DGS Games

GARPA 30 – GrogHeads Advanced Research on Projects Advisory

Authors: Lloyd Sabin and Jim Zabek

Halloween arrives next week. I know this because my neighbor just a few houses over has a display of decorations that would shame many a professionally stocked haunted house. We moved just a few months ago and I still haven’t found the boxes with the Halloween stuff in them (though Christmas is looking good). The pathetic string of purple lights around my front door makes me feel like I’ve done something to celebrate the season – and it’s better than the guy across the street who is banking on a string of Christmas lights (green bulbs removed to give him plausible deniability) to save his bacon. Still, the lack of assorted skulls, ghosts, and ghastly visages dampens the normal joy I feel as winter begins to wrap its icy fingers around my bones.

So this edition of GARPA is tilted slightly in favor of finding projects that could accompany the spooky spirit of Halloween. But fear not, if we spot something interesting that isn’t creepy or spooky, we’ll include that, too. We are gamers after all.

PC Games

You Are Not the Hero by Donn Manalili

$33,510.00 pledged of $12,001.00 goal, funding ends November 12th

YouAreNottheHeroYou Are Not the Hero [Hero from here on in] has a great sense of humor and confidence in itself to go along with it. Its premise is simple:  things gamers usually do in RPGs should, in a perfect world, piss off the in-game NPCs as well as have repercussions. Slay a beast? It was probably someone’s pet. Kill a witch? That was my sister. And hey, get out of my bathroom!

So, how to remedy these issues? If you’re Donn Manalili, you create a 2D action platform game with an anime style which tells it like it is and places the player in the tiny, quick moving shoes of Petula, Hero’s protagonist.

The royal army has just passed through Petula’s village, scavenging for supplies and stealing some of Petula’s jewelry. Getting the jewelry back is the main quest of Hero. But the real point of the game is ignoring that main quest and doing anything else you could possibly imagine in an open world. Start a business, buy a house, explore ruins or go fishing all day…the open world of Hero intends to focus on details and not get lost in its own scope.

The technicals of Hero include:

  • Pixel-based movement instead of tile-based movement
  • Dealing with enemies through options other than combat
  • Run, jump and explore a world of forests, tunnels, and caves
  • Pound through mazes and solve puzzles
  • Different outcomes for every game depending on how you play it
  • See how the other half lives by getting a job as a farmer, innkeeper or merchant

The response to Hero on Kickstarter has been excellent and a host of goals are being met, including upgraded graphics, and is fast closing on Mac and Linux support. Additional chapters are also proposed including Petula in a modern-themed world as well as a possible horror story, so things are looking very good for Hero and supporters should be able to play it in the not-too-distant future.

 

Confederate Express by Maksym Pashanin

$5,215.00 pledged of $10,000 goal, funding ends November 20th

ConfederateExpressConfederate Express places players in the role of a courier. Doesn’t sound exactly thrilling from the get go, but stay with me. The game let’s players choose what kind of package they want to deliver according to their skill level, what kind of group they have assembled to deliver said package, and of course the player’s attitude towards permadeath.

All characters available to choose from are unique criminals that come from the local prison when assembling your courier team. There’s also a whole slew of loot scattered throughout the game world that you can gather as you explore while on your delivery runs. Maps are varied and randomized every time a new game is started, with the promise of a new game every time it’s started.

Of course this would all be very pedestrian without zombies, right? The back story of Confederate Express involves homeostasis, bio-engineering, a horrible ‘side effect,’ and many, many zombies, as well as an entire opposing army, rebels and angry robots. All will try to stop you from getting to where you are supposed to make your delivery.

Confederate Express is rendered in 2d sprites, with advanced lighting effects, in an interesting blend of old and new school graphic technology. The end result is a unique looking game with a bit of a creep factor and a dark sense of humor. Funding is ongoing as the developer is still looking for an audio composer and an animator, but Maksym Pashanin seems hell bent on completing this game and making his supporters happy.

Red Baron by Mad Otter Games

$19,065.00 pledged of $250,000.00

RedBaronFirst of all let me just say that funding for Red Baron began two days before this writing (October 24). Also incredible is the fact that Mad Otter has almost 10% of the needed funding already! So, let’s look at the game itself.

