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Indie Developer Spotlight: Liege

Indie Developer Spotlight: Liege

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That’s right, we have TWO Indie Developer Spotlights this month! With all the contacts we made at Too Many Games, we decided to double down this month. Enjoy!

We spoke with John from Coda Games, who we met at Too Many Games, about their upcoming game, Liege. Here’s what he had to say:

Q1. Tell us about your game.
Liege is a story driven RPG with a deep, tactical core. The game has classic JRPG influences, but:
– Modern presentation
– Seamless, fast paced tactical battles
– No random encounters, no grinding, no fetch quests, no fluff

Here’s the trailer:

Q2. What was your inspiration to create the game?
Inspiration for the game came from lots of places: Classic RPGs I loved as a kid (FFVI, FF Tactics and Suikoden) were some of the original inspirations, while more recently games like the new XCOMs and Transistor had a big influence as we developed the mechanics. Inspiration for the story and setting came mostly from outside of games (fantasy books, film and TV- too many to list!).

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Q3. When should we expect to see it?
As of now we’re aiming to release on Steam Q1 next year, with console ports in Q2-Q3 2017.

Indie Developer Spotlight: Hastilude

Indie Developer Spotlight: Hastilude
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We spoke with Dustin from Ghost Crab Games, who we met at Too Many Games, about their upcoming game Hastilude. Here’s that they had to say:
Q1: Tell us about your game.
A1: Hastilude is a competitive & co-op sci-fi fantasy game where you battle rival knights atop flying mounts, attempting to knock them off and swoop in for the score. Each knight has unique movements, attacks, and abilities, working inside a combat system that’s easy to learn but tricky to master. There are several arenas from which to choose (and more on the way), both in classic arcade wrapscreen style and a dynamic camera style. The visuals are bright and colorful, featuring high-resolution artwork and hand-drawn character animation mixed with special effects. We’re still working on all the features (campaign mode, a player tutorial, team battle, etc.), adding new arenas, and creating new characters while getting the game into players’ hands for feedback with the free Alpha version.
View the trailer here:
Q2: What was your inspiration to create the game?
A2: Chris and I were at the Barcade in Philadelphia in 2014 and played a bit of Joust on one of their machines. We realized that among all the retro game updates that had been released, we couldn’t think of anyone who had done a modern take on one of our classic arcade favorites. Hastilude began very similar to Joust, but as we added items, unmounted combat, and more modern features, it started to become something more. Indie local co-op games gained in popularity during 2013, so after getting some good feedback at Dev Night and the Philly Game Forge we had the confidence to move the project forward. We got the idea for game mods and match badges from one of my first local co-op games, Worms, on the PS1. We love the fighting game genre as well, and have worked in a number of things from that branch of gaming like the Super Meter and characters with unique move-sets and storylines.
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Q3: When should we expect to see it?
A3: Hastilude will release in 2017. We’ve gotten great feedback at shows like MAGFest, Too Many Games, South Jersey Geekfest, The Boston FIG, Arcade @ Dilworth (Philly Tech Week), and Gamescape, and we’re aiming to do a lot more! We’re hoping the Alpha version gets us some valuable feedback from people who have chance to play the game outside a show environment. The things most people want to see the most are typically things on which we’re already working — more characters, arenas, and game modes. Our next showing will be at Super Smash Con on August 11–14, 2016 at the Dulles Expo Center in Virginia. Come by and play!
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Indie Developer Spotlight: Rise of the Robotariat

Written by: Julie from Eye4Games

Rise of the Robotariat launched at the end of June on Kickstarter. Its campaign ends July 22.

About the game
Rise of the Robotariat is a board game for 3-5 players that can be played as fully-cooperative or mostly-cooperative. You take on the role of one of eight unique robot revolutionaries and work together with other players to overthrow the humans who have oppressed you for too long.

In order to win, you must raise enough funds to launch a successful revolution — and do it within six rounds, otherwise the humans catch on and stamp it out.

During the game, you move between and activate city locations. At each location, you can do a different thing, for example, draw and play Upgrade and Sabotage cards, place propaganda posters, or influence the movement of Non-Player Characters.

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There are two kinds of Non-Player Characters (NPCs) moving around the board. These are either helpful Civilian Robots, who will donate to the revolution, or dangerous Human Oppressors, who will fine you and tear down your posters. At the end of each player’s turn, they roll dice to determine where the Civilian Robots and Human Oppressors will move next. Their path is mostly predictable but not guaranteed. The game’s intensity ramps up as the game goes on and more NPCs enter the board

A lot of the game’s strategy revolves around setting up turns where the Civilian Robots will give big benefits while mitigating the effectiveness of the Human Oppressors when the NPC dice are rolled.

