Tag Archives: Steam

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Q&A With Kiro Team

A while back, I came across a new title in development that was nearing a launch on Kickstarter, and now I’m thrilled to bring it to the attention of an even wider audience than what it has been brought to already. Souno’s Curse, under development by Kiro Team based in Lyon in France, is an action-platforming game featuring staple elements of the Metroidvania genre. It features beautifully hand-drawn visuals reminiscent of games such as Hollow Knight and Cuphead and presents a narrative surrounded by mystery and focusing on such themes as love, regret friendship, and decisive action. Curious to learn as much as I could before the Kickstarter launches tomorrow, I reached out to Kiro Team’s Idir Amrouche to understand more about this wonderfully ambitious-looking title, and what gamers can come to expect whilst playing. Here’s what Idir Amrouche of Kiro Team had to say about Souno’s Curse:

 

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What were the influences behind your game?

Different media like books, movies, and anime, and of course video games. If I were to name a few:

– Kingdom Hearts

– Metal Gear Solid

– Megalobox anime

– The Witcher (game and books)

My main inspiration comes from Hollow Knight and Journey

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

The game is around 30% finished. We plan a release window for mid-2023

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

One of them is the creative process when you let your imagination run wild and create new environments, characters, stories, etc…The second one is implementing the created assets in the game and seeing all that you imagined come to life.

 

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What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

The team is composed of people from France, Canada, and the USA, and all of them except for me have full or part-time jobs on the side. The most challenging part was to plan a roadmap taking into account varying availability and finding a workflow that suits everyone’s plannings/time zones.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

I started sharing info about the game on Twitter at the very early stages. I did not expect to have this much support and to have a community this big this fast. So I’d say it has been pretty well received so far.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

Souno’s Curse release is planned for Steam and GOG.com. We’d be very happy to release it on Nintendo Switch as well, which is why it is one of our Kickstarter stretch goals.

 

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Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked?

A few yes. At first, the game was just an experimental project that was supposed to last 3 or 4 months. But seeing how well it was received we decided to make a full game out of it, so of course, some elements had to be changed in order to adapt to the new scope

 

How exhilarating an experience has it been with the amount of interest taken in the game’s mythology even at this early stage?

It’s honestly crazy. To see so many people following every step of the process is amazing. This also gives us more motivation to come up with the highest quality possible to live up to their expectations. We hope people will love the demo.

 

How instrumental has player feedback in terms of shaping the course of the project been?

I think player feedback is one of the main pillars of game development. We learned so much about the strengths and weaknesses of the game just from watching the players’ behavior. After spending a certain amount of time working on the game you become blind to certain aspects of it.

 

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Amidst the influx of Metroidvania titles throughout the eighth and ninth generations of gaming, what would you say makes Souno’s Curse stand out in your opinion?

Well first it’s not a full-fledged Metroidvania but it’s borrowing elements from the genre. Second, I really think the themes and story of the characters and the plot will leave an impact on the hearts of the players. At least I hope so.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or for any franchise, which would it be, and why?

I’d love to work with Hideo Kojima. It always feels like he is 20 years ahead of everyone else in the industry.

 

What is your opinion of the recent influx of indie developers coming out of France?

It’s great! The indie community is growing bigger, and more and more structures are being developed in order to help the developers either financially or by providing more exposure.

 

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Have there been any to have reached out to you guys for advice or to give advice throughout the development of Souno’s Curse?

Yes, many. That’s the good thing about Twitter, it’s always good to network and exchange tips and ideas between developers.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

If I had one piece of advice to give it would be: Don’t hide your game until it’s “perfect”. Let people test your prototypes and ideas as soon as possible and get feedback from them. You don’t need art or animations for a mechanic to be fun. Fail early fail often.

 

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Where on the Internet can people find you?

All the detailed information about Souno’s Curse is on our Kickstarter page. We will answer all your questions there:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/kiroteam/sounos-curse.

 

If you want to chat and chill with us, you can join our Discord :

 https://discord.com/invite/ukSraCAaFg

 

We are posting daily content about the game development on Twitter : 

https://twitter.com/KiroTeamGames

 

Do you have anything else to add?

See you on October 1st for the Steam Next Fest and Kickstarter launch!

 

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I’d like to take the opportunity to thank Idir for taking the time to out to talk to me about Souno’s Curse and share more information about the game. If anyone is interested in backing this awesome-looking title, you can do so by visiting the Kickstarter page as of tomorrow when the campaign launches. I wish Idir and the rest of the Kiro Team the best of luck with Souno’s curse’ Kickstarter campaign and subsequent launch, and I hope you guys are looking forward to this game as much as I am!

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

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Q&A With Milky Tea Studios

Concerning the success garnished by the many independent video game scene over the eighth generation of gaming and beyond, this interview focuses on something even more significant to me on a personal level; an interview that had been a long time coming, and that I’d been particularly excited about conducting, The video game development scene in Liverpool has seen stability since the home computer era back in the early 80s, with programmers such as Matthew Smith and companies like Imagine Software taking center stage with ZX Spectrum games such as Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy and Stonkers. This momentum was carried on across generations of gaming with the likes of Psygnosis finding success throughout the fourth and fifth generations with Wipeout and Lemmings until unfortunately folding in 2012. But since, the indie development scene in Liverpool has thrived, with many studios having been founded within the city such as Mechabit Games, Space Lizard Studios, and the subject of this interview Milky Tea Studios.

Founded in 2005, Milky Tea began as a designer of advertisement campaigns for companies like Lloyds TSB, Sony, Toyota, and even the NFL at one point. But then in 2015, they released their first full game Coffin Dodgers, a kart racing game with a dark sense of humor. It saw release initially on Steam and was then later ported to eighth-generation consoles, such as the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. After releasing an Android exclusive game named Roller Rally, they have most recently put out a game very different from anything they’ve ever developed. HyperBrawl Tournament is a multiplayer game taking place across an interdimensional universe whereby play football using melee combat to attack the opposition and score as many goals as possible. It has since garnished critical acclaim having been subsequently released on multiple consoles.

A while ago, I contacted the head of player engagement at Milky Tea Studio Simon Whitham to ask him a few questions in regards to Milky Tea Studios, HyperBrawl Tournament, and the company’s opinion on the current development scene in Liverpool and what the future may hold for the many promising developers based around the city. Here’s what Simon Whitham had to say about Milky Tea Studios:

 

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What were the influences behind your latest game?

The three biggest inspirations behind HyperBrawl were Speedball, Mario Strikers, and Rocket League, for us we really wanted to build a casual sports brawler that kept players quick on their feet but also was easy to pick up but hard to master.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of developing HyperBrawl Tournament?

For us, one of the most exciting developments for HyperBrawl was our soundtrack and audio design, for the audio production and music composing of HyperBrawl Tournament we worked alongside legendary music composer Steve Levine and through our partnership we’re able to work with Sony/ATV and Sony Masterworks to get the official soundtrack released on Spotify and Apple Music which for indie developers is unheard of.

