An early look at Ring of Pain

April’s Humble Choice offered you the option of downloading a DRM-free demo of Ring of Pain (v0.8.21) if you signed up for the choice, so I not only got some nice games this month but also got to see how much the game changed ever since the demo I played last year in August!

But first things first: What exactly is Ring of Pain?

Ring of Pain is a card-based Rogue-like-title by Twice Different, an Indie Studio responsible for Satan’s Workshop and Bounce House. Ring of Pain features a labyrinth of darkness and small shimmers of light that you get lead through in hope of finding out who you are, why you’re there and what exactly that place is.

Owl is as charming as ever!

The game features turn-based combat where you either try to sneak past enemies or battle them, always planning ahead of time to make use of the game’s mechanics and essentially survive. You get stronger through stat upgrades and by obtaining items, though some items not only increase but also reduce certain stats. The game also features some roll-mechanics similar to DnD as well as other mechanics where you block the damage completely if you have more armour than the attacker or where you outspeed enemies.

At last year’s GamesCom, I actually also did an interview with Simon Boxer (who’s the lead artist at Twice Different, responsible for all the amazingly creepy and dark but also colourful art in the game), so check that post out if you’re interested in some more info about the game or some “weird and quirky questions”.

The story is still rather enigmatic..

Naturally, I just hopped into the game and started clicking myself through it. You get to play through a small tutorial where you also meet our guide through the labyrinth, Owl, who acts as our mother of sorts, always taking care of and helping us while also quickly killing us if we were to defy it (Don’t do it. Owl is love, Owl is life).

The tutorial brings you to the end of the first floor where you essentially meet a boss monster that tells you that you’re not ready to proceed yet, hence killing you, which is a bit of a forced ending but better than an abrupt “demo ends here, screw you”-screen!

At this sacrificial well I was able to offer maximum health to receive items… but I didn’t… guess I’m not that lucky or not brave enough!

I’ve noticed that there’s plenty of new areas in the game right now and potentially a whole bunch of areas, similar to how you can access different biomes/areas from the different levels in Dead Cells.

Some of the items work only under certain conditions. I’ve seen one that had some nice stats but would have given me more stats/value if I had less than five items equipped, which I personally found quite interesting. One of my favourite items was the Mace of Banishing that gave me quite a bit of extra damage and other stats on top of the effect of teleporting enemies to a random area whenever you attack them. I found that quite neat in situations where enemies would attack you after you attack them as they can’t get their hit off unless they are ranged. Enemies that explode on death explode after the teleport, too, damaging other foes.

There are also plenty of effects like Poison, Freeze, On-hit-heal, reflecting damage and other boni that allow a bunch of customization for you build, similar to how there’s a lot of synergies in Slay the Spire.

And yeah, I’m comparing the game to a whole bunch of games here, but mostly to Slay the Spire as both RoP and StS are card-based Rogue-likes that can be played rather fast and that feature a lot of strategizing and customization. In fact, I would even say that Ring of Pain might become “the new Slay the Spire”.

I really enjoy the darker art and the themes of it. The music and animations were really cool and I had a lot of fun with all kinds of different builds. Sometimes I’d go for a whole bunch of speed and damage, like a Rogue that outspeeds enemies and hits them hard before they can damage you… some other times I’d rather go for a whole bunch of defence and poison to parry enemies and whittle them down eventually.

And yeah, I’m hyped for this game and I’m looking forward to playing more of it when it comes out in Mid 2020. Next week there is going to be another demo with an improved build, so I’ll probably post about that one, too. If you’d like to, check out the Ring of Pain discord, the twitter account or wishlist the game on steam. 🙂

For now, though, I hope that you are doing alright over there. Hang in there!

Cheers!

This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!

Indietail – Gutwhale

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be inside of a giant whale? Or what it’s like to manage your inventory properly if you only have one spot? Or have you ever thought about the possibility that a van is currently chasing you… from ABOVE?!

Well, if you didn’t really know what I want from you with any of these questions, then you’ve come to the right place! After all, we’re looking at the newly released arcade-ish rogue-lite-title “Gutwhale”!

Developer: Stuffed Wombat, Franrekkk (Art), Britt Brady (OST)
Publisher: Stuffed Wombat
Genre: 2D, Action, Indie, Roguelike
Release Date: April 6, 2020
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
I got a review-key for this game by the dev.

At the beginning of March, Josh from Stuffed Wombat was fired from his job due to the Corona-Virus-outbreak, so he started developing this game. In the game, you essentially engage in a gameplay-loop where you dive into the whale’s gut and have to shoot enemies with your gun and die when you run out of lives. Your gun only holds one bullet at the time, so when it hits a wall or enemy, it bounces off and you’ll have to pick it up again before you’re able to shoot again. The enemies either move, jump or shoot at you as well, resulting in a little bit of a bullet-hell-feel that I overall found rather enjoyable.

Patience is key

If you die and your bullet is still on the ground, you may use it in the next life as well, which leads to strategy-opportunities. Each area or biome is divided into different levels where you need to clear all the enemies. Using arrows, the enemies of the next level below you are indicated to you so that you can position yourself in a good position.

Despite the in-your-face-techno kind of music that is blasting your ears in a rather fast manner that was created by Britt Brady (known for the Gato Roboto soundtrack), the game actually requires a lot of patience. I guess you can rush into the fights without any strategy at all but in my case, it never worked out and I got a bit frustrated. Not at the game but at myself for not doing what I wanted to do: Not Die.

You have to patiently wait for enemies to move a certain way and you have to position yourself accordingly, aim steadily and know when to move fast and when to wait for a second and reconsider your next move. Sure, the game may be a tiny bit fast-paced when you’re getting swarmed by four frogs at once or when it suddenly turned into a bullet hell game with all the mushrooms shooting at you… but it still punishes you for being overaggressive, which I found rather enjoyable.

The artstyle is…. gutsy?

Frankrekkk did a great job to portray the inside of a whale. It’s very red and it almost feels as moist as I’d imagine a gut to be… The enemies also come in a bit of variety with new enemies for each area and new patterns for their movement. There are small jellyfish that chase you around in the first level alongside mushrooms that are shooting bullets at you and small whales eating away at the blocks that stand before you. Down below, in the next bigger area, you’ll find a lot of skeleton foes that move based on your movement while there’s tankier enemies further below that hit hard and are able to take more than just one or two hits.

