Indietail – Necrobarista

At last year’s GamesCom I interviewed Ngoc Vu, the lead artist from Route 59, who at the time worked on Necrobarista. Now that the game is out I got a key for review purposes and, well,…

TLDR: I love it. It’s a great game. Why? Find out here!

Developer: Route 59
Publisher: Route 59, Coconut Island Games
Genres: Supernatural, 3D, Story Rich, Visual Novel
Release Date: July 22nd, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC - but PS4 and Switch are planned soon as well!
Copy was provided by the Devs.

Necrobarista is about time. Time to move on – or time to stay. Somewhere in a backstreet of Melbourne, there’s a Café where both the alive and the healthy come to. When you pass away, you have 24 hours to stay in that Café, have a drink and then move on… and Necrobarista tells a story about the owners of that Café and the people that come there. It’s a story about the ethics of Necromancy, hipster coffee, and letting go.

Strap on for a haunting and innovative experience and a haunting, yet cosy, time!

Meet Maddy, Chay, Ashley, and Ned – as well as a bunch of other characters! Get to know them! Listen to them and have a cosy time. I really liked the characters as all of them had a certain depth to them (without spoiling too much here). There’re all kinds of characters in all kinds of shapes and colours, so there’s some degree of inclusiveness here with representation for all kinds of people, which is something that I really fancy.

Necrobarista has a certain cosy slice-of-life-ness to it that I really enjoyed while playing. On top of that, though, it also has some intense moments here and there as well as some rather emotional moments. Think about it: It’s your last day on earth. I’ll just leave that there and you can think about it all you want, get emotional or shrug it off. Whatever you feel like. The story leaves a lot of room for interpretation and analysis, which is something that I personally really enjoyed doing. At some plot points, it made me feel down a bit but other plot points felt really nice and wholesome in a way. And while overall cosy, it gets intense later on as well.

What’s interesting is that you don’t spectate the story from the lens of one character that looks at all the characters interacting with only them, like in a lot of other visual novels, but rather you get different perspectives and points of view. You get to see the characters from the POV of one character or from above or the camera moves around a bit, panning while you read the text. There are no text boxes on the bottom side of the screen. Instead, you see them floating near the characters. You always know who’s talking but they are always somewhere else, making the game feel more whole and organic. It’s lovely.

A lot of these feelings are conveyed through the colours and the soundtrack. Necrobarista’s soundtrack has been composed by Kevin Penkin who’s known for making the soundtrack of Under The Dog, Made in Abyss, and The Rising of the Shield Hero. I’d put Necrobarista’s soundtrack on the same level as Made in Abyss. I love it to bits. It’s cosy and joyful, endearing and amusing but it also can be intense and mystic, enigmatic and threatening. That – combined with the lo-fi style that uses not only gorgeous images and colours but also some slight animations here and there – makes this just a wonderful experience.

And while I would have loved this game to branch out into choices and a story with different kinds of stories that you can explore over time, it really is not that kind of game.

It’s linear but still quite rich. I love the story and the aesthetic. The characters are great. The soundtrack underlines the plot points and brings the best out of everything. Again, I can’t praise Kevin Penkin enough but after what he did in Made in Abyss, it’s no surprise that the soundtrack for this game turned out so great. It sticks to your head and you notice a “sound” that you ultimately recognize as “Necrobarista-like” – or at least that’s what I feel like when I hear those tunes somewhere else now.

The story is linear but doesn’t need the branches. Of course, there is still some degree regarding choices.

For instance, you get to pick words that you’ve heard from different people at the end of every chapter. These words get associated with different meanings and subjects or people depending on the context and the character that said them. When you pick them, you then gain memory fragments from different categories. You then can use these fragments in the Café while walking around before continuing the story. You use them to unlock side stories or “memories” (essentially extra lore) that you can read on to learn more about the characters.

You click on “Blood” and get a fragment for “Magic” as it was mentioned in that context. You click on “Weather” and get a fragment for “Melbourne” as they were talking about a storm brewing. You click on “Minor Demon” and get a fragment for “Lore” as it’s part of the world that those exist… and “bowl of peas” belongs to “Food” as Ned loves them. Use these different fragments up for some nice and short stories in between chapters and collect more to unlock more stories. At some point, you’ll get through the main story but you can always load previous chapters and load previous save states, so it shouldn’t be a problem to unlock all of them, especially as you can view what you need and what you have already in the “memories” section of the pause menu.

I liked this feature. It creates a bit of replayability which is quite nice overall.

And you also get to explore the space a bit to unlock more short stories. Visit the basement or the bar, the Café’s upper area or the outside area. Look at different objects.

Enjoy the view. Take some pretty screenshots! I did, too! A lot of them!

But seriously. It’s a great game. I guess this is not a game for you if you’re not into reading or if you don’t like Visual Novels or anime or stories revolving around life and death… or if you feel like there’s not enough action in this game… but that’s your loss then. I highly recommend this game. I didn’t find any issues with it. The story, presentation, the characters, the gameplay, and the score were just great if not even superb and I loved it.

Necrobarista just came out on Steam! Check it out or wishlist it! Highly recommend it!

