Friday, December 21, 2007

Same Cube

Same Cube is an addictive puzzler which involves using the Z and X keys to rotate four tiles clockwise or counterclockwise to make a match of four blocks with the same color. Remove the blocks quickly to increase time, and complete all ten levels to unlock the unlimited mode.

Glass tiles are automatically removed if an entire column or row of these exists when the game is in progress.

Name: Same Cube
Developer: Yamahara
Category: Puzzle
Type: Freeware
Size: 10MB
Direct download link: Click here

Clock Tower's Secret

Clock Tower's Secret is a platformer in which players have to figure out a way to reach the exit portal by activating the correct switches to rotate the entire world towards the direction shown by the blue arrows.

Hold the Z key to zoom out, and tap the C key to jump. Press the X key when your character is next to a switch to activate it. Developed by ssi for a recent Three Minute Game competition.

Name: Clock Tower's Secret
Developer: SSI
Category: Platform
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
Direct download link: Click here

Grilled Box

Grilled Box is an action game which resembles Every Extend, developed by TERU-soach for a recent Three Minute Game competition. Blocks appear from the top of the screen at a steady rate, and players have to destroy as many blocks as they can before they reach the bottom. Left click on a block to start a chain reaction, or right click to use the magnet and bring the blocks closer to each other. Use these two actions sparingly, as clicking rapidly will decrease their charges faster and render them inactive for a short while when completely depleted. A time penalty is incurred for every block that escapes intact.

Name: Grilled Box
Developer: TERU-soach
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
Direct download link: Click here

Thursday, December 20, 2007


MinishoterRS is a horizontal shooter by Peposoft which features multiple ships to choose from, each with it's own strengths and weaknesses in combat. Hold or tap the Z key rapidly to alternate between your ship's primary and secondary weapons. Use the X key to activate a temporary speed boost, handy for dodging bullets or reaching a certain spot on screen quickly. Press the F2 function key to cancel a selection or exit a game in progress at any time.

This release boasts more than ten stages, with different routes to undertake and end level bosses to defeat. Press the Alt and enter key to switch between full screen and windowed mode, or use the Q, W and E keys for the same effect. Additional omake bonuses are unlocked when you have beaten the game and fulfilled certain conditions.

Name: MinishoterRS
Developer: Peposoft
Category: Shooter
Type: Freeware
Size: 10MB
Direct download link: Click here

Santa Claus Vs the Ice Demons

Santa Claus Vs the Ice Demons by Ablach Blackrat is another Game Maker winter's contest entry. This one's a danmaku game. I found it pretty easy until level 7, then increasingly difficult. Use Z to shoot and X to move slowly for more accurate movement. Your belt buckle is your hit-target.

It's not too special compared to the better games in the danmaku genre, and is pretty rough in a lot of places, but it's sometimes fun to have a nice warm cup of danmaku now and then in the cold winter months. I recommend that you turn effects off if you have a slow computer, it really helped the frame rate for me.

Name: Santa Claus Vs the Ice Demons
Developer: Ablach Blackrat
Category: Danmaku/Shmup
Type: Freeware
Size: 6.5 MB
Download Page: Click Here

Chain Reaction

BenW's Chain Reaction is an arcade game with a simple premise, in which players have to continuously move towards the right of the screen while trying to avoid falling off collapsing tiles or contact with red blocks. Use the cursor keys to move your block around, or press the Alt and F4 function key to quit at any time.

Name: Chain Reaction
Developer: BenW
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 10MB
Direct download link: Click here


In Rakukore, the aim of the game is to guide a ball towards it's end level destination while attempting to collect as many black dots as possible. The left and right cursor key can be used to change it's screen position. Tap the left shift key to jump. Press the same button repeatedly to execute a double or triple jump. Use the control key to pause the game or cancel a selected option.

MattC - "There are actually five difficulties with four levels each. Once you beat a set it opens up the next. After all five there is a "high speed" version of each. Once a level is available in campaign mode, they're available in free mode as well. Ctrl is pause/back."

Name: Rakukore
Developer: Cheese
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
Direct download link: Click here

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Yore Trailer

The Yore is an exploration game to be released by Crobasoft in February 2008.

Samurai High Jump

Samurai High Jump is a new Flash release from GamePure with a passing resemblance to Nanaca Crash, but not quite as addictive. Left click to plant the pole, then repeat the same action to control your ascent. The game doesn't end unless you make three mistakes consecutively, while the height of the bar is incremented progressively for each successful jump.

Name: Samurai High Jump
Developer: GamePure
Category: Action
Type: Browser

Unbound: A Wound Vignette

Unbound: A Wound Vignette is a sequel to Heartland Deluxe, and the second in a series of three short introductory games based on the backstory of an upcoming full-length game entitled: Wound. This release is shorter than it's predecessor, and will take less than five minutes to complete.

Name: Unbound - A Wound Vignette
Developer: LimpingFish
Category: Adventure
Type: Freeware
Size: 30MB
Direct download link: Click here

GSW's Top 5 Freeware Games of 2007

Simon had posted a selection of five titles considered the best freeware games released in 2007 at GameSetWatch.

peruse the article here


Dino Run: Pixeljam had posted eight new screenshots from their upcoming browser game.

Army of Trolls: A new game from Army of Trolls will be made available for download this Christmas eve. [previous mention]

Blackwell Convergence: Two new screenshots from Dave Gilbert's upcoming adventure game posted at the Wadjet Eye Games' web site.

Resonance: Another sprite art from Vince Twelve's upcoming adventure game posted.

MarkUp Issue 10: MarkUp issue 10 (the official GM magazine) is now available for download.

War Angels: Apparently Hamish's arena shooter has been picked up by Hail of Bullets Software for a future release on the Xbox Live platform.

Your Electronic Arms: dessgeega has released a new game. [TGQ forum thread posting]

A Diary of a Little Aviator: Orange-Juice has released a demo for their upcoming Comiket 73 release. [direct download link]

Winter's Heart: darthlupi has released his entry for the YoYoGames Winter Competition.

Binary Zoo: As indicated by fog, Binary Zoo's next release after Tension could possibly be a puzzler.

Punishment 3: messhof had posted a teaser image for his upcoming platformer, currently titled Deep Space.

Metanet's N+: The metablog updated with a link to the trailer for their upcoming XBox360 release.

pxTone: Pixel is currently working on an update for his popular music editing software. [pxTone tutorial]

Cactus Software: cactus had uploaded a whole bunch of screenshots from his upcoming projects in a recent forum thread posting.

"You might want to wait with taking a look, since some of them will be finished rather soon, though." - cactus

Monday, December 17, 2007


Motnxoqe is a rather clever strategy game of a variety that I don't recall ever seeing before. You have no direct control over the units in your "army", instead placing and removing road blocks on the map with the left mouse button. Any units that encounter an obstacle, either a wall or a roadblock, will turn 90 degrees clockwise and continue on their way.

You must guide your army (represented by the blue numbers) to the enemy base and destroy all enemy units on the screen to clear each stage. The key to victory is passing your units through the PI symbols located around the map, which will increase the value of your units and allow them to take out multiple enemy units before before being destroyed.

