Despite challenging himself to a round of Christer Kaitila’s One Game a Month (#1GAM) in the month of August, this year, and subsequently missing his deadline by a large margin, independent games developer Hjalte Tagmose has launched a completed build of his pixelated, roguelite project of Despot Dungeons on itch.io and the Google Play Store.
Featuring an original chip-tune soundtrack composed by Higher Eclectic Ground’s Simone Bernacchia alias Jovanotti Must Die (J.M.D) —
- Despot Dungeons follows a disenfranchised, humiliated little frog’s campaign to dethrone tyranny.
- To this end, players must conquer up to three distinct levels of enemies, puzzles and bosses in the monochrome sewers they’ve been subjected to.
- While each area abounds in turn-based movements, varying interactive objects and mechanics.
While Tagmose would certainly like to expand Despot Dungeons with additional content in the future, his plans for the same remain indefinite for the moment.
‘Maybe I’ll pair up with someone who’s a little more competent in level design in the future,’ he adds. ‘If I want to sell the game, I’ll definitely want to work on a lot more content but I’m not really looking to do that as of right now.’
Created by Christer Kaitila alias McFunkypants, himself a freelance game developer, author and musician, the #1GAM challenge is notorious for inviting game development enthusiasts from all walks of life to complete production of a game within a single month.
Running virtually all-year round, offered to participants is plenty of publicity, XP and bragging rights that adds up with every successful release amid a constantly growing community.
Rules are relatively none and there exists no entrance fee, with participants allowed to form teams, use existing code frameworks, create sequels to prior projects, build freeware or even sell their games.
‘If you are having fun, then you qualify. If at least one person in the entire world would call what you just made “a game” then it qualifies. ‘
For Tagmose, a 19-year old programmer, artist, writer and storyteller, #1GAM seemed to provide incentive enough to actually finish a game project by himself, having created numerous smaller ones for game jams under the moniker of Real Fast.
Salvaging old rogue-like (turn-based on a grid) game prototypes from his hard drive in the month of August, he proceeded to chronicle Despot’s evolution therefrom by means of a three-part developer-log on his website.
It was around this time that he was put in touch with JMD via myself, the retro game music composer’s representative and manager, who naturally sought direction from the game’s graphical look, The Legend of Zelda, classic telefilms and cartoons in the composition of its OST.
‘With the music almost exclusively making use of micro samples that allow for a chiptune vibe, while being spread over eight channels, I’ve hoped to have it sound like playing a Game Boy on steroids,’ states JMD, a chip-rock, electronic and ambient artist that has been creating music for Amiga homebrew games, modern ‘retro’ games, commercials and animations since 1989.
‘The fact that Despot is a retro game being developed on a modern engine such as that of Unity, allowed me to use a more fitting platform – the fast-tracker format, fully handled by Milkytracker – than my usual MOD files.’ A complete playlist of the game’s soundtrack can be heard on musician’s YouTube, created especially for the purpose.
Those wishing to hear more from his portfolio of work over the years, learn of his expertise, hobbies and references, or reach out with feedback/requests to collaborate, can do so by visiting his profile on Higher Eclectic Ground or by mailing sean.b[at]highereg[dot]com.
Will you be playing Despot Dungeons? Did you enjoy the game’s original soundtrack? Let me know why/why not in the comments below.
IT consultant Nikola Lajic makes his debut in the independent games space this month with Run Die Retry, a free-to-play platformer for iOS 9.3+. Tasking players with surviving a linear, continually flowing pathway haunted by obstacles and enemies for as long as they can, the game’s endless-running style of play will be accompanied by a looping, synthwave composition by Higher Eclectic Ground’s Sam Oz.
Both game-play and the background music track can be previewed in the game’s launch trailer. With in-game obstacles taking the form of ghosts, boulders and vaporising laser beams —
- Each play-through of Run Die Retry promises to differ from the previous, thanks to randomisation of levels.
- Visuals come in retro-modern, pixel art graphics, accentuated by the use of real-time shadows.
- Future updates are slated to bring a greater variety of traps, enemies and environments.
Although seemingly rudimentary in concept and design, Run Die Retry’s value lies in the fact that it represents Lajic’s first, complete attempt at game development since being introduced to the realm in 2005.
A Novi Sad, Serbia resident, Lajic’s day job has involved the development of various iOS applications since 2009.
Starting with task manager TapDo before progressing to independent lifestyle app releases such as that of For The Next, his occasional experimentation with game design resulted in his first foray into Unity3D circa 2015.
