June 16th, 2013
I have an update available for The Occult Chronicles that fixes some bugs/script errors as well as takes a swipe at some low hanging fruit for improving the game. I’m still trying to gather feedback and more importantly save game data on player progression before I make any major changes to the game’s mechanics. I would recommend that players apply this update as it fixes some script errors that might pop up after roaming/wandering monsters are created.
Major Bug Fixes:
Roaming monster path finding error fixed that could cause crash whenever player moved
Multiple fixes to edges that either did not work or were not working correctly
Climb down from pit traps when climb failed should now be fixed
Black Heart cursed item now longer generates error when viewed during challenge
Double doors should now work when encountered in locked state
Quests now have a mandatory reward that appears when finished. The reward is usually an expertise token but can be a Talisman or Edge Upgrade card.
Determination has been buffed up so that repeated failures of the same option can take you to 5 tricks on the board/5 drawn cards in your hand. This should help most early game problems of having to attempt the same option repeatedly to get a result. Fleeing with a low swords/cups build should be a lot easier.
The evade % chance after a flee option attempt is now 20% per point above the trick point target level.
NOTE: I’m working on some ideas to have Talismans appear on cards in your hand during challenges and activating them will allow you to chose from a list of options on how to manipulate the card.
Installation: You can download a .zip file here or a self extracting executable here. Once you have saved the file to your computer, locate the folder the was created when you extracted the full game. In most cases it is called OccultChronices. Go to this folder and delete a sub folder called GameData. Now double click on either the .zip or self extracting .exe and copy the files to the OccultChronicles folder. You will be copying over a new GameData folder as well as replacing two files: MainIFace.cxt and GameEngine.cxt. When you start the game it should now read 1.o2 in the bottom left corner of the main menu.
June 12th, 2013
The Occult Chronicles is now available for purchase as part of a Beta Buy in program that I will be running for the next month or so. The price is $14.99 and you will get a download link that lets you download the latest version. The link is set to NEVER expire so you can use the same link later when the final version is released. If you ever have a problem accessing the link or lose the link then just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org (it helps if you can tell me the purchase email) and I can send you a new one manually. The game weighs in at 165 MBytes or so.
The game is in pretty good shape as I have had a dedicated group of testers going over it for the last month in two closed betas (one of which I announced here). But you might come across an occasional script error or game play issue. If you purchase the game now and come across anything then I would greatly appreciate a save game and a brief description of the problem. If you have any balance issues, UI suggestions or just general comments please feel free to email me at email@example.com
Installation: You will be directed by BMT Micro to download a self extracting .exe file. Double click on the file to unzip the contents to any convenient location i.e. Desktop or a games folder. Inside the newly created OccultChronicles folder you will find a file called OccultChroniclesWindowed.exe. Double click on this file to start the game in a window. There are also executables to start the game in full screen or forced 800 by 600 for netbooks. The game is portable and can be played off of a flash drive but you will need to locate the game’s local data folder on any machine to transfer save games. This location is My Documents\OccultChroniclesGame. This folder is created whenever the game is run for the first time on any PC and save games are then stored here. Please read and understand the user license agreement that is included in the game folder. There is no DRM or serial key required for The Occult Chronicles.
Also in the folder is a manual for the game. It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that you read at least the Quick Start section first to get a feel for how the mechanics work.
If you prefer to wait until I have a demo up, that should happen after the Beta finishes in July or so. It will be a turn limited demo that lets you explore part of the main floor.
May 25th, 2013
Wow. That was a great response and I have at this point a nice pool of candidates to choose from.
I will be going over the submissions and picking out the best fits and then notifying them via email.
Again, if you are not selected, please don’t take it personally. I am basically going to create a pile for testers who I think will be the best bets based on the limited info that I can gather and then randomly pick 20 from the pile.
Also, I realize the window was short for this. Don’t worry if you didn’t read this in time. The game will be out very shortly. I anticipate 3 weeks until it will be for sale as a beta buy in. I’ll still be soliciting input and suggestions and you can also discuss it freely anywhere you want.
Thanks to everyone interested in this game for sticking with me. I realize that I have not been the best communicator. Hopefully, you will feel that it has been worth the wait.
