Latest Publications

Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar demo released

Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar is an indie first-person dungeon crawler.

It is also a punchline–according to its author, Cleveland Mark Blakemore, Grimoire has been in development for more than 17 years. Widely regarded as vaporware, Grimoire suddenly burst onto IndieGoGo in October 2012 with a $250,000 goal and a pitch video that I would describe as “just short of batshit insane.” Seriously, you should watch it if you haven’t seen it already:

The crowdfunding campaign came as a shock, but I still didn’t post about Grimoire, as I still wasn’t convinced that this game was ever going to actually be released. Ultimately, Grimoire didn’t even come close to making its $250,000 funding goal. However, it relied on a flexible funding campaign, and developer Cleve Blakemore has vowed to finish things up with the more-than-$10,000 he raised.

Which brings us to today, the day I learned that Mr. Blakemore has actually released a playable demo of Grimoire. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but boy am I ever looking forward to doing so. Don’t wait on my behalf: you can grab the demo here right now–Windows only.

Defender’s Quest: By the numbers

This article by Lars Doucet contains good lessons for how to make a living distributing your games. It breaks down Defender’s Quest’s (significant) sales numbers by source, and is therefore of primary interest to indie game developers–but it contains valuable lessons for the player as well. Among other things, Mr. Doucet makes a compelling argument to embracing browser-based game demos:

This is because of the “EXE barrier.” To install a downloadable demo, a player has to click a link, download a file, navigate to whatever stupid folder their browser saved it to, double click it, be warned that the file will destroy their computer, install it, wait for it to install, and then run the game.

As I’ve said in my article Piracy and the Four Currencies, even if something is free in terms of money, it can still cost people time and pain-in-the-butt. A browser-based demo is one click and you’re playing. No money, minimal time, minimal pain-in-the-butt.

Read the full article here.

Cryamore announced

Despite what you may think, Cryamore isn’t a game about an Italian guy yelling about love in his native tongue. No, sir! Cryamore is an upcoming aRPG patterned on The Secret of Mana, currently being developed by NostalgiCO.

The premise:

Cryamore is about a spunky bookworm who goes by the name of Esmyrelda Maximus! Cryamore is a mineral discovered by her early settlers on Noka Island to replace the now-ancient steam-powered technology. It was later found out that they could be used as elemental catalysts to power a wide variety of things, even humans.

But this is causing an imbalance on the island, causing monsters to appear out of nowhere and sapping the town’s resources. Since Esmy (her nickname she prefers to be called) is passionate and a good candidate for Cryamore research, she’s commissioned by the Town Council Chief to search for alternate Cryamore resources, which spirals into a much more ominous dilemma.

It’s hard to tell from the description, but this may be more of a Zelda-alike than an aRPG.

Cryamore is still very early in development (pre-alpha is the term), but the developers have nonetheless opted for an open development style that involves uploading video footage of the game as they progress. Here is the last such video, uploaded circa January 1st:

Cryamore is being developed for Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android, with planned Ouya support announced as well. The game is currently planned for release in March 2014.

Back to Back: indie RPGs to fund

Back to Back returns once more! I did a little investigation to see what happened to some of the games listed in our last Back to Back. So far, good news: Fortis Rex, Data Hacker Initiation and Halfling Wars each ended their campaigns successfully, while the remaining games are Indiegogo titles that simply haven’t ended their campaigns yet. Those appear below once more, along with a bevy of new titles:

  • Caravaneer 2 — an isometric post-apocalyptic survival wRPG / economic sim (previously covered here).
  • Cryamore — a Zelda-alike that seems to borrow its level progression system from Mega Man. (Note: this one is already funded nearly three times over; in the interests of having as many projects succeed as possible, I suggest donating elsewhere.)
  • Days of Dawn — after an abortive first attempt, Bumblebee is making a second go at crowdfunding this quite attractive-looking jRPG; they’ve raised over $27,000, but time is running short.
  • Delver’s Drop — a 2.5D Zelda-alike (previously covered here).
  • Hartacon Tactics — a 2D isometric tactical fantasy RPG (previously covered here).
  • Heroes of Steel — a 2D post-apolcalyptic tactical RPG for Android (previously covered here).
  • Paradigm Shift — a 2D jRPG.
  • Terra Incognita — this is not the Terra Incognita we covered a few weeks ago; rather, this is a straightforward 2D jRPG made in RPG Maker.

