Carried Away, Huge Calf Studios’ maiden voyage into the realm of independent game development, successfully commenced its Steam Greenlight campaign on Saturday, the 22nd of this month.
In light of the same, the team debuted players’ first look at the game by means of the Launch Trailer seen below, featuring a background Swing composition by Higher Eclectic Ground affiliated classical musician, Alfredo Sirica. The track marks Sirica’s first musical creation for the game, that will also potentially feature an entire original soundtrack developed by the Orvieto, Italy based artist himself.
Set amid the clouds of a colorful, low-poly world, Carried Away is a physics based puzzle game that has players construct chairlifts, drag lifts, gondolas, jumps and bridges to help skiers and mountain bikers navigate a range of mountain terrain.
Inspired by the classic bridge building genre, promised are more than 50 levels of tension and comedy as one puzzles over scenarios focused on getting busy mountain-goers to their destinations in all seasons, building impressively strong structures, and carefully managing the tension and compression of cable systems across rolling foothills and jagged peaks, all while teetering on a limited budget.
‘Carried Away flips what we love about bridge building upside down to create an entirely new physics puzzles!’ exclaims Huge Calf. ‘Watch with amusement as the fearless passengers put your creations to the test.’ Also featured is a Sandbox mode, letting players craft their own puzzles and challenge the community with the Procedural Generation tool, and the means to upload the wackiest of creations to an online gallery.
‘After an exciting and nerve-racking opening 22 hours, we’re feeling really positive with all of the feedback that we have had! After 10 months of developing this in the dark, we are relieved that people are enjoying what they see!’ wrote the Huge Calf team in a Steam update on Sunday, the 23rd of April. ‘We’ve set up a buzzer for every yes or no vote we get. It is creating a fun Sunday mood in the office (which is actually Will’s Kitchen!). Keep the ‘Yes’ votes flowing! :)’
From casually working on ‘that ski-lift game’ as a Summer 2016 project to now seeing Carried Away on the public stage, Huge Calf collectively houses Jonny Hughes, his younger brother Will and mutual friend Andy Metcalfe.
With their flagship title, the trio hopes to stay true to their founding mission of creating game concepts that venture away from the tried and tested.
As the puzzler’s status currently sits at pre-alpha, closed alpha testing is expected to commence over May, 2017, with applications for the same currently being accepted via the developers’ website.
The game will then look towards an Early Access release over the summer, with all community feedback thereafter being used towards an estimated 2018 release period.
Carried Away also marks the first independent game collaboration Higher Eclectic Ground has helped effect for its member, Alfredo Sirica, a professional orchestral composer that joined the Network only in December, last year.
With over three-years worth of experience in the composition & orchestration of high-quality, classical soundtracks for films, concerts, cartoons and independent games, the musician spent the former half of this month brainstorming over the trailer’s musical theme with the team.
Explaining how he attempted to add his own spin on the Swing genre, he writes — ‘By adding to the traditional instruments unconventional ones, as well as unusual chords.’
‘The chords used help capture the light-hearted tone of the game, and instruments such as glockenspiels and celestas have always been used as an allegory for snow, which is a huge part of the game environment.’
‘Alfredo has been a pleasure to work with and has understood our requirements.’ Huge Calf affirms. ‘He has gone the extra mile to deliver ahead of schedule to accommodate our timelines, which is very much appreciated. The music he has made has helped to bring Carried Away’s trailer to life and we hope that he can do the same for the OST, which will be relaxing and jazzy in nature.’
Notable updates and progress pertinent to Carried Away’s development, with special emphasis on Sirica’s forthcoming contributions to the game’s original score, will continue to be documented on Higher Eclectic Ground.
To stay updated of the same while also following up on Sirica’s prior/ongoing projects, modus operandi and professional background meanwhile, a visit to his Higher Eclectic Space is recommended. Also please be sure to leave Carried Away with your Yay or Nay on Steam, here.
