Gaming Nexus' Now Loading interviews Job Stauffer about the new episodic series coming from Telltale Games based on the Borderlands universe by Gearbox Software.
Gaming Nexus' Now Loading caught up with Michael Kempson as he talks about Dead Island 2, the follow-up to the smash hit Dead Island!
Start of Day One
Matt's Take on Sony Press Conference
TownCraft is a peculiar little game. One part world builder, one part resource management, one part experimentation and one part humor come together in this game. It takes the best part of games like Farmville and Alchemy and mixes them with exploration and â€śheroicâ€ť quests to bring a unique experience. You start off as a lone wanderer on a huge map covered in trees, rocks, water, and sand. You must build tools, resources, and buildings in order to continue. The recipes for these items are a secret until you experiment and unlock them. A stick and rock can make a handy basic hatchet, while a wooden pole and a rock will make a stone pick axe with which you can break rocks to earn gold, silver, coal and larger rocks. A wooden pole and some twine will make you a fishing rod so you can fish in the lakes and ponds that populate the map.
The main theme of the game is to create, gather, or acquire through trade numerous items the citizens of world ask you for. There are two types of quests that are given; main quests denoted by gold exclamation points and side quests denoted by silver exclamation points. You can only work on one quest at a time so if you are engaged in a main quest and decide to take a side job then you will lose the progress along the main questline. There are a finite number of quests that are given in order to complete the scenario, but after about 5 hours of playing and finally completing the first scenario , I have not found a way to figure out how close you are to being done.
In reality the speed of the game is up to you, can you experiment enough to compete the 160+ recipes so you can make things like Golden Swords, Mead, Glassware, and or Birthday Cakes, each of which takes a few prerequisite recipes like barrels, forges, and stone ovens to complete? The layer of complexity to the game is pretty amazing for an iOS game. In order to successfully grow crops you harvest them in the wild, plant them, wait for them to grown and then harvest them as crops. You can do the same with buildings Bee Hives to get honey or Bird Houses to get eggs in limitless supply (each has its own recharge time). You can also hire the wandering citizens as workers paying then anywhere from 80 copper to 2 gold per day depending on the job you give them to do the work of harvesting, mining or logging for you. The downside is until later in the scenario when you unlock more
valuable recipes most of the things you can sell to the wandering traders is only worth a few copper at a time so having too many workers can bankrupt you pretty fast. You can eventually build shops and pubs to do some of the selling for you.
The game ran pretty well on my iPad Mini (with Retina Display) it only locked up once on me in the 5 or so hours that I played the first scenario. The game loads fairly quickly and the menus and item screens that pull onto the screen from the sides can be open while you do other things like harvest or walk to another location which is pretty cool. I did have a couple of issues where when I tried to drag an item from my inventory into the game world to place a crop or install a stone oven and sometimes the screen became unresponsive. It was easily fixed by closing the inventory screen and reopening it, something that takes about 1 second, and I could continue with the task at hand.
After you complete the scenario you unlock further ones or you can continue to play in the world you have created. It reminds me a little of Roller Coaster Tycoon that way in that once you beat the scenario there is nothing from keeping you from continuing to play for hours. Side quests are still given to you so you can earn money and are driven to find more recipes so the game constantly evolves.
With the amount of time I put into the game I will keep playing it. It is pretty satisfying when you figure out random recipes on your own like taking planks, tool bits, and iron poles will make you a loom which can turn your cotton into clothes or bed sheets etc etc. I am giving TownCraft a score of 9 out of 10 because it has loads of replay fun and does not offer in game purchases (or pay to win) which really
turns me off on certain mobile games. You can play this game online or offline for hours which makes it a perfect game for car rides other places your iPad doesnâ€™t have access to WiFi. The only ding on this
game is also why I love it. Some of the recipes are obscure and the ingredients are hard to find. For example there is no way to tell a rock that would give gold or silver from a normal rock that just gives
rocks. So you can spend a lot of time wandering looking for an ingredient which can get frustrating and could turn off inpatient players. Pick it up, I bet you canâ€™t put it down.
Panzer Tactics is a remake of a Nintendo DS game. The game takes historical battles from WW2 and recreates them in a top down resource strategy game. The game feels a little like Command and Conquer in that your units can only move a set amount of hexes at a time and the units each have their own strengths and weaknesses. Unlike C&C you don't earn money by mining resources; you gain fame by capturing towns, cities, and bases along your map. Your initial purchase you gain access to the Axis campaign and can unlock others by spending a little extra money.
Each scenario has a main mission and you are graded in how many days (or turns) you take to complete it. The faster you complete it the more fame you gather. You can fail a mission if you take too many turns or by losing too many "key" units along the way. Your key units are the units you are granted with at the onset of each mission. Each scenario also has a side mission you can complete. Like many games these side missions help you earn more experience and units but can take you well away from your main mission.
The units are pretty straight forward for a war game; Tanks, Artillery, Bombers, Fighters, Infantry and other support units like AA or Anti-tank guns make up your army. At the start of each scenario you are given a set number of core units and then can spend your fame from previous battles on additional units. If you feel like you need more bombers to complete a mission you can buy some. Similar to board games like Risk and Axis and Allies you can place your units where you want at the start of the scenario. With the limited movement of some of the units you need to carefully determine where to place them so they can get into combat as fast as possible.
As the scenario progresses you eventually encounter the enemy units and combat ensues. Each side gets a chance to fire on the other, so when your tank fires on the enemy's tank the enemy tank gets to take a shot back. After all the units around a key point are destroyed you can claim it by getting one of your units to the areaâ€™s flag. Once you claim other airfields and bases you can then place new units closer to the battlefront instead of having to take multiple turns to drive them all over the map.
The controls are pretty straightforward. Select the unit you want and you can review its stats, movement, fuel levels, ammo reserve etc. Drag your finger along the map and you can have your unit move to any point it can reach depending on its movement speed. If you are close enough to fire on an enemy (point blank for soldiers, tanks, etc and multiples hexes for battleships and artillery) the enemy unit will highlight red and you can choose the fire command. A small animation appears as the units exchange fire and if you or the enemy unit is destroyed there is a satisfying little explosion animation.
There are some quirks to the controls though that can be little frustrating. Itâ€™s hard to select your air unit if a land unit is parked underneath it as the default view is the land units. Some of your units like the AA gun and artillery can be moved long distances as long as you choose the trailer command. Click and hold the unit and the option to load it comes up, the unit then turns into a convoy truck, which you can then move to a point on the map. then you need to confirm the movement and the truck parks where you leave it, not dropping off the unit. (it does not turn back into your unit until its next turn) There were a number of times I would get the truck where I would want it, bump the screen and the unit would revert back to theoriginal place outside of the truck and I would have to do the whole process over again. The process to move any of your units across a body of water works the same way.
The first mission and the tutorial are appropriately difficult, but from the second mission and on the game gets more difficult and a seasoned gamer like myself had some trouble getting past the second
Overall the game is very strong for an iOS game and it ran very well on my iPad Mini (with retina display). I would have liked to have had a taste of the other campaigns to determine if I would want to spend the extra cheddar. But the game provides a lot of game play and replay for the initial download
investment. With the slightly clunky controls and the stepped up difficulty that would give a more novice gamer a hard time I would give it a solid 7 out of 10.