Making My Own Tabletop Role-playing Game

I love playing tabletop role-playing games. Nearly every week for the past six or so years me and my group of friends have played several types of games, such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, and World of Darkness. Like most people who jump into these games, we had little idea what we were doing and made up a lot of the rules. Now, after several years of reading the core books, character guides, and utilizing the internet and its vast resources, I can say with confidence me and my friends are very competent in our knowledge of the rules.

Allow me for a moment to explain what a tabletop role-playing game is to the few of you who have no idea. A tabletop role-playing game is a game played at a table and involves multiple polyhedrial dice. Players pick which class they want to be and form an adventuring group, and the Dungeon Master, Game Master, or Storyteller takes the players through adventures. Normally the person running the game doesn’t have an adventuring player, but sometimes they have one to guide the players in the right direction for the story.

I love the setting for Dungeons & Dragons, and the mechanics have become very familiar to me, but a while ago my group switched to Pathfinder and we haven’t looked back. I “started” with D&D 4e, but who actually admits to playing 4e? Instead, most my knowledge comes from 3.5, Pathfinder, and Baldur’s Gate 2 (2e I think?).

However, we were running a World of Darkness game for a while. It was the second time playing it, and we were exploring the system together. I loved the way WoD wanted to separate itself from D&D by focusing more on the story, and less on rules. This was a welcome change, as my friends and I love/hate to “rules lawyer” each other. But after playing this, I felt like WoD was on the right path, but not quite what I wanted in the system.

Any core rule book will tell you there are several types of players who play table-top role-playing games. There are the people who love the mechanics, love the story, or just love hanging out. I distinctly fall into the “love the story” category, to the point where I have been called out for railroading my players into what I want the story to become. I love role-playing, and I love feeling attached to my characters. I even used to constantly post in forum based role-plays. I loved WoD’s focus on storytelling, but loved Pathfinder’s fantasy setting. I decided I would create a system that would work similar to both of these games, and I would base the game on a previous forum based role-play.

So here I am, creating a new system to encourage role-playing and discourage looking up rules and breaking up the flow of the game. Inspired by WoD, Pathfinder, D&D, and games like Xcom: Enemy Unknown and Splintercell Blacklist, I started making the first page of the character sheet.

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This is the result of over a month working on it, and figuring out what things I wanted to keep, and what things I decided to change. If the sheet looks a lot like World of Darkness, it’s on purpose. The game uses a d10 system and is very tailored for the world I am creating.

The game is called Grace & Glory, and features a high fantasy setting set in slightly post-modern times. Players will create new recruits to join the Guardians United Alliance, a city-state and paramilitary that recruits and enlists the best of the best to guard the world from various threats. Players have a lot of freedom in their characters, allowing them to be nearly any race like elves, dwarves, halflings, ect, and have any power (or none) that they want. It’s very ambitious, and very tailored to this game that I want to run.

The response seems largely positive. One player wants to play a young female wind elemental. Another wants to control gravity to an extent and be a martial artist. All together it looks like I’ll have around five players, which is a good number to me. Everyone seems to have a power, which isn’t too shocking, but a bit disappointing. The players wont be alone, however, as I’ve already created 40+ NPC operatives of the GUA that the players can interact with, learn from, or fight if they so choose.

This character sheet is largely divided by “attributes”, “talents”, and “elemental affinity”. Unlike World of Darkness, players do not roll their talent + their attribute, instead, they rely solely on their attribute for all dice roles. Putting exp into talents means unlocking bonuses and feats that make doing that skill better/easier. Having two dots in powers allows for players to start using their powers in battle. Having three dots in “Develop” allows the players to craft and customize their gear. If the players have one dot in “Pilot” they can only drive basic vehicles they are proficient in such as cars, trucks, or standard motorcycle.

To balance only using attributes for dice rolls, I have eliminated “critical successes” and made successful dice rolls start from 6 rather than 8. The point for this is to make the players feel powerful and feel like they are growing as they play.

I’m still not quite ready to play test it just yet, as I still need to sort out an armor system and I need to solidify the gun and spell system, but overall it’s looking good, and I’m excited to implement an ordinance system.

