Tags Posts tagged with "steam greenlight"

steam greenlight

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unepicIt seems like independent games attempting to ape the feel of classic Metroidvania titles are a dime a dozen, but few actually nail the gameplay, pacing and atmosphere required to be a success in the genre. Francisco Téllez de Meneses’ UnEpic is then somewhat of a rarity; despite some serious AI jank and flaws manages to be one of the more impressive entries in the genre. It has been on Steam Greenlight for a while but I’ve only gotten around to checking it out today. Eight buckaroos on Steam gets you “early access” to the game which translates to the full single-player experience and a partially-done multiplayer beta, though I never really play through the multiplayer bits of any story-driven game I touch (The Last of Us and Tomb Raider have equally-awkward multiplayer modes that I could have done without) so I didn’t mind.

UnEpic‘s main narrative does not belie its title—you play as a guy playing D&D with his crew, who gets lost coming back from the bathroom and ends up in a trap-filled castle chock-full of medieval enemies and the like. I like games that don’t shove story down your throat so UnEpic is right down my alley as everything is straightforward and streamlined. I’ve only played through a couple of hours so this is more like a heads-up post: from what I’ve played so far it’s fairly excellent. There’s tons of spaces to explore, combat is really satisfying (and even includes a leveling system where you get to assign points to various perks) and the loot aspect of it is addicting.


Cons so far include the weird inclusion of some crafting elements into the game; personally I’d rather have the game create sweet loot drops for me instead of awkwardly trying to mix and match items together. Oddly enough I have no problems with crafting mechanics on games that focus on it as their primary gameplay component like the Atelier games (well that just opened me up for public shaming, didn’t it?) but I don’t like how it gets shoehorned on genres that have no business running them. The bosses suffer from a few AI quirks as well, lots of “safe spots” where enemies don’t exactly know how to get to you and they choose to just hang around the screen and do nothing but look menacing.

Apart from the gameplay victories, the rest of the game exudes a certain charm that doesn’t play very well with its rather amateurish art direction. I highly recommend turning on the “UnEnglish” language option in the game settings for some poorly-translated dialogue hilarity. It’s a lot of fun, and if you’ve been burned by recent Castlevania games not quite scratching that exploration itch, you’ll enjoy UnEpic.

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b6f51df9c05615f479b943cac8d3c5ce_largeIn this 30lives exclusive interview, I had the pleasure of talking to another Indie game developer, Radiant Entertainment. It was founded by twin brothers Tom and Tony Cannon about 18 months ago because they share an ambition and passion of writing video games. They have a respectable amount of experience in the coding field, having worked for companies in Silicon Valley for quite awhile before founding their own company.

Their first game, Stonehearth made huge waves on Kickstarter and has been successfully funded, earning a whopping $751,920 of its $120,000 goal. This interview was conducted weeks ago and it’s only now that I have finished transcribing this particular conversation due to other numerous interviews I conducted during the busy month of May! It was well worth it.


30: Nice to meet you Tom!

Hey there! It’s nice to talk with you! This is our first game and we’re very excited! Tony isn’t around for now so I’ll be your guy today!

803b8ecf01477e6c662f74bbdd04298a_large30: Well then, let’s waste no time on intros! Please tell us all about Stonehearth!

Your job in the game is to guide a little band of settlers as they survive and build a city in a fantasy world. Along the way you’ll design and build shelter, build farms, and defend your town from invaders.

30: What games inspired or influenced in creating Stonehearth?

The look is definitely inspired by classics of the SNES and PS1 era like the Zelda games and ChronoTrigger. Our combat and class system is inspired by Final Fantasy Tactics. The overall gameplay is definitely inspired by the old Maxis simulation games like Sim City, and by Dwarf Fortress.

30: What does Stonehearth have that stands out compared to other games?

Definitely a very large focus on moddabilty, certainly. We’re building the game to be moddable top to bottom. So if you want to add a sword or a new monster or a new kind of gameplay, you can totally do that. For some of these things you’ll need to code in LUA, but just adding a new item or customizing the look of your settlers will be pretty easy.

Other than that, Stonehearth will have a unique mix of RPG and sandbox features. Usually in a sandbox game it’s all about just exploring the rules of the world, but we want to add some of the story elements that you would find in an RPG.

steamworkshop_webupload_previewfile_142375476_preview30: Mind elaborating on what RPG concepts or examples this sandbox game will have? This is a first for me.

Well, let’s say NPCs will come to your town and you’ll need to decide… how you’re going to interact with them?  Will you form an alliance, or maybe steal from them?