You can shift your view around with the arrow keys or the right mouse button, although I found the mouse technique to be somewhat cumbersome.

Name: Motnxoqe
Developer: N.I.
Category: Game
Type: Freeware
Size: 76KB
Download page: Click here
Direct download link: Click here

Sunday, December 16, 2007

sfxr - sound effect generator

Possibly one of the most useful application that a game developer could have. DrPetter has written a program which randomly generates a sound effect based on selected options and slider settings. The results can then be saved as .wav files, ready for use in any projects.

Name: sfxr
Developer: DrPetter
Category: Application
Type: Freeware
Size: 1MB
Direct download link: Click here

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Gem Tower Defense

Gem Tower Defense by Peter Holko and Dorian Cox is, yes, another of the hundreds of flash tower defense games. But this one has a few new interesting mechanics: you place down five towers each round, but can only choose to keep one, the rest become rocks. You can also combine two of the five if they are the same level and color to make a stronger one. There are also special towers that you can create using special 'recipes' of other towers (the recipe list is shown under the game window).

I enjoyed it because of that mechanic, and because it also doesn't suffer from a common problem in similarly structured "mazing" tower defense games such as Desktop Tower Defense -- juggling, a cheap technique where you open and close routes to keep creeps wandering perpetually, which assures total victory if you know how to do it. It avoids it by not letting the player build during the battle period.

One big problem with the game is a lack of sound or music of any kind, but I assume the game is still being worked on. Recommended if you like the tower defense genre, ignore it if you don't.


G-Force: Oddbob's Game Maker project updated with new build. Press F10 to toggle text messages on or off. [multiplier instructions, direct download link, right click to save]

Ludum Dare 10: Progress logs for entries in the latest Ludum Dare (48 hour game development) competition can be found on this page.

Robotology: The PC platform release for Robotology confirmed. (comment no. 18)

Armed Seven: DHC has announced their upcoming Comiket 73 commercial release.


Top Casual PC Games of 2007: Avault had published their annual list of the best casual games released last year. [source: Mathieu Lopez]

GameTunnel's GotY Awards: Russell has begun posting GT's Game of the Year Awards for 2007.

Thule Trail

Thule Trail is a remake of The Oregon Trail set in the present day, with an automobile replacing the wagon as your main mode of transport. Players must make a number of decisions during the course of the two thousand mile journey from Chicago to Santa Barbara as they attempt to guide a group of road travelers to the Atlantis Music Festival safely.

There are several mini games disguised as competitions in which cash prizes can be won if you happen find yourself a little short on cash for supplies. A good score can be acquired by keeping your passengers happy, though having some spare greens in your pockets would contribute just as much. [source: The Artful Gamer]

Name: Thule Trail
Developer: Thule
Category: Adventure
Type: Browser

Destruere Pizzicato

I thought I'd mention another old game that probably has escaped the view of people not in the GameMaker community, Destruere Pizzicato (Or how I was a pizza cutter in 2D land).
It's a quirky little platformer where you play a pizza cutter. One could say it captues the spirit of Pizza very well.
Very short, and only 0.7 MB.
If you don't mind something lacking a bit of spit and polish it's worth a download.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Bernard the Bard

Bernard the Bard is what some consider to be the greatest game made in the MZX game creation system.

It's got a very home cooked flavour to it. It's like it's wearing this outfit with all these clashing colours and designs, but somehow it works. It's an adventure game of sorts, and was made by a fellow named Jeremy LaMar.

Download it here:

You'll need MZX to play it, downloadable here.

Clysm Interview

This is an interview of Clysm (author of Seiklus), conducted by Eden B for this blog. All three of us are members of Eo. I edited it and am posting it for her.

EB: what's some games that you've been playing lately (if any)?

Clysm: I played Portal and Half-Life 2 a couple weeks ago. It's pretty unusual for me to play FPS games, though. Other than Metroid Prime, I haven't played any since Doom many years ago. I've also been playing the Aquaria demo.

EB: What do you think of the storytelling in HL2?

Clysm: I thought it was very effective the way the narrative was generally a seamless part of the game.

EB: Although, Valve's sort of dug themselves into a hole, producing only FPSes.

Clysm: I would like to see games of other types with the quality of HL2. Maybe they'll try something different eventually.

EB: I don't play FPSes, they make me feel sick. How was Portal?

Clysm: It was very clever, both the design and the writing. They made it fun just to walk around and play with things, which is a good quality in a video game.

EB: For surely. The concept of "play" seems to be lacking in most games. Although, in Aquaria it's quite fun to just swim around.

Clysm: Yes, I haven't played a lot of that game, but it seems as if it has that, too.

EB: Is there a story to your new game? You've said it's a "rescue game", but is it as minimalist as Seiklus?

Clysm: Yes, it will have quite a bit more story than Seiklus. I haven't decided exactly how much yet, and I still have to make a few final decisions about which way I will take the story.

EB: How're you planning to communicate that? The story, that is.

Clysm: There will be actual text. Probably in the form of journal entries. But it will not be necessary to read any of it to play the game.

EB: Uh oh, text. are you sure gamers are going to be able to handle this "text" business?

Clysm: Well, there are a lot of things about this game that may or may not be well-received by those who happen to try it out. I'm really not sure how it will turn out, overall. It might turn out to be one of those games that's more fun to work on than to play, such as the little life simulators I made.

EB: What sort of features are you talking about there?

Clysm: Well, most of the things I'm talking about are kind of secret. :) I mean, I want the game to have the quality I mentioned, that you don't really know what to expect.

EB: "What is a video game? A miserable little pile of secrets!"

Clysm: But I realize that in saying that I'm probably making it sound like something more interesting than it really is.

EB: Heh. In screenshots that you posted on your rarely updated Eo blog, the graphical style had an odd 3D-ish look to it in parts.

Clysm: Well, the look wasn't really finalized, and it will probably change unless I get too lazy.

EB: Haha. What'd you think of Knytt, a game that was partially inspired by Seiklus?

Clysm: I liked Knytt, but never finished the game. I was pretty impressed with Knytt Stories, however, and I played through all of Nifflas's levels and several by other people.

EB: What was better about Knytt Stories?

Clysm: Maybe I just have a short attention span. I guess I found the atmosphere more varied, and I liked the music.

EB: What music are you listening to these days anyway?

Clysm: A lot of darkwave and chiptunes, mostly.

EB: Darkwave?

Clysm: That's a term I learned a few years ago that seems to include a lot of what I like. Some of my favorite music groups include Deine Lakaien, VNV Nation, and others that are sort of in the same general category as Depeche Mode. It's a pretty big category, though.

EB: Ahh, that sort of thing. Do you support Ron Paul :p?

Clysm: I don't know enough about him to answer that, really. I haven't started deciding who I might vote for, other than things I happen to read.

EB: Well, I know Rinku likes him (which is why I put that question there).

Clysm: I'm not registered as a member of any political party, or even as an independent. I do vote, though.