So what do you think? Would you want to play a game like this? Do you think maybe I’m in over my head?

For those that want to create a character for funzies, list the order of importance between Physical, Social, and Mental attributes, and then put 5 dots in the most important, four dots in the second, and three dots in the least important. Players cannot exceed 4 dots in character creation in anything. Then, in talents, players can freely put five dots in anything (again, not exceeding 4 in anything), and based on their back story for their character, they will get an additional eight dots. Or, if you want to skip that, feel free to describe the type of character you would play. Would they have a power? Be a dwarf sniper? Be the modern equivalent of a wizard? Swing a huge sword? Nothing is quite impossible in this modern fantasy world.

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Far Cry 4: World Of Pure Imagination

 

 

Far Cry 4 was just given a release date and this promotional art. Never really cared for the series, but apparently this one will star a new type of insane villain…
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Photo courtesy of Brian Altano and pulled from Kotaku.

Ok, but seriously, this is the best thing ever. Something about this image has me cracking up every time I see it. Maybe because Mel Stuart’s Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is one of my favorite movies of all time.

There’s no earthly way of knowing…
Which direction we are going…
There’s no knowing where we’re rowing…
Or which way the river’s flowing…
Is it raining? Is it snowing?
Is a hurricane a’ blowin?
Not a speck of light is showing, so the danger must be growing?
Are the fires of Hell a’ glowing?
Is the grisly reaper mowing?
YES! THE DANGER MUST BE GROWING FOR THE ROWERS KEEP ON ROWING!
AND THEY ARE CERTAINLY NOT SHOWING ANY SIGNS THAT THEY ARE SLOWING!

Here’s the original image for comparison:
nqfctmgprgyvyiocou2gThis sure was a quick post. Maybe if this gets a lot of feedback I could do some of these quick posts more often on little things I find instead of waiting several weeks for a long-thought out post.

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Altruism vs Utilitarianism

School is over for the spring semester, which means I am now free to see ALL THE SUPERHERO MOVIES EVER! And like everyone else on WordPress with a blog, I saw Captain America 2, and now I must write about it.

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But you don’t need me to tell you if Cap 2 is good or not because by now you should know it’s been getting very positive reviews. For a superhero film, its one of the best. But what struck me as one of the more interesting features in the film I happened to coincide with one of my Spring classes.

I took an Ethics & Governance class, which basically means how the government can make ethical decisions, and the philosophy behind them. Naturally, a large focus of our talk was between Kant’s altruism and Bentham’s utilitarianism, and a few in between. As boring as the class sounds to some, it was actually my favorite class of the semester, and I’m glad to pull something from the class I’ll continue to take with me.

For those who don’t know, altruism is basically selfless actions for the good of mankind. A more detailed look at it would be selflessness and maximizing the happiness of everyone without sacrifice; the polar opposite of selfishness. Kant didn’t create the notion, but he applied that it was societies duty to try for an altruistic Utopian society. I have several problems with Kant, but here isn’t the place, this is just framework for the movie.

Utilitarianism isn’t the opposite of altruism, but it is an opposing viewpoint. To myself, it’s more like applied altruism. Basically, utilitarianism is maximizing the happiness of everyone, while minimizing the negative. Utilitarianism is a more real and practical form of altruism, believing that it’s impossible to not have some form of sacrifice, but to those in power, they have a duty to the people they represent to do what’s best for them.

I knew I was going to like the class when during the first day, he compared altruism to Captain America, and utilitarianism to Iron Man. Iron Man is willing to sacrifice other timelines and others in order to protect his own people. Captain America says that there must be another way, and that if sacrificing other universes or timelines means they survive, then it’s not worth it. This is the central conflict in the second Captain film, and it’s played out beautifully, but not always gracefully.

Spoilers for The Winter Soldier below.