Higher Eclectic Ground affiliated multimedia designer, Antonio d’Amore, officially began work on Pointless Button Studios’ upcoming post-apocalyptic adventure, Are We In This Together? (A.W.I.T.T), on the 31st of last month. In his capacity as a functioning UI/UX artist of the development team, the United Kingdom based Italian artist’s role is currently that of crafting various aspects of the game’s upcoming user experience and interface.
A 2D choice-driven adventure, A.W.I.T.T’s dystopian view of 2059 sees the world ravaged by Nanites; volatile, untested mini machines that although created for the advancement of science and robotics, end up turning half of mankind into a murderous, savage breed.
This infectious outbreak culminates in the Nanite War of 2064, before all sense of society, government and order is lost. From the chaos of dormant, lifeless cities emerges a group of ragtag strangers — Exiles — that players will follow across multiple, unique play-throughs thanks to the game’s structure of dynamic scenarios, strategically manage resources for and venture into uncharted territory with by means of an RPG-like, turn-based combat system.
‘When A.W.I.T.T was being conceptualised, we wanted to create a game that didn’t follow conventional rules.’ explains PBS founder and Technical Director, Amina Khalique. ‘We aimed to form a heavy RPG game structure that was dynamic enough for re-playability but at the same time able to be constrained in a controlled game design environment.’
With this emphasis on unique game-play experiences driving A.W.I.T.T’s core mechanics, its narrative bases itself on multiple short story events rather than one extended backstory. Players will be able to dive into hundreds of short scenarios, the outcome of each of which will stand influenced by player choices; so much so, that this underlying story structure alone has been complex enough to warrant the development of a Story Content Creation Tool to provide for maximum flexibility in game and story design.
Supplementing each play-through will be a unique list of Exiles, whose various skills and abilities one must utilise across the game’s Real-Time Turn Based Combat System in their defence against enemies, while also manipulating a Character Trust System to attain the highest probability of survival.
‘Character design was also a very important component to us as game developers, as we wanted to portray diversity in our characters’ ethnicities, genders, professions and really break some game character stereotypes,’ continues Khalique. ‘Our game dev team is a heavily diverse group with large skill sets and unique backgrounds too so we wanted A.W.I.T.T’s character’s to be a reflection of that diversity and really celebrate it.’
Pointless Button’s core team is largely online based, comprised of three talented Artists situated in Britain, two Story Designers based in Canada and the United States respectively (the former of whom, Indigo Doyle, is also a freelance artist affiliated to the Higher Eclectic Network), followed by a Sound Designer, Game Designer and Programmer all housed in the Canadian city of Toronto.
The company’s founding traces its roots back to real-life couple, business partners and current team members Amina Khalique and Bradley Widner in the year of 2015. Once students and now graduates of a Video Game Design Program offered by the Toronto Film School, the duo’s first steps produced Prison Air for a local three-day game jam; a casual adventure infused with slapstick humour and rag-doll physics, Prison Air was quickly Greenlit, is pending release and can now be downloaded as a demo for PC.
‘Production on A.W.I.T.T had already taken off with such an unexpected force with the new team, that time and resources prompted the decision to pause a full-release of Prison Air and focus on A.W.I.T.T instead.’ the team states. ‘We have been so enthusiastic to create a game with a much deeper concept — something thought-provoking in multiple arenas — and demonstrate that in A.W.I.T.T’s art, story and music, aiming to create an iconic indie game experience.’
With all progress documented on the game’s development blog, A.W.I.T.T is currently aiming for an October 2017 demo release with participation at the the next Independent Games Festival in mind. As one would imagine then, Antonio d’Amore’s role will be that of fleshing out numerous screen layouts and associated effects for both the upcoming demo and eventual, as of yet unscheduled, final release.
The collaboration with Pointless Button Studios is the first of several Higher Eclectic Ground has helped effect for d’Amore, whose specialities lie in both, the 2D and 3D design of illustrations, characters, assets/props, environments, storyboards and animations, since his joining the Network in February, this year.
Originally a Flash animator and illustrator by trade, the artist brings to the table more than a decade’s worth of experience in the creation of diverse visual content for a variety of e-learning applications, casual indie games, fables and animated cartoons, as both a freelancer and multimedia designer within the digital art industry.