Overall, I didn’t get too far into the game yet. It’s mostly just this one frame away and I always get a bit too tilted when I play Gutwhale as I just am not really good at it. Regardless of that, I made it to the third area and nearly have beaten it… and I’ve unlocked new hats that unlock new modifiers for your gameplay like getting more points (that then can be spent on extra lives or extra bullets) but also only having one life or like replacing all enemies with frogs… or like having a high jump… and all of these hats and modifiers make the game not necessarily easier… they just change it up a bit keeping the difficulty and bringing something new to the table so that you can enjoy this finite rogue-like-experience for a ton of time.

Overall, I’d say that Gutwhale is a great game. The art style, music and gameplay are completely satisfactory but there are some issues that may get fixed in the future (the game just came out after all):

In the settings, the game gives you “options” but not really options. You’re able to play in “Fullscreen”, “Smollscreen” and “Bigscreen”, which is amusing at first but it gets rather annoying when you don’t have the option of turning on Borderless Windowed or change the resolution at all. Similar problem with the sound: Sure, the soundtrack is nice… but being able to either turn it on, off or have someone whistle, isn’t really helpful. The game is really blasting the music into your ears and generally, I find it rather annoying when I cannot turn down some of the volume settings or the brightness or anything like that.

I get it. These settings are supposed to be for entertainment only and stuff but “serious settings ON/OFF” would be a nice setting to have as well where you have these joke-settings on “on” and normal %-volume-settings for sound and music and brightness and everything else, too, on “off”. At first, I found them fun and even chuckled at them but over time it just got annoying, though I guess that you can either turn everything off or you use the computer’s audio mixer for it.

Apart from these issues with the settings, I didn’t encounter any other flaws or bugs or whatever and really enjoyed the game. Sure, it can be frustrating sometimes but I never felt like the game killed me. It always was my over-eagerness or my impatience or a false input.

Hence, I do recommend the game. For four bucks on Steam it’s a grab that is absolutely worth it, so check it out if you enjoyed this review.

Cheers!

This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Indietail – Adore

What happens when we mix rogue-lite mechanics with an isometric perspective, an up-beat and rather colourful world, monster-taming and kiting-mechanics? Well, we would probably end up with a title that would be quite similar to Cadabra Games’ Adore!
Welcome to today’s Indietail where we see what this new Brazilian studio has to offer and if their first project is worth backing!

Developer: Cadabra Games
Publisher: Cadabra Games
Genres: Rogue-lite, Isometric, Action, Indie, RPG
Release Date: February 18, 2020 (Early Access)
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC
Copy was purchased.

In Adore, we’re playing as Lukha, a young lad who’s able to tame and summon monsters to fight by his side. We create special bonds with them and train them in fights in rogue-lite fashion.

Well, the God of Creatures, Draknar, is losing his power and is placing all of his hope into the hands of Lukha, the – presumably – last of his tribe of young Adorers (Summoners). Our mission is to venture into different areas and to free the creatures that are getting possessed and harmed by a mysterious curse. On our journey, we not only discover many secrets of the immense and enigmatic world of Gaterdrik but we also unravel a conspiracy to kill Draknar!

But why do we fight? Why are we doing this? What is our purpose?

Hence, we venture into the world and bond with creatures/tame them. Lukha himself can’t fight and is hence relying on summoning the tamed creatures and using their different attacks, abilities and synergies to win the upper hand in battle while also kiting damage and dodging wild monsters whose curse hasn’t been lifted yet. To tame creatures we need essences that we get in most rooms after clearing them. But since we’re only an apprentice, we also need to adore Draknar at his statures to upgrade the creatures’ abilities and to unlock new slots to be able to tame more creatures.

These creatures level up when they slay enough beasts and have all kinds of different characteristics. While Abbu is a squishy arcane-type that shoots out magic projectiles at enemies from a distant range, Zella, for instance, is a balanced Nature-type that is able to charge at enemies for a normal melee-attack and stun them with her special ability!

Thus, there are a lot of different monsters that can be used in different ways but you shouldn’t focus on just the monsters whose attacks you like but also take a look at and strategize with the synergies they have to offer. Every creature has different sets of available synergies to them that they receive when you upgrade them or when they level up. Some already have certain synergies, some others develop better ones later on but overall they are quite random and you can even get the same ones multiple times, which can be quite fun.

But how do Synergies work?

Well, if my Abbu (I love it so much so I will probably use it quite often as an example) has a synergy with other Beast-type creatures then it needs a Beast-type to be in your “team” to get a bonus. This can be a temporary damage buff or energy for its special attack when that other creature hits a target but it can also be just a passive synergy where Abbu itself shoots three extra projectiles when there’s a Beast-type like Meecra on your team. There are currently Mystic, Nature, Arcane and Beast types and every creature usually has at least one set of synergies with each type.

Creatures get summoned using your Stamina, so the more you have, the more Stamina you’ll need. Whenever you pick up an Essence, you’ll receive an upgrade for your stamina or your movement speed or your health. I quite often prioritize Stamina over Movement speed over Health as you don’t need maximum health if you don’t get hit (pro-tip).

Well, overall, I don’t see a point in getting more health, other than the fact that you receive damage when your creatures die or when you get hit and the fact that you lose when your health reaches zero or when your creatures all die. Stamina is needed for dodging, summoning and kiting, so I definitely find that more important, especially when you are fighting with a lot of tamed creatures! And the base movement speed seems to be on the low end, which is why generally that is my second priority.

Also, there are items. These are quite interesting as they work off your monsters and generally, you’re able to always find something that fits your playstyle in the store, if you’ve got enough money to buy anything. One of my favourite items in Adore is, for example, the Dodge Claw (the actual name may be different) that essentially gives the next summoned creature a damage buff whenever you dodge and cast the summon button in the right time-window.

There are also other items that last for your whole run as well as use-items like keys and potions but upon returning to the temple of creation, you’ll start at zero again, which is what makes a rogue-like a rogue-like. You keep the “fragments” you earn and can use those for permanent upgrades, however, which is why Adore is more of a Rogue-lite than a Rogue-like, but then again a lot of people don’t see a difference between the two and generally the whole rogue-like genre doesn’t really have anything to do with the original title, Rogue…

Adore is a rogue-lite at heart and with its interesting mechanics and build-customization.