EB: have you had a chance to look at this years IGF finalists?

Clysm: I tried The Zoo Race and Aquaria, and there are others that interest me. Oh, you said finalists. Yes, I looked over the list.

EB: Zoo Race should've won everything!

Clysm: I would have given it some sort of special award.

EB: It's nice to see more arty games like The Path getting in as well.

Clysm: That's one I haven't looked at.

EB: It certainly looks interesting. Why do you like Mr. Kubus' games? (Note to readers: Mr. Kubus is the somewhat infamous creator of the Johnny games.)

Clysm: I guess because they are different from everyone else's games. I don't really know. I guess he's someone who realizes that you can do whatever you want when you create independent games. They don't have to look or play like any other games, and it doesn't even matter whether anyone likes them.

Experimental Gameplay 2008

Jonathan Blow (Braid) is seeking participants for the Experimental Gameplay Sessions 2008, an event held during the GDC in which attendees are encouraged to showcase their games, prototypes and ideas to an audience with a keen interest in innovation. Submissions should be sent to workshop2008 [a], before January 15th 2008 for consideration.

- The Experimental Gameplay web site

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Arthur Lee Interview

An interview with Arthur 'Mr. Podunkian' Lee, developer of The Underside.

Hi Arthur, let's begin with an introduction of yourself.

Okay, I'm a college student. I use pretty much entirely Multimedia Fusion and GraphicsGale for most my games, but recently I've gotten into some sound design with old toys and homemade electronics. And I made Punishment 1, 2, and Flywrench. But before that I made Wally, Bool, and Booloid.

I'm just kidding, let me get serious here.

Hi, I'm Arthur "Mr. Podunkian" Lee, I'm a college student and I guess I've been making video games for 13 years now, and that's more than half of my entire life, which makes me either an expert in making video games or a big fat nerd.

Are you trying to interview me so you can ask me to show you a picture of a project I'm working on because if you are lemme tell you, you're going to find yourself in a world of disappointment!

You caught me red-handed. Actually, I'm just trying to make sure that The Underside isn't abandoned.

What games have you made so far? I mean, just name the games that you want people to Google for. I know about your past projects, but unfortunately some people think you've only done The Underside. Oh wait, can I use the words 'Cave Story rip-off' excessively in this interview? Or just sparingly?

Yes, preface every question with it!

Haha... can I end each question with the same words as well?

I'm trying to think of what I've made that's still online, but there's really nothing that I've done that's still online.

Metal Gear Santa, The Serious Sam spoof...

Well, I think my first big project was a game called Super Fun Dungeon Run, which featured a little fellow running through and an endless dungeon full of traps. Since then I've made Operation: Human Shield 2 (and I guess by extension, Operation: Sitting Duck 1), Circy 1-3, Novabrain's Grand Adventure, Merry Gear Solid, Serious-Sam-I-Am, and I guess this little game called The Underside.

In which year do you think you will finish development on The Underside? Will there be another demo before that?

See, I used to tell people that The Underside would be finished sometime between Team Fortress 2 and Duke Nukem: Forever, and now that Team Fortress 2 has been released I'm basically in deep trouble. I really have no idea when it'll be done, there's still a whole lot of the game I've gotta do. As for another demo, I've been thinking about it, but I'm sort of against putting out too much media, because it's kind of like vanilla ice cream. If you have vanilla ice cream every once in awhile, it's basically a no-pants party in your mouth. But if you have vanilla ice cream too often, you're going to get sick of it. The same thing applies to other flavors of ice cream too. My game is ice cream.

Okay, how much of it is done?

I just finished the second "boss", but I use the term really loosely, because he doesn't really fight back at all. It's kind of hard to explain, but he's actually an inside-joke/cameo sort of a thing.

What do you think of Pixel's comment about The Underside?

I was really surprised and flattered -- I had no idea he'd played, much less heard about my game. Though I'm worried a bit that he had to give up in the beginning because the game was too hard. And this is the fellow who made the 'Hell' level. I've created a monster.

Is Derek Yu still one of your favorite indie game developers after the recent debacle? Since you've mentioned his name in a list somewhere...

I'll answer your question with a question of my own: Remember that one time. That one time you put a link to my forums on that one post with a picture of Buddy murdering some puppies. Remember how you removed that link? Remember how you thought no one noticed? Well guess what, buddy. Someone did.

That's not really a question though.

But yeah, Derek Yu is still one of my favorite indie developers. I felt that the post I made was long overdue, but he apologized, and I still think his artwork is amazing, so it doesn't really affect my opinion of him.

Have you tried out the Aquaria demo yet?

I bought it the HOUR it came out. I threw money in his general direction. Thirty digital cyberbucks.

Your opinions about Aquaria then. Or what you've played of it so far.

I figured it would be my way of burying the hatchet. To pay him. I paid him as a way of saying "sorry." It's the best, most sincere sort of a "sorry."

Well, if you want me to be COMPLETELY HONEST,...

Yes, complete honesty please. I mean, he has your money anyway. He probably could care less about what you say.

Hrrmmmm, I was a little bit underwhelmed. You have to realize I grew up basically idolizing Derek Yu's pixel art style, starting with the original Trigger Happy, which I found on some AOL boards (heh, heh, AOL) a long long time ago, and I can't help but feel that the skeletal animation system they've got in the game makes the game look a little stiff and lifeless compared to his other stuff.

And the whole "gesture-based-everything-can-be-controlled-with-a-mouse" seems more like an unnecessary gimmick than anything that really contributes to the overall experience. But besides that I'm enjoying the atmosphere and story.

I have a feeling that this is going to be a long interview.

END TRANSMISSION. Haha, dats all i gosta say.

Really... I was hoping for more.

Hahaha. Basically those are my only gripes. The skeletal animation system is really really underwhelming. And the controls are affffffffffff

I think I should leave it at that, I don't want people thinking I'm an asshole.

Haha, okay. Well I'm sure you can't change the minds of those who already think you are.

I've played just past the first boss, so my opinion on the game might be a little biased.

Do you plan on joining IGF with The Underside anytime in the near future? Derek Yu and Joakim Sandberg (who is also in your list of favorite indie developers) have already gone down that route... and did you ever consider joining this year?

It's something I want to do in the future, but probably not with The Underside. The IGF is always full of really unique and interesting games, and well, let's just say I don't think it's the right place for a game as traditional as The Underside.

What do you think of Noitu Love 2? It's basically a 2D platformer, and since it made it into the IGF finals, I'm confident that The Underside has a good chance of doing the same.

I think Noitu Love has a unique control scheme, and an interesting art style, which sort of puts it past "just another 2D platformer." The Underside is not so much a reinvention of anything as it is just the synthesis of a lot of good ideas. It's like a casserole of video games. It's also ice cream. I've got food on my mind.

How much did you receive in donations so far? Messhof only got $25...

Only $25? Son, you could practically buy a copy of Aquaria with that kind of money.

Well, Mesrhof's mom only gave him $20 to buy Aquaria, but Derek increased the price to $30. BUMMER.

