April 2016

Month Archives

Daydream: The Beginning Wins Best Game Art At 2016 IN.GAME

News

13063461_1071105652953873_2213518807376867488_oThe 2016 iteration of Indonesian independent games festival IN.GAME, concluded with Community members Joyseed Gametribe’s upcoming mobile arcade game, Daydream: The Beginning taking home the award for Best Game Art amid four other competing nominees on the 24th of this month. This was in conjunction with the team also being among the five nominated for Best Audio at the end of the event, which opened its doors to nearly 50 indie game exhibitors as part of the IN.GAME Expo.

Based in the city of Yogyakarta, IN.GAME brings together game development talent from all over the Indonesian island by means of workshops, talks from industry professionals, networking events and even 48 hour game-jams, which culminate in the IN.GAME Expo that sees 5 of 50 exhibitors nominated for the Best Gameplay, Best Game Art, Most Innovative Game, Best Game Narrative, Best Puzzle Game and several other award categories.

Joyseed were seen exhibiting a very playable pre-alpha version of Daydream: The Beginning, offering fans their first look at the game in action by way of the mandatory game-play video needed for their participation in the Expo. The video, seen below, illustrates for the first time not only the game’s minimally designed menus, marketplace and corresponding animations, but also highlights the ‘test of user dexterity’ its game play has been promising to offer since its inception.

13071923_1071105539620551_5965972483357544604_oWhat’s more, the game will now be one of only three seen representing Indonesia in competition for the prestigious Indie Prize Awards that are set to transpire at Casual Connect Asia from the 17th to the 19th of May this year. Asia’s largest gaming conference, Casual Connect lets developers come into contact with like-minded international talent, gain exposure, feedback and potentially develop relationships with keen sponsors.

Among those exhibiting their creations will be nearly 80 talented developers, each of which have been selected by the Casual Connect Committee as worthy contenders for over 10 different categories of the Indie Prize. ‘We’re so happy and excited by both the IN.GAME win and the Casual Connect selection,’ states Joyseed’s ‘Chieftain’ Bernardus Boy Dozan.

‘The plan now though is to continue work on the pre-alpha build of the game for the Indie Prize Showcase, fix a few bugs and finally move towards its completion after Casual Connect. We’re still hoping that a Publisher develops interest in us during the course of the event.’ 

Followers of the game on the Higher Eclectic Community will recall an allusion to Casual Connect during its Editor’s Special on the 25th of February, wherein Dozan had first mentioned the team’s plans of participating in the event before focusing on its final build. The reason, he explains now, is to develop as much of a strong fan base they physically can before the game’s release. ‘If we did win at the Indie Prize Awards, it would be a fantastic addition to the game’s portfolio; Appreciation for Daydream: The Beginning automatically increases, causing more to actually look forward to the game’s launch,’ he confides.

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READ: Showcasing A Tribe & Its Daydream

Set within the fictitious world of Ream, Daydream is intended to be a long-running saga of a young shepherd, Mondo’s quest for Knighthood. Flanked by his friends, Mondo is seen contending at a series of Soldier Recruitment Trials at the Kingdom of Verdante in Daydream: The Beginning for the same purpose; the game will focus on the trials alone, having players race against the timer in commanding the right characters in attack against their correspondingly colored ‘dummies’.

Despite being well into development of their pre-alpha version when stepping onto the Ground on the 22nd of February this year, Joyseed have managed to draw its members and followers into the mobile game’s creative process by progressively documenting its growth from character concept art to as of recently, character animations. This documentation will of course continue as the team gear up for Casual Connect, the progress of which along with everything else Daydream can be found on the game’s Higher Eclectic Space. Be sure to leave the team a word of encouragement for the month of May therein!

Eclectic MoSport’s Independent Gaming Sponsorship Slots Now Vacant

BSRTC PRO Series, News, Press Releases

12527706_1686760411579581_1950651682_n (1)Along with the conclusion of the iRacing British Sim Racers Touring Car PRO Series’ sixth race night at the Nurburgring Nordschleife on Thursday the 21st of April last week, the tenures of the Potshotpete Twitch Channel and Game Developers Strange Fire as sponsors of reigning Amateur Division Champion John Roberts and Pro Driver Ben Hackeson respectively, also drew to an end.

Although both sponsors had signed up to back the aforementioned vehicles for a period of four weeks ranging from the 27th of March to the 14th of this month, the cancellation of the 14th April race’s live-stream owing to the broadcasters, Apex Racing TV’s prior commitments with the 2016 World Endurance Championship led to their sponsorship being extended by a week.

Pop UpOver the course of these four weeks regardless, both sponsors were seen advertising their respective brand’s gaming ventures through each of the races — the Potshotpete Channel promoted its regular streaming of Video Game content, while developers Strange Fire opted to have their indie RPG Shoppe Keep advertised.

This was done by flying the Channel’s and Shoppe Keep’s flags on the vehicles of Roberts and Hackeson respectively, while the live streams played their corresponding trailers during the 10 minute breaks between the races’ four rounds. Pop-up ads centred on the two will also be seen during the MotorsTV International TV broadcasts of the races over next month.

