Echoes of the Fey Greenlight Campaign and Update

I’m happy to announce that yesterday we officially launched the Steam Greenlight campaign for Echoes of the Fey: The Fox’s Trail. If you want to check that out (and vote yes!) the page is here. We’re hoping to be able to release later this summer simultaneously on all PC platforms, but Greenlight is a mysterious black box so fingers crossed!

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We touched on our progress in the Greenlight page, but I thought I’d give a bit of a wider picture the current state of development. Our engine (the framework we use to put in scenes, GUI elements, items, and choices) was completed–except for some minor polish–several months ago. We’re using GameMaker Studio for the first time, so this was a fairly significant step. GameMaker can work for pretty much anything 2d, but it’s not hardwired for a lot of text input/drawing. Once that was done, we were basically just been working on content–writing, art, music, and the such–for a while. Of course, that’s what people come to visual novels for.

As of today, the script is basically done. And almost all of it is in the game. You can play through from beginning to end and pretty much the only thing you’ll miss out on is the end of one side quest and the optional epilogue scene with a character of your choice. The soundtrack is finished except for some polish on a few older songs and a vocal song that will play over the credits. We’ve received but haven’t processed/put in all of the voice acting (that’s actually a very late step in development because when we do that we have to fork off a new branch of development for the mobile version, which will have significantly less voice work).

All the character portraits are complete and in-game. The only thing left to do on them is optional dyes for Sofya’s outfit, which will be rewards for getting gold pieces from side quests. Backgrounds and the overworld are mostly complete. One building that’s part of a side quest isn’t fully interactive yet, but that’s about it. Several CGs are complete and in the game, but there are more to do. And of course there’s testing! With over 100 choices in the game, testing will be something of an ordeal but (of course) we’re going to do it to make sure we launch as bug-free as possible.

I also promised a short story prequel and that’s started but I definitely need to get to work when I have the time (thanks, Overwatch). We’re hoping to be ready in the next month, then take a couple weeks to focus on marketing and release in the very near future! Of course I’m being completely vague about release dates because (especially with a two person team) things happen and I really don’t want to set a date then miss it.

In the meantime, follow development over at the new official twitter for Woodsy Studio, and just in case you missed it before, vote for us on Greenlight!

You Shall Not Pass: Bloodborne, Dark Souls 2, and Cutting Open the Gameplay Loop

From the lamp, I run straight down the stairs on the left, past a crazed huntsman. He notices me but doesn’t have time to attack. He’ll follow me, so I just keep sprinting. I veer left again down another set of stairs. There I find two monstrous creatures with a hammers where their hands should be. I roll around them, only briefly slowing down if my stamina is drained. Past them I find an elevator which takes me to a bridge full of more bloodthirsty huntsmen. If I just start crossing the bridge and retreat, a giant fireball–a trap meant to wreck me–will clear most of them from my path. Once the fireball has passed, I juke around any enemies who survived the blast of flames. At the end of the bridge stands another hammer monster. I wait to see where he’s going to attack and I roll around him in the other direction. There’s a huntsman with a shield behind me after I dodge so I still can’t slow down to take in the scenery. Instead, I head for the branch to the left, up another set of stairs, and find my destination: a door made of fog.

Over a year later, I still remember the path to Father Gascoigne in Bloodborne. Every turn, dodge, and trap is etched into my mind from the dozen or so times I ran the obstacle course the first time I played the game. Gascoigne is the first major challenge of Bloodborne. He’s a highly mobile boss who transforms midway through the battle into a furiously aggressive monster. For a beginner, he serves as a bottleneck, forcing players to learn how to parry with your offhand weapon, a mechanic that becomes increasingly important as the game goes on. Mastering that mechanic makes Gascoigne relatively simple (and there’s a hidden item that can assist as well) but for a lot of people, including me, he’s the first major roadblock in Bloodborne.

The difficulty of Gascoigne makes the run above all the more important. Learning to beat Gascoigne means studying his attack patterns and practicing how to counter them. And, like many Bloodborne bosses, fighting him often feels like beating your head against a wall until it finally breaks. Anything that gets in the way of trying the boss again is a frustration, so it is a relief to run to the fight without being forced to deal with enemies along the way.

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26 Gy is Now Released! And on Steam Greenlight!

January 26th is here, which means 26 Gy is finally ready for release!

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26 Gy is a classic RPG about dying of radiation poisoning. Rather than gain levels like in a typical RPG, you will spend the game losing levels. That’s right–as every minute passes, your character will lose a level and their stats will decrease at a corresponding rate. There’s only one way to mitigate this loss–find weapons, armor, and stat boosts in a procedurally-generated labyrinth.

Of course, this takes time and time is the one thing you don’t have. You have only seventy-two minutes (each minute representing an in-game hour) so you’ll have to choose whether to rush to the exit of each level or search for important stat-restoring items.

The game is purchasable now on itch.io HERE.

Vote on Steam Greenlight HERE.

Final Kroenke: A Game About Stan Kroenke

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Like many folks in St. Louis, I was pissed off by the NFL and Rams owner Stan Kroenke earlier this week. Losing the team, trashing the city, all that stuff. I thought about making a blog post but plenty of people have written rants that are better than anything I’d come up with.

So instead I made a game about it, Final Kroenke. It’s free and playable in your browser. It should even work on your phone but because of a lack of keyboard keys, a couple things can freeze the game: trying to use items on enemies or trying to use the “Money” or “Coaching” skills before you level up and learn them.

Enjoy!

