We'd like to share with you two indie games worth checking out, made by two awesome indie developers that we've recently gotten to know a little.
First, Frayed Knights, an indie RPG of comedy and high fantasy, by Rampant Games. I've already tried the beginning of the game, and it seemed quite intriguing. I know I'd be interested in exploring further, once we get the chance. I especially liked how vividly the characters of the party conversed with each other, and how they all seemed to have distinct personalities.
We asked Jay to tell us a few things about Frayed Knights, and here's what he wrote:
"Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon is something of an homage (and maybe a little bit parody) of not only older western CRPGs (Wizardry, Bard's Tale, Might & Magic, Ultima, etc.), but also dice-and-paper role-playing from the 1970s and early 1980s. But I didn't want to just copy the style of these old games - I wanted to do something new with the old ideas, and bring in some of the flavor and situations of the old games that had been long abandoned (or ignored) for new players. And I wanted to have fun with it, and make the game a little humorous.
Part of the humor idea came from wanting to bring back the first-person, party-based dungeon crawler: One of the problems with these old games is that it was easy to stop thinking of the characters in your party as individuals. To solve this, I decided to make them fixed characters who were constantly chatting about the game. Sometimes they were directly interacting with other characters in the game, and sometimes they were simply offering commentary, sort of like Mystery Science Theater 3000 (if you ever watched that show)."
"Another new feature is the use of "Drama Stars" - the three stars at the top of the screen. This was my effort to solve the problem of "save scumming," or when the player is constantly saving and reloading to get the best result from random events. This can make the game hard to balance: It can be too easy and boring for the people who save & reload all the time, and too difficult for the people who try to play the game "straight." The Drama Stars help this by giving players who do not reload access to the similar kinds of advantages someone who constantly reloads might enjoy - like guaranteeing a successful roll, or restoring a character (or even the entire party) from being knocked unconscious. The Drama Stars put this power more directly in the control of the player."
Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Go ahead, give Frayed Knights a shot (Just noticed it's actually 50% off up until the start of next week)!
It's always best for the developer if you buy directly from them (via the link above), but if you prefer, you can also get Frayed Knights through Desura.
Here's also a link to Steam Greenlight. I'm pretty sure your vote would be much appreciated.
And onto the second part of our indie game check-up: Private Infiltrator by Espionage Noir is steadily approaching release, and is described as an arcade-like Stealth game that bears the Noir art style.
Here's a clip from the Steam Greenlight description of the game:
"The game's core mechanics are fairly simple and easy to pick up, yet difficult to master while also retaining a satisfying amount of depth. They revolve around the double-sided nature of light in stealth games enriched by the Noir art style's principles, hacking and bypassing electronic devices, as well as elegant evasion of detection.
At the player's disposal are numerous gadgets such as sound-emitting decoys and poisoned coffee, as well as special abilities such as Blinking and Invisibility. Building on the core gameplay are extra mechanics such as a point reward system accompanied an in-game black market with a dynamic economy system from where the player can either purchase useful equipment, or exploit the fluctuating prices in order to gain profit by selling loot they can steal from the base.
The game also features a wide variety of unlockables such as new characters with their own special abilities, entirely new pieces of soundtrack and bonus maps. The game's difficulty level could be described as both diverse and brutal, offering awareness and resource management challenges amongst the classic stealth gameplay. There is also a relatively strong story element to the game, although in order to fully experience and understand the game's plot the player must rely on written text scattered, and some times hidden, throughout the base. Completing side-objectives also has an effect in the later stages of the game."
As always, your votes are important, so go ahead and check Private Infiltrator at Steam Greenlight. Oh, and here's also an important link to the Desura page of Private Infiltrator. If you get it through there, you can go ahead a start playing this instant!
We've had the privilege to take part in several interviews during the previous weeks. Here are some of the most recent English ones. I especially love the title on the Polygon story.
"Maintaining a job, a marriage and the spare-time creation of an RPG threatened to be too much for one man — until his wife decided to step in."
