When we talk about successful indie games it's difficult not to immediately think of the tabletop/video game hybrid Prodigy. It's doubly impressive when you consider that the game isn't even out yet; one look at the game's Kickstarter page however will tell the story.
With less than 3 days to go the team is fast approaching 200% of it's initial goal; which by no means is a reason to not show your support and help them get those stretch goals out by the way! You know who else tells a great story? Jean, the head of Hanakai Studios. We checked out the PAX East booth and spoke with him following our generous demo time. If Prodigy is on your radar, you'll be interested in what he has to say!
Dragon Fin Soup is not just a retro RPG hybrid with modern graphics, drunk fairy tale babes, and roguelike features…well, alright those are the primary aspects that comprise the game but we assure you there is a ton more! We here at the Abyss have been drinking this kool-aid for a while now and we were excited to finally try out the game at this year's PAX East! After all we had to make sure our kickstarter moneys were wisely spent. Spoiler alert: they were.
Matt, our senior editor and resident lover of beautiful cosplay models, speaks with the ever-popular Destiny Nickelsen about portraying the game's main character for the Dragon Fin Soup booth (and gets a little more than be bargained for), while Andy gets the low-down on the latest build of the game from one half of the Grimm Bros, Ash. Another spoiler alert: this game is awesome.
At last year's PAX East I had the pleasure of playing the first public build of Transistor, the next game in the repertoire of the studio that brought us Bastion. Creative head of Supergiant Games Greg Kasavin spoke with us about the game then, and this year we bring you a show floor interview with the man himself to talk about what's new in the build and even more importantly, when the game will officially drop. We were so excited that it was playable once again this year but we were even more stoked that we only have to wait until May 20th to meet Red up close and personal and follow her story!
Do you love mages, western style RPGs, and crushing your foes with fiery blazes, icy chills, and other mystical forces of destruction? Chances are you'll fall head over heels in love with Lichdom Battlemage. To say this game came out of nowhere wouldn't be completely accurate, but certainly nobody expected them to have the prominent presence they did on the PAX East show floor. We had the privilege of speaking with design director Tim Lindsey of Xaviant Games about their convention experience and what's being done to better spotlight the spellslinging mechanics of Lichdom Battlemage. So sheathe your swords and toss em aside, because it's time to explore the uninhibited potential of the age old spell in this homage to magic dominance.
Greetings, fellow Games Abyss listeners, and welcome to yet another exciting developer Q&A!
Joining us remotely from her Fortress of Solitude is the fabulous Erin Reynolds, developer of Nevermind. Proving that you just can't keep a good game down, Reynolds sheds some light on her dark and inspired independent horror adventure game.
While the horror darling's Kickstarter campaign was only able to bring in just over half of its $250,000 goal, that isn't stopping Nevermind from becoming a reality.
So join us now as we delve into the dark recesses of Erin Reynolds' mind where we discuss her ambitious title and the current state of survival horror itself. What macabre mysteries lurk within? You'll just have to be brave enough to listen to find out!
Imagine embarking on the daunting, uncertain journey of funding your dreams. With an idea in your head and ambition in your heart, you realize the task before you is fraught with anxiety and emotional strain. You do not, however, let the circumstances deter you. Rather, you allow it to strengthen your resolve. As it turns out your dreams are more important – and even more significant – than you ever would have imagined.
Last week, a developer by the name of Seagull Fish Entertainment launched a Kickstarter campaign for The Midnight Grindshow™ , the first installment of a three planned game series that will be released for iPad, iPhone, and Android. As per the imaginative title’s campaign page, The Midnight Grindshow is described as a ‘role-playing action/adventure, and puzzle game’ which compels its amnesiac protagonist to explore the macabre mysteries of a traveling sideshow that begins at the stroke of midnight and inexplicably vanishes at daybreak.
At first glance, Seagull Fish Entertainment is a would-be game development machine fueled by young, indie game dev hopefuls Gary Adrian Randall and Jason Moriarty, Chief Creative Officer and Chief Operating Officer, respectively. The relationship between the two spans a decade…and then some, with Randall and Moriarty having grown up in the the same hometown, inevitably attending school together, and becoming the very best of friends. Their first foray into the world of game development, intimidating at is may be, is not one the duo will have to face alone, however, as there is more to Seagull Fish Entertainment than the starry-eyed pair.
The Midnight Grindshow is, as its campaign describes, a 'true collaboration of a collective of creative minds'. From the game's animation sequences (which showcase an array of vibrant water color paintings) to the myriad of weapons and equipment, it is all but a fraction of the massive collaborative effort which includes the works of outsides artists, artisans, fashion designers, and even Randall's closest friends.
For Randall, The Midnight Grindshow is more than just creating an engaging and interactive gaming experience with a group of imaginative individuals. It is about the fulfillment of a lifelong dream and seeing his art, and the stories developed around it, take form and become a fantastical reality. The game's concept, as it turns out, is something that has been with Randall for years:
"I started developing the characters, one or two at first, and fleshing out their back-stories years ago. A lot of the characters, actually, take references from people in my life. There was even a time – I believe it was 2-3 years ago – when I convinced my friends to dress up as them for Halloween because I wanted to photograph them. But the real meat of The Midnight Grindshow's story happened when I decided to take these characters I had been developing for years and put them into a game."
"This isn't something that we just decided to do," Moriarty reminds. "These characters have been with Gary for a long time and that provides a layer of depth to the game that others might not have."
