Andrew “Zarf” Plotkin is a well-known and influential figure in interactive fiction – on top of penning classic IF games like Spider & Web and Shade, he also developed the Blorb package format, Glx API, and Glulx virtual machine for making and playing them. His latest game, Hadean Lands, is four years in the making (following a successful Kickstarter) and is apparently one of the largest and most complex IF games to date, spanning 73,000 words of printable text and 170,000 words of logic (according to Andrew’s twitter). In the game, you play a young alchemist who has awoken to find him or herself trapped in a crashed starship, armed only with your knowledge of alchemical rituals and whatever ingredients you can scrounge up on the ship.
I’ll spoil some of the unique features of the game after the jump:
I’ve been wildly interested in ants since an early age, and have often wished that there were more games that allowed you to take control of an ant colony, such as the classic SimAnt, or 2008’s Ant Rush. So I was especially excited earlier today, when Formicarium crawled onto Kickstarter.
Billing itself as a strategic simulation game, Formicarium allows players to “become the invisible mind guiding an ant-hive through difficulties and dangers.” Drawing inspiration from other titles such as Dwarf Fortress and The Sims, the game aims to simulate a procedurally-evolving world where insects and arachnids struggle to survive the environment, and each other – with the player guiding their own colony of ants.
Similar to Dwarf Fortress, the colonies or “hives” of Formicarium will consist of multiple “cross-section” levels, extending downwards from the surface. Chambers will need to be dug, food will need to be stored, and new ants will need to be be birthed. All the time, the player will need to keep an eye out for potential dangers from the surface, including antlions, spiders, bees and wasps, and more.
Formicarium is being created by a team of just two people. The development side of this duo is Konrad Feiler, whose history as a mathematician and software engineer is being put to good use developing a procedural world, filled with all manner of bugs behaving in realistic manners. On the design side, artist Dorota Orlof has provided an incredibly eye-catching style, bringing each of the game’s “characters” to life through a clean and colorful approach.
So far, the duo has a working prototype of Formicarium, and they are now moving to bring the project to full fruition as a game on both mobile devices as well as PC and Mac. To reach that goal, the Formicarium Kickstarter campaign is aiming to raise just a modest $20,000. If the idea of being the overseer of a virtual ant colony – struggling to survive in a procedurally-simulated world of competition and danger – appeals to you, head on over to the Kickstarter page for Formicarium to learn more and pledge. You can also keep an eye on the game’s website and Twitter for more news, and even vote for it over on Steam Greenlight.
Band Saga is a musical roguelike—basically it generates action roguelike dungeons based on its own Genesis-like FM sequencer, which can then be played through. You can generate levels based on importing your own MIDI music, or by composing music within the game (which can be shared with a text string online with other players). Also interesting is that you can change a song while playing through the dungeon based on that song, which would then affect the dungeon you are in. And as you can see from the trailer, the animation is also very nice.
I interviewed Rekcahdam to get a more in-depth look into how it all works, read it under the jump!
Dog And Pony Studio (DAPS) is looking to raise just $10,000 in the final four days of their Kickstarter campaign for Pyrella, a Metroidvania-type game where the female protagonist is the only light burning against an unholy darkness. According to designer Jim Burner:
DAPS needs to raise $10,000 before the end of the game’s Kickstarter in just four days, but the team is hopeful. The game has been submitted to Steam Greenlight, and the campaign has several stretch goals ranging from character customization and alternate endings to entirely new game areas and even a PlayStation 4 port of the completed game.
If this project sounds like one you would like to see completed, be sure to head over to the project’s Kickstarter page to learn more and contribute.
After more than two years since the last update, a new version of Dwarf Fortress has been released by developer Tarn Adams. As always, the game is entirely free, despite it being Tarn’s full-time occupation – he is supported by the generous donations of players.
One of the largest and most notable features of this new update is that the in-game world will no longer be static after its initial generation, but will continue to change and evolve on its own in the background. This will include events ranging from civilization-scale events like foundings and conquests, to more individual actions such as births and deaths of historical figures. Additionally, forts that the player has “retired” will continue to operate within the world, rather than simply becoming abandoned, allowing for the player to visit them in Adventurer Mode and interact with the citizens.
Other notable changes with this update will include multi-tile trees, new site designs for several races, and overhauls of various systems including combat, conversation, movement, and AI. A more extensive changelog can be found here.
Image: Forgotten Beast, by Torgeir Fjereide
Indie studio Ctytivo Games has just launched the Kickstarter campaign for their first big project, The Universim.
The Universim certainly aims high, promising to be a god game (presented by Crytivo Games as a “planet-management” game) in which you are tasked with guiding a race from the stone age to the space age. The player will achieve this primarily through indirect action, such as influencing the technological aspirations of the race, deciding where they will found their cities, and even when wars will be fought and for how long (and to what end). Once the player’s race has developed sufficiently, they will take to the stars in search of other planets that they may colonize. Each planet will have different environments and present different challenges to habitation, but the player will continue to guide their race in their efforts to become a universe-spanning empire.