You have one other thing to manage as well: the revolution’s reputation. You start the game with a certain amount of collective Reputation. You can chose to spend it to take bolder acts of sabotage and you will lose some if humans catch you conspiring too blatantly. But if Reputation ever drops to zero, robots lose all faith in the revolution and you lose the game.

If you decide you want an extra challenge or if someone is telling everyone else how to play, you can add in Secret Objective cards for a mostly-cooperative game. In this version each player is striving to achieve a unique goal. This usually involves making the revolution happen in the way that makes you look the most heroic.

The inspiration
Rise of the Robotariat started with a mechanic that no longer exists in the game. One of our game designers had an idea that sounded to a lot like upgrading robots and that lead to the flavor that players are members of the robot rebellion. After a disappointing playtesting, we scrapped the original gameplay idea, but the story it inspired shaped the development of new mechanics.

This is one of the exciting aspects of Rise of the Robotariat: all of the gameplay is grounded in the flavor and the story is infused throughout. For a small example, we have a character named Alice who looks human, but is certain she’s just a very cleverly disguised robot. Because of her appearance, she has more influence with humans and her character’s ability gives her the greatest control over the movement of Human Oppressor NPCs.

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We’ve made a point to have the flavor color the rulebook, and the art for many of the characters references Soviet-era propaganda posters or revolutionary paintings. The predominant use of red in the games’ color scheme also is to invoke that revolutionary vibe.

As a cool extra, our writer has been writing on-going tales about the characters’ backstories leading up to the start of the game. We’re collecting them into a book and you can read them in blog-post form online here.

When’s it out?
The way to get the game is to back the game on Kickstarter. At the end of June, we launched a campaign for Rise of the Robotariat that runs until July 22nd. If we’re successful, we’ll be able to afford a print run and the game will be out by January 2017.

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Crowdfunding

The Benefits and Drawbacks of Crowdfunding

Disclosure:  I bought into the base crowdfunding for Star Citizen, and a couple of other non-gaming projects that are not mentioned in this piece.

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Crowdfunding has become a wildly popular means for artists, designers, writers and film makers to get their projects off the ground in lieu of traditional investment funding.  With the rise in the number of funding projects, there’s also a rise in scams, failed projects, and teams that don’t come through with their promises.  As every year passes the list of failed ideas grows longer and it’s making gamers more and more skeptical of funding new independent projects.

Mighty No. 9,  though it has been released, has been a long chain of concerns and disappointments for the last year or more.  Community management issues, communication problems and finally a delayed and troublesome release have left a bad taste in people’s mouths.  Some backers were able to get refunds before release, but many stuck it out in hopes they would get the spiritual successor to Mega Man, but by all reports Mighty No. 9 isn’t so mighty.  Often the best way for an indie game to get made now is with crowdfunding, but when backers get burned by a bad project it will make them think twice before backing another, which could turn out to be a great game.

Then we have projects that have been funded, have been updating, but have not released yet.  Star Citizen is a huge undertaking, that has grown larger over the years as it has managed to raise more money than any crowdfunded game yet.  Over the course of the funding the developer has expanded the size and scope of the game, but there doesn’t appear to be a release date in sight.  They have updated backers regularly with videos, alpha releases of small portions of the game, and email newsletters.  The delay has left people wondering if they’ll ever see the game, and some have even gotten a refund on their investment.

Worse, in my opinion, are the funded ideas that never deliver, even a bad quality product, and don’t update the backers at all.  A Feminist Deck was funded completely in June of 2015, and, according to comments on the page, went radio silent in February of this year.  By all appearances, the organizer has taken the money and run, which may or may not be true, but in the case of asking people to trust you with their money, appearances are all you have.

That’s essentially what crowdfunding is.  Asking people for money for a product that isn’t yet created, and asking them to trust you to deliver that product as promised.  The bigger issue here is faceless project organizers and anonymous artists are the bulk of the people asking for money, and the more trust that’s broken with consumers, the less they’ll trust the next one.  A few people burned by a couple of failed games tell their friends, who also become more skeptical.  A creator might have a great idea and be able to deliver, but they might not be able to find enough backers to trust them to get it off the ground.  Messes like Double Fine’s Broken Age debacle just make it harder for the next team with a great idea.

