Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Legendary VI: Legendary Armor

Mage Hunter Armor by Tamas Baranya

A follow up of sorts to Legendary IV: Legendary ShieldsLegendary VI: Legendary Armorpresents 15 different suits of magical armor that grow in power as your character does. Each suite of armoris different and unique – every type of character and player, from the powerful fighter to the stealthy rogue to the flamboyant and charismatic bard should find something within that makes his eyes grow wide with excitement!
These suits of Legendary Armor are great items for PCs to find in a treasure hoard or perhaps even research and then seek out early in their career. The magical armor can then grow in power as the character does (as they learn more about their armor’s unique history, of course). Such Legendary Armor is certain to become a prized possession and an integral part of the character, which in turn can only strengthen and enriche the campaign!
I approached writing Legendary Armor a little differently that I did Legendary Shields (although I was able to tie a Legendary Shield and Legendary Armor together, which was fun). With Legendary Shields, I had already done the illustration for the shields prior to any writing, so I came up with each  shield’s magical abilities first, based on the look of the art and then wrote each Legendary Shield’shistory last so that it fit the art and the abilities.
In the case of Legendary Armor, it was more or less the opposite approach. There were no pre-existing illustrations to work with, which meant I pretty much had free reign! The one criteria I did have was that there had to be a wide array of armor types (one wooded armor, one chain, one plate, one silken ceremonial, etc.)
So I brainstormed the basic concepts/ideas for each of the 15 armor types I had settled on and then wrote art orders for each one. For me, the interesting thing about this step was that these art orders were each literally only a sentence or two about each piece of armor (a suite of scale armor with aquatic and undersea designs; wooden armor with a stylized treant carved into the wooden breastplate ... etc)When I saw the final art that eventually came back, I was blown away! The art was just awesome – it actually made me even more excited to write the histories and abilities for the armor!
From that point, I wrote the histories for each suite of Legendary Armor and then created the magical and other unique abilities based on those histories. The entire process was very organic and I think the final results (hopefully) reflect that.
I’m really happy with how this one turned out! I think players and GM’s alike will find plenty to like within Legendary VI: Legendary Armor’s digital pages.
- Marc Radle
Out Now: Rpgnow, Paizo, Gumroad

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Alluria Publishing's Kickstarter

Early this week, Emily Kubisz launched a kickstarter to help get Alluria Publishing back on its feet (or fins) as it might be.


Alluria Publishing produced numerous high-quality products such as Remarkable Races, Creepy Creatures and their opus Cerulean Seas. All their products were solidly reviewed and one thing that could never be contested was the beauty of their art. The art costs on Cerulean Seas made it difficult from them to continue as a company as outlined on the Paizo forums.
   Purple Duck Games has enjoyed the material that Alluria Publishing has created and has chipped in on the kickstarter above. Several of our customers, I know love Alluria Publishing's work as well because as we prepared to write Monstrous Races 3 customers asked specifically for more options of some of Alluria Publishing's Remarkable Races.

Below is an excerpt from Monstrous Races 3 by Sam Hing that features the squole race that was created by Alluria Publishing. If you can afford to support 3PP publishers like Alluria Publishing please kick in on their kickstarter.

Squole witch by Carlos Torreblanca
     Many creatures refuse to believe that the squole are indeed humanoid-shaped oozes. Oozes, slimes and jellies are so loathed by humanoids that the idea of one not only being intelligent, but adopting such a familiar shape is deeply disturbing to them. Luckily for the squole, their neutrality and their ability to mimic both the actions and emotions of humans allows them to avoid the worst of the wrath of other humanoids.
     Squoles truly desire to become more “human”, and attempt to live up to the best of humanity that they have personally observed. They really have no clue on the limits of humanoids, and this allows the squole to develop in many strange and unusual ways.

