Samuright: Skulls Of The Shogun Adds Cross-Platform MP

By Nathan Grayson on June 29th, 2012 at 9:00 am.

Come for the turn-based combat, stay for the tiny adorable skeleton mustaches.

Skulls of the Shogun may have tickled your angry bone when 17-Bit announced that the turn-based battler will be a Windows 8 exclusive, but there are some benefits to that decision. Foremost, as the developer told us, it means getting to launch simultaneously on PC and Xbox. And now, another rather nice silver lining has made its way out from behind all the rage clouds: Skulls of the Shogun gets to be the first game with cross-platform multiplayer between PC, Xbox, phone, and tablet. I can’t think of anyone else who’s done that yet, so I suppose that makes this a pretty big deal, huh?

Granted, it’s asynchronous, so we’re not entirely living in the future just yet. 17-Bit explained the feature, dubbed “Skulls Anywhere,” on SOTS’ website:

“The turn-based nature of the game makes for perfect asynchronous play across every platform we’re shipping on. You can start playing a game at home on your Xbox, then head out and play a few turns from the same game on your phone. You might be playing against someone on a PC or a tablet – everyone’s connected via Xbox Live. And regardless of platform, everyone’s having the same great experience, because it’s the exact same game across all those devices.”

The developer also went on to specifically mention Microsoft Surface, which we’ve had optimistic thoughts about – assuming it embraces its own potential to be an open platform. Then again, SOTS is a PC-style game getting a hugely broad reach by selling its freedom away to Microsoft’s bafflingly restrictive policies, so we’ll see how all of this shakes out.

In the meantime, I’ll just be over here drafting up my design doc for Skulls of the Shotgun, a Windows 95 exclusive turn-based rock, paper, scissors sim that will eschew disgusting, relentlessly-focused-tested modern trends and be entirely single-player. Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter, especially if have $30 million.

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49 Comments »

  1. Zeewolf says:

    Oh, NOW I understand why it was made Windows 8-exclusive.

    j/k.

    • Mctittles says:

      So the devs are too dumb to figure out how to get a game working on Windows 7, but are smart enough to have cross-platform multiplayer?

      I can’t think of any game good enough to make me trade my operating system in for a big phone interface.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Doesn’t reek of a fix to promote ALL the things MS at all.

      Also yay, now I know it will play on not just the OS I won’t ever install, but also on the console I will never buy, the smartphone I don’t own and the tablet I could not care less about!

      AWESOME!

      Screw these guys.

  2. InternetBatman says:

    Ugh. The last thing I want is multiplayer over X-box Live. I think this was a very bad decision, (for one thing, they probably eliminated the possibility of the game being in a Humble Bundle) but they’re getting a lot of press, so who knows?

  3. xandertron says:

    “…the first game with cross-platform multiplayer between PC, Xbox, phone, and tablet. I can’t think of anyone else who’s done that yet.”

    I’m pretty sure Dungeon Defenders does this already. And PS3, too.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      Yes, Dungeon Defenders currently does this. Played alongside consolers. Hm, maybe I should reinstall that game.

      But, they do this, all without the need for windows 8 hoopa joop or OS exsclusivity. They do it via steamworks and their own netcode.

      • xandertron says:

        When you think about it, it’s actually pretty incredible that they can get Xbox Live, Sony Network, Steamworks, Gamespy, iOS, Android and their own thing (Trendynet?) all working together. Maybe they’re wizards?

        I’m assuming in this game’s case the “tablets and phones” referred to are Windows tablets and phones. That in itself is kinda lame, to say nothing of the Win8 problem.

        • Marnit says:

          Actualy it does not…
          Dungeon Defenders allows for use of controllers on pc/mac for split screen.
          DD has cross platform multiplayer but only between PC/MAC, and Iphone/Android.
          Its impossible to play between PC/Phones, and console versions are completely locked to own player pool.
          (Though i think PSN eu and us can connect to each other, when versions are identical)

          Also i expect it to be win phones/tablets, as microsoft hates to open multiplayer to other platforms, and so far cross platform has only been allowed through GFWL for microsoft.