It really was interesting for me to play and I really enjoyed my journey with this title. You have a lot of ways to play the game and you can go for a more damage-oriented glass cannon build or balance out your comp for fewer weaknesses. I really enjoyed that part!

But as always there are flaws that need to get worked on. These would include the music and presentation being on the rather weak side. While the world is colourful and mysterious in a way, it really is boring to see the same levels over and over again, even with its procedural generation and different creatures – and the soundtrack is too similar from track to track. Even the boss-monster-fights are rather calm when it comes to the musical tempo. I don’t expect the devs to add in-your-face-metal to them but I’m sure they can add new tracks to the game.

And aside from bugs, that, of course, are a thing, there are rather boring synergies in the game right now. Not all synergies are boring but a lot seem rather passive and easy to use, which is not good for an Action game.

I personally would get rid of the passive synergies like “This creature gets more attack speed when you have another Arcane Creature” and add more interactive ones like “If this creature receives damage, empower all other creatures’ attacks for a short period of time”. That way you wouldn’t just stack Abbus for the sake of them being quite strong and having so much range: Instead, you’d have a tank that would trigger certain buffs and you would care more about healing consumables in shops, hence adding risk and a reward to the gameplay.

But then again, this game is in Early Access and there are frequent updates. It only just came out a few weeks ago and the plan right now is for it to exit Early Exit in 2021, so I will revisit this title again in a different post once more stuff got added into the game.

My Conclusion is…

I would say that it definitely is worth considering. The gameplay is a lot of fun and the customization can be quite rewarding even if some synergies aren’t as fun as some of the items and even if the levels right now are quite similar while the music is rather underwhelming. If you’re not sure if it’s worth it, you may always take a look at it further into the future when it got updated a lot more. Cadabra Games is really into this and judging from their discord and the frequency of their updates, I really feel like this game could be one of many good games in a few years that comes from this small and new studio.

Until next time,

Cheers!

This post is part of a challenge called BLAPRIL. The goal is to post as much as possible during the 30 days of April. There are different themes during some of the weeks and a lot of mentors, newbies and participants participating. Feel free to check this hub-post out and check out the other participants!

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

The Stray Sheep #32 – Early Access Titles

Today I wanted to talk about Early Access titles and my thoughts on it.

I sometimes get hyped about certain games even when they are in Early Access. Early Access, however, offers such a high risk in some cases. After all, you’re purchasing an unfinished product that still needs polishing, bug fixing and may even miss core features.

In the past, I’ve purchased Early Access games on Steam like Universim, Goblins of Elderstone, Dead Cells, Risk of Rain 2, Oxygen Not Included, Littlewood, Undholm, Slay The Spire, and Silver Knight. A variety of games, as you may be able to tell, that all had some sort of premise going for them that I found intriguing. 

I love base/city building games that require some sort of understanding of certain mechanics of the game while also some foresight and strategy when it comes to planning. Universim and Goblins of Elderstone are games just like that. 

In Universim, you are playing god, giving your little settlers a helping hand to have them reach higher stages. You work your way up from the Stone Age to Modern Age and… Well, when I played it there was still just the Stone Age or my colony just died at some point thanks to people getting stuck in the ground, getting sick but not treating themselves, starving although there’s food right next to them, or the A.I. just wandering off into the distance for no apparent reason. Highly frustrating. But the game keeps getting updates and I can be proud of being one of those guys whose names get featured on a Monument in-game for being there in Early Access and living through this journey. I saw different stages of the game so far, improvements to the game, minor and bigger updates, and eventually, I’ll see a finished game that I’ve seen from the get-go.

And just recently a new update came out that lets your expectation skyrocket (sorry, had to) through the roof! Awesome!

Goblins of Elderstone is similar to Universim in some regards, as it also is a City Builder that is being published by Cryptivo. GoE’s premise is completely different, though, in some regards as you are controlling Goblins, giving them jobs, making them survive waves of enemies and harsh winters while also expanding, trading, and eventually befriending other races or going to war with them.

In earlier stages of it, it was just a shell of a game with some basic features like placing buildings and assigning jobs, while not having much more content to offer. And well, over the course of time they added in new jobs, new functions, actual effects for the gods you worship, and just recently more features and two new jobs/buildings: The Kindler (+ Kindler building) who produces firewood out of logs, and The Enforcer (+ jail) who “encourages your Peons to work better” and who locks up rioting or mischievous Peons in his jail. Interesting mechanics and I can’t wait to see more of this game as I love those titles where you’re not the “good” humans who slaughter those monsters or who are super-advanced, etc., but that’s material for a future post.

While there are games like this that are getting updated frequently and have nice features going for them from the get-go, there are also games in Early Access that, from what I’ve seen, are quite polished or even nearly finished, with only a few tweaks and fixes needed . 

A game like that is Dead Cells!
When I started playing, I ended up binging it as the combat felt really fluid, the itemisation was interesting and lead to some strategy-possibilities, and as there were other takes on the Metroidvania and Rogue-like genre than the ones that I’ve already seen. I didn’t regret buying that game at all. Maybe it was due to the fact that the game has been in development for a while at that point and that I only found it rather randomly a few years ago… I mean, it left Early Access only half a year later if I remember correctly. A few months later, the game received another few major updates and I doubt that they will stop any time soon. The last major update was released on August 13th, while the latest (minor) update got out on Oktober 9th. Updates are quite frequent in this one and overall I just love the combat and the rate of new content. I can’t wait to see what the finished game looks like.

Also, Motion Twin, the studio behind Dead Cells decided to split up into two groups for Dead Cells’ Future: Those that won’t work on it anymore (aka Motion Twin) and those that “will keep on keeping on” (aka Evil Empire). Evil Empire will still work in the same building as Motion Twin and it’s still the same people working on it but in the end this means that there are going to be a lot more Dead Cells updates while also more interesting games in the future without having to compromise! I’m excited!

And yeah, those are good examples of Early Access Titles but there are also bad ones. Games where the devs have just given up. Games where the devs left the players with an empty shell or no game at all. 

Risk of Rain 2, a great game by Hopoo Games with tons of frequent updates!