The Red Baron. A man so famous that he has pizza named after him even though there’s little evidence that he ever ate one. Closer to his roots, the Red Baron PC game was, back in the day, as good as it got for flight sims. One of our good friends at Grogheads even achieved some notoriety by creating a mod for the game which ultimately became Full Canvas Jacket. So you might imagine the thrill I got when I saw that Red Baron was being resurrected at Kickstarter. If it meets the goal Red Baron might be one of the most highly anticipated remakes ever. Why would our expectations be this high? Let’s let the developers explain:

“We are not just building a simulation. We are not just building a game. We are building a time machine that will transform your PC into a fighter aircraft from World War I, allowing you to experience dogfighting at its best.”

With a life-long fascination of all things connected to the First World War, I have to admit I did not know that a new Red Baron was on its way. Shame on me. The team working on this new WWI flight game (not sure if it can be categorized as a sim, yet) is the same team that worked on the original Red Baron as well as Aces of the Pacific, Aces over Europe, A-10 Tank Killer, and Ace of Aces. Lots of aces and great games there.

What really gets my attention in the Kickstarter description is the comparison of this new Red Baron not as a ‘flight sim’ but as a ‘time machine.’ The developers are keen on not just building a great flight experience but a great historical experience too, and that really whets my whistle.

GARPA-30-Red-Baron-Game

I have to be honest with you here: in looking over the Kickstarter Red Baron page, I was almost immediately reminded of the great Cinemaware game Wings! How I loved that game…so immersive, so fun and exciting…and now this new Red Baron looks to emulate the same historical detail that Wings! did 20+ years ago.

Mad Otter is promising a lot of detail with this iteration: g-force effects, pilot blackouts, blind spots in the sun, gun jams, muzzle flashes, oil leaks, exhaust and dirt will torment in-game flyers as much as opposing pilots will.

The single player campaign will not be linear, will not be online and will not contain DRM. Pilots will be able to choose their own campaign path as well as what they do in-between missions.  Medals and ribbons will be awarded, promotions made, transfers given to other flight groups and once rank is high enough, new skins and paint for your planes.

The AI is going to be based on the behavior of real World War I aces as has been tried in the past, and in-game events will be both random and generated by your own behavior.  Aces can even issue challenges to duels with players who have offended them! I don’t think I have ever seen that in a WWI flight game before.

Multiplayer can be joined at any time and online matches will be 20-40 minutes long and is planned to feature 50-player skirmishes. Dogfights will be the centerpiece but escort missions and attacks on enemy defenses will also be offered. Multiplayer will also feature MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) which will be distributed with one map that will conceivably be switched out with future map releases.

On Red Baron’s Kickstarter page you will see that the developers are intense PC gaming fans. They have already invested $250,000.00 into Red Baron and the game is already close to alpha stage. The Kickstarter campaign exists to flesh out the skeleton of an already solid operation. With key team members on board from the original Red Baron games including Damon Slye as project lead and Paul Bowman as lead software engineer, it’s hard to not get giddy about this new Red Baron project. Release is projected for November, 2014.

 

Bridge Commander 2 by Kenneth Emerson and Aaron Shufelt
$730 of $15,000, ends November 29th

GARPA-Bridge-Commander2-imageHonestly, I had to guess on the platform for Bridge Commander 2 since I didn’t actually see it in the game’s description. However, the developers make it clear that they’re attempting to make an improved sequel to Star Trek: Bridge Commander, so I took that as a big hint that it will be on the Windows platform.

Bridge Commander 2 promises to give players the choice of taking on the role of one of five races in the Star Trek universe: The Federation / Starfleet (Civilian), The Klingon Empire, The Cardassian Union, The Romulan Star Empire, or The Dominion. The developers make it clear that they are not affiliated with any of the owners of the respective trademarks, but they secured legal permission to build a game based on the Star Trek universe. Their goal is to allow for more than just starship combat. Players will be able to land on planets, mine and govern them, and (hopefully) experience ground-breaking features.

If that sounds like the kind of game you’d like to play then check out their Indiegogo page. Once again the developers have exercised the Flexible Funding option so any money contributed will be taken and used to fund the project.

