Latest Publications

New release: Driftmoon

Word has reached my ear that top-down wRPG Driftmoon is finally out! Developers Instant Kingdom describe Driftmoon as “a fully grown, well behaved adventure-rpg with a charming personality.” The premise:

The beautiful, enchanted world of Driftmoon trembles in the shadow of a forgotten evil, for the dark King Ixal is again gathering his forces.

Hope lies in an unlikely alliance: A young man joins forces with a little firefly dreaming of stardom, a panther queen with the ego of a moon whale, and a very determined fellow who’s lost everything but his bones, and still hasn’t given up. Knowing nothing of the amazing adventures and the fearsome foes that await them, the party embarks on a journey like no other.

The devs say that Driftmoon has 10-30 hours of playtime, with an included level editor and some slick mod support with one-click installation.

And look–they even made a new release trailer just for you!

Driftmoon is a Windows game, but the devs say it works in WINE as well if you’re a Linux gamer. Driftmoon can be yours for €14.99 (i.e. $19.96 USD as of the time of writing)–grab it direct from the developers via Paypal! If you want to give the game a try before you buy, however, there’s a free demo available for you to check out.

UPDATE: “To celebrate the launch, up until March 5th, Driftmoon is available for only €/$ 11,99. 15% of all direct sales from the developer’s website go to the Red Cross.”

Lords of Xulima announced

Lords of Xulima
I’ve received word of a new isometric, turn-based, single-player 2D wRPG by the name of Lords of Xulima. Spanish indie developers Numantian Games have engineered an interesting hybrid that appears to be a wRPG in spirit, but takes an approach to presentation that actually reminds me more of the old Phantasy Star series than to anything seen among modern wRPGs (specifically, its combination of overhead exploration and turn-based, first-person combat).

Per the devs, LoX will feature the following things:

  • Create your party with up to six characters, choosing between 10 classes and more than 100 unique skills.
  • Strategic turn-based combat in first person view.
  • A vast continent to explore, with different environments and climates. You are free to go everywhere from the beginning (but be carefull where you go because the lands of Xulima are extremely dangerous).
  • Castles, towers and temples awaits you to discover their secrets.
  • Inspired by the old-school classics, featuring a challenging gameplay, with riddles and lethal encounters.

This trailer should give you the basic gist:

Numantian Games states that they intend to release LoX by the end of 2013 for Windows, “then for MAC and Linux and then for consoles and perhaps in the future for tablets.” The game will be available in both English and Spanish.

Avadon 2: The Corruption announced

Avadon 2 Logo
So! Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software emailed me yesterday to announce that Avadon 2: The Corruption is in development, part of what is now the planned “Avadon Trilogy.”

The premise:

You are an agent of Avadon. The Black Fortress. Your job is to protect your homeland from the limitless threats that surround it. Titans and monsters. Pirates and barbarians. Avadon must keep them weak and divided. Your resources are unlimited, and all must obey you.

But then Avadon was attacked. A sneak raid shattered the fortress, and, with it unable to keep order, madness resulted. Civil war, barbarian raids, even conspiracies to destroy your people. Avadon’s power has faded, but your people need it more than ever.

Everything is falling apart, and a shadowy power has risen to destroy your homeland. What will you do? Will you fight your enemies? Or will you join them and end Avadon’s power once and for all? The choice is yours!


  • Epic fantasy role-playing adventure in an enormous and unique world.
  • Five different character classes, with dozens of unique spells and abilities.
  • Uncover the fascinating histories of Avadon and the many lands of Lynaeus.
  • Many different endings. Will you be loyal to Avadon or switch sides and bring it down? The choice is yours!
  • Dozens of side quests, dungeons, and secrets to discover.
  • Hundreds of magical items to find. Use powerful crystals to make your artifacts even more powerful.
  • Huge adventure with lots of replay value. Experience with Avadon: The Black Fortress is entirely unnecessary to enjoy Avadon 2.

Avadon 2 is planned for release on Windows, Mac and iPad platforms this fall.

Banner Saga Factions out of beta: now what?

Banner Saga Factions
Multiplayer tactics battler The Banner Saga: Factions (previously covered here) has been given a soft launch; it will be available to the general public (i.e. not just Kickstarter backers) next Monday, February 25th.

In the wake of this announcement, Alex Thomas of Stoic Studio took to Kickstarter to explain the delay in getting the single player RPG aspect of The Banner Saga finished. (It was originally planned for release in November 2012.) In large part, he chalks it up to getting more money than they expected from their Kickstarter campaign:

When we set a launch date of November, we didn’t know if we’d match our funding or not. If I’m completely honest it was probably too optimistic, even if we had only gotten the minimum funding. We should have known better, and I apologize for that mistake.

Just as importantly, we made 7x the funding we expected. We made the game exponentially bigger. Imagine a tv show that gets picked up for 7 more seasons, or a book that gets made into a 7-part series or a 20-minute indie film being given the funding to turn it into a 2 hour feature film. All of these things take a long time. And hopefully, every one of these examples means a much better end result.

He also addresses various complaints about the multiplayer Factions component, including accusations that microtransactions unbalance the game. Read the full update here.

Legend of Grimrock 2 announcement confirmed

Grimrock II "Teaser Logo"
This just in! Remember that time we thought Almost Human was announcing Legend of Grimrock 2? Shocking twist: it turns out that they were, in fact, announcing Legend of Grimrock 2.

Up until now information and news about our new project have been quite scarce and we apologize for that. The reason for the silence is that we have been uncertain what the new project actually is. Making the ports to other platforms and updating Legend of Grimrock on multiple platforms has taken a lot of time so focusing 100% on the new project has been impossible.

Earlier we have mentioned that we are working on a “Grimrock related project” and internally we have talked about the project being a DLC for Grimrock. But creating a DLC for Grimrock doesn’t really ring true to us…

we are now officially working on… Legend of Grimrock 2!

I’m kind of amazed at these guys’ ability to talk and talk and still say nothing; it’s almost politican-level. Read the full thing if you want to be bored stiff. Thankfully, they’re a good deal better at making games than they are at posting updates, so I remain eager to see what they do with the sequel.

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

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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!