Actually, I think I've gotten $25 in donations too. Maybe $25 is some sort of a lucky number.

Who donated, by the way? you should ask them for more money...

Give me more money.

...since you have their email address and stuff. Are you going to make a small game this Christmas?

I was planning on it but then I realized I have too many unfinished projects going on.

Such as? surely you mean, 'the project'...

This one's never going to be finished. I'm also working on a fake Spectrum game called "Let's Get Willy" with a good fellow named Duncan 'LikeRock' Roberts and a game involving a clock. A time travelling clock. It travels through time. I can't tell you what the clock is called but I can tell you that it starts with a Z and it rhymes with Zybourne, and that the clock is called the Zybourne clock.

Any hints?

Yeah, it's called 'the Zybourne Clock'.


What I was gonna say about The Underside was that it's been tough working on it because my musician hasn't been doing any work for me lately, so I've been having to write my own music which as you're well aware by now can be kind of disasterous (route 66, the cacophony that is the main theme, etc.). It's because I just punch my keyboard and hope that pleasant sounds come out.

Worked for Messhof.

I think the hardest part about writing The Underside is that I'm really trying to go for a kid-friendly, RATED E FOR EVERYONE script, which means I can't be too dirty with it. But at the same time it really helps the script as a whole because it lets me tackle sort of awful subject matter with a happy, ironic tone. Like a man who's face is too wide and has been stuck in his house for years.

Okay we all know your favorite indie games of all time (Cave Story is definitely not in that list), but have you played anything recently that you felt was spectacular?

Flywrench probably. It's really simple, short, but not too short, and really funny in a dry sort of a way too. There's this other game called 'Pasi the Pumpkin Worm', but I don't think anyone has the depth of mind required to fully appreciate it.

Is there anything you want to say or repeat to the people who said The Underside is a Cave Story rip-off?

Basically that I love them, that I care for them. That I hope they never change. I wish for their very best, and that they succeed in every aspect of their lives.

No, I mean, really....


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Winter Solstice

The Winter Solstice is an arena shooter by Mr. Chubigans, developer of The Sandbox of God and Acidbomb series. The game features six playable levels plus several unlockable modes which can only be acquired by collecting medals through achievements. Use the W, A, S and D keys to move your lantern around, and hold the left mouse button to shoot.

Name: The Winter Solstice
Developer: Mr. Chubigans
Category: Action, Arcade
Type: Freeware
Size: 10MB
Direct download link: Click here


Nanosmiles is a new arena shooter from Yaruhara, in which players have to collect inactive options scattered around each area and use them to inflict damage on the enemies. Hold the Z key to activate your targetting system. Your weapons will automatically fire at targeted enemies if the same button is held down. Use the X key to make your ship travel quicker.

This trial version for the upcoming Comiket 73 release has only four playable levels.

Name: Nanosmiles
Developer: Yaruhara
Category: Shooter
Type: Demo
Size: 5MB
Direct download link: Click here

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Dave Gilbert Interview

An interview with Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games, creator of the Blackwell series and The Shivah.

Hi Dave, let's begin with an introduction of yourself, and what you do.

Sure thing. My name is Dave, and I'm an indie game developer from New York City. I started writing freeware games back in 2001 and in June of 2006 I decided to give the commercial thing a whirl. A year and a half later, I'm still making them.

What are you currently working on at the moment?

At the moment I'm working on the 3rd game in the Blackwell series, entitled "The Blackwell Convergence". It's a return to the present day, meaning you'll see Rosangela again instead of Lauren.

Any side projects? Or are you currently fully committed on Convergence until it's completed? Is there a rough release date already for the third chapter in the Blackwell series?

There are a few other things I am working on, although they are more "cool ideas in the back of my head" than anything else. I am aiming for around February of next year for Convergence, although it's a verrry rough estimate. The game was already designed and plotted out when Unbound was done, so there will be a significantly smaller wait this time around.

February does sound optimistic, knowing your attention to detail...

The majority of the work always happens in the last month. It is a bit optimistic, but the deadline gives us something to shoot for. We might be late, but without some kind of guideline it would never get done.

Although I did say February was "rough". I haven't actually announced a deadline yet! That was the first lesson I learned from Legacy, heh.

You had mentioned that there would be five games in the Blackwell series. Is that still true? Do you have an ending written for it already, as a closure? And will there be another game featuring Lauren as the main playable character? If not, is she going to make an appearance in any of the upcoming chapters?

The "five games" thing is a bit of a guideline for myself. There are five main backstory/plotpoints that I want to hit, and so I've wrapped each one in its own game to make them all digestable. Sometimes we might take sidetrips, like we did with Unbound (which was originally supposed to be part of Convergence and doesn't count as part of the "main five"), so in the end there might be more than five.

I do have an ending in mind, yes, and I know what will happen along the way. There might be sidetrips if I get a neat idea or somesuch, but for the most part I'll be sticking to the path I've laid out.

As for Lauren, she'll always be an ever-present figure, whether she's the main character of the game or not. She was a major part of both Joey and Rosa's lives (or death, in the case of Joey) and continues to effect them. She might return in a game, or in some other fashion, but she might not.

And yes, I'm being vague on purpose.

Since Blackwell Legacy is selling well on several casual game portals, can we expect to see Unbound taking the same distribution path?

Haha. Legacy is only on two portals for now (and about to go on a third), and the game has done very well. So well, that they are willing to take Unbound as well. You'll see it on iWin and Playfirst. No deal has been signed with Big Fish yet. Playfirst even wanted to try selling Shivah, which came as a pleasant surprise!

You price your games according to content, which is understandable. What we'd like to know is, how much should we expect to pay for Convergence? Or is this undecided yet?

As of right now, I'm pricing it at the same level as Legacy. I.e. $14.99. Things might change by the time it comes out, but that's what I'm aiming for.

Are you going to make a game in a different genre during the production of the entire Blackwell series? Or perhaps I should just ask... when is Shivah 2 coming out?

More than likely! I get the feeling that I'll get a bit burnt out on Blackwell eventually, and I'll need to take a break and do something else just to refresh. I know that if I ever do that, I'll always return to Blackwell eventually. I've been plotting this story out for four years and don't plan on giving it up.

As for Rabbi Stone, I want to bring him back, definitely. I spoke last year about doing a sequel before doing the second Blackwell game, and I never ended up doing it. To be honest, I was only going to do it because of the public demand for it and not because I had anything really stellar in mind. So, I'm glad I never made it.

Over the last year I've been thinking about Rabbi Stone in the back of my head, and I've come up with a very nice story arc that I think people will like. But I know that if I DO bring him back, I'll want to do it right. So for the last several months I've been talking to venture capitalists and investors and People With Money to see if anyone wants to give me a few dozen grand for the cause.

The original Shivah really springboarded this whole Wadjet Eye thing, so I figure if there's any IP that can attract potential investors, it would be Rabbi Stone. Of course if that never pans out I'll probably bring him back anyway.

Will you be retaining the same development team from Legacy and Convergence for the fourth and fifth game? Since your plan includes five games in the Blackwell universe.

