I just saw this Kickstarter drive for Match & Magic and wanted to point it out to anybody who donates on the Kickstarter scene. I had originally heard about this from from a post on Dubious Quality a while back and had wondered how it was progressing. I’m a huge fan of Puzzle Quest myself. It was definitely an inspiration for the design of my latest game. I decided to transform the gem matching into a card matching (trick taking) mechanic built around tarot cards but the fundamental concept behind all these implementations is the same: set up a rule set and allow the player to find ways to manipulate them by identifying certain patterns that are displayed on the board and how they can interact with your off board abilities. Enough design gibberish though. Check out the drive and the video. Man I wish my office was that clean. I might be able to finish my game faster. 🙂
Archive for the ‘Indie Life’ Category
If you follow this blog at all you have probably figured out that I am a bit of a loner and maybe marginally agoraphobic…at the least I have serious hermit tendencies that are coddled by my ability to make a living via the internet. However, sometimes misery loves company. So when Cliff Harris and Chris Park approached me about doing an indie strategy game bundle that would offer our latest games I didn’t think twice about it. Being associated with two quality designers like Cliff and Chris is great business sense and I’ve followed and enjoyed their games. If you haven’t heard about Gratuitous Space Battles (Cliff) or AI War Fleet Command (Chris) then you have been hiding under a bigger rock than mine 🙂 Seriously though, if you are a strategy fan then you should check them out. You can also grab up all three of our games (and the expansions for GSB and AI War) for the bargain price of $49.99.
Wait that’s not right. Anyway, there is a neat article on British One Man Indies that is a nice read and features Cliffski of Gratuitous Space Battles fame. I found myself nodding in agreement through most of it. I especially agree with this sentiment “But I get to spend all day every day doing what I love, and there’s no real price to be put on that.” That’s doubly so when you are in the fun design stage of a project like I am right now with Rogue Expedition.
I live in a rural part of Ohio. I have had to make to do with really awful “wireless” internet for over 5 years now. I would love to take my business somewhere else but dial up is the only somewhere else at this point. I have pleaded with both the cable and DSL companies to wire our neighborhood up and even been known to run down their service vans and ask them when they will be expanding their service. I’ve had Hughs net out a couple of times but the wooded hill directly to my south blocks the signal. Now I’ve just figured out that I have been receiving emails for the last 2 days but apparently not sending them. So if you have contacted me recently and did not get a response, I hope you will hear from me soon…..of course soon might be Monday when tech support comes in. 🙂
Jeff Vogel is a modest but very successful indie “old school” RPG game designer. He (and his 2 person crew) was recently picked as one of the “Best Studios Ever” in a PC Gamer feature. Even though I’ve never met him I feel like he is a kindred spirit. He both codes and designs his games and he has picked a niche to excel in that he loves. Seeing Spiderweb thrive has always been a real inspiration for me and a reassurance that I might be able to pull off something similar in the Turn Based Strategy niche. Jeff has put up a blog and he’s started it off with some very interesting stuff. A show me the money peep show of sorts. 🙂
Cliff Harris is one of the pioneers of the Long Tail indies and his games are full of the interesting decisions that make strategy games so much fun. The concept is straight forward. Grab the reigns of power and start making decisions in a wide range of policy areas….. and see if you can hold on to your office 🙂 Cliffski has offered up a special deal for readers of this blog in the form of a 20% discount coupon off of any purchase of Democracy 2 between now and the end of February.
The code is BJRN001CH
Bill Harris has a great post from a couple of days back on the “Consolation of Gaming.” It really struck a chord with me. Not the self-assembling girl friend from Korea part but all the other stuff: The stress of all the events in the external world, the struggle with a deteriorating middle aged body and the escapism that gaming offers.