‘Antonio’s upbeat attitude and excitement about A.W.I.T.T is awesome! He’s a big fan of the project and we can already see that coming through in his work!’ Pointless Button writes. While similar announcements of d’Amore’s collaborations will follow, one may choose to learn more of his professional history, portfolio of work and modus operandi via the designer’s Higher Eclectic Space.
Introducing The Worldmap, a top-down, shoot ’em up game-play mode that will serve as a connect between Abadon: Guardians Rise’s various side-scrolling, platformed levels.
As Vanguardians tasked with liberating the planet of Abadon from an extra-terrestrial invasion, players must visit multiple locations/levels and complete specific objectives therein to advance the game’s narrative.
With players granted control of their mother-ship, Aegis, The Worldmap essentially lets one traverse the planet in top-down view, explore randomly generated locations and choose to complete them or head to a different level altogether. Breaking down a functioning prototype of the new mode in the video above, Lead Designer Scott Bowser explains —
‘We wanted it to offer a unique and engaging way to choose next levels/objectives that feels significant and entertaining, without being too much or overly hard on the player — which the objectives of the platformed sections of the game tend to be.’
The Worldmap will additionally feature its own set of missions, collectables, enemies and system of progression apart from Abadon’s 2D platformed levels. Furthermore although the prototype demonstrates placeholder art, the mode will eventually feature updated scenery, variations of enemies and visually diverse locations in the vein of the game’s primary art style.
‘Artist Andrew Ganzales will be working on that, as well as the next level we have in the queue,’ continues Bowser, ‘but only after we finish the City level which we’re currently having issues getting to look right. Hopefully, we should have the Worldmap playable by the summer.’
With Ganzales replacing Charles Ferguson-Avery as Lead Artist Illustrator on the Ummagumma team preceding the game’s co-op teaser reveal last year, development pace had admittedly hit a speed-bump through the holidays.
This Press Release was brought to you by Higher Eclectic Ground, network for independent game talent to which Abadon: Guardians Rise and the Ummagumma Games team is currently affiliated.
One can learn more of Abadon’s progress and sign-up to receive press releases via E-mail at the game’s Higher Eclectic Space. To get in touch with the team for any queries, please E-mail the game’s Higher Eclectic representative Sean Braganza at email@example.com
About Abadon: Guardians Rise
Set against the backdrop of a mysterious extra-terrestrial infestation, Abadon: Guardian’s Rise is a 2D platformed, Roguelite tale of an elite planetary defense task-force in development by Ummagumma Games.
With features such as that of uniquely customizable characters and dynamically structured levels, vicious enemy design, co-operative game play and a demanding narrative comprised of multiple play-through’s, players must rush to restore their decimated squad of Vanguardians and recover the Planet of Abadon from the clutches of alien originated violence.
Abadon: Guardians Rise is in development for a PC launch, with a potential Xbox One debut being considered as well. The team is currently aiming for a release of the game’s Vertical Slice — demonstrative of its base mechanics, a fraction of its character and level roster — sometime during 2017, with the intent of garnering crucial player feedback therefrom towards further development.
About Ummagumma Games
Ummagumma Games is a two-man development team populated and co-founded by Lead Designer/Programmer Scott Bowser and Lead Artist/Illustrator Andrew Restrepo Ganzales.
Abadon: Guardians Rise will be the duo’s fourth gaming release and first PC directed venture. Other releases include the Android titles of You Can’t Escape, Godsmash: Armageddon and the upcoming Soul Samurai.
About Higher Eclectic Ground
Founded in August, 2015 by Sean Braganza, Higher Eclectic Ground is a curated network of independent developers and artists involved in the creation of Video Games and Video Game related media.
Higher Eclectic Ground functions by providing developers of independent games with progressive press, web and social media based exposure, QA support and feedback, networking opportunities, organic audience building, PR and related services.
In addition, it also plays agent for various other freelance creators and artists of gaming media – assisting them with building their portfolios, web and social media presence while also working to bring them collaborative opportunities from within the industry.
