Link Dump Friday №250
Howdy, sportsfans! If you're here and looking this beleaguered, then it must be time for Link Dump Friday to rescue you from your week, sweeping you up in its sturdy, muscular arms and crooning gently to you as it delivers you to the weekend. (... what? How do you imagine these articles?) We've got a whole pack of previews this week, including an interview with the one and only master of mayhem EvilDog, so let's get right to it!
Guns and Metroidvania and Yahtzee, Oh My! If you were to say to me you only know Yahtzee Croshaw from his scathing and witty video series Zero Punctuation over at the Escapist, I would say to you, sir/and/or/madam, that you are missing out since he's also the creator of several fine free download games indeed, such as the scary and disturbing Chzo Mythos and (my personal favourite) The Art of Theft. Well, surprise! He's finally announced his newest game, and while it's still on the horizon, it's worth perking your ears up about. The game is called Poacher, and is described as "a Metroidvania-style platformer that's somewhat influenced by Cave Story amongst other games. You play Derek Badger, unflappable Yorkshireman, who stumbles upon a strange underground kingdom and gets caught up in a conflict between two mysterious magical races." Sound interesting? Then hit up Yahtzee's personal blog to watch the trailer!
Blocks Into Eternity Were you thinking of getting anything done this weekend? Sucks to be you, 'cause the 1.1 update for Minecraft was just released! Time to update your worlds and your servers. While this update comes with a host of bug fixes people will appreciate, it's also got a few welcome additions like adding enchantments to bows (finally) and removing the trample effect from farmland. So get out there and get adventuring! Oh, and just as a reminder since Minecraft keeps showing up in the submission box; we have done three different reviews of Minecraft, including the last one that covered the "official" release. So, you know, you can stop telling us it's been released. We know. Look at the hollowness around our eyes, the haunted expression that comes with losing all your diamonds into a lava pit your were just blown into by a Creeper, the twitching fingers and lack of productivity. We know.
The Monster Mash...ed Potatoes Monsters? In a diner? Madness! Well, unless you're checking out Black Market Games' upcoming time management game Dead Hungry Diner. The game plays like Diner Dash, as you might suspect, with you running a restaurant where all the creepy crawlies and things that go bump in the night come to frequent. You'll be in charge of making sure everyone is fed and happy, as well as instructing the beefy Frankie to step in whenever a monster brawl breaks out. Check out the official site for lots more info, a video, and a demo! Currently, only a demo for Windows is available, but the game promises to come to Mac as well for all you Apple Heads. The game looks packed full of quirky characters, great artwork, and lots of charm, so this is absolutely one to keep your eye on. I mean, like, literally. Turning your back on a vampire is a bad idea. Even if he sparkles. ... no, especially if he sparkles.
My Little JRPG They say you can't keep a good pony down, so that must explain why these intriguing My Little Pony games keep popping up on my desk! This one, simply named Pony RPG (for now), is a classic turn-based RPG that follows everyone's favourite fillies as they go searching for Princess Luna, who mysteriously vanishes after she begins acting strangely. It's currently in production and being developed using RPG Maker 2003, and, needless to say, if you enjoy ponies and RPGs you'll definitely want to keep an eye on this project. Hit up the site for all sorts of interesting information about the characters, world, and gameplay, as well as an official trailer!
Nothing a Fireball Won't Fix Like action RPGs? Then you're a reader after my own heart, and you'll probably be interested in this upcoming indie game from BeerDeer. (Best developer name ever? Maybe!) It's going to be a multiplatform game that promises all the adventure, action, and sweet, sweet loot you love, plus "a deep connection between players and developers", which probably means more about taking feedback and less about showing up to help you move your couch. The game looks beautiful, and is definitely something to keep your eye on if you like this sort of thing. No pricing information yet, but we'll be sure to keep you posted whenever major news updates arrive.
Look, Don't You Dare Judge Me Alright, so maybe this isn't a preview, but if I'm going to sink into a deep abyss of (brightly coloured and adorable) unproductivity, I'm darn sure taking you all with me. The perplexingly addictive Pony vs Pony: Battle is Magic is a free online game that blends brightly coloured equines with snappy, hypnotic match-3 "battling" for one horrendously addictive trap from which you can never escape. You design your pony, give it a sickeningly sweet name (Sweetie Clover Bee), and then spend "Sparkle Gems" in the shop to put more fake items on your fake pony. It's exceedingly simple, and also, I suspect, infused with some sort of eldritch dark power that makes you keep playing.
Interview! Continue reading for an interview with EvilDog!
Zombies and music and carnage, oh, my! Developer-slash-musician-slash-scourge of the undead EvilDog is a lot of things, and has done even more. He's perhaps best known recently for Lab of the Dead, a sort of simulation about zombie testing after the end of the world, but has also had his music featured in Myosotis by Mike Morin and is even beginning to turn his gaze on mobile titles. We decided to dig a little deeper and find out more about this multi-talented developer and what his plans for the future are.
You tend to be known for really exciting, action-packed games like Road of the Dead, but you also made a series of (really intimidating for me as a non-musician) music simulations in the form of Punk-o-Matic. What type of game do you prefer working on... something quick and fun, or more complex and serious? Do you find working on one style of game easier than any other? I thoroughly enjoy making both types of game and they both have their difficulties. However, when you make interface games like Punk-o-matic, it's usually easier but not necessarily less time consuming. I say interface games because with games like Road of the Dead, a lot more comes into play to bring the fun in, the artificial intelligence, the controls, difficulty, etc. With games like Punk-o-matic, it's mostly a matter of interface, riff selection, character customization, etc. There's no FUN factor to tweak as the fun comes the functionality of the software rather than an emotional experience. Lab of the Dead is kind of sitting on the fence there, part interface game, part emotional game.
