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Movie night: Underrail and Shadowrun Returns

Hello, folks! We have two movies on the agenda for tonight: one of Underrail, the other of Shadowrun Returns.

(more…) Checks Out Delver’s Drop

Last month, I posted about Delver’s Drop and interviewed developers Pixelscopic on certain aspects of how the game will work. Yesterday, I actually got my hands on a pre-alpha build and took it for a test drive. What you see here is not a finished game, but I can confirm that what they have done is already quite fun. Take a gander:

The Delver’s Drop Kickstarter is wrapping up in the next 36 hours; if you want to buy in, now’s the time!

7-Day Roguelike Challenge to begin tomorrow

Ah, sigh. I love so much of what roguelikes represent, and yet I remain a neophyte in the actual roguelike community. This, for instance. How did I not know about the 7-Day Roguelike Challenge? But wait–maybe you don’t know about the 7-Day Roguelike Challenge either! Let’s learn together:

A Seven-​​Day Rogue­like (7DRL) is a rogue­like cre­ated in seven days. That is, the author stopped writ­ing code 168 hours after they started writ­ing code. A 7DRL can be cre­ated at any time dur­ing the year. How­ever, gen­eral agree­ment was reached that it would be fun to sched­ule a spe­cific week for a 7DRL Chal­lenge.

Last year’s challenge began on Sat­ur­day, March 10th and ended Sun­day, March 18th; this year’s begins tomorrow, on March 9th, and ends on the 17th.

I’m almost tempted to join myself, but due to the confluence of forces beyond my control, there’s absolutely no way I’ll have the time. That shouldn’t stop you, though!

Last year’s 7DRL Challenge produced several dozen finished entries; hit the jump for a list of games with links!


New release: Dungeon Plunder

Dungeon Plunder
It’s barely been a week since I first posted about Dungeon Plunder, and it’s already out for iOS!

In case you missed it, Dungeon Plunder is an isometric roguelike with a procedurally generated overworld, procedurally generated underworld dungeons, and a world that gradually freezes over due to the effects of a powerful artifact under the control of an evil wizard. Your job, naturally, is to find said wizard and express your stern disapproval by way of slapping him about with various spells and medieval weapons until he stops.

As I mentioned last time, Dungeon Plunder has slot machine-based combat. I still don’t know how I feel about that, but you can get a sense for how it works in the updated trailer:

Dungeon Plunder is available for both iPhone and iPad for $1.99–you can nab it here. There is an IAP “deluxe edition” for an additional $1.99, but per the developer, that just contains “6 alternate cosmetic models for your characters.” There are also likely to be some ports; per the developer, “sales are starting to pick up)so an Android (and pc/mac) port will definitely be considered although it will require a rewrite due to some dumb design choices early on.” Checks Out Driftmoon

I’ve been itching to try out Driftmoon ever since its release last week; in this video, I scratch that itch. Among other things, this is the first (and probably only) time you will hear me read dialog as a hermit crab pirate. Come watch as I play through the first 35 minutes of Driftmoon!

Battle Dungeon: Risen announced

Battle Dungeon Risen
Hunted Cow‘s fantasy tactics game Battle Dungeon: Risen has had a dramatic history. First released last year on the iPhone and iPad last year as online-only game Battle Dungeon, piracy caused the developers to lose so much money that they had to pull the game from the app store.

After months of tinkering, they are preparing to rerelease it. The new, non-online incarnation of Battle Dungeon has been subtitled “Risen,” playing on the image of a phoenix rising from its own ashes.

The premise:

Battle Dungeon: Risen is an exciting turn-based tactical strategy game for the iPad and iPhone. Fight through 12 exciting and challenging scenarios. Train and equip warriors, archers and clerics and send them forth to defeat your enemies across multiple dungeons. As you fight for victory you’ll collect valuable experience and powerful items that will aid you in future battles.

The game reportedly allows you to customize your force, choosing from a pool of 30 characters from 3 classes (9 subclasses), with varying combinations of 18 different abilities.

Battle Dungeon: Risen is due for release on iOS at the end of the month. The original version of the game was $4.99–this new version will be only $1.99, and will have the in-app purchases stripped out. It is also due to feature some nice lighting effects that weren’t present in the original (see the pics below).

Opinion: Why Kickstarter matters

Indie Games Blog editor Michael Rose has written an op-ed over on Gamasutra explaining why he “won’t be backing Kickstarters anymore.” His reason: he has experienced his first true case of “Kickstarter remorse” over backing The Banner Saga. He writes:

Essentially, what has happened is that the team [Stoic Studio] decided to build this free-to-play game due to the huge influx of extra cash that it received during the Kickstarter, and is now no doubt focusing a good portion of its attention on balancing and building addition content for this game, rather than actually making the game that myself and many others pledged towards.

In simpler terms, I was coerced into funding a game that I have absolutely no interest in, with the promise that the thing I actually do want will be coming at some point. This free-to-play game will also bring extra cash in for the team, meaning that it will no doubt slowly but surely begin to focus on the desires of its Factions players, rather than the people who gave it a voice in the first place.

This is my first solid feeling of Kickstarter remorse, and it works to fuel my reasoning that backing Kickstarters is not as worth it as I had once hoped. I enjoyed backing projects on Kickstarter because it felt like I was helping the developer out and keeping their dream alive. That sentiment has most definitely ebbed away now.

Now, far be it for me to tell someone that their feelings are illegitimate: emotions are emotions, and there’s no such thing as an illegitimate one. However, if we look at the factual basis Mike Rose offers to justify these feelings, it simply does not hold up under scrutiny.