So in Captain America: Frozen Communism, we see a direct sequel to not only the aftermath of The Avengers movie, but to the very first Captain America film. I know next to nothing about Captain America, much less the Winter Soldier arc, so I came into the movie expected just a sequel that dealt with the aftermath of The Avengers. I have friends who love the Captain, so the identity of The Winter Soldier was already spoiled for me, but I thought that was the extent of the involvement of the first film. Turns out I was COMPLETELY FUCKING WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING IN LIFE. Most the major villains stem from Hydra, the Nazi offshoot who desire world power for Nazi offshoot purposes. Instead of going away like most failed organizations do, they survived within the newly formed S.H.E.I.L.D. unit, and identify each other by hugging and whispering “Hail Hydra”.

Photo courtesy of Google

Photo courtesy of Google

First off, that’s really stupid. How do they form new members? Do they brainwash them? Do they whisper Hail Hydra to everyone, and the ones that respond NOT with “Stop whispering in my ear bro” are induced? If they whisper in the wrong persons ear, wouldn’t someone alert someone else that touchy-feely Nazis are whispering sweet nothings to people? I kept wondering why neo-nazism would continue to spread, but then I remembered that Hydra was just “kinda-sorta” Nazis, and instead they just wanted to hold all the power over others. Whatever, Hydra motives aside, how the insurgency culminated in the film was cool.

Image from Google

Image from Google

Steve Rogers, played by Chris Evans, is your everyday boy-next-door nice guy who also happens to be at the very peak human condition. What I loved in the first film, and continued to love in this one, was that yes, Rogers is above and beyond a normal being’s prowess, but it’s actually his ideals and moral compass that make him a true super hero. This was represented the best in the first film with Rogers jumping onto a grenade, thinking it live, while the others ran. It’s a powerful scene that establishes his personality better than any of the other “good guy” qualities the film set up for him. Rogers will do everything he can to protect everyone.

In the second film, Rogers is out-of-place because the people he serves and protects could also be the ones that will be stabbing him in his back. Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) is a S.H.I.E.L.D. director who pretty much screams bad guy the moment he’s introduced, and shocker, he turns out to be. He, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), and the other directors begin a project that includes three helicarriers shooting DNA seeking bullets. The plan is to take out threats before they have a chance to become actual threats using satellite images. Naturally shooting someone before they draw their gun is an ideal that doesn’t sit will with the Captain, which raises tension.

Turns out, Hydra was planning on taking out millions of people who could be a potential threat to their new world order. Such people include office workers and baseball coaches. However, by sacrificing these people, the world will know peace, and war will be a thing of the past. Easily we see themes of utilitarianism. Not everything can be perfect, so in order to reach peace, some may be sacrificed. Pierce is the culmination of everything wrong with the theory, mitigating the amount of people who would be sacrificed in order to preserve what he believes is a perfect society (one that doesn’t threaten Hydra). He justifies his actions by putting law into chaos. He knows some eggs must be broken, and he’s willing to do anything for his peace.

Nick Fury is also a clear example of someone who lives using utilitarianism. Fury and Pierce have a strong connection because of this, and in a couple of scenes Pierce points out that this is exactly the reason Fury was given his position he is in now. When Rogers argues with Fury’s methods, it’s because of this central theme. Amazingly, the inner conflict with Fury and Pierce isn’t the betrayal, but how far they are willing to follow the rational thinking of utilitarianism. How much is too much? At some point, the line in the sand is drawn, and Fury draws it just before hailing Hydra.

Ripped directly from the movie

Ripped directly from the movie

To contrast this, we have Steve Rogers aka Captain America. Within the first fifteen minutes of the movie, I noticed that the Captain never seems to kill his victims. He throws a heavy shield and knocks them out, but it’s never shown as a death. I kept waiting to see a clear example of him killing someone, but outside a helicopter, I never noticed any. Meanwhile, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) shoots, chokes, and destroys her enemies. Hell, even Nick Fury whips out a gatling gun and mows down armed soldiers. They do this because they have no choice, its kill or be killed. Rogers doesn’t seem to believe this. In fact, Black Widow seems to be almost envious of Rogers’s moral compass. She’s someone who believes in utilitarianism, but wishes for altruism.