Although the game seems to verge on being a Molyneux-ian pipe dream, the gameplay trailer unveiled today with the Kickstarter campaign shows that they have already completed a significant amount of the game. With Kickstarter, they are now hoping to raise the final funds to complete the game, setting the goal at $320,000. Beyond that, they have laid out potential stretch goals that they hope to be able to implement, such as planet and building editors and a multiplayer mode.
To see more and keep up with The Universim, head on over to the game’s website and TIGForums devlog. If you like what you see and want to help fund the game through to completion, be sure to stop by the game’s Kickstarter page and pledge.
In a turn-based reality, an alternate spacetime of real-time has been discovered. Unfortunately, the conflicting spacetimes have ripped apart the cosmos in a “real-time/turn-based time-vortex.” That is the setup for Funktronic Labs’ upcoming game, Nova-111, where turn-based strategic planning meets real-time reactions and urgency. The player is placed at the helm of the titular Nova-111, a relatively harmless research vessel tasked with exploring cavern after cavern in an effort to rescue survivors stranded after the vortex smashed the two spacetimes together.
Along the way, players will discover powerful upgrades to their ship and encounter many different types of obstacles in the form of environmental dangers and monsters. Some of these monsters will attack in turn-based time, and some in real-time. These two time scales, along with the monsters’ differing attacks, fuse together to create an almost puzzle-like experience, and the player is quickly taught to approach enemy encounters more in dances of infighting and timing rather than simply engaging in direct combat.
Do you remember sitting in front of the TV on Saturday mornings with a big bowl of sugary cereal, watching the latest adventures of Proton Rider (Intern) Ace Ferrara as he fought off the Dino Menace? Wait – what? That was never a real Saturday-morning cartoon? Developer Philipp Seifried sure could have fooled me with his announcement trailer for the upcoming Ace Ferrara And The Dino Menace.
Described as “a space combat simulation game featuring mystery, romance, cat-augmentation, electronic brains, the Dino Wars, a scientific genius, his niece and her dog Ranger and a heartfelt appreciation for 80s sci-fi cartoons,” Ace Ferrara And The Dino Menace places players in the role of the titular Ace Ferrara, who has managed to gain an internship working with his heroes – the elite Proton Riders. Inspired by classic space-dogfighting games like the Wing Commander series, the game will offer a campaign of objective-based missions, with the story progressing through briefings and downtime interactions on board the Proton Riders’ flagship, Discordia. Philipp Seifried (the game’s sole developer in charge of “graphics, code, music, writing and cat-petting”) aims to launch the game on iOS devices this spring, with planned releases for Android, PC, and Mac following not too long after. You can keep up with the game’s development through its DevLog on TIGForums.
Hit the jump for some early gameplay footage and screenshots of Ace Ferrara and The Dino Menace.
What better way to spend Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart(s) than playing one of the oldest and best freeware local multiplayer deathmatch games, Liero? Released in 1998 by Finnish programmer Joosa Riekkinen, Liero quickly became a cult classic for its slick controls, destructible terrain, and numerous diverse weapons. Although the original source code was lost, fans have released a number of successful clones and remakes, such as NiL and Gusanos.
Last year, however, a new, “official” version of Liero was released, 1.36. Although not developed by Joosa Riekkinen, Liero 1.36 is more or less an exact simulation of the original and has received the creator’s blessing to use the name. This update runs “on almost any OS”, fixes the few bugs that were present in Liero 1.33, and also adds a host of welcome features, such as post-game stats and an enjoyable new mode, called “Hold a Zone”, where players must claim and protect small sections of the map for a specified period of time.
The AI is also significantly improved, making single-player Liero a viable way to play for the first time. So even if you’re your own Valentine today there’s no reason why you can’t also enjoy the sweet sounds of bleeding worms violently grunting amidst hails of Zimms, Mini-Nukes, Banana Bombs, and other classic weapons.
The teaser trailer above comes from Team Junkfish, announcing their next game, Monstrum. Previously known as Project: Maize, the game promises to be “Like Alien, but at sea.” Team Junkfish hopes to “[focus] on the oft forgotten ‘survival’ element of survival horror games,” by thrusting players into the dark corridors of an abandoned cargo ship, cut-off and alone – except for the presence of a deadly beast that stalks their every move. Players will have to avoid the monster as they search the ship for a possible way to escape, ” using their wits and guile to evade the monster hunting them, running, hiding and luring it away with distractions to avoid getting killed.” Offering permadeath and a procedurally-generated ship that changes each playthrough, Monstrum will also support the Oculus Rift for added
immersion pucker factor.
Team Junkfish plans to show off some gameplay at this year’s GDC (Booth 1238) and EGX Rezzed in March, but curious players can follow the team’s postings on on the Team Junkfish website or the Monstrum Facebook page for more information as it surfaces.