Latest Publications

New release: Space Funeral

Paul Eres posts on TIGS about a new, free, short JRPG set in what is reportedly a unique and interesting universe. You can download Space Funeral right here.


Dead State Interview

GameBanshee has an interview with Brian Mitsoda about Dead State. It has a lot of interesting stuff in it, but from a pure RPG design perspective, I found this perhaps the most interesting:

Unlike a lot of other RPGs, you don’t gain XP from killing things – you get skill points from completing objectives, which means that the player can go about things in any way that completes the task, rather than have to kill everything that moves. These objectives are both reoccurring and also reactive to events that have been set off by the player’s actions. In a lot of cases, avoiding combat or using the zombies against opponents is a better strategy than going in guns blazing. Reaching certain key milestones (like recruiting a certain number of strangers to your shelter) or making critical decisions in your role as a leader can unlock choices of new perks for your character. We definitely want to encourage players to play the way they want rather than grind for success.

Check out the full interview here. Hat tip to RPGWatch for the story.

XBox 360 indies

RPGWatch reports on a new round-up of XBox 360 indie RPGs posted on the Evil Avatar forums. Every last one of them is dirt-cheap–worth checking out if you’re looking to try out a new RPG on your XBox 360.

The cost of making an indie game

Canadian gaming blog Above 49 has a post on the unexpected expense of designing an indie game, and the importance of people supporting indie games:

It’s also god damn hard to make a game, even as an indie, for less than a million dollars. Another person here, another few months there and a budget can easily hit seven figures. Most people seem unaware of just how expensive even seemingly small independent games are. Frictional’s post mentions a conversation with a friend outside the industry who guessed their budget might be $25,000. I imagine even many serious gamers wouldn’t be much more accurate. Even an order of magnitude increase to that guess is less than half the actual budget.

Read the rest here.

Game review: Eschalon Book II

  • Title: Eschalon Book II
  • Developer: Basilisk Games
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac, Linux
  • Price: $24.95

Eschalon Book II is the second game in the Eschalon series by Basilisk Games. Eschalon is an isometric, nonlinear wRPG reminiscent of Fallout and Baldur’s Gate. It does almost everything well, but there are a few areas where the game fails to live up to its promise.

Let’s talk about the things Eschalon does well. First of all, Eschalon is beautiful. The visuals all hang together perfectly, the scenery is vivid and lush, and all sorts of neat little environmental details really help the world come alive. Plus, everything you would expect to be animated is animated. (I’m looking at you, Avernum.)


Dead State announced

RPG Watch reports that Double Bear Productions has officially announced a new RPG entitled Dead State. Double Bear summarizes the game thusly:

Dead State is a compelling, high-tension RPG set at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse – a deadly illness is rampaging through the world, turning those infected into the walking dead. As society is beginning to fall apart, the player must organize a scant handful of allies, working on fortifying a shelter, scouting for food and supplies, making uncertain alliances with others, and attempting to hold together a group as humanity teeters on the brink of extinction. And although the zombies lurk as an ever present threat, the biggest obstacle to the player may just be other humans with the same goal: survival at any cost.

I’ll be honest: when I first saw this, my immediate thought was something along the lines of “Jesus Christ, do we not have enough zombie games? Is it really that hard to think of something original? Why not just go and call it “I MAED AN RPG W1TH Z0MB1ES 1N IT!!!1”?

On the other hand, the way it’s described makes the setting sound like Fallout, a desert wracked with anarchy and occasional wandering bands of ghouls. That can’t be a bad thing. And considering that Double Bear is run by veterans of Obsidian and Troika, I think we may be in for a real treat with this one. Check out the RPS interview with Brian Mitsoda.

RPGDX Alternate History Challenge Complete!

RPGDX has just wrapped up its annual short-form RPG challenge. All participants had from August 9th to August 18th to create an RPG having to do with the challenge theme, Alternate History.

Here is a list of the games that were finished within the time constraints of the challenge:

If Only, a short but funny time-travel RPG in Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style. (You’ll know if you won because you’ll get some cake.)

Multi-dimensional Man, an RPG with Cursor*10-style mechanics.

Retroactive Quest, a time-travel 3D action RPG rendered in pixelated style.

Tiny Puppy RPG, a distressingly cute RPG in which you were born as (what else) a tiny puppy. You must bark to scare away other dogs and seek out your bone.

Hit the jump for the rest of the games…


New release: Road Gangs

RPGWatch reports that Road Gangs, a real-time RPG set in the post-apocalyptic United States, has just been released. Blackwater Games describes the game here:

Road Gangs is a vehicle based RPG set in a post-apocalyptic United States. Your gang must find a number of nuclear scientists hidden in cities all over the country and use them to disable a certain number of nuclear silos before it’s too late. Vehicle combat is real time, there are 23 vehicle types in Road Gangs and all vehicles have over a dozen upgrade options available.

The game is currently Windows-only, but Blackwater says they’ll be releasing a Mac version “soon.” You can grab the demo here, and unlock the full game for $24.95.

Recettear release date announced

Carpe Fulgur have announced an official release date for Recettear: An Item Shop’s Tale, a Japanese indie RPG (and, as I understand, an indie jRPG as well) in which you play an item shop owner. The game involves actually managing the item shop, and doing the odd dungeon-delving here and there to obtain more stock.

Word has it that the game will be hitting Stardock’s Impulse store around September 10th. Until that day arrives, you can try out a demo, already available right here.

The value of false choices in narrative

Speak of the devil: Kieron Gillen of Rock Paper Shotgun has written up a fascinating analysis of the purpose behind Starcraft 2’s largely empty player choices:

Heroic lead characters rarely make mistakes in fiction – at least, crushing ones. The exceptions come right at the start of a story, and the story is about recovery from that failing. Because if they make too many mistakes, they stop being heroes. Jack Bauer going in to rescue a hostage after being told it’s too dangerous doesn’t usually lead to the hostage getting their throat slit. It leads to Bauer stabbing them in the eye with his celphone.

Because, in fiction terms, the writer is almost always on the side of the hero. In any fair universe, Batman would be annihilated from orbit by the first supervillain with any sense. However, the odds are stacked on his side. They won’t act with the full level of their powers, with the full freedom that a human would do – because if they did, the hero would be negated. Whatever Batman does, will be basically right. Batman always wins.

The effect of Blizzards choices about choices means that it always results in a heroic story staring Raynor. It’s a story which each player customises according to their own decisions, but it’s still a heroic story. Because if Blizzard gave you room to fuck up, they wouldn’t end up with a hero as heroic as they need to.

Because – this is the key thing they’ve realised – the idea of “meaningful decisions” doesn’t necessarily mean that any of those meaningful decisions need to have a negative consequence.

Go ahead and give it a read.