Latest Publications

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.


A.Typical RPG demo released, full release pushed back

Developer Arvind Yadav of Pyrodactyl Games writes in with news that the A.Typical RPG now has a public demo. In the meantime, the full game’s release has been pushed back to March 31st in order to give the developers some extra time to bug test.

Here’s how the devs sum up A.Typical RPG:

The A.Typical RPG is a turn based role playing game, centered around the lives of a bunch of friends trudging through college. It features everyday situations, brand new tactical RPG gameplay, cartoony hand drawn art, branching storyline and a sense of humor.

Arguably, Rock Paper Shotgun sums it up a little better. My advice: go give the demo a try and see what you think.

New release: Avadon: The Black Fortress

Earlier this week, Spiderweb Software released Avadon: The Black Fortress for Mac. The Windows port is “Coming in Spring 2011,” or “hopefully by the end of April”; sometime after that, an iPad port is apparently on the horizon as well.

Avadon has had a remarkably short development cycle since its  announcement in May of last year, which makes Vogel’s remarks that he spent “an unusual amount of time on it” a little comical. (Avernum 6 was released for Windows just a few months prior to the announcement of Avadon.)

What is an RPG?

I posted an article on on Wednesday evening analyzing the RPG genre, looking for a common thread that ties all RPGs together. Here’s a choice quote:

RPGs are fundamentally creative games: even the ones about killing and destroying everything. Because even those RPGs aren’t really about destroying. They’re about building and shaping your character, your party, your avatar. Exploration, quests and monsters—those are the rough stone from which you mine resources to build your characters. Inheriting a complete character and trying only to slow his descent into oblivion, while potentially interesting, just doesn’t give the player the power to develop him.

It’s that creative power to mold and develop your avatar over the course of the game that makes an RPG an RPG. It is, in effect, a sort of self-improvement by proxy.

You can read the full article right here.

Embric of Wulfhammer’s Castle reviewed on PlayThisThing

I’ve received an email from a Dr. Tof Eklund pointing me to a review he wrote of the indie RPG Embric of Wulfhammer’s Castle. He describes it as sort of a strange cross between RPG and interactive fiction, with an overweening focus on building romantic relationships substituting for combat as the meat of the gameplay.

If this sounds like a relationship sim, well, it basically is, except that it’s apparently more about exploring and traversing a non-linear narrative with multiple endings than it is about time allocation and grinding for stat points.

Here’s a choice quote from the review:

Highly unconventional gameplay hiding behind a conventional facade, an occasional lack of polish to the system, and the game’s queer themes make it a labor of love. I can’t image what a pitch meeting with a publisher would be like for this title –- though I think there might be more of an audience for this sort of game than the conventional wisdom would dictate.

I’d post a screenshot, but you already know what RPG Maker assets look like. If you’re curious, you can nab the game free-of-charge right here.

Indie RPGs make strong showing in RPGWatch poll

This is interesting: general-purpose RPG news site RPGWatch has posted the results of a poll in which they asked people to rank this year’s upcoming crop of RPGs according to which look the most promising. Indie RPGs made quite a strong showing in the poll, taking second (Frayed Knights) and fourth place (Avadon) in the editor’s choice section.

The reader’s choice section was a little less indie-friendly, featuring one indie RPG at third place (Age of Decadence) and two others at ninth and tenth (Frayed Knights and Avadon, respectively).

While it wasn’t quite the indie-centric sweep that some may have wanted, I think this definitely vindicates the view that indie RPGs have a real place in the market. It says something powerful that RPGs produced independently by small teams can compete for fan enthusiasm against games sporting multi-million-dollar budgets.

Parodies: Super Press Space to Win Action RPG and Linear RPG

While I have the presence of mind to remember to do this, I want to share a couple of free (and extremely well-done) jRPG parodies I’ve had the pleasure to experience over the past year.

Super Press Space to Win Action RPG and Sophie Houlden’s The Linear RPG are both scathing critique of jRPG conventions. Both games take modern jRPGs to task for offering up repetitive, mind-numbing battles with no meaningful tactical choices.

While The Linear RPG takes a more insightful look at the overall mechanics and progression of these games, Super PSTW RPG rips apart the narrative tropes of these games with fine-edged precision. Both games are playable in-browser, and I recommend playing them both.

Game review: Arvale: Treasure of Memories Episode 1

  • Title: Arvale: Treasure of Memories Episode 1
  • Developer: Jaybot7
  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $5.00

Arvale: Treasure of Memories, Episode 1 is a jRPG by Jaybot7 (Jason Surguine) originally released back in 2009. Created in RPG Maker and using mostly default RPG Maker assets, Arvale is a short game with a silly atmosphere and some amusing dialog. However, the issues with this game’s mechanics are no joke.

Let me tell you a little bit about the world of Arvale. It’s made up of four elements: Fire, Water, Earth, and Everything Else. (No, really. Everything Else is an element.)


Happy New Year!


Here’s wishing you a great new year full of fun and games!

New release: Darklight Dungeon

Tired of RPG Maker games? Well, here’s something you don’t see every day, Chauncey: a first-person dungeon delver. That would be Darklight Dungeon, by ZoellerSoft LLC. The screenies and description immediately call to mind old games like Wizardry and Stonekeep.

Darklight Dungeon’s official description is a little lackluster, but the Rampant Games blog has its own description that I will helpfully plagiarize for you here:

It’s an indie first-person dungeon crawler of a definitely old-school western RPG persuasion. It features turn-based, menu-oriented combat; anti-magic zones; square step-based dungeon grids (but with smooth 3D transitions and particle systems); puzzles; trapped chests; exploration; and even *gulp* character aging.

I tried my damnedest to boot up the game and take a screenshot, but Darklight Dungeon doesn’t seem to like my PC very much.

Rather than upload a screenie of an error message here, I’m going to plagiarize Indie Game News by stealing their lovely-looking screenshot. (I could plagiarize the Rampant Games blog again, but I’m saving that for when I post the link to the interview they did with developer Jesse Zoeller. Which I am doing right now.)