Since neither will be extending their sponsorships going forward however, the KIA Optima’s of John Roberts and Ben Hackeson, along with that of the team’s Amateur Division driver Andrew Whitehead, are now open to those looking to advertise their independent gaming projects via the event for a period of four weeks. As always, those interested in applying can do so via the Independent Gaming Sponsorship Application page.

 

13047810_1216748415021355_2065370031019469734_oFollowing the rather uneventful race at Donington Park on the 14th of April that was marked only by the two top ten finishes of reserve Pro Driver George Simmons in 6th place during round one and a 9th place finish of full-time, Shoppe Keep sponsored Pro Driver Ben Hackeson during round two respectively, Eclectic Motorsport performed to be the second highest scoring team of the night on its outing at the three rounds of the Nurburgring last week.

Having been victim to a spate of incidents since the start of the Season, the team’s Amateur Division driver Andrew Whitehead enjoyed not only his first night of successful finishes, but also came close to achieving his first top ten finish by placing in 11th place during the second race at the ‘Ring. ‘My first 100% finish rate, so I’m hoping this is a change in fortunes for me personally; Yes, it could have been so much better, but 3 finishes with so few incident points is very encouraging’, he stated in expression of his relief after the final round. With a cumulative of 212 points, Whitehead stood to be the 3rd highest scoring AM Driver of the night.

13047862_1216748411688022_4899291646089295810_oFellow Potshotpete sponsored AM driver John Roberts meanwhile suffered an unfortunate finish in 33rd place on the first round of  the night, after issues with his PC caused him to start an entire four minutes behind the rest of the pack.

Regardless, he’d go on to course through the enormity of accidents that had rippled through the second round to finish in 16th place from his 33rd place start, before finishing the final round  in 10th place to be the highest placed Amateur Division during its course and the 4th highest scoring AM Driver of the entire night behind Whitehead.

Following the dissolution of the Euro Chip Digital team last week, the team’s Reserve Driver Stuart Atkinson joined and competed as Eclectic Motorsport’s Reserve AM Driver to bring forth a trio of mid-rear pack wins at the German track; on account of his ‘Reserve’ status though, any or all points scored by him do not contribute to the team’s overall. Reserve AM Driver James Leggett on the other hand departed the team due to managerial commitments with the iRacing KIA Club Series.

13055068_1216748408354689_2443007276385607074_oAs for the Pro division, while not contributing to the team’s overall standings himself, George Simmons added to his growing list of top 10 finishes this Season by finishing the second round in 5th place overall. Despite one expecting team mate Ben Hackeson to lie within his immediate vicinity as is usual however, a bout of ill-health caused the full-time PRO driver to lag behind his usual form and finish rounds two and three in 24th and 21st place — after being enveloped by an on-track incident that ended his first round early. 

Nevertheless, the sum total of points earned that placed it just under the top of the Teams’ table for the night has only served to reinstate the team’s confidence ahead of their next scheduled race at Barber Motorsports Park on the 28th of this week, after the disappointment of the previous race at Donington had nearly sent them into a near team restructuring and strategy re-evaluation mode. As Simmons states — ‘If we’d have had another race we’d have been top; we did mega at the Nurburgring, it certainly is a turning point for us.’

The iRacing BSRTC PRO Series Touring Car PRO Series is an internationally broadcast, simulation racing championship that is currently witnessing 50 talented iRacing users compete for a $10,000 prize fund over the course of its Tenth Season. Besides being streamed to nearly 2,000 viewers every week on Apex Racing TV every Thursday at 8.15 P.M GMT, the races are also broadcast on MotorsTV International with up to three repeats.

By branding the former ProAm XLDesigns team of Andrew Whitehead, John Roberts, Ben Hackeson, George Simmons and now Stuart Atkinson to Eclectic Motorsport, Higher Eclectic Ground has been offering independent game talent from both within and outside its community the opportunity to advertise their games, YouTube channels, brands and other gaming projects via the event by sponsoring one of the team’s full-time drivers for an inexpensive fee on a monthly basis. Both Potshotpete and Shoppe Keep were the first gaming entities to sign up for the same.

 


iRacing BSRTC PRO Series Broadcast | Nordschleife

Watch the Nurburgring broadcast on Apex Racing TV’s official YT Channel and be sure to catch the Potshotpete & Shoppe Keep advertisements during the inter-round breaks.

Behind The Art Of Box Panda

Features

BC2Kevin, The Guardian and Scream; within merely a week from April the 10th, 20 year old South African Brandon Crampton piqued quite the interest in artistic circles both within and outside the Community by way of three, three dimensional extra-terrestrial character models that were put on display in commencement of his tenure as a multi-faceted, freelancing Video Game 2D and 3D artist herein.

These three models, each crafted as a means of practice and venting artistic angst, come supplemented with detailed overviews of their creative processes that serve to but touch upon the thought and work methods that outlines the majority of Crampton’s work.

A wide area of work that is, given six years of experience in 3D modelling, two years in Digital Art, a year of playing Junior Artist at Lighthouse Games and a proprietorship of an independent gaming studio to his name.

