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We Sit Down With Asmodee
With recent announcements that Asmodee Digital is going to be publishing games like Pathfinder Adventures and the Android/Steam version of Carcassonne, it's clear that they're on the road to becoming the major publisher of board game ports on the App Store. A year or so ago, we didn't even know who Asmodee Digital was. How did this happen? Where does Asmodee see digital board game going? What's in store for us from Asmodee in the future?
We managed to get a few answers out of Philippe Dao, the Chief Marketing Officer for Asmodee Digital in a recent interview. Sit back and enjoy!
iOS Board Games: Can you tell us a little bit about your team at Asmodee Digital?
Philippe Dao: In the last 15 months, Asmodee Digital has grown to a team of 30+ board game specialists and digital gaming experts armed with access to Asmodee’s catalog of games and its multiple studios and a new strategic direction. The team is growing quickly as we launch more board games on mobile. Asmodee Digital’s purpose is to build a catalog of board games perfectly adapted for mobile and desktop offering a variety of games to reach casual, hobby and expert audiences. By the end of this year we will have 25 to 30 games in our catalog!
iOSBG: Why did you select Colt Express to launch this new digital wave?
PD: The short answer is that it’s a great game! It won a number of awards in 2015 (including, of course, the Spiel de Jahres), and is a widely-known and widely-loved game. We also worked with Ludonaute on worldwide distribution of the physical game, so it was a relationship that we already had in place when we realized that the game would work really well on PC and mobile.
On a higher level, Colt Express has the right mix of factors that make it a very good fit: the game’s mechanics translate well to PC/Mobile, there is an established audience of physical game players who we knew would be interested in the digital version, and the theme of the game is well suited for video gamers.
iOSBG: Will we see new versions of previously released apps now under the Asmodee umbrella? Which ones? Will they be supported/updated with new content by Asmodee or the original developers?
PD: Yes, we’ll be releasing significant updates to existing apps and sometimes new versions, both independently and in partnership with the original developers. While we can’t tell you all of the apps that we’ll be re-releasing, there will certainly be major updates to Small World 2, Pandemic, and Splendor.
iOSBG: Multiplayer has been a subject of debate among the digital board game community. What are your plans and strategies going forward with multiplayer?
PD: It is a challenging task for Asmodee Digital to be able to always propose a state-of-the-art multiplayer experience for each of our games. First, we are building probably the largest and broadest catalog of digital board games and each of our games has its own gameplay, mechanics, favored multiplayer mode (synchronous, asynchronous, pass & play) which makes it difficult to have a consistent approach on multi-player. Some of our games are distributed games meaning we have a limited say and influence on the direction taken to develop the multiplayer mode(s).
Fundamentally, this debate is between asynchronous and real-time multiplayer, and we are firmly on the side of real-time. The instantaneous reaction to player moves and the ability to engage in real time through chat are as important a part of the digital board game experience as they are in playing physical board games, and that’s something we want to encourage as much as possible.
We certainly understand why asynchronous multiplayer is so popular, and it’s something that we’ll consider implementing in the future on a case-by-case basis. But for now, our focus is on making the most stable and enjoyable real-time multiplayer experiences we can.
EDIT: After the review went live, Asmodee contacted us and said that the previous answer didn't quite sum up their feelings toward multiplayer. They sent along this answer as an addendum:
We strongly support asynchronous games! Synchronous games are more difficult to develop, while asynchronous games can be played in real time. Our technology is based on the asynchronous paradigm.
END OF EDIT
iOSBG: Any updates planned for the Asmodee ID, making it easier to go from game to game?
PD: Yes, we are building a large database of digital board game players. We want to be able to provide chats, forums, and more with a single login, and we’ll have more to share on that in the very near future.
iOSBG: Your release cadence is pretty intense! We’ve had 3+ games already this year with at least two more on the way. What is the goal behind this rapid release schedule?