April 5th, 2013
In the Belly of the Beast
Some idiot in Research designed a new psychic-kinetic anomaly detector and the high ups decided that they needed to find an appropriate testing ground.
That’s where you come in. The Amity Estate has been abandoned for years. The last tenants were reputedly driven off by poltergeist activity that was abnormally focused and violent. The O.D.D. has listed the place as warranted for observation and quarantine but a lack of resources has meant that surveillance has not been continuous.
Your assignment is to visit the estate and determine its current psychic-kinetic activity level and its suitability as a proving ground for the new gadget.
March 29th, 2013
Despite the loss of two entire Tactical Operations Teams, operation Driven Stake has been a major success. The vampire clans have been smashed, two elders have been destroyed and those remaining have been driven into hiding.
Mop up operations continue apace and recent intelligence indicates that some minor nosferatu elements might have taken refuge in the abandoned Corvinus Manor.
Your assignment is to visit the manor and determine the nature and extent of any vampire clan activity that is ongoing there. You should begin your survey in the morning and plan to finish before dusk to ensure your safety.
March 22nd, 2013
I’m still working on getting the game ready for release. Progress has been measured but steady. I’ve finished 3 games in the last 7 years or so and this is always the toughest part. It requires a tremendous amount of self discipline to just sit down and finish off all the not very fun dirty work.
I do want to talk about how the Win condition for the game is structured. In many rogue likes the final boss is always the same. That doesn’t really matter a whole lot because in some cases you could spend a life time and never reach him. I’m not kidding. But, while I want The Occult Chronicles to be hard and challenging, I want the end to be fairly reachable. Like I have stated many times before, my goal is to make a board game like experience, so I needed to design both an attainable win condition and a thematically varied one as well. I had originally toyed with the idea that Betrayal House on the Hill implemented so well, which was an ending that depended on what you had actually done in the house. In that game, a huge variety of endings can be triggered by a particular configuration of game states and the omen card that is drawn. But I soon found that unworkable with my limited resources.
So instead, I decide to go the more traditional way, with an End Encounter set up in the basement of the mansion that varied depending on which mission you selected at the beginning of the game. It’s primarily just a way to add different thematic flavor to each game. Choosing one mission over another doesn’t change any of the mechanics in a significant way. In each case you need to gather clues and then find and confront the final encounter. But I really like the thematic flavor that each mission adds. You see the different mission choices affect the final mission rooms i.e. each mission has a unique set of rooms where the finale takes place. You also get different random encounters added into the mix. The story text for each time a story icon triggers is different of course. And finally some of the clues are unique to each mission. i.e. you can find a set of fake robes for the Cultist Sacrifice Mission that will give you a big advantage when you try and infiltrate the Inner Sanctum and stop the return of The Great Tentacled One.
Here is the image for the first mission that you can choose along with the text description that is presented
The Key and the Gate
There have been rumors surfacing recently concerning the revival of a cult devoted to The Tentacled Ones. These creatures are said to be slumbering in an outer dimension and intent on returning to our world to assume their places as earth’s rightful rulers.
Reports of missing young women from the neighboring town have kindled suspicions that the ancient Lovecraft Estate might have new residents intent on some nefarious summoning or gate opening ritual.
The stars do seem to be right for a ritual. You have precious little time remaining before a celestial conjunction not to be seen for another thousand years could be used to the cultists’ advantage. Our analysts believe that a human sacrifice will be required.
March 6th, 2013
I’ve had my amazing sister Katie put up the foundations of The Occult Chronicles webpage on my Cryptic Comet website. It consists of an Overview page which sums up the game play pretty well. I’m going to try and create a game play/designer notes video and put it up on Youtube but that’s going to have to wait until after the launch. All my efforts right now are focused on finishing the game.
Once I think it’s ready, I’m going to do a buy in beta like I did with Six Gun Saga. This lets me sleep at night because some bugs and the occasional script error are not completely unexpected and players who buy in should understand that and hopefully even contact me with save games so I can fix things. On AE and SI, I almost stressed myself out to the point of a nervous breakdown with a lot of the bug hunting. I DO NOT expect that there will be many, but there are always things that slip by. Some quests are pretty complex for example, with multiple options for solving them and there might be branches or interactions that I haven’t anticipated.