Despite the large number of incomplete game projects there have been some great successes with games getting funded.  Pillars of Eternity, for example, got great reviews from both players and critics.  In its time, it was the highest funded Kickstarter game on the site.  Along with Pillars, we’ve seen a couple of Shadowrun games, Superhot, and Darkest Dungeon, just to name a few of the more popular ones.  We’ve gotten some great titles, unique concepts, and quality product out of crowdfunding, and it is a great way for independent developers to get their projects out there, but it’s certainly become a minefield of risk and disappointment.

Indie Developer Spotlight: B3

Indie Developer Spotlight: B3

B3 Box Kickstarter

We were recently able to come into contact with Psycho Robot Studios about their.B3 Box Art upcoming indie game, B3: Beep Boop Bot. Here’s what they had to say:

What’s it about?
Our game is an arcade style robot shooter about an out-of-date robot that is activated to take on other robots in a space center that have become AI aware. It will have a campaign mode and a survival mode, a leaders board on steam for high scores, and, if our Kickstarter does well after we launch it, then we will also expand to have multiplayer options.

What was your inspiration?
Our inspiration for this game just kinda grew from nothing. I mean, we both have always been hardcore gamers with a desire to create a game, but the concept itself grew over time. It started with a basic robot running around a room shooting stuff. After that, we released a few demos. Being in the Army, I was able to test it on a bunch of Soldiers who lived in the barracks. B3 Lvl 1 ReworkWith that, we grew the game into something more, based off what the players liked, didn’t like and what they wanted. After that we released another demo on twitter to streamers and YouTubers. From that, we are in the process of making more improvements and changes. It really has been a fan input created game.

When will it be released?
We don’t have a release date, but I want to say early 2017. It’s hard to say, though. We will have a new demo in a few months that represents the final game.

 

Indie Developer Spotlight: Splitmind

Indie Developer Spotlight: Splitmind

Written by: Rendal Studios

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ABOUT OUR GAME:
Splitmind is a 2D adventure game starring Kaplan, an amnesic shadow awaking in Mnemosyn, “the land of memories.” From this strange place, Kaplan will be able to project himself in his lost memories and then investigate his own past to answer all the questions he has.

During his identity quest, Kaplan will meet several odd characters, all of whom are related to his past. But beneath the appareances lies some terrible events.

Splitmind is a game playing with mysteries and misleadings; a game where nothing that seems to be true really is.

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WHAT INSPIRED US:
First of all, we’re big fans of old point & click games, like the Broken Sword or the Monkey Island franchise. So, when we started our company, we thought, “Hey, what if we make an adventure game?”

Then, we needed a strong story because it’s hard to innovate in a game genre that is older than 30 years. One of us came with an idea he started working on a few years ago: “What if I woke up one day, in a strange place, without any idea of who I am or how I got here?” Something between the Christopher Nolan movie Memento and the Jean Paul Sartre Huis Clos play.

We finally started to work on the concept and the script. Then everyone on the team brought some ideas about the designs. What will Kaplan look like? What will the Unamed City look like? And then we got this strange black & white shadow, wearing private investigator clothes, and walking in a city where no one can tell if it’s daylight or evening.

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We also wanted to give the game an interactive comic book look, with speaking bubbles and action bubbles appearing whenever an action is possible (speaking, observing, etc…).

We hope we did a great job and that our prospective audience will enjoy our game.

THE RELEASE DATE:
There is no fixed release date for now, but we can assure you our game will be released during 2016. We’ll soon announce our Kickstarter campaign, then we’ll communicate about our release date for PC. The releases on iOS and Android will follow.

Here’s the trailer:

Indie Developer Support Could Mean Better Games for All

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At the birth of the video game industry, games were made much the same way indie games are made now. Small groups of artists, writers and programmers came together, often with very little money, and big ideas, and created some of the most memorable experiences early gamers had. Some of these games are still remembered today as classics, and the foundation of what we have now. Over the years larger games, larger budgets, and massive enterprises have come to make up the bulk video game industry, but there is still a healthy indie game market that can’t be ignored. As a matter of fact, I think it needs our support to make sure we get better games in the future. I’m going to give you a breakdown of why I think that’s the case, and a few of my concerns over indie studios.

Inspire Innovation

First and foremost, supporting indie devs can mean more innovation in games.  AAA studios and big publishers continue to push out the same old games, with the same stories and mechanics, with few innovations year to year.  They do that because they have to guarantee a return of the huge budgets they have to get to make the games they make.  It’s why we have the same COD game every year, another Battlefield with all its bugs, Halo, Tomb Raider, Assassin’s Creed and on and on.  Many of these games are fun, people love them, and buy them by the boat-load, but at the end of the day, there’s little difference between each installment of the game.  Companies don’t want to take the risk with so much money involved.

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