PD: The pace of releases is a little misleading because we spent most of 2016 securing the rights to titles, having games developed by multiple outside, established developers as well as working on updates of existing games. That said, our overall goal is to build as complete a catalog as we can as quickly as possible. Board gamers come in all shapes and sizes, and we want to have something to offer to every player, from the most casual to the hardest of hardcore.
iOSBG: What can we expect for the rest of 2017?
PD: Lots more launches and updates as we continue to build our catalog! Some of the titles and updates we have coming up that we’re particularly excited about include Spot It Duel, Smash Up, Perudo, Ticket to Ride First Journey, Carcassonne; a major upgrade for Pandemic, for SmallWorld 2 and a lot of new digital adaptations of iconic board and tabletop games. Stay tuned.
iOSBG: What are the long term goals of Asmodee Digital?
PD: Our ultimate goal is to build the largest community of digital board game players, with a comprehensive portfolio of games and providing the best experience to the gaming community. Obviously these are ambitious goals, but we think we’re off to the right start with the games we’ve launched so far!
iOSBG: We know your team is working with a stable of outside developers. How much oversight/influence does Asmodee have on developers to ensure that Asmodee apps have the same functionality/feel (like with Playdek, Digidiced, etc)? Is this a goal with Asmodee?
PD: Absolutely! We work closely with our partner developers to instill consistency across the apps we’re building.
We'd like to thank Philippe and Asmodee for taking the time to answer some of our questions!
Obsidian Lays Out The Near Future of Pathfinder Adventures
Seems like we're having a lot of Pathfinder Adventures news these days, doesn't it? With news that it's coming to PC on the 15th to the new publishing deal worked out between Obsidian Entertainment and Asmodee, it seems like all we're missing is actual news about the game itself.
A new developer blog post was published earlier this week answering some of those questions.
First of all, the PC/Mac version is coming on the 15th (duh!) and has been recrafted to work with a keyboard and mouse. This isn't just a port of the mobile version, but a reworking that uses hotkeys, scrollbars, mouse wheels, etc. While the PC version is not free-to-download, it comes with the Rise of the Runelords campaign and all future content will be transferrable between all of your devices.
The pricing for the PC/Mac versions will initially differ from the mobile versions because we don't use in-game purchases, rather there is the availability of DLC for some elements, but when you buy the base version of the game you get the entire Rise of the Runelords content.
For reference, the base version of the game will have all the decks and cards that are in the original Rise of the Runelords bundle, plus all the Uncommon and Rare Treasure cards. Two DLC packages will be available; one with all the iconic Alts and some legendary dice and the other with the rare epic and legendary Treasure Cards and some legendary dice.
The Obsidian Edition comes with the base version, the two DLC packages, three promo cards (two of which are Edér and Pallegina from Pillars of Eternity, yeah!), three legendary items, a bunch of runes/charms/gold, and a DLC pack that will be available in the near future.
There will be parity with future DLC, meaning that when they release new content it will land on all platforms at the same time. None of this, "mobile users have to wait," nonsense.
We kind of knew all that, so what's new? Well, the character selection and party creation screen has been redesigned. It's super shiny and will be updated on all platforms.
Another new addition to all platforms is the concept of the Stash.
In our faithfulness to the original card game we had the exact same valid deck check in the digital version. To expand the content in the digital version we added Treasure Cards (these can be ignored in Story Mode for those that want the exact same card game experience) but unlike most card games, when you open a Treasure Chest you don't actually get a copy of that Treasure Card for immediate use instead you just get the chance to find it in your adventures.
It's kind of a hard concept to grasp unless you are familiar with the system and we have gotten a ton of feedback from the player who weren't. This addition will hopefully make it more gratifying when opening treasure chests and allow some players to hold on to some of those more specialized cards.
Aside from copies of the Treasures Cards going into the ether to be found a copy is sent to the Stash for immediate use.
This also helps alleviate the need for Mule characters that are solely created to store some of the less desirable cards for their current game progression. Plus, it is a bit more intuitive for the digital-verse.
The Stash is set at 10 slots right now and includes an Unclaimed tab. All cards in Unclaimed cannot be used by any characters until they are officially moved to the Stash. You can open up a hundred chests and all the new cards will be waiting to be moved into the Stash.
