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By Jonathan Balofsky On 19 Jul, 2016 At 02:13 AM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Indie Spotlight, Interviews, News, NINTENDO, Previews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarI recently had the chance to talk with Ezekiel Rage, developer of Citidale: Gate of Souls, and discuss the upcoming indie game. Please have a look at our conversation

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JB: Where/How did you get the idea to make your game Citadale – Gate of Souls?

ER: It actually started as a Castlevania fangame. I wanted to do a remake of Castlevania Legends. It was my first time using the engine I use and as such I figured creating a remake would teach me a lot about the program. And as development kept getting more complex and different from the original, I decided to make it its own thing instead of a remake.

JB: Obviously Citadale takes influence from the Castlevania series, but are there any other game series that Citadale was influenced by?

ER: There is a rather obscure NES game called Faxanadu that inspired me greatly. Another influence was the SNES game Demon’s Crest.

JB: Konami’s reputation has taken a beating over the last while. Do you think that will help you with promoting a game that is essentially a spiritual sequel to the classic Castlevania games?

ER: To be honest, I have no particular thoughts on that subject. I hope that the game will be doing well but whether the success of the game is influenced by Konami’s decisions or not is not something I am concerned about. I suppose this discussion would probably be worth having after the game has been released.

JB: You have some interesting ideas for this game, such as it being primarily played on the gamepad, while the TV screen shows a bigger map. What made you decide to do that?

ER: When I decided to port it to Wii U, which was in 2014, I thought that it would be an interesting way to play the game. Of course you can switch views at any given time or not use the GamePad at all, and we do support most input devices on Wii U. The main idea I had was a boss fight that would take up more vertical space than the TV can give you. I realized this boss fight in Stage 3, by the way.

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JB: Besides Castlevania, what were some of your favourite games growing up?

ER: I am a HUGE Zelda nerd. I have a Zelda shrine, so to speak. I own all the games with packages and manuals, lots of merchandise, and I even have a Zelda tattoo. There was also game on Super Nintendo (and Sega Genesis, but the SNES version was better) called Maui Mallard in Cold Shadow – I love this game. Terranigma and Lufia are among my favorite games, along with the aforementioned Faxanadu, the classic Mega Man series and of course the Metroid series.

JB: What Castlevania games influenced this game the most? That is, besides Legends, what other games inspired the design and gameplay?

ER: Well the very first NES Castlevania was not only hugely influential on this game, but also on my younger gaming self. I also took some inspiration from Dracula X on SNES (yes, I know, Rondo is better), in that you can’t upgrade your main weapon for example.

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JB: What were your favourite Castlevania games to play?

ER: Obviously I love Symphony of the Night. I am also very partial to Legacy of Darkness and Simon’s Quest. Super Castlevania 4 and Portrait of Ruin also rank among my favorites.

JB: With regards to the last question, what were some of your favourite game genres growing up?

ER: I love action adventure games, really. I like to explore interesting settings – be it old castles or intricate dungeons.

JB: Making this game focused on the Wii U could be considered risky at this time. What led you to that decision?

ER: I have been a huge Nintendo fan growing up. I always wanted to create a game for a Nintendo system so this was really an easy decision to make.

JB: What do you think of the indie scene on the Wii U?

ER: It is far bigger than most people think, and from what I can tell quite popular. Of course there are positive and negative examples but overall most Nindies are actually very good games.

JB: Do you have any plans to integrate Miiverse into this game?

ER: We actually do support Miiverse. We also have stamps in the game.

JB: What are your hopes for this game? Would you want to make a sequel if this does well?

ER: My hopes are that it does well enough to warrant a release of story DLC. I could do a sequel but I’d much rather release the continuation of the story as DLC – a sequel would use the same graphics and graphical style anyway, because I am a one man development team (well, one and a half, I have an amazingly talented programmer/publisher friend) and creating complex graphics is simply not within my field of expertise.

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JB: Is there anything you would like to say to the readers of Real Otaku Gamer?

ER: Well, obviously I hope you check out my game and my upcoming projects. I would also like to thank you for taking the time for me and I wish you all the best 🙂

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and good luck with the game.

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You can follow Ezekiel Rage on twitter here and check out his website here

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I recently had the chance to speak with Austin Harper of ScrewAttack Games and Sam Beddoes of FreakZone Games. We discussed how some of their projects came to be, what the future holds and more. Please take a read below.

JB: ScrewAttack is best known as a gaming website. What led to you guys deciding to make your own games?

AH: We are all gamers at heart and we’re really passionate about video games; we decided to take that passion for games and apply that to design. I think all of us at some point in time have daydreamed about being able to make a video game. It’s kind of a childhood dream, you know? We were just very fortunate in having a platform and a great community to support us in trying to fulfill that dream.

JB:  ScrewAttack came out with a rather interesting mobile game a few years ago called Texting of the Bread. What was the inspiration behind that?

AH: Haha, it was very much inspired by the Dreamcast game Typing of the Dead. Essentially we were sitting around talking about how cool Typing of the Dead was, and wondering why nothing like that had been done in the mobile market. We really liked the punny name we came up with, so we decided to take the theme and run with it — hence the main character with a cow strapped to her back and the hordes of gingerbread men.