Interview at polygon.com
"My game developer side always feels like I’m not spending enough time making the game, and the business side of my brains constantly tells me to spend more time marketing the game."
Interview at truepcgaming.com
"Seriously though, it’s been at the same time wonderful and a bit stressful to share a project as demanding as Driftmoon. We have both enjoyed it, but at the same time it’s been a tremendous amount of work..."
Interview at indiegamemag.com
Some recent Driftmoon coverage. First we have a review with John Walker from Rock Paper Shotgun, which is one of our favorite gaming sites.
Next up is Indie Test Drive with our brand new friend Paul Soares Jr. The video is worth watching just to listen to that smooth voice of his.
If you like Driftmoon, we'd be very thankful for your vote.
I love game music. I listen to tracks from my favorite games almost daily, and Driftmoon is no exception - I must have listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times already (and the amazing part is that I still like it!). It's been almost three years now since we teamed up with our good friend Gareth Meek.
Who are you, and how did you get into composing?
Hello my name is Gareth Meek, I began composing aged about 13 and very quickly became hooked. I studied composition at both high school and University and have continued to write ever since.
How did you happen to start working with Driftmoon?
One summer I found a game called Notrium and I thought it was absolutely fantastic, I played it A LOT, often with my character meeting a very quick end. After a few days I hunted down the developers’ website and I found they had posted a demo of Driftmoon. I contacted Ville and Anne, and in an attempt to try and become the composer for the game I scored their trailer. Fortunately they were happy with the music and so I got to work on Driftmoon.
What other music projects have you been working on?
Since scoring for Driftmoon I have been very busy composing for people in both Europe and America on various projects from games to independent series. Most recently I have composed for international brass band champions the Grimethorpe Colliery Band who then performed the score around the UK at venues including The Sage in Gateshead and St Davids Hall in Cardiff.
What kinds of composing projects would you like to work on in the future?
I would love to primarily compose in the game and anime world as I feel they offer the most freedom in creativity. However, I am happy to score music for pretty much anything be it media, concert or even the stage - the great thing about being a composer is that as long as I’m writing music I’m happy.
So you'd be happy to compose for other games, if another game developer decided to contact you based on your work with Driftmoon?
Absolutely! I love scoring music for games! I find it tremendous fun.
We've been very happy with how wonderfully you listened to our wishes, when you were doing the music for Driftmoon (and needless to say, we're thrilled with the results). How do you do it, Gareth?
One of the greatest aspects of being a composer is that you don’t have to discuss music in musical terms, I often get requested to write a score which is happy or sad or that would fit walking through a forest or riding on a motorbike and personally such words and images help the notes to appear in my head much quicker than if I were just asked to score a piano concerto. Both Ville and Anne had very clear ideas as to what the music should sound like, so when I was asked to score an Underground Cave theme that is dark and cold sounding lots of notes and ideas popped into my head!
How has it felt hearing your own music in Driftmoon?
This was the first major composition undertaking I worked on outside of my educational life so it really does hold a special place in my heart for me. Not only was it such a joy to work on but it felt incredible to load up the game and realise that people would be listening to (and hopefully enjoying) the music that I composed for the world of Driftmoon.
How have you liked playing Driftmoon?
I have loved playing Driftmoon! I think that everything about the game world is enchanting. The level of detail is fantastic and I don’t just mean graphically but also the fact that the monsters have descriptions and the characters have personality. I also appreciate how Driftmoon's setting is so unique; it is not just a canonical fantasy setting, it feels like a fairy-tale and a beautiful one at that!
Who would you recommend Driftmoon for?
One of the most best features of Driftmoon is its cross over appeal; it has a story engaging and mature enough to keep adults entertained whilst being completely accessible to younger ages. Personally I would recommend this game to anyone and everyone regardless of age or gender, it truly is a game that can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone.
In hindsight, how has it been for you working on Driftmoon?