2D_1All of this of course, is put to use by him in offering services in Pixel Art, Vector Art, 3D Modelling & Animation, UI/HUD Design, Logo Art, Conceptual Art, Banner Art and a whole lot more to Game Developers and other Gaming creators on and via the Higher Eclectic Community.

He’s currently doing so by means of the service of Fiverr for rates as low as $5-$10, which then fluctuate depending on the complexity and demands of the task at hand, slowly working his way up the skill and experience ladder in the hope of eventually toiling for a AAA Video Game studio.

All the art I do now is for practising new techniques and portfolio pieces that I would like to one day use to apply for a job at one of the bigger gaming companies; I do after all, plan on doing digital art and 3D models for the rest of my life’, read one of his earlier correspondences with us.

I remember quite a few drawings being torn up in class when I should have been focusing on work!

2D_4

A dream not too far from his reach it might appear, given the vibrant assortment that is visible on his Instagram profile amid his sizeable following of independent game developers therein. As is with a lot of talent of his calibre, Crampton’s fondest childhood memories centre themselves around art.

‘I remember quite a few drawings being torn up in class when I should have been focusing on work! But nonetheless, most of the time I remember classmates asking me to draw things for them all the time during my junior years in school — I absolutely loved it’, he recalls, stating the reasons behind this fascination of his being a yearning for attention and a chance to prove himself to others.

With his transition to senior school came a more serious understanding and appreciation for the art he practised, realising that its magic lay in but leaving his created works to talk for themselves. ‘I remember stepping into Grade Nine, where I was doing a painting as part of a school project — my teacher loved it so much that he took it all around to show it off to the rest of the Seniors. It’s always good to have someone love your work as much as you do and till date, it remains ones of my proudest moments as an artist.’

Traditional painting and sketching aside, another one of Crampton’s laurels lay in being one of only three students in his division that practised 3D Art; a practice that stemmed out of hours spent in the school’s Computer Room. Besotted by his friend’s drawing and playing around with shapes on Blender 3D one day, Crampton began playing around with those of his own — putting into a motion an obsession that would have him learn all he could about the software, create his his own character models and eventually detail them with the intricacy visible today after his introduction to ZBrush.

For me it was an amazing experience; I got to learn some of the tools of the trade, the pipeline workflow and its just really awesome being able to work on something with talented people that  love the same things as you.

3D_1I think what really drew me into 3D Modelling was my love for games at that time — Ratchet and Clank was my favourite, by the way’, explains Crampton. ‘I absolutely loved the idea of bring able to sit down, create awesome characters that people could play as all over the world; It’s what draws me to game design — the variety scale in terms of how far one can push designs and concepts as opposed to movies.’

This innate appreciation for the artistic design of Games finally manifested itself into his tenure as Junior Artist at South Africa based, Lighthouse Games Studio in 2014 — where he spent a few months developing character, environmental and other game asset concepts for their 2015 release Shark Deathmatch 2. For me it was an amazing experience; I got to learn some of the tools of the trade, the pipeline workflow and its just really awesome being able to work on something with talented people that  love the same things as you.’

Interestingly, the shift of his two dimensional art to a digital platform came around about the same time — when the purchase of a Wacom tablet coaxed the artist to cast a more serious look towards digital painting –which he continued to build on using Feng Zhu School of Design’s YouTube tutorials. While naturally the style of a large amount of his digital artwork resonates with Zhu’s own, Crampton maintains that the biggest inspiration in both his 2D and 3D artistic career remains to be his grandfather.

I’m very thankful my grandfather was with me when I was growing up.

3D_2He helped me develop my painting skills and the ability to look at objects and interpret them properly in my paintings. I used to go down to his house and we’d spend the day painting and truly, it was then that my work started to improve and become a lot more professional looking. I’m very thankful he was with me when I was growing up.’

Capitalising on his experience with 3D modelling and a new found interest in the digital medium of 2D art then, Crampton finally went on to release up to four free-to-play Android games under the Box Panda Games banner in the same year.

While this was done as an attempt to personally contribute towards the near non-existent Gaming Industry in South Africa, the artist’s hopes of the brand growing into a larger company remain bleak. There just aren’t many interested in this sort of thing, as he admits.

Nevertheless, what keeps him path of artistic enlightenment is the continued interest in his services as a freelancing Video Games artist from the world over — services that were put forth only by last year when his work reached an acceptable level of personal satisfaction, and services that Higher Eclectic Ground is now making accessible to Game Developers, YouTubers and other gaming creators within its network.

Over the next few months you’ll probably see a wide variety of characters of mine

2D_2At the moment I’ve been focusing a lot on my 3D work really, trying to perfect that and improve as much as I can, building up a decent portfolio for hopefully Game studios to see,’ speaks Crampton of his immediate future on the Community.

‘But over the next few months you’ll probably see a wide variety of characters of mine, as I am trying different methods and styles, improving my texture work, character hair and the like — so ill probably be doing a lot of testing and messing around there. 

In terms of my 2D work, I’ll be looking to keep creating vast environments as I have been documenting on Instagram. I’d like to get better at that as well particularly because it makes for wonderful backgrounds for my 3D work. So really just lots of practising and working on areas of my work that I am not yet happy with.’

