Among the many things offered at the 2018 Phoenix Comic Fest, the Southwest Video Game Showcase by Game CoLab made a return as a staple of the event. The showcase has long functioned as a spotlight for burgeoning developers to show off their games to the general public. This year, the event found itself moved to the vendor hall, and exposed to much more foot traffic. Among the creators in attendance was Game Wave Studios showing off their mobile game Dice Tactics.
Dice Tactics is a roleplaying game that utilizes dice as its core mechanic. Players create their own characters, represented as play cards, and utilize real dice physics for battle. They are set upon a path in a new world full of zombies to fight, and plenty of story planned in between.
Studio owner Matt Dumouchel and programmer Alex Terrill showed off the game to attendees alongside their colleagues as part of the showcase. Comprised of five people, the Game Wave Studios team has worked on the title since its early iteration as Deck Dungeon in 2016. Convention appearances such as Phoenix Fan Fest, the pair explained, is what helped the game evolve to what it is today.
“It’s a very large part of our development cycle,” said Terrill in a Saturday interview. “…Even from the last three months where we did the Fan Fest, we’ve incorporated a multitude of different aspects that were recommended to us and we’ve seen great results because of that.”
The duo explained that the very same fan feedback the team has received from these live play tests, helped them make the creative decisions to simplify the core game mechanics to utilizing dice only. While the game play was refined to something easier, the story itself will reportedly be rich in lore. Several story campaigns and quest lines are planned for the title, in which players can make decisions that will have persistent effects on the in-game world.
Indeed, the studio’s dedication to fans has driven a lot of their decisions for Dice Tactics. This includes the team’s initiative to distribute the title for free on mobile as opposed to Steam, a commonly used platform for independent developers.
“There’s been a few times where we said ‘Okay, we’re not gonna do mobile anymore, we’re going Steam only.'” commented Dumouchel. “The reason why we’re continuing to stay with the mobile world is because distribution network for mobile is so large, it just makes sense.”
While development and bug fixing to suit multiple mobile platforms has had its share of difficulties, Game Wave Studios feels it’s a better decision. According to Dumouchel, moving to Steam would require a definitive price tag to offset development costs, whereas mobile distribution would allow users to play the title free of charge; with eventual monetization being accomplished through ads or cosmetics.
“We think that being able to have a free game allows us to build that kind of fan base faster and stronger,” Dumouchel said in regards to the game’s current platform. “…That being said, we are looking into those other markets, Steam and the [Nintendo] Switch—those would be the markets that we’d go after next.”