Latest Publications

Phantasmaburbia demo released

Banov has released a public demo of Phantasmaburbia, a new RPG he’s working on using the Dubloon engine.

The premise of the game:

Ghosts and evil spirits begin to appear all over town, corresponding with the impending reincarnation of a transdimensional demon. A group of teens, armed with weapons found in their homes and assisted by spirits of their ancestors or former residents of their homes, set out to prevent the rise of this evil being.

According to Banov, the demo contains about 30 minutes of gameplay. The demo will only be online until June 25, so if you’re curious to try it out, get the demo now. It’s available here.

Interview with Jeff Vogel

Today I scored an interview with Jeff Vogel, one of the great-grandaddies of the indie RPG world.Vogel has been developing indie RPGs for a whopping 15 years, and by all accounts, he’s been quite successful at it.

We discussed the reaction to Avadon (his latest game), what his next move will be as a game developer, and what the heck Matt Findley could have possibly been thinking when he opened his mouth to Gamasutra. While we were at it, I also pressed him for specifics about his recent development choices, and got some details about what we can expect to see in Avadon 2.

Intrigued? Hit the jump and find out what Mr. Vogel had to say.


Why turn-based RPGs matter

Or, as I somewhat-less-tactfully put it on my developer website: “So you created an action RPG. Stop congratulating yourself.”

You may have heard about the recent (and highly unfortunate) Gamasutra interview with Matt Findley, in which the former Black Isle dev announced that turn-based RPGs were basically an unfortunate accident of history caused by limitations on computing power. He seems to imply that, had Black Isle possessed the processor capabilities of today, they would have happily spat out a gaggle of God of War clones instead of Fallout and Baldur’s Gate. Even worse, he went on to say that action games are at the heart of computer gaming.

As a longtime turn-based RPG fan, I was less than pleased.

At the outset, let’s get one thing clear: games are not, at their heart, about anything in particular. Video games are a medium. To say that video games are fundamentally about one group of gameplay elements is tantamount to declaring that novels are about romance, or that films are about dialog. As I’ve written repeatedly, this is stupid.

Click here for the full ran–er, uh, reasoned discussion.

New release: Inaria

Viridian Games has announced the release of Inaria, a very old school, turn-based, tile-based RPG “but with modern interface conveniences that make it easier to play, giving the best of both worlds.”

You can pick up the game for a mere $4.99. Check out the trailer below to see if it’s your style.


Driftmoon soundtrack released

Instant Kingdom writes in to let us know that its forthcoming top-down action RPG, Driftmoon, now has a soundtrack available for purchase. For $5, you can own the musical stylings of composer Gareth Meek. You can preview the entire soundtrack here for free and decide whether it’s worth the price tag.

Project Zomboid tech demo released

It turns out that Dead State isn’t the only Fallout-style zombie RPG in development right now. Developer The Indie Stone recently released a tech demo of Project Zomboid, a real-time isometric survival RPG taking place in an infected city.

According to the developer, Project Zomboid will feature a massive city environment with open-ended, sandbox gameplay; a dynamically changing game world; co-op multiplayer; and “advanced item crafting,” as well as “Starvation, illness, loneliness, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, insanity, trust issues.” Sounds like a blast!

Here is a video showing the engine in action:

Game review: Monster’s Den: Book of Dread

Guest Review by Tof Eklund

Monster’s Den and its sequel Monster’s Den: Book of Dread are pure hack-and-slash. As Book of Dread is half-sequel, half updated version (it includes the
original dungeon in Monster’s Den in it), this review effectively covers both games. The Monster’s Den games incorporate old-school front and back row turn-based combat as well as the sort of magic equipment, skills, and shopping we’ve come to expect since Diablo. Story in these games is intentionally nominal (you’re exploring a dungeon to rid it of evil, whaddayawant?) and exploration is simplified to a nicety, so it all comes down to inventory management and combat.


Interview with Nathan Jerpe on RPGWatch

RPGWatch has posted an interview with Nathan Jerpe, creator of the freeware quasi-roguelike Legerdemain. For those of you not familiar with the game, Jerpe spends most of the interview describing it. For instance, he has this to say about it:

There are some detractors out there who dismiss Legerdemain because it lacks certain roguelike features – the world is not randomly generated, for instance, and instead of permadeath the game has a hybrid system that relies on the use of inns.

The story in Legerdemain is pretty non-linear. You are often free to choose where you’d like to go next, and many of the game’s obstacles can be tackled in different order. There’s also a bit of sandbox play depending on how you want your character to develop, so that one player may spend stretches of time hunting or gathering mushrooms while another focuses on studying spells. That being said, the game does have a definite ending, and even though the plot spends plenty of time bifurcating and forking around it all gets drawn up into a single conclusion. There aren’t too many side quests, per se, everything in there is designed to fit in such a way that it all makes sense by the time you reach the ending.

Here is a video showing some gameplay:


According to Jerpe, the game features 200 hours(!) of play time. The unicode version is free to download; however, there is also a modestly priced version with both tiles (i.e. graphics that aren’t just text) and a clue book.

Rampant Games posts new Indie News Roundup

Jay Barnson over at Rampant Games has taken the time to put together a big post with tons of the latest news in indie RPGs. There’s some good stuff in there, including updates on:

Interview with Steven Peeler

Happy April Fool’s Day! To celebrate, here is an exclusive (and most certainly not fake) interview I conducted with Steven Peeler of Soldak Entertainment, in which he tells us about the value of urgency, as well as offering some insight on using procedural systems in an RPG. Check it out.


Let’s start basic. Who are you? What is your role in Soldak Entertainment?

My name is Steven Peeler. I do all of the design, programming, and business stuff here at Soldak.


You’ve made quite a few action RPGs in the Diablo vein. What is it about that particular style of game that attracts you as a developer?

It’s not really that a Diablo type game attract me more than something like a turn-based RPG, it’s that I feel that the main features of our games that we have created so far work better as action RPGs. For example, an enemy covenant in Depths of Peril raiding your covenant or Demons attacking your town in Din’s Curse are much more intense when everything is real-time and you can actually see everything because of the isometric camera position.