Composing for Driftmoon was very, very enjoyable. Both Ville and Anne made working with them extremely easy and comfortable which was fantastic with it being the first time I had worked for an actual games developer.
Any final words?
I would really REALLY like to thank anyone who has supported me through purchasing the soundtrack. I greatly appreciated it and I hope you all enjoy the music. Finally I would like to give a HUGE thank you to both Ville and Anne for giving me the opportunity to work on Driftmoon. I have enjoyed every moment of it! I hope everyone has a great time exploring the world that is Driftmoon.
Thanks Gareth, you're great!
If you like Driftmoon, please vote:
You may have noticed that Driftmoon has received quite a few updates during the last week. We've managed to squash plenty of rare, but troublesome bugs that we weren't able to catch during beta testing. Don't forget, if you encounter bugs during gameplay, send us feedback by pressing F during the game. We've sent the update to all distributors yesterday, and you should be getting it soon.
Ps. Driftmoon has been off to a great start! We're absolutely thrilled about the reception! Thank you so much for all those wonderful feedback messages you've sent us!
Driftmoon, our "charmingly quirky", and "absolutely brilliant" adventure role-playing game (as some have called it), is now officially released after only seven years of development time. Seriously, I'm not kidding you, it's complete now! First of all, a heartfelt thank you to all of our preorderers and supporters, we wouldn't be here without you!
We always love to hear from our players, so if you run into any problems, or think of something you want to share with us, please press the letter "F" while playing, and you can send feedback directly to us.
Remember Gareth Meek, our awesome composer? Head on over to Bandcamp, and get that Driftmoon soundtrack you've been dreaming of!
|"Driftmoon reminds of so much of what I loved about games when I was younger. The adventure, the story, the fun. It’s pure entertainment and a joy to play through." (9/10)|
Review at i-luv-games.com
|"...it's been a long time since I enjoyed a game as much as this one. Think Quest for Glory and Frayed Knights mixed and blended together and you'll have some idea of what to expect." (4/5)|
Review at rpgwatch.com
|"Driftmoon works so well because all the elements blend together like a good stew where each ingredient is cooked perfectly and there's more
depth to be found as you reach the bottom of the bowl." (95%)|
Review at fanboydestroy.com
|"Everyone who likes classic role-playing games, must play Driftmoon. A wonderful rpg with many great Features and a fantastic world. Buy it!" Translation from German provided by reviewer.|
Driftmoon Review at zockah.de.
|"...a delightful touch of whimsey and there's plenty of humour to be found here. How many other games would have the deadly Hoe of Doom as an early weapon? Or such wonderfully ordinary conversations with undead skeletons?" (96%)|
Read Preview at Bytten
Ps2. If you like Driftmoon, and feel like you'd like to do something to help, we're always tremendously grateful for all help in spreading the word about Driftmoon! So do tell your friends, forum pals, Steam buddies, that grandma you think could really use more excitement in her life. Everything goes!
Here's also a link to a Facebook Fan page for Driftmoon, which Morgan just opened up for us. Thanks Morgan! Little thing like that mean a lot to us!
It took us a while to complete Driftmoon. In fact, it took us over seven years. But we're here now, and Driftmoon is finally just two days away from official release! Now is a good time to look at our long journey to today.
I just read my History of Driftmoon Development written in 2009. It's mostly a history of a project called Cormoon, a game that never was. The easiest way to describe what Cormoon was going to be back in 2005 is to have a look at Terraria. Me and Michael AKA Quanrian (Thank you for the work we did together, Michael!). The same excellent team as we had with Notrium, a game that probably had millions of players at its prime. I blame the Sun. Being online at the same time is a must in a tightly knitted team, and being separated by night and day didn't help much. It was a hard decision to stop the Cormoon project, but the truth is that it would never have become a reality, no matter how long we would have worked on it. Cormoon was the classic story of failed communications, stupid planning, unrealistic expectations, and of course, a story of boy meets girl.