Throughout the development of the HyperBrawl Tournament, our team also worked alongside the team at Omnio and legendary music composer Steve Levine to become the first-ever video game in history to use this revolutionary music industry and nightlife technology within interactive media.

Using Omnio, we were able to take the audio design of HyperBrawl Tournament and enable players to feel audio and experience music the way it sounded when originally recorded in a way that has never been done in video game development before and displays what is possible with game audio in the modern era.

To convert the tracks of HyperBrawl Tournament our team and Steve Levine passed each of the games audio tracks through a black box provided by Steve containing a unique chipset that utilized a special algorithm to remaster the sound for our team and create audio that is both reactive to the players actions in the game world but also matches the audio to what is happening in the present moment.

 

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What has been the most challenging aspect of developing the HyperBrawl Tournament?

I’d say the most difficult aspect of development definitely was online multiplayer, multiplayer is always a challenge for any indie developer and there are a lot of different systems that require perfect balancing so the process of getting those right can be a lot of trial and error.

 

How satisfying has it been seeing both HyperBrawl Tournament and Coffin Dodgers garnish as much critical and commercial acclaim as they had done?

It’s always great seeing the gaming community loving your titles, with both HyperBrawl and Coffin Dodgers we’ve seen some of the biggest YouTube and Twitch stars within the gaming community play our titles and it’s always so rewarding to see the organic reactions of the community.

 

Have there been any ideas from either game that had been scrapped or reworked throughout development?

There are always features that sadly don’t make the cut when it comes to game development. We’ve had many great ideas that we would have loved to see in HyperBrawl but can’t comment on I’m afraid.

 

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Have the team considered bringing HyperBrawl Tournament to VR, as you did with Coffin Dodgers?

I would say we would never rule this out 😉

 

What are the developer’s characters of heroes of choice whilst playing HyperBrawl Tournament or Coffin Dodgers?

Our personal favorites are Tristan, Shade, Bazooki, and Rip Deadly.

 

What’s next for Milky Tea Studios?

All the exciting things, new games, new updates, and more 😉

 

Are there any particular genres of gaming that the collective studio would like to develop a game for in the future?

We’re already working on our next games and you could say one of the genres is one we’ve always wanted to work on….you’ll just have to wait and see now won’t you hehe.

 

What is your opinion on the indie game development scene in Liverpool?

The games industry in Liverpool is criminally underrated we have Sony, Lucid Games, Firesprite, and many more top players within the games industry all within a stone’s throw of each other, it’s so great to have so many of our peers all within the Baltic Quarter and surrounding area, there is a very strong level of community and collaboration between us all.

 

As developers based in Liverpool working on a game based heavily on football, is there an equilibrium of Liverpool and Everton supporters at Milky Tea, or is it more geared towards one of the two?

We are all Liverpool supporters anything else would be criminal 😛

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Research is key, look at the market, what the demand is, and what audiences are asking for on Steam and other platforms, it’s easy to fall into the trap of making a game that you love but not what the community wants.

Remember research is everything, make sure to look at where the market is at and how you can improve upon the formula to make a truly great experience.

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Remember stay awesome 😀

 

Lastly, I’d like to thank Simon and Milky Tea Studios for taking the time out to answer my questions and to wish them the best of luck with HyperBrawl Tournament as well as what their next project may be, Milky Tea, along with the many other indie developers based in Liverpool, have shown a great deal of promise in the games they have developed and demonstrated an emphasis on variety in games design, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next. If you wish to download either Coffin Dodgers or HyperBrawl Tournament, you can do so via the link below as well as the Nintendo eShop, the PlayStation Network, or Xbox Live:

https://store.steampowered.com/developer/MilkyTea

But regardless, I hope guys enjoyed this interview, and for any scousers out there reading this, I hope you guys feel as optimistic about the development scene in Merseyside as I do.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

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Zapling Bygone: First Impressions

I recently came across yet another Metroidvania title with a great deal of promise and a great deal of substance in its early stages of development. Zapling Bygone is a sci-fi Metroidvania following the story of an alien asylum seeker named Zapling, who after fleeing his home planet comes across a completely new world inhabited by strange and dangerous creatures and must traverse it in a bid to call it home. I’d had one eye on this game for a few weeks leading up to this article, and a Q&A will be to follow as soon as possible, but for now, I wanted to give my verdict on the game in this early stage of development, and happily, my verdict is extremely positive. 

 

Graphics

The game makes use of traditional 8-BIT visuals set on a weird and wonderful alien planet reminiscent of many classic or independently developed games within the genre, such as Metroid, Xeodrifter, and Axiom Verge. What has been shaped in the way of environmental design is very interesting to look at, albeit it’s only a very small section of what is soon to be a particularly sizable open world, and I can’t wait to see what the rest of it looks like when the full project is released. Already packed with numerous different areas to explore, it’ll be even more interesting to see how the mythology of the game is expanded upon. 

 

Gameplay

The game is a traditional Metroidvania and primarily takes inspiration from Hollow Knight, relying on exploration, combat item collecting, and gaining new abilities in order to discover new areas. The player character must find different types of skulls in order to gain additional abilities that can either fool enemies into thinking you are one of them or to gain other strategic advantages; it works in a somewhat similar way to Skul: The Hero Slayer. Something else I was pleasantly surprised to find was that there is actually an easter directly referencing another indie game currently in development that I covered some time back; Scrabdackle by Jakefriend. I interviewed Jake some time ago:

https://scousegamer88.com/2021/03/23/qa-with-jakefriend-scrabdackle/

And so I slipped the lead developer of Zapling Bygone Stevis Andrea an additional question about their relationship and how the easter egg came to be, so it’ll be interesting to learn more about that in addition. But besides which, the game in its current state shows great promise in terms of its wildly varied combat system, level of exploration, and the design of the boss fights, which reminded me of Teslagrad in particular. 

 

Controls

The idea of the game’s general control scheme is fine, and once it’s released I’m sure the concern I’m about to express will be ironed out during development, but my advice would be that if you’re playing with a PlayStation 4 controller, the controller mapping is not immediately established, and it takes a little bit of adjustment. Below is my own personal mapping of the controls for Zapling Bygone, which worked just fine to me, so if anyone is thinking of trying the demo, and are using a PS4 controller, refer to this mapping:

 

But otherwise, many of the control mechanics themselves are either very unique or very reminiscent of other Metroidvanias, such as the Ori games or Blasphemous.

 

Lifespan

With only a portion of the game’s world revealed, and the promise on the Kickstarter page of at least 6 different areas to explore throughout, it indeed has the potential to last an extraordinarily long time. Whether it does end up lasting as long as the average Metroidvania, or maybe even longer, depends on how much is given to players to do throughout. But with the insane amount of collectibles, there are throughout the demo alone, I’m confident it will be made to last an exceptional amount of time. 