A major conflict with him isn’t just the fact he doesn’t know who to trust, but if he can or cannot kill his best friend. This is a decision that seems easy to the rest, but to Rogers he struggles. And in the end, when Rogers has to make a decision to kill or be killed, he decides he would rather die than to kill his friend. Granted, the choice was mostly difficult because it was his best friend, he still chose the selfless route. His character is as naive, and even called so, but Captain America’s actions are the result of not taking the easy way out. To Captain America, there exists black and white within the shades of grey. Captain America has always been a metaphor for the best traits of America, and his desire to protect everyone is at his core, a perfect synthesis of patriotism and high ethical standards.Captain America // artwork by Matteo Scalera and AsylumComics (2012)

Captain America // artwork by Matteo Scalera and AsylumComics (2012)

These were just a few things that stood out. I’m excited to see these themes explored in the next Avengers, or anything else from the Marvel Cinema Universe. The Winter Soldier made me a fan of the Captain, so maybe now I’ll stop sitting on my butt and actually read some of his comics.

Side note however: Did Captain America: The Winter Soldier copy the whole story of Metal Gear Solid 4? I haven’t read the comics so it could be the other way around, but aren’t there striking similarities? A secret organization (The Patriots or Hydra) seeks world domination by using technology (nanomachines or DNA seeking artillery strikes) via a large carrier (Outer Haven or helicarriers) and wish to control the battlefield and stamp out threats before they become one. They are led by older men (Liquid Ocelot or Alexander Pierce) who have turned their back on the government and have traded in their humanity for peace. I mean, it’s pretty damn similar, right?

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How I Met Peter Carrell And Joined The Development Process

First, may I say that I love WordPress? I’ve been on the site for over two years, but it’s only in my recent come-back to the blog that I’ve begun forming bonds with other people. I realized I just love talking to people about video games, so why not seek more people out? Since then, I’ve been checking out the list of people who have recently published articles about games. In doing this, I have met wonderful people and have gotten almost double the amount of followers (which is still small, but an amazing assortment of people). It’s the bonds with people who keep me here on WordPress and chatting. I also have met indie developers, who use WordPress to chronicle their journey with their game or their career. However, I’ve met one guy who’s taken this a little further.

Peter Carrell is an indie developer who is doing just that: using WordPress to track and chronicle the development of his work in progress by working title of Gentle Night.

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Gentle Night is a short narrative-driven exploration game featuring simplistic character designs to match the eerie and dark atmosphere. Players will take the role of a tall imposing character and meet NPCs such as the Old Man, who will give the player quests. Standing in your way right now is a mysterious large and  foreboding character, who I hope to learn more about as the game develops.

antagonistpreview

But the reason Peter Carrell stands out in a large ocean of independent indie developers is because of his willing attitude to take in other’s opinions and implement them into his game. It speaks a lot of his personality that Carrell is not only willing to initially listen to me, a complete stranger who jumped into his blog spouting random opinions, but willing to actually consider the ideas and opinions and sometimes put them into the game. Almost every day Carrell would post his progress for the day and what he implemented in the game.

One day, I mentioned the dark atmosphere would benefit from rain. Seemingly inspired, Carrell immediately put it into development. The next day, a prototype of rain was implemented, as well as a post about the complications and process of adding it in. For someone like me, with no programming insight, these post are fascinating and informative. Seeing a small idea of mine help transform the game was really cool, but it also raised a few questions I had to ask myself.

The rain before he improved it.

The rain before he improved it.

I want to review Carrell’s game when it’s released. That’s partly why I decided to follow him, and other indie developers. I love seeing the process, but reviewing the game is what I will be doing for the rest of my life. I want to get paid for my opinions. But if my opinions and advice is being taken into account so early in the development of the game, how can I review it without bias? Should I not review it altogether?

In any case, Gentle Night has been coming along nicely, and I’m excited to see the finished piece. Be sure to check out his youtube channel for his devlogs, and follow his blog as the game continues to evolve and grow. Carrell is an amazingly nice and open guy that deserves many more followers and support.