JB:  What lead to the Nerd being a character in the game? Was it a test run to see how he would be in his own game?

AH: Honestly, we were just really happy that we got to make a game, a real game, with our name on it and wanted to share it with our friends.?

JB:  How was the reception to Texting of The Bread? I understand that one mobile version of the game itself was cancelled?.

AH: The reception was actually pretty good, and we wanted to bring the game to Android, but at the time the ShiVa Engine we built the game in just didn’t have Android support. Our developer made a few test builds anyway, all of them had really ridiculous bugs, like not being able to close the application without removing your battery… Long story short, we parted ways with the developers before we ever got the build completed. Though, you may hear something about our mobile titles in the near future.

JB:  Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures is probably the most well known of the games ScrewAttack has produced. How did it come about?

AH: We were talking about making a new game, specifically considering the Angry Video Game Nerd franchise, but we didn’t have a developer in mind. Around that time, Sam Beddoes of FreakZone Games reached out to us, asking us to do a review of his game, Manos: The Hands of Fate. We really liked the game and got along with Sam pretty well, and he happened to mention he was a big fan of the AVGN series. The rest just kind of clicked.

JB: Sam, how did you come to be the developer that worked on AVGN adventures? Did ScrewAttack reach out to you? What was the experience like to work on an officially licensed game based of a reviewer of crappy games? Was it intimidating?

SB: A few years back I made a similar project “MANOS: The Hands of Fate” – A retro-style adaptation of the infamously bad movie of the same name. It was a pet project which did pretty well. The idea was to adapt the movie in the way movies were adapted to games back in the 80s on the NES, and a lot of my research involved binge-watching AVGN, who I had been a big fan of for quite some time, to try and capture that “LJN” feel. Also being a big fan of ScrewAttack, I approached them to try and get MANOS some coverage, and the retro style impressed them, at which point they allowed me to pitch a collaboration to them – that pitch was AVGN Adventures, a game I’d dreamed of making since before I even started MANOS. They liked the pitch, and my life was changed!

JB:  You brought to AVGN Adventures some elements from your game Manos the Hands of Fate, based off that infamous movie. I’m curious how that game came about, being based on a notorious film from decades ago.

SB: MANOS is an interesting one. I’ve been fond of watching terrible movies with friends for as far back as I can remember, and when I caught Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie on TV I ended up obsessively watching that show on the internet (we didn’t have the show here in England, only the movie, which was essentially just a higher budget episode!), and through MST3K I discovered the film MANOS. Since I’d been making games as a hobby since the late 90s, my “bad movie buddy” Chris and I always joked about making a game of MANOS, how it’d be adapted, how it’d play. We joked around with the idea of a point and click adventure, for example. Whilst reading about the history of that film one day I found out that the film and everything in it was in the public domain due to the director’s failure to take all the necessary steps to copyright a work back in the time it came out (similar to what happened with George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead”, thus giving birth to the entire zombie genre), and I was amused to think that I actually COULD make MANOS due to this! I believe I was thinking about AVGN when I realized how much fun it’d be to adapt MANOS the way game developers adapted movies on the NES in the 80s, and so I went for it – The main idea would be to “celebrate badness with something good”; to include all of the tropes of bad game adaptations and bad movies alike, but without making the game itself bad! Not long after the release of the game, I was befriended by most of the remaining cast of the original film, so I suppose you could even say it’s the “official” video game adaptation at this point.

JB:  What is your philosophy to game design and what are some of your biggest influences and inspirations in gaming? I’m talking about both games and game developers.

 SB: I like to keep things simple, challenging, fun and exciting! My greatest influences on my platformers are Yoshi’s Island, Mega Man X and the original Sonic games, but I also find myself inspired by some modern indie developers like Edmund McMillan and the guys at WayForward. Of course not forgetting the masters themselves, Miyamoto, Inafune, Igarashi. There’s so much more, though. Games have been an enormous part of my life and they’ve never not been inspiring me, so it’s a tough question to ask!

JB:  What do you personally hope to Accomplish with AVGN adventures II? Will it come to consoles like the first game did?

SB: Regarding Consoles, that’s up to ScrewAttack to talk about, but obviously that’s something I really hope to see happen. As for the game itself, we’ve learned a lot since the first, so I hope not just to make fans of the original happy, but perhaps win over some people who weren’t too smitten with the first game as well!

JB: Austin, Disorder is an interesting game. How did that one come about and how has the reception been?

AH: Chad and Craig were walking the floor and checking out indie games down at SXSW Gaming when they came across Disorder. Both of the guys thought it was a really awesome game and spent the weekend hanging out with the Swagabyte Games team. After a night of playing games together and drinking, we decided to take on the project as the publisher. Disorder is a different tone than our other titles, it’s bit more serious in subject matter, but most everyone who has played it has responded pretty positively.

JB:  Jump ‘N’ Shoot is an awesome throwback to classic games but I have to ask, why is it on mobile devices only?

AH: Jump’N’Shoot Attack is kind of Sam’s passion project to try and bring a real platforming game experience to the mobile phone that gamers will enjoy.

JB:  Is there any chance there may one day be a Death Battle game? I understand it would be a licensing nightmare but you could use stand ins/obvious parodies for the real characters and even include Wiz and Boomstick (and Jocelyn).