    • Premium User Badge

      Sarigs says:

      Yeah Portal 2 was cross platformed via Steam, played through the Co-op with a PS3 wielding friend….maybe they mean the tablet/phone being thrown into the mix?

      • TormDK says:

        Shadowrun from 2007 did console/PC cross platform gaming, using XboxLive / Games for Windows Live.

        Worked fine then, they even had achivements for killing people on the platform you were not playing on, which made the PC Master race a hunted animal, as we were outnumbered compared to the console players.

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      No it doesn’t. PC & Mac have “crossplatform” play as per most PC & Mac releases these days but the Xbox 360 & PS3 players are limited to players on their own platforms & the mobile versions of the game is a different beast entirely.

      Hell the consoles don’t even have half the updates & DLC available for the PC & Mac.

      EDIT: Forgot to mention, on PC & Mac if you’re using Steamworks, you can’t play with people using GameSpy & vice-versa. TrendyNET is an extra networking layer (read DRM) on top of either of those.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      In similar news, Hero Academy (an iOS game) is coming to Steam (PC obviously) with cross-platform play as well… no Win8 required.

    • Nic Clapper says:

      4×4 EVO did this as well…Dreamcast, PC, and Mac users could play together. That came out in 2000.

  4. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    This sounds like a nightmare. Given MS stopped supporting their flagship Windows 7 Mobile phone after just 79 days the need for a consistent version of the game across all platforms means the potential the game will go unsupported after a short period of time seems all but certain.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      Do you mean they announced their new phone OS wouldn’t be supported by the Nokia 900 79 days after it was released? Because that doesn’t equate to it not being supported if so.

  5. Premium User Badge

    c-Row says:

    Asynchronous cross-platform multiplayer? Shouldn’t that just be a matter of “uploading data to server database, downloading data from server database”? I don’t see how this would require Windows 8.

    • Bauul says:

      Perhaps Microsoft have offered to pay all of their hosting fees and cross-platform development costs, in exchange for making it Windows 8 exclusive?

      It plays right into MS’ big “everything connected” plan along side things like Smartglass, so it makes sense to use it as something of a poster child for the software.

    • Bilateralrope says:

      Because console makers set all sorts of rules about what you are and aren’t allowed to do on a console. Same reason there are so few MMOs on consoles, not because the hardware is insufficient, but because the rules prevent MMOs. The console MMOs that do exist have negotiated exceptions to those rules.

      • Premium User Badge

        Devan says:

        This is pretty spot on. I work developing console games and first-party restrictions and costs are a big part of why cross-platform play is still uncommon.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      Or their idea is to introduce XBox Live subscriptions to Windows 8 so they can cash in on PC multiplayer as well.

      • Subject 706 says:

        Good luck to them with that. Sometimes I wonder if Microsoft have actually done any sort of research when it comes to pc-gamers, or if they’re just fumbling blindly.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        they did try that once, and were roundly told to fuck off, but I can certainly see them trying it again with the new tablet casual market.

        However, they have added the iOS/XBLA policy of: you use our store, you pay us money to list, you pay us a % of all sales, oh, and you can only get your product onto this platform (at least the Metro part) via our store.

        • Subject 706 says:

          It makes one wonder exactly how popular the Windows App store is going to be on desktops. On the Surface RT it will of course be ubiquitous, but on a desktop computer? Whats the upside compared to a “regular” windows application?

          • TormDK says:

            My guess? – Very popular!

            Us tech enthusiasts have a tendency to think the entire world works and sees technology as we do.

            However, the average consumer is not tech savy at all, and will be quite thrilled to see an App store on the Windows platform.

            If you were a software selling company, and you had seen Microsofts forecasts of how many users Windows 8 is expected to get within the first year alone (100m devices are expected to run Windows 8 efter the first year), let alone the next three – you would be a fool to not at the very least get your product onto their service.