I’m glad that I saw it at last year’s GamesCom. I’m glad that I did that interview. I’m glad that I started this blog. Next week, the blog turns a year old and if it wasn’t for the blog I wouldn’t have been able to write about all kinds of topics and about these kinds of games. I love it. I hope you’re enjoying the blog posts, too. Until then.

Cheers!

The Stray Sheep #24 – GamesCom-Interviews #6 – Kingdom, Flotsam and Foundation

So, today’s the last day of Blaugust and also the last post about interviews I did at the GamesCom! Today’s Stray Sheep features the devs behind Kingdom, Flotsam and Foundation. Three strategy games that I’m quite excited about! 

While Kingdom has been out for quite some time and while I’m a fan of it ever since the first game, which is now called Kingdom Classic, I really looked forward to talking to the devs at the GamesCom since I wanted to do that ever since the first game came out. The Kingdom games are beautifully crafted strategy-games with tons of tactics and mechanics while only having two resources: Money and Population, though more money means more population! On top of that, the devs developed the second game “Kingdom: New Lands” where you travel to other islands, basically creating a new challenge every time, and “Kingdom: Two Crowns” with multiplayer, new mounts, tons of new content, as well as new buildings, jobs, more islands, and the feature to travel back to old islands and actually building a kingdom instead of a few cities across all the islands. There’s also new content for Two Crowns which I’ve had a chance to play, which is quite nice. 

But let’s get to the questions, shall we? I’ve interviewed Gordon Van Dyke who’s “building” the studio Raw Fury.

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“To be honest, Thomas van den Berg from the noio-studio, [who] is the original creator of Kingdom, brought me on to the project to help with the design of the original game and basically his inspiration was […] just making a game. So, he started experimenting and it started off with a horse. He wanted to animate the horse in pixel-art, so he studied the running and walking of a horse and started to learn about how low he could go resolution-wise to create a believable horse with pixel-art. 

And then it just started to kind of unfold: He was like, ‘Maybe someone should be riding on it’, so he put someone on it, like a Prince or King. And then he was like, ‘Oh, now he needs something to do. And the horse needs to eat. And now there needs to be grass.’ 

[That led to] it [starting] to grow based on experimentation!”

“It just came out of a creative place and it was more about imagination than anything else. So, I think that that’s one of the reasons why it’s so easy to fall in love with Kingdom because it came from a place of passion and unfiltered creativity!”

Gordon Van Dyke

What’s your favourite part of the whole franchise?

“Well, probably Kingdom: Two Crowns because that’s the one I did all the design myself. So, it was the first game where Thomas took a step back and let me do all the design and changing the different elements, from changing it from rogue-like- to campaign-style, managing multiple Kingdoms, having Co-Op […], challenge islands and doing these things to build a bigger game than we had before. You know, we took the original foundation of Kingdom and build on top of it to expand to more content. We kind of painted us into a wall with New Lands and [Kingdom Classic].”

So, now I’m going for those weird questions because I don’t want to sound like a professional.

(He laughs out loud)

So, if you were a superhero what would your hero name and superpower be?

“[…] I would probably end up with a very useless superpower like… the power to remember the past. And they would call me, ‘Yo, Reflection Man!'”

That’d be quite useful! I always forget if I’ve got my keys on me and have to check three times before leaving the flat if I’ve got them in my bag, and five times after I’ve locked the door. If I were like Reflection Man, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about it!

(he laughs)

So, if you could meet one character from a game in real life and plan out a whole day with them, who would it be and what would you do together?

“[…] I would probably meet Samus and go out to fight those aliens. Going on an adventure together and go somewhere really abstract where I couldn’t go before.”

So, that’s the interview with Gordon Van Dyke. It’s been a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the Plague Island that I got to test out at their GamesCom-booth with the raised difficulty and all that! 🙂

Flotsam is another title I’m excited about as it reminds me of Water World, a cool movie, and Raft, a cool game. On top of that, it has that nice Cell-Shading-style going which I adore! And it also is about recycling, which is great, because of… well, environment. I actually have a bag full of Dr Pepper cans that I wanted to recycle into a nightstand. Right now they just chill here on my flat but… maybe in the future, right? So, recycling is cool and all that, but I also love city-builders.

I really enjoy playing BanishedCities: SkylinesGoblins of Elderstone and Universim. Which is why I’m so excited about Flotsam because it’s unconventional and interesting!

For this interview, I talked to Stan Loiseaux, Co-Founder and Artist of Pajama Llama Games, who describes the game as a resource-managing- and building-simulator where you need to collect garbage in a completely flat world and to make your town. You can recycle all kinds of staff and make different buildings, boats and machines. You need to keep your villagers alive by collecting food and drinkable water. […]

What was your biggest inspiration for this game? 

“Well, at first I made an animation movie that I never finished in this setting. That was the starting point of it. We wanted to make a building simulator. Some inspirations were definitely Water Worlds, for the style we looked at Belgium Comics – we’re from Belgium btw – so that we can have a colourful building-style but in 3D. For games, we looked at games like Don’t Starve, Rim World and Frost Punk.”

I see! So, what was the most fun part about working on this project?

“Well, I’m the artist so mostly art. I’m actually a 2D-artist, so in 3D we tried to make it feel like a handpainted or 2D-game although it’s not, which was quite exciting.”

What’s your favourite game of all times?