The dev team changes, depending on the team members. Ian Schaephler did both the sprites and portraits for Legacy, but he's got a very busy fulltime job now and doesn't have the time. So he's just doing the portraits this time. I've got another sprite artist to mimic his sprite style and we go on from there. So the team might change.

Tell us a little about your experience working with Erin. Will you be working with her again on another Blackwell game? And how has the response been for Unbound?

Working with Erin was awesome. She was enthusiastic from the beginning, and didn't mind that I made the game a bit longer than originally planned. We'd both be in coffee shops on wifi connections, chatting over MSN like we were in the same office. It was a great way to work.

She was ideal for Unbound because the budget was very small and she was willing to work within that micro budget. She's got that "busy college kid" thing to deal with these days, so I don't think we'll be collaborating anytime soon. Although I'd love to, since she was a lot of fun to work with.

The reaction to Unbound has been really positive! I was worried how people would react to the change in visual style, as well as a total change of player character. Would they be upset that it was Lauren and not Rosa? Or worse, what if they played Unbound and decided they liked Lauren better! Turns out my fears were unjustified since people generally like both characters.

Nobody minded the simpler graphics, although people did miss the character portraits, which won't disappear again.

I didn't mind the character portraits not being there.

That was the only major complaint about the game, it seemed.

Doesn't seem to be much difference, to be honest..

I thought so too! I do think, despite the simpler graphics, that Unbound is one of the best titles - gameplay wise - that I've ever made. Legacy was too bogged down by narrative and didn't have much gameplay. I learned so much from that game, and Unbound became MUCH more balanced as a result.

Will Convergence improve upon Legacy and Unbound in any way?

I learn lessons from each game, and I try to incorporate them into the next one. The "switching characters" thing will definitely remain, and the dialogs will be quite a bit shorter (although there will be more of them).

Also, the one thing I learned from Legacy is Rosa herself. I wanted to establish Rosa as being kind of a social misfit, and I succeeded but you didn't really learn anything about her aside from "I am scared and nervous." Rosa's a very intellectual and analytical person, and I'm going to focus more on those qualities in the next installment.

She'll still be a social misfit, but the focus won't be on that so much.

Who do you like better? Rosa or Lauren? Who do your fans liked better? And did you base these two characters on actual people?

That's a tough question. Some people say that Rosa feels more real and that Lauren feels more like a stereotype, and some say the exact opposite! Personally, I found Lauren more fun to write since her and Joey have a pre-established relationship and I could just launch right into their banter. The Rosa/Joey relationship is more complicated, since they are in the process of getting to know each other.

But to be honest, I like them both for different reasons! They aren't based on anyone specific, although they are both very "New York" types of characters.

How much of Convergence is already done? Which year do you think the last game will be out, or are you planning to milk it till it's dry?

I'd say about 40% of the coding is programmed, and almost every character is designed (albeit not animated) and almost every background is outlined. (albeit not colored in!)

I can't really answer the second part of the question. I'm guessing we'll be following Rosa and Joey around for a few more years at least.

Where do you see yourself in five or ten years' time? Still working on 2D adventure games? Or trying to finish the Blackwell series?

A very good question! I do want to try out other genres eventually. I love RPG games, and even plotted one out a few years ago. If I ever get the budget, time, and (heaven forbid) the staff to make it, rest assured I'll try!

The fact that people really like my work - and enable me to pay my mortgage every month - makes me feel very happy. It's a weird life sometimes, but I feel very lucky that I am able to do this.

It could be a long ride for some of your fans. Are you really going to finish the Blackwell series, even when you're rich and retired? Or are you secretly working on the final game, so that when you finally call it quits, you can just release it?

It won't take that long to finish. Right now, things are slow because I am spending a LOT of time doing the business development and such.

And doing interviews...

haha. yes! It's your fault!

Eventually, I hope to be able to afford hiring people to do that stuff for me, so I can create these games a bit faster. Although, from what I understand, one game a year isn't a bad turnover rate.

Alright, last question. Can you leak something from Convergence?

Yes. Here is Rosa's new look. (pictured right)

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Passage: Jason Rohrer explains his latest creation in detail. [download Passage]

DHC: DHC is working on a new horizontal shooter.


2007 HSP Contest: Results for the 2007 HSP (Hot Soup Processor) Contest are out, with Another Bound bagging first place. [descriptions and screenshots for all entries]

Ludum Dare: Ludum Dare 10 (48 hour game competition) will begin this 14th of December.

Adventure, Roguelikes

Dwarf Fortress: Dwarf Fortress updated. [change list]

Incursion: A Mac port for the freeware roguelike game Incursion is now available.

Heartland series: Unbound - A Wound Vignette will be released next week. [Heartland Deluxe]

ScummVM: ScummVM updated with support for AGOS games.

Remakes, Ports

Wizball: Wizball now available for the Mac.

Army of Trolls: Tomaz Kac (Push Push Penguin, Head Over Heels) will release a new game soon.

Game Maker

The Windy Witch: Pug Fugly (Return to Sector 9) is currently working on four different projects, with one of them being an entry for the YoYo Games Winter competition.

RPGCreations: Orchard-L might develop a new horror game after Fedora Spade 4 is released.


Braid: In a rare forum posting over at TGC, Jonathan Blow had mentioned that he has every intention on working on a new game after Braid. Both PS3 and PC versions were not ruled out.

Audiosurf: IGF finalist Audiosurf will be released in February 2008.

Space Dynagon: A trial version for Murasame's new game, Space Dynagon is now available. [mirror]

Messhof Interview

An interview with Messhof (Mark Essen), creator of the Punishment series and Flywrench.

Hi Messhof. Let's begin with an introduction of yourself, your tools of trade, and the creations you've released unto an unsuspecting world..

Alright. I'm a college student. I use pretty much entirely Game Maker and MSPaint for most of my games, but recently I've gotten into some sound design with old toys and homemade electronics. And I made Punishment 1, 2, and Flywrench. But before that I made Wally, Bool, and Booloid.

Old toys?

Like old toy guitars from goodwill. I just rewire them so they output to quarter inch cables then run them through pedals or software filters I design. You can get some pretty crazy stuff just by running through their demo songs in different ways. This is something I've been doing with friends though, I don't want to take all the credit for that.

Okay, I've got to ask. How did you get the idea to make games as sadistic as the Punishment series?

Well with Punishment 1 it actually started as a classroom assignment with this experimental class. I'd taken a few classes with the professor, and then he came up with this 300 level weird game design class. So me and some friends jumped at it. There were some other good projects that came out of other groups.

Everyone is talking about Flywrench at the moment, especially about the credits. Was it an original idea to implement it that way? And what's the backstory behind the, er... story?

I guess I've just been watching too much science fiction. I project for this science fiction class every week, so I'm just sitting up in that booth for three hours with my computer usually, and it just seeps in. They always have pretty funny credits. Maybe that's where I got that.

Flywrench was a love it or hate it experience for most. Were you actually expecting this sort of reaction? And were you pleased with the overall response?

I was definitely expecting that with the music, and overall yeah, that's been the case with all of my games. And I am pleased!