Posted in Uncategorized, Video Games | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Character Creation: Lynd the Arisen (Dragon’s Dogma) Part 1

I enjoy storytelling in video games, and I find people who don’t appreciate them or simply skip all cut scenes to be weird alien creatures who are possibly missing the point of video games.

I love the story and lore in some games so much, that sometimes what they give me isn’t enough: I need to fill in the blanks. The characters I created normally aren’t fleshed out enough within the story, and the in-game choices they make may not make too much sense, but in my head it does, and Character Creation is here to explain their back story, journey, and personalities. In it, I wanna talk about characters I have made in various games, and their lives that they lead from level 1 to level 100, and everywhere in between.

In the future, I’ll talk about various games including tabletop RPGs such as Dungeon’s & Dragons, Pathfinder, World of Darkness, and general forum based role plays I’ve been involved with. But today the focus is on Dragon’s Dogma, so beware of spoilers as I speak of my experience with Lynd my created Arisen and Veronica, his faithful Pawn, and their tragic end.

For a brief background to those unfamiliar with Dragon’s Dogma (hereby referred to DD from here on), DD is an open world RPG in which the player creates an avatar and picks a class. The classes are based on three archetypes Warrior, Rogue, and Wizard, and branch from there, becoming either more focused or hybrid classes. The player can easily switch classes, and can alter the appearance and class of their NPC servant called Pawns. The player can also summon two other pawns created by other players, but lack any customizing options. The narrative and cutscenes put a large focus on the main character who cannot talk and their pawn who can talk. So those who haven’t played the game, there will be spoilers in here, but for this first part only covers the first twenty minutes of the game after the initial prologue.

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Lynd is a short, fair-skinned black-haired teenager born into a fishing village off the coast of Grandsys named Cassardis. His parents death at the hands of the swelling ocean prompted Lynd to not want life trapped with the water at his back, but the fact that no one would take in little Lynd led him to grow up realizing a couple of hard truths: there is no such thing as a selfless act, and that the only person you can trust is yourself. Feeling more at home running on the rooftops and napping in back alleys, Lynd longed to escape his little town and the gossip that seemed to follow him. If it wasn’t for the support of a few people, he would have taken his chances in the Gransys wilds years ago.

Dragon's Dogma Screenshot_7

quinaQuina is the closest thing Lynd can call a friend. Shortly after Lynd lost his parents, Quina was bullied by the older children for her gentle nature and her family’s strange idea of utilizing the healing faith. It was Lynd alone, the youngest of the children, who stood up for Quina and her mother, and even through the kids beat on him and he left back to his home broken and licking his wounds like a dog, Quina saw the good in him. Where Lynden grew up hating his place in the world and grew cynical, Quina grew up compassionate and kind, practicing the healing arts to help the little fishing village. She would act like an older sister to Lynd, furthering the healing arts to heal the bumps and scrapes Lynd would get being tumbling around Cassardis. No one else would give Lynd such affection, and thus the hormonal and confused Lynd found himself infatuated with Quina, but knowing she didn’t return the same feelings, he withdrew more from the world.

velimoHe wasn’t always alone though. Another in the village, who had abandoned the fishing way of life was a man who grew up alongside Lynd by the name of Valmiro. Valmiro was eccentric and the center of Cassardis gossip as well. Instead of the fishing way of life, Valmiro questioned the world and sought answers. Like Lynd, Valmiro felt isolated from other humans. He found his calling in nature, identifying plants and conducting research. Quina and Lynd would chat with Valmiro about his findings and research, and he was more than happy to talk their ears off deep into the night. Lynd, however, was jealous of Valmiro. Not only was he closer to Quina’s age, but he seemed to have found a purpose in his life, something Lynd did not.

lynd dd 2

The last to show Lynd any semblance of care was the village chief Adaro, a buff old man weathered by a lifetime at sea. Adaro was close to Lynd’s parents prior to being the chief, and when they died and the beloved Adaro took over, he made sure to try to raise Lynd as his own. It’s a shame that Lynd rejected him and chose to seclude himself. But despite that, Adaro tolerates Lynd’s seemingly lazy ways, because Adaro sees the potential in Lynd. Back when Cassardis was independent and didn’t accept the protection of Gran Soren, the nexus of Grandsys and wealthiest city, Adaro lead a militia that would take on threats in the village. Lynd, eager to prove himself, volunteered. It was shortly after joining that Lynd received a deep wound on his face via an arrow, nearly blinding him. Since that time, Chief Adaro dissolved the militia and accepted protection from Gran Soren. This wasn’t a popular move, but Adaro cared more about Lynd than his pride.