“That’s a good question! I don’t have one favourite but I really like Don’t Starve, I also really like older games like Dungeon Keeper and Warcraft 3.”

Dungeon Keeper is a great one!

“Yeah! Stuff like that and other building-games but also Nintendo-games like Zelda and I don’t really have one favourite. 

If you could visit one videogame world for a day, which one would you chose?

“Oh my, that’s another hard question. […] I’d like to catch Pokémon, so that’d be cool. Or rather walk around all kinds of fantastical worlds, like Zelda and that kind of stuff. But I guess most worlds have a lot of Monsters, so I guess that might not be the best idea. But I guess stuff like that.”

So, that’s basically that. I really liked the style and the concept and will look forward to playing it eventually. 

And last but not least, Foundation! It’s another medieval city-builder but it’s got this organic-city-building going on which is quite neat: You basically build the most important buildings and roads to shape your city but the citizens build their houses on their own near the important places, meaning that it’s a lot more realistic, in my opinion. The idea sounded quite nice but I sadly didn’t get to play it.

Anyways, for the last interview, I talked to Philippe Dion, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Polymorph Games, the studio behind Foundation!

What was the most fun part about developing Foundation?

“That’s a great question! For ourselves, the two Co-Founders, this is our dream project! We always liked city builders and games like Anno and the Settlers. And we really wanted to do something different with the organic world. The most fun we had was when that organic-feature actually worked. So, when people walk around, roads and paths will form there, too, and when you build the different buildings, they will build their houses around them where the area is desirable. All these mechanics are the result of us working together and when you realise that it’s all working now, that’s an awesome feeling to have!”

So, by “organic” you mean that one only builds a few buildings and the people build their houses around it?

“Maybe it’s easier to understand by saying that you build everything except for housing? The villagers will decide where to build their houses depending on the desirability of the area, the roads and that kind of stuff. The player will use the zoning-tool to ‘paint’ a residential area into the city so that houses will only be built there.”

In what stage is the game currently in?

“The game is already in Early Access on Steam, so we’re updating it constantly. It’s far from finished at this point, but it’s probably around 50 to 60% of the content. We don’t have an estimated date of release, yet, though.”

So, what’s your favourite game of all time?

“[…] For me it’s not a city-building game but actually a different genre. My favourite game is Resident Evil 4. The most perfect game I’ve ever played. I really enjoy Dawn of Discovery, aka Anno 1404, [too].”

And yeah, that wraps the interview up. I’m quite intrigued by all these games and while I’m not sure if I’ve understood the part about organic-city-building, I kind of imagine it to be similar to Cities: Skylines where you build everything apart from Industrial, Commercial and Residential areas (and the later stuff that I never get to because of my cities being a mess!). Maybe I’ll be able to check it out quite soon but we’ll see about that.

Anyways, this post ended up kind of long but I wanted to wrap the interviews up by Saturday (today) and in hindsight, I probably could have put the “Kingdom”-interview into the same post as the “Ring of Pain“-one since Kingdom used to be a rogue-like-game, too, but then again I never thought that it’d be so much work to transcribe these interviews into a written format, then do the layout-ing and all that. In the future, I’ll be planning better questions, work on my recording methods, and prepare the posts in advance so that I’ll be able to just get those posts out in little to no time at all. 

Okay, so that’s it for the interview posts and that’s also it for Blaugust! It’s been really challenging but I made it to 31 posts on 31 days even though I had a few small issues with WordPress on two days. Feel free to leave feedback on these interviews and comment on what games you’re excited for! 🙂 

Cheers!

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.

The Stray Sheep #21 – GamesCom-Interviews #3 – Sea Salt and Elden: Path of the Forgotten

Today I started my job at a nearby school which is why today’s Stray Sheep may be a bit later than usual – but then again, I don’t have fixed times for my post anyways, apart from daily during Blaugust, so it shouldn’t matter.

In today’s post, I’ll share the next two interviews with you. This time we’re featuring Y/CJ/Y’s Sea Salt, an action-strategy-hybrid based on Lovecraftian horror stories, and Onerat Pty Ltd’s Elden: Path of the Forgotten, which is Hyper Light Drifter but in a lot more brutal and featuring eldritch creatures! I enjoy both games and, well, I’m also a Lovecraft-fanboy, so let’s see what the devs had to say!

In Sea Salt, you’re playing as Dagon, one of the eldritch gods of the sea, and you are in control of a horde of minions and monsters. You kill humans, get upgrades, increase your swarm, get better units with different benefits and so on. It reminded me a lot of Right click to Necromance, which is also quite a lot of fun! 🙂 For this interview, I talked to Christopher Andreasson, the programmer of the Swedish duo behind Sea Salt. The C in “WhyCJWhy” consists of Christopher, who describes himself as “little below average” on their homepage, and Joseph Martinovsky, the “kinda tall” Graphics-guy.

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“Well, we started making this game on a game-jam in Sweden and by then we loved Bloodbourne. I mean, we still really love Bloodbourne. So, for the art-style that was our heaviest inspiration – and Bloodbourne is in parts inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s work as well, so… it’s a huge inspiration by Lovecraft in the game. And at the game-jam, I wanted to do something with path-finding and A.I., so the idea of controlling a group of minions was something that we wanted to do there. Then I looked at games like Pikmin […] and Overlord but we didn’t want [the player] to control a hero character who’s using the minions as tools but instead, we wanted the player to control a group of minions, creating a path of death, fear and destruction.”