Cube World was a big thing quite some time ago and the devs seemingly vanished due to personal reasons. There are circumstances that one can’t easily resolve and depressions (apparently they were a reason) are something severe that one shouldn’t just shrug off like it’s nothing. Releasing an “imperfect” game was one of Wollay’s fears! But Cube World indeed is a game where some people thought that it was a scam of sorts, though I doubt that that was the intention.

In Cube World’s case, the game was luckily released only recently and it had some drastic changes to its systems and mechanics, which I won’t talk about in this post. Also, those people that bought the Alpha version of the game, received this newer version of the game for free on Steam.

But there’re other cases of Indie Devs that players put trust into and that had a premise going for their games but that didn’t deliver at all, as it was in Silver Knight’s case. The game reminded me of Undertale but with more of a Rogue-like/Dungeoncrawler theme and while it sounded interesting, the game’s core mechanics are just.. unfinished or just not there. The hitboxes don’t align at all, the music is the same track in a loop wherever you are. You don’t have a save function at all nor a tutorial and in the end, you purchased an empty shell of a game that looked interesting but turned out to be a prank of sorts.

Those cases are bad for the players, of course, but also for small indie devs that may rely on Kickstarter or Early Access to fund their game careers. When people get scammed, they lose faith and trust, and that harms other devs, which I find quite bothersome as I’ve met Indie Devs that are great and that worked on their games with a burning passion.

Another great EA-title that only recently left the Early Access stage! Lovely!

So, I’d say that I’ll keep on trusting in some Early Access titles here and there when they show promise, and I’ll still hope that they make it to the end and can present us a great game that we all appreciate. 

If you didn’t read those posts already, I’d recommend The Stray Sheep #18-24 where I covered interviews with some Indie Devs at this year’s GamesCom. I highly recommend checking those devs out on Twitter and follow their upcoming releases! 

Anyways, have a nice day and take away whatever you want from this post!

Edit: Fixed some typos here and there while also linking Naihin’s post about Cube World in that paragraph as he talks a bit more about it.

Indietail – Westerado: Double Barreled

Howdy, fellow cowboys and cowgirls! Today we’re taking a look at Westerado: Double Barreled, a game where we chase a buffalo on the loose before finding out that someone not only burned down our ranch, but also gravely injured our bigger brother, and killed our mother! Our mission is to find the killer and take revenge! To do so, we’re equipped with a revolver and some other tools! Yeeha! 

Developer: Ostrich Banditos
Publisher: Adult Swim
Genres: Indie, Action, Adventure, Shoot 'Em Up, Western
Release Date: April 16, 2015
Reviewed on: PC
Available for: PC, Xbox One, Mac OS
Copy was purchased.

Let’s get to the plot:

After these incidences happened, we’ve got to “take care” about our brother and head to our uncle’s place where we learn that the killer is most likely in Clintville. Once we arrive there, we’ve got to earn Clintville’s citizens’ trust by completing quests and errands for them, including escort-missions, bounty-hunts and lots more! 

One of our first quests brings us to a graveyard.. Is that a premonition?

Gameplay-wise, it’s relatively simple:

Since we’re in the Wild West, we’ve got to solve everything with guns. There are multiple guns, ranging from shotguns, revolvers, bolas, to dual-revolvers, and even a sniper rifle. You can switch between weapons without any issues but have to load them up and unlock the gun while dodging bullet shots in the meantime. While the Bola doesn’t deal damage and holds only one shot, it instead captures enemies rendering them unable to shoot, which I found quite interesting. Meanwhile, the shotguns are able to hit multiple enemies, though only having two shots and being short-ranged, while the rifle is more precise, is able to pierce enemies and has five shots. 

One of two factions! Help them free the buffalos or fight them to the death! Your choice!

To kill enemies, you need to shoot off their hats before landing the killing blow. In the same manner, they’re able to shoot off your hat, before being able to kill you, too. Luckily, you own two reserve-hats that you automatically get used once you lose a hat, hence blessing you with basically four lives (three hats and your head). When killing enemies, you can pick up their hats to restock on lives. When you die, though, you are saved by someone who carries you to a nearby bed, refilling your hats and magazines but also helping himself to some of your riches. Hence, you lose money whenever you die which is why you need to go to banks relatively often, although they also help themselves to your bank account now and then – still, the bank is a lot safer than carrying your money around and risking to lose everything else, although not dying is probably the safest! 

Our Journal is helping us with keeping track of the Killer!

Speaking of the bank, there’re a lot more buildings in the towns that help you: 

The Sheriff’s and the bank often need help with killing bandits, while you may as well play some cards, have a drink or talk to other people at the Saloon, sometimes granting you hints on what the killer looks like. To find the killer, you need to find a few different hints in a “Who is it?” manner. As “clothes make people”, you only gain hints on what the killer looks like. The killer, though, could be nearby at any time, which is why you probably could kill him at any time in the game, if you wanted to. In fact, you’re able to solve all problems in the Wild West, using your guns. 

A quest by the bankers: Bring money to safety while killing those darn bandits!

See a saloon door? Shoot it open!
See someone funky? Shoot them dead!
Don’t like where the conversation is going? Pull out your gun, threaten them or even shoot them dead again! 

It’s hilarious. At all conversations, you’re able to pull out your gun, resulting in some funny moments where you randomly threaten people. 

We’re protecting buffalos from bandits – an escort mission from one ranch to the other!

Humour is a big part of this game, too, as well as references. Being a game published by AdultSwim, I had a great time throughout the game with random moments and references to tons of things, e.g. the founder of Clintville being “East Clintwood” or the fact that killing every NPC in one area results in you unlocking a horde mode for that area. Hillarious.

When you kill enough people, you also gain the reputation of a killer, leading to bandits randomly surrendering and stopping the fighting because they fear you so much.

Conversations are shown in this film-esque style! You always have the option of just leaving in the middle of the sentence or even drawing your gun, although those choices might not benefit you!

At some point, you might question whether or not you’re worse than the Killer you’re searching for BUT honestly, I don’t even know. It’s quite fun to just go all out on your revenge and the few casualties that it might take are the Killer’s fault, obviously. If he hadn’t messed with you, those people wouldn’t have died. (just kidding) 

Presentation-wise,

it’s got a lovely pixel-art style going that is enhanced by the liveliness of each area, with dogs, coyotes, scorpions, snakes, birds and all kinds of other animals being featured in the scenery. The music is also quite great and there haven’t been any issues with the sound just stopping or not fitting the area, in my opinion. Overall a great art style and great music.