PLAY FINAL KROENKE BY CLICKING THIS LINK
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My Apparently Annual Top 10 Games of the Year List – 2015

Last year, I hopped on the internet end-of-the-year zeitgeist by making a top 10 games of 2014 post. I’m not sure how many people care about my opinion–and probably far fewer do now, seeing that I had a sports game at #1 and a visual novel at #2–but hey, why not do it again? #content

I played a lot of video games this year, which is nothing new, but I also released my first game and contributed significant dialog writing to another. I’ll be releasing my second game in a few weeks, and another visual novel in collaboration with Woodsy Studio in the late spring. I don’t know whether any of this makes my opinion more or less valid, but working on games has certainly informed and changed how I approach them. Which is weird, because this list is probably way less eclectic than last year’s.

The Annual Disclaimer: A shitload of video games came out in 2015. More games that I wanted to play than in any year I can remember. There’s a lot I still haven’t gotten around to playing that I could see making it on this list: SOMA, Rise of the Tomb Raider, Just Cause 3, AC: Syndicate (yes), Axiom Verge, Nuclear Throne, and Pillars of Eternity, just to name a few off the top of my head.

I’m also leaving off MLB: The Show 16 to keep things interesting

And as usual, large gifs ahead.

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26 gy Update – Box Art and Trailer

A few months ago, I’d planned on releasing 26 gy by mid-December. It’s not out yet, so it’s update time.

A few things things kept me from my planned release. Jury duty and a brutal flu hit me at the same time and pushed me back. The closer my intended date got to Christmas, the more I wanted to wait a bit longer. 26 gy is hardly a holiday game and releasing while everyone is on vacation and playing big games sounds like a death sentence.

But here’s the good news! First up, I have official box art.

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Now, granted, there isn’t going to be a boxed version of 26 gy. It will be up on my itch.io page and (with any greenlight luck) Steam at a later date. But, hey, the industry keeps calling it box art so here we are.

Second, I have a trailer featuring a bit of gameplay and some of the original music. No official date yet–testing could take one week or three and I’m not ready to commit–but I can say it will be released in JANUARY. And this time I mean it.

I’m also returning to this damn blog, which I’ve largely neglected over the last month. Not only was I trying to make up for lost time with 26 gy, I was playing a lot of Fallout and I let that take away from blog-time rather than dev-time. So even if you’re more interested in my jokes, baseball, or video games thoughts rather than a low-fi horror game, I’ll have stuff for you here!

Announcing My Next (Full) Game, 26 gy

So, now that The Closer: Game of the Year Edition is out (go play it!!!), and I’ve patched up all the major bugs that have been reported so far, what’s next? That’s a good question and, fortunately, I already have an answer for you. My next game is in a very early state, but far enough along that I plan to live demo it in a couple weeks and think it’s fair time to announce it, so here goes.

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First off, this is not a follow-up to The Closer. I am going in a completely different direction with this project, eschewing wacky comedy for atmosphere and horror. But if you like the silly stuff and have no interest in anything else, don’t worry! I’ll still be doing dumb single-day projects like The Ascension of Randy Choate too. But that’s enough in the way of disclaimers.

Now I’m going to talk about 26 gy.

If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably heard me sing the praises of Final Fantasy VIII, relative to the Final Fantasy series and even jRPGs in general. I’ll write an overlong, in-depth post about this eventually but what I love about VIII is how it plays with the most fundamental gameplay loops of the RPG–earning experience points and leveling up. Killing monsters for XP is secretly counter-productive and grinding for levels can make the game almost unbeatable. It’s entirely bizarre and works with the (equally bizarre) themes of the game.

I wanted to do something similar.

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26 gy is a horror/RPG in which you do not gain levels. You lose them. At the beginning of your game, your character suffers a lethal dose of neutron radiation which leaves them in the “walking ghost” phase of acute poisoning. She is going to die and cannot be saved, but for the moment she feels just fine.

Your character (there will be three options to start) is recruited to explore a mysterious labyrinth beneath the military base where the radiation accident occurred. You believe that this labyrinth is somehow connected to the accident and the experiments you were running when it occurred, so you agree to investigate. After all, you have nothing left to lose.

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With every hour you are in the labyrinth (represented by one game minute) you lose a level. Your stats are decreased in kind, and you are one hour/minute closer to death. There is no extending the time limit, there is only descending deeper into the labyrinth so that you will learn as many of its secrets as possible before the radiation poisoning runs its course.

There’s more to the story–a  lot more, and I hope to make the narrative the major draw, since the gameplay systems are (intentionally) oppressive–but that’s all I’m going to say about it since I want players to discover the mysteries of the labyrinth and its monsters for themselves.

Monsters? Yes, unlike The Closer, this is an RPG. Right now, it uses the standard RPG Maker battle system (which is the early Dragon Quest battle system FWIW) but in the coming months I’ll be playing around with other options. Killing monsters earns currency, which can be exchanged for items or indulgences from the mysterious stranger who appears throughout the labyrinth. These will serve to offset the stats lost by the slow level drain.

26 gy is, though, above all a horror game. But not the kind full of jump scares and gore. The monster that is going to kill you isn’t hiding behind a corner, in a closet, or even really in the next random battle. It is the poison inside of you; there’s no finding it but there’s also no escaping it. The clock in the corner will always tell you how much time you have in the winding, unnatural dark hallways of the labyrinth.

Again, all of this is in a fairly nebulous stage. The art style–which I hope invokes the stark abstract nature of C64 and black-and-white PC games–is probably the only thing set in stone. I’m not much of an artist, so I gotta go as simple and abstract as possible.

Despite that, I wanted to get it out there. I work fast, and I expect 26 gy to be done by the holidays (what a cheerful holiday title) though I’m not sure when I’ll release it. But for now, if you happen to be in St. Louis and want to attend a video game convention, I’ll be demoing the early build of 26 gy at Pixelpop Fest.

And if you want to see my other stab at horror, check out my novella, Room 127 for an idea of how I handle more serious and grim subjects. I’d like to think I can do more than tell dumb jokes!