What was the most fun in the development?

“I think since it’s quite a unique way to control the game, I had the most fun at making the controls as intuitive as possible. At the start, we had a bunch of different buttons and the idea to activate different minions in a lot of different ways. I like how we then kept it simple, with the controls on one stick and a button to attack basically.

That made it easy for people to just pick it up and play. Like, we showed it to a bunch of friends and other developers and stuff. […] Making the tutorial for the game was also quite enjoyable, as we had a tutorial at the beginning that was very poorly made. As we showed the game to other people we always had to explain the same things, so now we just put those things into the tutorial. We also made a boss for the tutorial which is a lot cooler now.

When we were done with the tutorial, I was quite proud of it and overall I think this game was the most fun [whilst] developing it.”

Since you’re a smaller studio with only a few games developed so far, do you have any role-models that you aspire to be like?

“[…] My favourite would probably be Miyazaki […]. I also aspire a few other Indie devs whose names I can’t recall right now. […]”

In Sea Salt, you control a bunch of different creatures. What’s your favourite to control?

“Usually it’s the latest one we made, but now that we haven’t made one for a while I think the runner-up for the favourites is the Worm which is like one of the most basic minions in the game and it feels like a sleeper-hit because it’s super-strong but it looks so weak. It’s the first minion you unlock in the game.

But I think that my absolute favourite is one of the creatures that you unlock later into the game, the Toad. It’s just a massive toad that will jump to nearby enemies and they die in a huge explosion. It’s so satisfying when the toad jumps into a huge crowd of enemies and they all just die. Yeah, I think that’s my favourite!”

Okay, now we’ll continue with the previously mentioned “weird questions”.

“Yeah, sure!”

Dr Pepper is the best soft-drink, right? (I just had to)

“No. (laughs) No no, not at all.”

I just won’t mention that, jk. So, since One Punch Man has a game now, also with a booth at the GamesCom, I’d like to ask this: If you were a superhero, what would your superhero name and superpower be?

“I think I would like to stop time – and I know that wouldn’t work because of time-travelling and space-time and stuff. But like, just stopping it, pausing time. I would use it to sleep more, get more rest.

Oh! Maybe I’d chose teleportation instead. That’s so much better. Yeah, I’d chose to teleport!”

I mean, it’s quite similar, isn’t it? If you stopped time, walked somewhere and then unpaused it, it would be like teleportation, right?

“Nah, I would choose teleportation. Like, instead of standing in line here, I would just teleport home, to my apartment, go to the toilet there, and teleport back. Yeah, I’d be toilet-man!”

So, that’s the interview with Christopher! Quite a nice lad, apart from the Dr Pepper thing… oh well. Sea Salt will be coming out this year! Look out for that or maybe even wishlist it on steam!

But let’s talk about Elden now! Elden: Path of the Forgotten is quite a nice game, too. It’s a medieval, eldritch fantasy game that is relying on non-traditional methods to tell its story, which is also known as Environmental Storytelling! You are thrown into this world and can learn more about the story by reading books in foreign languages with pictures and the like in them. There’re also cut-scenes without voice that tell it, so a lot of the story is left to you, the player. I really enjoyed its combat and the art-style. So, for Elden, I’ve interviewed Dylan J. Walker from Onerat Games.

What was the muse for this game?

“Oh, well, obviously a lot of Lovecraft and things like Dark Souls… Or rather Bloodbourne, since, as well, more Lovecraft! And it’s the fear of the unknown, which is one of the best elements of Lovecraft.”

While we’re at it, what’s your favourite Lovecraft-story?

“Uhm, probably, just the Dunwich Horror. It probably has the most parallels to the story in the game.”

My favourite is actually The Colour Out of Space.

“I haven’t read it yet! I really need to. I have it on my phone, with me, and I wanna read it on my flight back.”

[At this point, I wonder if he has and how he enjoyed it. If you’re reading this, tell me! I’d love to hear! :D]

What was the most fun part of the work on this game?

“Probably working out how to tell the story with only visuals because I’m not a big fan of menus and that sort of thing, so there’s not a lot of menus in the game. There’s no text. So we need to bring it across without any of that. It’s been a really big challenge to solve the story with just that. But this bit of a challenge definitely was the most fun part!”

In your opinion, what’s the most fun part of this game’s combat?

“I tried to make it really reactive [so that] you can’t just stand there and click and expect things to die. You constantly need to be active and moving around. That for sure was the most part of it, for me personally.”

Okay, so now I’m getting to a few weird questions because I don’t want to sound like a professional. I’m only an Indie Blogger, hehe. So, if you were a superhero, what would your name and power be?

“Oh, you’re trying to put me on the spot! […] Well, super power.. it would probably be something like telekinesis. That’d be pretty nice, just controlling everything using my brain.

As for the name… I’m the worst in finding names. It took me two years to get my gamer-name.”

How about the name-finder then? After you capture the villains, you give them new names, so that they can start a new life after being punished and having been in jail and stuff.

“That works. I like that.”

If you could meet one video-game-character from any game and spend a day with them, who would you like to meet and what would you do with them?