What can we expect from you next? What's coming up?

Next you'll probably see Flywrench 2.0 actually. I've been working on that pretty hard.. for three days or whatever.

How is that different from it's prequel? Any major changes? Storyline? Do you have a rough release date for it?

I don't want to promise too much, but I think multiplayer will be a big part. There's also a cool gravity system I'm working with where you orbit planets as you go through obstacles. There's a lot more obstacles, but the game will still move fast. Faster, hopefully. I'd say it will be done around Christmas, maybe a week or two after. And the story will expand on the first.

Tell us a bit about the multiplayer feature. Actually, why not just explain it in detail.

Well I don't know if you know about this Game Maker project Reflect Games...

Yes, I do.

Well I'd like to get in on that.

I'm not too fond of online gaming, so hopefully you would work extensively on the single player campaign as well.

I plan on doing that. Multiplayer will be mostly a test of skills, but I can see a community coming out of it. Another big feature is the level editor, which is a big part of the online aspect too.

How much have you received from donations? Why do you think most people who play freeware games never donate?

I've made $25 off donations, 20 of which was from my mom. I don't think they work really, but it's not really obtrusive to ask, so why not.

You make weird games, and cactus is a big fan of your stuff. So who's better, you or cactus?

Haha... I'm a pretty big fan of cactus. It would be cool to work together sometime. But yeah, for the most part we don't really make the same kind of games.

Name some of your favorite games from cactus.

I know nothing about shmups. Well I do appreciate Clean Asia and his new lo res one that's hard to spell. But I'm terrible at Clean Asia, and I haven't played the other one yet. But I played Arms today, and that was awesome. Brave Karma Warriors also looked interesting.

Will you be changing development tools anytime in the near future?

If they port GM to C++ next year like they say they will, I can see myself sticking with it. Even if I switch to something else, I'd probably at least prototype in GM. But I don't know any other languages.

How long have you been using GM?

Probably 6 years or so.

How many games have you released in that period? Are you planning to make a career out of developing games? (freeware or otherwise)

I think I'll keep making them. If it turns out to be a career, then I'll just go with it I think. Uh... I've released a bunch of games. I used to have them on my website, but I've since taken a lot down that embarrass me.

Which of your released games do you consider your best work so far?

Well the ones on, so Wally, Bool, Booloid, Punishment 1, 2, Flywrench.

Favorite son? You have to throw the rest into the river for the crocs to feed.

I guess Flywrench then, he's so young and cute.

He is noisy though. (apparently)

meh. I'm suprised people don't complain more about the Punishment 2 soundtrack.

How long did you take to develop Flywrench? And how did the idea for the game came about?

Had the initial concept back in high school, in GM 5.3. But then I recoded and redrew everything in the past two or three weeks.

Do you think you can still improve after releasing something like Flywrench? Besides a sequel, of course.

Haha, yeah I hope so. I definitely have other ideas, like this plane game.

When will that be released?

That one has been in production for almost as long as Flywrench. After Flywrench 2.0. It might be a little while after that actually. I have a remake of Crystal Quest I have nearly done, so that will probably come between them.

No kidding...

Yeah it's pretty much exactly the same game, painstakingly recalled from memory. And an emulator my brother had for a while. I feel like I should contact the guys that made it first though. I don't think they ever really made much off it.

What are your thoughts about this heated discussion?

Haha yeah I had a fun time reading that. But I don't know why a lot of those guys play indie games.

They're saying you had ripped a game called Dotstream.

Haven't played it. What is similar?

Just the style really. Try watching the YouTube gameplay videos of Dotstream.

Ok. Well they are colored lines. It's not an original concept. I'm watching the video now, but I don't see a color aspect.

No one called Flywrench a Cave Story rip-off yet, so you're safe.

Haha, yeah. Man, Dotstream looks like the dullest game ever conceived.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Independent Games Summit Talk

A one hour video of the IGS panel has been posted at GameSetWatch. Participants include Derek Yu (Aquaria/Bit-Blot/TIGSource), Greg Costikyan (Manifesto Games), Mark Morris (Introversion), and Eric Zimmerman (Gamelab). I found the conversation pretty interesting, especially the analogy at the beginning that Greg started and Derek moved into hilarity.


Aquaria has been released.

The game plays a lot like Super Metroid or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, except underwater. The structure of the game is mainly non-linear, which I enjoyed. The game took me about 22 hours to complete, and I didn't find everything in it.

It has extremely high production values for an independent game. The demo is a bit slow and linear, but in the full game it really opens up and becomes more exciting, with a lot more dexterous shooting and avoiding required. The story is competent, but sparse, and has a few clichés. Overall it's not for everyone (in particular it doesn't hold your hand and guide you through everything the way modern games do), but I'd really recommend it to fans of Super Metroid and similar titles.

Name: Aquaria
Developer: Bit Blot
Category: Underwater Metroidvania?
Type: Shareware
Size: 63 MB demo, 203 MB full version
Direct download page: Click Here
Direct download link: Mirror 1, Mirror 2
Buy the game: Click here


Lux is a chain reaction game. When you click on a pattern of light, it expands, and any other pattern of light in that range also expands, continuing in a chain reaction. You receive more points for longer chains. There are also lights which expand on their own and give you negative points unless you click them quickly, and there are special lights which give you extra points. There's also an online high score table. The game doesn't have very much depth, but it's pretty relaxing.

Name: Lux
Developer: ryguydavis / Creative Ink
Category: Chain Reaction Game
Type: Freeware
Size: 4.3 MB
Direct download page: Click Here

Aveyond 2

Aveyond 2 has been released. Because it's an RPG I didn't have time to complete the whole thing before posting this, but I enjoyed the first one and its freeware prequel and from what I've played so far it seems solid, so if you like this genre of game it's probably worth trying out.

One thing I do think has improved over the earlier games by the same author is mouse control, you can now move around and talk to people using either the mouse or the keyboard.

This seems to be a big week for shareware indie game releases -- Democracy 2, Aveyond 2, and Aquaria.

Name: Aveyond 2
Developer: Amanda Fitch / Amaranth Games
Category: Japanese-style RPG
Type: Shareware
Size: 35 MB
Direct download: Click Here

Democracy 2

Democracy 2 has been released. It's really only recommended to people interested in politics (like me), but for those who are it's pretty fun seeing how the author of the game arranged politics into this neural net of interacting cells each feeding into other cells. It's a very deep game.

The author of the game is from the UK so some of the terms might not be familiar to people in the US (for instance, Pensions instead of Social Security). As in most of the author's other games I tend to think a few of the ways the system interacted is a bit unrealistic -- for instance, in this game, having no tax on cars almost always leads to an `sthma epidemic, which makes all parents vote for someone else. But those don't detract too much from the play experience.

One feature which I would have preferred the game have (and which was in similar games such as Balance of the Planet by Chris Crawford) would be a worldview editor -- where the assumptions of the strengths and directions between each of the nodes in the network would be made adjustable, so that the player could build in his own assumptions into the game (for instance, anarcho-capitalists have different assumptions about how the different political issues relate to each other than socialists or environmentalists and so on).