 

Storyline

The basic premise of Zapling Bygone follows the alien lifeform Zapling as he crashlands onto a brave new mysterious world in a bid to call it home and overcome the many dangers it poses to him. The charm of the game’s story exists not just in its basic premise, but in its backstory, which can be periodically discovered across the entire game, similar to the likes of The Swapper, though I can already tell that this game’s story is going to be far more immersing than the former. It certainly has the potential to spark wonder, controversy, and fan theories that can possibly make for one of the most interesting Metroidvania mythologies yet. 

 

Originality

Though clearly not without its sources of inspiration, it certainly had the potential to stand out among the circle of indie Metroidvania games. The extent of which would depend on how it does to try and break away from the likes of Super Metroid, Guacamelee, Dust: An Elysian Tail and others, and how much emphasis there is on this being its own fully cohesive concept. The combat system and the world mythos has a lot to them, and elements are there unlike a lot of Metroidvanias I’ve played, but it will be interesting to see exactly how much effort the developers put into making this game truly their own, and not just coming across as a collection of features and ideas based on other games. 

 

But overall, I was extremely impressed with how Zapling Bygone looks, plays, and tells the story of the main character and of the world around him. Since the Kickstarter campaign began, the idea has gathered a great of momentum from backers, gamers, and streamers alike, and it’s not hard to see why. If you’d like to try the demo out for yourself, you can download it now for free via the link below:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1489110/Zapling_Bygone/

 

Or if you would like to back the game on Kickstarter, you can do so via this link:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/9fingergames/zapling-bygone

 

In the meantime, I hope you guys enjoy playing Zapling Bygone, and tell me what you think of this game. I hope you enjoyed reading my assessment as much as I did putting it together.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

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Undying (PC)

Developer(s) – EA Los Angeles

Publisher(s) – EA Games

Director(s) – Brady Bell

Producer(s) – Brady Bell

PEGI – 18

 

Released in 2001 at the dawn of the sixth generation of gaming, Undying is a first-person shooter programmed by Brady Bell of Medal of Honor fame and written by acclaimed horror writer and director Clive Barker telling a story of the occult, eldritch horrors, and creatures of the night. Despite being released to widespread critical acclaim at the time, the game ended up selling unjustifiably poorly, and a sequel has been shelved ever since. I recently played through this game for the first time, and I was taken completely by surprise with just how great and how silently innovative it was in the grander scheme of things. Both the sixth and seventh generation of games would be a time for many first-person shooting series to find popularity throughout the gaming industry with the likes of Halo, Call of Duty, Half-Life, and Red Faction dominating sales charts everywhere. However, there were a few games in the genre that unfairly fell through the cracks and never got the attention they deserved, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a better example than this. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

Undying takes place in a dark and atmospheric mansion on the coast of Ireland, similar to games like the original Resident Evil and Luigi’s Mansion. But throughout, there are also some wonderfully disturbing secrets to uncover with certain sections breaking away to lead the player to some horrific environments; the game’s setting is like a character in and of itself, which is something that Clive Barker is renowned for conveying. It reminded me very much of Hellraiser II when the main character is taken to the labyrinth world of the cenobites. The mansion is also littered with terrifying creatures from every corner of horror, from Lovecraft to Bram Stoker. There’s not a great deal of music throughout to add to the tension, but what music there is in certain sequences was expertly composed. The biggest criticism I have about the visuals is that like the game Darkwatch, the environments are sometimes not lit enough, almost to the point of impracticality. But regardless, this doesn’t create too much of a problem throughout. 

 

Gameplay – 9/10

Undying is a first-person shooter, but far higher than the standard of what gamers were used to at the time. The player also has supernatural abilities to use in either combat or to solve puzzles throughout the mansion, there is a series of wonderfully unconventional boss fights, collectibles for the player to pick up throughout, and also a plethora of easter eggs to uncover for good measure, including a hidden shooting gallery. An open-world first-person shooter, even a semi-open world one as this is, was pretty much unheard of back then and as a result, it offers far more to play for than many other FPS games that were around at the time.

 

Controls – 8/10

The game’s controls are, however, an aspect with which I had a couple of problems; for the simple reason, that first-person shooter games are best played with a controller, which unfortunately as this is a PC exclusive developed in the early 2000s, doesn’t offer. One time, this game was on Steam, but for some reason, it was pulled, which is a great shame because not only are people being further denied the opportunity to play it but they’re being denied the opportunity to play it in the best possible way since control mapping would’ve fixed this. Maybe it will be put back on steam one day, or re-mastered as what many players are crying out for, but for the moment, the original CD-ROM port is the only official way to play it.

 

Lifespan – 7/10

Lasting 6 and a half hours there about, the game perpetuated the industry-standard lifespan of a first-person shooter, on par with the likes of classics such as Goldeneye 007 and Perfect Dark. Whilst not on par with games like Fallout 3 and 4, and games in the Borderlands series, it still lasts a fair amount of time; even more so than a lot of FPS games that were released across the seventh generation like Halo 4. If the series was ever expanded upon, there is certainly scope to make a sequel last even longer than this in my opinion, given the nature of how the story ends. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Undying takes place in 1923 in Ireland. A World War I veteran and paranormal investigator named Patrick Galloway is summoned to the mansion estate of the Covenant family by Jeremiah Covenant in order to investigate strange and violent goings-on within the mansion. Soon, Patrick uncovers an ungodly truth about the Covenant family that will have players on the edge of their seats. As Clive Barker was so good at doing, the game’s story is extremely well-executed from start to finish. The voice acting can come off as wooden, and even a little comical at times, but it’s not bad enough for players not to be able to take the narrative seriously like it is in the original Resident Evil. 

 

Originality – 9/10

It may be easy to take a cursory look at this game and write it off as a generic shooter title (perhaps that was part of the reason why it unjustly sold as poorly as it did), but the fact of the matter is that in many respects, this game was years ahead of its time. Without games like this, System Shock and Half-Life 2, there would be no BioShock or Borderlands; shooters that would defy convention and offer players more than just going around and shooting anything that moves. There’s plenty of that in this game, naturally, but there’s more than enough to make it stand out as one of the unique FPS games of the sixth generation. 

 

Happii

Overall, Clive Barker’s Undying is an obscure gem that deserves a far bigger part in gaming history than what it has been confined to since its release. It’s exceedingly enjoyable to play with a superbly crafted narrative, and hopefully one day it will be made available to gamers of newer generations through either a re-release or remaster. 

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

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Q&A With Ursa Minor Games

A while back, I came across another very promising title on Twitter that I wanted to bring to the attention of gamers for a multitude of different reasons. Aleya’s Ascent, under development at Ursa Minor Games based in New York, is a Metroidvania title making use of superbly rendered 8-BIT visuals with a heavy emphasis on exploration, combat, and precision platforming. The player assumes control of the main character Aleya, who is chosen by fate to tame a series of feral and long-forgotten deities, giving the plot a strong feel of the likes of Shadow of the Colossus and The Last Guardian in my opinion. But seeking further clarification of what influenced the game, what bumps and scrapes there had been along the way in the developmental process and when the game will be released by, I reached out to the game’s lead developer William Henderson for more details about what’s been going on behind the scenes of this excellent-looking game. So here’s what William of Ursa Minor Games had to say about Aleya’s Ascent:

 

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What were the influences behind your game?