On top of that, there are no restrictions to where you can go and where you can’t. A true open-world game, I guess! There are also factions in the game: Support the buffalo-friends or the militia, you’ve got the choice when it comes to alternate plots. 

The Map is huge but empty at the beginning. Over the course of time, you’re discovering more and more of this Western World, both over- and underground!

But let’s get to flaws. Overall, I really enjoyed the game, but the map sometimes seemed quite frustrating. There are tons of quests and all of them get marked on the map. When you’re unlucky, you just don’t know what you’re actually doing right now or you’re going to areas to do one thing and end up doing something else. Having the option to actually follow only one quest at a time, like in other games (i.e. Borderlands or MMOs in general), would’ve been nice, although this is an Indie Game and all that.

Another thing is the fact that there are no checkpoints that you can set yourself: 

When you respawn, you actually spawn in a “nearby bed” – which is at your Uncle’s. Before facing off against the Killer, you also get a checkpoint there, and although there are fast-travel-points here and there, scattered through the world, it gets quite annoying to always have to teleport somewhere or walk a while and it kind of feels lazy in some way. I would’ve liked it if there were rooms in the Saloon that you could pay for, to set a spawn point nearby. It’s not a big deal, I guess, but I personally got quite annoyed by it. 

But overall I had a blast during my playthrough. There is a learning curve at the beginning but once you get used to the aiming and all that, it’s actually quite enjoyable. My first playthrough was four hours long but there’s a lot of replay value, too, as you’re also able to go with higher difficulties, unlock new characters with new abilities and other properties and there are a ton of easter eggs to be found in the game. I definitely recommend this game!

Have a nice one! 

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Indietail – Children of Morta

After a small break from the daily posting, we’re back again with another review! Today we’re taking a look at Children of Morta, a game about family-bonds and monster-slaying! Please enjoy this review!

Developer: Dead Mage
Publisher: 11 Bit Studios
Genres: Rogue-lite, Action, Dungeon Crawler
Release Date: September 3, 2019
Reviewed on: PC
Available on: PC (Windows, Linux, Mac OS), Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Copy received from the 11 Bit Studios

But what is Children of Morta about?

Children of Morta is about the Bergson-family consisting of Grandma Margaret, Uncle Ben, Father John, Mother Mary, and their Linda, Kevin, Mark and Joey. They live at the foot of Mount Morta and have to fight against the spreading Corruption which is endangering their homelands, Rhea. To do that, they venture into different dungeons to find clues about the Corruption and the source of it.

In its core, Children of Morta is a story-driven rogue-lite-dungeon-crawler where you’re playing as six of the Bergsons that can be categorized into different classes, ranging from the brawlers John (Bruiser) and Joey (Juggernaut), the swift Mark (Monk) and Kevin (Rogue), and the ranged Lucy (Mage) and Linda (Archer). While John and Joey are rather tanky and have high durability at the cost of less movement speed, Mark and Kevin focus on high mobility, quick strikes and crits, while Lucy and Linda are great at distance but are not that good in close quarters.

By diving into the dungeon, you’re able to receive not only clues about the world’s lore and the source of the Corruption but also gain cosmetic items for your house – and gold which also can get invested into bonus-stats for your characters. These range from simple stat-buffs like attack damage and movement speed to increased “luck” (more gold), increased experience, and others!

When entering the dungeons, you’re able to not only level up your characters permanently but also gain items that improve your chances of beating the boss of the dungeon.
For instance, there’re usable relics with a cooldown that provide you with a shield, blocking all damage for a short while and then exploding for massive damage around you, or, if you don’t like that, why not place a totem that buffs you, slows enemies or even distracts them from you so that you can snipe them as Linda?

Some one-use-items can give you gems, healthpoints, small buffs, etc. while other charms can grant you passive boni like a poison-DoT-effect on enemies that are hurt by you and your abilities or a small little companion that stuns enemies for you. There’re tons of combinations for items on every run, which is hella rad!

But how does one acquire items?

Well, on every level there’s at least one item-room with a divine relic, which helps you a lot. It can be an active item or a passive charm but usually you don’t want to miss out on those anyways! There’s also crates all around levels that have to be opened with gems that get dropped by enemies or are found at corpses and pots and the like. These crates can contain gold or more gems, runes and items. When you have spare gems, you can also invest them at the shop before the end of the current floor to heal up or receive more items!

There are also special rooms where you’re able to help refugees that fled from the Corruption into the Dungeon or where you do other tasks like defeating hordes, playing a game of “God’s Pong”, escort NPCs to other rooms, and lots more. At the end of all of them you’re rewarded with items, again. However, while some are rather easy to complete, others can cost you some life points or are rather tricky to master. Hence, you should always wager if it’s worth it to risk your precious life points for an item now or if you should rather push for the boss, especially since some items might not synergize with your character, like a damage-aura around your character when you’re playing a ranged one.

And while there are items that may not be that good on your character, there are no bad items.

Items do not synergies in a bad way like in The Binding of Isaac where you can get boomerang tears and ipecac, which is quite bad unless you also have explosion immunity.

So, it’s always great to pick up items in Children of Morta! I once even had an item that sets enemies on fire while I had a rune that poisoned enemies that I hurt, which lead to two DoT-effects proccing on all enemies!

With items you can make up for your character’s flaws or empower your strengths – an aspect that I really enjoyed!

On top of items and the stat-upgrades, you’re also able to level your characters by defeating enemies. When levelling up, you gain skill points which then can be invested into powerful new skills or upgrades for recent ones. By investing points into your skills, you reach new skill-levels, unlocking bonuses for ALL other family members. For instance, John unlocks a passive skill for all characters at level 20 that recovers some HP every few seconds. Usually, you could only get healed by potions and items, so HP-regeneration is a pretty big deal. Other family members also unlock stuff like “more movement speed”, “more crit/dodge chance” or even a free gem on every new run. Runes get unlocked with levels, too, not only for your own character – though – but also other members. Hence, when you level Linda, her runes become available for other members – i.e. Mark uses his magic whipping-ability and also casts Linda’s explosive crescendo when equipped with the that rune! Runes, however, are used up over time making them not as overpowered as one might reckon!

While combat and all the strategies and stuff are quite cool in Children of Morta, the game truly shines in the cutscenes in between runs.