My rehab problem doesn’t sound anywhere near as difficult as Bill’s but it’s still annoying. Two months ago, spurred on by my kids burgeoning soccer careers, I decided to play in some adult pick up games. I hadn’t done anything like this for over 20 years. The last time I’d touched a ball in a game was when I played Div III college soccer in the Fall of 1987. The outcome of this mini-middle aged crisis was ugly. My mind thought it was still 21 but the body would not comply with its demands. The end result was some type of tendon injury in my heal. Now every morning I have to stretch the darn thing out.
My only twist on Bill’s story is that now that I have started working with computer games for a living, I’ve started having problems losing myself in the games. Not the worst kind of problem but also one that a pill you buy via an internet pharmacy can’t solve. The issue is twofold. First, I work at home so I always feel like I should be working. Punching the clock is a psychological effort not a physical one. It helps to have a family with schedules that pull you away (soccer, gymnastics, school etc.) but there is still the fact that my “office” also doubles as my sanctuary. Second, after so much time spent sitting in front of the computer working on a game, it takes a huge effort to get excited about “playing” something else. Its a combination of mental fatigue and media overload. That’s probably why I have gravitated more and more to board gaming over the last few years. There is something to be said for having to move to the kitchen table, set up all the components and chat face to face with real people. The physicality of it is refreshing.
Now don’t get me wrong. I still love PC gaming. It still scratches a mental itch and offers an escapism that other forms of entertainment just can’t match in the same way. But the binging is gone and probably for good. It’s both a casualty of age and the work choice that I’ve made now. It was something I could see coming even when I was making infotainment CD-ROM’s a decade ago.
This all brings me to something I’ve been thinking about that relates to the strategic direction of Cryptic Comet. When I’m brain-fried and can’t think about coding anymore for the day my mind wanders to the type of projects that I’d like to take on after Solium Infernum. I’ve got a notebook full of such things and 4 solid ideas in various stages of cannibalized board game mock ups. I’ve definitely decided to pick the one that falls into the “Light Adventure Strategy” category. I build things things not just to sell them but because I want something for myself to enjoy and after this development cycle on Solium Infernum, I’m feeling like I need a light time waster…. something like a Puzzle Quest or Solitaire. In the board game space it would be something like Lost Cities/Ticket to Ride….thinking along a single dimension. Something that requires mindless thinking if you know what I mean. That’s the type of engagement that I’m finding very therapeutic.
I owe a big debt of gratitude to many people out there who have tried the Armageddon Empires demo, purchased the full game and then had their sleeper programming activated to spread the word about the great endorphin rush you can get playing the game. I’ve written about this before but word of mouth advertising has been a huge component in the formula for success of this indie enterprise. With that in mind I came across this post on the GameSpot forums from a fan of AE who honestly wanted to let other players know about the game and see if there was some way to get GameSpot to feature the game or at least list its existence. Thanks to whoever the poster was (it really wasn’t me). Thanks as well to everybody else who has spoken up on Armageddon Empires behalf.
I’m not hammering on GameSpot mind you. I have tried to contact them now and then through their general contact emails without any luck. I would like to get a review or some coverage or at least a listing so if anybody knows the secret handshake send me an email. 🙂
Rock Paper Shotgun has a link to an interesting article about Tilted Mill moving to self publish via direct sales on the internet. This is really positive news for small guys like me. With companies of this calibre and size moving into the Long Tail space there are bound to be improvements in the information distribution channels…. it should get easier to get news of the existence of your game out there. That’s still the biggest hurdle. Spreading the AE virus is still mostly a word of mouth thing right now. I’ve gotten several emails recently from satisfied customers who have been persuading friends to give AE a try. If you have a friend like that go out and infect them!
Bill Harris of Dubious Quality has launched his guest blogging slot at Newsweek’s Level Up gaming blog where N’Gai Croal holds court. Bill’s first two entries are an interview he did with me about how Armageddon Empires was almost an overrun landing zone. The interview is nice but in my opinion what really makes it interesting is the cogent analysis Bill provides on this new Long Tail indie scene.