Whether you’ll be looking for a 2D/3D artist of substantial talent and reasonable fees, or are a fellow artist looking to trade notes and work together with one of Crampton’s calibre, the artist will now be reachable via his Higher Eclectic Space where all of his ongoing and forthcoming independent art work will continue to be documented.

 

Play Starr Mazer: DSP With The April IndieBox

News

19987651890_21929cb41f_hAs made public on the 15h of April by Creator/Writer/Director Don Thacker on Starr Mazer TV’s customary mid-Saturday stream, fans and followers alike are for the first time being granted the opportunity to get their hands on the much coveted, much hyped prequel to Imagos Softworks’ retro PNC-SHMUP, Starr Mazer. The IndieBox, for those unaware, being a neat little service that sends expressively crafted Collectors’ Editions of a wide variety of independent games to its subscribers every month.

Although the spotlight lies on only a singular game per Edition, hence allowing for its Box to be filled with collectibles, OSTs, developer diaries and more pertaining to it, IndieBox’s do come with their fair share of assorted treats; While the PlayStation 4, MS Windows released 2D sci-fi shooter, Galak-Z is to adorn April’s issue, bundled within it will be a redeemable demo code of the latest functional, pre-alpha build of Starr Mazer: DSP.

Subscriptions to avail of the April IndieBox ends by the 18th of April, 2016, meaning those interested in attaining an exclusive hands-on will have to make haste to book their copy via the IndieBox domain now. And yes, international deliveries stand.

Screen-Shot-2016-04-15-at-1.16.13-PM-1024x618Conceived as a passing feature for a scene in Don Thacker’s 2013 creative feature film, Motivational Growth, and successfully Kickstarted on 21st February, 2015, Starr Mazer is an upcoming retro-modern fusion of the Point N’ Click and Shoot ‘Em Up genres that was originally due for a summer release this  year.

Featuring modern gameplay brainwaves such as the unpredictability of narrative unfolding and sophisticated role playing elements, the tale of a DSP Mk. II pilot — that wakes up amid an intense bout of amnesia in the aftermath of the galactic GREAT WAR and sets out to unravel the mysteries of his universe — was postponed when the fleshing out of the team’s self-developed content creation tool Mazer Maker, consumed more time than was originally estimated.

 

 


 

Screen-Shot-2016-04-15-at-1.24.33-PM-1024x618In order to fill the void while also preparing players for the lore and SHMUP barrage that was to eventually hit them with Starr Mazer’s release, Starr Mazer: DSP was announced last Winter as a collaborative PC/Mac/Linux/Mobile venture with indie game developers PixelJam games.

A prequel, DSP will have players control a squadron of DSP Mk. I pilots in the midst of the GREAT WAR, collecting SK: Ore that functions as in-game currency to equip themselves with better quality weapons &ships, fending off twisted beasts and letting loose a plethora of classic space-flick inspired attacks, all the while attempting to resist an invasion of extra-terrestrials known as the G’ell. The game’s IndieBox demo meanwhile, will make available a ‘vertical slice’ of the game as revealed by Imagos’ social media and Community representative Kazuo Mayeda.

‘Players will be given a short tutorial and then their off to battle the G’ell,’ he explains. ‘They will blast enemies, accrue SK:ore and eventually be able to purchase stronger and more bad-ass pilots to aid them through to victory.’ What’s more, said demo will also feature fleshed out voice-overs for the squadron of pilots, contributing to which are a number of independent game developers local to the team’s base in Seattle, Washington. A short feature on their recording escapades is scheduled to go live on Starr Mazer’s YouTube at 3 P.M PST.

via GIPHY

Screen-Shot-2016-04-15-at-1.29.04-PM-1024x618Besides making weekly appearances in progressive builds during the team’s Saturday streams, DSP was also taken to this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco last month, wherein it was shown off to only a few key press numbers. Response appeared to be largely positive, with some such as Destructoid going so far as to deem it as the highlight of their GDC experience.

Right now everyone is a hundred percent in the demo; Crafting dynamic pilot, ship generators and more,’ reveals Mayeda when asked of DSP’s progress and immediate future now that its Summer 2016 release date is barely around the corner. ‘Plus we’ll be heading to PAX East, showing the game with all its updated ships, UI and progress to all those who want to check it out.’ Naturally, we’ll concurrently be getting our own hands on the DSP demo hoping for the first time to jump into the Mazer universe first-hand and seeing what all the fuss around THE GREAT WAR is all about.

Meanwhile, the highlights of nearly 8 months of the Starr Mazer saga’s journey since its hopping on to Higher Eclectic Ground lies documented on its Space; with it being the perfect means to catch up with everything Starr Mazer from the Community’s perspective here, be sure you head down there as soon as you’ve sorted your own IndieBox.

Eclectic Motorsport Clinches First BSRTC PRO Series Race Win

BSRTC PRO Series, News, Press Releases

The fourth race night of the iRacing BSRTC PRO Series that transpired on the 7th of March at the oval circuit of Phoenix International Raceway, concluded with Higher Eclectic Ground’s contending ProAm team sweeping its first win of the Series’ ongoing tenth season. After starting the race’s fourth and final round from third position on the starting grid courtesy of a customary pre-round grid reversal, Eclectic Motorsport’s reserve Shoppe Keep sponsored PRO driver George Simmons was quick to take the lead by turn three of his first lap of the circuit.