So, if everything goes according to plan I would like to start the Beta Buy In around late April but it may slide until early May. I’m feeling very positive about where the game has ended up. My goal was to create something that a single player board gamer who can never find friends for Betrayal House on the Hill or Mansions of Madness would love to play. I hope that I have done that. I think so. There are so many neat things in the game to discover. While I’ve been testing I’ve come across a few that I had forgotten that I had made and was pleasantly surprised.
I’ve also lowered the prices on AE and SI to $14.99 each or $25 for both. It’s a bit of an experiment to see if the conventional wisdom is correct. I’m hoping that it brings up volume and revenues. I’d still like to get them both on steam someday. Gabe, Valve, Steam call me.
The price for The Occult Chronicles will be $19.99. I’ll probably set up a Greenlight page once I can get a video finished. I’ll post the link here if that happens.
Thanks again to everybody who plays my games and supports my design efforts.
February 14th, 2013
I just spent the last few days changing a major design feature and despite the ripples it sent through my code base, I’m glad that I did. My original vision for Occult Chronicles was a computerized version of a board game where you move your investigator around the haunted house and whenever you enter a room and something happens, an “Encounter” card is drawn. Usually, you read the text, resolve anything that needs resolving…skill challenges, etc. and then discard the card and move on.
I decided originally that I did want some cards to hang around on the board. I called them unique encounters and they were often scenarios where you could come back to complete a quest, or have more options after you had improved your stats or found more objects during your exploration. Random encounters were the opposite in my mind. They popped up and you decided either fight or flight. Thematically I justified this by telling myself that the patrol of cultists or gaggle of zombies that you randomly encountered in a room moved on if you fled. Poof. If you killed them all of course there was no need to track them. But what happens if you decide that you are not ready to handle a random encounter and you run away?
It always bothered me that they just seemed to vanish. I was also trying to be a little more board game like and less traditional rogue like in this aspect. I know when I play rogue likes, one thing that sort of bothers me is the goofy one step, two step dancing that sometimes happens when you are navigating, running away or trying to use ranged attacks. I wanted abstraction and not a lot of tactical maneuvering. But I thought there was a better strategy element that could be added if the random encounters didn’t just go poof.
So, I now have a system where after you decide to run away from an encounter (and succeed in the tarot card challenge after you pick that option), the encounter can now remain on the board and actually chase you around a bit. I’ve also created some rules so that you can actually lose your pursuer by carefully moving around the corridors and rooms of the mansion. You get a one space head start so that it’s not right on your tail and after that if you can break line of sight from one room to the next i.e. leave a room before the encounter has trailed you into it, then you are free. The encounter will either wait a few turns before randomly walking around the mansion or pick a random door immediately and go through it…which may or may not be your door. It sounds more complicated than it is but the end result is that the running away/sneaky strategy just got a bit more interesting. And now there is more tension as well. If you keep running away from things the air space starts getting crowded. So you have to keep that in mind as you plan your strategy out for which rooms to visit and when to push on to another level.
January 31st, 2013
I should start with a huge apology for the lack of updates to anybody who was following this blog or interested in my games. For the last few months the thought of writing anything about how the project was going immediately elicited a knee jerk procrastinate response. It was almost like I was in a cave and the thought of seeing light at the end of the tunnel was something I didn’t want to jinx by talking about it. I think at this point that I do see some light and I will skip the obligatory train joke.
So where does The Occult Chronicles stand? I’ve got one last shipment of art coming in for a final group of encounters that I really didn’t know that I needed until recently. It’s mostly for the levels under the mansion that I had originally envisioned as a single small basement level and is now a more sprawling dungeon/caverns complex. Yes, I gave into a scope creep that cropped up as I was testing out all the encounters on the upper levels i.e. Main Floor, Second Floor and Attic. It took me months to first create all the data objects in text files and then create all the description text that goes along with the encounters. It was exhausting. But since December I’ve been able to move around the mansion and test out all the encounters and make sure the bugs get fixed and the correct text comes up. In the course of doing this I discovered that my design was a little lacking in ambition and challenge. The game flow was thus; the player moved around the mansion and explored and encountered all the haunts, cursed furniture, demonic apparitions, secret libraries and most importantly clues and then set about going down to the basement to confront the mission finale. But knowing that you just had to find and open the basement door and then do some minimal exploring to find the final mission tiles made the whole thing a little too predictable.