Squole Adventurers
Squoles adventure mainly because they have trouble fitting in otherwise. They find an adventuring company, and copy a few of the traits they admire from each member, slowly evolving into a personality of their own. They model their own skills on whatever humanoid that they were first impressed with.
     Alchemist:Squole alchemists are strange creatures, mixing their planar knowledge with various unsavory ingredients to create various mystic gels.
     Barbarian:A squole barbarian is rare, simply because experiencing rage as an emotion, and mimicking rage are two very different things.
     Bard:Squole bards rarely create new material, as much as record and repeat that which they have already heard. Some squole can repeat a performance perfectly, although their lack of real passion can be notable.
     Cavalier:Given a strong role model, a squole can make an effective, if unusual cavalier.
     Cleric:Squole follow the religion of their role model. They rarely actually become clerics, as the concept of devotion is as alien to them as most other emotions. Their gods frequently match the paraelemental plane that they are descended from.
     Druid:Few squole feel a deep connection to nature, although those that do frequently possess unparalleled shape changing abilities.
     Fighter:Squole fighters learn their skills by watching both friend and foe. They are quick learners, changing styles with ease.
     Gunslinger:Squole gunslingers have issues with the rage of their attacks, due to the limitations of their blindsight. They are utterly deadly at close range.
     Inquisitor:Squoles make excellent inquisitors, due to their lack of preconceived notions. They may pick up the habits and prejudices of their role models, however.
     Magus:Most squole find that attempting to master both weapon and spell, as well as learning the world around them to be more trouble than its worth.
    Monk: Squoles make delightful student monks, soaking up everything their master teaches them. Even when young, they have the bearing of an ancient master.
     Ninja:A squoles blindsight allows it to ignore the effects of smoke and darkness, making them deadly ninjas.
     Oracle:Oracles are chosen, and such divine actions confuse the squole. They are forced to adjust their mimicry to allow for their new abilities. The frequently gain the mysteries of Bones, Flames, Stone, Waves, or Wind.
     Paladin:A squole paladin has both had a close role model of another paladin, and follows a deity that has as much faith in their followers as they do in it. The squoles earnest attempts at passion and devotion may one day become true faith.
     Ranger:Squole rangers are masters of ambush, as they lack the ability to detect their enemies at range. They may patrol and defend an area long after their mentor has died.
     Rogue:The boneless nature of the squole makes them efficient rogues. Their easily influenced nature makes them popular with thieves guilds looking for soldiers that don't ask questions.
     Rook: A squole rook only develops at the hands of another rook. They learn their lessons well, however, generally within the schisms of Shade and Necrotist.
     Samurai:Squole samurai follow the codes they are taught perfectly, because they know nothing else.
     Sorcerer:Squole that harness the magic that exists within them nearly always use the Elemental bloodline, matching the paraelemental plane that they came from.
     Summoner:Squole summoners treat their minions as students, attempting to have them learn alongside their master. They treat their eidolons as trusted friends, with the eidolons often appearing as either massive oozes or perfectly formed humans.
     Witch:Squoles welcome patrons that aid them in becoming more “human”. They usually develop powers of Deception, Elements, and Transformation.
     Wizard:Squole wizards often appeal to and frustrate their masters, for they are slavish apprentices. Most ultimately become transmuters.

Alternate Racial Traits
The following racial traits might be selected instead of existing squole traits. Consult your GM before selecting any of these new options.
     Clarity:The squole lacks the coloration of others of its kind, and gets a +8 to visual based Stealth checks when carrying no equipment. This racial trait replaces the elemental resistance racial trait.
     Elemental Touch: The squole can channel its elemental type into its touch, dealing 1d6 points of acid, cold, or fire damage once per day per point of Constitution modifier. This racial trait replaces the boneless racial trait.
     Elongation:The squole can lengthen its limbs thee times per day, granting it double its natural reach or height. This racial trait replaces the boneless racial trait.
     Engulf:The squole can attempt to engulf a creature smaller than itself with a successful grapple check. The squole must be unclothed and unarmored to attempt this ability. The target suffers 1 point of acid damage per point of the squole's Constitution modifier for each round it is engulfed, and risks drowning as per the normal rules. The victim may make an opposed grapple check each round to exit the squole's body. This racial trait replaces the elemental resistance racial trait.
     Expert Mimic: The squole is especially good at mimicking others, gaining a +4 racial to Diplomacy, Disguise, Intimidate and Perception checks. This racial trait replaces the boneless racial trait.
     Painful Taste: Creatures damaging the squole with a bite attack  suffer 1 point of acid damage per point of the squole's Constitution modifier. This racial trait replaces the boneless racial trait.
     Rubbery: The squole gains DR 5 vs bludgeoning attacks, and takes half damage from falling. This racial trait replaces the boneless racial trait.
     Suction:The squole gains a +4 racial to Grapple checks, and a +10 racial bonus to Climb checks. This racial trait replaces the boneless racial trait.
     Soul of the Elements: The squole gains the Cold, Earth, or Fire subtype. Squole with the Earth subtype become immune to acid, but take damage from earth based spells as if they were an earth elemental. This racial trait replaces the elemental resistance racial trait.