12916816_1204065576289639_9069497271501902042_oA blisteringly consistent drive therefrom would see him hold off Alfalltech’s Steliyan Chepilevsky with only a tenth of a second gap between the duo for the majority of the race. While this race win in no way influences Eclectic Motorsport’s cumulative Team Standings owing to Simmons’ Reserve status, it does serve to move the driver up five positions to 9th place of the overall Drivers’ standings as team mate and fellow Shoppe Keep sponsored, full-time PRO driver Ben Hackeson stands in 10th.

Although Simmons’ performance was largely powerful throughout the night — moving up from position 18th to 9th in the race’s first round and 9th to 5th  in its second — a side-panel collision with Chepilevsky in 5th place on lap 20 of round three, after the Alfalltech driver attempted to rejoin the track post being shunned aside by an incidental, high-speed contact with Ben Hackeson ahead of him, left Simmons hurtling through the air and into the pits for a premature end to the round.

12946847_1362107153806774_31216938_oFortunately, the Shoppe Keep sponsored vehicle of Ben Hackeson would make up for the team’s woes by finishing the same round in fourth place. Unlike a large portion of the full-time PRO Driver’s track record this Season however, this third round marked his only top-ten finish of the night; being swept away by an out of control Alfalltech car terminated his first round early by lap 9 of 31, while rounds two and four had him finish in places 15th and 19th respectively.

Within the team’s AM(ateur Division) side of the field meanwhile, reigning Potshotpete sponsored AM Drivers’ Champion John Roberts set performance records of his own. Despite a mediocre qualification leaving him slightly disappointed — he had after all qualified third on his last outing on the track during the BSRTC’s Winter Series earlier this year — the driver would ascend to 18th from his 24th place grid start to be the highest placed AM driver within the round.

12983968_1204065582956305_3612382278403768386_oThe absence of any incidents that brought Roberts bonus points through the course of the same round further added to the icing. Not being within the grid positions eligible for a grid reversal had him start the second round from 18th yet again, however this time he was put out of the running by a massive collision involving drivers Kip Stephens of Team Sim Racer Magazine and Paul Smith of CQR Academy on lap two.

Regardless, he’d put on exhibit his usual, disciplined drive by finishing round three in 16th place from 40th to be the third highest placed AM driver that round, before being involved in yet another crash in the fourth — this time from having his front panel come in contact with the rear of Alfalltech’s Yulian Genovski which  resulted in the immediate conclusion of the rounds of both Genovski & Roberts, Euro Chip Digital driver Rob Fagg and Team Automek’s competing AM driver Craig Evans who also happens to be a member of the Higher Eclectic Ground gaming community.

12959310_1362107150473441_705866858_oI’m disappointed that I was clumsily taken out twice by other people’s mistakes. I had the race pace for probably a Top 10 in either race 3 or 4,’  recounted Roberts by the end of the night. The team’s manager & AM contender Andrew Whitehead concurrently ended his night with finishes in 23rd, 21st and 23rd place again over the course of the final three rounds — post incurring a DNF (Did Not Finish) on the opening round of the night from being unable to avoid the ripple caused by a mid-rear pack crash on lap 13.

All in all, as Roberts now moves to 8th place and Whitehead to 12th of the AM Standings, after previously occupying positions 9th and 14th respectively, the team now stands in 8th place of the Team Standings with a deficit of 895 points under Season leaders Alfalltech.

Through it all, indie game developers Strange Fire and their RPG Shoppe Keep made their third appearance this season alongside the Potshotpete channel, both of whom have been sponsoring Ben Hackeson and George Simmons for four weeks since the 27th of March this year. Since Simmons is a reserve driver partaking in only those races that allow for more than three drivers per team on a grid, his car flies the Shoppe Keep banner nevertheless.

Similarly since Whitehead’s sponsoship slot lies vacant, the AM driver is seen flying the Potshotpete colors. Besides their logos & banners being made visible on each of the aforementioned drivers’ cars, both sponsors’ ads also made a return during each of the three inter-round breaks; They will now be seen for the final time during next week’s race at Donington National on the 14th of April this week, unless either decide to renew their sponsorships for another month.

 

12987994_10153887671441117_1982413518_nThe iRacing BSRTC PRO Series Touring Car PRO Series is an internationally broadcast, simulation racing championship that is currently witnessing 50 talented iRacing users compete for a $10,000 prize fund over the course of its Tenth Season. Besides being streamed to nearly 2,000 viewers every week on Apex Racing TV every Thursday at 8.15 P.M GMT, the races are also broadcast on MotorsTV International with up to three repeats.

By branding the former ProAm XLDesigns team of Andrew Whitehead, John Roberts, Ben Hackeson, George Simmons and James Leggett to Eclectic Motorsport, Higher Eclectic Ground has been offering independent game talent from both within and outside its community the opportunity to advertise their games, YouTube channels, brands and other gaming projects via the event by sponsoring one of the team’s full-time drivers for an inexpensive fee on a monthly basis.