“Oh, these are really hard questions. You really like putting me on the spot! […] Well, usually I like playing RPGs where it’s more about creating your own character. […] I’m thinking… I can’t think of the name. It’s from Metro 2033. Khan is also quite good but it’s not the one I’m thinking of right now… but yeah, I’d like to take control and [tell] people [to] do the tunnel-stuff!”

Okay, for the last and most important question: Dr Pepper is the superior soft-drink, right? (I know, I’m a fanatic, don’t mind me, I thought it’d be fun.)

“Yes! I actually completely agree with that! In Australia, where I’m from, you can’t get it anywhere but in America, when I go there, it’s like everywhere! And it’s very good! It’s bliss!”

Okay, so that was the Interview with Dylan from Onerat Games. It’s been a lot of fun and, well, Elden: Path of the Forgotten is coming out soon, too! Release in 2019! 🙂

While my job was quite exhausting and while I’ve got to head out soon as well, I found it quite relaxing to finish this post first before real life is trying to mess with me again. This could count as my contribution to Blaugust’s “Staying-Motivated-Week”: Don’t let your Offline-stuff mess with you. Fight it head on and write about it or escape from it and write something! Writing is great to escape but even better to treat wounds.

Anyways,

Peace out!

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.

The Stray Sheep #20 – GamesCom-Interviews #2 – Through The Darkest of Times & Resort

Okay in today’s Stray Sheep, we’re traveling in time as we’re not only visiting the darkest of times (in Through the Darkest of Times) and the 60s/70s (in Resort) but also going back into the future (in a short bit about GravityLane). These are the second and the third GamesCom-Interview! Sadly, I couldn’t interview GravityLane 981’s devs, but I will for sure, next time!

So, for Through the Darkest of Times, I’ve asked the questions in German! This was, of course, because of the fact that the game is about Nazi-Germany and all that – not because of me and the dev being German. No, that’d be too much of a coincidence, wouldn’t it?

Anyways, I haven’t thought it through all that much since I, now, have to translate the dev’s answers into English again, although he could’ve answered in English all along. Yep. I’m stupid. But I didn’t have my morning coffee on that day, so I guess I can be forgiven.

Okay, so, Through the Darkest of Times is basically a strategic simulation based on the horrible events of the years of 1933 to 1945 where you lead an underground resistance group to fight the NS-regime.

After having played the game for a bit (and it was great gameplay at that btw), I had the chance to talk to one of the devs of Paintbucket Games, Jan-Dirk Verbeek, and ask a few questions about him and the game.

Since I’ve been too busy worrying about halls filled with people and my anxieties and all that stuff, I ended up not thinking up all that many different questions, leading to me asking every dev the same questions (apart from the weird ones). GG, I’d say.

That way we get the most interesting answers and can compare them! Yep. All planned. For sure.

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“The biggest inspiration for the game? Well, I’d like to point at Paintbucket Games’ founders as I joined a bit later. I myself was really intrigued by the topic. I found it really interesting to work on a game with a topic this dark that isn’t ‘funny’ but still ‘entertaining’.”

What was the most exciting part of developing this project?

“Oh, well, I’d have to think about that for a bit. I myself am only a programmer. I’d say, 80% programmer, 20% game designer. Most of the time [the most exciting part] is planning a feature or a game mechanic together with my other game designer co-workers and then to actually turn that plan into reality, as a programmer. It’s a lot of fun to find cool solutions to make it as efficient as possible.”

How satisfied are you with the game at its current state?

“Well, we fundamentally have built everything now and are now in the process of actually polishing everything. Now it all becomes really pretty, I’m satisfied, and of course, there are a few features that we’d like to implement before the release but other than that I’m quite satisfied.”

Gestapo knocking

Okay, so now we’ll get to a few “different” questions, cause there’s probably a ton of other, actual journalists that only ask the boring ones.

“Oh, so, now’s the point where I should flee, right?” (laughs)

What’s your favourite game?

“I’m developing games, I’m not playing them anymore. (laughs) Jokes aside, that sounds stupid but it’s really often the case that you don’t get the chance to play videogames as a game dev.”

Oh, well, then let me rephrase the question: Of all time?

“I really enjoyed playing strategy and roleplaying games, but also games like Desperados and [inaudible]. I’ve also played Gothic for quite some time. And, well, more strategy, I guess.”

If you could meet one videogame-character IRL, who would it be and what would you do together?

“That’s quite a difficult question! (thinks) Maybe going into some sort of Video Game Hell with Kate O’Hara from Desperados… I know, quite a droll answer.”

What’s your favourite videogame-antagonist?

“A really great antagonist? Oooh, I’ll have to think of something… I can’t name one right now but I really like it when you’re able to understand an antagonist’s motives even when you’re disliking his or her methods.”

Okay, so last question: If you were a superhero, what would your hero name and quirk be?

“Oh, man, if I were a superhero, I wouldn’t be here. No, (laughs) I’d probably just wait somewhere for something to happen and then jump into the action heroicly to save the day. Just kidding. (thinks)

Well, as for a quirk, I couldn’t give a real answer right now…maybe something with math and system engineering! I know, it’s really concrete for a theoretical answer…”

Reshaping the world…

“Exactly, just having intuitive knowledge about different systems and maybe the ability to manipulate them…”

Using an Apple Macbook (laughs)

“Nope, not that. I’m not an Apple user!”