Favored Class Options
     Instead of receiving an additional skill rank or hit point whenever he gains a level in a favored class, an squole has the option of choosing from a number of other bonuses, depending upon his favored class. The following options are available to all squole who have the listed favored class, and unless otherwise stated, the bonus applies each time you select the listed favored class reward.

     Druid:The druid may use wild empathy on oozes, and gains a + 1/2 on wild empathy attempts, or the druid gains +1/2 use of wild shape per day.
     Fighter:Add a +1 bonus to the fighter’s CMB or CMD when preforming or resisting two combat maneuvers of the character’s choice.
     Monk:Add a +1 bonus to the monk’s CMD when resisting two combat maneuvers of the character’s choice.
     Ninja:Add +1/3 to hit and damage when the ninja's target is blinded.
     Rogue:Add a +1/2 bonus to Bluff checks to feint and Diplomacy checks to gather information.
     Sorcerer: Select one bloodline power granted at 1st level that is normally useable for a number of times a day equal to 3 + the sorcerer's Charisma modifier. The sorcerer adds 1/2 to the number of uses per day of that bloodline power.
     Summoner: Add 1 skill rank to the summoner’s eidolon.
     Witch: Treat the squole's level as +1/2 higher for the purpose of determining the effects of the witch's hex ability.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Unconventional Design Tips

The general advice for upstarting developers seem to be to focus on mechanics, building fast a prototype, getting the core game fun and and so. For instance CliffyB did so at GDC 2012. This is not bad per se, but it is really not the only way to make games and usually, and this is the issue, result in the same kind of experiences. So to create a counterweight to this, I decided to make my own list of design advice. Here goes:

Build top-down
Find some core mechanic of controlling and interacting with the game, be that sidescrolling shooter, point and click or whatnot and then focus on the big picture. What feelings should game create, what is the theme, what kind of message should the game get across? This means creating an overarching structure for the game first, and then when you start designing the mechanics, levels, etc you make sure that it goes along with this. By doing so you can design games that try and convey things not possible over shorter time spans. It lets you control build-up and emotional journey to a much greater degree.

Design and create chronologically
Try and see the development process as a very extended playthrough of the game. By designing and producing the initial level/area/etc first you get a better feel for the player's journey through the game. This make it easier to understand the how the holistic experience will play out, and it allows you to always base later levels/areas/etc upon what the player's frame of find (as it is formed by the previous experiences) is at that point.
Of course you can still go back and change things as needed, and this is often required later. But you want to stick with the chronological structure until as much as possible of the game is completed.

Do not care about fun
First of, despite what some might say, fun is a very specific word and leaves out many type of experiences. For instance very few people would call "Schindler's List" fun. Hence you should not use fun, unless you are specifically after creating a "fun time". A better word to use is "engaging" which can be used to describe the quality of anything depressing dramas and lighthearted comedies.
Second, what you want to care about are your high-level goals. The most vital part is that anything you add to the videogame serve these. If making them fun help this purpose, then by all means make them fun. But if you want the player to be part of a dark and disturbing journey, then fun is most likely not what you want to aim for.

Proper assets early
Art assets such as a graphics, music and sound effects are far more important than what some might argue. Not all videogame ideas can be properly evaluated by using simple blocks and beeps. What the player sees and hears has a great impact on how they can relate to the game. Sometimes mechanics that at first seem really crappy, can start to shine once higher quality assets are used. If you want the player to experience a story by moving through an environment, then you need to have the audio-visual feedback that immerse them in that.
This does not have to mean that full production quality assets are needed and it is not always easy to know when your prototype looks and sounds good enough. But if make sure to keep in mind that the underlying system is not everything, then that is one step in the right direction.

Diversity in the world, not game core

Do not think that everything you want to represent in the game needs to be inside the core mechanics. Instead, keep the mechanics simple and then let the world do the work in delivering a wider experience. For instance in Limbo, there are only a few core actions available for the player, yet the game keeps the activities varied and unique through out the game.
This is the hard way of designing games as you cannot simply extrapolate from a prototype, but the end result is a deep experience that is easy to get into.

Do it as short as possible

Do not make a game that is the best value possible. Let the videogames say what you want it to and then STOP. Do not try and drag sections out for no real reason. In the end what you want to create is a product that delivers your high level purposes in the best way possible.
This is also a legit business choice as you do not compete with other time consuming videogames. If your game does not take up huge amounts of time and yet gives the player a coherent and fulfilling experience, there is a bigger chance they will have time and motivation to give it a go. I would also rather see a world with many smaller interesting experiences than long ones whose only motive is to eat as much time as they possibly can.