AH: It has definitely been talked about, but at this point I can’t really say much either way.

JB:  Do you see ScrewAttack continuing to pursue video game production? If so, what are some genres that you would like to see tackled?

AH: I think, like with most things, we’ll continue doing it as long as it makes sense and people enjoy it. Being a super small publishing team, we try to focus on a limited number of projects so we can give proper attention to them all. I can say that I’m busy for the foreseeable future. I think one of the hardest genres to do well is horror.

JB:  Do you have any regrets about how things were done in any of the games ScrewAttack produced?

AH: Looking back, if we could do it over again we would have launched Texting of the Bread with a Free to play model.

JB: Have there been any games that ScrewAttack was producing that have ended up being cancelled along the way that people are not aware of?

AH: There have been a few publishing opportunities that didn’t pan out. One example was a small development team that disbanded before the contract was finalized. It’s a bummer, because it was an awesome game that will never see the light of day. I hope one day they reconnect and continue work on the game.

JB:  Do you have anything that you would like to say to the audience of Teal Otaku Gamer?

AH: Thanks so much for reading the interview! If you’re a fan of retro inspired games, we hope you’ll check out our stuff!

Thank you again for doing this.

 

You can follow ScrewAttack on Twitter at @ScrewAttack, Austin can be followed at @PotatoHound and Sam at @FreakZoneGames

 

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I had the chance to speak with the devs over at Zeboyd games and talk about their projects, past and present. Have a look below.

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JB: Zeboyd games is known for many quirky RPGs like Breath of Death VII and Cthulhu saves the world. What was the inspiration for these games?

ZG: I’ve been a big fan of RPGs ever since I was a kid so wanting to make RPGs myself was a natural desire. The mini-RPG in Retro Game Challenge was a big inspiration as I saw it and thought “I could totally make something like that!” whereas a big epic game would have been beyond me when I was just starting out. And both games were heavily inspired by my love of misunderstood heroes (someone who you think should be a villain actually having positive traits).

JB: Cthulhu saves the world was a well-known game on the Xbox Live Arcade store, what was the reception to the game there?

ZG:Actually, none of our games came out on the official Xbox Live Arcade store – they were all Xbox Live Indie Games (XBLIG). As such, even though they got great user ratings, the sales weren’t amazing. They did better than many games on the platform, but our company didn’t really take off until we ported them to PC and released them on Steam.

JB: How have you found Steam and mobile phone stores to be different to console markets in terms of reception and sales?

ZG: So far, it’s been Steam > XBLIG > mobile for us as far as success goes. Cosmic Star Heroine is the first time we’ll also be releasing a game on the PSN so we’re hoping it does well there.

JB: Cosmic Star Heroine, your upcoming game, looks to be one of the more innovative indie RPGs for PS4. What led to the game’s genesis?

ZG: Cosmic Star Heroine started out as a tribute to the sci-fi RPG series of the past like Phantasy Star & Cosmic Fantasy (hence the title). Phantasy Star in particular had this great mix of space opera, fantasy, and anime, that isn’t really being done these days. Of course, the more we worked on Cosmic Star Heroine, the more it started to diverge and develop its own identity, but those early influences can definitely be seen (especially Phantasy Star, but also other series like Lunar & Chrono Trigger).

JB: Cosmic Star Heroine looks to be very different from your previous games. With regards to the last question, what led to you making this game different from your previous games?

ZG: After making 4 games, we felt it was time to step up our game. We’ve spent substantially longer working on Cosmic Star Heroine (about 2.5 years now compared to around 3-12 months on our previous work) and we feel it’s really paid off in terms of making Cosmic Star Heroine drastically more polished than our past games. With this game, we’re really trying to make a game that wouldn’t feel out of place with the best RPGs of the past.

JB: You worked on the Penny Arcade games with the 3ed and 4th entries. What was that experience like?

ZG: Great! Penny Arcade gave us a lot of freedom as we were developing those games – more than I imagine most publishers would have. And working together with Penny Arcade – particularly Jerry Holkins (Tycho) and Jeff Kalles – was a lot of fun. I also really felt like we learned a lot from them that we’ve used since then in the creation of Cosmic Star Heroine.

JB: When the argument comes up over what counts as a JRPG where do you stand? Do you feel Cthulhu saves the world, Breath of Death VII and Cosmic Star Heroine count as JRPGs?

ZG: I’m firmly in the camp that believes that if you’re going to use the term JRPG, it should refer to certain tendencies of style and not merely indicate what region the game was developed in.

JB: What games influence you guys in creating your games? Is there any series in particular that you feel has a lot of influence on you?

ZG: Besides the aforementioned Retro Game Challenge that helped to kick off our whole development process, some of my favorite RPGs include Lunar: Eternal Blue, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, and most of Atlus’ modern games (SMT: Nocturne, Persona 3 & 4, Etrian Odyssey series, Radiant Historia, Devil Survivor, etc.). I’m also a big fan of Diablo-style Action/RPGs like Path of Exile and Grim Dawn.

JB: Do you feel the market is healthy for games such as yours? Do you think it will be going forward?

ZG: I think the market is healthy as we’ve seen games like Stardew Valley and Undertale achieve great success recently. If we look at those two big successes, it’s easy to see a common path to success – a high quality and original take on an old classic that gamers miss these days.

