this is also a good way to see the game’s impressive physics and AI in action.
Congratulations to Dan and the rest of the team on the release!
This is a video that mashes up quite a few trailers for doujin games that will be available at this year’s Comiket (Comic Market), a Japanese self-published comic book festival (and the largest in the world, with half a million attendees last year). The video was put together by Edelweiss, a doujin game developer that created Ether Vapor and is attending Comiket 82 with a new shoot ’em up called Astebreed. The festival is taking place this weekend on August 10-12.
Links to each of the games featured in the video are available here on Edelweiss’s website.
A Nation of Wind is an action sim where the goal is to control obelisks in levels composed of floating islands. To control an obelisk, it has to be surrounded by four temples, which are expensive in resources – you’ll have to start by building an infrastructure that includes farms, saw mills, and mines. Enemies will attack your colonies by land and air, however, so you’ll also need walls and turrets to defend. Direct attack is possible with your airship, too, using a variety of weapons that are fired with the mouse.
In a system that evokes god games like Populous, temples enable four elemental magics, each with a major and minor spell associated with them. Earth magic, for example, allows you to create new land masses or level mountains. Fire lets you dry up lakes or attack the enemy with devastating meteors. There are also spells to speed up time or heal your units.
The game’s website touts it as a cross between “arena shooters” and “real time strategy games”, but the action is fairly tame compared to Geometry Wars or Starcraft. Instead, it should appeal much more to a fan of Populous or the simulation portion of Actraiser. If that’s you, I recommend a look, as among management sims I think it may rank fairly highly. Just be prepared to spend some time getting to grips with how everything works – this game could really use some mouse-over help or at least a better tutorial.
TIGdb: Entry for A Nation of Wind
StarForge is an ambitious 3d action game that’s currently in development. According to the game’s wiki, it’s inspired by “Halo, Warcraft 3, Borderlands, Terraria, and Minecraft”, and features a number of modes that let players build bases and wage war across randomly-generated alien worlds. Player movement is entirely physics-based and body parts react (somewhat) realistically to every impact.
The first public alpha was released earlier this month and is free-to-play, although you can purchase “Hatch Points” to spend on player models and other assets to use within the game. The developers have warned that this alpha is unoptimized, may have performance issues, and does not include every feature shown in the trailer.
Punch the possum for a fan-made video which explores the alpha in more depth:
Cortex Command B27 is out for Windows and Mac. This build is the final public test release before the game hits 1.0, and includes a complete campaign mode that can be played against the AI.
In the following video, which was taken before the release, Dan “Data” Tabar talks us through a campaign as he plays through it:
“Red”, an expansion pack for the turn-based strategy game Frozen Synapse, has been been released and offers two-player co-op, a riot shield unit, a new “kill the hacker” multiplayer mode, three mutators, a 15-mission single-player campaign, 10 single-player challenge missions, new music from nervous_testpilot, and “Red Mode”, which lets you play the game with red environments. The $10 expansion is available from the Frozen Synapse website or Steam (Steam keys are provided even if you buy directly from Mode 7 Games).
On top of that, the game has received a free update that adds Hotseat Mode, timed turns, and non-randomized multiplayer maps for competitive play. See the Mode 7 Games blog for more details.
TIGdb: Entry for Frozen Synapse