 

Alone by Greenwood Games
$4138 of $25,000, ends November 16th

GARPA-30-AloneWhen Gus sees this he’s going to squeal like a little girl. At last we find something actually worthy of being called “Halloweeny.” Alone is a virtual reality game where the player is home alone. At night. Playing a horror game. On his TV. And discovers he isn’t alone…

Wait. What?

Yeah, So you wear this VR hood over your eyes. You’re happily playing a horror game on your TV when the VR hood fires up the spooky effects. The video on Greenwood Games’ Kickstarter page will make it all clear in about 30 seconds.

The hood used for the game must be purchased separately – the Oculus Rift developer’s kit which runs about $300. The interesting thing is that the Occulus is still considered in development as a developer’s tool. I haven’t kept track of it so I don’t know what else is out there which supports it. It looks cool, but if you’re tempted I’d encourage you to pop into our forums and ask around – it’s likely someone is following its development.

Assorted Platforms

Sword of the Stars Ground Pounders by Kerebos Productions
$15,773 of $20,000, ends October 29th

GARPA-Sword-of-the-stars-Ground-Pounders-HandheldIf Sword of the Stars Ground Pounders sounds familiar it’s because it ought to. It has been discussed in the Grogheads forums (twice: here and here) and was covered just over a month ago in GARPA 27.

Why is it back? Well, its Kickstarter campaign failed to raise the requisite goal. This time Kerebos is passing the hat on Indiegogo. Scaled back to be slightly less ambitious, Indiegogo also offers the option of Flexible Funding, which means that even if the goal of $20,000 isn’t reached, Kerebos will take the money and start work on the project anyway. As of this writing they’re about 75% of the way toward funding, and the funding goal this time is just under what was pledged on Kickstarter.

Kerebos clearly believes there’s an audience who wants this game and they’re definitely working toward providing it. And, hey, anytime a dev announces something like, “This is our chance to introduce a whole new generation of players to the joy of CRUSHING YOUR ENEMIES HEX BY HEX” it’s difficult for grogs to not pay attention. If you think you want to give it a go the second time around, head over to Indiegogo and give it a shot.

 

Other

Operation Supply Drop by 8-Bit Salute to Veterans
$4910 of $7500, ends November 12th

Operation Supply Drop isn’t for funding the launch of a game per se, it’s a project to help buy Playstation 4 and Xbox One games and consoles for wounded veterans in Walter Reed National Military Hospital and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital. Operation Supply Drop is also being funded through Indiegogo using Flexible Funding so all contributions will be taken and used. If helping vets get gaming consoles into their hospital rooms sounds like a plan you’d like to back, then check out their page and send some money their way.

GARPA-30-Operation-Supply-Drop

Boardgames/Tabletop

Shadows of Brimstone by Flying Frog Productions
$301,229 pledged of $30,000 goal, ends November 24th

GARPA-30-ShadowsofBrimstoneIf I didn’t know any better I’d say that Cthulhu is indeed taking over the world. For whatever reason pretty much every Cthulhu-themed game we’ve covered on GARPA has been wildly successful in raising money. Coincidence? Let’s hope so.

The premise is pretty simple: a dungeon crawl boardgame set in the Old West against Lovecraftian monsters, demons, and mutants. What’s not to love? Part of me is tempted to stop now because I know there is a sizable audience of readers who are already pulling out their wallets and throwing them at their monitors.

For the rest of us who might need a bit more convincing Shadows of Brimstone it’s a cooperative game that’s card-driven and includes lots of dice chucking and role-playing. Tactical in nature it offers players a campaign setting and the opportunity to visit other locations both on Earth and through other portals. Originally asking a mere $30,000 for funding Shadows of Brimstone has become so well-funded that now the next bonus level is approaching the original funding goal. Furthermore the game has an additional 30 days to go. If Cthulhu and the Wild West are an itch that needs to be scratched, Shadows of Brimstone looks like it can’t be beat.