Well, this hero remains unknown to the world since he always vanishes and clears the data cache and browser history of your minds! Nobody knows who he is! I guess that’s why I don’t have an answer to the hero-name-part of this question… That must be it!

Well, Through the Darkest of Times was really fun to play as I love managing resources, planning out missions and all that stuff. I kind of felt reminded of games like Beholder and Do Not Feed The Monkeys as there’re multiple ways of doing things here and as you’re able to play the game differently, every time you start it.

There’s also a rogue-like-aspects to it, as your character and crew always get randomly generated and as there always are different events mixed into the actual historical events that make the experience unique every time you start a campagne. Lovely!

Another German Dev I found was Matthias Nikutta from Backwoods Entertainment, the studio behind Resort, an atmospheric mystery-thriller-game where you’re interviewing people refusing to leave the former health resort, Larburnum Creek, as the writer Laura Tanner before a comet is threatening to destroy the whole area! “But there’s something rotten at the heart of this picturesque town. A story exploration game between dreams and reality.”

Of course, there’s a reason why I asked him the questions in german: I was lazy and stupid, which is why I now, again, have to translate the answers into English without losing the meaning (I’ll try my best!). I hope you don’t mind. The other interviews all are in English, though!

What was the most exciting part about developing this game?

“We’re still in development, at an early stage as well. It’s the first time that we’re showing the game anywhere in public. We’ve been working on this project for about a year now. We’ve developed a prototype before that but weren’t satisfied with that one, so we just threw it all away and started working on this prototype here. What you’re able to see is only about two to three months old, though.”

What was your biggest inspiration for this title?

“Story-wise, we’ve been inspired by a lot of tv-shows like Twin Peaks, X-Files, Fargo, and mystery-stories like that, and style-wise, we were inspired by games like Firewatch, Dead Static Drive, a bit of Kentucky Road Zero, and a lot of those 60s/70s nature park/resort posters. We used the latter for fictive world-building of some places and the setting in the game, which you can see here on these postcards and posters.”

Okay, so, Uhm, now I’m asking a few weird questions since I am no professional… If you were a super-hero, what would your hero name and your quirk be?

“My her name would be….. Matmoiselle and.. my quirk would be teleportation! That’d be practical.”

And Matmaiselle..?

“That’s my stage name.” (laughs)

Dr Pepper is the best soft-drink, right?

“Nope, not at all. I don’t like Dr Pepper at all, the name is cool but the taste is not. Sorry.”

Awww… 😦

If you could meet one videogame-character from any game in our world here to do something together for one day, who would it be and what would you do together?

“I really like Guybrush Threepwood from Monkey Island and […] just relax outside a bit. I like being outside.”

[We laugh about a joke I made that I can’t talk about on here.]

Okay, so what’s your favourite videogame-antagonist?

“My favourite antagonist? Let me think a bit..” (thinks for about 28 seconds) “Maybe Gravelord Nito from Dark Souls. He’s got a very epic character design, and…yeah.”

To round it all up, I really enjoyed talking to these devs. I should’ve known but I didn’t, at all, know that there’d be this many german devs. There were also ByteRockers’ Games who presented their homage to Portal, Gravity Lane 981, a game where you solve puzzles with a hamster-powered portal-gun that also is able to control gravity and do other things. Really interesting, but only in development for about four months now. Still looked really cool.

Since the devs looked quite busy, I ended up not interviewing them. But I’d be glad to check out their game once it’s out, since I’m a huge Portal-fan!

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed these two interviews! Feel free to leave some feedback and always remember:

If you’re 50 Gold short, destroy the enemy nexus! – LoL

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.

The Stray Sheep #19 – GamesCom-Interviews #1 – Ring of Pain!

So, for today’s Stray Sheep I’m publishing the first interview I ever did. As for context: I’ve visited the GamesCom last thursday, for the first time, and not only did I check out a ton of cool new games there, but I also talked to a lot of cool devs and even interviewed some of them, including Simon Boxer from Melbourne, Australia. He’s an artist and indie game dev.

His studio, Twice Different, is currently working on Ring of Pain, a new rogue-like-dungeon-crawler based on cards which I reckon to be the new Slay the Spire! I really enjoyed myself playing RoP and had a lot of fun talking to Simon. For my interview with him I thought of a few questions about the game and its development, as well as some “weird and quirky” questions about him, so I hope you enjoy these!

What was your biggest inspiration for the game?

“The game has a lot of inspirations and it’s also kind of a reaction of the previous game I made which was called Bounce House and it’s a game about bouncing children off a bouncing castle and it was really super colourful and cartoony. After making that I wanted to make something really dark.

And so I was thinking about what could I make using my skill-set, ’cause I was originally an artist before I was beginning to program and so I thought a turn-based card-game could be something, something that I could probably do. And so, within that small scope I [wanted to] mashup things I love: Card-games, Rogue-likes and Dungeon-Crawlers. I tried to make something that was fresh and innovated in some ways to make something new and interesting.”

What’s planned for Ring of Pain’s future, update-wise?

“We’re aiming to do an Early Access early next year, and when we’re in the Early Access we wanna be doing consistent updates with community feedback […] about new features and continue to build it out from there. There’s a lot of stuff that I want to add that is yet to get into the game and obviously, we haven’t released it yet […].”