While John Roberts is sponsored by Community member Jack Davison of the Potshopete Channel and Ben Hackeson by indie RPG Shoppe Keep developers Strange Fire until the 14th of April this year, those interested in joining them by sponsoring full-time driver Andrew Whitehead of Eclectic Motorsport or even pre-booking sponsorship spots on Hackeson and Roberts —  creatively advertising their gaming projects amid the Series’ widely broadcast races over the course of four weeks in the process — can do so by visiting, learning more and applying for the same via the Independent Gaming Sponsorship Application page.

Watch the Phoenix Oval broadcast on Apex Racing TV’s official YT Channel and be sure to catch the Potshotpete & Shoppe Keep advertisements during the inter-round breaks.

Playing RAM BOE

Features

‘His soul broke free from the cage and wandered off in search of his former body. After a while, his search proved in vain and the only haven he found was a lost Ram grazing on a piece of grass under the melted snow. Taking refuge in the being, Boe quickly realised that he wasn’t the only one there. All around him were ice prisons; Adventurers, children, lost animals with souls weaker than his own that needed his help to be free once more — a task that soon became Boe’s duty. And so our adventure begins, Boe becoming Ram Boe in his quest to be the mountain hero.’

ss_12fe8055e7455051ed1903ddec6de0274033e4a5.1920x1080RAM BOE’s premise is one that has been articulated plenty of times in a multitude of wordplay variations amid the Community’s member base herein; advertised as an indie casual puzzle by developers PointFive Team and now available both on Steam & the Google Play Store, RAM BOE follows the tale of one adventurer Beauregard Pete deep within the fictitious mountains of Helvegen. In constant search of adrenaline, Pete’s rock climbing exploits lead him to ‘bigger game’ at the top of the mountains where as one would expect, things go horribly wrong.

Confronted and defeated by the Ice Jotun, a giant based in Norse mythology, called Thrym, Pete’s soul is condemned to eternal entrapment with the beast’s many ice prisons. Strong as his soul is regarded to be however, the adventurer soon manages to free his spirit which he then enforces upon a passing Ram — setting into motion a quest to free similar souls who have fallen victim to the monster over the years. Strangely though, the introductory cut-scene is only the second-to-last time one hears about the Jotun, Pete or the remainder of the plot.

The reason for this sadly being that there exists no plot or narrative whatsoever. Inspired in game play by the retro puzzle Sokoban, a basic yet challenging mind bender that tasked players with moving crates to predetermined spots within a warehouse back in the 1980’s, RAM BOE has players moving blocks/ice prisons on a platform floating high up in the Mountains into a singular spot known as the mystical ‘Well of Revival’. This not only serves to usher Beauregard to the next level of gameplay, but also leads players to believe that it helps release the souls confined to those blocks.

Through each of the 40 levels on offer, the layout of the iced platform cleverly changes along with the number, arrangement and positions of the blocks. Each block is identified by a minimally designed pattern of a specific color, with blocks of the same coloured patterns unitable into one.  Once only a single block exists for each pattern, these individual blocks need to be moved into the Well while navigating around missing tiles and edges of the platform — that cause the player to fail the level should Boe or a patterned cube fall into the abyss below — along with useless ‘Broken’ blocks that can be thrown over to clear the way.

Players do this against a myriad of clever block arrangements, a reasonable timer and the occasional randomizing bolt of lightning that drops random cubes on the platform as the timer runs — summoning players to work faster in the process. Make a move that could potentially be irreversible and the game warns you against it, providing even the option to undo a limited number of moves as one goes along.

It’s safe to say, that it is in its puzzles where the game eloquently shines. The lack of a definite difficulty graph allows for strings of difficult levels to be interspersed with easier ones and vice versa, which in turn makes for very entertaining-cum-challenging puzzle solving; the arduousness of puzzles of course, being subjective to a player’s proficiency with puzzles to begin with. The timer adjusts itself with regards to the complexity of the level and time allotted never feels too little or too much.

Screenshot_2016-04-02-19-21-01On the Android version of the game, Boe is navigated on the battlefield via on-screen buttons; A single tap on the directional arrows is meant to move the adventurer turned bighorn a single step in either direction. This rudimentary character navigation however did not sit well with me; each on-screen arrow on the mobile screen does’t exactly correspond to a direction relative to the Ram’s position, but rather to a direction relative to that of the camera.

For instance, tapping left doesn’t move Beauregard to his immediate left but to what is the camera’s left instead. As a result, the ability to move this camera around a full 360 degrees to attain a better view over level obstacles made for some rather annoying instances wherein I’d tap right expecting the Ram to turn to his right — only to have him turn in a completely different direction and fall from the platform altogether. Not exactly a welcome scenario at the final few of a mind-boggling 20 minute level.

Thankfully, the issue is less prominent in the PC version — which is  a lot more comfortable and lot less frustrating to play on — particularly because one doesn’t need to move the camera around all that much thanks to a wider field of view. On checking with the team if the issue had been brought up before, I was told that although majority of the beta-testers attested to having no issue, there were a minor few who did find the controls uncomfortable on mobile devices.

