Showing posts from June, 2013

Captain's Log...

Nothing important to say really. It's just that I went looking for the gadget that put the list of followers on the page -- so you get some recognition and I don't have to keep hunting for that stat... And while I was looking through the gadgets, I found one that posted a "hot pic of the day" on the page. Is that a thing? Come for the Cairn info, stay for the hot pic? Would I get more traffic if I had a "hot pic of the day" on the page?

They also have a "cute puppy of the day" widget, too. If that's your thing.

Yeah. It's time to step away from the laptop and take a walk.

A Strange Journey

I haven't blogged about Cairn in the last couple of days, but that's not because nothing is going on behind the scenes. I'm going through the text everyday, and meetings have been had about Cairn and Souljar Games. So stuff and things are going on.... In general, I'm going to try to take the weekends off from blogging, just so I can focus on writing and editing and I can give you guys a break. Of course, I'm going to break that rule by blogging on Sunday. I'm a rebel that way.

First, some old business. I've noticed that only three people have become followers of this site. I remind you that this is where you'll get all your Cairn RPG news from now on, not the Kickstarter page. So if you want to know how the game is progressing and what I'm up to, this is the place. Now, it's certainly possible that you don't want to follow the game's progress that closely. Hey, that's cool. But this is also a way to participate in the process. I'm…

Ladies and Gentlemen...

I give you baby platypi.


Today, I want to talk about zeitgeist. This is a fancy German term for "spirit of the time" or "spirit of the age." Here at the SoulJar offices (the desk in the corner of my bedroom) we use it to mean the spirit of the setting or game.

I think every game should have it's own spirit. It's own feel. Not to sound too preachy, but games have meaning. I think they have something to say, or at least a point of view under which it operates. Call of Cthulhu is a perfect example. That game tries to embrace the nihilism of Lovecraft's work, and the Sanity mechanic provides that zeitgeist. Zeitgeist is the lens through with the game sees itself, and provides the meta-conditions that inform the rules.

Wow, that's pretty heavy for a game about squirrels.

I'll use an apophatic example ("apophatic" is a fancy word for knowing God negatively, through what he is not); a game that establishes a zeitgeist and doesn't stick to it. Dark Sun. In Dark Sun, …

Putting Out the Call

I don't know who "Armadox" is, but he recently posted something to the Cairn Kickstarter page that was right on. It was to Update #27

"It's all about keeping yourself connected to your fanbase. And yes, the second we tossed money at this, we became your fanbase as much as anything else." 

Man, do I agree with that. I've talked to a few people on the business end of the hobby, and that's something that really stuck out to me. You are fans of Cairn. And you haven't even seen a game yet. That was a big motivator for me to pick this up -- you're fans. You deserve something for all your support. 

"As for the projects lateness, you're so deep in that hole there's no point in taking that into consideration. You have no deadline on getting this out save that the words "as soon as you can" should be put atop the project, Production delay is the 400 lb. gorilla on Ross's back now."

Can I get an "Amen!"? 


Brand New Day

The past 24-hours have been a whirlwind of activity here. I've read every email I've gotten, been monitoring what's going on over at the Cairn Kickstarter page (even though I can't post, I can read), and been obsessively hitting the "refresh" button on this page. I'm trying to be proactive. 
For the record, right now Souljar Games is just me. I've got friends who are willing to help, but this is my endeavor. I say this because I want to dispel any thoughts that somehow I'm a big game company (or even small game company). This is a garage operation. Or it would be if I had a garage. That doesn't mean to say this is some fly-by-night, shaky operation. I've done this dance many times as the line developer at Last Unicorn Games and Decipher. I know how to put together a schedule and a product, and get it out the door. This is the first time I'm doing it for myself.... 
I want to start a new page for the Cairn RPG. It's a brand new day. S…

Review: Light-bot for iPhone and iPad

Light-bot by Danny Yaroslavski is a simple programming puzzle. It has cute graphics and a decent interface (apart from a couple of quirks), but I'm not convinced about the quality of the puzzles.
The underlying idea is not new and has been done several times in the past. You indirectly control a robot, by writing a program composed of basic commands like "walk", "turn right", and so on. The goal is to lit up all the blue tiles by using the "light" command over them.
Subroutines are quickly introduced; you can write up to two of them, and have the corresponding commands to call them. You can create infinite loops by using the "call" command at the end of a subroutine. The game calls this "recursion", but it's misleading to use that name since there is no concept of a call stack, and when the "return" statement is introduced, it actually goes back to the FIRST call to the subroutine.
You have a limited number of slots for …

