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!
Winner #1 – Sunny Kushwaha, Winner #2 – Tristan Boddice, Winner #3 – Viktor Ryzkov, Winner #4 – Daniel Aguiar, Winner #5 – Angel Santos, Winner #6 – Huey Newis, Winner #7 – Robin Hugy, and in a surprise pick by the team, Consolation – Maarten Ver.
Point Five Team will be reaching out to each via e-mail over the course of the weekend and thereafter to determine their choice of platform (PC/Android), following which all winning entrants will be granted a period of seven days to respond.
Digital copies of RAM BOE will then be delivered accordingly.
The giveaway was organised and scheduled for 1st-8th March, 2017, in celebration of the launch of Point Five’s all-new website. For those who missed it, Higher Eclectic Ground and Point Five Team will now be working to organise even more giveaways of RAM BOE in conjunction with a few other gaming outlets over the course of this month.
More on that in due time; to ensure you’re privy to when the next giveaway goes live and/or any other development updates pertinent to RAM BOE, be sure to sign-up under the ‘Receive E-mail Updates’ tab of the game’s Higher Eclectic Space.
For queries, feedback and other interactions with the development team of Point Five, please visit their sub-forum here on Higher Eclectic Ground.
In celebration of the launch of its newly created website, Romanian game developers Point Five Team are giving away seven copies of their 2016 casual indie puzzle RAM BOE.
To participate, simply –
1. Visit RAM BOE’s Higher Eclectic Space,
2. Look for the ‘Receive E-mail Updates’ tab on the page’s sidebar and leave in your details using the form therein before the 8th of March, 2017; be sure to check your e-mail for the confirmation message.
3. Follow Point Five on social media using the ‘Find RAM BOE On Social Media’ tab on the page’s sidebar and lastly,
4. Share this announcement with your friends and include the URL to Point Five’s new website — pointfiveteam.eu — within your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ or other posts.
- On the 9th of March, 2017, the developers will randomly pick up to seven contestants that will receive either a Steam or Android copy of RAM BOE depending on their choice of platform. These winners will be listed in a separate announcement by Higher Eclectic Ground, conveyed to all participants via E-mail and shared across Point Five’s various social media channels.
- Point Five Team will then proceed to contact the winning entries via E-mail in the days soon after, to determine their choice of a PC or Android key. Contacted winners will have up till a week to respond before an alternate winner is picked.
Conceived at the 2015 Indie Game Maker’s Contest hosted by Game Dev Fort and sponsored by Degica, RAM BOE is a casual 3D puzzle game by developers Pointfive Team that draws inspiration from Thinking Rabbit’s Sokoban.
While the retro puzzle had players move crates around a warehouse in an attempt to get them to predetermined storage locations, RAM BOE has players control Beauregard Pete, an adventurer trapped within the being of a Ram for ever after a failed duel with a vicious ice monster.
Eager to rescue others from the same miserable fate, Beau (Boe) must pass through 55 levels of brain-bending puzzles, solve them by combining and moving Rune stones that contain trapped souls into a ‘mystical well of revival’ and navigate steep drops — all while the possibility of a second encounter with Thrym, the ice monster, looms.
In addition, the game’s Steam version also features achievements, multiplayer leader-boards, trading cards and a Level Sandbox connected to the Steam Workshop that let’s players build, customise and play on their own levels.
While the game wasn’t up to the standards of the IGMC contest, for which it was conceived with fully functioning mechanics and graphics, the team continued on wards to furnish it in its entirety over the following couple of months.
By November 2015 RAM BOE had earned for itself a Steam Greenlight campaign, following which it moved to Higher Eclectic Ground in an attempt to build an audience around Beauregard’s adventure.
The months that ensued witnessed Point Five engage the Network’s members & audience via a plethora of means — episodic recaps of RAM BOE’s development, Giveaways and more, while an Android version of the game was made available in the month of January. By the 14th of March, 2016, the game was finally Greenlit.