Life went on as usual, for the sleepy village, and Lynd lived an apathetic existence, eager to go on an adventure. Then, as if the Gods themselves answered Lynd’s whims, an ominous wind blew through Cassardis which made the whole village fall silent. There was prior talk from the Gran Soren guardsmen that the Dragon, a symbol of chaotic and absolute destruction, would return to the lands, and that fear was felt throughout. Their fears came to reality quickly.

“IT’S-IT’S THE DRAGON!” One of the men cried as confusion and panic began to rise. Most of the men, including young Lynd, ran to the shoreline to see if it was true. And true it was, as the clouds were parted by the speed and might of the incarnate of death itself, descended on the village. With a mighty swing of its tail, the dragon knocked a sea structure into deadly crumbs, which pierced the village and homes. Another swing, and the pier that the village relied on was gone, and its splinters harrowing with deadly force into the beach line. Retreating, Lynd went to protect Quina by the city gate. What he found was that the Gran Soren guardsmen, sworn to protect the land, had abandoned the village, leaving only a sword as a crude reminder. It was the smart thing to do, after all. Lynd knew the village was only but so important, and to face the dragon was suicide. No single mortal could hope to fact the dragon and live… but… Looking at the sword, with the screams of men and women around him who he swore he didn’t care for , something stirred in him. Without any rhyme or reason, he picked up the sword and dashed back towards the shore.

lynd dd

As if to swat a fly, the crimson dragon brushed Lynd aside with enough force to send the small teenager tumbling down the fire warmed sand. But something was amiss to the dragon. Looking to its hand, it saw that the boy actually managed to barely pierce his hide. It, of course, did not hurt, and as it turned its massive hand the blade clumsily fell out his palm. When the other villagers rightfully fled, one single boy chose to take up arms against the creature. Something stirred in the dragon as well, and its cold clouded eyes flared with bright crimson life. He had found someone brave and foolish, and therefore, worthy.

Meanwhile, Lynd laid on his back, helpless. He was sure the dragon had broken a couple of ribs, and the force of stabbing into it’s hand and then tumbling in the sand had broken his arm and leg. He was powerless, and gripped the sand tightly as the dragon spoke to him in his ancient tongue. Unable to breathe, Lynd knew he was going to die. For no one faces the dragon and lives. He was foolish to try to save the damned village in the first place. These people had turned on him when he needed them, and now he was going to die here, alone. The dragon raised a finger longer than Lynd himself, and dipped it slowly into Lynd’s flesh with a sickening crunch. It’s razor claw plucked out his heart, and Lynd watched as the dragon swallowed it, all the while seemingly conversing with him in a language he had no way of understand.

Lynd reached for his heart. This dragon had no right to take what wasn’t his. He leaned forward, every muscle screamed in defiance, every broken bone protesting with excruciating agony.

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“Give… it… back!” Lynd said with the last fleeting breath he could muster in his lungs before the blood in his throat made him silently choke. The world began to fade… First the colors, then the light. The last vision Lynd would have been the dragon turning his head and leaving. Then there was nothing but darkness. What Lynd was unaware of was that his blood, which was mixing with the wet sand, was slowly receding back into his chest.

“HELP ME! HE’S STILL ALIVE!” came a voice that pierced the darkness. Slowly, he opened his bright blue eyes to meet Quina’s, but chest was still in agony, and the pain made him fall back into the sweet darkness.

Despite what Lynd thought, his tale had only just begun.