Either way, it was particularly joyous to witness the game cast the illusion of me winning over it when I seemed to breeze through 4-5 levels with relative ease, before it would hurl at me a stage so challenging that I’d spend nearly half an hour scratching my head amid the constantly ticking clock, an abnormal number of ‘Broken’ blocks that I had to first figure how to get rid of and my favourite bolt of lightning that constantly added to my plate as the timer ran. That being said, the joy that I drew from passing an enormously challenging level was celebrated only by myself. as the game provided no reward or indication of where I was truly headed by combating each puzzle.

This was of course, the absence of the RAM BOE’S promised narrative coming into play. While the introductory cut-scene might have one believe that their puzzle solving eventually builds up to a major plot point, transpiration of narrative events or the like — there happens to be no such thing. The only cut scene that does crop up after the introduction is after level 20, which merely serves to announce that levels 21-40 are to take place at Night in-game, and that the Spirits rescued by Boe are to light the way therefrom. Disappointingly there’s no return, conclusion or mention of the plot even after coursing through all of the game’s 40 levels.

As discussed with the team after my play-through of the game, RAM BOE unfortunately lacks any sense of player motivation or direction. Besides an urge to challenge one’s immediate mental capacity via a few smart puzzles, there seemed to be no apparent reason to return to the game or even see it through. I’d have liked for the plot to unravel itself or even progress in the most basic of fashions after each set of 10 levels via cutscenes, that would at least have lent purpose to my advancement through the game.

Screenshot_2016-03-21-11-11-44This absence of direction is further accentuated by RAM BOE not wanting to explain fundamental aspects of its game play, causing me to doubt their significance; Points are accumulated for each block pushed into the Well and deducted at the end of a round for any retries, while beating a level by a certain margin on the timer grants one a bonus or so it is assumed.

However, how large this margin must be to attain a bonus, where this bonus is added or whether it even is a bonus are questions left unanswered even by the game’s first few stages, that educate new users on RAM BOE’s basic puzzle solving concept alone. Thankfully there exists leader boards and achievements for both the Steam and Android version of the game, providing perspective on player progress and laurels so far.

Artistically though, RAM BOE does a lot more right; smooth gameplay, sunlight, snowfall, the vivid use of colors and casually designed foliage are but some of its visuals that draw players in right from its Main Menu that features clouds retreating to make way for the sun, to stages of night game play. Each icy blue platformed level stands populated with tiny mushrooms, half-cut tree stumps, snow boulders and pillars of fire for the night stages, that remain consistently sharp and attractive even while pinch-zooming in on a mobile device.

Also noteworthy is the symbolic blooming of lush foliage every time a block is successfully dropped within a well, as if poetically symbolising a spirit’s newfound freedom, and the minimal artwork used in the two cut-scenes as well; all of which undoubtedly make for a very pretty experience throughout.

Which alone is a testimony of why it would have been worthwhile to have the Art team employ greater effort in showing off more of their artistic prowess than what was on display. While all of the above visual elements held their appeal, the game’s scenery and landscape of plastic mountains, the lake that fills their centre and wooden houses along its banks stays constant through all of its 40 levels. This hence, contributes to an absolute lack of visual variety which is further accentuated by RAM BOE’s OST of only a small handful of Kevin MacLeod composed tracks.

As a casual, pick-up-and-play puzzle game that one would like to have focus on the puzzles on offer and puzzles alone then, RAM BOE performs fairly well. Its soothing use of icy colors, an overall feeling of repose, fantastic assortment of challenges that stem from its unpatterned placement of puzzles and the inherent pride that comes from overcoming them, all arrive together to conjure a rather enjoyable casual conundrum.

However at the same time, its often overwhelming sense of repetition and monotony, useless plot, inconsistency in controls and a lack of player motivation leaves it lacking in terms of a complete gaming experience while also undermining the team’s apparent potential. Much of this arises from the fact that the only major additions made to the original game’s 2015 Indie Game Making Contest Build of 20 levels — for which it was originally conceived — was its stagnant scenery and 20 additional levels, which leads one to ponder upon RAM BOE’s potential had more time, energy and creativity been dedicated to its final build.

Screenshot_2016-03-21-13-49-32Ponderings which haven’t fallen on deaf ears, for with an iOS release still on the agenda, PointFive has indeed taken a large portion of the afore stated flaws into consideration alluding that several, if not all of its lacking aspects will be amended over time via progressive updates. ‘That’s a definite yes’, states PointFive’s storyteller and PR in-charge Jane Arvine. ‘We wouldn’t want RAM BOE to stay incomplete this way. Updates on at least some of the aspects will come i.e the plot and visual variety; it’s only a matter of time before it happens.’

 

The above article serves to provide Community members PointFive team with constructive feedback towards the overall improvement of RAM BOE, while also illustrating to other Community residents the game’s functioning and nuances. To follow up the game’s journey while also learning more of its inception and Steam release, visit its Higher Eclectic Space.

Eclectic Motorsport Moves Up Three Places In Pro Series’ Team Standings

BSRTC PRO Series, News

 

1933391_1199413510088179_1598673538394757347_o (1)The third race of the iRacing British Sim Racers Touring Car (BSRTC) PRO Series at Brands Hatch’s Indy Circuit concluded this Thursday the 31st of March, leaving Eclectic Motorsport to maintain its position of ninth place within the Season’s standings that was attained during the course of the Season’s second race at Watkin’s Glen on the 24th.