30: I’m so ecstatic to see that the Kickstarter campaign has gone to the stratosphere, with already DOUBLE the pledge goal amount and with a LARGE window of 21 days to spare! It’s a staggering feat!  (Author’s note: this question was asked weeks ago, the campaign was successfully funded)

We’re really thrilled, but also humbled, by the results of the Kickstarter! The biggest thing for us is that we’re happy so many other people like the idea for the game.  We asked for advice from everyone we could find who had done a Kickstarter. They consistently told us that we needed to show the game, but that we also needed to tell our personal story.

So we spent a lot of time thinking about how to talk about the game but also about the journey we’ve been on for the past 18 months, and why we want to continue to make the game.

30: I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I have identical twin cousins myself and I must say the only thing they share is physical appearance. They are totally different people!

Hahaha yeah, I agree with your take on twins!

92078a3b27d77620764da9128afdfd67_large30: What responsibilities and functions did you two perform during the game’s creation? Just because you’re twins doesn’t mean you’re all the same inside!

Although Tony and I can both code, you’re right, other than that we have pretty different skills, and Tony is a stronger coder than me.  So I do all of the art, and Tony writes 98% of the code. 

30: I am humbled by your acknowledgment of your brother’s strength over yours. I find you very respectable.

Why thank you!  We both contribute equally to the game design though!

30: It seems that Stonehearth will support only PC, Mac and Linux. How about console versions?

Yes, it’s true we’ve only announced for PC, Mac, and Linux for now.  We know PC gaming the best, so we want to focus there first and put out a really great game. Other platforms aren’t out of the question, but our focus is PC first.

30: Do you have any other games in development? Any plans for the future?

Like all gamers, we have lots of ideas, but at this point that’s all those are. It’s all about Stonehearth right now.

c006d08e4296a20429c145de27a67855_large30: I did some detective work and discovered you guys have a VERY impressive portfolio. Please tell me more about Shoryuken.com and the EVO Fighting Game Championships.

Oh, right! Well, we’ve been hard-core fighting game players and fans since Street Fighter II.  Shoryuken.com is my site, which focuses on fighting game news and strategy. Together along with our partner Joey Cuellar we also run Evo, an annual fighting game tournament in Las Vegas which gets over 5000 players every year. This is all stuff that we just put together over the last 20 years because we really love fighting games and want to support them.

30: Do they have any connection to Stonehearth?

There’s no connection between that stuff and Stonehearth. With Stonehearth we’re putting the fighting game stuff to the side for a bit and focusing on our other passions.

30: This is something I ask all my interviewees. What’s your opinion regarding 1st day DLC and DRM?

DRM is a losing game. You’re not going to stop a motivated pirate.  In fact sometimes they will look at your DRM as a challenge and you’ll just motivate them more! Even worse, DRM inconveniences your paying customers. We’re just focused on making a great game that people won’t mind paying for because they’re getting a lot of enjoyment out of playing.

30: Let’s conclude this interview with one last question: what do you feel about piracy and its repercussions?

I haven’t even shipped a game yet, so I don’t really feel like my opinion on big topics like these have any weight. I can only tell you how we will deal with issues like piracy in our games. From our point of view, we’re focused 100% on making terrific games and putting them in the hands of our customers. If we do that, then I think we will be successful and have a great future.

05ce1f1ecdbd945b0b0d042a0be58deb_largeThe Stonehearth Kickstarter campaign may be over, but you can still pledge and donate over Paypal!

Don’t forget to vote YES for them on Steam Greenlight and visit their Facebook, Twitter and Youtube pages for updates!






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A little customer insight would have went a long way to prevent this disaster.

So I read that Square Enix’s senior executive managing director Yosuke Matsuda talked on about the crowd funding site Kickstarter and the Steam Greenlight Community in a publisher’s earning call. It was mentioned that they (Kickstarter and Steam Greenlight) were the way to go for the future of developing and marketing games. The company (Square Enix) posted an expected loss of  $148 million for the previous fiscal year (2012) primarily attributed to extraordinary costs and under-performing “hit titles” such as Tomb Raider, Hitman: Absolution, and a personal favorite of mine, Sleeping Dogs. I have to point out that in spite of selling millions of copies, they were still considered under-performing might also point out what they’re doing wrong in at least the marketing department of these games. Aside from those, I also have to call out bad business practices with their recent Final Fantasy titles:

In spite of all the trash I talk, I will be buying this game when it comes out.