What was the most exciting/fun part about working on this project?

“I think just having creative freedom […]. I have full creative control to decide on what direction this is project is going to take with a very dark and cryptic narrative that is laid on this world that is presented as a distorted place of fear and delusions.

So, it’s been really enjoyable to just try and decide on this work and the creative direction and just keep on improving and improving it until it becomes something interesting.”

And now some personal questions I guess. What’s your favourite game? Of all time!

“OF ALL TIME! Oh wow! I have so many favourite games, I mean, I started playing games, like, in the 90s. Some things that are very close to my heart are the Ultima series even though that’s very different, like I learned a lot playing the Ultima games especially Ultima 7 which I’ve played a lot, so I really love those and that might be something to call out.

And as for newer things, obviously Slay the Spire, as that had a big influence on my game, The Binding of Isaac […]. Yeah, I love so many different games. Like, I play Rocket League, I play FPS like Apex […], strategy and puzzle games like The Witness […], and a lot of genres, so it’s hard to find a favourite.”

Dr Pepper is the superior soft-drink, right?

“Yes, definitely! Dr Pepper is great!”

(Thank you)

Okay, so for the final question I’d like to ask: If you were a super-hero what would your hero-name and your superpower be?

“My Superhero-Name would probably be just Simon but with a P in front of it, so it’s like Psimon. And I definitely wanna be teleporting around, like I just don’t wanna use my legs anymore.

I wanna teleport around, especially between countries cause being from Australia it takes actually over a day to get to this side of the world.”

So, well, this was the first interview. I’m really excited for Ring of Pain and can’t wait for the release! As a side-note, I should mention that, since the GamesCom is such a huge convention and since I wasn’t recording with an external microphone, some parts of the audio weren’t audible.

After a while, I resolved this issue by adding “[…]” to the answers to indicate (no pun here, move on) that there’s been two or three more words that are missing. I’ve only exluded them because of the fact that I couldn’t understand them. Next time I do something like this, I’ll probably use an external microphone or even something else instead of my phone.

But that’s where this post ends. I hope you enjoyed this post! Leave some feedback if you want to and stay tuned for some more interviews that I’ll release in the following days.

Anyways,

Stay cool! And hydrated!

Note: I’ve added the pictures after I’ve published the post. I only just found the press-kit, meaning that I now have more than just one screenshot available.

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.

The Stray Sheep #18 – The GamesCom-experience!

Okay, so for today’s Stray Sheep I wanted to talk about my first impressions on the GamesCom. In d(i)etail. Have fun.

I originally planned to play Bioshock today as “Late to the Party #2” but I should get this small little article out asap since the last day of GamesCom was yesterday (Saturday, the 24th of August). Also, I wanted to post the interviews I did in the following days… So LttP#2 will have to wait! For now.

For this post, I planned on talking about what I did before and at the GamesCom and then reflecting on what I could’ve done better in the same paragraphs.

So, I basically went to the GamesCom this year, for the first time. It’s, according to Wikipedia, the biggest gaming-convention on Earth! So, naturally, you’re going to have to book in advance. Since I live in Wuppertal which is only a 40-minute-train-ride away from Cologne (Köln Messe/Deutz, I didn’t have to plan for a place to sleep at and hence I can’t talk about that stuff.

GamesCom starts at 10am but I went there a bit late at 10:30 am since usually people storm the place to get an early look on Tripple-A titles like Borderlands 3, FF7 Remastered, Cyberpunk, etc. without having to wait for too long. My train (the RB48) was a twenty minutes (which is a bit of a German Meme, btw. “Sänk ju for träseling wis Deutsche Bahn!”), so I was tempted to take the RE7 (which also would’ve gone to Cologne) but it was way too full and I didn’t want elbows to end up in my stomach for forty minutes.. So, instead, I took the RB48 that arrived a bit after that one.

Since people think that the first train possible is the fastest, they usually just take that, leading to the next train to be relatively empty. I was able to sit down and enjoy conversations during that 40-minute train ride and had the comfort of having no elbow in my stomach.

So, keep in mind: There’s usually an empty train after the full train.

Once I got there, I got in quite easily. Security was really fast and since I had my ticket on my phone, I didn’t need that much time to get into the actual halls either. Most people print their tickets out but having them on your phone works, too. Most tickets also come with a train ticket, so you can save up on that, too.

But you should check what bus/train lines you’ve gotta take and what’s covered by the GamesCom-train/bus-ticket! Getting caught without a ticket on the train leads to a hefty fine of 80€ (about 90 US$)! Just don’t risk it. It’s not worth it.

In the halls themselves, I’d recommend getting a plan of the halls and stuff since I got lost quite often. Also if you want to play games that require you to be 18+ you should get one of those bracelets that can be acquired at most corners. Just bring your ID and it’s done quite fast. They’re also neat souvenirs – and I feel like I missed out on them, but I didn’t need them for the games I wanted to play.

I recommend talking to people! You can meet quite some cool people there. I met someone from Regensburg who was cosplaying Teemo from League of Legends. While meeting new people isn’t my favourite thing to do, it’s a lot easier to navigate through the halls when you’re with someone experienced.

