One of the best demoes I had at E3 2011 was Nival’s Prime World, an MMO action-strategy game for Mac and PC in which Nival invites us to, “Step into [a] vibrant cross-platform, action strategy game…which pits two nations at war over a magical resource. Choose from dozens of heroes and lead them onto the battlefield to destroy your foes. Select from an array of unique talents to turn the tide in your favor.”
Development of the U.S version has been slow going, unfortunately, as E3 2012 has now passed and Prime World is still not available for mass consumption. Thankfully, Nival has been developing and expanding the Prime World universe in ways you may not expect. I had a chance to meet with them off the show floor this year to learn about what they’ve been up to, and those who have been following Prime World are going to be pleased…provided they own an iPad, iPhone or iPod touch.
One of the problems with MMOs is that when you’re not online, life within them continues to go on without you. Characters level up. Quesets are completed. And what are you doing in the meantime? Staring out the window of the car. Waiting for the family computer to free up. Standing in line for the next iPhone. Thanks to Nival’s Prime World launch strategy, you won’t need to leave your Prime World account dormant during these periods, as the company will be launching various iOS apps to complement and enhance Prime World.
The first game they showed me is Emaki, which is a casual game nothing like Prime World itself. Rather, it’s a Zuma-esque gem matching game that can tie into your Prime World account or to a friend’s account if you don’t have one. Likewise, your friends can sync to your account. Think of it; you can buy the game for your mom, and she thinks you’re being so sweet, when she’s really sending bonuses to your army all the while. Everybody wins! (Except your opponents.)
Emaki will play a bit differently from other gem matching games. Rather than make gems disappear as you shoot similarly colored gems into the line, the gems fill in that color on the canvas below the action. As you’d expect from Nival, it’s filled with brilliant artwork and a slick design. The game is scheduled to be released for free on all iOS devices this month, but you’ll have to pay to unlock the full version (price has not yet been set).
A more direct connection with Prime World will hit in August when Nival launches Prime World Defenders for iPad. This will be a tower defense game that uses the talent system of the full Prime World MMO. You’ll see familiar towers, enchantments and spells, and many of the story elements will cross over as well. Enhancement cards will be needed to work your way through, which you’ll be able to pick up by playing or via in-app purchases (Nival assures me that gameplay difficulty is fairly well balanced and that you won’t need to buy your way through the game). As you play, resources are sent to your Prime World account.
Prime World Defenders is based on the Unity Engine and will support full Retina display for the iPad. It’ll also be available for PC via Steam, with the possibility of a Macintosh version.
And finally, fans of Nival’s King’s Bounty aren’t left with nothing, as King’s Bounty for iPad is due out this month. This version of the popular turn-based strategty game will feature familiar hardcore gameplay in both the story-based single player mode and PvP online battles. And as with the Prime World iOS games, King’s Bounty for iPad can tie into your King’s Bounty: Legions Facebook Connect account.
What this all comes down to, then, is that Nival sees social gaming as something larger than the stigma implies. Casual games can support the greater gaming good, and the iPad becomes a device that not only supports your hard core Mac and PC gaming accounts, but that offers a comparable experience itself. This will all come together when Prime World finally launches. But until then, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to familiarize yourself with the universe, and to hit the ground fighting.