While our readers are probably most familiar with you from your various games, you've also dabbled a lot (pretty successfully) in animation and music. Which do you feel comes more naturally to you? When making a game with a group, is there any particular aspect (art or music, for example) you always prefer or look forward to handling yourself rather than letting someone else do it? I can agree with you that I'm somewhat successful at making music, but not so much at making animations. I manage, at best. Haha! Programming is definitely my expertise and the activity from which I get the most enjoyment. In the interactive world, being a programmer is like being a god; you bring worlds and characters to life and allow them to interact with each other. Although I can make artwork, animation and music, I've come to a point where I prefer having people as good in these fields as I am in programming. That's the best way to make really well produced games, bring in good people. Making everything would be more time consuming and would probably not give the best results. I still have solo projects for which the level of artwork needed is on my level and games like Punk-o-matic where only me (by necessity) can make all the sounds and music bits.
You've made a lot of games over the years, and also worked with a lot of people in the process. Is there any game you particularly enjoyed working on, and anyone you really feel you "click" creatively with? Maybe I'm biased by its success, but it seems like Road of the Dead is my favorite project so far. Everything just clicked and it was done pretty fast as well. Of course, all my projects were fun to make. I can't remember any project I didn't want to finish (except those I haven't finished haha). All the projects you see are those that were fun enough to finish and kept my motivation up basically.
As for people, I have to say I'm really happy working with Jim Kidwell aka SickDeathFiend. He's my official work partner right now and I sort of moved everything out of the way to focus working on projects with him. He's the guy I pretty much never argue with because we're very much on the same wave length. Our ideas are usually compatible and we both agree on what's cool and what's not, especially in the realm of zombies :D Fun story; in 2003, I was already hanging on Newgrounds.com and posting music and little animations and Jim was also posting the most violent and gory zombie animations I had ever seen and I loved that stuff. My most memorable moment in his animations was when a zombie goes to bite someone and the camera goes INSIDE THE MOUTH and you see the teeth ripping chunks of flesh from inside... to me that was amazing. Years later, we're working together and I can't remember who contacted who but I'm happy we got together. The fun part of my story is that after working with Jim for a while, I decided to rewatch his old stuff and to my surprise, some of his animations were using my old music from 2003. So in a way, we were already working together back then. I call that destiny, haha!
Your most recent game, Lab of the Dead, was a big hit with zombie fans, but it also had some unexpected heart to it in your interactions with the zombies themselves. Was there any reaction from the community that surprised you about anything in particular? Did you expect more players were going to treat it as a straight up "destroy the zombie" simulator than anything deeper? We found the whole "I'm sad to kill my zombie" phenomena REALLY funny. I mean people have probably killed twelve gazillion zombies without any thought or remorse and suddenly, you tie one to a wall and it becomes as precious to them as their child! That's just hilarious and amazing at the same time. I mean the intention of the game was indeed to explore the whole spectrum of the zombie's "emotions" but more in a practical manner, destroy it and see what happens, care for it and see what happens, that's it. We didn't really expect people to cringe about killing their zombies. And it's not just a few people, a LOT of people told us similar comments. It was indeed a really interesting social phenomena.
You've started dabbling in mobile gaming, and your amazing music keeps coming as well. What's next for you in the future? Do you have any projects in the works right now... or is there anything you haven't tried yet but would really love to? Yes, Lab of the Dead was our first multi-platform release and right after that, we made a tiny mobile-only application called "My Chinese Master" which is basically a glorified Chinese proverb application. It seems like at this point, there's no going back; all our games will need to be multi-platform and we're thinking of going further and having some of our games on Steam in the future. We have a lot of exciting projects coming up.
Right now, we're working on a brutal and gory first-person view fighting game in which you're stuck in an alien prison and must fight to survive and escape. After that, things will get REALLY interesting as we'll be working on a couple of multiplayer games which is something I've been eager to do for a long time. I feel like multiplayer games can be very profitable as they have amazing replayability and the community around it can last a long time. When I teamed up with SickDeathFiend, we started working on a big game called Deep Trauma, a horror underwater platformer game, a kind of mix between The Abyss and Silent Hill but we put it on hold to work on Road of the Dead. Later on, we were working on a big multiplayer game called Mage Apocalypse, which we also put on hold, this time to work on Lab of the Dead. So these two big unfinished projects are our next goals after the fighting game. And after that...haha! It makes me laugh how far our projects are planned. No but seriously, after that, we're planning to work on Road of the Dead 2, which should be a whole new level of epicness. We have lots and lots of ideas to work on, many more games in the "of the Dead" series, multiplayer games, etc.
Your question was more about new things I wanna try and besides multiplayer games, though. I'd really love to work on 2 ideas we have; a big platformer RPG like Oblivion/Skyrim in 2D and a social game (with zombies!) that would utilize interactive/dynamic story-telling mechanics to give the player a really unique gaming experience everytime he plays but that's pretty far in the future and I'm just rambling so I'll stop right here. Thank you for taking an interest in what we're doing :D