Each of the above individuals are now entitled to a Steam or Android copy of RAM BOE; developers Point Five Team have already begun reaching out to the entrants in an attempt to determine their respective preferences of gaming platform.
Organised and co-ordinated by Higher Eclectic Ground simultaneously, the giveaways with The Zombie Chimp and Need To Know Gaming served to commemorate the launch of Point Five’s website from earlier this year. Both follow Higher Eclectic’s own giveaway of RAM BOE from March, wherein up to seven participants were awarded PC/Android copies of the game.
RAM BOE being the Sokoban-inspired tale of a rock-climbing adventurer turned ram. To learn more of the game itself, revisit its development history and/or reach out to the development team, please visit its Higher Eclectic Space.
Progression through the Story mode of TinyWars’ complete experience will be driven by a quests-based mechanic, developer Bizurk Software has announced.
The unravelling of the game’s narrative will be spread out over multiple worlds, each of which are to provide several hours’ worth of game-play content. ‘As you can see by our Worldmap mock-up below, there are a number of worlds planned for the game.’ illustrates Lead Developer Andrew Taraba.
An older iteration of the worldmap, previewed last month.
‘A lot of the map won’t be visible until the player actually unlocks those levels, so it will continue to be a mysterious experience.’ Not all quests will be mandatory, although players will be rewarded for exploring optional quests in the form of various rewards. Part of these rewards will be in the form of virtual currency, concepts (below) of which are currently being explored.
‘The two virtual currency units we have planned, Gold Magical Mushroom Spores, and The Blood of the Witch (Or the Blood of Mother), will be used in different ways that can shape the way your units function and behave!’ continues Taraba. ‘
Contrary to traditional tower defense mechanics where unit upgrades often do not persist from level to level, TinyWars’ virtual currency will allow for the purchase of more permanent in-game items.
Virtual Currency Concepts
‘We’ve added a system that will allow the player to progressively increase and maintain persistent upgrades through subsequent levels. This is because we have greatly expanded upon the traditional model of a “tower defense” game that we have been used to playing in the past.’
While various quest-lines are currently being scripted, game-play videos illustrating the working of a planned RPG-tower defense blend of a game-play model will be shown off at a later stage. Players will further be given a taste of this hybrid game-play model along with that of several quest lines in the upcoming Story Demo.
Due for a release sometime this year, the story-demo will be a vertical slice of the full TinyWars experience that is currently having its various visual and narrative assets developed. Said narrative will begin by exploring the life of TinyWars’ main characters, their relationships and transformations over time. As players progress, the tone is set to get progressively darker until a few turning points are hit. A functional preview of its main menu can now be seen below.
Those wishing to get their hands on a free tech-prototype of TinyWars’ tower defence element meanwhile, can download the same for Windows PC and Android via the Downloads section of the game’s website.
More visual and game-play snippets from Tinywars’ development are to follow. To ensure you’re up to date, be sure to subscribe to E-mail updates via the sidebar on the game’s Higher Eclectic Space or to the game’s Sub-Forum.
Feedback, queries and interactions with the development team may also take place within the latter. This Press Release was brought to you by Higher Eclectic Ground, network for independent game talent to which TinyWars and the Bizurk Software team is currently affiliated.
One can follow up on the game’s progress thus far and learn of player reception around its game-play prototype via its Space. To get in touch with the team for any queries, schedule an interview or the like, please E-mail the game’s Higher Eclectic representative Sean Braganza at firstname.lastname@example.org
Developed by Bizurk Software, TinyWars is an upcoming game of the Tower Defence genre for PC, Android & iOS devices.
A journey of growth — both of characters involved and players themselves — its narrative encompasses the kingdom of Tiny and its inhabitants, as they journey through a world of constant conflict and learn of things far greater than themselves. Following the tale of one such inhabitant, a young girl named Mary, said narrative will illustrate her pursuit of justice from those that belittle her as she journeys to save her Kingdom for good.