Main influences at this stage in development include games like Celeste (big one), both Ori games, Hollow Knight, Castlevania SOTN, etc. The usual suspects as far as Metroidvania go. Also, the style/aesthetic/story is heavily inspired by Legend of Zelda.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

I carried game dev as a side project for about 3 years before deciding to try and push for a full-fledged commercial indie game as a solo developer, so the process has included a lot of learning the indie game landscape, reading articles, and watching youtube videos.

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

As a solo indie developer working his first game, it can be hard to tell. I hope to release a polished demo Q3/4 2021 and then reassess the timeline based on player feedback. There isn’t any real pressure to release ASAP, so I want to take the time to make Aleya’s Ascent exactly how I envision it without cutting any corners to meet a deadline.

 

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What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

For me, the most motivating part has been sharing some of the art and gameplay that I worked hard on. It’s exciting getting positive feedback, whether it be through Twitter, Reddit, Discord, or with friends and family in person.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

I think for Aleya’s Ascent, it has to be finding the time. Life gets in the way and I can’t spend as many nights or weekends as I’d like on development.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

I’ve been very happy with the response it’s received on the platforms I’ve presented on, but I know I still have a long way to go so I’m excited to share more in the future.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC is a definite, with the possibility of a Switch release down the line.

 

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What were your prior programming experiences before developing Aleya’s Ascent?

I have an engineering degree so I was exposed to programming in college, but not object-oriented. I created a handful of game prototypes as practice while in Graduate school before I felt comfortable committing to a first commercial game.

 

Are there any preliminary plans to expand on the world of Aleya, either through a sequel or DLC?

It’s hard to say at this point. While I have an overarching story prepared, it’s unclear where Aleya 1 would end and Aleya 2 (or DLC) would begin. I certainly would love to continue Aleya’s story, but don’t want to force a sequel before the first is finished.

 

Are there any programmers or game creators you took influence from?

Definitely. The developers/programmers from the listed influences above would be a good place to start. It’d be impossible to list them all, but the Twitter indie game circles share so much information about neat tricks/tips/shaders, etc. that it really has been vital to my development process.

 

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Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked?

A whole lot. I’ve had levels and entire maps scrapped to allow for core gameplay changes. In one iteration Aleya was a robot. I’m not afraid to axe anything if I feel it isn’t good enough or doesn’t quite fit.

 

What would be next for Ursa Minor Games following the release of Aleya’s Ascent?

Another game for sure. What form or shape or genre that takes is up in the air. I’ll probably develop a couple of game prototypes on itch.io or something and see if any of them get really positive feedback.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Nintendo for sure. I grew up playing/loving their games and it would be a dream come true to work with them.

 

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Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Well, I hesitate to offer advice as I’m just a first-time game developer and a hobbyist at that but for other hobbyists/solo developers, I found success in chasing inspirations and following whims, I think my best/best-received work has been things that strike me when I’m not working on the game. And definitely take notes once an idea pops into your head, it’ll help you remember and flesh it out into a definitive game concept.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

You can find me on Twitter as @UrsaMinorGames, Reddit as /u/ursa-minor-games, and find Aleya’s Ascent on steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/1470540/Aleyas_Ascent/ Also join into the Aleya’s Ascent Discord channel for early concepts, works in progress, and other discussions: https://discord.gg/e5qvqkT78z

 

Do you have anything else to add?

I’d like to thank you for taking the time and having the patience to reach out and ask questions about Aleya’s Ascent.

 

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I also want to thank William for agreeing for sharing more information about Aleya’s Ascent, and to wish him and Ursa Minor Games the best of luck throughout the rest of the developmental process as well as luck with the eventual release of the game. Aleya’s Ascent was a game that immediately caught my eyes in terms of retroactive graphical quality, and I have hopes for the great gameplay to match. In the meantime, you can visit Ursa Minor Games’ social media pages and the Steam page, but for now, I hope you guys enjoyed learning more about this title.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

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Clodhoppers: First Impressions

Following on from my initial discovery of this game back in early 2020, I decided to write about my first impressions of this insanely unique-looking and promising title. Clodhoppers, under development at Claymatic Games and led by Platypus creator Anthony Flack, is a free–for all fighting game similar to Super Smash Bros whereby quirky and uncouth characters fight each other with fists, guns, bombs, and bails of hay (among other things) across traversable stages, with the game making use of the claymation visuals synonymous with Anthony Flack’s games. The spiritual successor to Flack’s canceled game Cletus Clay, the current build was recently added to Steam and is now free to play whilst the game remains under development. Eager to find out how this game now plays out after having briefly played the original prototype, I downloaded it and played a few rounds, and I was impressed, to say the least, with the title shaping up to be what Flack is promising fans.

 

Graphics

Like Platypus, the game makes use of visuals made entirely of clay and set in rural countryside areas throughout. Each stage that has been designed so far has been very well executed, giving it the clear impression that this game is a labor of love, even at this early stage in development. What tracks compose the game’s soundtrack at this point also fit in perfectly well with the game’s tableau, and the game already has the sense of humor attached to it that any player can come to expect from the first glance.

 

Gameplay

Playing out very similarly to Super Smash Bros, the game revolves around being the last man standing by either depleting the health of the other players by attacking them or knocking them off the stage. It works differently to Smash in that players don’t become more liable to fly off the stage the more damage they take, and they instead have a certain amount of hit points to be depleted. In addition, there also weapon drops available for players to take advantage of, but at this point in development, there is only a certain amount of them, and the quantity of which would most likely have to be increased before the game goes out to keep it as wonderfully varied as possible. 

 

Controls

It took a bit of control mapping on Steam to get the keyboard to correspond with the controller, but once this is sorted out, the game poses no problems; I certainly couldn’t cope with playing the game on a mouse and keyboard in any case, this is a game made for a controller. Maybe more elements can be added to the control scheme before release, such as activating additional moves, maybe reminiscent of final smash moves in the Smash Bros series, but for the most part, the control scheme is fine. 

 

Lifespan

If executed correctly, and if perhaps more game modes are added before it goes out, then this game can potentially be made to last as long as the player’s interest is held; especially as the game is specifically marketed as an online game. I think the main thing is that the developers focus primarily on adding more variety in gameplay than what there already is; if that happens, I think this will end up becoming an insanely popular title. 

