GARPA 26 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

frontier wars 728x90 KS

Authors: Dan Pinkham & Lloyd Sabin

Ahh…there is almost a chill in the air and the children are being herded back to school.  That means football season and fall must almost be here. Unfortunately that also means pumpkin in everything you can eat and drink but never fear: GARPA shall remain pumpkin free but still contain all the gaming nutrition you expect.

Board and Tabletop Games

A War of Kings –Playing Cards by Andy Fischer

$8,056 pledged of a $10,500 goal funding ending September 7th

1 War of KingsTo be honest I am getting off easy with this entry but it is too cool looking of a project not to feature here at GARPA. It is a deck of cards. That’s right, 54 playing cards.  However, “each suit is a distinctly different set of fantasy characters, featuring White and Dark Knights, Fire Mages and Barbarians.”  That’s the project, that’s all there is: a card deck with some sweet looking fantasy art. We’ll post some pictures here but make sure to check out their project page for even more art samples.

Fantasy Frontier by Gamelyn Games

$5,187 pledged of a $25,000 goal funding ending October 8th

There is something so very intriguing about airships. Perhaps it is the well-known disaster of the Hindenburg and the idea of what could have been had it not happened. Maybe it is just the notion of slowly drifting through the clouds in your very own dirigible. Whatever the case may be I thought most of us, if honest, find the idea at least interesting.

Since we can’t all go out and buy an airship, we have to keep dreaming and game with them. Fantasy Frontier is here to help with “a 2-4 player game of airships and exploration” that brings the airship fantasy alive on a tabletop.

3 Fantasy FrontierDesigned to be played in about 90 minutes this will make a great game for the coming winter months.  “Each player controls a unique airship with a crew of pioneers. Players manage the actions of these pioneers each turn in an effort to scout the land, gather resources, construct townships, and even battle it out in aerial combat.”

To create the game world over which the airships fly, players develop “geographic patterns via tile placement, the players will develop a new world each time they play.” Each turn players use their workers to perform seven actions: piloting the airship, R&D, scouting the land, gathering resources, constructing a township, aerial combat, or repairing ship damage.

The game comes with over 200 components and looks to be a very unique experience.  Combine the possible turn strategies with the geomorphic playing surface and players get lots of replayability options. If you want to see some cool game art, components, or an early gameplay video then make sure to check out the project’s Kickstarter page.

25 Quick & Dirty Map Tutorials Guide by Michael K. Tumey

$13,123 pledged of a $3,750 goal funding ending September 1st

4 25 QuickThis is a very interesting product that I just had to share. For the graphically and artistically challenged, this is something we could use for our homemade RPGs and boardgames. This guide book helps you “Learn to create stunning, photo-realistic maps using any standard graphics application quickly and easily with fully illustrated step-by-step tutorial instructions with techniques being taught by renowned, professional fantasy cartographer, Michael K. Tumey.”  The only catch is you would need to own and be nominally familiar with a graphics program already.

The book claims to “allow users of Photoshop, GIMP, Inkscape, Xara Photo & Graphic Designer, and many similar graphics software programs, both image editors and vector drawing applications, to create your gaming maps in no time at all.” When all is said and done the book will be around 248 full color pages in soft cover and also available as a PDF file.

The book includes 25 tutorials that are grouped into three categories, general map tutorials, encounter scale maps and large scale maps. Each tutorial consists of 9-15 illustrated steps that promise ease of use. To see the full table of contents and some maps made using the book, check out the project page before the funding ends this Sunday.


PC Games

Neverending Nightmares by Matt Gilgenbach

$14,772 pledged of $99,000 goal, funding ends Sunday, September 29

Project HTML:

NeverendingNightmaresContrary to the title Neverending Nightmares is not a portrayal of my own personal or professional life. It is a psychological horror game that will be available for Windows, Linux, Mac and whatever the hell Ouya is. There is also a push to place it on Steam Greenlight and a demo is available here. You’re welcome.

Now, what is Neverending Nightmares really about? This is something I cannot claim to have seen before: the game is based on the developer’s personal mental health, his struggle with obsessive compulsive disorder and depression. Gameplay will be based on exploration and stealth with limited combat, similar to the Amnesia line of games. Conflict is something to be avoided, but the developer also wants to make the game ‘accessible and fun’…in an obsessive compulsive, depressing sort of way. The stealth components will be more forgiving than other similar games, and usable by players of varying skill levels. “Dying” is portrayed by waking up at the same nightmare after being killed [like going into work every day] or potentially being transported to a different node within the same nightmare [like being promoted at work].

The artwork may look familiar to you (it did to me) if you are familiar with the artist Edward Gorey and his Gashleycrumb Tinies works. I personally love the style and started to collect some of the art books when my own kids were born. The art style here in Neverending Nightmares works well with the mental health theme, with a lot of 2d art and black and white renderings with 3D and splashes of color reserved for special points in the game.

The game narrative is told through different narratives which branch out in different directions and lead to high replayability. One single playthrough will be short, about 1-3 hours, with additional content planned after release.

Developer Matt Gilgenbach claims his influences to be the Silent Hill series, the Amnesia games, and on the website he has a picture of himself seated underneath a giant photo of the murdered sisters from The Shining. All things a certain type of gamer (including me) could immediately identify with.

Gilgenbach’s personal mental health history and his past work in the gaming industry are also very strong influences, and he states that he feels he can do a world of good through Neverending Nightmares. Clearly this is a niche type game for that certain type of person not too afraid of what could end up being some deep self-exploration.

U55 End of the Line by Effective Evolutions

$35,142 pledged of $115,000, funding ends Thursday, September 19

Project HTML:

U55_EndoftheLineThere’s no shortage of H.P. Lovecraft fans here at Grogheads. This one is for all of you. Set in the subway system of contemporary Berlin, U55 is a survival horror game for Windows that pits the player against the unseen horrors of cosmic evil…no pressure though.

The developers take their influences from Cthulu: Dark Corners of the Earth and Dead Space, along with Silent Hill and Amnesia, just like Neverending Nightmares above. This seems to be a good week to plan to get more freaked out in front of your computer than usual.

U55 will be first person, with high quality sound and accurate recreations of Berlin’s subways, government offices and landmark locations. Sound is set to have a big part in generating an appropriately creepy atmosphere, with aural queues coming at the player from distant game locations to illicit what we all want from games like this: dread!  Sound effects are also taken very seriously by the developer, including a warning that some of the frequencies used in the game may actually harm anyone under 18 who listens to them. You’ve been warned. Oh and Oculus Rift is also supported for players who survive listening to the game’s audio!

Berlin was chosen as the setting because: a. the developers are Berliners, and b. the developers claim that Berlin can be one of the most frightening cities in the world. Never having been there, I am willing to take their word for it for now.

U55 will operate as an RPG, but your player character is only a regular human being with just a smartphone to use for interaction with the wider world. Improvisation will be a key game mechanic instead of blasting through game levels as if U55 were a shooter. More specifics and stretch goals should be released as backing increases with time.


We here at GARPA hope you have been appropriately disturbed and delighted by this week’s edition. See you back in two weeks unless you have been torn asunder by The Ancient Ones.





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