This year, they increased the width of the hallways, so that it’s less cramped. If you’re claustrophobic, the GamesCom may not be the best goal for you but there’re also a lot of ways around the masses of people in wide outdoor-areas!

I previously mentioned Tripple-A-titles like FF7 and Borderlands 3 but I didn’t line up for any of them. The reason for that was the fact that I only was at the GamesCom for one day. I planned on making use of the full 10 hours and most of the waiting lines for those games required you to wait for 3+ hours which I just couldn’t be arsed to do.

If you want to wait that long, go ahead, but you should bring some sort of box to sit on or even a folding chair with you, as it can be quite a long wait. Also, don’t forget enough water, some food and a book as the wait can be quite long and as the halls are really hot with that many people!

I ended up checking out the new Indie Hall/Indie Village. I had a great time there talking to a lot of Indie Devs and even testing out new games that I’ve been excited about for quite some time, like Ring of Pain, Tunic and other games!

I sadly didn’t get to play Children of Morta since it was only accessible in the Business-area. The same goes for Cat Quest 2! I was really bummed out about that, especially since I’ve been searching for those games for a full three hours in between interviews only to find out that I just couldn’t get to them anyway. Sucks!

So, I guess next time I should find out in advance which games are in the Business Area (for “actual” journalists) and which ones are in the Normie-Zone.

I never got a chance to play ScorcheBringer since seemingly the testing-spaces were always occupied when I went there. So, next time I should stick around a bit longer for games like that. A fifteen-minute-wait is nothing compared to the half-hour wait for Blacksad (that I’ve stuck through, although I’m quite an impatient lad) or the three-hour wait for FF7 (that some people go through).

At last, I’d recommend talking to the Devs. They’re awesome! I love the whole Kingdom-franchise from the first game (at the time it was just “Kingdom” but it’s now called “Kingdom: Classic”) to the last and I always wanted to meet the devs! Even got to hug them and ask them some questions about their inspiration and development, which was really interesting! Stay tuned for that one, as well 😀

So, this is the “Guide through the GamesCom”, I guess?

As for my impressions, at first, I felt really lost but after a bit, I started to warm up and enjoy myself by quite a lot! I got to test out about 70% of the games that I planned on playing and if I had maybe booked for more days, I probably could’ve finished even more and even done other stuff like visiting the event-area or the cosplay-village.

At this note, I’d recommend booking tickets in advance, as they are sold out quite fast! Also, the event gradually fills up more and more. Wednesday was the emptiest, according to a friend who’s been there on both Wednesday and Thursday, and apparently, the weekend doesn’t get emptier (as more people have more time to go, duh). According to their website, blogs of my reach don’t count as journalists and can’t get into the business area, which I’m a bit bummed out about, but that’s life, I guess. I’m no professional, after all.

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this post of mine! The Interviews are coming out soon as well, so stay tuned for those.

Until then..

Always breathe through your pants in a relaxed way.

Note: I planned on working with pictures I took at the event here, but… I forgot to take some without me on them, so there’s not much to be incorporated here. :C

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.

The Stray Sheep #16 – Brief GamesCom Briefing

So, in today’s Stray Sheep I’m briefly going to talk about the GamesCom-Experience! Or rather the TLDR-version of an upcoming post that I’m going to write (tomorrow I believe? Maybe even on Saturday? I don’t know, tbh.).

So, I went there at around 10:30 am – to the GamesCom in Cologne, which is (one of the biggest if not) the biggest gaming-event/convention in Germany and I really enjoyed myself there. I stayed until 8:30 pm (so about ten hours) and while it was quite cramped here and there, it still was enjoyable. Also, they improved the space that you’ve got in the hallways and stuff, I’ve heard, so it’s a lot better than the last few years. I mostly spent my time talking to devs and playing Indie Games while also getting some interviews going and I was chuffed to bits that I got the chance to talk to them.

Game-wise, I’ve gone for a whole lot of games and managed to play most of them. I didn’t get a chance to play some games like Foundation, Flotsam, Sea Salt and ScorchBringer but I at least got an interview with the Devs of the first three (I somehow never was able to find a ScorchBringer-Dev at the stand and there were always people playing the game. The most I had to wait for a game was about ten minutes, which was quite delightful. I know people that have waited 3+ hours to play Borderlands 3, Final Fantasy 7 and some other Tripple-A-titles but I just didn’t feel like waiting there when I just arrived.

My highlight was probably the funny questions I asked some of the devs as well as meeting all those new people there and finding out about new games. I sadly spent quite some time searching for Dead Mage’s “Children of Morta” only to find out that they were in the Business Area (where I wasn’t allowed to go to)….yep. Quite sad. But CoM is coming out in September, so it’s fine, I guess! 🙂

There were some interesting games that I’m really hyped up for. But I guess I’ll report on those in another post as I’m way too tired right now and as my back’s killing me, right now.

In the next few days, I’ll follow up with some Interviews and an article on the GamesCom (which is probably going to be more of a First-Impressions thing) and then I’ll soon publish another review as well! Once I’ve got a bit more time. 🙂

Anyways, cheerio!

This post is part of a contest/challenge called Blaugust! The goal is to post as much as possible and participants are awarded with different prizes depending on the goal they achieved. My aim is to post on all 31 days of August and if you’d like to know more about this “event”, you should check this post out.