Coming Soon

I’m very happy to reveal the next RPG I’ve been working on, called This Abled Hero.

I’ve worked with some very talented people, some of whom are exceptional coders despite being totally blind. Thanks to them, I’ve been shown a whole new way to use a computer, and a whole new challenge it presents to software developers.

This Abled Hero is a turn-based JRPG that is light on graphics, fully-narrated, and stars a protagonist who is blind. It gives gamers who can see the same experience as those who can’t. You’ll be able to experience what it is like to navigate a game via sound, in a way only a “slow” and “menu-driven” “irrelevant to modern gaming” JRPG can do.

Having a blind protagonist also requires some interesting design decisions, especially in terms of combat. Rather than just targetting enemies as you normally do, our hero must use other senses, like smell or sound, to determine the location of your enemies, before you decide a direction you want to launch your attack.

The overworld will be replaced with branching interactive fiction. The story will be written in Twine, a very powerful tool for creating these kinds of interactive fiction games (you can see some of them here).

I’m looking forward to sharing more details with you in the future. This game is not just for blind people, it is for all fans of turn-based RPGs, especially those who want to experience a totally new way of playing them.

I will never forget Ian Stocker’s face when I asked for his autograph, as if he never expected a request reserved for world-famous developers. Hey, you’re a friend, Ian!

Remember when I said I chose the theme of dragons because they are open to interpretation? Ian seems to have taken this to heart:

He has a hat.

Ian was a fellow Xbox LIVE Indie Games developer, releasing titles such as Soulcaster and Escape Goat.

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While creating titles for Xbox LIVE Indie Games, I was a one-man show. It was exhausting, but obviously you learn a lot more about the different areas of game creation, even down to the minor details. Programming, design, art, sound, and so on.

Out of those, I feel programming and design are my strongest points. Most indie developers find art to be their strong point and programming to be the esoteric busy-work. For me, it’s the other way around.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve spent the last few years learning how to draw at a non-embarrassing level. I enjoy doing art. I enjoy doing programming. I do not quite enjoy doing both at the same time. Perhaps it is the switching between left-brain and right-brain that is really exhausting me.

Since the design and programming for TwoGlow is coming along nicely, I’ve decided to give up the one-man band and shop around for an artist. The main question at the moment is: what kind of art style should the final game have?

This is a question I’ve had to think about for every game. Before you start your artwork, think of a set of rules, and stick with them for everything. “Good graphics” is not about getting close to realism, but about consistency within your game.

  • Bonded Realities – My main reason for picking Bonded Realities’ distinctive style was this: almost every indie JRPG uses a 16-bit pixel sprite style, so let’s do something different. Yet, I also couldn’t possibly draw all the art assets needed for a high-resolution, high-animation game. The end result was a slightly cleaner version of MS Paint art: black outlines surround every object and every component of the object, with single-colour fills within each area to create a bright, pleasant image.
  • Andromium – A cartoony, bright feel wouldn’t fit the tone of my game: a futuristic space adventure. As a result, there were no outlines. Above the single-colour fills, everything had smooth gradients for both highlights and shadows. Glowing lights (thanks to addition blending) were also common, as they would be in any futuristic space adventure.
  • Avatar Trivia Party – Ah, now this is where things get interesting. Avatars already have an art style, so I wanted to made sure all the objects matched. I actually took a screenshot of an Avatar and made as many notes as I could. The rims of an object have lighting to separate it from the background. The shadows are very soft, and blurred with an extraordinary radius.

So, what to do for TwoGlow? Interesting question. I’m actually going to take the Dilbert Pointy-Haired-Boss approach: I’m not going to make the decision at all so that I am absolved from blame.

Actually, the reason is because I want to give my artist the one thing that makes them happy besides money: creative freedom. Not only will I potentially see a brilliant style I would’ve never thought of, but the artist will find much more enjoyment in working on the project.

And I will be less exhausted.

Call me a hipster. I just enjoy simpler indie games more than anything else I saw at the show (although Project P-100 was very intriguing)

Kyle Pulver is one of those devs I respect because I always respect someone who breaks into the mainstream and becomes successful by my obscure-indie-ass standards. He made Snapshot, Offspring Fling, and a lot of other stuff you may or may not have played.

Yes you are.

Because I’m in pretentious-overload, quite a few indie-dev dragons will be coming up soon! I’ll announce any new dragon posts on my Twitter.

Well, I promised you he was next…

Don’t Be Sca Red. He certainly didn’t waste any space on my Letter-sized sketch paper.

During the signing, he had a camera guy there to film everything. As I asked for my dragon, and Tim began drawing, the camera guy made sure to shove the lens almost right on the paper to capture every second of it.

I’m pretty sure when Tim Schafer goes to his barbershop, he brings along a big photo of Jack Black, silently hands it to the barber, and leans back in the chair ready.

Well, I loved the Indie MegaBooth, let’s go see how the friends I made on Friday are handling the no-doubt enormous overflow lines for their titles on Saturday.

Once again, I have no idea when I’ll be able to scan the next one, but I’ll announce it on Twitter.

So given that PAX was half-over at this point, I had to rush if I wanted some more big-name dragons in my sketchbook.

Either that, or get incredibly lucky and just bump into some developers.

Tim Schafer was doing autographs, so naturally I joined the line. Psychonauts posters. Psychonauts posters everywhere. Talk about a game with legs.

A lady behind me got all star-struck and asked for a photo with a man I hadn’t noticed until then (apologies John, you’re not exactly the tallest broom in the cupboard). I knew it was John Romero, even though he had his back turned to me; nobody else has hair that lush. What luck! He seemed to really like my dragon book idea (of course he would, he’s John Romero) so he got to work.

Problem is, it was almost my turn to go up and meet Tim Schafer. Oh no. Would John finish in time? Would I have to snatch the book from him? Would I have to forfeit my spot in the line? (I’m not being melodramatic; the enforcers were very strict)

Phew.

Thanks John! Just as the enforcer came to pick me up.

I don’t really have a set schedule for when I’ll post these dragons. I’ll announce every new post on my Twitter though!

I had vaguely known Robert Boyd and Bill Stiernberg of Zeboyd from us both making RPGs for Xbox LIVE Indie Games. Zeboyd was successful and I was…not, but it was nice to meet up at PAX!

Having gotten Notch’s autograph and dragon, I couldn’t wait to get a dragon from a really talented artist like Bill.

Sorry Robert, I forgot to have you co-sign it!

They both manned the booth showing of their latest game, Penny Arcade’s On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness 3, right next to the PAX swag store.

Can’t wait to meet you both again!

After breezing through the 4th floor expo hall on Friday, I went to the 6th floor on Saturday. Aside from the League of Legends spectacle, booths included SuperGiant Games, Halfbrick, and Mojang.

Standing in the corner of the Mojang booth, was Markus “Notch” Persson, wearing, if I remember correctly, a bright green polo shirt, only 3 or 4 people waiting in line to chat and get a photo.

We met and talked about 0x10c, his upcoming project about creating a video game out of an emulator. Some hero already ported GCC to this machine, so luckily I can avoid the nightmare that is assembly language. Before we parted, I offered my book for his autograph.

I remembered my dragon sketch idea, so it was now or never. Time to ask for my first dragon!

A for effort.

Notch was surprisingly unperturbed, maybe even amused, by my request, so I gained confidence in this project (yes, I’m calling it a project now) and in asking other developers for their sketches.

I just needed to find them. Or magically bump into them…

I’ll try to post these regularly, although I might miss some days due to being busy/tired/drunk/CBF/whatever. I’ll notify everyone when a new scan goes up via Twitter (hooray for begging for followers!)