In Development – February’s Roundup

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For the new edition of “In Development” I have a great selection of innovative concepts for you to try. I’m expanding my exploration to include early access android games, so you can play your indie titles on the go. We’ll have fresh versions of great classics and also some groundbreaking mechanics. I hope you enjoy February’s roundup as much as me and remember to support your favorite developers!

All the demos I’ve tried are available for free (via download) on itch.io or the Play Store so, do not hesitate and check them out!

Dino Run

Itch.io: https://pixeljam.itch.io/dino-run-dx
Reviewed on Windows.
Genre: 2D Sidescroller
Developer: Pixel Jam

Your favorite Jurassic sidescroller is back with a new installment. Dino Run 2 is currently in development and the guys at Pixel Jam are making the classic Dino Run DX as a “Pay what you want” game at Itch.io to support their successful Kickstarter campaign.

Run from extinction as your favorite dinosaur in this colorful pixelated world, you’ll have to save as many eggs as you can to help your species make it through the apocalypse. Besides running for your life, you can customize your Dino with different skin colors, funny hats, and take pictures of him to share on social media.

After each level, you can enhance his skills with DNA points to get an edge over the meteor. To get these points you’ll have to gather eggs, eat smaller dinos and even ride meteorites… Now remember to be mindful of larger dinos, the eating goes both ways.

How can you help the guys at Pixel jam develop Dino Run 2?

They just made a successful Kickstarter campaign, but they’re still far from their target, these guys are very meticulous with their planning and have a milestone-based funding roadmap, check it out.

The Superfluous Sand

Itch.io: https://voidedpixels.itch.io/superfluous-sand
Reviewed on Windows.
Genre: top-down sandbox.
Developer: Voided Pixels.

The Superfluous Sand – Gameplay

This top-down dessert-themed world with simple graphics and a basic interface is hiding a… well, a superfluous sandbox game with procedurally generated maps, and a very complex economic system. Gather, build, fight, and manage your own desert outpost in “The Superfluous Sand” by Voided Pixels.

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Like most survival sandboxes you’ll have to build a base, explore dangerous surroundings to salvage resources, and with some luck start your own production of supplies. The Superfluous Sand takes it a step further by adding a camp value that will attract NPC party members to give you a hand, at first it might seem very hard to get more value, my advice is to rush the “Merchant Stall”; once you start “Ranching” things get easier.

The world is very interactive and while at first, the crafting system seems basic, after a little while it escalates and lets you build shotguns and cars. Leaving your camp will take you to the exploration map where you can travel around, and stop to explore wherever you want. The game will procedurally fill the map with resources and enemies.

Combat is still a little unbalanced, it takes a very long time to down an enemy. It gets easier when you get the gun, but you still have to shoot the dudes eight times for them to croak… There are other minor bugs expected in any alpha version, but it’s pretty solid considering the huge amount of content.

How can you help the guys at Voided Pixels develop The Superfluous Sand?

Right now they will really appreciate feedback and bug reports. After the alpha version is a little more advanced they plan on releasing a paid beta and a Kickstarter/Indiegogo campaign to fund the full version of the game.

Pixel Starships

Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.savysoda.pixelstarships
Reviewed on Android. Also available on iPhone.
Genre: Spaceship strategy MMORPG
Developer: SavySoda

Pixel Starships has a great take on the trending “Room based building” mechanics, you can customize your starship to enhance offense, defense, and resource gathering. It has a very nostalgic feeling with FTL’s starship combat system, sometimes your crew will beam down and get on laser fights with the classic Final Fantasy’s turn-based Combat.

Their artwork is pretty amazing, there are many different spaceships, rooms, and crewmembers to chose from and unlock in their early access version. There are also a lot of people to chat with while you fight battles or gather scrap.

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There are a few small issues with the controls, but nothing huge, and I would really recommend a simple exploration map to help us feel the progress of our exploration through the galaxy. Other than that it’s pretty solid and really fun.

How can you help SavySoda develop Pixel Starships?

Pixel starship is a community-driven project that started with a successful Kickstarter campaign, if you missed it but still want to help, they could really use your feedback and support, and will reward you with a bunch of in-game treats. http://www.pixelstarships.com/#connectWithUsSection

Devil’s Tuning Fork

Itch.io: https://kgeisler.itch.io/devils-tuning-fork
Reviewed on Pc.
Genre: Puzzle/Exploration.
Developer: DePaul Game Elites.

What if you saw the world with your ears? This first-person exploration/puzzle is just insane. You’ll have to make your way through a dark 3D world using echolocation, yeah, just like a bat… Activating the Tuning Fork will send a bunch of psychedelic waves to go through all the surfaces so you can make out your way.

The start is really confusing, especially since you don’t have the tuning fork yet so you’re basically stumbling around blind. Then, you start seeing these waves that ephemerally describe your surroundings, after you make your way to the fork you can control the waves, that’s when things get interesting.

Thankfully the goal is simple enough, collect the animals and get to the next level, everything else will be pretty complicated. Being able to see passively is pretty underrated, the DePaul Game Elites are making sure you start appreciating it a bit more, every click gives you a few waves so even walking takes a lot of guesswork. Jumping through platforms and solving puzzles will be a really fun and a unique challenge.

How can you support the DePaul Game Elites develop Devil’s Tuning Fork?

You can share this new crazy concept with all your gaming friends and followers: https://kgeisler.itch.io/devils-tuning-fork

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The Battle of Polytopia

Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=air.com.midjiwan.polytopia&hl=en
Reviewed on Android.
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy.
Developer: Midjiwan.

I know “Addictive” has become a cliche in mobile game reviews, but seriously I can’t stop playing this turn-based strategic battle. The guys at Midjiwan really hit a sweet spot with a basic interface, resource system and a huge variety of races, upgrades units, and buildings. The Battle of Polytopia is so far my favorite mobile version of the classic godmode strategic game.

With simple tap commands, you’ll be able to gather resources, upgrade your civilization, build production and trade stations, conquer other cities, train and lead your army into battle. The best part is the huge diversity of options, it’s enhanced by the procedurally generated maps so every match is very different, even when playing with the AI.

It’s amazing how well they integrated all of these awesome features and the result was pretty smooth, however, I would recommend a nerf in the “Knight” unit. These mounted gremlins will grind through as many units as they can kill in a single hit. Since they’re also pretty strong if you get them early on it’s easy to take 6 or 7 basic enemy units in a single turn. Later on, they lose power against “Shields” and “Swordsman”.

How can you help Midjiwan develop The Battle of Polytopia?

As much content as there is in this awesome game, these guys still want to keep adding more races and game modes, if you enjoy the game and would like to give them a hand you can support them with in-game purchases and spreading the word about The Battle of Polytopia to all your gamer friends.

This concludes our monthly roundup, I hope you have fun trying out these cool projects and leave your feedback for the developer teams.

In Development will be back next month with more great concepts for you to try.

If you have a game you’d like me to try out send me a DM on twitter @DanielR46