Brandon Boyer

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Last September at the Austin Game Dev Conference, I broke a little tidbit of news that former Deus Ex: Invisible War designer and then newly-hired Arkane producer Harvey Smith was working on an iPhone game for the studio, which he described then simply as a “casual strategy” card game.

That game, as it turns out, was just announced by stateside Cooking Mama publisher Majesco (an unexpected pairing) as KarmaStar, the first move for both Arkane and Majesco onto the device.

Majesco describes the game as a multiplayer strategy game, but the goal, wonderfully, is focused on sharpening and developing personal traits — Health, Mind, People, Love, and Money — by working with or against your opponents. Says the publisher:

By taking small, calculated steps, players have the ability to build these traits, or live dangerously and see where a little deviousness can take them. Each game takes no more than 10 minutes, so players must waste no time in mapping out either a constructive or combative strategy and then pursuing their chosen path in order to achieve their life goals.

Due for release by the end of March, even if it ends up coming across as entirely casual/quirky/light board game fun (and it’s too soon to say based off the handful of screenshots released so far), I love the idea of a game predicated on personal/inter-relational conflict and growth: real, everyday stuff, as opposed to the usual manufactured conflicts.

Even for all its loony grinning spacemen — it seems like natural stuff from a designer who in all his recent developer sessions and extended interviews has dealt heavily with personal introspection and issues of identity in and through games (he’s certainly the only developer I’ve ever seen drop the name Judith Butler).

Majesco / Arkane [via witchboy]

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