JB: Do you see yourselves bringing your older games to newer consoles in the near future?

ZG: No plans for ports of older games at the moment. We might go back and do a sequel, prequel, or remake of one of our older titles, but merely porting one of them feels like it’d be more work than its worth, especially since they all run on a different engine than what we’re using right now with Cosmic Star Heroine (our older games were done with XNA, while Cosmic Star Heroine uses Unity).

JB: Do you have anything you would like to say to the readers of real otaku gamer?

ZG: Thanks for being patient with us as we finish up Cosmic Star Heroine! Hope you enjoy it!

 

You can follow Zeboyd Games on Twitter at @ZeboydGames. You can see the trailer for Cosmic Star Heroine Below

 

 

By Jonathan Balofsky On 25 Feb, 2016 At 04:39 AM | Categorized As Featured, Indie Spotlight, PC Games, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarThis past week I had time to speak with James Mearman, the developer of ENYO Arcade. You can check out the interview below.

 

JB: Your game ENYO Arcade looks to be an interesting run and gun shooter with visual inspiration from other series. Am I wrong in thinking Metroid, Contra and Metal Slug were an influence?

JM: Thank you! Yes, those games have certainly influenced my development on ENYO Arcade. But I try to stick to the memories of how I would have liked those games to be, rather than designing my work to be like any of them. Abuse is another one by the way.

JB:What got you into game development? That is what led to your decision to work in video games?

JM: At the age of 11, I used to dream about becoming a game developer and living off little to nothing to build my own studio. I started modding games in 1999 as hobby. In the year 2k I organized a trip to Lionhead Studios (UK) to beta test Black&White that sealed it for me. Seeing the creative environment there and talking with the artists gave me the motivation to pursue this as a real goal. And it was a long journey from there.

JB: From your own experience, what are some challenges you have faced as an indie dev?

JM: As Indie Developer the biggest challenge surely is to get noticed by relevant media in order to gain exposure. Especially since the amount of newcomer developers has exploded. Aside from that I found it pretty challenging to deal with that exposure at first since in my jobs at larger Studios used to shield my person from the public relations.

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JB: How has your game been received so far? Does it motivate you to continue or make changes?

JM:  So far the feedback has been very positive and I do my best to deal with any issues as soon as possible. I’ve had a share of ignorance too, due to the main character’s provocative appearance. Although it might not be relevant or even noticeable, I once stated that it is a strong yet naked female heroine – and I received a ton of negative input for it. That had taught me that other people’s judgment is beyond my influence and holds no real value to me. I accept and respect opinions but in the end I feel perfectly capable of making my own choices even against popular demands.

JB: What are some of your biggest influences in gaming? Namely companies, individual creators and game series.

JM: Quake 3 Arena was the first game that I picked apart and produced modded content for. So the style of John Carmack’s work definitely had a great impact on the way I look at game architecture. Valve Software’s attitude and work ethics also inspired my own. Also a lot of my ex-colleges from my years in the industry have helped a lot to polish my artistic perception and abilities.

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JB: The music in your game is very interesting. Who did the music in your game?

JM: I made it. It is pretty experimental, I admit that. Music and sound production is one of my favorite aspects in game development. I love synthesizers and also busk in the streets of Munich with my guitar. Music is a big part of my life and I’m constantly learning a lot together with friends and will continue to expand the musical diversity that I can provide. And I’m planning on adding more of that diversity to ENYO Arcade too.

JB: Have you thought about bringing ENYO arcade to consoles? What are some risks in doing so?

JM: I do see ENYO Arcade as a great console title. But sadly, having access to development consoles is currently not in my budget. From my work on other games I know that consoles have tight restrictions on quality assurance, but I think that is a good thing. I can’t really see any major risks involved besides the financial barriers.

JB: What advice do you have for other indie devs coming into game development?

JM: Take great care of your physical and mental health! It’s the most precious thing you have! Take regular walks outside and eat well! And don’t let other people’s judgment fool you.

JB: What is next for you as a developer?

JM: I’m currently working on my next title ‘Temple of Rust’ that is currently on Steam’s Greenlight for public prioritization because I would love to involve gamers as early as possible this time. I’m also looking at further content additions to ENYO Arcade in the future.

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JB: Do you have anything you would like to say to the real otaku gamer audience?

JM:  Thank you all for being who you are! Hakuna matata!

Kind regards,

James

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You can check out the trailer for ENYO Arcade here

And the game can be purchased now on Steam

 

You can follow James Mearman on twitter @c023Dev

By Jonathan Balofsky On 18 Feb, 2016 At 02:32 AM | Categorized As Featured, Indie Spotlight, Interviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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No Gravatarlogo_500x500_transWelcome everyone to Indie Game Spotlight. Today we speak with Warren Smith, developer of Dark Flame. You can read the interview below.

JB: Obviously your game takes a lot of inspiration from Castlevania symphony of the night. What else inspires your game and what is it that sets your game apart and gives it uniqueness? As well, how do you deal with the criticism that Dark Flame looks too similar to SoTN?