Name: Democracy 2
Developer: Cliffski / Positech Games
Category: Political Strategy
Type: Shareware
Size: 30.5 MB
Direct download: Click Here

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


FLYWRENCH has been released. It is this game, for those who remember the video but not the name.

The arrows are the only controls, and depending on which you press, your color changes: up flaps you up and turns you red, left and right move left and right and turn you white, and down rolls (protecting you from the walls) and turns you green.

The main goal is to get between two points in a series of stages, with increasingly complex obstacles in your way: the trick is that you can move through an obstacle if you are the same color as it. The level design is probably the best part of the game, I had a lot of fun with it. I also liked the movement system, where you have to flap to keep you aloft; it's a rare movement system that I can only remember being used previously in the Atari 2600 game Fathom.

Developer: Messhof
Category: Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 12MB
Direct download: Click Here
Mirror download: Click Here

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Three days until Aquaria release

Derek has written an interesting post over at the Bit-Blot blog, talking about Aquaria's evolution as a game and some of the design decisions that drove its direction. It's part four of a seven day ramp up to the game's release on Friday.

Parts one, two, and three have been great, well worth checking out if you haven't already seen them: Part one featured some of Derek's concept art (shown above), part two featured an excellent arrangement of some of the game's music by Alec, and part three featured a lengthy and entertaining interview with Jenna Sharpe, the voice actress for Naija.

Aquaria is due to be released in three days time.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Monty's Christmas Special

Tim mentioned this in his last news update, but I thought it was cool enough to warrant a highlight. Monty's Christmas Special is a new game by Trevor “Smila” Story and Scottige created in collaboration with UK magazine Retro Gamer. Basically it's Monty on the Run, only twice as fast and set in the Retro Gamer offices.

Since I'm on a bit of a game video bender at the moment, I recorded a bit of a demonstration of the game to show off what it's like (above). Unfortunately that caused it to run a wee bit slower than it should have. Still, hopefully it'll give you some idea of what you're in for - a nifty retro game that's extremely well put together and lots of fun! Heartily recommended!

Name: Monty's Christmas Special
Developer: Auld Games (Smila and Scottige)
Category: Retro Platformer
Type: Freeware
Size: 10MB or so honestly who could be bothered with the exact kilobyte figure
Download Page: Click Here

New N+ Screenshots

New screenshots from Metanet Software's upcoming XBLA release N+ are up on IGN.

- screenshots from N+
- visit the metablog

Boxhead: The Zombie Wars Preview

Sean Cooper's upcoming Boxhead sequel, Boxhead: The Zombie Wars. Made using the same engine, but features tile graphics by Daniel Cook.

The game will be released sometime around Christmas 2007.

- Play Boxhead
- Sean Cooper's site

Better Games = Better World Contest

A new contest has been announced, sponsored by Values at Play. The deadline is the first of next year; for details check the link. First prize is apparently up to eight iPhones -- one per member of your team.

Apparently you don't have to create a game especially for the contest, because there are a few games I recognize that are entrants, but your game does have to be about building a better world. (Thanks to Patrick Dugan for the news tip).

IGF 2008 Finalists

The finalists for the 2008 IGF competition have been announced.

Seumas McNally Grand Prize:
* Audiosurf
* Crayon Physics Deluxe
* Hammerfall
* Noitu Love 2: Devolution
* World of Goo

Best Web Browser Game:
* Iron Dukes
* Tri-Achnid

Design Innovation Award:
* Battleships Forever
* Fez
* Fret Nice
* Snapshot Adventures: Secret Of Bird Island
* World Of Goo

Excellence in Visual Art:
* Clean Asia!
* Fez
* Hammerfall
* Synaesthete
* The Path

Excellence in Audio:
* Cinnamon Beats
* Fret Nice
* Audiosurf
* Clean Asia!
* OokiBloks

Technical Excellence:
* World of Goo
* Goo!
* Audiosurf
* Axiom: Overdrive
* Gumboy Tournament

Visit the IGF site for a complete list with screenshots and descriptions.

Garden Gnome Carnage

Garden Gnome Carnage is one of the better games created for the Game Maker winter contest so far. It's a pretty unique arcade game where you move a building left and right to swing a gnome who is attached to the top of it around in order to protect that building from invading elves. The gnome can also pick up bricks from the building and throw them at the invaders.

Mastering the movement takes a little getting used to because you can only pull the string he's attached to left and right, but isn't as difficult as it sounds. There's also a lot of depth to it, such as a combo system where you can knock elves into other elves and cause chain reactions.

One of the nicest touches is that each time you complete the game you get a new tip, and some of these tips reveal new abilities and techniques, giving it a lot of replay value. (I also love what happens when you reach 80,000 points.)

Name: Garden Gnome Carnage
Developer: Ultimortal
Category: Arcade/Action
Type: Freeware
Size: 5.4MB
Direct download page: Click Here

New Rückblende Mirror

Guess what. It took two sleepless nights, but a new mirror for Rückblende is finally up.

- download Rückblende (593 MB)
- previous mention

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Caravel Games Interview

A lengthy interview with Erik Hermansen of Caravel Games, the industry veteran who gave us the DROD series - recently featured on Kotaku's Five Indie Picks. He is also currently working on Frogs and Mice, an exclusive game for InstantAction set to be released early next year.

Let's begin with a little introduction of yourself, and some background info on Caravel Games as well. (for those who are not familiar with DROD - though however unlikely that is)

Alright, so I'm a guy that has made computer games for fun since I was 13. And then at one point I thought I'd try selling them. It more or less worked.

DROD was the game I made that was what I wished someone else would make so I could play it. And after I got it out to the world, I found out that there were a smallish number of people that really, really loved it. I think because they have brains like mine.

How long has the DROD series been around? I've first heard about it from The Underdogs, and that site is long gone but Caravel Games is still here!

Well, it gets really boring to explain the various ways you might determine how long it's been around. But I will say that I started designing early versions of it around 1992. And the first commercial version of it was... (leaving briefly to look it up) 1997. That was the version I published with Webfoot Technologies. Now we publish it all ourself.

Who originally worked on the first DROD? If I remember correctly you started out with just one partner..

Well, there was just me and a guy named Lucas Swineford to begin with. Lucas made a bunch of levels for DROD, and I did most everything else. A guy named Lars K Aasbrenn wrote the music. Then as years went by, there've been maybe a dozen core contributors and several tens of people doing things like beta testing and voice acting.

I honestly have a hard time explaining how DROD got made. It's really like a number of games in a series like Sims. "DROD" is more like a franchise name.

Haha ok, no problems at `ll. I can sort of understand, I mean there is at least fifteen years of history anyway. :)

Let me lock you in a room for four hours and bore you to death. THEN YOU WILL UNDERSTAND. Tie you to a wooden wheelchair and show you powerpoint slides.

Where do you think your fans heard about DROD from? I would say The Underdogs mainly, but that's because I'm uninformed.. plus it was at a time when internet marketing was practically unheard of, and games are only promoted by word of mouth.