Despite wanting to keep things simple however, Lajic found himself stressing too much over the details to sustain the newfound hobby and eventually burned out. In his own words — ‘“Perfect is the enemy of done”, this has been a problem for me most of my life. Starting something and then never finishing because I was never 100% satisfied with the result.’
By September, 2016, he returned with renewed intention to finish development of a game, however small, and has been documenting progress across a blog and social media ever since.
Via Higher Eclectic Ground in the month May, this year, the developer was put in touch with Winterthur, Switzerland based multi-genre, freelancing music composer for games, Sam Oz .
Oz had first experimented with the Synthwave genre at the time with his two-part composition, In The Stars, that instantly appealed to Lajic’s vision of a retro-sounding background music track for the game.
‘The melody for Run Die Retry’s game-play loop came to me quite quickly,’ Oz recounts. ‘It was one of those times; for usually, in cases such as these, it can take me a while to come up with something appropriate.’
To mark the upcoming launch, Lajic has now established a dedicated website for Run Die Retry that contains links to its App Store page, social media channels, various media and the developer’s blog should one wish to follow-up on his history.
Developers and Synthwave enthusiasts wishing to learn more of Sam Oz’s music services meanwhile, collaborate with the artist or connect with him on grounds of original music requests, may do so via his profile on Higher Eclectic Ground. Also present therein is a complete overview of his work history, software expertise, references and bio-data. Feel free to direct any queries you might have to myself, representative and manager of Oz’s freelance music services for games, via sean.b[at]highereg[dot]com.
Will you be adding Run Die Retry to your casual gaming collection? Did you enjoy Sam Oz’s work? Why/Why not? I’d like to hear from you in the comments below.
Debuted over the weekend, CyberThreat®’s new Story Teaser offers players their first-glimpse at the progress made by the upcoming RPG’s development of narrative, level and soundtrack design. Created by independent developer Conor McKenna in association with numerous freelance contributors, the game’s Teaser also features the Cyberpunk-themed composition of No Chill by Higher Eclectic Ground musician Van Reeves.
CyberThreat® deems to explore the consequences an evolved, highly intricate cyberspace has on fictional Edendale.
As an adolescent in their final year of High School study, players are confronted with a string of mysterious disappearances that plague the city with Cyber-bullying functioning as the common link.
This ideal year of juggling courses, social lives and a colorful cast of characters is soon turned on its head however, when players discover themselves to be the next victim of technological harassment. With cases to solve and more than their grades to protect, one must —
- Set out on a story-driven epic as a character with customizable stats, hacks and costumes.
- Put all-of-the-above to use in exploring a beautifully hand-crafted 3D world, enlivened by dynamic calendar system, a huge cast to befriend and a host of mini-games/chores/activities to engage in.
- Accommodate strategic thinking in their case-solving, thanks to a classic turn-based style RPG combat system that pits them against sinister, virtual-reality enemies.
- All while an over-arching, re-playable storyline expounds itself over multiple episodes and scenarios playable from the perspective of a male or female protagonist.
Powered by the Unity3D game engine, CyberThreat® is being developed for an intended PC release period of 2018-’19. PS Vita and other console ports are planned, although this will ultimately depend on public interest, support and funding.
Additionally, CyberThreat® will feature in-game art, music and audio assets developed by an eclectic ensemble of freelance talent.
The Teaser’s theme of No Chill was originally developed as a Creative Commons, background music track by Synthwave/Cinematic/Metal/Ambient freelance music composer, Van Reeves for use in game projects.
McKenna’s interest in the three-minute, synth/cyberpunk-injected composition saw the developer not only commission Reeves for an exclusive render of No Chill earlier this year, but also for a remix of CyberThreat®’s title theme that has been written by McKenna himself.
Similar remixes by other contributing music artists will feature on the complete soundtrack.
Besides introducing Byte, a shrewd businessman and prominent in-game character voiced by Thomas ‘TommyNom’ Evans that will prove fundamental to CyberThreat®’s narrative, the Teaser also marks the unveiling of other in-game media in the form of screenshots, character bio’s and more reflective of McKenna’s vision thus far.
The bulk of these are best enjoyed on CyberThreat®’s website, that doubles as a portal to the game’s constantly active social media channels.
Developers wishing to learn more of Van Reeves’ music services meanwhile, collaborate with the artist or connect with him on grounds of original music requests, may do so via the latter’s profile on Higher Eclectic Ground.
Also present therein is a complete overview of his work history, software expertise, references and bio-data. Feel free to direct any queries you might have to myself, representative and manager of Reeves’ freelance music services for games, via sean.b[at]highereg[dot]com.
Will you be following CyberThreat®? Did you enjoy No Chill? Why/Why not? I’d like to hear from you in the comments below.