WS: Dark Flame comes from a natural blend of my favorite games. There are quite a few inspirations, but some of the big ones are Castlevania for the art style and “metroidvania” playstyle, Dark Souls for the theme and difficult gameplay, and Diablo for stat allocation and cosmetic effects from equipment. This game has many cool features that sets it apart from its competitors. Some of them are the dialogue choices to affect storyline, magic creation and equipment system, weapon/armor equipment and enhancements, various NPC interactions, secrets, treasures and much more

Honestly, I don’t get much criticism anymore for how the game looks. I believe that when I first introduced Dark Flame publicly, the game’s theme and playstyle wasn’t as profound. I personally would like to think that the game’s art style is comparable to that of a larger company – as that is what I’m striving for. As far as the comparison between the two games – one is inspired from the other but they are both different… Anyways, to answer your question, I would read the criticism, shrug my shoulders, and keep working on Dark Flame.

JB: How did you get into game development? That is what made you interested in and pursue a career in the field?

WS: I don’t think there was an exact defining point when I ‘got into game development’. This project initially started as many different learning tutorials and exercises that were self-motivated. I’ve always been interested in video games and have played them since I can remember. I’ve always thought it would be great to make my own so I just dove into it. Dark Flame is my first project. I’ve been working at it for about three years now and I love everything about it!

JB: What were some of your favorite games growing up?

WS: Well, the first game I ever owned to my name was Sonic the Hedgehog on the Sega Genesis. I played other games on the NES before that, but I was really into the Sonic series growing up. My absolute favorite game is Final Fantasy VII, as it was the first RPG I’ve ever played and I got totally sucked into the story. I’m also a big sucker for the Souls games and anything with a great story.

 

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JB: What is your main goal with Dark Flame?

WS: Initially, it was a learning experience for me. Now that I am where I am – I want to make the best possible game I can make. Something that is enjoyable and memorable. I want people who play it to have an experience than to just run through another game…

JB: Do you feel there is a healthy market for a game like yours in the industry today?

WS: I do. Then again, I’m incredibly biased towards metroidvanias. I’m not a marketing expert, but I do believe that if a game is good enough, then people will want to play it (as long as they know about it).

JB: What are some challenges you have faced as an indie dev?

WS: Ha! This question should be more like “What are some experiences you’ve had that were NOT a challenge?” Every day is a challenge. On top of just designing the game, I have to deal with multiple failures and struggles with stress on a daily basis. Though, this game wouldn’t be where it is right now if it weren’t for those failures. I have to have these failures to keep me working hard.

JB: The music in Dark Flame’s trailers have been amazing, who is the composer of the music?

WS: Bryan Delerson is the music composer for Dark Flame. He’s created some wonderful pieces for the playable demo that is out now. I’ve also heard some of the stuff that he has in mind for the future of production and it sounds completely wonderful!

 

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JB: The story of Dark Flame that you have revealed so far is very intriguing. What was your inspiration for it?

WS: The inspiration behind the Story of Dark Flame comes from a number of different games. As I said earlier, I love a game with a great story. I also like the dark themes of the Souls games. I’m not the best writer so I’ve sought out Brian Lee and Tom King to do much of the legwork in it. The story will be a great decision-based immersion that will cause you to think about your choices pretty hard… if you like dark stories, then you’ll love what Dark Flame will bring you!

JB: What advice do you have for other indie devs out there who are just getting into game development?

WS: Be prepared to be let down and put way too many hours into something in hopes that people will like it. Game development is something that you need to be absolutely passionate about to pursue. If it is, then listen to feedback from players and don’t give up!

JB: Do you have anything you would like to say to the readership of Real Otaku Gamer?

WS: Yeah – thanks for reading this! I’m really just making Dark Flame because I want to give you a fun and enjoyable game. If you think that Dark Flame might interest you and you love Castlevania and Dark Souls games, then you should play the demo for yourself! Also, I love to hear feedback on this project as well. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see what’s missing because I’m working on the same thing all day every day.

Here is the Kickstarter trailer.

I hope you all enjoyed this. You can visit the website for Dark Flame here and you can follow Warren on twitter @BorishDugdum.

 

This War of Mine

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I first had the opportunity to check out This War of Mine at PAX East. I was immediately intrigued. The art is absolutely beautiful in its realistic simplicity. The game sucks you in and keeps you wondering what will happen day to day. You truly go through the day to day of what it’s like to live in a country ravaged by warfare.

I found myself wondering if I would survive and make it. You see the characters struggling and dealing with the psychological effects.

11 Bit Studios describes This War of Mine as:

This War Of Mine provides an experience of war seen from an entirely new angle. For the very first time you do not play as an elite soldier, rather a group of civilians trying to survive in a besieged city. During the day snipers outside stop you from leaving your refuge, so you need to focus on maintaining your hideout. At night you get a chance to scavenge nearby locations for items that will help you stay alive.

Make life-and-death decisions driven by your conscience. Try to protect everybody from your shelter or sacrifice some of them to endure the hardships. During war, there are no good or bad decisions; there is only survival. The sooner you realize that, the better.

 

11 Bit Studios created a great game that will keep you enthralled for hours. I highly recommend checking This War of Mine out and giving it a try. I give the game a 9 out of 10.

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This War of Mine is available now. Check it out and buy it here.