When you end a run, you’re presented with different cutscenes about the daily lives of the different characters, giving you insight over the character relationships, their dreams, wishes, values, worries, flaws and other weaknesses. I love slice-of-life-shows and I definitely am getting those vibes in this game, too. On top of that, when you unlock characters you get some more cutscenes where they interact with their family members.

Relatively early into the game, you can see Kevin training in secret and even receiving his own daggers from his uncle, the family’s smith Ben! He’s excited and wants to help his family in every way but his mother is worried about him. There’s a few cutscenes for this one that are shown after every other run, I think, which changes the pace by quite alot. After all, you’re able to see these lovely scenes after getting back from dangerous runs!

I really enjoyed these little scenes and the interactions between characters. Even when you’re not doing anything and just relaxing in between runs, the characters are talking to each other or training or doing something else – which is quite neat to spectate.

There’s also a few log entries that you can check out once in a while to find out more about the characters’ pasts. I highly recommend reading those entries once you find them! They’re very interesting! My favourite character, by the way, is Ben!

He’s a lovely old fella and his background story is also really cool. I love seeing him interact with everyone and dwell in the past and all that.

Overall this is a lovely game, as one can see in its presentation!

The music is great and very atmospheric, the narrator is awesome, has a warm voice and makes every scene better, and then there’s the art style: It’s pixel art and while you surely feel like you’ve seen pixel art in basically every indie game ever made, you’ll shortly notice that it’s very detailed and quite beautiful. Especially the lighting in some places makes the world feel so lively and the dungeons so enigmatic! It’s truly a beautiful game.

But now onto some flaws. While the soundeffects and the soundtrack are great, there’s moments where a track stopped or where the game isn’t sure about what to do next. It’s just silent. Another thing I noticed was the fact that aiming feels a little bit sluggish here and there, especially when playing a ranged character like Lucy or Linda. But other than that I didn’t really have any issues with the game. The game surely is hard at the beginning but due to the levelling, the upgrades, the unlocked runes, abilities, and items, you get the hang out of it quite fast. When you get stomped once, you often can go to older dungeons, level up and return to the higher dungeons in order to master them. Every run feels refreshing and, as you probably can tell, I am, frankly, in love with this game which is why I highly recommend this game!

I hope you enjoyed today’s review! I tried to use topic sentences and highlight important bits of pieces while not making the review too long. If you’ve played Children of Morta, too, feel free to comment on your experiences with it. I’d love to receive some feedback on this post so feel free to also comment on suggestions or point out mistakes of mine!

Anyways, I wish you a lovely rest-weekend and hope you don’t mind tomorrow’s mondayness too much.
Cya! 🙂

Note: I haven’t touched the Multiplayer at all since right now it only features local multiplayer. There’s Online-Multiplayer planned for the near future, according to the devs’ twitter and steam page, so stay tuned for that when I’m getting to it in another post.

This post was first published on Indiecator by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

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 #23 – GamesCom-Interviews #5 – Tunic & Overland

Look at this cute little Fox here! Awww!

Okay, so today’s Stray Sheep will cover the interview with Rebekah Saltsman, the Publisher of a small cute game called Tunic (which, btw, has incredible combat and features an insanely cute fox as the protagonist) and the Co-Founder and CEO of Finji Games and one of the Devs behind Overland, a turn-based survival game set in a post-apocalyptic world! 

You’re the CEO of Finji Games but you’re also a publisher, right?

“[Yes], […] Finji is the dev-studio that is making Overland but we’re also an independent publisher, so we’re also publishing Tunic […] and overall small teams that need the skills and expertise that my studio has.”

So, what makes Overland unique from other Survival-Games?

“Oh, there’s actually not much in that genre. Strategy-games are hard to make in the first place. Because we’re Indie, we’re actually allowed to break a lot of rules. So, what makes Overland a unique one is that we’ve been focusing on appealing to a hardcore strategy-player but also be legible enough, be clear enough in the UI and [other ways] to allow newer players to the genre that don’t play video games to be able to play the game and actually learn it as they go. That’s been a pillar for us.

And I joke about this: People like me, like a 30yo mom like me, to be interested in playing strategy games. But like outside of these moms, anyone who doesn’t play strategy games should be able to play the game and learn it while doing so. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard, it means that the game is approachable. 

So that’s the main piece. People always talk about the artwork, this like very isometric-diorama-kinda-look to the game. All the credit goes to our art-director. And also the thematics in our game are unique. Overland is a game where you run a post-apocalyptic road trip across America. So, you’re meeting people and you’re making friends, you’re collecting supplies and the most important thing fuel since that is what keeps you driving. You’re [trying to make] as little noise as possible since the monsters are drawn towards that. 

And the thematic is actually unusual to that genre. […] The people that are part of your crew are procedurally generated. […] Every time you play the game, the people are going to be different, the areas are going to be different, and the scenarios that you’re getting into are going to be different.”

How many different regions are you going to drive through on your road trip?

“There’s going to be about seven, I believe. The region you’re seeing here is the city-scape, the eastern edge of the game. After it you’re going to drive into the woodlands, and the mountains, and the desert, and each one of those regions is, one, at the size of this whole demo and, two, all have different environments and assets and some of the items that you’re going to access are going to change as you move into these different areas.”

“Although Overland is a rogue-like, we’re not cruel”, she explains. The game is huge, so you’re going to be able to continue from different parts onwards, as long as you’ve survived the road-block, which is the boss-level of each region. 

What was the most fun part of the work process for you personally?

“On the screen, […] every person has a past and a present. These are parts of the game that we call our story-hopes. What was really important to me, and Adam actually, from the beginning was having a strategy-game that encourages players to tell their own story. Throughout this entire design, with all these different criteria, we were intrigued by the idea of the players getting more and more information about the characters. The player is going to be able to talk about their own personal road trip as they play this strategy-game. These are all randomly generated, so Diana for example [in this demo] wanted to open a bar with her friend and has troubles waking up. What you think about Diana and what I think about Diana is completely different based on the people that we know and our life-experiences. And we now have put all these different people with random pasts and presents into a car with you but we also highlight other things and actions that happen to you. 

So, for example, if one of your characters murders another character, then you have a murderer in your car. If your character was revived because of someone knowing CPR, then your character is labelled as “has come back to life”. Now other players might think that your character is more vulnerable but that’s not the case because you’re reminded of all the past and present events that build their own little story-line. And that is what I’ve been working on with Adam for years now […]. 