Underdogs was a big one (thanks Sarinee!). And there's some obscure little budget CD that Webfoot got DROD onto a long while back that apparently was a big deal. But mainly they trickle in from different sources. And word of mouth is still really the biggest way people learn about it.

We send out press releases sure, but people are getting their friends hooked on it and posting on forums. It used to be you threw a game up on a bunch of download sites and that was all the marketing you needed.

Has that changed? Are you spending on marketing DROD: The City Beneath?

Yeah, we are gearing up to do a lot more marketing in a more intelligent way. For instance, your name is going to go into a database and a little note is going to be put there that says we had this interview. And later on you're gonna get spammed! No, not spammed, respectfully contacted about other opportunities. :) NO SPAM.

Seriously, I've got this long-time fan Matt Cramp, working on the marketing side on a regular basis and we are taking it very seriously. We don't want to offload our marketing work to other companies or publishers.

I'm not going to ask about the number of emails in your mailing address, but how about an active forum members count? Just to find out an indication of the rabid fan base Caravel Games' have.

Last time I checked it was something like 500 active members (logged in at some point in the last 3 months). About 1 in 3 people that buy our games also sign up for the accompanying online service too. It's not huge numbers, but it's a solid base of players that you can do things with.

What do you think happened to the owner of The Underdogs? She sort of disappeared, or maybe lost interest in the whole thing..

I don't know what Sarinee is up to these days. I know that she's very talented and capable, and I think of her site as a great gift. People get busy, their interests change. The remarkable thing is that she has done so much on the site over such a long period.

Five years in operation perhaps? I mean The Underdogs, before it went inactive.

Well, the cool thing about Underdogs is that the policy was not the typical abandonware ethic of putting any old crap up you could get away with. Underdogs really did care about what the authors and copyrightholders wanted. It wasn't a big screw job to people making games. It was respectful of creative work.

How many people do you think have completed every single DROD release?

Not me, I can tell you that. I finished King Dugan's Dungeon, but not the last two. It's frigging hard! But I'd guess that the number is less than a hundred. Or maybe low hundreds.

Well, I find myself resorting to using the online solutions very often.

Yeah, the DROD design attracts these supergeniur MENSA types that are used to solving really tough problems. And there's one camp that pulls the puzzles off into that supergenius territory. The other camp asks for easier puzzles, but is maybe underrepresented.

Too hard for a lot of people. That's why I'm starting over with the new game. Frogs and Mice.

Frogs and Mice (F&M) will be on GarageGames' InstantAction right? When will that be playable? Last I heard it was "early next year".

Well, it's up to us (Caravel) and it's up to them. But I would guess around April of 2008. Yeah, I am pushing for a tight schedule on this one to make GarageGames happy, but the honest answer always has to be "we don't know". Of course, when does a game studio ever know, other than the month before release?

And yeah, it will go on InstantAction exclusively. Which is different for us. We have stayed away from exclusive deals. But in this case we are keeping "DROD" games selling from our website, and then retheming DROD to be different so it can appear exclusively on InstantAction. So F&M is like little mice and frogs fighting each other. And DROD is about Beethro Budkin, a weird trollish guy chopping up roaches. But it is the same DROD style of gameplay.

Will F&M be playable using any internet browser? Details about InstantAction are sketchy at best, and since you're working with GarageGames, perhaps you can tell us a little about their new game delivery platform, and how it's any different from other flash game portals.

Sorry man, they might send nasty lawyers after me. I basically am limited to saying things off their press releases. They are way frigging serious about nondisclosure. I had Jeff Tunnel repeating it to me for a solid ten minutes on my last visit.

Haha, alright. Best to avoid that legal mine field. :) So Frogs and Mice is essentially DROD then? With new sprites and backgrounds, but the same addictive puzzle elements - or is there something new that we might see done differently in this InstantAction exclusive. I mean, do we play the mice or the frog? And do they carry huge swords? It's kinda hard to imagine a Caravel Games' release without Beethro..

Well, I won't comment on the InstantAction part and how it affects the game, but I would say that Frogs and Mice will be different from DROD in the following ways:

* Different and better graphics. I've got an artist sitting behind me drawing up cute little animals and nice animated sprites. She's been working on this solid for months. We're going to make the screen more interesting to look at.

* The game will be oriented for the casual newcomer. Not stupid casual like "I won't play this game unless I can match colors together". This is for people that are willing to try a new kind of game as long as they can figure it out in the first 15 minutes.

* There will be new game elements not seen in DROD before. We have an interesting "stealth" mode of play that hasn't been seen in DROD games before.

That's the main stuff. I don't want to blind you with bullet points.

Frogs and Mice - completely free to play? Will there be a story? How about voiceovers?

I'm assuming there will be a shareware demo + registered portion. I'm not clear on the InstantAction payment model at this point. Yes, there will be limited story, but we want to keep the emphasis on puzzles for this game. There will be less story than what we had in DROD: The City Beneath.

Voiceovers? Possibly. The problem is that since dialogue is sparser, it can be a little jarring to have characters talking suddenly amidst relative silence. We're going to play with it a bit to see what works.

How large is Frogs and Mice in terms of content? Compared to DROD: The City Beneath (or any of it's predecessors).

I think Frogs and Mice will play through faster than DROD: The City Beneath simply because it will be much easier. But the room count will be similar with a huge world to explore. And we'll include the level editor so people can publish their own level collections.

Playing time?

To get through the core levels were aiming at 20-30 hours. After that there will be a LOT of replayabity from level editing, challenges, finding secrets, and high score competition. I expect the same "career" effect we have for DROD. People play the same damned game for years.

Will you be posting more screenshots or trailers for Frogs and Mice? We've only seen small bits of it; some sprites and a couple of backgrounds (see gallery and animations) - so all our impressions are based on superimposing those images onto gameplay elements which we're familiar with from DROD.

Sure, but we're not in a hurry to post screenshots since the cosmetic elements of the game are probably getting put in last. We've prioritized development to get level design and new game elements done first. So it will be months before the F&M screenshots start popping up. You have the FIRST interview related to Frogs and Mice. Feel proud?

Feeling very privileged haha. Okay one last question: do you have a screenshot or any material from Frogs and Mice to share with your loyal DROD fans?

Yeah, yeah, I'll dig something up for you. But this will delay development, you understand? If the game gets behind schedule, it's your fault.

Alright... better not then heh. I was thinking about asking how Frogs and Mice got it's name, and your inspiration behind it.

Dude, I already dropped so much new material on you. But let's see... Well, I will tell you that one of the characters you play is female, but as far as I can tell, there is no discernable way to know this from playing the game. So you can play Bread Nibbler (male) or Slice Snatcher (female). But they are both tiny little mice on the screen, so you just have to know that one is male and the other is female. See, a real bona-fide secret for you!

Er... is that for print?

Yeah, you can have that little gem. I'm a generous guy.


(Erik was also kind enough to send over two images after the chat. One is a direct screenshot from Frogs and Mice, while the other will be used for the title screen; both WIP of course.)