PeopleFun the studio founded by Tony Goodman has launched its second mobile game to the masses. Aptly titled “MixTwo” the latest game shows players two pictures and when combined the pictures reveal a linked word. For example match a cat and stripes and what do you get? Tiger, of course!
The above example is in essence what MixTwo is all about. Players progress through image after image and try to answer each puzzle. Like most word games and indeed Word Chums before it, once you start playing its really hard to put it down! The game also offers dual function of helping you learn your spelling for those longer words . When things get tough as they inevitably do players can purchase “hints” to help them solve the puzzle. Currently the hints are “Show picture tiles”, “Reveal a letter” and “Remove extra letters”. Players can use these hints for free, once every certain number of hours. Akin to games like Scramble with Friends, players can optionally purchase more hints with coins. Coins are earnt by solving puzzles, optionally players can purchase coins for real money. The prices for these coin packs are extremely low, infact just £0.66 can buy 40 uses of the “Show picture tiles” hint!
MixTwo has a good balance of difficulty, I find myself ploughing through some easy challenges and then encountering one that really makes me think. Although the game has no multiplayer functionality I often ask a nearby friend on their thoughts. This kind of word of mouth will no doubt be a key factor for spreading the word around about MixTwo. Once people see the game i’m sure they will be compelled to download and try it out from themselves. In typical Ex-Ensemble fashion the game sports bright colours and is a breeze to use.
MixTwo is a free download and is refreshingly available on both Android and iOS. Download links as below – happy mixing folks!
Microsoft Studios have today announced that an HD edition of Age of Empires 2 is in the works. This may not come as a surprise to many who noticed that the Age of Empires Online website has featured articles and blogs about Age of Empires 2 recently *cough* Retro Sunday *cough*. With Ensemble Studios sadly closed many fans will be wondering who is developing this title. Perhaps one of the studios to form out of Ensemble? Well, no, not so I’m afraid. Microsoft Studios are working with Hidden Path Entertainment (developers of Counter Strike). That said, there is at least one Ensemble staffer on board – Mark Terrano was Lead Game Designer at Ensemble Studios during Age 2′s development. He now works as Design Director and Chief Creative Office at Hidden Path.
Age of Empires 2 HD is all about revitalising the game with improved graphics and also some new content like multiplayer on Steam. Achievements, leaderboards and matchmaking are all part of the new and improved game. Not to mention all 18 campaign missions as the re-release includes all the content from both Age of Kings and The Conquerors Expansion pack. There is also support for user generated content which will no doubt prove very popular.
The HD graphics are a little uninspiring though. If you’re thinking about a completely revamped graphical engine you are mistaken. The “HD” is referring to improved textures and higher resolution game play. While certainly it is a welcome improvement and its great to see Age 2 re-released, the “HD” prefix seems to be over-egging things some what. You can see for yourself in the screenshot below for the kind of changes Hidden Path Entertainment are going for.
It’s certainly a game to look forward to though! Infact its available to pre-order now for just £13.99, its certainly a bargain for all the Age 2 content, the new multi-player features and improved graphics. The game is Steam exclusive and the pre-order link is here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/221380/
There is also an excellent trailer to show off the game – be sure to watch it all the way to the end for special bonus content!
Congratulations to all the team at Robot Entertainment as Hero Academy wins the “Best Mobile Game” at the 16th annual DICE awards. This is a prestigious awards for developers and Robot Entertainment was up against 3 other games in the mobile category including Fairway Solitaire, Horn and Rayman Jungle Run. Its fantastic to see Robot’s hard work recognised with this brilliant award.
CEO Patrick Hudson and COO Harter Ryan were on hand at the ceremony to collect the award.
Celebrations were a plenty this morning at Robot HQ:
Since its release in August 2011 a vast amount of content has been released for Age of Empires Online. Firstly the Greek and Egyptians civilisations were (along with the core game) largely developed by Robot Entertainment until production shifted to Gas Powered Games as part of a planned transition in February 2011. Post-release Gas Powered Games have released various content packs including Skirmish Hall, Defence of Crete along with 4 additional civilisations – Norse, Persians, Celts and Babylonians. However today it was announced on the official website that content production and development of the game is now ceasing.
Cost reasons were cited as a factor in the decision to stop producing content. The scale of the post-release content we have seen from Gas Powered has been extraordinary and is not like traditional DLC packs with other games. Each civilisation and other booster packs required a vast amount investment and development resource. The production quality on these packs has always been very high. Content packs have also been reactive to community suggestions, most notably the Skirmish Hall.
Unfortunately the scale of content being produced could not be sustained as the game becomes older. Whilst we will no longer see new content for the game in terms of booster packs of new civilisations the game will continue to be supported. This is not the end of online play. Much like the ESO service that runs Age of Empires 3, Microsoft Studios’ Community Team will continue to offer support for the game as well as community features such as competitions. The official blog post reads:
However, nothing else changes for players, nothing that currently exists will be removed. You can still play everything you own, earn EP, and purchase any content you do not currently own. We will still fully maintain and support the game and its players; no one is losing anything that you have earned or bought. Our Community team will continue to support the game by way of Community Challenges, streams, contests, PvP tournaments and more.