So, let’s talk about Tunic, next. What is Tunic about?

“In Tunic, you play as a tiny fox who’s on an adventure in a big world and who’s fighting bad guys, obviously since you’ve seen that sword, and discovering secrets. And that’s kind of our one-line-pitch.

A lot of people will think, ‘Oh, it’s a Zelda-like’, but we don’t actually have the puzzle-dungeons or anything like that. Tunic is very combat-heavy so it has a lot of player-choice in the way you go in and engage in combat-scenarios. There’s a lot of different weapons and items that you get access and get a hold of as you play the game, and as you approach these combat-scenarios you can kind of engage with them however you want and it’s a lot done in Andrew’s beautiful style! It’s very whimsical, cause Andrew is really whimsical. 

So, the way the Fox moves and the way the world looks is 100% because of Andrew’s personality. He’s a very joyful human to be around, but also he’s an incredible combat- and level-designer. He’s approaching those points on how to make the combat and the exploration so much fun. That’s part of why he and Adam get on so well because they have these design-discussions about what is best for their particular games and how to take the game’s direction forward.[…]”

So, onwards to some “quirky” questions because “I’m no professional”. So, if you were a superhero what would your quirk and name be?

“Oh, if I were a superhero… I would want to re-do time.” (we both laugh)

“I mean, this literally because I’m in the middle of making this game right now. […] [Accessing] more time just by pausing it so that I’m the only one moving, I would want that. I don’t know what I would call myself as I’m bad with puns. I’d either would want that [super power] or I would want to clone myself into multiple versions of me.”

So, your name was…. *checks her sign* 

“Bekah”

Well, if you’d want to re-do time, you’d be Re-Bekah!

“That’s my name. Oh my god! Oh, that’s so bad! I love it! So cool! But also so horrible!”

*laughs* If you want to clone yourself it would also be Re-Bekah, I guess, and if you don’t want it to sound like your name and turn back time…well…Reboot-Kah?

“I could also mess around with RNA and DNA, and if you give me enough nerd-time, I could come up with some stupid genetic version of my name.”

Okay, next (and the most important) question: Dr Pepper is the best soft-drink ever, right?

“Uhm, my mom says so.”

Awesome!

So, if you could meet one character from any game in our world. Who would it be and what would you do with them? 🙂

“Uhm, I’d probably take Princess Peach shopping. That poor little girl’s stuck in that little dress forever. She needs, like, some jammies or something. That’s gotta be a heavy dress. So, Princess Peach! And I’d only do that because I play her in Smash, badly, but yeah.”

Oh, when’s Tunic and Overland coming out btw?

Overland is coming out this fall, so it’ll be out before Christmas, so stay tuned on all of them, including consoles. For Tunic, we don’t have one. Sorry. But when I do, y’all be the first to know. Don’t worry.”

Thank you!

So, yeah, that’s it for today’s post. I hope you enjoyed this little insight into Tunic and Overland. Both looked like great games that I’d have fun playing with! Especially since Overland‘s going to scratch my need for strategy-games and since Tunic‘s going to scratch my need for cute exploration-games with great combat! ❤ 

It’s been a lot of fun talking to Rebekah! 

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.

The Stray Sheep #22 – GamesCom-Interviews #4 – Answer Knot, Nanotale & Necrobarista

So, today’s Stray Sheep is going to cover the next three interviews. This one features Naraven Games’ Answer Knot, Fishing Cactus’ Nanotale – Typing Chronicles and Route 59’s Necrobarista. After this, there’s going to be two more posts with interviews, featuring the dev/publisher of Tunic and Overland in one postand the devs of Kingdom, Flotsam, and Foundation in another post, so stay tuned for those!

Before we’re going into the actual interviews, I’d like to update you on what’s going to happen after all these interviews are posted: 

In two days, Blaugust is coming to an end which is why I’m going to feature three games in two interview posts from now on. On September 1st, I’ll publish a post about what I’ve learned from all this and that kinda stuff. 

Anyways, let’s get to those interviews. Answer Knot is a “short narration and exploration game about Zach, June, and a strange phenomenon”. You’re playing as Zach and you’re hearing June’s messages on your answering machine. To hear the next message and find out what’s happening outside of the house, you need to complete tasks in your apartment like checking if there’s beer in the fridge or turn on the radio. 

I talked to Julia Jeanneret, the narrative designer of Answer Knot, who, at first, didn’t want to do an interview in person in fear of me putting her on the spot – but I’d never do anything like that, right? 

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

“The most fun part? […] I guess the photo-shooting was the most fun. That really was only fun. [When] you play the game, you see all those photos of these two actors, they don’t know each other in real life, […]. There’re the snow and the lake and everything was taken on the same day in Geneva! That was probably the most fun about it all.”

What’s your biggest inspiration for this game, the story and everything?

“The story-line was very heavily inspired by an audio-youtube video called ‘Colds‘” [remind me to link that one] 

“And game-wise it’s more inspired by Gone Home and all those walking-simulators.” 

[Due to it being quite late that day, I didn’t ask that many questions as I also limited myself to about 5-minute-interviews! And a few questions just kind of weren’t audible at all, so…]

Now, we’ll talk about a few fun questions. So, if you were a superhero, what would your superpower and hero name be?

“[…] I gotta think about my name… but I guess my superpower would be being able to make an entire game by my self because I don’t like relying that much on people. I love people, but seriously I’d like to be able to do everything by myself.”

Yeah, I hate people, too. 

“And for my name… I don’t know, I guess I’ll have to think about it a bit longer. […]”

Uhm, since you’re Julia… how about… Solo-ia. Okay, that’s quite bad, let’s proceed. 

If you could meet one video game character from any game in real life, who would it be and what would you do with them? 

“[…] Aw, I feel like I’m going to say something super lame and think later that I should’ve said something better.”

Don’t worry. If it’s super lame, I’ll cut it out later.

“Thank you!” (laughs)

 Just kidding.

“I think I would like to meet Nathan Drake.”

Who?

“Nathan Drake from the Uncharted Series and I would just hang out with him.”

Oh, okay. I haven’t played those.

“You haven’t played the Uncharted Series?”