 

Storyline

There is certainly scope to add a story mode to Clodhoppers, with so many eccentric characters and its unique settings and premise.; It could function in a similar way to Super Smash Bros Brawl, whereby players will be forced to take different paths with different characters in the lead-up to the ending, and have everything come full circle by centering around a specific endgame enemy or location where things come to the fore. Whether or not there will be a story mode added remains to be seen, but the potential for which is quite exciting to think about. 

 

Originality

Though this game is clearly influenced by a specific gaming series, everything about Anthony Flack’s games has always had uniqueness attached to them, and Clodhoppers looks to be no different. Before I played Platypus, there were very few games around that used this visuals style, except the likes of ClayFighter. But it will be a welcome addition to the indie community to once again see this graphical style once again perpetuated, and in a new type of game to match.

 

 

Overall, Clodhoppers does extremely well to show off what I think the game will eventually go on to become; a very enjoyable and addicting brawler with plenty of variety and plenty of potential to take the indie games community by surprise. If you like the look of Clodhoppers and would like to try the current build out for yourself, you can do so via the link below, and I highly recommend you do:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1066420/Clodhoppers/

 

You can also click the following link to read my prior interview with Anthony Flack back in 2020:

https://scousegamer88.com/2020/01/23/qa-with-claymatic-games-anthony-flack-clodhoppers/

 

But in the meantime, I hope you enjoyed learning more about this game or experiencing it even in its preliminary stages of development as much as I certainly did.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

SG88 Savage Halloween Header

Savage Halloween (PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One & Switch)

Developer(s) – 2ndBoss

Publisher(s) – 2ndBoss

Designer(s) – Abdel de Oliveira & Fernando Rodrigues

PEGI – 7

 

Developed as a love letter to a number of NES classics, most notably Castlevania and Contra, Savage Halloween is an 8-BIT side-scrolling shoot ‘em up set in a world based on several tableaus associated with Halloween and boasting a massive amount of variety in gameplay. I’d seen previews of this game prior to playing, and yet, I was still taken aback by just how good it is; it’s definitely one of the standout retroactive indie experiences of 2020. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

Taking place in a world reminiscent of classic works and characters of horror, including Frankenstein and Dracula, there is as much variety in terms of visual design as there is in gameplay. With multiple characters and as well as its horror-styled setting, the game it reminded me of most in its graphical design is actually Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. But at the same time, the game also does well to differentiate itself from the former, as each level perpetuates a different subject of horror, such as circuses complete with clowns and circus monkeys along with a couple of elements that don’t necessarily do that, such as the mini gun-wielding Santa Clauses.

 

Gameplay – 8/10

Though the game is primarily; a side-scrolling shoot ‘em up, there are also a number of gameplay sequences that challenge the player in a number of different ways reminiscent of other classic games, such as Battletoads and Gradius, including on-rail shooting sequences. Like in Contra, there is also a massive amount of variety in terms of weapon choice, with machine guns, burst weapons, and guns that fire ghosts and exploding chickens. There are three characters to choose from at the start, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, so the game is designed to be played 3 times at a minimum, and each of these three playthroughs offers a new experience and challenge; a challenge which also doesn’t seem too inaccessible like the likes of Mega Man.

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme is also exceedingly simple to get to grips with, especially if you’re a fan of the third generation of gaming, and poses no problems whatsoever. The only distinction that I suppose can be made is whether players may prefer to use the analog stick or the D-pad; either one works fine. That being said, it is also quite impressive how the developers managed to cram as many different control mechanics into this game with the amount of gameplay variety there is compared to other titles of the era of influence. 

 

Lifespan – 7/10

One playthrough of the game can be made to last about an hour and a half. But as I said, this was a game designed to be played multiple times, so it can be made to last as long as the player desired ostensibly. Especially with the included traditional incentive to trying to beat your high score. So the bare minimum that this game should be made to last is 4 and a half hours, but there is definitely scope for more playtime than that. 

 

Storyline – 7/10

The story of Savage Haloweeeon is that a vampire hosting a 24-hour Halloween rave for creatures of the night has decided to close the portals leading back to Hell so they can continue to rave forever. The three main characters, James, Dominika, and Lulu have been called in to defeat the night creatures and stop the rave. It’s not exactly a story that reinvents the wheel, but it’s just wonderfully insane and outlandish as any story associated with gaming in the third generation. It’s a concept somewhat reminiscent of A Nightmare Before Christmas, in fact, which as that’s one of my personal favorite films, the story concept of this game works pretty well for me. 

 

Originality – 8/10

Although Savage Halloween has been influenced by a great number of games that have come and gone before it, all the elements of which do come together to nicely form its own cohesive concept, and it stands out to a great extent as a result. It was also rare in the third generation to come across a platformer whereby the high score played as much of a role as it does in this one; something which only generally has meaning in arcade games such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man, so this game does quite well to go against that tradition as well.

 

Happii

Overall, Savage Halloween is a title I can’t recommend enough. It’s entertaining, challenging, wonderfully varied, and will provide players with hours of fun. 

Score

48/60

8/10 (Very Good)

Lucid Soul Header

Q&A With Jon Bookout

After once again scouting Kickstarter for more new video game prospects, I came across a title that is exceedingly different from any that I’ve yet to encounter this year. Lucid Soul, developed by a team of numerous artists, coders, and musicians, and fronted by indie developer Jon Bookout of Las Vegas, Nevada, is a JRPG blending horror and dark fantasy inspired by classics of the genre such as Chrono Trigger and the Lunar series; namely Eternal Blue and Silver Star. A turn-based RPG in basic design with a planned minimum of 30 hours of lifespan, it boasts a number of gameplay features new to the genre such as two-tier combat flow, the ability to play bosses, and a feature known as cinematic encounters, whereby certain battles take place across multiple screens. The game’s story revolves around the villains taking center-stage as opposed to the heroes, presenting a vast amount of wonderfully sadistic player characters to play as and develop over time. Wanting to know more about this fantastically brutal-looking JRPG experience, I contacted Jon, the game’s head programmer to answer questions I had about the game, and what the final product will possibly bring to players looking for a potential game-changing entry into the widely popular genre. Here’s what Jon Bookout had to say about Lucid Soul:

 

Lucid Soul 1

What were the influences behind your game?

I’ve been writing Lucid Soul since high school, but the game was written as a hero’s journey from Rubin’s perspective til about 5 years ago. I, like many others, got hooked on a little show called Game of Thrones. For those of us who love fantasy, it was the first to really embrace a true-to-life adult feeling to it. What WOULD happen if an evil prick ran the country? It wouldn’t be like Emperor Gestahl where the lust for power isn’t shown, it would be FELT. So that show and the fact that you recognize MILLIONS of people gravitated to raw, gritty, adult fantasy, caused a massive shift in my concept. It influenced the design from the ground up to not only do maturity but what about the next evolution of our nostalgic JRPGs and RPGs of old… what about the villain? Not a “SURPRISE! YOU WERE EVIL!” style game, but one you knew going in, you will be the ‘bad guy’ or ‘girl’. So Game of Thrones-inspired what Lucid Soul is today feeling the time was right, but the history of it is the great classics, Chrono Trigger, Lunar: Silver Star, and more importantly Eternal Blue, Final Fantasy (Specifically 6 or 3 in the U.S. and 4 or 2 in the U.S.), Final Fantasy Tactics, Shin Megami Tensei (Specifically Digital Devil Saga), and Silent Hill. Horror tends to be all modern-day, so it felt fresh to bring Horror into the world of fantasy. And we hope our influences shine through to all players.