Your funding can make the difference for some of these games; give them a look!

Delver’s Drop announced, developer interview

Delver' class=
It’s a good time for people into Zelda-alikes. Pixelscopic has announced Delver’s Drop, a procedurally generated dungeon crawler that draws some heavy inspiration from the temples of 2D Zelda fame. They describe the game like so:

Delver’s Drop is a 2D Action RPG with fluid physics-based movement, snappy combat, shifting dungeons, and a rogue’s gallery of character classes that can be individually leveled. With an emphasis on mystery and dynamic gameplay experiences, the game features randomization for infinite replay, enigmatic puzzle permutations to unravel, multiple narrative paths, customizable character growth, and layers of secrets to unearth.

It sounds to me quite a lot like The Binding of Isaac with more of a traditional 2D Zelda focus (to wit: melee combat and puzzles), plus physics, leveling, and a choice of three character classes. The planned feature list reads as follows:

  • Immense & Unpredictable Dungeon Dive — Multiple zones of castle dungeons with sub-levels to explore. Levels will be combined from masterfully designed hand-crafted rooms and components, with randomized content and floor layouts.
  • Physics-based Hack & Slash Combat — Since all characters and enemies move and collide on a physics-based system, any interplay of attacks, traps, and magic resolve based on responsive, snazzy, and sometimes chaotic physics effects.
  • Multiple Characters & Play Styles — Play the game with one or all of the 5 character classes (some to be decided by backers!). Classes have unique speed and movement properties, weapon, special ability, and perk tree, giving each a different play style.
  • Character Growth & Customization — Gain experience as you play each class, and keep this progress through the class’s perk tree even if your current character dies. Level up if you want more flexibility, but Delver’s Drop is totally grind-free.
  • Weapons & Sub-Items — The player can find and purchase interesting and upgraded weapons for each class, as well as a large suite of expendable sub-items that are randomly spawn during each session. But items slots are limited, requiring intelligent use!
  • Puzzles & Secrets — Like many action adventure games, Delver’s Drop will feature interesting puzzles, requiring clever manipulation of dungeon elements, using physics to advantage, and resourceful usage of secondary items.

Delver’s Drop is still fairly early in development, but there is already a preview trailer to give you a sense of how it plays:

After looking at the game’s website and Kickstarter page, I still had a few questions for the developers. As such, I emailed Pixelscopic and managed to pry a small mountain of details out of them. (Actually, I just asked a handful of questions and they politely handed over enormously detailed answers; but “prying it out of them” sounds much more impressive.) Hit the jump for the interview!

(more…) Checks Out Discord Times

Ever since checking out the early beta of Legends of Eisenwald last month, I’ve wanted to compare and contrast it with Aterdux Entertainment’s earlier title Discord Times (which sounds like a newspaper, but is decidedly a video game). Legends of Eisenwald is basically an unofficial sequel to Discord Times, so I figured it’d be interesting to take a step back and see how the titles differ. Here is what happened:

Some brief thoughts after playing:

  • Legends of Eisenwald is obviously a lot nicer-looking than Discord Times. On the other hand, Discord Times has a lot of interface niceties that make it easier to figure out how to play the game. Eisenwald will improve dramatically once Aterdux Entertainment adds those in.
  • Combat difficulty in Discord Times seems excessive given that units do not recover health at the end of combat. Legends of Eisenwald seems to be doing a better job than DT on that front, though it still suffers from occasional encounters with overpowered enemies. The developers could alleviate this issue by allowing you to scout the composition of a particular group of enemies ahead of time. I would also love to see them provide a means of escape if a battle goes poorly.
  • The Discord Times combat system is intuitive and familiar; I found it far easier to grasp than Eisenwald’s. I usually love grid-based combat systems, but Legends of Eisenwald’s system has such restrictive and arcane rules on unit positioning that I’m not sure it adds enough emergent tactical depth to make the accessibility trade-off worthwhile. I’ll need to give Eisenwald a second go before I make up my mind on that.