The colossal flop and notorious vaporware are Final Fantasy XIV and the possibly defunct Final Fantasy XIII Versus. The first title (Final Fantasy XIV) gained notoriety over 2 years ago by being the major Final Fantasy flop and fell into obscurity by being a critical disaster, having a delayed console port with a major apology from Square Enix, and then relaunched this year after a possibly grueling and costly redevelopment process. It still baffles me to this day how the original Final Fantasy XIV could have gotten the green light and was developed to become one of the worse high-profile game launches in years. Only the hardest of core Final Fantasy fans will find this remotely relevant now as normal people would have moved on with their lives. I for one am satisfied with Lightning and the Final Fantasy XIII series. Yes, the characters (except Lightning, my waifu) pretty much suck ass especially her sister Serah, but the combat system is a damn fine tuned beast for people who like turn-based games.

Then we’ve got Final Fantasy XIII: Versus, seven years in the making with barely any updates and is surrounded with rumors of re-branding, re-development for the PS4 and what-not. It’s one of the top titles in my vaporware list because the studio doing it and the publisher couldn’t be straight up about the game’s development process and progress. What you have was such a big hype and absolutely nothing to show for it. I know they have other games, I mentioned it in the first paragraph. But fact of the matter is, Square Enix is Final Fantasy always was, and always will be. Other titles can pick up slack in some way yet if their main product, the Final Fantasy numbers suck ass, you know they’re in trouble.

That’s great and all Lightning, but will I ever see the light of day?

While I certainly agree that Kickstarter and the Steam Greenlight community is a good way for developers to reach out to potential customers, the above mentioned titles among other things are the reasons why I believe a huge company such as Square Enix doesn’t belong there. For one, they (Square Enix) have the resources (always had) but never did they or any major publisher actually made any initiative or effort to reach out  and be more transparent to consumers in the current console cycle or before that in their development of games.

I’m not saying they can’t do crowd funding, what I’m saying is they should stay away from sites like Kickstarter, and even the Steam Greenlight community. These guys have reach and resources to get their product advertised to the end users. Independent game developers, no matter how talented they are, don’t have the same amount of resources. As a matter of fact, you’ll need a big name like Brian Fargo to strike critical success with crowd funding. No offense against the man, but that’s just how it is. The guy’s game was published, people liked it, he disappeared, came back as an independent but was appreciated for his commercial success through a game publisher.

Major game publishers have erred in one way or another in this console cycle and I don’t believe any of them will actually get a better rep when they start jumping on the crowd funding and people input-oriented roles they have chose to ignore for the past decade or more. None of them deserves a free pass now or even in the next generation. There are many things big gaming companies can learn from emerging and successful independent game developers. Square Enix seems to be riding on this line of thought or making us think that way, now let’s see if they will actually put their money where there mouth is at and change their ways.

Source: GamesIndustry.biz

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The short, demo version of Papers, Please was probably the best Cold War immigration control simulation I’ve had the pleasure of playing this year. Wait, what? If that genre description just intrigued the heck out of you, read on. Set in a dystopian, fictionalized version of 1982-era Soviet Union, you take control of an immigration inspector in charge of controlling the flow of people entering the state of Arstotzka from neighboring Kolechia, a state that your government just finished waging a six-year war with.

If that doesn’t sound exciting enough for you, you have terrorists, spies, smugglers, and common riff-raff to detain and/or send away to (what I’m assuming are) slave labor camps. To put it simply, you play spot-the-difference and figure out if each immigrant’s documentation is real or sufficient based on a primitive computer dispatch system and your own two eyes.  It’s actually a lot more harrowing than it sounds. You have a strict time-table and are penalized for mistakes and for not meeting a certain quota of processed immigrants. So there’s a risk and reward system in place here, because you can either just say “screw this,” and let everybody through just to make your quota (aka the Pinoy option), or waste time questioning each and every immigrant to sift through the bad guys and keep them out of your country.

Then at the end of each period, the game takes a turn for the bizarre and asks you to allocate resources for your cold/sick/hungry family. Or, you can choose not to send money over and let them die! It’s a social experiment, you see. And the crazy thing is, what I’ve explained is just part of a beta! Papers, Please is now up on Steam Greenlight and you can vote for the game’s inclusion in Gaben’s massive war chest of independent games here. So yes, please support this game so we can see more off-the-wall stuff from the excellent Lucas Pope.

Download the beta version of Papers, Please here. Mac version here. (lol, gaming on a Mac)