I did a post back in April about my favorite ever Kickstarter project, a Battle of the Bulge turn-based strategy game for the iPad. I backed the project of course, and was ecstatic to see it meet and pass its funding target. Since then I have been excitedly following each Kickstarter project update as the game gets closer and closer to release. Today’s update is great to see, as it opens with these lines:
We’re heading into our final development cycle for Battle of the Bulge. With the core of the game done, we’re focusing on the user experience to make play more accessible, informative, and fun.
The update goes on to list the major items that will be addressed during that final development cycle, and mentions a timeframe of two weeks for it. Here are some of those items (emphasis mine):
The tutorial. If you’re like me you hate tutorials. I want to play the game, not have my hand held! But Bulge has enough depth that players really will want to understand what’s going on. So we demonstrate the interface, step through the key elements of play, etc.
A historical narrative. Though Bulge is fun purely as a game, understanding the historical context adds a tremendously to enjoyment. For me it works the other way too: a good game brings history to life and helps understand why events happened the way they did.
AI user experience. The quality of the experience playing against a computer opponent depends not just on the opponent’s intelligence, but also on the way its decisions and actions are presented. Too slow and it’s boring. Too fast and it’s hard to follow (and just feels wrong). We’re balancing the experience so it feels right.
A post-game review. A lot of games offer their players fireworks or victory dances at the end. That’s nice, but after a glorious victory the most satisfying reward for serious players is reminiscing about critical choices and dramatic moments. So we fast-forward through the entire game, showing the areas that were fought over, changes in control, etc., while a tally of objectives and victory points runs by. The total effect is really neat, showing the Axis tide advance, crest, and (usually) recede.
I love the sound of each of those features. You can just tell from reading about them, and in all the project updates really, that this game is being created not just by great game developers – but also by a team that plays strategy games of this type of games and loves to play them. This is because the team at Shenandoah Studios, the makers of the game, bring a long and exceptional history in this genre of the gaming industry.
Shenandoah Studio is a new game company dedicated to bringing top quality turn-based games to the iPad in the style of classic board games. The team consists of six people with over 130 years collective experience in game design, game graphics, and programming: Jeff Dougherty, David Dunham, Nick Karp, Miguel Nieves, Eric Lee Smith, and Pat Ward. Including John Butterfield, designer Battle of the Bulge, that number exceeds 160 years! Collectively the team has been nominated for over twenty game awards and has won many.
I don’t think I’ve ever posted so much about an iPad app that hasn’t yet hit the App Store. To say I can’t wait for this one would be a huge understatement – and now it looks like the wait may not be too much longer. Huzzah.