These are, of course, just my first impressions, and are subject to change with extended play. I am still very much looking forward to seeing how Legends of Eisenwald turns out.

Radio the Universe announced

Radio the Universe
Are you tired of hearing about new Zelda-alikes? I sure hope not! Radio the Universe is a strange, dark science fiction Zelda-alike by the enigmatic 6e6e6e.

The premise:

I blended classic Zelda and dark science fiction and drank the ensuing mixture. It was Radio the Universe.

Players will feel aesthetic and gameplay influences from titles like Yume Nikki, Symphony of the Night, Hotline Miami, and Dark Souls, with a tinge of 2D JRPGs thrown into the mix.

RtU is a challenging and atmospheric sci-fi game with SNES-style visuals and a sinister, offbeat narrative.

It might not sound like much written out like that, but watch this trailer and drink in the atmosphere–I’m pretty sure you’ll be sold:

6e6e6e has a Tumblr, but it hasn’t been updated since the start of his recent Kickstarter; there’s also a Youtube channel, but that hasn’t been updated since September. The main place to get information about the game, it seems, is its Kickstarter page. On January 24, 6e6e6e wrote the last of what is currently four updates:

what’s next?

sit back, check out the occasional development updates, and wait. the seed has been planted, and in time, this plot will yield a golden sea of video game plenty. the harvest is coming.

development is already underway. i’m steadily hammering away at the technical framework now and there should be some new media to show off soon.

I suppose it’s time to kick back and wait. I, for one, am terribly curious to see what comes next.

Partia: The Broken Lineage updated

Word has reached me that Team Imago put out a patch for their iOS Fire Emblem clone Partia: The Broken Lineage late last month. This brings the game to version 1.02.

Among the improvements:

  • bug fixes
  • optional 1.5X play speed
  • optional one-touch controls
  • a new arena map, and
  • some improvements to characterization.

And hey, whaddaya know–they even went to the trouble of making a video about all this stuff! Check it out:

Movie night: Wasteland 2

Wasteland 2, the game InXile successfully Kickstarter’d to the tune of nearly $3 million last year, just saw its first public video released over the weekend, and it’s quite a doozy. We’re talking 17 minutes of footage that…well, I won’t spoil it for you. Here’s the First Look–see for yourself:

New release: QuestLord

Developer Lava Level has just released QuestLord, an iOS FPDC that reminds me quite a lot of Might and Magic 4-5, albeit with real-time combat and a single character in lieu of a party.

Here’s the premise:

In QuestLord you assume the role of a lone hero out to save the Shattered Realm from certain destruction!

…wait. That’s it? That’s the whole thing? Come on, Lava Level! Where’s the foreplay? At least throw some gibberish fantasy words at me! Here, how about this: “In QuestLord, you assume the role of a lone hero out to save the shattered realm of Elfmanisel from certain destruction at the hands of the evil Lord Zexomino! Find the four Elemental Doohickeys of Power, or the world is surely doomed.”

Here is a trailer, which should make up for the anemic plot summary:

QuestLord is reputed to feature a real-time, swipe-based combat system; more than 100 interactive NPCs; more than 160 maps; 3 playable races (human, elf and dwarf), each with its own starting location; and “a wizard named Throzdin!!!!” Throzdin? Is that the bad guy? Okay. Substitute Throzdin in for Lord Zexomino (or whatever we decided the villain’s name is) above.

You can pick up QuestLord for the iPhone and iPad over on the Apple app store for $1.99.