After a tumultuous Season opener at Philip Island that brought along with it its fair share of on-track incidents and dropped the team to the bottom of the standings on the 17th of March, encouragement began to arrive when Shoppe Keep sponsored RESERVE PRO driver George Simmons qualified for 10th place on the grid at Watkin’s.

A relatively disciplined course through the first round of the night saw the driver move to 4th place, before reigning PRO Champion and current Sim Racer Magazine Team Driver Sebastian Job and David Baker of Race Hub took over to have Simmons finish in 6th place. Note however, that any points attained by Simmons do not contribute to the team’s standings and only to his own, given his status as a reserve driver for the team.

Simmon’s eventual 15th place finish in the race’s second round served to further add to the Team’s top-10 finishes of the Season (of which this was the second, following Ben Hackeson’s 6th place finish on race one at Philip Island), when he started the third round in 7th place as the result of the customary Grid reversal and went on to bag his first podium of the Season in third place. The team’s full-time Shoppe Keep sponsored PRO driver Benjamin Hackeson on the other hand had his exclusion from qualification — the result of a Penalty served at Philip Island —  working against him, keeping him at the mid-rear of the grid for a large part of the night.

This mid-rear grid stint ended by the final round, when a second place start on account of a Grid reversal led the young sim-racer to his second podium of the Season in third place. The consistently driven, Potshotpete sponsored car of current AM Champion John Roberts meanwhile had managed to reduce his points deficit to 261 — bringing himself up to 11th place on the AM Drivers’ standings as a result — while that of Team Manager Andrew Whitehead’s unfortunately managed to finish only two of the four rounds after being involved in two separate race collisions.

12894480_1346274975389992_1793203443_oThis gradual regaining of the team’s balance was further helped by Ben Hackseon at Brands Hatch Indy on the 31st, when the Shoppe Keep drivers finished in 9th place behind George Simmons in 6th during the first round. Excitingly the duo would go on to maintain their relative positions within the top 10 for the next two rounds, with Hackeson consuming 8th and 9th place while Simmons owned 10th and 5th, before both drivers were taken out by crashes on Race 4.

Nevertheless Hackeson and Simmons’ five top 10 finishes now have them in 12th and 13th place of the overall Drivers’ standings respectively, just as Potshotpete sponsored John Roberts’ four mid-rear pack finishes from the night at Brands brings him up to 9th place of the AM Drivers’ standings. Furthermore, leaving out the incident that ended his race prematurely by the fourth round, Whitehead’s three rounds saw the Series veteran hold his own against the competition by progressively making gains in position within the rear of the pack, where he also finished in good pace. The team will now be seen taking to the oval track of Phoenix on the 7th of this month, at 8.15 P.M GMT.

On the sponsorship front, besides visibly flying their flags on the drivers’ cars, both Potshotpete and Shoppe Keep have been debuting advertisements for themselves during the inter-round breaks at Watkin’s Glen and Brands Hatch Indy. It is worth noting however that the Potshotpete channel broke away from its humble teaser that was displayed during the race at Watkin’s Glen, to make way for a more visually descriptive trailer at Brands Hatch this week. Both sponsors are on track to advertise their respective projects over the next couple of weeks, on account of their corresponding four week sponsorship of John Roberts & Ben Hackeson that ranges from 24th March to 14th April, 2016.

The iRacing BSRTC PRO Series Touring Car PRO Series is an internationally broadcast, simulation racing championship that is currently witnessing 50 talented iRacing users compete for a $10,000 prize fund over the course of its Tenth Season. Besides being streamed to nearly 2,000 viewers every week on Apex Racing TV every Thursday at 8.15 P.M GMT, the races are also broadcast on MotorsTV International with up to three repeats.

12719510_1199413503421513_4565652769753964739_o (1)By branding the former ProAm XLDesigns team of Andrew Whitehead, John Roberts, Ben Hackeson, George Simmons and James Leggett to Eclectic Motorsport, Higher Eclectic Ground has been offering independent game talent from both within and outside its community the opportunity to advertise their games, YouTube channels, brands and other gaming projects via the event by sponsoring one of the team’s full-time drivers for an inexpensive fee on a monthly basis.

While John Roberts is sponsored by Community member Jack Davison of the Potshopete Channel and Ben Hackeson by indie RPG Shoppe Keep developers Strange Fire until the 14th of April this year, those interested in joining them by sponsoring full-time driver Andrew Whitehead of Eclectic Motorsport — and creatively advertising their gaming projects amid the Series’ widely broadcast races over the course of four weeks in the process — can do so by visiting, learning more and applying for the same via the Independent Gaming Sponsorship Application page.

READ: CRITERIA & APPLICATION FOR INDEPENDENT GAMING SPONSORSHIPS

 

Watch the Brands Hatch Indy broadcast on Apex Racing TV’s official YT Channel and be sure to catch the Potshotpete & Shoppe Keep advertisements during the inter-round breaks.