Local Culture: 5 impressive mobile games made in Dundee
By Peter Willington 21 June 2013
Game Name: Dama | Developer: Quartic Llama | Format: iPhone, iPad | Genre: Hardcore, Multiplayer, Strategy
You may remember my enthusing profusely about Quartic Llama's blend of theatre, video game, augmented reality, and intense paranoia Other a couple of weeks ago.

Well, while I was up in Dundee checking out that game, I swung by a load of studios in the area to see what else was being developed in this beautiful Scottish city.

Thanks to regional investment in the creative industries, the city is no longer simply famous for its "jute, jam, and journalism".

In fact, Dundee is well on its way to becoming an extremely fertile landscape for games development.

Here's a quick look at some of the most exciting titles - currently in various stages of development - coming out of Dundee.


Dama is from that aforementioned talented Quartic Llama team, and is a drop-dead gorgeous-looking strategy game in development for iPad.

When you see it in action, you're instantly grabbed by its shockingly low poly environments, which are eerily reminiscent of the landscapes in classic BBC Micro game The Sentinel.

In concert with some heavily stylised characters, Dama's backdrops provide the foundations for the very alien world in which the Jade Cocoon-meets-Advance Wars action takes place.

Your creatures defend a representation of you, while simultaneously attacking the enemy or absorbing Dama (elemental energy) from the world around them.

Though there wasn't much in the way of tactical complexity in the early build I tried, the positional play fundamentals were already in place. I also had to think about which creatures would be stronger against which enemies, based on their elemental affiliation.

More exciting, though, was the aforementioned Dama absorption, and, in turn, the ability to create new units. You need just three elements of any kind to create a new creature. You can imagine the possibilities, then - hundreds of variations from just a few components.

Mr Shingu's Paper Zoo

Described as "origami meets Tamagotchi" by its creator, Mr Shingu's Paper Zoo is pretty much precisely that.

You're handed a big habitat at the start of the game, which you can fill full of origami animals. No surprise that you then have to look after them.

There are no IAPs here, so everything you could possibly need to make a little paper home for your beasties is included in the asking price of £2.99. This enables you to focus on the task of picking which animals you want to make, and then following Mr Shingu's instructions to do so.

The paper on-screen folds over when you swipe and drag one corner to another, subtly teaching you the basics of this real-world art form. You can then customise these critters further, such as giving them ridiculous hats to wear.

It's easy to see how this might inspire kids to go out and try some 'physical' origami. Indeed, even I was scrambling about for a piece of paper after the demonstration came to an end.

If you're a naturally creative type and you own an iOS device, look for Mr Shingu's Paper Zoo when it's released at the end of June.

Do No Harm

Future Fossil Studios is one development house we should all be keeping tabs on. Why? Well, read on.

The Future Fossil Studios game with which I was most impressed during my Dundee visit was Do No Harm. Built using Unity, this is a free-to-play endless-runner with a Godzilla twist. And an adorable one at that.

You have to coax the lead character - named Harm - through an environment filled with farm land, petrol stations, and giant skyscrapers. Harm doesn't want to cause any destruction, but he's a walking liability. He has a penchant for a perfectly cooked steak, you see.

The gameplay is rock solid, albeit nothing fresh. But it's the character design and story setup with which I absolutely fell in love. Harm is a bounding beast who leaves chaos in his wake. All the while, though, he's utterly lovable.

Future Fossil Studios is also working on a gesture-based snowboarding game, where all you need to worry about is performing tricks through a series of swipes.

There's loads of potential in there, but it was a bit too rough in its current state to dwell on much here. Needless to say, the concept itself was enough to make me want to see more.

Distant Star

Distant Star is a big undertaking, a very ambitious project.

A reworking of the original Distant Star (now given the 'Classic' moniker) and developed by Blazing Griffin, it's a strategy game set in space, very much in the mould of the 4x games of old.

You explore space, you expand your grip on it, you exploit it for riches, and you exterminate your foes.

It's looking very dense in its current state, so is definitely one for the dedicated tablet tactician looking for something even deeper than the vast strategy experiences emerging from Firaxis, Rodeo Games, and the like.

There's clearly a lot of work left to do on Distant Star, but one thing that's coming along very nicely is the creation of the universe. There's a sinister, future-goth tone to the art, plus a ton of backstory and lore ready to suck you in.

Air Support

Last but by no means least on this list is Beartrap Games's arcade swipe-'em-up Air Support.

In this combination of 1942, Missile Command, and Flight Control, you assume the role of a squadron commander who must guide his aircraft to victory against wave after wave of enemies.

To do this, you simply choose which weapon to fire and then drag it towards your target (to intercept it before it gets to you).

It's simple stuff, but the game is fast paced and full of life. The land you fly over is highly detailed and lovely to look at, and the screen gets really chaotic with so many projectiles on-screen and a multitude of explosions nearby.

Look out for it on a tablet near you shortly.
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