Like many game developers, Theresa Duringer is a board game fanatic, and so she jumped at the chance to turn one of her favorite strategy card games, Race for the Galaxy, into an iOS and Android game.
Duringer’s Temple Gates Games plans to launch Race for the Galaxy on May 3. The game is based on the acclaimed galactic conquest card game, where you expand a space-faring civilization by playing cards that represent technological advancements and colonized planets.
Duringer’s team previously made Ascension VR, another tabletop card game that Temple Gates converted into a virtual reality title for the Samsung Gear VR mobile headset.
“You might have noticed I love board games,” Duringer said. “This is no casual obsession. My team makes costumes out of them. We bake cupcakes based on them.”
In the game, you can rush for a military conquest, build an economic engine, or invest in victory point generation by choosing which cards to build, and which to use as payment.
The original title was developed by Tom Lehmann, and Rio Grande Games published it in 2008. It sold more than a million physical copies, which is huge for a card game. Duringer met Lehmann through a ballroom dancing community, and he invited her to come play the game with him. Then she pitched him on doing a mobile version of the game.
“I love Race for the Galaxy and was so excited we got to work on this,” she said.
Duringer also tapped an artificial intelligence engine developed by AI pioneer Keldon Jones. Jones created an A.I. for Race for the Galaxy as a research project on neural networks. He released it as open source code, and Duringer used the A.I. as part of her game in a partnership with Jones and Lehmann.
Overall, the work took the team of four — Duringer, Jeff Gates, Patrick Benjamin, and B Rosaschi — less than a year, partly because of the A.I. neural network that Jones created and partly because of the work that Temple Gates had done on Ascension VR.
“I’ve played hundreds of hours of Race for the Galaxy, and I can still lose to the A.I.,” Duringer said. “It speaks to the replayability.”
Race for the Galaxy is a phase choosing game. Players secretly and simultaneously determine which one of seven phases they will lock in, then all reveal at once. Choosing a phase guarantees that it will happen for everyone, so advanced players will keep a close eye on rival civilizations to determine a phase that will benefit one’s empire the most while benefiting opponents the least.
Will you build an engine to ramp up VP (victory point) generation on cheapo production planets? Will you invest in exploration and settle rare and valuable VP rich planets? Or will you rush a military conquest to cut off your opponents before they have a chance to develop their strategy.
The $7 game has networked multiplayer with two to four players. But you can play it as a single-player game using the advanced neural network AI.
It has five starting worlds and 90 settlement and development cards. It has one free promotional card pack, and two expansions ($4 each) will be available for purchase immediately: Gathering Storm and Rebel vs Imperium. A limited beta test begins on April 12. You can sign up here to join it.