There are definitely no shortage of compelling characters (or environments for that matter) to encounter throughout The Midnight Grindshow, all of which have been brought to life by what Randall refers to as ‘photo-graphics’, a beautiful yet haunting process of transforming 2D photographs into stunning and twisted 3D images.
"It's sort of like making a collage. I take the photos and I cut them out individually and I paste them together. The key element to creating the images is making sure the lighting is consistent throughout. The amount of time I put into a certain picture it varies based on how complex the image is. Sometimes it may take me an hour to finish a picture but other times it may take a day or two."
The process, it seems, is paying off in a big way. The photo-realistic imagery is perhaps the most alluring aspect of The Midnight Grindshow as everything, from the game's colorful cast of characters to the worlds they inhabit, is incredibly grounded in reality and makes for one convincing dark fantasy. Pioneering the photo-graphics approach has also become an especially rewarding experience for Randall: “I’ve been doing art all my life but I've never had a style that I felt I identified with until now."
As an experiment in artistic expression, Randall realizes the various pitfalls of developing an 'art game', stating that "while it may be beautiful, it may offer little else beyond the aesthetic." To this end, Randall aims to create a lot of action in the game and offer players plenty of opportunities to interact with the world itself. Randall likens the experience to Telltale's critically acclaimed The Walking Dead: Season 1 & 2 but with Myst-like exploration mechanics. The importance, Randall stresses, is to be able to 'hit all the right points' and create a title which will not only advance the genre but is familiar enough for fans of the gameplay-type to appreciate and easily dive right into. "With games like The Walking Dead and Myst, story-telling is key," says Randall. "It is the most important part. If you have really compelling storyline, the people are going to relate to it more. And that's the problem with a lot of games now there is hardly ever a really big payoff at end." A sort of choose-your-own adventure format, The Midnight Grindshow promises tons of replayability including secret weapons and modes to unlock as well as multiple endings and scenarios to uncover.
Favorites like The Walking Dead and Myst aren't all that Randall is drawing inspiration from. As a fan of horror, the young visionary looked to some of his favorite films to help guide him in crafting some of the game's darker and violent tones. "There is a french film called High Tension that I absolutely love. That, along with The Descent and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre are among my favorites. And the game is definitely influenced by them."
The incredible task of crowd-sourcing game development is by no means an easy one. For the young duo, Kickstarter has become a rewarding albeit challenging experience. "I didn't expect it to become a full time job; it definitely is,” says Moriarty. "Reaching out to the hundreds of media outlets and blogs, talking to the backers and answering their questions, maintaining a presence on Facebook, putting together promotional materials, running contests…it's all very daunting, so we've sucked in our entire friendship circle to help."
The game's $130,000 goal is admittedly lofty but manageable, assures Randall. "At first we really thought it was going to be easy, and I think everyone assumes that going in. But we've received a lot of great feedback so far so we remain optimistic."
Seagull Fish Entertainment is doing it all in exactly the right, well-thought-out way. If successful, The Midnight Grindshow will launch as a free app across Apple and Android mobile and tablet devices. If not, it doesn't necessarily mean the end of the ambitious and innovative project, Moriarty promises: "We've had some talks with a few publishers but we really would like to shy away from that; we want to maintain complete control and make everything exactly the way we want it. We have back-up plans if things don't pan out with Kickstarter but hopefully it won't come to that."
I sincerely hope it does not come to that either. With 22 days left it its campaign and a bit of ways to go, there is plenty of time to give your support to a team that dares to do something different. There is no greater sales pitch than the promise of battling a ferret and operating a cotton-candy chainsaw. If that isn't reason enough to throw your satchels full of gold coins towards The Midnight Grindshow, I truly do no know what is.
As huge supporters of Starcrawlers (a science-fiction themed dungeon crawler we featured in our Kickstarter Podcast last week), we here at Games Abyss felt it necessary to reach out to the team for a quick Q&A session.
Honoring us with their presence, George Cochrane (Programmer and Game Designer) and Asa Enochs (2D Artist and Game Designer) of Juggernaut Games recently joined us via Skype to discuss what it's been like working with Kickstarter, the possibility of a console port, and of course, all things Starcrawlers.
With Juggernaut Games in full-on celebration mode (care of the incredible success of their Kickstarter campaign), excitement and a deep sense of commitment now drive the team forward in developing their sci-fi brainchild: “Kickstarter has been really amazing, and really stressful. The game is backed now and we have a debt to pay to these 2969 people to make them a fantastic game.”
Remarkably enough, that backer number soared to 3652 in just a matter of days as Starcrawler's Kickstater campaign ended with a grand total of $100,278 in pledges.
With regards to the game's release, Starcrawlers' orbit revolves solely around the PC. But while the team was understandably reluctant to name names, it remains hopeful that the endearing dungeon crawler may one day land on a home console and perhaps even a portable platform: “I would love to play Starcrawlers on a console or some sort of portable device. We have had some really, really good talks with publishers…”
Given certain team members' history with Sony and Playstation Home development, it wouldn't surprise us to find Juggernaut Games’ debut title on Sony platforms some day in the future. Here's hoping!
Now join us as we boldly go where no one has gone before: Games Abyss' very first "plopcast"! Trust us, that will make a whole lot more sense once you've listened to the interview in its entirety. But rest assured, it's an appropriate (and hilarious!) name.
Be sure to listen to the entire Q&A session below and to show your support for Starcrawlers. Yes, the game is funded on Kickstarter, but with two days left on the game's PayPal crowd-sourcing efforts, there is still time to make the remaining stretch goals a reality! So be sure to hit up the game's homepage and throw some money at this fantastic project.