By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 23 Jan, 2015 At 02:19 AM | Categorized As Featured, Indie Spotlight, PC Games, Reviews, ROG News | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarIsabel Heyninck

What is Richard & Alice? Well it’s a game that is not gameplay driven, but mostly about narrative the same way visual novels are.

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It’s a point and click game but at its core is a modern work that uses the video game medium to tell its tale.

The scenery is dreary and lifeless, unimaginative at most, the pixelated characters and scenery leave much to the imagination that itself doesn’t make the world it brings forth much more exciting. This works in favor of the game.

Richard & Alice is about the struggle of a woman to survive after a cataclysmic change. She is Alice, and the other titular character Richard is the character you use to learn about her. Richard and Alice both find themselves in prison for very different reasons and since he finally has a cellmate and hasn’t talking to anyone but guards since his arrival he eagerly tries to learn about her. You can play as both Richard and Alice, with the game going through days and the same pattern of action taking place. Play as Richard in the prison and then play as Alice when she continues recounting her experience.

Alice’s story is one very much like The Road, a book Richard actually has in his cell, since it shows the strain a guardian must endure to protect a weaker and innocent child from a harsh reality and how to bring one child to adulthood without damaging them in the process. Where The Road had ash Richard & Alice has snow. Blanketing the world, delegating it to a reality far from the one that used to be.

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My only real critique is getting places takes a long time since your characters move rather slow and the character illustrations next to the dialogue look rather amateurish. I really think having the characters better drawn wouldn’t have taken anything away from the dreary pixelated scenario and made the game stand out more. Other than that not much else. The writing is superb, the characters multidimensional, and based on your actions there are various endings with realistic outcomes. I recommend this for literary geeks like me, and gamers who want to play a great story driven game.

By Inactive or EX ROG Staffer On 30 Dec, 2014 At 08:51 PM | Categorized As Featured, Indie Spotlight, PC Games, Reviews | With 0 Comments
I! My! Girls! main screen

No GravatarIsabel Heyninck

I love the first Cherry Tree High game. A lot. It set itself apart from most visual novels I’d played because unlike most visual novels it was highly interactive. Usually you just get the dialogue and a few choices, playing more like a pick your own adventure novel. It is a medium with endless possibilities and lends itself to some splendid storytelling. The medium however is only widely used in Japan, with most western VNs being subpar cash ins for anime fan money. Cherry Tree High was a visual novel and a strategic video game at the same time. You can read all about why Cherry Tree High Comedy Club was so good in my previous review.

Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! is the follow up I never expected to actually happen. When I saw it in the Steam store I could barely contain my excitement, and from the first episode with the subtle humor I’ve come to expect from the series out in full force I was greatly looking forward to some fun time with Miley and all her friends.

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Wait what’s going on? Why are all the names Japanese?” was the sentiment that followed. When I first played the game it was westernized, with the setting in America along with appropriate name and reference changes. This was really alienating after playing through the westernized game. I couldn’t help but wonder if they made an original version of the first game so new players can seamlessly go from the first game to the follow up. Turns out they had.

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I’ve learned about some wonderful things in Japan by replaying the original version.

Now as to why they’ve deviated from localizing this particular game unlike the previous one can be attributed to an entirely Japanese phenomena. Idols.

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As to what idols are; you could equate them to pop stars but the culture surrounding them is so much more different than that of the west, it’s a difficult topic to explain. Unlike the first Cherry Tree High game where the plot involves happenings that can occur almost anywhere, the emergence of an idol in the story now makes it impossible for I! My! Girls! to take place anywhere but Japan.

The events of I! My! Girls! take place where the original game left off with the comedy club’s founding and all potential club members recruited. This new chapter in the Cherry Tree High series involves an idol, real name Ai Fujino, who finds out about the comedy club’s revival and decides to attend Cherry Tree High to pursue her dream of being a comedian. This of course is something that poses a problem since she is an idol.

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The story, while primarily focused on this new character and Mairu the main character, also gives time to tell the stories of the other club members while introducing new characters.

Unlike the previous game, this one is purely visual novel. There are no choices, the story is told and slowly revealed. The game is broken up into “episodes” each with a chapter of some sort.

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To me this actually felt more like reading a manga than playing a game since there are no choices. Did I like it? Yes I enjoyed the game for what it was. But do I think someone who knows nothing of Cherry Tree High Comedy Club should buy this game? No, this isn’t a story one would enjoy unless they are already acquainted with the characters and setting. It is knowing the character and seeing them carry on with the promise of the previous game that make I! My! Girls! satisfying.

Mairu faces challenges to her comedy club from rivals, you learn more about the adult characters from the previous game, about the Cherry Tree High Comedy Club’s history, you see character bond with each other, and so on and so forth.

I don’t want to describe the plot further since I wouldn’t want to spoil it but any CTHCC fan would like it. You get the atmosphere of the previous game and the same easygoing slice of life dialogue while being told a new story. The game ends on definite note of  more to come, and as much as I enjoyed this, I hope the next installment is as interactive as the first game. It’s a good companion to CTHCC, but as a standalone game it lacks footing.

What is it that I find most disappointing about I! My! Girls! is the fact that this is not a game I could show to my non-otaku friends as an example of how visual novels can be for anybody, that it is not an obscure medium, and they can tell wonderful stories anyone can enjoy. Unlike Cherry Tree High Comedy Club it doesn’t lend itself to wide appeal outside of Japan.