The Cairn Companion

I've been looking at the stats for this page, and many of you are going to the main announcement, and seem to be passing up the other post. This is the place where you will receive all Cairn RPG information from now on. If you have a question about the Kickstarter (miniatures, plushies, blah blah blah) then talk to Mike over there. If you have a question about the actual game, this is your place. I urge you to become a follower so you get email updates when I post here. I want you guys to be a part of the process.
First, I want to thank all of you for your expressions of support in your emails. It's very gracious of you, and I want to thank you for your continued support. 
Second, I've been getting tons of questions about shipping costs. As I said in the original announcement, the game is 70-80 percent done. So I'd like to finish the writing and design work before we get to the shipping. When we get closer to shipping, you'll get emails (which is why I'm collecti…

What Took So Long?!

One of the things you'll learn about me, if you didn't know this already, is that I like to write and I like to talk. Mostly, I like to talk about writing. So you can expect frequent updates from me here while the design process is on-going. I'm going to talk about the design process here, and my experiences with building a game company, and even come to you with questions...

As I said in a comment, I am unable to post to the Cairn Kickstarter backer page simply because I wasn't a backer. So if you want to talk Cairn RPG, or SoulJAR Games, or just generally ask questions, this is the place to do it.

It occurs to me that one of the questions you may have is "what took you so long?!"

That's a valid question. Mike Nystul and I have been talking about my acquiring the rights to Cairn for some two months. Two months with no real news (which drove you backers crazy, I know).

Believe it or not, starting a game company isn't all that easy. First of all, in order …

A Message to all Backers of the Cairn RPG

Painted Leviathan Crusader Nearing Completion

A  while back I was searching for a painter that could handle the Leviathan Crusader and Mortis as well as a few Eisenkern Stromtroopers. My search lead me to Poland, arguably some of the most talented painters in the world.

I was searching for a painter that could take the large open surfaces and give them a nice shaded worn and weathered look, someone who could bridge the gap between historic vehicles and Sci-fi. I stumbled on Przemyslaw Szymczyk, an extremely talented painter who had all the qualities I was looking for, and to my good fortune, an opening in his schedule. 

You can see what he did with the Stormtroopers here

Here you can see some W.I.P. pics of the Crusader. I think you will agree that his work is simply AMAZING! Przemyslaw has expressed an interest in painting the Leviathan Mortis and I am more than happy to oblige.

 I hope that I have the opportunity to work with him on future projects as well, he is a fantastic artist.

 Enjoy  Lol.. NUTCRACKER and hello Kitty on the gu…

Review: Stickets for iPhone and iPad

Match 3 puzzle games are a dime a dozen on the App Store. I don't find them particularly interesting, and usually stay well clear of them.
Stickets, however, is pretty darn good. It is highly original, exceptionally polished, and bloody hard.
Stickets is the lastest game released by the Australian developer Wanderlands. One of their earlier creations is the brilliant Impasse, which is currently only available as a Flash game. Sadly, it is so good that it has been unofficially ported multiple times to iPhone, and I even reviewed one of those copycats a few weeks ago, not knowing that it wasn't an original game (don't look for that review now, I've removed it).

But let's go back to Stickets. You play on a 5x5 board. It starts out nicely empty, but that won't last for long. At the bottom of the screen there are four L trominoes, each one using a random permutation of three colors. Every move consists of picking one of the tromionoes, and placing it in a free place on…

The Price of Entertainment

Pricing games…
I have no idea how much to sell a game for.  And this is fascinating to me.
On the Xbox Live Indie Games market, it’s pretty clear that that selling a game for more than 80MSP ($1) is suicide.  Even bumping it up to 240MSP ($3) will reduce your sales be MORE than three times.  I think this is pretty well documented by people who have changed the price of their game.
Now, I’ve ported Hidden in Plain Sight over to the Ouya, and I left the minimum price at a dollar.  That only seems fair, right?  Why should it cost more on one system than another?  It’s the same product, it should cost the same.
However, I’ve gotten a lot of feedback from the players themselves that this is too cheap, and they’d gladly pay more. 
What I ended up doing was adding the option to pay any number of choices: $1, $3, $5, $10, $15, or $50.  And this has worked out really well.  About 40% of the people spend $1, and 55% spend $3 or $5, and then there’s the occasional $10 and $15.  What this indicates t…