But you don't stop a game project if you don't have a new one in your mind! In spring 2009 the Cormoon codebase turned into the Driftmoon codebase. This is what Driftmoon looked like in 2009. Did I have a real plan? No, not a real one. I just had an idea of making an RPG in the spirit of Ultima VII. Did I have a plot written down? No, I thought I'd make it up as I went along. Never make that mistake. It's fine to prototype and test game ideas, especially for a genre that isn't as story-heavy as role playing games. But a role playing game is all about the content, it's all about making the player believe he or she is in another world, and to take him/her on a fantastic adventure. And you can't do that without being absolutely sure what your story is about.
My lovely wife Anne joined me in developing Driftmoon, and by the end of 2009 we already had a demo available. We were planning on releasing the game soon(ish). But we still didn't have a definite idea of who the main villain actually was, who the player was, or even how the game would start. We took over a year of refining the plot, but it didn't get much further. The story we had going at first just wasn't interesting enough to convince us, and I was devastated... If I could go back to those days, I would say to myself: Get your story together!
Fortunately some very important people liked my work, and I received the 50 000€ Sammon Tekijät Award for making such excellent games. Can you guess what we invested the award money in? Developing Driftmoon, of course!
Then one evening, after countless hours of juggling different ideas (when we get going, Anne and I are real idea machines), and even praying about it, the perfect story came to us! It was exhilarating! We immediately started fitting the story into Driftmoon. In a very real sense, about two years ago, we decided to remake the game. But this time we had a story we could both stick to 100%, and it wasn't just any story, it was the perfect story!
Now we had a story worth writing home to your mom about, and we only needed to make a fantastic role playing game that tells the story. I keep telling people that making the game is the easy part, figuring out which game you should be making is the hard part! We kept releasing version after version with new levels, more content. And finally we started getting the kind of results we wanted to hear, people telling us of their own free will how much they enjoyed the game, some people even told us that playing Driftmoon cheered them enough to get through very difficult times. You can't beat the feeling of hearing that your game made a real difference to someone.
By the end of 2012 we had completed the plot, and were getting ready to release the game as soon as possible. But we had a strange problem. A problem of viewpoint. By now we were getting two kinds of feedback, others who loved the game and proudly told us so, and others who kindly mentioned that they were getting vertigo just by looking at the screenshots. It's not always easy to tell people what they really need to hear, and the people who told us about the viewing angle are to be thanked two times over. After finally realizing how many people truly had a real problem with the fully top-down viewpoint, it took us one more month to make it possible to tilt the camera. (Mind you, if you're one of those people who really liked Driftmoon better top-down, you can easily make it happen by pressing Page Up!)
And now Driftmoon is finally complete! It's been a long and eventful journey, with plenty of ups and downs, though gladly we've mostly had fun! We've finally arrived at a game that we can proudly call our own. And what's best, I now share a common hobby with my wife (without whom Driftmoon never could have been)!
Finally, here's a big hug to everyone who has ever helped us, be it by writing about Driftmoon, voting for us at Greenlight, sending us feedback on the game, or just telling your friends! It really means the world to us, and we sincerely hope that we've lived up to your expectations.
Ps. A friendly player called Morgan just put together a Facebook Fan page for Driftmoon.
Driftmoon will be released on the 26th of February 2013, that's less than a week away! Thinking back to the summer days of 2005 when all of this started, I can only say that Driftmoon has far exceeded my expectations. A lot of things can fit in seven years of development, and certainly there were times when I thought such a huge project could never be completed. But finally (and with the help of a huge amount of people - especially my developer companion and lovely wife Anne), Driftmoon is now very nearly ready!
Celebrating our soon-to-be launch, we're proud to present you with the brand new Driftmoon launch trailer! We'd be happy to hear what you think about it (...and at the same time desperately hoping you like it after all those sleepless hours of putting it together)!
Ps. Have you noticed the new Driftmoon logos yet?