Latest Publications

New release: Deadly Sin 2: Shining Faith

Deadly Sin Studios has announced the release of their new game Deadly Sin 2: Shining Faith. Although it carries the same name as the original Deadly Sin, the developer says that this is a sequel only in spirit–the story is unconnected to the first game. One might safely assume, however, that the game involves both sinning and deadliness.

Here’s the trailer:

Game review: Ainevoltas 2

  • Title: Ainevoltas 2
  • Developer: Silvernova
  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: Free

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Developed by Silvernova, Ainevoltas 2 has been described as a platformer-RPG. In reality, it plays more like a platformer with stats and floaty damage numbers than a proper RPG. Imagine Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, but minus the puzzles, loot, cool abilities, tight controls, and most of the exploration.

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New release: Mardek RPG: Chapter 3

Word has it that Pseudolonewolf, the pseudonymous developer behind Fig Hunter Games, has finally released Mardek RPG: Chapter 3 after years of development. As with the first two chapters, Mardek 3 is a free-to-play browser game with a Paper Mario-style, reaction-based combat system.

New releases: Dubloon and Choice of Broadsides

This is apparently something of a week for nautical-themed RPGs. Banov has released his freeware JRPG “Dubloon,” which he describes as a “point-n-click pirate RPG adventure game.” It’s available here–you can see a short gameplay vid of it below:

Meanwhile, I’ve received an email from Heather Albano of Choice of Games, who has recently released Choice of Broadsides, a “swashbuckling naval adventure.” The way she describes it, CoB is a text-based game with a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style interface, only different. Heather writes:

Normal CYOA stories cause the plot to “fork” at every decision point; as a result, the story can’t have more than half a dozen decision points.  (If each decision point has about four options, then six decision points = 4096 pages!)

With stats, we can craft a new kind of multiple-choice game, where your decisions can change your character instead of (immediately) forking the plot. In later vignettes, some branches may open while others close based on your earlier roleplaying choices; ultimately, this determines which ending you get.

The game is available for free on their website, and on the iPhone as well.

Why have narrative in games?

It has been somewhat in vogue recently among a certain class of indie game designer to assert that games are not a good storytelling medium. Now, I have never made a secret of my views on dialog and other narrative techniques in games. While interactivity is of course central to any gaming experience, that is no license to make games meaningless. Done right, narrative gives context and meaning to our actions in-game, and provides a valuable experience in its own right.

Rather than simply post a rant, however, I decided to put the question to a handful of other indie RPG developers:

Some designers have demonized narrative as an inherently limiting and unnecessary distraction from the emergent storytelling arising out of pure gameplay. Why have narrative in games?

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Editorial: consequences matter in RPGs

Jeremy Signor has an interesting editorial up on bitmob about what makes choices meaningful in an RPG:

Many modern designers fall into the trap of choice for the sake of choice; they try to make the game meaningful with something that doesn’t change the experience much. Infamous exemplifies this in a particularly egregious way with the morality system the developers tacked on to the open-world gameplay. Its extremely binary nature nearly parodies other morality systems, but it really fails with its lack of consequences behind its choices.

Click here for the rest.

Avadon: The Black Fortress announced

Spiderweb Software posted a page for a new game slated for release in early 2011:

You are a servant of Avadon. The Black Fortress. Your job is to protect the Pact, five nations that have banded together in a fragile alliance. The purpose of the Pact: To hold back the waves of invaders that seek to destroy you.

Outside the lands of the Pact, there are limitless threats. Barbarians. Fading, jealous empires. Titans and unspeakable horrors. The warriors and spies of Avadon are charged to keep them at bay, weak and divided. You fight in the shadows, rooting out small threats before they have the chance to grow. Your resources are unlimited, and your word is law.

But a dark time is coming. Assassins are killing Avadon’s warriors, and a hidden enemy plots to unite all of your homeland’s foes. If you cannot discover and destroy this conspiracy, and soon, your people face total destruction. But beware. The defenders of Avadon are being picked off, one by one, and you are the next target.

While the plot sounds decidedly Baldur’s Gate-y, the in-game screenshots they’ve posted look an awful lot like Avernum VI, albeit with much nicer character portraits and GUI design. (This probably shouldn’t surprise anyone.)

Game review: Din’s Curse

  • Title: Din’s Curse
  • Developer: Soldak Entertainment (Steven Peeler)
  • Platforms: Windows, Mac
  • Price: $24.99

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If Diablo and Diner Dash had offspring, I imagine it would turn out something like this. Din’s Curse is a 3D isometric action RPG by Soldak Entertainment (which is to say, it’s by Steven Peeler and a small group of contract workers). The basic gist is that the god of honor, Din, is making you atone for a wasted life by having you pull a Diablo: you have to venture into a dungeon beneath a randomly generated town in order to save the town and show a horde of demons, undead, and other assorted nasties who’s boss.

A la Diablo, the dungeon is randomly generated. But so is everything else, leading to an impressively dynamic dungeon-delving experience.

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Interview with Thomas Riegsecker

Hopefully, we should have a review of Eschalon: Book II coming soon. In the meantime, however, here is yet another interview by Jay Barnson, this time with Thomas Riegsecker, creator of the Eschalon games.

Rampant Coyote: There are a lot of modern RPGs being released on PC and consoles (not to mention MMORPGs) that all promise evolved, superior gameplay – but apparently there’s enough of an underserved “niche” out there to have made it worthwhile for you to continue on with the Eschalon series. What do games like the Eschalon series have to offer a gamer in a world full of games like Mass Effect 2, Fallout 3, and World of Warcraft?

Thomas Riegsecker: World of Warcraft is awesome in so many ways, and it has altered the landscape of gaming forever. But to me, when I enter that game, I feel as though I am just one of a million other would-be-heroes. Everyone there wants to be the best, the most respected, the one with the coolest mounts and weapons and spells. I don’t find that competition enjoyable. Now in Eschalon, you are the hero. There is no one else there to compete with. Every dungeon you come across if fresh to your eyes- it is pristine and untouched, waiting for you to unlock its secrets. No one else has come before you to raid it and leave their garbage behind.

This sense of “this world was made just for you” is what I love about single-player RPGs.

Check out the full interview here.

Interview with Steven Peeler

Boy, this is a big week for developer interviews, isn’t it? Jay Barnson conducts another interview, this time with indie RPG dev Steven Peeler, the mastermind behind Soldak (and therefore, the mastermind behind real-time dungeon crawlers Din’s Curse, Depths of Peril, and Kivi’s Underworld).

Rampant Games: Why indie RPGs? What prompted you to go after one of the most challenging game genres right out of the chute, and what has kept you on that path?

Steven Peeler: I like RPGs. It really is about that simple. Since I started Soldak, the “smart money” in the indie world has shifted from making match 3 games to hidden object games to iPhone apps and now to Facebook social games. I could have worked on any of these to “make the quick bucks”, but if I can’t work on something I love, what’s the point of being an indie?

Here’s the full thing. And, just for fun, here is another interview Peeler gave to GamersInfo.net from earlier this year.