IGM Dream Team: Black Lab Games and Tin Man Games

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IGM Dream Team is a  feature series in which I pair up two great indie studios which I believe are compatible in terms of developmental ethos, style, and other factors. I will be discussing how they would work together, and how their hypothetical collaboratively-developed game would turn out. It’s basically an outlet for my nerdy gaming fantasies. I hope you enjoy it! The first entry is here.

My second pair-up selection for IGM Dream Team is something I’ve been thinking about for a while now, as this collaboration could bring about a brilliantly unique hybrid of genres. It’s exactly the sort of game I would make myself, if I had the talent and dedication — a Choose Your Own Adventure style gamebook format, but with flimsy dice-led combat sequences eschewed in favor of proper turn-based battles. If you’re unfamiliar with the two developers I have chosen, you can read a quick burst of information on each studio below.

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  • Name: Black Lab Games
  • Releases: Star Hammer Tactics, Trial by Magic (in-development)
  • Platforms: PSP, PS3, Xbox 360, iOS, PC
  • Speciality: Designing turn-based combat which is deep and nuanced enough to be interesting, but simple enough to avoid being overly complex and intimidating.

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  • Name: Tin Man Games
  • Releases: The Gamebook Adventures series, Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies, Judge Dredd: Countdown Sector 106
  • Platforms: Android, iOS, PC, Mac
  • Speciality: Creating digital versions of classic gamebooks, working with existing licenses such as Fighting Fantasy and Judge Dredd as well as original stories.

As you can see, selecting these two seemingly disparate studios to team up isn’t the most obvious of choices. However, having played Tin Man’s Gamebook Adventures and Black Lab’s Star Hammer Tactics, it’s clear that both are lacking in certain areas. Don’t get me wrong, I think both are excellent in their own ways, but together they could form a far more complete and well-rounded experience. For instance, authentic as it may be, Tin Man‘s dice-based combat isn’t the deepest or most exciting way of doing things. Meanwhile, Star Hammer Tactics features brilliant turn-based combat, but the storyline seems somewhat incidental. Do you see where I’m going with this?

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Imagine an atmospheric universe with great characters and scenarios whipped up by Tin Man‘s collective imagination and laid down in a virtual page-turning narrative, but with adaptive turn-based action for the combat sequences courtesy of Black Lab. Backed into a corner with a broken weapon and running out of HP? The combat sequence would reflect this, leaving you weakened, more vulnerable to enemy attacks, and hemmed in by the shape of the grid-based battlefield. As a result, fights would require genuine skill, and would be far more satisfying than simply rolling a dice and praying for a six.

It’s probably just a crazy dream, but in the back of my mind I am ever-hopeful that these two Australian devs will cross paths one day, and make this project a reality.

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That’s why I feel that Tin Man Games and Black Lab Games would make a dream team. Agree with me? Disagree?

Have your own suggestions for ideal development team-ups? Let us know in the comments, take to the IGM forums where I’ve started a thread on the topic, or tweet me @PleasantPig! We’d love to hear your feedback on this topic.

You can find out more about Black Lab and Tin Man on their official websites or via their Twitter accounts: @blacklabgames and @TinManGames.




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