 

What has the developmental process been like?

Once Sangrde, our character artist came on board, pretty smooth. The past is littered with reaching out to people, asking their expertise and thoughts, trying to have them understand the Horror and artistic styles we’re after, and feeling out who can best slip in. Once the team has been finalized development is smooth, and it’s a treat to be able to know there’s quality because no one would want this game with my talent at the helm for art and pixel work.

 

Lucid Soul 2

How close are we to seeing the finished product?

Depending on the final funding of the Kickstarter, I hope to speed our production up by hiring a Programmer, as that’s my task. The projected date is October of 2022 and we feel we can hit that mark, but if I could grab a professional that could drastically speed us into the Beta phase. But to try to be as professional as possible for all involved, 2022 October.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development?

Oh man, everything! Honest truth, it’s a learning experience ground up, so every time you catch a bug, or pull a Picard Facepalm, or see a wandering pixel and blurt out “Oh hai Mark!”, it’s fun, knowing you have improvements to make on yourself and a game. But the best part is meeting new people, talking about Lucid Soul never gets old for me personally, but it’s that look on a person’s face when you explain it for the first time and feel the response sinking in. That’s what I’m personally after with the players, so it’s great to see and feel it during development as a new person comes on board for acting or art.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?

Translating concept to the actual controller in hand gameplay. I imagine this is what anyone who creates goes through, but learning it and experiencing it, that’s a challenge. Notebooks in the house are filled with mechanics and being an algorithm guy more than a coding guy, that’s the most challenging aspect.

 

Lucid Soul 3

How well has the game been received so far?

The backers we’ve managed to bring in are absolutely amazing to communicate with and get their feedback on the game’s subject matter, characters, and future plans. Through them I’d say those that put in the pledge to be able to talk, the reception is positive. In truth, the one thing I WISH as a creator I could say is that I can’t reach out to those who don’t pledge or move on. Those that click your title picture but leave. I truly wish I could hear from them as well, because we as creators can never stop learning, and failure I think is the key to success. I’d like to know where I could improve, or what failed to appeal. Praise makes you feel good, and it IS wonderful, but it’s the harsh truths and criticisms that make the end product a better experience, and I openly expect and respect it.

 

Do you and the development team see Lucid Soul as an attempt to subvert the traditional Japanese RPG?

Subvert isn’t the word I’d use completely, because you don’t want to break a wheel that we all know and love. But subverting the EXPECTATION of the JRPG fan, then yes. We want the player to enter Lucid Soul fully feeling comfortable in traditions, the menu, the map interface, the overworld feeling bigger than hubs, a home base to put your feet up, the adventure, the exploration, the artifact gathering, the growing in power. We FULLY want those to be expected and embraced. Much like Undertale’s revelation of what EXP meant to the player, we do hope that the same fun takeaway occurs with our changes. Our team couldn’t think of a mainstream JRPG in which the hero is the villain, and the villain is the protagonist, so how does that affect those traditional elements, is major on our priority and creativity list.

 

Lucid Soul 4

Which entries in the Final Fantasy series have you and the team had in mind most during development?

6 is the most influential to style, and a number of distinct personalities. 7 is the most influential for the villain’s journey alongside the heroes. Lastly, 10 plays a major part in influencing the idea of Cinematic Combat, or Combat that continues on multiple screens without actually leaving it, with dialogue and story, reinforcements and such playing a part to be more dynamic. 4 is, forever and always, my personal nostalgic favorite, but it’s also the only of those which kept far away from technology until the Blue Whale and the Babil Giant, keeping its roots very deep in fantasy. One of my favorite conversations with our tile artist starts something like “Ok, but if this were Final Fantasy, how would they make this ship fly. Ok now, how would we do it?”
I think Sephiroth is considered by most to be the single best remembered Villain, at least every gamer I’ve ever mentioned him too, can give me a response on how they feel about him or things they remember. The remake going mainstream of 7 really helps cement him too. So for our JRPG, it’s taking the impressions people have, and then asking the obvious follow up to us: “Would you play Final Fantasy 7, if he was the main character, and if so…” going from there. I LOVE the responses you get from that, and it’s how we adapt and add little pieces to those responses.

 

How instrumental has the involvement been of so many different musicians famous from all over YouTube?

Youtube is massive, and I dare say the single most important key to if we succeed. Through Alyssa Gerwig (SpectroliteAAA), and approaching her for our animated trailer idea, she introduced me to Diwa De Leon (String Player Gamer), and then the network kind of grew from there. I’m lucky, blessed, touched, and thrilled that the famous ones like these and the juggernaut Camila Cuevas staked their reputation to show us support and introduce us to friends and acquaintances of theirs for getting work done. Sound, animation, music, vocalists, all through their good graces. The only musician I can say I personally played a hand in, is Lauren Kinkade, of Laurenkinkademusic.com and if you went to Dodgers games she sang the anthem for many live performances. She’s a girl I luckily went to highschool with and is actually where the Goddess got her name when she agreed all those years ago to sing in the game.

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

PC and Mac are first, Steam and Itch are the approved distributors, and our first Platform stretch goal is the Switch. Beyond that we’ll happily do others, Stadia has reached out to me personally, it simply is a budget and programming issue, but we expect to have to gauge feedback on the game first to distribute to more.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that have since been scrapped or reworked?

Feeling out spriting budgets, so far the number of Bromides and Souls is the first to be affected, this is why we put those as Tier rewards in our Kickstarter hoping we could take a more personal approach to them also while allowing more in the game. In Lucid Soul, we want the main character Scythe to truly feel like an Everyman/Everywoman to the player, but unlike say Chrono who is played without speaking, you never get to change anything about the visual nature. So a female player may like his story and bond with the team, but feeling like “Chrono is Me” never lets him evolve beyond “I control him first”. How MUCH customization to our main character will directly relate to budget, and that’s the first thing I and the others had to talk about and tone down. Most, for now, have not had to be scrapped, and that’s the only (knock on wood) to need reworking.

 

Which characters have been among the most fun to design out of so many outlandish individual personalities?