If you happen to go over your Stash limit you will then meet a happy vendor who will readily give you gold for your unwanted cards.
I think that was supposed to help me understand the concept of the Stash. It didn't. I'll have to play with it myself when it launches.
The third new update is the inclusion of Charms and Runes and, oh boy, I'm not sure I'm ready for this. Basically, Charms and Runes are one-time use goodies that give you boosts such as a bonus to dice rolls or protection from damage. The bad part is that they cost in-game gold, which makes them sound kind of like a pay-to-win. On the plus side, you can ignore them if you're old school, like all the cool kids.
Ever have that roll you really, really needed to win or your permadeath character bites it or you are a turn or two away from kicking Ghlorofaex to the curb? We might just have the charm you are looking for.
Charms are one-time use consumables that have an immediate effect on your current action. They vary from adding a bonus to a check to adding turns to the Blessings deck. They have a gold cost associated with their power so a bonus d4 to a roll might only cost 50 gold but adding to the Blessings would run you 500 gold.
Runes differ from Charms in that they have a time limit associated with them and they almost act like a pseudo scenario power. The Rune of Wealth would double your gold acquisition while the Rune of Shielding would reduce damage by one for four hours.
These will all be available in the Store and during game play for in-game gold only but Runes have to be set up prior to entering the scenario.
The last major update is to the tutorial. I remember playing through it and not really minding it, but apparently it wasn't good. In fact, the dev states that 3/4 of players never made it through the tutorial and never touched the game again after trying. Ouch.
You might not think this is a feature as much as just another iteration but the tutorial was a requirement to play the game and a good three-quarters of the people who were forced to play it were never seen playing our game again. No kidding.
This super-RAD version of the tutorial is cut up into five bite-sized scenarios that teach very specific elements of the game in a clear and concise way. You even get special rewards for completing all of them. We don't consider just being able to play the beginning scenario a reward.
Also, now with 100% more skipping. Yes, that's right, if you don't want to play the tutorial or are already familiar with the game, we have a skip button that is just right for you.
There's also some new stuff based on community feedback. Each roll will now indicate the chance of success near the "to-hit" number. Sweet!
As is to be expected, tons of bugs are being squashed as well. How many new ones will be introduced is anyone's guess.
Head over and read the dev blog yourself for any info we missed.
- Pathfinder Adventures for iOS Universal, free
- Pathfinder Adventures for Android, free
Race for the Galaxy Coming to PC on June 27th
Probably my GOTY for mobile right now is the port of Race for the Galaxy from Temple Gates Games LLC. Not only is the game itself a perfect fit for mobile, but the port is just about perfect in every way. Are there a few issues that could be better? Sure! Are they being fixed? Yes! When? On June 27th when the PC version launches!
That's right, in just a couple weeks we can play Temple Gate's version of RftG on our laptops. Better yet are the updates coming to all platforms. First of all, you'll be able to cross-link your account on all platforms meaning that you can start an online game on one device and finish it on another. They're also including stat tracking in the update, so you'll be able to see exactly how many times your soul has been crushed and why.
Another major update is the inclusion of timers for multiplayer. Tired of waiting for days for that one opponent to take their turn? No more!
All these updates will be launching on the 27th when the PC version lands. How much will that run you? We'll have to wait until the 27th to find out.
- Race for the Galaxy for iOS Universal, $7
- Race for the Galaxy for Android, $7
Playdek Confirms that Lords of Waterdeep is Getting 64-bit Update
We'd been hearing rumors from readers that had contacted Playdek that they were working on a 64-bit update for Lords of Waterdeep. We wanted to double-check and get the word directly from the source, however, and today we did just that.
I can confirm that Playdek is working on a 64-bit version of Lords of Waterdeep and that it's not going anywhere when iOS 11 lands later this year and makes 32-bit titles inoperative. Unfortunately, that's all we were able to glean from our conversation, but they did tell us that they'll have more news about other apps down the road.
- Lords of Waterdeep for iOS Universal, $7