New release: The Wizard’s Lair

The Wizard' class=
You may recall me posting about The Wizard’s Lair, a graphical roguelike, back in October. Developer David Williams writes in to announce that the game is now complete.

The premise:

Dare you challenge The Wizard’s Lair? in this adventure, you find yourself facing against your greatest challenge yet – To enter the Wizard’s Lair and slay the Wizard of Anarkhis! Face off against fearful creatures and dodge devastating traps as you descend into the depths!

Use powerful spell scrolls, drink mysterious potions and find legendary weapons to aid you in your quest to defeat the Wizard!

Stupid wizards! Always researching magic, and wearing robes, and…uh…wait. Why do we want to slay this guy, again?

…okay, I went back and read my first post about this game. Apparently the wizard “has stolen a powerful Staff and threatens to destroy everything in his wake.” It could be a roguelike allegory for rogue nations acquiring nuclear weapons. (But it probably isn’t.)

Here’s a trailer!

You can buy The Wizard’s Lair direct from the developer for Windows, Mac and Linux for £7 (i.e. $10.52 USD as of the time of writing). The Wizard’s Lair will soon be available on Desura as well.

Dungeon Plunder announced

Dungeon Plunder, an isometric graphical roguelike for iOS, is complete. Done. Finito. It’s been submitted to Apple for approval (app-proval?), and now developer Dominic Duchesne must wait.

Like most roguelikes, Dungeon Plunder randomly generates the world whenever you start a new game. Unlike many roguelikes, however, that procedural generation extends to both an overworld and an underworld consisting of random tombs and caves. The game also randomizes the selection of enemies you’ll face; or at least, that’s what tells me. The premise:

The goal of the game is to smash an orb freezing the world controlled by an evil wizard. You’ll see the world progressively getting affected as you play the game…

Pretty basic stuff from a narrative perspective, but I love that the game world actually starts to freeze over time. Here’s a trailer:

Like Tower of Fortune before it, Dungeon Plunder takes the whole “randomized results” thing to its natural conclusion and simply has combat occur via a slot machine. I can’t say I’m a fan of that choice from an “actually enjoying the game” perspective, but the potential satirical value is sky-high.

Dungeon Plunder will be out for iOS just as soon as Apple gets around to concluding that it has no nudity or anything even remotely political to say.

Days of Dawn announced

Days of Dawn
After an improbable, impressive last-minute rally in its Kickstarter campaign, Days of Dawn has at last been successfully funded–which, in turn, means that this game is now actually happening. In development by Bumblebee Games, Days of Dawn is reportedly influenced by Final Fantasy and The Secret of Mana; its combat system seems pretty firmly set in the former camp, while open world exploration and nonlinear storylines seem to draw influence from the latter.

Bumblebee sums up the premise of Days of Dawn as follows:

Your up to four companions encounter the most vivid and original creatures in a blazingly fast sequential round-based combat system while researching the mystery of marvelous powers recently felt and seen in the lands of Kalea. Learn to use these forces by channeling your feelings – use emotions instead of spells to evoke powerful magic with a surprise. Choose your path and your companions to enter a vast network of nonlinear storylines in a world whose magic just came alive.

Days of Dawn Cave
So, what does the phrase “a world whose magic just came alive” mean? What is the difference between emotions and spells in their magic system? I hadn’t the faintest clue about this stuff, so I wrote to Bumblebee developer Tassilo Rau asking for clarification. He responded with a very detailed (and in my view, pretty compelling) explanation of how magic works in the game:

A world whose magic just came alive means, there has been none before. All of a sudden, some few people realise they’ve got strange powers. Magic is experienced as an alien force of unknown nature, evoked by emotional outbursts. Without scientific research of these mysterious forces, there’s no spells to chose from or tomes to study.

Those gifted with these powers can unleash them in times of danger or need, yet unable to control the exact nature of the effects they evoke; instead, the character’s nature and the current situation influence the effect called. Only as they advance on their quest, will they start to learn to handle these forces and gain the ability to choose an emotion to channel into magic and, later on, a specific effect to cause.
With two additional traits – emotional control and emotional strength – and seven feelings of differing intensity, not only do your characters’ personalities influence the outcome of magic usage, but also the experiences and encounters they make during their journey.

In terms of gameplay mechanics, this is woven all throughout the game. Dialogue with PCs or NPCs can influence your emotions, but your surroundings do so as well. Creepy scenery makes you frightened, bright, sunny woods recover your courage. Getting hit increases rage and, as things get worse, fear. Finding someone you really like may increase your “love”. While you’re inexperienced in using magic, the result will be depending on your strongest emotions. As you progress, you learn to control your emotions and select specific spells. You can try to influence emotions by gameplay. Talking to the girl your hero loves will help him recover. Relaxing in the woods can also help. Some in-game events will have a deep impact on your emotions, so take care.

This actually reminds me a bit of how certain emotional states could affect the stats of your characters in The Spirit Engine 2, but it seems like they’re going for a more complex and robust implementation of that idea. I especially like the idea of using dialog to manipulate your characters’ emotional state, and I’m legitimately looking forward to seeing how Bumblebee implements this stuff.

On a more superficial level, the game has a really nice “painted” art style going for it. Just check out these screenshots:

You can currently pre-order Days of Dawn through Paypal for $20. Interestingly, although their Kickstarter campaign is done, they’re still counting pre-orders toward their stretch goals. (Note: the developers are German, and use a comma rather than a decimal point. Despite how it first appeared to me, they have not already raised $721,000.00 through Paypal.)

Days of Dawn is planned for release sometime in 2013 for Windows, Mac and Linux; the developers contemplate possible future ports to Android, iOS, WiiU, XBox 260, PS3 and Pandora as well.