The creator can’t be blamed. This game was made with a Japanese audience in mind, foreigners are the last thing doujin circles try to cater to. In a Japanese market obsessed with Love Live! School Idol Project and used to simple VNs like these there is no obligation to be innovative. I’m not saying the creator wrote to pander, it’s obvious through his writing he enjoys what he does, but the fact I! My! Girls! was so different from CTHCC disappoints me a bit.

Conclusion, play Cherry Tree High Comedy Club and then Cherry Tree High I! My! Girls! If you’re unfamiliar with VNs and not a big fan of slice of life anime I suggest sticking with the first game unless you’re willing to take risks. Luckily, both games come in a bundle deal for max savings. Happy gaming!

 

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I showed up opening day to the Baltimore Convention Center for my 1st time ever stepping foot into the biggest comic book convention in Maryland the Baltimore Comic-Con. I had a blast for the four hours i walked the convention center checking out all the wares in “Artist Alley” located in the back of the center. I will within the next few days post interviews with three exhibitors that was kind enough to oblige me with an one on one with them amongst all the hustle and bustle.  The featured artist will be Kat Brenowitz of Square City Comics showcasing the Square City Anthology and other comics at Booth# A259-A260  , Gregory Garay of Visual Verbosity showcasing his Jack B series at Booth# A191 , Finally but, not least Colin Lawler & Joseph Grabowski for Spirits: The Soul Collector at Booth#A351 .

 

To get the word out before the last day comes upon us I will reveal to you several locations at Comic-Con that just might tickle your fancy.

 


 

  • Third Eye ComicsBooth# 307-308, 407-408

One of a few booths with two variants of the latest mini-series of comic “Death of Wolverine” one variant being an rare one. Third Eye has a four block booth jam packed with a wealth of modern comics along with some classics to pick up. The booth’s staff has a welcoming sensibility just like the store in Annapolis, MD the folks are knowledgeable, please stop by and check them out.

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  • Charles Soule – Booth#2309

All I have to say this guy just like the other talented artist are signing autographs. Oh and by the way he too is the person behind the latest mini-series “Death of Wolverine” so, yeah you have that. He also has another rare variant not carried by Third Eyes Comics, make sure you throw some money his way to get a piece of future history. The Death of Wolverine series has been quoted from Charles Sole that a new comic will come

                   “Once every week, depending on shipping that schedule might slide but, not too far from the once a week scale”

So, keep a look out for the four part series sure to give your heart a tug.

 

  •  High Grade ComicsBooth# 901-903

Retailing high caliber and rare vintage comic books HighGradeComics.com is here for those serious collectors at any capacity like Buying, Selling or Trade. Check them out the prices vary but, be mindful because of quality and rarity of these collectibles be ready to pay upwards of $20+ for these classics.

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  • That Creative Fox/ Runaway Rosettes – Booth#A44

Their names are totally indicative of what they create on one side you have pleasant Eve Cowan she provides hand sewn plush dolls geeked up to perfection with cute DeadPool cats, Pokemon characters along with Flash & Wolverine. Her prices are reasonable and are well worth the cost. To the right we have Runaway Rosettes headed up by Casie Smith, the Rosettes are ribbon badges with various themes spanning from Star Wars, Harry Potter and DC comics celebrities. These Rosettes are as wild and elaborate as the person who sells them make sure you stop by and chat up the both of them while purchasing their wares.

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  • Josh LymanBooth#A377

Josh is a laid back Illustrator deep from the heart of Texas he is also a Concept Artist and I scooped up three conceptual prints based off of one of my favorite movies “Alice in Wonderland” it has the Cheshire Cat on a tree and scrolled on the branches are every line the came from the lofty cat from the movie. Josh Lyman has a ton of other prints all priced at a great price among other art pieces see what he has I’m sure you’ll walk away happy.

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  • Ben HarveyBooth#A304

Didn’t get a chance to sit and chat Ben Harvey up too long because it was getting time for me to check out everything he had in his booth table but, from what I saw Ben Harvey has some great stuff in store for you. On this last day Sunday the 6th check him out.

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  • RoundStone Publishing – Booth#A179

Casey Caracciolo, the Author of the book Shadow Of The Gauntlet already given high marks around other comic-cons and online outlets like Amazon. Shadow Of The Gauntlet available in print and digital copies are ready to leap off the pages or your tablet screen and into your mind to set your imagination on an epic journey spanning the the galaxy. Go to the Artist Alley and speak with anyone at the both to get more on the story and buy it directly with an autograph of the author or if you are reading this from abroad please go to Scargen’s website and download a free chapter digitally or purchase either copy from them.

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  • Harley Yee Rare Comics – Booth#905-906

If you are looking for classics boy I will tell ya HYRC will take you from Rare collectibles like “Forever People” to “Adventure Comics” yes plenty from the Silver and Golden age of DC Comics. If you have that itch for some ultra rare comics that you remember from your youth (That is if you are 40+ years old) Harley Yee Rare Comics just might be for you. Harley Yee has experience in collecting and enjoying comics for over 30 years. I’m sure you can find interesting convos surrounding this booth on comics, I sure have.