There you go! Now of course these tips are not some ancient wisdom that lead you to the path of glory. One must always try and figure out the best process for the type of game you want to make. But what I hope this does is to show any aspiring developer that there is more ways to create videogames than the conventional ones. At Frictional Games we pretty much follow the above and have managed stay in business for over five years and are currently financially stable. So what I just said are tips that have been tried in practice.

If you know any other tips that goes against the "fun mechanics are everything" line of thinking, do share!

Monday, 19 March 2012

We are hiring: Script Programmer wanted!

Yet again we find ourselves in the need for adding a new member to our company. We are looking for a script programer with C++ syntax styled script language experience. We specifically use Angel Script, but experience with for example C#, UnrealScript, Javascript or other similar high level languages will do fine. The initial employment will be for a 6-8 months project, but can possibly be extended to an ongoing employment.

Your work with us will consist of writing the base implementation of the designed gameplay for each "level" in a game. This includes going over the design documentation, plan the basic needs and implement it, while keeping in mind that the script must be able to be easily improved, tweaked and added to. In addition you need to be creative and realize things missing/improvements that can be made to the script implementation. This can include going as far as having a completely new idea. It is also crucial to be able to imagine how the player might tackle each situation and add in the support needed to let the player continue the game in any manner that makes sense.

Experience with level editing, sound, music and effects implementation is a bonus attribute as you realize and understand the importance of timing and multi-step events needed to make the player interaction interesting and engaging.

Either you live in Sweden or you live in a time-zone nearby. Swedes are welcome as employees or contractors, if you are living abroad you need to be a contractor capable of invoicing. You'll be working from home, at a distance to the rest of the team (whom also works from home).

If interested in the position, please take the time to consider the following situation and respond to it by discussing problems and how to design it for an Amnesia styled type of game.

"To open a door, the player must tie a rope between it and a heavy create, and then push the crate into a hole."

Send CV, response to the situation and any additional links to previous work (as in videos, games or demos that clearly demonstrate your part in it): jobs [at] frictionalgames [dot] com.

We are mainly interested in script programing that deals with the player's interaction in the game world, the events that are triggered and the overall game experience that the script conveys to the player. This position is as much, or even more, creative as it is a need to be logical and structured. Please do not send any large attachments to our email address, instead upload and give links for downloading.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Memorable Townsfolk

David Nicholas Ross's next product for us is called Memorable Townsfolk. You may remember David from his work on Legendary V: Eastern and Exotic Weapons or on the Random Encounters Remastered series (I, II, III). David's text is in and has been through editing. Our writer has been paid and now we are just waiting for the final art to come in.

In the meantime, I thought I would post one of the NPCs along with the portrait created by Gary Dupuis for the character.

Janar the Swift by Gary Dupuis.
Available as stock art at https://gumroad.com/l/zlDX
Janar the Swift
Grudging Sheriff
“Listen, friend: there will be no trouble here unless you make it. And if you make trouble, I promise you I will end it.”

Services:Janar keeps the party safe from lawbreakers and can provide assistance if they make him aware of their intention to bring down an important villain in his jurisdiction.

Boon: If he trusts them to judge when a task is important for the greater good of the area, Janar may loan the party up to one squad of four elven militiamen (1st-level warriors) to assist them for up to 1 day in almost any endeavor they need help with.

Starting Attitude: Janar has a starting attitude of indifferent toward most people, though he considers it his duty to watch out for anyone in his jurisdiction. He is friendly towards those who demonstrate exceptional naïveté and unfriendly towards inquisitors, clerics, and those with obviously authoritarian views.
Impression: A quiet elven man with piercing eyes and night-black hair, Janar is always on the watch for danger, and occasionally lets out an exasperated sigh when he finds just how often the same small troubles keep coming back. He speaks slowly and only when he must. If he can, he gets by on simple nods, grunts, and pointing.

Personality: Although Janar is committed to keeping the peace in his new home, he is a little grudging of his own conscience’s pull at times—especially when he is beset by petty and foolish complaints from some of the more insufferable citizens under his protection. At least part of him would much rather be out hunting down demons and other dangers, but he knows that he is needed here.
Background: Janar never reveals his surname or details about his life before coming to this town. He arrived in the small elven town of Iluriel about nine months ago, and spent most of the time since then helping to keep the overly isolationist inhabitants of the town from doing anything they would regret. Crimes he has prevented include the maiming of careless human trespassers, theft from neighbors out of jealousy, and raids by neighboring bands of half-elves and goblins.
Gossip: Many locals agree that Janar does his work for the people as some kind of penance for past misdeeds. A few contend he did vicious, brutal things in a misguided attempt to expunge some possible demon-worshipers from a remote elf enclave, and he yearns for another chance to bring the treacherous demons involved to justice (Diplomacy DC 25 or friendly).