Players will be tasked with strategic thinking, dynamic unit management and a plethora of boss fights across varying degrees of challenge. All the aspects of this Tower Defence element, although not ground breaking, will ingeniously parallel the aspects of the story and the concept of growing as an individual. A prototype of these mechanics is now available for download.
Although not representational of the main game, the purpose of the prototype lies in providing fans, followers and tower defense enthusiasts with a snippet of the TinyWars game-play experience, while also assisting the development process with user-related feedback.
The months that ensued after the game’s bare-bones prototype from 2015 were graphic & artwork intensive, with the team designing original assets, primary characters, animations and even recording a live orchestra for the main game in order to provide it with its own flair.
A large portion of 2016 meanwhile had been devoted to the development of TinyWars’ game-play prototype. Prior to its release, a closed beta test of the same transpired between the months of October-November, the same year, with all gathered user feedback being used towards the development of the main game.
Despite the prototype being devoid of any narrative elements and fleshed out visuals, the team is currently working towards releasing a more representational vertical slice of TinyWars’ primary experience by 2017. Comprising of a portion of TinyWars’ soundtrack and early concept art meanwhile, a pre-gameplay demo is now also available for download.
About Bizurk Software
A privately owned subsidiary of Taracore Enterprises LLC, Bizurk functions primarily as a service provider for clients ranging from Hyundai Motors’ Official Website to popular video games like Yandere Simulator.
TinyWars is its first independent venture into the gaming industry. While CEO Andrew Taraba himself has extensive experience in the world of website & app development, the team itself comprises of both experienced artists, musicians and programmers along with novices alike.
About Higher Eclectic Ground
Founded in August, 2015 and operated ever since by Sean Braganza, Higher Eclectic Ground is a curated network of independent developers and artists involved in the creation of Video Games and Video Game related media.
Its services towards affiliated games and their developers primarily involves the provision of highly personalised Public Relations(PR), Quality Assurance(QA) and general Press-centric services with the goal of functioning and operating as the PR department of their development teams.
In addition, it also plays agent to various other freelance creators and artists of gaming media – helping them build a web-presence around their respective crafts and working to garner them freelance employment opportunities within the gaming industry.
Our giveaway of Point Five Team’s RAM BOE last month had ended with the assurance that multiple opportunities to bag a copy of the 2016 casual indie puzzler were due in April. Rightfully from the 10th -17th of this week, both Need To Know Gaming and The Zombie Chimp have each put up three PC/Android copies of RAM BOE for grabs.
As before, the purpose of the giveaway is to mark and commemorate the launch of Point Five’s dedicated website from earlier this year.
Hosted on its Twitter page Need To Know Gaming’s Gleam-based version of the giveaway lets one secure multiple entries for a chance to win, while The Zombie Chimp simply requires participants to fill in a form with their respective entries.
At the end of the giveaway period, each of the two outlets will randomly pick and announce up to three winners that will be contacted by the developers to determine their choice of a PC or Android copy of RAM BOE.
These will have exactly a week to respond before alternate contestants are picked; one may choose to partake in either or both giveaways at the same time, with corresponding terms and conditions found at the respective giveaway links attached to this announcement.
Launched on Android and Steam last year, the Higher Eclectic Ground affiliated puzzle of RAM BOE draws inspiration from classic Sokoban. As a rock-climbing adventurer turned ram, players are challenged with 55 levels of mind-bending puzzles that they must solve by combining and moving Rune Stones into a mystical well of revival, navigating steep drops, saving trapped souls and avoiding an encounter with a legendary ice monster in the process.
A gaming website, The Zombie Chimp had reviewed RAM BOE in November, last year, calling it an adorable little puzzle that often turned rage-inducing due to its slightly dodgy control system. Host Dawn of the Need To Know Gaming Channel expressed similar concerns earlier this year, before also deeming it a cute puzzler that was to not be missed.
As always, one may backtrack through RAM BOE’s development cycle and delve deeper into its features by means of its Higher Eclectic Space; queries, feedback and other interactions with the Point Five team meanwhile may be left at their sub-forum here on Higher Eclectic Ground. Good luck!