Well, tbh, I think I own it on Steam but my laptop’s too bad to run it… so… yeah. Will try it out later. [Possible LttP-post here!]

“Yeah, you should. Then you’ll also see what a fun person Nathan is.”

What’s your favourite antagonist?

“I think, it’s GlaDos from Portal.”

Oh, she’s great! And what’s your favourite game right now?

“That’s something you shouldn’t ask.”

How about your ALL-TIME-favourite game then? 😛

“[…] I have several games that are linked to different parts of my life. There’s Skyrim, Life is Strange, God of War, Pokémon, Kingdom Hearts, and I guess it’s a mix of all these different games! But I can’t pick a favourite, that’s too difficult for me. 

It’s like what’s your favourite child?”

(Some other dev in the back): “Not that one.”

“Everyone but this one!”

So, yeah, that’s the interview basically. I had a lot of fun talking to Julia and I really enjoyed Answer Knot, especially since I’m one of those not-answering-people myself and I felt bad for June and stuff… The story took an interesting turn and I didn’t really expect it all that much. The puzzling was great and, well, I guess I can’t really say much about it because of spoilers and all that! It’s actually available on Steam for free right now, so you should definitely check it out, as it doesn’t even take that much time to play! Lovely! 🙂

For the next interview, I’ve talked to the artist of Nanotale – Typing Chronicles, Amandine Flahaut. Nanotale‘s a typing game and there’s lots of exploring and fighting/typing going on there.

What was the most exciting part of working on this game? 

“Uhm… Everything. […] I’m the artist, so I work at the art directions of the game and I created everything, so I created the world and I tried to keep the same art style as in [Epistory] our first game while still changing the world. […] Even coming here [to the GamesCom] and speaking to people about the game, is really exciting for me.”

How satisfied are you with the game at its current stage? Are there any plans for future updates?

“Oh, what you see is a demo. […] We’re improving a lot of things right now and we’re going to add a few more things and big areas like this one since this is only the first area. I want to make things a lot more beautiful but I [also] think that we’re doing great for now. […] The more you want to do now, the less good the result becomes.”

If you were a superhero, what would your power and hero name be?

“Oh, I already am a superhero. I am CUTTER GIRL! I am clumsy and imagine the world being in danger and you telling me to do anything but press that one dangerous button. Well, I’d manage to do just do that. I’ll [trip], something behind me falls and presses the button.”

And that’s your superpower?

“Eh, Yes! Because I can just leave the villains alone and when they escape something bad happens to them, so they’ll just wait there for the police to come.”

If you could meet one character from Nanotale in real life who would it be?

“[…] The green jasper! It’s some kind of a mix between an axolotl, a rabbit and a cat. It’s very cute. It has some kind of kink ears. And I think it would be great to have it in real life as well! Oh, and it smells of MINTS!”

So, Nanotale is coming out soon. Check it out! It’s looking great and for a typing game, some fights felt quite intense, to say the least! I really appreciated the prototype for a holographic monitor that they had set up near the booth. Looking forward to how that one’s going to get developed in the future! 🙂 

Onto the last interview for today! Necrobarista is about a back-alley café in Melbourne where “the dead are granted one last night to mingle with the living”. It’s a visual novel with 3D-animation by Route 59. I’ve interviewed Ngoc Vu, the lead artist for this game.

So, what inspired you to make Necrobarista?

“The director, the 3D-artists and I sat together while we all studied together at Uni. We were all discussing how much we were loving Anime [and] how much we were loving visual novels and [since] we studied Unity during our university years we thought ‘why not just make a 3D-style visual novel?’. And that was the main pillar of the development of Necrobarista.”

So, Necrobarista is about a coffee shop were spirits and humans go to. Is it a rather peaceful game or does it get intense later on, too?

“It does get a little intense later on but I’d say that, for the most part, it’s quite a cosy game. […]”

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

“The most exciting part was deciding how we are going to produce the facial features for all the characters. That was the part that has undergone the most iterations. I would say especially how we’re creating the eyes […] with all its features like pupils, eyelashes, etc. And pretty much every facial feature has its own engine.”

Are you satisfied with the game at its current stage and are there any plans for future updates, chapters, and that kind of stuff?

“We are very happy with the game. So, the story is finished. The artwork is all locked in. Currently, we’re polishing menus and UI and player experience. As for updates, we are planning to release a DLC which will feature four new side characters and hopefully it will come out a little bit after the release date.”

So, now I’m going to ask those aforementioned “quirky questions” because I’m no professional. (She laughs) If you were a superhero what would your hero name and quirk be? 

“I’m a bit of a sticky bee” (I think that’s what she said but I’m not too sure… hit me up with corrections if it was something else!)

“I’d like to read people’s minds. […] As for a name… Oh, I’m really terrible with coming up with names. Maybe, the Needle.” (Again, not sure if that’s what she said. It was quite loud at the place and… yeah.)

She hates Dr Pepper, so I’ll just leave it at that. Next year I’ll come up with better questions for sure. :[ 

What’s your favourite video-game antagonist? or if that’s too hard, your favourite Anime-antagonist

“[…] There’s so many. I’d say Vegeta [as my favourite anime-antagonist] from Dragon Ball. But he turns into a pretty good guy.”

Spoilers.

“Well, too bad for you, if you haven’t seen Dragon Ball after twenty years. 

Well, yeah, he’s my favourite antagonist.”

Okay, so if you could meet a video-game character. Who would it be and what would you do together?

“[…] I was about to say Tingle from the Zelda-series but maybe not now… with him. […] Maybe rather Dr. [Hershel] Layton?”

That’d be so awesome! I love the Prof. Layton games!

“We’d probably go find coins […] and go fishing for fountain coins. Or he’d give me math-problems and put me back into eight-grade high school.”

So, Necrobarista‘s coming out soon, too, and as I may or may not do a review on that, I didn’t really want to spoil myself too much by already playtesting it there! So, I can’t really say much about it apart from the fact that it looked really cool and that the team behind it seemed really cool 😀 

Anyways, that’s it for today’s post. A bit late again, I know, but I’ve got no schedule, so nobody cares, I guess.

Tomorrow’s post will be about Tunic and Overland. Stay tuned for that one!

Anyways, have a good morning/day/evening/night/whatever and don’t forget:

Sometimes coffee makes you sleepier after drinking it, resulting in you falling alseep even though you wanted to stay up.

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.