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  • Hot Flips Comic books & Supplies – Booth#3701-3703

While draining your wallets and pocket books at Baltimore Comic-Con it might be wise to stop by this booth to protect your new found treasures. Hot Flips can furnish you with protective sleeves for your comics, posters or bust sketches that you commissioned by one of the many artists in “Artist Alley” Don’t worry Hot Flips won’t knock you over the head with the prices either. While you are there make sure you check out their comic book selection also.

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Home of the Pearler Bead sculptures and they sure are a hit! I’m sure you have seen these bad boys all over the interwebz well today you can get your very own. Josh and his brother decided one day to create a comic book series (of course) and with a lack of funding the entrepreneurial bros. surmised a plan to use some loose pearler beads to iron out that financial wrinkle. Reasonably priced at $3, $5 & $10 these themed pieces which are key chains, magnets, table figures, faux potted plants & mini piggy banks. All are from our famous comics, cartoons and pop culture icons like Adventure time, Super Mario Bros. & the cast of the Avengers to name a few. Stop on by and see what this table has in store for you I’m sure something will jump into your heavy bag right after you pay for it (or them)

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Now, while I haven’t even scratched the surface of the talent that is here at Baltimore Comic-Con I can attest that these wonderful people and the booths that they are running are top notch and are sure to impress in one way or another. I can also say that even this list is missing some other retailers & artists I just couldn’t fit into my article. Again, if you are near by please stop pass Baltimore to score a ticket to gain entry to one of the geekiest shows in Bmore.

 

By Sean Jacobs On 8 Jun, 2014 At 10:33 PM | Categorized As Indie Spotlight, News, PlayStation 3/PlayStation 4, Reviews | With 0 Comments
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No GravatarAmong-the-Sleep’s-latest-Trailer-reiterates-the-Horror-News-G3AR-600x300

The brilliantly deranged minds at KrillBite Studios have collaborated within the shadows of their confines to come up with a freakish survival horror title sure to rattle the players cage. Brought to us in a very new and unique perspective we play as an frightened two year old boy, in first person… Yes, you play as a toddler in first person! Me being a horror story buff I instantly clamored at the chance to play Among The Sleep whichwill be later released on PlayStation 4. On the KrillBite Studios Website you can download Among The Sleep onto your PC, Linux or Mac platforms.

 

                                                  “Brought to us in a new and very unique perspective”

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     Among The Sleep begins off with a blank screen with only ambient noise coupled with the soft pitter patter of rain drops rapping against the window pane. You begin to hear the voice of a mother softly whispering to you sleep all the while a gentle, slightly freaky song begins to fade in. Soon afterwards you the protagonist the two year old starts to blink slowly giving us a brief glimpses of the surroundings  which is inside a crib inside a child’s room. As the blinking persists you start to see how your confidant Mr. Teddy is being whisked away by an unseen force to outside the crib down to the floor eventually out your bedroom door, it closes and now your game truly begins.

 

                                                                          “Remember, this is the EARLY ALPHA BUILD”

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     Controls are the basic PC variety you have WASD for your movement then you your mouse for looking around and interacting with the worldly items like toys, furniture, doors etc. Your character being an toddler hasn’t mastered walking so he still crawls around when he needs too. To get into the stand and crawl positions there are two ways to attempt this; Using the CTRL key & the SPACE bar with these two keys you can also climb obstacles in your way. Oh one neat animations in Among The Sleep is when you pause the title by pressing the ESC key your character places his cute little toddler hands over his face to cover his eyes to show game options. While the object interactions when grabbing items within the world is sometimes spotty this early Alpha build plays well enough to get the general idea of where the final build will be.

 

I will not speak anymore on the technical issues like the system freezes every so often because KrillBite Studios is obviously abreast on that issue. Remember, this is the EARLY ALPHA BUILD.

 

                                          “I can already see the silver lining of a potential masterpiece”

 

What really drew me to Among The Sleep is the idea of what KrillBite could think of imaginatively with this genre this is NEW territory. I can’t wait to dig deeper into this title as development progresses. So, far I have enjoyed the dark and freakishly frightening ambiance they have going on it in this average home in suburbia. I always told my wife what scares me the most in horror films/ video games are children & kiddie music. Though, at this point there is only one child the main character the music is definitely there or not. See its the slightly drowned out noise of the house that gets me it gives you the false idea that everything is OK. All I have to do is find mommy though, mommy as you will figure out is hard to find. Among The Sleep aims to be one of the best atmospheric survival horror games released. This early alpha build I can already see the silver lining of a potential masterpiece, lets hope KrillBite Studios delivers when the final build launches to the public on PC, MAC, Linux & PlayStation 4.

 

To get in on the action of building this potential classic, keep a close eye on Among The Sleep for its future releases up to its final launch. If you would like a taste of the action now go to KrillBite Studios Among The Sleep’s website and download the Alpha PC build or whatever available platform of your liking.

 

Stay tuned for upcoming news!

 

 

UPDATE: As of May 29th Among The Sleep has been released (so that means you wont be able to play the Alpha build) it is available on www.SteamPowered.com it is available for $17.99 GO NOW and try out this game it is sure to please all my survival horror fans!

 

STAY TUNED FOR RealOtakuGamer.com’s full review of this final build!

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