That’s tough, lol. I mean even as the one who created them that’s tough. My goal’s always been, RPGs are for their characters, people remember Marle hugging Chrono 20+ years after the game’s out, people still have youtube reactions posted or recount that moment Aerith meets her fate. While I want each one to have a memory when it’s all said and done that makes you even recount some things about the ones you didn’t like, my personal favorite is Synella. I play Tanks mostly in MMOs, WoW, SWTOR, etc. so designing how a Tank could translate to the JRPG tactics style and feel like they had character, has been fun… challenging but fun. Since she speaks in groups of 3, one word for each month, trying to convey her stories and dialogue choices and emotion through ‘which’ 3 words she says, that’s by far the most fun. The other is Wick. She’s my son’s favorite and blew him away when I said she’s my second favorite, just because she’s a unique race design, so you don’t know if the slow-moving, long-eared, magical race that let their blood spill and congeal to make hair and Runes, and you never know if she’ll be liked for that alone. But for her, it’s the personality and making sure it’s presented and played properly. All are fun for different reasons but those 2 stand out for me.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

Disney. It may shock a reader for that one, but because they have the biggest franchises and genres of fantasy that could be taken down different paths, and the money to be TRULY creative with it if they ever chose to. They shoot down Tim Burton for years, and the irony of ironies, bring him back to do a “his style” Alice in Wonderland. I would LOVE to have an hour just to hear what that experience is like. But I have to give credit where it’s due, the 1 game that I never played until the sequel came out, and truly impressed me and changed what video games are capable of, is Kingdom Hearts. When 2 companies with that much history come together and decide to let the storytellers do their thing… Just the ingenious culmination of that was mindblowing. But their franchise now I would love to see how they’d react on a creative team, is doing a Heist movie in the Star Wars universe, like call it Trick, and have this elaborate subverted movie as a husband leaves out his house without any explanation as the wife gets concerned and starts a “what’s going on moment”, all your typical tropes of breaking into vaults, holding up hostages, etc etc but at the end, the coveted Heist item is brought to a man in a robe that waves his hand in front of him and says “You’ve done all you need for the Jedi console… go home to your wife…” and it’s all a Jedi Mind trick.

 

On your Kickstarter page, you expressed the sincerity that to prove your intent to your backers, you will take accountability on a personal level. Although this indeed sounds like a personal passion project to you, how supportive have your team been throughout this entire process so far?

As supportive as anyone can be on the outside joining in, I think. I truly hope if you asked their opinions they’d say that this is as much THEIR game now as mine. The artists especially, from pixel to drawings, tile, and Alyssa’s animations, are just a blast to bounce ideas off of, that you sense they genuinely take an interest in improving things, and I hope I do a good job adapting THEIR creativity into everything also. But they’re an amazing group of people I’m fortunate enough to work with and have been in my life and this project as a result. I know for a fact I’d not be on Kickstarter without each and every one of them, from Augustinas to ZeitDieb.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Depending on when this article is published or when the person reading it says it… know this: you’re reading this from someone not proven to be a success story or even representing a product that will ever be considered a success. My influences to develop, are Dwarvenaut the movie, Indie Game: The Movie, the creator of Pokemon’s history, Sylvester Stalone’s rejection and aspiration to see Rocky be made, and Tim Burton’s career long before Batman but in the days at Disney when Pee Wee’s Big Adventure wasn’t yet in production. Follow your dreams, believe in yourself enough that people will one day WANT to be a part of whatever world you create, and hold to that. Never believe differently. Creativity is the key to us all playing games and experience things we didn’t know we wanted yesterday, yet today tell our friends we can’t live without, and tomorrow influence someone else’s creation.

 

Where on the Internet can people find you?

I can’t be the only one who reads this question wanting to channel my inner superhero nerd, and write “Where there is injustice… you will find me… where there is suffering… I’ll be there… You can find me using the Bookout signal!” But sadly nothing so dramatic, our website is the easiest, https://lucidsoulgame.com, and our Kickstarter at the moment, where I’ll happily answer any questions to the best of my ability.

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Just that it’s a true honor to have met you and be going through this experience. I cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to talk to others about Lucid Soul, myself, and my development team. We’re nothing without them. Thank you for the questions and your time!

 

I would also like to take the opportunity to thank Jon for taking the time out to talk to me about this promising-looking game, and to wish him and the various different musicians and artists working on it the very best of luck with its Kickstarter project and subsequent release. Lucid Soul is indeed set to be an incredibly unique take on the traditional JRPG and a standout title compared to many of the classic games in the genre, and I can’t wait to play the game when it comes out. In the meantime, if you wish to support the Kickstarter page, you can do so via the link below:

Lucid Soul Kickstarter

But in the meantime, I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article as much I and Jon did putting it together.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88.

Beacon Pines Header

Q&A With Hiding Spot Games

Once again looking for more indie video game prospects over the last few weeks, I came across a new game in development somewhat reminiscent of my recent interview with Chris Seavor. Beacon Pines is a hand-drawn, open-ended 2D adventure game combining cuteness with horror. Developed by Dutch indie outfit Hiding Spot Games, the player takes control of both the characters in the story as well as the story’s narration itself in order to determine the outcome for themselves by filling in the gaps with words. The game also gives the player the option to reverse decisions made in order to reshape events as they see fit. The game has since been successfully funded on Kickstarter where it continues to gather momentum with several stretch goals having since been funded in addition.

Wanting to know more about this game, I contacted its soundtrack composer Matt Meyer and put forward to him and the team a few questions I had, and how the game will completely take shape by the time of its full release. Here’s what Matt Meyer and Hiding Spot Games had to say about Beacon Pines:

 

What were the influences behind your game?

There have been lots of influences on the game. Some that come to mind are shows like Dark, Twin Peaks, and Stranger Things, sci-fi books and old pulp novels, other games like Undertale, Night in the Woods, and Life is Strange. 

 

What has the developmental process been like?

It’s been long and wandering. I’d reference this Reddit post as a good summary of the development journey over the past few years:

https://www.reddit.com/r/Unity3D/comments/lb1wzw/the_absurd_journey_designing_beacon_pines/

 

How close are we to seeing the finished product? 

We’re shooting for a September release date.

 

What has been the most exciting aspect of development? 

By far the most exciting part has been finally seeing people play the game on twitch and youtube after releasing the demo. Seeing people’s faces light up when they reach important or surprising moments or laugh at funny dialog or comment on how they love the art and music. It has been an absolute joy.

 

What has been the most challenging aspect of development?  

Getting all the parts of the game mechanics to just click was the most difficult. I could go through the details, but again the Reddit article probably does a better job of describing the challenges.

 

On the Kickstarter page, it says in Ilse Harting’s description that “There must be something in the water in the Netherlands that produced great artists!” Did any aspect of Dutch culture or Dutch artists in particular influence the design of the game?

Absolutely. Ilse takes a lot of influence from her surroundings: the people and places in the Netherlands have been a big influence on the art she created for Beacon Pines.  Even many of the names of characters and places in Beacon Pines were her suggestions based on Dutch names.

 

How well has the game been received so far?

It has been lovely. We really weren’t sure if people would get absorbed into the story or understand how the mechanics work (with words, story branching, etc.) but most people seem to jump right in and enjoy it. 

 

What platforms are you looking to bring the game to?