So I went back to some of my source texts for this game. I was reading “The Rats In The Walls” by H. P. Lovecraft and the expedition beneath the Exham Priory inspired me to create something like that for this game..but with the twist that it would be more like a death trap dungeon experience to set it apart from the game play on the above ground levels in the mansion. So I started going back over some old D & D modules like The Tomb of Horrors and The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and had a lot of fun revisiting scenes from my childhood. TPK style.
The end result is that you now have to search for the final mission tile area somewhere on the second sub level. There is a third sub level that sort of acts like the Catacombs do in Dungeon Quest which is a game that I wrote about a while ago that has also inspired my design for The O.C. You can fall down into the third level in a variety of ways that I don’t want to spoil but the classic pit trap is the primary way. Once down there you will need to grope around and find a way to get back up to the second level. I had the most fun devising a bunch of traps that can end up insta killing the player if the Grim Reaper card is revealed during the results phase of a failed evade trap challenge. Before you scream in outrage that it will be unfair or unfun or ungentlemanly to do this you can set the game to “Normal” mode and wake up in the foyer with a headache and try again. The default mode is “Reaper” which means permadeath….Game Over man. That’s the way the game is intended to be played. I would change the name to “Care Bear” or “Wimpy” mode but the graphic for the button is “Normal” right now and I don’t want to spend the time ordering a new one. Although I’m still wavering on whether it just might be worth it.
So things are looking good. I will try to post some more updates and maybe even a screenshot or two. The problem I have is that posting almost anything visual seems like a spoiler. I’ll see if I can come up with some generic stuff. I make no promises but I hope to have the game finished this Spring. I will probably do a buy in beta (very late beta….should be very polished by then) but I still haven’t made any final decisions.
On a side note: I have been playing Elder Sign: Omens on my Kindle and really enjoying it. I can see why everybody likes the iOS/Android games but I’m still not convinced that I can offer the type of complexity that I like on such a platform. And I think you really need to design specifically for the touch screen. ES:O can pull it off because the design is simple and elegant. I haven’t beat the Cthulhu campaign yet but it’s been very enjoyable trying and I really love the push your luck aspects with the dice pools. I find myself constantly having to make tough decisions about which items to use and how best to match the characters to the adventure cards. It’s a fun game, the FFG art is wonderful and the theme is priceless.
Here is the Queen of Pentacles Tarot Card from my upcoming game The Occult Chronicles
September 20th, 2012
Ok I’m in the home stretch on The Occult Chronicles. The famous last 10% that feels like the final turn on the 400 meter sprint. The bad news is that I won’t be making the October 31st release date that I had hoped for. Right now I’m shooting for January or February. So I’m having a sale to raise some funds to finish off the art for the project. Kickstarter seems a bit too much for something like this and I’d like to save it for a TBS or maybe a mega expansion pack for this game. I’d like to ask any longtime supporters to spread the sales news around in any way that they can. Tell your forum buddies, post on your blog or get a soap box out and stand on it at a street corner etc. You can get 50% off any games that I sell for the next 10 days. Just enter the coupon code OCCULT when you go to check out. The deal doesn’t apply to the SI & AE bundle but you will get a better price by adding them to the cart separately and then using the code.
I’ll have some news pretty soon about development. I have just about finished all the data entry on all the “encounters” in the game. I went back and created a special “Quest” card mechanic that let me link different encounters together. It took some time but I think it was worth it. Now you can try and communicate with some of the denizens of the haunted estate and get into some interesting situations. I had a lot of fun thinking up ways to let you do things like play angry ghosts off against each other and beat demons at their own Faustian game. You can always just go mano a mano with them the old fashioned way with tommy guns, spells and psychic talents if you prefer but there are some neat things to discover if you dig a little deeper sometimes. Anyway, thanks for everyone’s continued support. I think the wait will be worth it for this game and I’m very excited about how it is turning out.