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Artsy Fartsy: Congrats to What’s Your Tag? For Two Years!

wty 2 year colored

From left to right: Kafka Luck, AMGfail, and Mileson

Congrats goes to the awesome folks at the blog What’s Your Tag?! The guys there are awesome, and their blog is everything I would want mine to be if I decided to keep trying to make Game Over You Suck a news blog. I annoy the guys at WYT? far too often, and I figured I would give them a little something back. So CONGRATS! I hope the next year goes great for you!

Now, with that aside, I can talk about the artwork itself. Man, I went about this in a super stupid way. With no tablet I have to rely on drawing outside the computer, then bringing it in. So I drew the basic image on notebook paper, transcribed it to blank computer paper, inked it, scanned it, then realized I couldn’t just color the image online… I had to re-draw the entire image with a brush tool on paint.net in order to create layers for the colors. Whew.
Coloring isn’t my forte. In fact, I don’t think I’m good at coloring. And on top of everything, I got sick like, three days ago, and I’m completing this on sheer force of will. I did get a bit lazy with the coloring at the end, like with Mileson’s plaid shirt being solid. All things considered, I think it came out pretty well. The line work is very my style and the guys all have been translated fairly well in anime-style. Looking back at the line work, I should’ve made Mileson’s sideburns longer, but whatever, I’ll do better next time. I took liberties with Mileson’s and AMGfail’s eye color, and I feel like Kafka Luck got gipped a bit, as the image doesn’t really bring out any personality. At some point, I’ll do another drawing of Mr. Luck and try to capture his personality in the comics.

Anyways, back to being sick and playing Titanfall on PC. Leave a comment below if you have any criticisms or comments! I appreciate any and all input.

original inkword

original inkword

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Q&A With Indie Developer Evan Barmes

molekick Gaming is one of the most single-handedly rapidly growing industries. This is an industry where a “generation” means around five years, and in that time, the previous become so obsolete that something from ten to fifteen years ago can seem ancient. And though we have advanced, there will always be a desire to recapture the feeling of a previous generation. The retro market is flooded with developers that wish to recapture the feeling of old school gameplay, but many do it with modern twists or from a modern standpoint. Evan Barmes is a developer working on a retro-styled game that challenges the notions of “What is a classic retro platformer?” 6a99b156a91d1d69291dd77292b525f2_large Barmes has recently started a Kickstarter in hopes of funding his passion project, The Mole. I followed his blog because of a video of his gameplay, and I was genuinely impressed with what I saw. I had never really followed an indie developer’s progress before, but I had speculation. This has to be a stressful position to be in, I’d imagine. Without financial stability, and almost insurmountable odds, indie developers have come and gone. The creators of indie titles do so because they love creating, without the ties and twisting their vision in order to conform with “projected” demographics. They do what they want because of passion, and Barmes was giving me a way to experience this with his blog. Over the past few weeks I’ve seen the beginnings of a game. A game created from nothing. It’s exciting, and one of the reasons I want to be in the field that I’m in.

I recently had the chance to ask Barmes about his upcoming game and his Kickstarter launch. He was eager to talk, and wanted to get the word out about The Mole.

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How did you get into developing games?

I started using Flash to create browser-type games when I was maybe 13. I really got into it more because I liked scripting than because I was looking to do game development. Actually my freshman year of college I began a degree in computer programming, but I quickly transferred to Full Sail where I graduated with a bachelor’s in game design. All along I’ve been scripting, so combining my technical knowledge with my design degree insight to become an indie developer was really a no-brainer.

Your blog seems to go step by step with the development of The Mole, was it your plan to have an open dialog with potential players? 

Absolutely. As a developer of one it’s very easy for me to pack the game with what I think would be awesome, only to have it received with complete disgust. Feedback is always critical when trying to get a balanced perspective and to not come up with a game that’s quite skewed by personal preferences. In many of my earlier post I specifically asked for feedback, but lately I’ve been a little preoccupied with running the Kickstarter.

Any fears of negative criticism due to the open window of development? 

I understand that the internet can be a cold, harsh place to look for feedback, because people can be obnoxious, crude, and downright degrading all while remaining hidden behind screen names and avatars, but I’ve learned to sift through feedback, looking for any grain of truth. At times, harsh feedback can be rooted on an underlying truth, and I’ll always try to find what’s at the core of the response while looking past any unnecessary remarks. But in the times when feedback is simply obnoxious for no reason, I’m fine with simply ignoring the post.