As of 5th April, 2016, RAM BOE was released for PC, MAC & Linux on Steam. A month later the game’s first major update for PC, MAC & Linux devices titled The Awakening of Thrym was taken live, putting into effect game play fixes, 15 more playable levels, a slight narrative expansion and an all-new Sandbox mode.
Efforts are currently underway to bring The Awakening of Thrym to RAM BOE’s Android version, while an iOS build of the game continues to be worked upon. To delve deeper into the game’s development history and learn of recent reviews, visit its Higher Eclectic Space.
For giveaway related queries, feedback and to interact with the development team of Point Five, please drop by the game’s sub-forum.
Higher Eclectic Ground commences a new year of operations with the public unveiling and opening of its Forums. Created primarily to facilitate the interaction between its own affiliated game development & freelance talent, their audience of press outlets and other gaming enthusiasts, the Higher Eclectic Forums also invite game developers and other creators of gaming media to set up shop therein; interact, discover creativity and promote your own.
Conceived over the summer of 2015, the Network for independent game talent that is Higher Eclectic Ground functions by providing an array of PR and QA based services to independent developers of games, also playing agent to freelance gaming talent in the form of Musicians, Writers, 2D/3D Artists & more by working to garner them exposure and employment opportunities within the industry.
While nearly two years of this public activity have been spread out over numerous game development-oriented and social media platforms with this website at its core, all of Higher Eclectic Ground’s inter-member interaction, discussions and network-related announcements have since been centralised within a dedicated Facebook group called The Higher Eclectic Bulletin.
The onset of 2017 however has initiated several updates to the Network’s general policy, modus operandi and web presence, with the addition of a dedicated public forum to its daily functioning being the current highlight. As has been the norm, all of Higher Eclectic Ground’s presently affiliated game development and freelance talent is indexed within the intuitive Member Catalogue.
Each listing within this Catalogue directs to a Higher Eclectic Space; Spaces being dedicated pages/profiles maintained by Higher Eclectic Ground for members, that serve as dynamic press-kits for its game developers by integrating all development progress and other public/social information associated with their games’ activity in one place — and as dynamic portfolios/curriculum vitae’s for its freelance talent that the Network uses in interactions with potential clients and collaborators.
Now, each Higher Eclectic member’s Space additionally links to a dedicated Sub-Forum allocated to them; Game Developers maintain within their Sub-Forums a MAIN DEVELOPMENT THREAD for their games, that they now use to document all official & unofficial progress, events, announcements and development activity. Followers & members of the press may further interact with these developers by creating their own threads of queries within the respective sub-forums.
Similarly, video game musicians, 2D/3D artists and writers affiliated to the Network maintain MAIN PORTFOLIO THREADS within their own sub-forums, narrating their creative processes while inviting potential clients to reach out to them via the same. Game Developers further looking to work with specific freelance talent on a project or fill positions on their teams may let Higher Eclectic Ground know of their job openings via the Classifieds Sub-Forum.
Take note however, that activity on the Forums is not limited to Higher Eclectic Ground’s members alone. Non-affiliated independent game developers may set up threads to document the progress of their games, artists to exhibit their portfolios of video game creations, YouTubers/Twitch Gamers to build communities around their channels and even independent game journalists to create constructive discussion.
To get started, one may simply head to highereg.com/forums, register themselves and navigate to the sub-forum of their choosing. Sticky posts therein should instruct one with the typical forum guidelines on how to get started.
Other notable additions to the website include a newly established Press Room — consolidating all of Higher Eclectic Ground’s press activity and information in one place — and an updated About page that more clearly describes the Network’s current purpose, portfolio of work and modus operandi. Several member-related shifts in policy are to further transpire over the course of the following year, leading Higher Eclectic Ground to temporarily halt the acceptance and consideration of all applications for membership until further notice.
While all existing applicants have been personally informed of the same, feel free to periodically check in on when the application process does resume via our Contact page or our sub-forum for official/unofficial network related announcements. Thank you for your continued support; here’s wishing you the very best of gaming creativity for 2017.
From Ummagumma Games comes Abadon: Guardians Rise; a 2D platformed, roguelite ode to classic split-screen, couch co-op based entertainment scheduled for a 2018 release. 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, Guardians Rise will not only be the two-man development team’s fourth title release, but also its first major venture into the PC gaming industry.