Steam, itch, Switch, and hopefully Xbox and Playstation

 

Is Beacon Pines a deliberate attempt at subverting the traditional cutesy adventure game to any kind of extent, similar to what Chris Seavor did with Conker’s Bad Fur Day?

No, we aren’t deliberately trying to subvert expectations with the art vs the story. We just want to make a game that both looks mysterious/fantastical but also has a mature story that we as adults would want to play.

 

Have there been any ideas at this stage of development that has since been scrapped or reworked?

Lots (again the Reddit article has some great examples)

 

What lessons have been brought into the development of Beacon Pines from past developmental experiences?

Not all that many, to be honest. I often work with different people and it depends on how they prefer to work. Beacon Pines is also a very different kind of game than what I’ve made in the past.

 

If you had the opportunity to develop for a game with any company or any franchise, which would it be, and why?

That Game Company has probably been the most influential on me as a game developer. I’d love to work with them and experience their process up close.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring developers that may be reading this?

Making things, in my experience, is the best and most rewarding way to learn things. It also is massively beneficial to getting work in the field if you already have examples of completed projects. And when you make something of your own, try to pick a project that you will actually want to play yourself. That’ll help keep you motivated and focused. 

 

Where on the Internet can people find you? 

We’re pretty active with our discord community. That’s a great place to find us and chat: https://discord.gg/K4tbFWf

 

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you to everyone who has supported us on Kickstarter and those who have checked out the Beacon Pines demo.

I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank Matt for his unique insight into this very unique-looking title. It certainly affords a deep look into a game that I’d made some incorrect assumptions about previously, and how the final product will pan out. I’m sure it will turn out to be a very enjoyable and addicting experience and I’m very much looking forward to it’s release. In the meantime, if you like the game, and think You’d like to contribute to it’s stretch goals, you can visit the Kickstarter page via the link below:

Beacon Pines Kickstarter

 

There is also a playable demo to download online via the game’s Steam page:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/1269640/Beacon_Pines/

 

But in the meantime, I hope you guys had fun learning about this upcoming game as much as I did.

Game on,

Scouse Gamer 88

SG88 Skul Header

Skul: The Hero Slayer (PC)

Developer(s) – SouthPAW Games

Publisher(s) –  NEOWIZ

PEGI – Not Rated (some graphic violence)

 

An early indie title released in the first part of 2021, Skul: The Hero Slayer is a rogue-lite that provides a new gameplay experience with every playthrough offering intense combat, platforming, and an insane amount of customization options for the player character throughout each time playing. Similar to the likes of Rogue Legacy and 88 Heroes, the game can make for hours upon hours of playability and a level of variety in gameplay that I haven’t seen for quite some time. It makes for a far better game than either of the aforementioned examples as well as other games of the same ilk developed in recent years. 

 

Graphics – 8/10

Skul makes use of a traditional 8-BIT visual style with a mythology heavy inspired by high and dark fantasy; it’s basically The Lord of the Rings or Dungeons and Dragons in 8-BIT form, featuring creatures straight from the works of Tolkien and Gary Gygax such as ents, chimeras, liches, and demons. But it also has elements inspired by the modern world too; for example, one of the power-ups allows the player to take the form of a biker who attacks with chains and rides a motorbike for a limited amount of time as one of his special moves. It fits interestingly with the tableau of the game, as the character was clearly inspired by the comic book Ghost Rider, but that, along with many of the other powerups found throughout the game, such as the genie and the samurai, add an unexpected, yet welcome level of diversity in character design that I never saw coming at all. 

 

Gameplay – 9/10

The game is a rogue-lite whereby players must face off against hordes of enemies whilst both conserving as much as what they have as possible, including health, whilst at the same time, using items and upgrades collected throughout as wisely as possible. There is an insane amount of power-ups that can be used by players to adopt a ridiculous amount of playstyles, making each playthrough a completely different experience. In that respect, you can draw comparisons to 88 Heroes, only in this case, the feature of being able to play as what are essentially different characters throughout is a lot better thought out in this title and makes for a much more accessible experience overall. Because with 88 Heroes, characters are given to the player at random, and it can hinder the gameplay through no fault of the players. But here, the player gets far more of a choice, making for a better experience overall. On top of that, there are also a great number of perks that can be acquired throughout each playthrough that offer increases in attack, speed, and magic and that also offer passive benefits such as freezing, poisoning, or burning enemies for dealing additional damage. The base stats can also be upgraded before each playthrough such as the attack power and amount of health that the player starts with, making each playthrough more accessible over time, like in Rogue Legacy. But again, in this game, that element is also handled in a far better manner. 

 

Controls – 10/10

The game’s control scheme is also very interesting indeed. Whilst there are common control elements with each playthrough, such as the ability to attack, jump and dash, each character is controlled differently through all their different movement capabilities, attack patterns, and special moves; so the player has to strategize in accordance with what power-up they have equipped. The controls will seem familiar to players whilst at the same time also offering more than what they’ll be used to in the form of the different power-ups, and it’s really quite an impressive feat that’s been achieved. 

 

Lifespan – 8/10

Seasoned players have been able to play through the main game in its entirety in just shy of an hour. However, this is a game that has clearly been designed to be played through many, many times, and players should not stop at one playthrough by any means; even if they somehow manage to beat it on the first time of asking. With everything taken into account in terms of gameplay, there is enough on offer to make this game last an ungodly amount of hours; players may wish to go through the game using different power-ups, or they may wish to try and go through it without using any power-ups or passive abilities at all. The customization options are that insane.

 

Storyline – 7.5/10

But in addition to the compelling gameplay, there’s also a surprisingly touching story behind it as well. The game follows Skul, who is a lowly minion in service to the army of a Demon King. As heroes of humans storm the Demon King’s castle and take him captive, Skul evades capture and resolves to destroy the human army and free his master. The game puts the player on the side of evil and paints Skul, the Demon King, and their allies as the heroes almost, and it’s done in a way that I’ve never seen in a video game before. There have been games that have tried similar things, like Overlord for example, but it’s presented much differently in this game. There’s a sense of elegance about it in each intermittent cutscene that I wasn’t expecting at all. 

 

Originality – 8/10

I’ve mentioned throughout this review that this game threw stuff at me that I was not prepared for in the least bit, and I was pleasantly surprised by all of it. It’s a game that gets the fundamentals right as if it was created by a team of seasoned developers, but yet it also gives players an experience unlike most that have been created throughout the years, and considering that it came from an indie studio really is something. It wasn’t the first game developed by the South Korea-based studio (that would be an app game called BSTG), but their first effort of creating a game designed for conventional consoles, really is phenomenal. 

 

Happii

Overall, Skul: The Hero Slayer is a fantastic rogue-lite with almost limitless possibilities in terms of gameplay, and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s an exciting and dynamic title in every respect and is not one to be overlooked. 

Score

50.5/60

8/10 (Very Good)