The Mole seems to flash back to the age of mascot platformers. Where did the inspiration for The Mole’s snazzy design and gameplay come from?

Moles are pretty stealthy creatures if you think about it. At least where I live in southern Indiana, those guys can really wreck a yard all from underground without ever being seen. In addition the game is full of puns and irony, so the fact that The Mole will literally and figuratively operate “underground” was just irresistible. The mole is so snazzy simply because it’s a requirement for being a secret agent. 9a8de0708085d574cdb958352f59c3a5_large You’ve mentioned on your blog that The Mole will feature stealth gameplay. How do you plan to combine retro platforming and stealth?

My inspiration for the platforming aspects almost solely comes from Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World, so anyone familiar with those games will almost instantly feel right at home. I even want the new grappling hook and digging mechanics to blend right in and just feel natural. Those old-school platformers were all about the feel. From there I’ll start working in the stealth mechanics and making sure they don’t simply add to the fun but multiply it. Currently I’m looking at implementing a sight and sound system so the enemy AI can look and listen for the player, as well as other stealth game staples like hiding unconscious bodies, picking locks, and of course laser-based security systems! screen-shot-2014-03-15-at-9-37-52-pm Have you thought about expanding and getting other developers for The Mole and any future games?

I would love to have more developers to work on The Mole with me, but I just don’t have the budget right now. The plan is to do The Mole and possibly a few more games solo, then look at investing any capital into launching my own studio, and at that point hiring another programmer and maybe an artist.

We see various amounts of Kickstarters out there for game development, what made you decide to launch The Mole’s Kickstarter at this stage of development?

The Mole is indeed very early in development, but I based my decision on the breakdown that follows. I would like to complete The Mole in about 12 months working 40 hours a week as my full-time job, but to develop full-time I need the support from the Kickstarter. Working on The Mole in my spare time allows about 8 hours of development per week at the most. This means that The Mole would take at least 5 years to complete, and I’m just not sure if I can stick to one project for that long. I really want to get The Mole into the hands of the players as soon as I can and for this I need the support of the Kickstarter and indie game communities. I do wish I had more development to show, but I guess I’m asking for a little faith.

Where will the funding from the Kickstarter go for the development of The Mole?

About $15,000 from the Kickstart will serve as my salary for the year that I spend developing The Mole, and the other $5,000 will go towards art and sound production. In the case that 5 thousand isn’t enough to cover art and sound then I will offer the artist and sound engineer a cut of the sales once the game has been released.

The Kickstarter is ambitious, but what happens in the event that it doesn’t meet the funding goal?

I’m so busy trying to get the word out about the Kickstarter right now that I haven’t given too much thought to the what-ifs. I really want to see The Mole completed one way or another though, so in the case of a failed Kickstarter I might look into other ways of getting the game developed.

What features do you wish to implement in The Mole?

As mentioned above TheMole will be running, jumping, swinging, digging, hiding bodies, and picking locks. The AI will be looking and listening, and I’m looking into adding many other features such as a world map, race levels (both above and below ground), boss battles, one time use items in addition to upgrades for The Mole’s gun, and even skydiving. I’m trying to be ridiculously ambitious for my first project, because I would rather shoot to high and come up a little short than make another run-of-the-mill 2D platformer.

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I’m rooting for Barmes, because even though indie developers are increasingly getting their products out to the public, they still face near impossible odds. Games like The Mole need to exist. These indie titles need to come to existence from nothing but the desire to create something they think will be fun. He’s aiming for The Mole to recapture not only the retro platformer, but also a genre that he feels is genuinely fun. If anything, Barmes’s only crime is being too ambitious, and even if things don’t work out with the Kickstarter or The Mole, I have no doubt Evan Barmes will continue to grow and develop titles that further his vision.

It also helps that The Mole, despite its early stage of development, looks incredibly fun and promising. You can find The Mole on its Kickstarter page and Steam Greenlight page, and Evan Barmes’s blog here.

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