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December 28, 2014

Dave Pottinger of BonusXP reflects on 2014

Its been quite a big year for BonusXP, although you might not think it when noting that the studio hasn’t released any new titles this year. However since Cavemania’s release in 2013, the studio has seen some great accomplishments. BonusXP founder, Dave Pottinger has taken to the studios website to write a blog reflecting on the year, a happy end to 2104.

This year has seen the small studio grow quite considerably in size and they have taken on some big names including the legendary Bruce Shelley to help work on both of the studios ongoing projects. The first of those projects is a mobile RTS game code-named “Longbow”. This project has been in development for quite some time now, in part due to the challenges of dealing with free-to-play on an RTS model. It is after all, a tricky mix to get right and we saw some of those challenges surrounding Age of Empires Online. Dave Pottinger summarises the core issue well on his blog post.

The core RTS has always been fun. We’ve had a hard time getting the surrounding pieces to feel ‘right’ next to that RTS game. Most of that is due to Longbow’s free-to-play nature. It’s a non-trivial problem getting free-to-play to work well with a strategy game. You’re supposed to win strategy games because you’re smarter or faster than your opponent, not because you’ve paid $1 to try again.

However the good news is that it looks like BonusXP have perfected the formula they need to make Longbow a success. It will be very interesting to see what they come up with. The studio certainly has the expertise and creativity to achieve a great mobile RTS, one need only look at the calibre of staff they have on board, a number of whom being Ex-Ensemble. It’s going to be an exciting 2015 for RTS fans.

Another notable achievement of this year was BonusXP’s partnership with Stardock Entertainment. This partnership should see the release of BonusXP’s second title in 2015, codenamed “Servo”. There isn’t too much detail on this title yet, but it will also be a strategy game and instead of being mobile it will be a desktop game. The good news is that we should see the light on what servo is all about soon.

I can’t say much about it right now, though that’ll be changing in the near future. I do tweet about some of the various systems I’m working on with Servo, so follow me (@dcpottinger) if you want to conspiracy-theorize about some of the features. I can say that Servo is rocketing along. We’ve been doing our daily playtests with Servo for the last two months. With a big push this month, we’ve also got all the major pieces in the game now. That’s key; we can finally evaluate how everything feels with the right context. But, the best indicator about Servo is the arguing and trash talking that goes on during playtest. When players are doing that on a regular, you know you’ve got something good cooking.

It sounds like it has been a fantastic year for BonusXP and they have risen well to the no-doubt many challenges that 2014 has thrown at them, being a small independent developer. We’ve seen first hand some of the great work they have done with Cavemania and Monster Crew. It’ll be very exciting to hear what they have coming up next year, so stay tuned to Remember ES and the BonusXP website for information.

Be sure to check out Dave’s full post on the BonusXP website as well, just click on the link below.


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