Hat-tip to Keen on this one, because I’ve been playing Hero Academy like a fiend since getting it after reading his post. Just a great, great game for TBS fans.
It also demonstrates how asynchronous multiplayer can work when done correctly. The key is to have turns be rather quick, and for the game to ‘rewind’ the previous turn for you (bonus points for being able to watch the turn again if you back out and select the game again). While the strategy is IMO fairly deep, the depth does not come from memorizing what happened 2-3 turns before, or having to spend a great deal of time re-evaluating the situation every time. Being able to reset your own turn, allowing you to ‘test out’ different moves before committing to one, is also very nice.
Along with the above, the ability to play multiple (up to 40) different games at the same time is huge. One opponent not responding? Start another game. Someone playing at a snail’s pace? No problem, you have a bunch of other games going that are moving along. Very smart design decision here, and similar games should take note.
The payment model, as of this writing, is also another example of F2P done right. The first time you pay will likely be the $1.99 to remove ads and access the second army, dark elves. Then you can spend a buck or more on fluff like army colors or avatar icons. Future releases will no doubt be more armies, and the fluff that comes along with them. So long as the armies are equally balanced (as balanced as LoL champions anyway), spending opens up options rather than power. Great example, as opposed to selling in-game ‘buffs’ or other game-altering crap that so many lesser games do.
The one thing missing right now is progression. Some kind of stat tracking and ranking would go a long way to the game retaining long-term interest. Let’s face it, ELO matters, and not only does it matter, it provides a way to track your skill level and progress. Hopefully Hero Academy gets something like this going soon.
As it stands today though, the game is easily worth the $1.99 to turn off ads and give you access to the second army. I’m Syncaine on the game, feel free to throw out a challenge.