 

Clockwork Empire by Zeke Coughlin
$17,184 pledged of $9,000 goal, ends November 10th

GARPA-30-Clockwork-EmpireSteampunk horror, w00t! We promised we’d try to find some Halloween-themed games and we’re doing our best to bring you some. Clockwork Empire is a steampunk RPG where Victorian England is being threatened by the forces of chaos called the Pontus. Three things set it apart from traditional RPGs. First, there is a non-linear initiative system. Players can take actions at any time. Second, the game isn’t all about mortal combat. Combat is more goal-oriented than dice slinging and players must figure out a way to achieve their goal rather than circularly take turns rolling to hit and then rolling for damage. Third, the game integrates social interaction with combat so that negotiation can lead to combat, which can lead back to negotiation.

Interestingly there aren’t any stretch goals, just add-ons. The pledge levels are modest – except for the already fully-subscribed Royalty level, which included a bed and breakfast, fencing lessons, food prepared by the author of A Feast of Ice and Fire, and a custom game created for the four lucky pledgers. (Too bad I didn’t have $2500 per person to jump on that).

Anyway, Clockwork Empire is already fully funded but there are plenty of pledge levels still open if you want to get in on the action. Check out its Kickstarter page here!

 

In Harm’s Way by The Last Square
$2,493 pledged of $8,000 goal, ends November 18th

GARPA-30-InHarms-WayIf the title sounds familiar, it ought to. The classic movie starred John Wayne and Kirk Douglas and was set during the Second World War. The Last Square’s game is a minis game which will cover naval warfare from 1890 through 1945. 20 years in development its fundraising goals are modest. Pledge levels at $50 will score you the rulebook, and higher levels will get both the rulebook and one or more supplements. The scale is 1/6000 and the rules allow for players to manage both individual ships and squadrons of ships on a table rather than in a stadium. Turns represent five minutes so maneuvering ships isn’t a big emphasis on the game. This streamlines the gameplay. Players track the damage they take privately, so their opponent is never sure exactly what’s happening until something such as smoke from a fire. If an enemy ship loses a turret the volume of incoming fire is reduced, so players can make inferences as to what is happening to their target, but never know for sure. This blind system of damage allocation creates a lot of tension in the game as you see your own systems degrade but are never sure if you’re getting the better of your opponent or not.

The five minute game turn streamlines gameplay and measuring and angle calculation is relatively abstract. The benefit is that play goes fast – two hour games are not uncommon. An illustration of a game turn is provided on the Kickstarter page video, and it begins about the six minute mark for folks interested in a little more detail.

By incorporating air combat, aircraft loadouts, and combat resolution in the same game system players can game Second World War carrier battles reasonably quickly and satisfactorily. If you’ve been looking for a streamlined historical naval minis game, In Harm’s Way may be just the ticket.

 

Heroes of the Pacific by LnL Publishing
$20,435 of $24,000, ends October 31st

GARPA-30-Heroes-of-the-Pacific-IwantthisgameFrankly, I’m not sure what color to flag Heroes of the Pacific. I Want This Game is a service similar to Kickstarter and Indiegogo that attempts to get around the often long waiting times for traditional P500 games. But this has a twist. Similar to Indiegogo, if Lock n Load thinks they’ve got a winner, they told us recently in an interview that they might exercise the option to pony up their own funds to put a game over the top if they think it’s the right game. Given that Heroes of the Pacific is so close to fully funded, I’m going to speculate that it has a good chance of going to print. Nevertheless, if you think it’s something you’d like, there are only a few days left to get in to fund the game before the cutoff date.

The game itself is likely to be familiar to fans of the Lock n Load gaming system. Set in the Pacific theater during World War Two, players will have the opportunity to command their Marines (or Japanese) as they storm the infamous battlefields and beaches of Tarawa, Peleliu, and Iwo Jima (amongst others). Offering 12 scenarios and all the high quality components gamers have come to expect from Lock n Load Heroes of the Pacific is likely going to be the tactical game system of ground combat in the PTO released this year. If that sounds like your style of wargaming head over to I Want This Game and check it out.

 

And that’s all for GARPA. Hopefully there were enough spooky games in this edition to get you in the mood for Halloween. Come back in a fortnight to see what else we’ve got cooking. We’ve already started scouting and there are a few juicy projects we can’t wait to share which aren’t yet even launched.

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