            Apple charges a flat 30% already, and have done for years – and their App Store business is doing quite fine. What Microsoft is doing is in essense the same as apple, except they are doing it across all Windows devices released from october (or whenever Win8 is RTM) onwards.

            Meanwhile, Developers can port apps from Windows Phone to Windows 8 using two lines of code. Time needed to develop apps to both the phone, tablet and PC is going to get lowered drastically, if you develop in the Microsoft eco system.

          • Hoaxfish says:

            I don’t think it’ll be as bad as Vista, which was pretty terrible in terms of home users and businesses.

            While I can see home users just buying whatever comes on their pc, I do not see businesses really getting into it.

            Business’s main thing is large documents/typing on desktop environments… while this has a poor desktop environment hidden behind a tablet friendly UI. There’ll be big costs in effectively retraining staff to understand wtf happened. Anyone who got confused by the Office 2007 Ribbon episode is going to be doubly confused by “hot corners” (aka there is no visible start button, or shutdown button, or log out button).

            The idea that servers need the Metro UI is ludicrous, so there won’t be much of a “compatibility” issue coming from that angle either.

        • Bilateralrope says:

          Listening to people talk about Window 8, it sounds like Microsoft really wants Linux to succeed.

        • magnus says:

          The way Microsoft are going I wish I was one of those who did tell them to fuck off!

  6. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Make it cross-platform compatible, sure, but make those platforms Windows 8 and Windows 7, please!

    It is ridiculous that I am considering updating my OS just for an indie game.

  7. Xzi says:

    Windows 8 was not designed to play nice with actual PCs. Take one look at any screenshot and that becomes obvious. I couldn’t give half a shit about one little 2D turn-based game, but if they start trying to force that piece-of-shit OS onto core PC gamers, I’m going to start a riot.

    http://anongallery.org/img/4/2/windows-8.jpg

  8. Hoaxfish says:

    I just noticed yesterday that win8′s music and video metro apps (2 separate apps) have adverts, so when I want to go and listen to my own music, on my own computer, I am greeted by Justin Bieber and Will.i.am instead (you can then scroll left to get to your actual music). It’s like having my very own Xbox without the “platform exclusive” games, when all I wanted was a PC.

    So, it’s still a bit of a question about just how much of a point win8 only releases are, even if you do cross-platform. In the end, you’re just supporting a tail-end of a platform.

  9. OrangyTang says:

    To my knowledge, Quake 3 was the first game to do cross platform multiplayer (PC vs. Dreamcast).

    Anyone know any earlier examples?

    • Premium User Badge

      Malibu Stacey says:

      That wasn’t official though. On PC if you installed a certain older patch to Q3A & applied a few tweaks you had the right version to connect to the Dreamcast servers. Which then meant the easiest game ever since you weren’t constrained by a console controller so you could aim & move must easier & thus wipe the floor with the console players.

      Fun times but never intended by iD Software at the time.

  10. wodin says:

    Bot really, sums up my impression of Win 8. It’s a tablet OS but being sold as the new PC OS. Sad. Oh how the market will flood with casual titles, you think the PC hasn’t been used to it’s fullest cos of consoles? Just you wait till all you get is stuff designed to work on a tablet as thats where many of the small and indy developers will be making games.

  11. Kitsunin says:

    Sorry, but I am not spending $200+ just to get some unnecessary upgrades. Seriously, Windows 7 does everything I want out of my OS. Honestly I’d rather just skip windows completely and use Linux, but games insist…

    • Zeewolf says:

      Yeah, me too. Seems more and more indie games come with Linux versions, though, so at one point I might just use consoles for AAA games and Linux for the rest. Not ideal, but then I don’t expect anything to be ideal in the future of computing & gaming. It’s just going to be about making the best of an increasingly bad situation.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      yeah pretty much, I like the look of this game and would have picked it up otherwise, but I’m not going to have a big old cry because I can’t play it.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Phinor says:

    Because cross platform support is easier to implement than Windows 7 support.