Janar (CR 6; XP 1,200)
Male elf inquisitor 7
NG Medium humanoid (elf)
Init +3; Senses low-light vision; Perception +14
AC 22, touch 14, flat-footed 18 (+5 armor, +3 Dex, +1 dodge, +3 shield)
hp 38 (7d8+7)
Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +7; +2 vs. enchantment
Speed30 ft.
Melee +1 longsword +9 (1d8+3/19-20)
Special Attacks elven magic, judgment (3/day; destruction, justice, smiting [good and magic])
Spell-like Abilities (CL 7th, concentration +9)
At will—detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law
Spells Known (CL 7th, concentration +9)
3rd (1/day)—cure serious wounds, dispel magic
2nd (4/day)—aid, hold person (DC 14), invisibility, knock
1st (5/day)—bless, cure light wounds, expeditious retreat, protection from evil, true strike
0 (at will)—brand (DC 12), detect magic, detect poison, guidance, light, stabilize
Abilities Str 14, Dex 16, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 14, Cha 10
Base Atk +5; CMB +7; CMD 21
Feats Dodge, Great Fortitude, Mobility, Pack Attack, Precise Strike, Weapon Focus (longsword)
Skills Intimidate +10, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Knowledge (local) +6, Knowledge (religion) +10, Knowledge (planes) +10, Perception +14, Sense Motive +5, Spellcraft +10 (+12 identify magic item properties), Survival +12 (+15 following tracks); Racial Modifiers +2 Perception, +2 Spellcraft to identify magic item properties
Languages Abyssal, Common, Elven
SQ bane, discern lies, liberation (7 rounds/day), monster lore, solo tactics, stern gaze
Combat Gear potion of cure serious wounds, vials of holy water (2); Other Gear +1 chainmail, +1 longsword, +1 steel shield, wooden holy symbol, 550 gp

Friday, 9 March 2012

New Releases!

A Score of Trapped Chests
by Mark Gedak and Stefen Styrsky

Purple Duck Games is pleased to announce the newest collaboration of Stefen Styrsky and Mark Gedak. A Score of Trapped Chestsprovides you with twenty chests and containers that possess mechanical, magical or monstrous aspects. This collection contains art by Carlos“Celurian” Torreblanco, Marc Radle and Michael Scotta.

On top of the twenty new traps there is also:
- two new creatures the minimimic and the heat swarm
- a new poison type (mindhammer)
- a new spell
- an aasimar cavalier
and a new legendary weapon illustrated by Tamas Baranya

In other awesome news we now have a way to sell directly to our customers through the gumroad service. All of our PDF products and our colour stock art lines are now available on the Grand OGL Wiki for purchase. 

Pre-Orders available on March 12th! 10% off sale!!

It has been a week of html and CSS joy, as I pull together a new store front and fill it with products.
I still have a few products to add and some testing to do… I will push the site live and allow pre-orders on March 12th, the sale and pre-orders will run through St. Patrick’s Day March 17.

I have about 200 Sturmtruppen and 100 Kriegsmarine on hand, so I will begin shipping some or all of the pre-orders on March 20th with the rest to be shipped (hopefully) within ten to fifteen days depending on the volume of orders.

So much still to do, so it’s back to work for me.

All the best!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

This is why I don't paint...

David Woods over at DWARTIST'S did a speed paint on a Strumtruppen that is better than I can do if given two weeks time.

Hats off to you sir!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

I don’t care; it’s still YOUR fault!

Here are the finals for the heavy weapons squad, created with feedback by…. Wait for it… YOU.

Changes from the originals:
Widened stance on one of the leg sets.
Ankle armor to better ground the mini.
The power weapons are now held with both arms and across the body.
Light AT gunner and quad gunner now lean into the recoil for a more dramatic pose.

With the exception of the power weapons and the ankle armor, not many changes here, just some tweaks and fine tuning.

So the question is, when do I start the Kickstarter? ….. Not quite yet, but soon. I have a surprise for you that I’m working on right now and it (they) will be part of the Kickstarter. I work pretty quick so you should not have long to wait.

Until then, enjoy the pics!