Portal Games held what I believe is their sixth Portalcon in Poland this weekend. Using periscope Ignacy Trzewiczek gave his keynote twice once in Polish for his homegrown market, and the other in English for the rest of us.
With the Polish publishing side of things like some of the Cool Mini Or Not games Blood Rage, Zombicide: Black Plague and The Others in Polish, Portal Games with their own new releases have a very busy year ahead of them.
In the keynote Ignacy announced three of their four big releases of the year.
First up was the reprint/update of 51st State. A game that influenced Ignacy's hit game Imperial Settlers. So with lessons learnt, 51st State has been up spruced up. The game is due to hit stores in the spring, with pre-orders being taken on the Portal website from Monday. Apparently there are even stretch goals with this pre-order system. Kickstarter without the Kickstarter!
Next up is a miniatures game Cry Havoc that will see light of day around Gencon time this year. Ignacy said that Cry Havoc will be mentioned in the same sentence as Kemet, and Blood Rage. I know games need to be hyped to help raise their profile, build up steam that will lead to a big demand and sales at time of release. But this is a BIG claim. I hope it's true, and that it's a positive mention and not a negative.
The last of the three announced was First Martians. Described by Ignacy as the space version of his game Robinson Crusoe that fans had been nagging him for.
This game worries me. I admit this is based on the limited information from the teaser trailer and from the keynote.
The part that worries me and is putting me off is the app side of things. If the app is an intrigal part of the game and can't be played without it, I'm out. If it's a companion app that replaces some part of the game like having to read the manual for the scenarios, But the game can still be played without the app, then I'm in.
Companion apps are great, I don't need the app to play the game, I'm not reliant on the publisher keeping the app upto date for new releases of an os, or new platforms.
Games that can't be played without the app, I won't touch. It's why even being an X-Com fan on the consoles/PC I won't touch with a barge pole as a boardgame. You can't rely on a publisher to keep the app going. They don't always keep games in print, so why would they keep an app going for a game they aren't selling? It's an expensive business app development, and keeping them updated. I can't see a boardgame publisher spending the cash to keep an app going for a game that's out of print.
Look at the likes of Nintendo bigger than anything in the boardgames industry, sold millions and millions of copies of Mario Kart for the Nintendo DS, and they switched off the servers that allow multi player games. If these guys can switch off a service for a game, with their much larger resources in the bank, what hope does a smaller boardgame company have?
But I've discussed this previously, my views are well known. I so hope Ignacy has not gone this later route. If they have despite desperately wanting to play the game, I won't touch it.
If it's the former then I'm all in. Companion apps enhance the game, but aren't necessary to play it. If the app stops working I can still play the game. Plaid Hat did this the right way with Dead of Winter and have the companion app replace the Crossroads cards.
But as I pointed out there is limited information at the moment. I'm sure there will be more on this for me to write as more is revealed over the coming months before the game hits the stores.
There is a mysterious fourth big announcement to come, but that will be at an upcoming games con in March (iirc).
One thing of note from this keynote was the absence of any mention of planned expansions coming from Portal Games. But going by the busy schedule that Portal Games has there have to be expansions coming out for the existing stable of games.
Finally it looks like Portal Games have updated their logo. The old one can be seen at the top of this post, while the new one which was on the keynote slides and the Twitter account is below. I think I prefer the old one, but when it reminds you of the companion cube from Portal. I can see why the logo had to be updated. Had the lawyers from Valve finally applied enough pressure to Portal Games?
So there we have a round up from the Portal Games keynote with my two pennies worth thrown in.
Portal Games has a very strong line up of games, I love the company, Ignacy is not just a great game designer, but the face of Portal Games and brand ambassador for the company, which he does an amazing job of. I think the 2016 line up looks exciting, and I can't wait to see it hit the table.
UPDATE 11:29 24/1/2016:
So I tweeted this post to Ignacy, and we had a little exchange of tweets. Some bad news for me on First Martian. We don't see eye to eye on integrated apps. But hey folks are allowed differing opinions and discuss them sensibly! Oh wow have I just broke the Internet by saying that?
Anyway here is our tweet exchange. I'd love to discuss this more with Ignacy at the UK Games Expo later in the year over a beverage of some kind. Maybe Ignacy would be my first interview for this little blog. Now that would be cool.