EMPIRE is out!

Yesterday EMPIRE, a game I've been designing for Crazy Monkey Studios for the past 8 months or so, was released.  It was a pretty quick turnaround - after working on 100 Rogues, which took about a year and a half, and AURO, which so far has taken nearly two years, it's nice to design a game, make it, and put it out there. It was a pretty different experience, process-wise.  Unlike AURO, I really knew what EMPIRE was going to be at the get-go.  The game that it ultimately was released as was very close to what I had in mind from the start - especially combat, which I feel is very strong in version 1.0. screen1136x1136 Despite the fact that I'm really happy with where EMPIRE is now, I feel that version 1.0 is just the beginning.  I have a lot of other plans for the game in future updates.  For instance, I'd like to change the way that monsters work on the overmap.  It would probably be good if monsters had the bases that they have now, but also sent out troops which milled about randomly until they came in contact with the player's city.  That way, there's a bit more life/emergence to the monsters, and it also makes the whole "I target you, you target me" thing - which is kind of strange at the moment - less of a problem. Monster cities would never "attack" you, only launch wandering monsters.  Monsters themselves would attack, but simply by walking onto your city.  Since you and the monsters are already very asymmetrical, it makes sense that the way they attack would be different than the way you do. Another thing that I think the game might need is some third resource - perhaps "gems", or perhaps "settlements" - that you can see through the fog at different locations on the map.  These would be required for certain tech things (such as perhaps Shaman's Huts), but also finite, and could be wiped out by wandering monsters.  This would give exploration a much-needed boost in its coherence as a mechanism. Anyway, overall I'm so excited about having another game I designed out there.  I can't wait to hear what people think of the game.  If you know anyone who wants to review the game, send me an email and I can probably get you a promo code. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=GIlf6Mb3djs

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Interview & AURO Coverage on IndieRPG.com

I did a decently extensive interview over at IndieRPG.com about game design in general, which was posted on the site yesterday.

IndieRPG:  I’m trying to think of who would be in the market for a tactical roguelike variant that isn’t already familiar with at least some D&D-derived character stats, and coming up blank. Are you looking to expand the market here, or is this simply a matter of design purity?

Keith Burgun: We don’t consider AURO a roguelike, and won’t be marketing it as such.  It is a “dungeon-crawling tactics game”, really a game of its own kind.  We absolutely want to be able to reach all kinds of people.  We think that AURO can find a place next to abstracts like Chess or Tetris, and we’re shooting to make it as accessible as either.  So, “expand the market” isn’t quite right, because AURO is definitely not an RPG and in my mind it’s also definitely not a roguelike (although people argue a lot about what that means exactly).  It’s a new kind of game, so its market is going to be a new one.

Read the complete interview here! Then today, they did another story about us - this time specifically about AURO and what it's all about.  Pretty cool!    

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Are Games a Storytelling Medium? (Guest Article by Fabian Fischer)

Editor's Note: One of our most active Auro beta testers, Fabian Fischer (aka "Nachtfischer"), had written this great piece for his German-language site.  We've been talking a lot about story in games on our forum, and I decided it would be great if Fabian could translate and update this article for my site, and that's just what he did.  I think it pretty much nails why authored story and interactivity don't go well together.  Enjoy!

 

A while back, Mr. Burgun wrote about this issue. Nevertheless, since there is still a frequent and passionate debate on the matter, so I thought it would not hurt to approach it from a slightly different point of view and throw some new arguments into the mix.

 

Definitions

  • Story in the context of this article describes an authored, linear (not necessarily chronologically linear) sequence of fictional events.

  • Game specifically means a contest of ambiguous decision-making; most readers of this site should be familiar with this.

(Some games look like movies.)

(more…)

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New Page for my System of Interactive Forms

Just a quick announcement, I've added a page that clearly explains what my system of interactive forms is and why it's useful.  After years of working with it, I actually feel even more confident in it, although I have made some minor tweaks and have learned to explain it much better. If you've read my book, you'll notice that this is a much more detailed version of the same chart.  I've now added the "value" property to it, which I think helps illustrate why it's generally a good guideline to hone in on one of these forms when approaching game design.   http://keithburgun.net/system-of-forms/   Let me know what you think and if you see any room for improvement or other explanation.

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Smash Bros: Decapitated

Editor's Note: Today I'm happy to release the second guest article for keithburgun.net!  This piece is written by lead artist at Dinofarm Games, Blake Reynolds.  Frequent visitors might also know him from the Dinofarm ART BARN articles or from the Game Design Theory Podcast, where he's a regular.  Enjoy!

psall1I know I’m late to the party, but considering the subject matter, I suspect many have already left anyway.  The party I'm talking about is a rousing discussion about PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale.  I think the reason so many have departed is because the game was boring and forgettable, but many of these people might not have a full grasp as to what made it so boring and forgettable. Those who are still playing and are trying their very hardest to like or justify this product won’t last much longer, and I'll explain why.

Most of the flak this game has caught in the past number of months has been quiet little suggestions that it is, well, a little bit similar to Super Smash Bros.  It has features such as Smash Attacks like SSB, directional tilt-attacks like SSB, rolling like SSB, air dodging like SSB, blocking like SSB, double jumps and recoveries like SSB, “A” attacks in four directions on the ground and four in the air,  “B” attacks in four directions, grappling from SSB, projectiles like smash, spiking, items... you know... every single mechanism to the last minute detail.

This complete thievery alone is enough of a blatant, cynical display of utter disrespect for the basic intelligence of the average consumer, and that's enough to be insulting.  But hey - people re-skin a set of mechanisms all the time. Re-theme it, tweak a few rules, and voila!  “If you liked original idea X, you’ll love cynical cash-grab Y!”

But plagiarism is not actually the point of this article. A game can technically be a ripoff of another game and still have longevity, if it's ripping off something really good and keeping what made the original thing good intact.  The point of this article is to explain why will nobody be playing PlayStation All-Stars next year, yet even Super Smash Bros. 64, the oldest game in that series, is still going strong. The reason this game will be forgotten in another year is because of what they changed, not what they stole.   (more…)

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