June 10-June 16

We did not have any new releases on the Purple Duck Games side of the business this week but we were able to get out a number of things on our 4 Winds Fantasy Games side of the business including:
1) Monster Knowledge Cards II: Achaieria to Centipede, Titan This is our first card product to be released using the card options at Rpgnow. They are not listed on DriveThruCards because OBS wants DriveThruCards to only list stand-alone type card games and not card supplements for roleplaying games. I think it is going to be very hard to get these cards into consumers hands because as a print-only product there is no way for reviewers to get them. 
If you want to get a set of review drop me an email and I'll see what I can do about getting a set printed and mailed to you.
Admittedly, I could send out the PDF used to make the cards to reviewers but I want the reviewer to have the cards in their hands and both Perry and I feel the physical cards are worth the small cost for making the…

Quick Look: Gua-Le-Ni for iPhone and iPad

Gua-Le-Ni by the Italian developer Double Jungle is not the kind of puzzle game that I usually review (or play!) because it's more a game of speed and memory than of logic. However it is so bizarre and artistic that I thought it deserved a mention.
Originally released in 2011 for iPad only, it has recently been updated to support iPhone as well.
If you are wondering what Gua-Le-Ni actually means, it's just the name of the game's designer, Stefano Gualeni.

Essentially, the game consists of looking at monstrous creatures, composed of parts of various animals, and reconstruct their names by rotating and reordering the dice at the bottom of the screen.
For example, this creature has the head of a Rabbit and the body of a Condor, hence it is called a Rab-Dor.
Creatures can be up to 4 parts long. Here's a 3 parts one, a Lob-Rus-Hog.

There are three game modes: in the two main ones, you need to compose the name of the creatures while they walk across the screen; if they walk out b…

Update: Fields 1.0.4

Fields by Kevin Langdon has just been updated and it addressed the criticism I made in my previous review.
In its first release the game showed a lot of potential: the flower theme fits perfectly the mechanics of the puzzles. Unfortunately, I was disappointed that some puzzles didn't have a unique solution. I'm happy to see that this issue has been fully fixed in the update.
There are 100 new puzzles to solve, and two extra packs of 100 puzzles of size 4x5 and 5x6 that can be unlocked through in-app purchases. Hopefully more packs at larger sizes will be available in a future update.
Now that the puzzles have a unique solution, they are a joy to solve. I wish the user interface were just a bit smoother in the transitions, but apart from that the game is strongly recommended.

©2013 Nicola Salmoria. Unauthorized use and/or duplication without express and written permission is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Nicola…

May 27th - June 9th

Thankfully we are out of May and finally into June. I'm coming up to my annual holidays in a couple of weeks and with then be able to devote almost full-time effort to Purple Duck Games and 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming products.

4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
It has been quite on the 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming from the last couple of weeks as I've been working on finishing up Purple Mountain IV: The Magmadome and on a number of day job projects that have been completely consuming my spare time. That will change this week however because we are back to work on 4WFG stuff and should be releasing three things this week.

First off there will be two new Deus ex Historica releases featuring two superhero teams of the silver age--The Second Chance Squad and The Watchful Gaze.

Secondly, we have finally made some movement on getting Bestiary II - Monster Knowledge Cards produced. What is even more awesome is that the cards will actually be cards through the DriveThruCards program. Because of number of monst…

Review: Bloom Box for iPhone and iPad

Bloom Box took me by surprise. Seeing that it was advertised on the home page of Touch Arcade, I expected it to be entirely targeted at casual gamers, but its mechanics are actually quite good.

What intrigued me was the last sentence of the app description: "In collaboration with Pyrosphere".
Pyrosphere is the developer of the excellent Lazors, so that was certainly a good start.
Indeed, after some research, it turns out that this release by Nexx Studio is a remake, with better graphics, of a game with the same title that Pyrosphere released in 2011. The original game is no longer available on the App Store.
The playing area is an 8x8 grid representing a garden. In the garden there are a few boxes, most of which can be moved around. One of the boxes cannot be moved and is connected by a white line to a button at the bottom of the screen. When you tap the button, a drop will be shot toward the box, and the box will explode, shooting more drops on nearby tiles. If those drops hit …

Hiring: Gameplay Programmer / Designer

Frictional Games is once again looking for someone to join our ranks! This time we are looking for a Gameplay Programmer / Designer to employ full-time.

We are currently working on a new, currently super secret, horror game where we aim to take what we learned from Amnesia to the next level. This is what you will be a part of creating.

A core feature of our games are atmospheric and immersive game worlds. You will be crafting these in collaboration with other members of the team, making sure that gameplay is smooth, that narrative works  and that the right themes are evoked.  It is very creative work, but it also require someone who is not afraid to tweak and test a lot.

Instead of building everything around a fun core mechanic, our games derive most of their engagement from interaction with the world. Every scene is a sort of mini-game. This requires you to be at home with both programming and design. We do not require …