Before Gas Powered Games finish on Age Online there is one further content update to be released which will contain as of yet unannounced final content.
Whilst its sad to see content be stopped for Age Online, the game has certainly had a very good run with sustained, high quality content. I’m certain Age Online is not the last we will see of Age of Empires. The full blog post about todays news can be found on the link below. Fans may want to engage in discussion about this news on the games official forums.
Robot Fans are running a community Q&A with Robot Entertainment’s Community Manager Justin “SixOkay” Korthof. This offers the perfect chance for the community to get their burning questions answered. The top 6 most demanded questions from the community will go forward to Robot Entertainment for review. If you have a question that you want to get off your chest why not add your question into the mix – it might get chosen!
Questions can be posted here: http://www.robotentertainmentfans.com/2012/12/21/6-questions-for-sixokay
Looks like Christmas has come early from BonusXP who have today released the Android version of “Monster Crew”. There are many great games on iOS that never make it to Android, its great to see that BonusXP have taken the time to enable the millions of Android users to enjoy the spooky platforming game. If you havn’t been able to play the game yet here is a quick low down. Monster Crew is an “endless” platformer that sees you play the role as Frankie, a boy who had his precious card collection taken at a yard sale. Frankie travels to a frightening castle to try and get them back but is turned into Frankenstein. Its now up to you to help Frankie recover his cards from within the ghostly castle.
Inside the castle the game is “on rails” and your job is to collect cards and coins whilst stomping on the enemies and climbing the castle. At the end of each floor there is a stop break where players can look at their cad deck. As you start to build up your card collection again the game becomes more strategic as you can use bonus cards to provide you with power ups to help you get through the levels. However, you can only choose one card at each floor so players need to choose wisely.
Coins collected in each level can be used in the store to buy new cards or upgrades to existing cards. There are also mission objectives to complete in order to get more bonus coins to spend on cards. There is a good variety of objectives. Its a whole lot of fun and very addicting as you try to reach higher floors. Beware though, the higher you climb the tougher the enemies get! Fire breathing spiders, acid pits, ice skellingtons and ghouls all await you. If you’re afraid of spiders you might find Monster Crew a bit tricky!
If things get tough players can purchase new cards or upgrades using real money from the store. The base game is completely free and is supported by advertising which is fairly typical for free games. For $3.99 players can join the “Frank Club” and get 50% off all future Frank Bonus Cards and Upgrades.
To find out a bit more about the Android launch Remember ES got in touch with Dave Pottinger, Co-Founder and CEO of BonusXP to answer a few questions.
Dave Pottinger interview
- What made you decide to bring Monster Crew to Android?
[DCP] BonusXP has always planned to be a multi-platform studio. Android makes total sense as the next step along that path. Conveniently, there are also quite a few Android users these days. The number one request we get for Monster Crew is to make an Android version. It’s hard to ignore that. Besides, Monster Crew is a great game; we want everyone to have a chance to play!
- What kind of challenges did you face with Android compared to iOS?
[DCP] I know we should say it was terribly complicated and super difficult. But, it wasn’t really that hard. We use Unity for our base technology, so the core engine is multi-platform. We also spent a good bit of time preparing for additional platforms as we were coding Monster Crew (e.g. building a robust, resolution-independent UI and abstracting platform-specific operations). The result? The very first time we compiled Monster Crew for Android, the core game worked. We had a few ancillary issues to work out with some 3rd party technology, but it was really pretty easy. Easier than we expected for sure!
- Are there any Android only features for Monster Crew?
[DCP] As much as we believe in building great games for multiple platforms, we’d like those experiences to be as similar as possible. That allows us to put our best efforts into everything. Small variances will occasionally creep up due to the differences in the platforms, of course. A great example is the “Back” button on Android devices. We did add a fair amount of custom code and UI handling to make that work correctly and meet expectations for Android gamers. But, by and large, we’d like to keep the core experience as similar as possible across all platforms.
- Will BonusXP release future games on Android too?
[DCP] Yup. We’re planning to release our future games simultaneously on Android and iOS.
- Is BonusXP exploring any other platforms for Monster Crew?
[DCP] We’d be fools not to, so yes to that, too. I think Monster Crew can, and will, be a lot of fun on most any platform. As a small studio, we have to be smart and do everything possible to make our games successful. Often, that involves evaluating other platforms and specialized markets in order to make your game accessible to more players. I can’t really discuss which other platforms, yet, though.
Download and play now!
Monster Crew is available for download, free on Google Play right now on the link below:
Dont forget to leave BonusXP a review after playing. Leaving a review helps spread the word about Monster Crew.
