Brad CummingsUnited States
I had the chance to ditch my normal job for a day and head to the New York Toy Fair. There was a good sized board game section as well as hidden gems littered throughout the fair. Below are some highlights from the companies I was able to talk to and things that I saw.
I had the chance to meet with Justin at Wizkids in the NECA booth. The big news was that they were showing off a demo video of a Heroclix app for the iPad. The app is still in early development but they were able to tell me that certain Heroclix figures will be able to sit on the iPad and interact with the app. The demo video was not final but the technology looks similar to the Cars AppMates toys where the physical figure stays statics and the map move around them. This looks really cool and I hope we see more soon.
In the board game realm I was able to see the Star Trek: Expeditions Expansion, the Quarriors expansion and the new games for the Hunger Games. I can’t wait to check these all ou. The new Quarriors expansion is in a larger box intended to fit all current expansions.
Discovery Bay Games:
Back in 2011 I reviewed the Duo by Discovery Bay Games. Since that time they have released several more “app-cessories” for iPad and iPhone. The first is an arcade style controller and stand for the iPad that works with the Atari Classic app. More in line with the board game crowd is the Duo Pop. The Duo Pop is a set of four buzzers that works with several trivia game apps. The buzzer does seems to work well and I hope to get my hands on one to see how it works in a party type situation. Look for more on this soon.
Along with W. Eric Martin I was able to speak with Frank at R&R games. He showed me an original iOS party game they are developing called Peeple Watching and we were able to play a quick game. In the game you choose a picture of a person from the game (or take one of your own). Each player is asked a series of seven multiple choice questions about the person. For each question you wager one of your seven chips ranging in value from one to five. You receive that many points if you answered the question the same as the majority of players. The player with the most points at the end of seven questions is the winner.
Frank also mentioned he is interested in moving some of his existing titles to iOS. He did not make any promises but he did mention in passing that he would love to see Masters of Venice on iOS because it would manage a lot of the bookkeeping.
NukoToys was having a press event for their new development using the Monsterology license. They are developing a game that uses physical cards that can be tapped on the iPad screen and the item or creature appears in the game. This seems like a really cool mechanic and I am still stumped by the tech. I handled one of the cards and they seem no thicker than a regular card. I have my theories, but I am not sure yet. This game will be available in Spring 2012 and it looks like it will be a hit with the children collectable crowd. The game itself (once the cards have been uploaded) is a turn based tactical battle game that actually seemed to be well designed.
I was able to speak briefly with Stephen of Stronghold Games. He mentioned that Survive is being developed for iOS and should be available by March 2012. He also said that Confusion is in the works for iOS as well and should be completed sometime during Quarter 2, 2012. We will follow up with Stronghold Games as these dates approach to get more information.
I was able to speak with the guys from Keht and actually spoke to Luke Hooper who worked directly with the app developer. They said that they have had a good response on the app. They also mentioned that the AI developer will be releasing a Chess iOS app soon which may interest fans of the Keht AI. He also mentioned that they are working on addressing two of largest complaints from this release: the basic graphic design and the lack of a universal version of the app. I for one look forward to these updates.
I was able to speak to the designer of Kiwizniac, an interesting trivia game. Each card features 10 clues. The clues get progressively easier and you receive points equal to the number of clue you are on once you can guess the item. It sounds like an interesting concept and I was surprised to hear that the game already has an app on the app store. You can check it out here. Look forward for more comments on this from me in the future.
After making an appointment early in the day I was able to gain access to the Lego fortress. While inside I was able to check out some of the new Lego Board Games coming this year. A new Heroica expansion will be coming as well as a game based on the City play sets. Following the release of upcoming Lord of the Rings Lego sets, there will also be a Hobbit board game. I was told this will be similar to the Harry Potter board game, having simple mechanics with some of the movie flavor mixed in. I was also able to confirm that the Battle of Hoth board game is not currently slated for US release.
On the digital front, they did not have a lot to say (the digital component are of course made by other companies). However, they did show me a product released last year called Life of George. It is a Lego set that interacts with an app. You build specified figures as quickly as possible and then are graded on your accuracy. This game’s tech and style has piqued my interest so I think I will be checking it out.
Out of the Box:
Along with W. Eric Martin I was able to speak with Leah at Out of the Box games. They are interested in digital development, specifically for Word on the Street. We had a great conversation and she asked Eric and I about our advice about going digital. I think we gave some good advice and hopefully we will see some good digital products soon. Also Apples to Apples has recently released on XBOX live. This is certainly worth checking out and I will be taking a look soon.
I had a chance to speak with a Stefan at the Asmodee booth. He was extremely busy but he was able to tell me a little about their upcoming iOS releases. He did mention that 7 Wonders is still in the works as is Evo. I also got to covet an expansion to Timeline the card game. Hopefully we will see that in the US soon.
Toy Tube is a cool iOS app that uses augmented reality. Cards will come with certain plush toys and when they are detected by the iPad camera the characters on the cards enter the game. The game then is to get the characters on the screen in to one of the target cards. It honestly was not a deep game and mostly meant for children but the ability of the tech seems promising for other uses. The detection process seems similar to a QR code but I was told it is reading the border around each object which is telling it which asset to display in the app. The app also seemed to be able to detect distance from the camera, meaning you can put the cards on different heights and they will be displayed that way.
North Star Games:
I had the chance to sit down with the guys at North Star Games and learn more about the their upcoming digital development plans. They are currently on working on Wits and Wagers for iOS. The project is currently in the works with a developer and they are in discussion with Backflip studios. Dom shared a lot with me about the AI planning and other development choices. It appears they are working hard to ensure that the app is a great fit for iOS. They also mentioned that they will be interested in bringing more of their games to iOS, such as a version of crappy birthday where you can add in your own unique cards using the iOS device's camera. We will keep you posted with more information on Wits and Wagers as it becomes available.
There were many more things that I saw and I wish I could fit it all here but these are the highlights. It did seem apparent that integration with physical elements and digital devices is a growing focus in the toy market. Skylanders: Spyros Adventure had a massive booth and was one of the most crowded in the fair. It was an interesting show and I will make sure to attend next year.