  13. Seafort says:

    This game sounds like what happened to Shadowrun FPS for the next Windows OS. Just like xbox360 and Vista. Cross platform play and limited userbase don’t work well together for any game especially an indie title.

    And we all know how that turned out…

    I wish MS would just stay in the corporate world with their OS and Office and leave the gaming scene alone. They aren’t interested in the games but to sell their OS by limiting games to their new OS. It didn’t work last time and it won’t work this time.

  14. Frank says:

    “but there are some benefits to that decision. Foremost, as the developer told us, it means getting to launch simultaneously on PC and Xbox.”

    Oy, do not cite this ridiculous argument. The dev should be embarrassed to be making it.

  15. PC-GAMER-4LIFE says:

    The existing 5 GFWL cross platform games work really well vs 360 players. Lost Planet Extreme Colonies & Blazblue Calamity Trigger are the best but Game Room is also excellent (retro based obviously).

    No-one & I mean no-one is going to buy Windows 8 OS for this game it does not look anything more than the indie games which come out all the time on PC. 4 device platform cross platform play is not a selling point & MS are even insisting that you have to buy a licence for each platform so that’s 4 licences as well please sir!!! I do not think anyone actually runs the MS PC gaming group anymore all they have is some marketing exec who understands nothing about PC gaming only how to try & apply the Xbox business model to PC (which failed because MS did not even support their own GFWL service enough although several top PC games still use it & more are planning to).

    MS will look back on Windows 8 as yet another in a long line of failed products. PC gamers will just laugh & wonder why despite producing Windows 7 (best OS MS ever made) they cannot grab a slice of the PC gaming pie without trying to push some inferior new OS!!!!

    • TormDK says:

      “No-one & I mean no-one is going to buy Windows 8 OS for this game it does not look anything more than the indie games which come out all the time on PC. 4 device platform cross platform play is not a selling point & MS are even insisting that you have to buy a licence for each platform so that’s 4 licences as well please sir!!!”

      Given that the license is included in the device purchase for Phone and Xbox, I don’t really see your point. For local PC’s there’s the upgrade kit that includes three installs for your home use.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Malibu Stacey says:

    Skulls of the Shogun gets to be the first game with cross-platform multiplayer between PC, Xbox, phone, and tablet.

    What you actually mean is PC’s running Microsoft Windows 8, Microsofts Xbox 360′s, phones running Microsoft Windows 8 Mobile, and tablets running Microsoft Windows 8 Mobile.

    Doesn’t exactly sound like the cross-platform utopia it’s being made out as is it?

    Can I play on my Android phone or tablet vs my iOS/MacOS owning friends? Hell can I play on my PC running Windows 7 (or earlier) against anyone at all? Because that quote implies those should be possible & yet…

  17. magnus says:

    My angry bone is still angry.

  18. DK says:

    “The developer also went on to specifically mention Microsoft Surface, which we’ve had optimistic thoughts about – assuming it embraces its own potential to be an open platform.”

    I want you to to specifically mention this to the devs: They fucking idiots. Crossplatform play has been done before. Multiple times.

    Once by a game coopted by Microsoft to make it platform exclusive for a new OS implementing a “never before seen Cross Platform play!” as a feature. It was called Shadowrun and it was enough of a failure to kill off a beloved Studio.

    The Skulls of the Shogun devs are NOT a beloved studio and they’ve got themselves into the exact same situation. They are a dead studio walking.

  19. hypercrisis says:

    If you’re going to throw a big hoohah over this kind of cross platform Win8 nonsense, it should at least be over a game someone might actually give a rats arse about. Oh no I won’t get to play generic looking iPad game whatever will I do!

  20. SexualHarassmentPanda says:

    Why on earth would they make a Windows 8 exclusive, no PC gamer in their right mind is going to buy that gimped OS. I’ll wait until Windows 9 when Microsoft is through burying their head in the sand.