If you have an iOS device like an iPhone, iPod or iPad you can download it from the App Store here:
Good news for Mac users, thanks to Steam Play it is now possible to play Hero Academy on both PC and Mac! All you need to do is open Steam on your Mac and you should find the option to download Hero Academy. When you sign in with your existing Hero Academy username all your teams will unlock on the Mac version – like magic!
If you’re not familiar with Steam Play you can find out more about the service here:
Many Ensemble fans will remember the name Sandy Petersen from the famous Ask Sandy threads on the Age of Empires Heaven website. Sandy often took part in many forum Q&A discussions on the Age of Empires Heaven website and was certainly engaged with the community. Most notably the final Ask Sandy thread gave fans an insight onto the closure of Ensemble. Sandy is an Ensemble Studios veteran having been with the company since its early days and became the lead designer on the Rise of Rome expansion pack for Age of Empires. After the closure of Ensemble in 2009, Sandy went on to teach at the The Guildhall at SMU inspiring budding game designers.
Sandy Petersen is now looking to begin work on a new project - Cthulhu World Combat. Cthulhu is a famous alien horror story written by H.P Lovecraft back in 1926. Sandy is excited about bringing this story to an iOS and Android video game.
“This is the first-ever game in which you actually PLAY the roles of Cthulhu and other alien and interdimensional gods of Lovecraft’s famous mythos”
- Sandy Petersen
Listen to the Remember ES interview!
Kenny Newell has conducted an awesome audio interview with Sandy himself to talk about the project in detail and some discussion about his role at Ensemble Studios. Be sure to tune in using the media player below to find out more about this interesting project.
Cthulhu World Combat – Kickstarter campaign
In order to help fund the project Sandy has started a Kickstarter campaign for the project that was recently highlighted as a “Staff pick” from the Kickstarter team themselves. $300,000 is required to get Cthulhu underway and there are many types of rewards for those who invest in the project. However investment doesnt stop there, Sandy has big plans for expanding the game should more funds be realised. Check out his master plan below:
To find out more about the game just visit the games official website: http://www.cthulhuworldcombat.com/
Hot on the heels of spooky Halloween, Bonus XP have now launched their first action packed game on iOS – Monster Crew! A perfect game for the season, Monster Crew launches with its first episode which sees Frankie complete his collection of cards, only for them to be accidentally sold in garage sale by the typical local crazy scientist. In the first episode Frankie takes charge to get his cards back and travels to the scientists castle where things end up not going quite to plan… Frankie ends up being turned into Frankenstein! Here beings Monster Crews strategy-platforming gameplay as Frankie sets about recovering his cards from the many levels in the castle.
“Monster Crew is now available to download and play for free,” said Dave Pottinger, BonusXP’s CEO. “We’re already working on exciting new features to add to the franchises as well as updating our website with tips and tricks that will let players master the deep system of upgrades and power-ups. When the iPad Mini launches tomorrow, we know Monster Crew will be a must-download title out of the box.”
Monster Crew is free to play and available for download right now for iOS devices from the App Store? So what are you waiting for? Head over to the App Store and check it our now!
Hot on the heels of PeopleFun the latest mobile video game studio to form from Ex Ensemble talent is “BonusXP” formed by Dave Pottinger, John Evanson and Jason Sallenbach all of whom are Ex Ensembler’s. A little while ago they lifted the lid on their first soon to be launched mobile title “Monster Crew”. The game is a strategic platformer game featuring combat and RPG elements. The story resolves around the young “Frankie” a boy who enjoys playing his “Monster Crew” card game. After having collecting numerous cards his collection is unfortunately sold by accident after a yard / car boot sale. Keen to get his cards back Frankie sets out on a mission to recover them. Turns out his cards are held by a mad scientist in a creepy castle. After setting about trying to get his cards back Frankie accidentally presses a button in the castle which turns him into Frankenstine, and here the adventure begins!
BonusXP have put together an excellent trailer for the game which sums up the story and demonstrates some of the gameplay. Check it out below!
As can be seen the game features youthful gameplay suited to a wide audience. There is also a good element of strategy that would would expect from this Ex Ensemble minds. There is a comprehensive tech tree which allows players to spec up their character and purchase upgrades. The challenges that lay ahead may best be solved with certain combinations of the tech tree. Numerous enemies await players including full size battles bringing traditional console platform gaming onto mobile devices.
Speaking of mobile devices, Monster Crew is launching soon on iOS devices with support for Android coming down the road.
Episodic gameplay – Monster Crew will feature episodic gameplay which means the game will be released with various “episodes” which are unlockable overtime. These episodes are in no way short, with the first episode offering around 15 hours of gameplay, not to mention the re-playability options. The game will be free to play with the option of spending money in game on items.
Be on the look out for this brand new game in the App Store soon! We’ll update you as soon as its available!