When an unprecedented, targeted assault on Planet Abadon leaves its seemingly Utopian feature in shambles, Abadon: Guardians Rise will have players take control of the Vanguardians — the Planet’s legendary, now almost decimated task force — in a retro-themed, action-packed rush to recover it from the clutches of alien originated violence.
As these Guardians rush to neutralise the enemy and salvage the missing remnants of their task force, a larger conspiracy unravels; one inclusive of branching timelines, parallel universes, suspense and an overarching theme of vengeance that will have players coursing through Abadon: Guardian’s Rise several times.
A large part of this rush will include the mobilisation and dispatch of playable Vanguardians from Aegis, the task force’s space HUB inclusive of a partly functional AI and an unstable mechanic, to various regions of the World Map.
Therein civilians must be rescued, enemies pulverised and an assortment of other objectives completed in order to minimize a region’s Threat Level and urge the narrative forward. Playable characters from the Vanguardian squad meanwhile arrive with their own set of attacks, insanely stackable upgrades and a steep learning curve, that players will be able to make use of across single-player or 4-player local/online co-operative modes.
Successfully taking down the variety — often mobs — of enemies the extra-terrestrial invasion has to offer, further facilitates the repair and modification of Aegis, as well as the purchase of character-specific upgrades.
Although these upgrades might persist through multiple play-through’s, level settings, navigation and correspondent enemy behaviour will be dynamically altered with each iteration of the narrative, calling for multiple play-styles and experiences throughout.
Following its inception in October, 2015, Abadon: Guardians of the Rise is currently having its various characters, levels and populating assets developed.
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 — by Q1 2017, with the intent of garnering crucial player feedback therefrom towards future development.
‘Abadon: Guardians Rise represents Ummagumma Games’ most ambitious effort yet,’ states Ummagumma co-founder and Lead Designer/Programmer Scott Bowser. ‘We had previously focused on smaller mobile games, just to get a portfolio started. We really wanted to wait until we had a few releases before jumping into a larger, more full game on PC or Console.’
Through the course of this journey, Bowser will primarily be flanked and aided by Lead Artist/Illustrator Andrew Restrepo Ganzales.
Ganzales’ relationship with the former dates back to You Can’t Escape, a 2D platformed runner originally created by Bowser and then programming partner Nuno Nunes under the banner of Out Of The Box Entertainment in the early months of 2014, that had Ganzales play the role of freelance artist.
The duo would then go on to form the Ummagumma Games banner, relaunch You Can’t Escape, develop and release Godsmash Armageddon over winter, the same year, before commencing development on their third mobile arcade title Soul Samurai.
With the same due for a release soon, Abadon: Guardian’s Rise will mark Ummagumma’s fourth collaborative venture and first PC-directed release, with a potential Xbox One launch being considered as well.
‘Soul Samurai is only a few hours of development from being our 3rd finished mobile release,’ Bowser continues. ‘We just don’t enjoy the casual mobile industry as much however. It feels too saturated with the same money grabbing techniques, and anything that falls of that formula isn’t going to be noticed. ‘
Inspirations for the 2D Roguelite spin of Abadon: Guardian’s Rise emerge from Bowser’s own fascination for local co-operative games.
‘My favorite games have always been the local co-op ones, where I could sit on the couch with a few friends and get lost in a campaign,’ he writes. ‘I’d been playing a lot of those before work on Abadon began in 2015 and was quickly running out of options.’
Much brainstorming and the piling together of various mechanics later, Abadon finally commenced developed in the month of October, the same year, under the temporary moniker of Terra-Force.
It was also around the same time that a relationship was developed between the team and Higher Eclectic Ground, with the latter aiding in social media/PR coverage therefrom.
Drawing inspiration from various Roguelike/Roguelike classics in the vein of Rogue Legacy, Risk of Rain and Nuclear Throne, the months thereafter witnessed the development of several of the game’s core game-play mechanics pertinent to Aegis, character upgrades, the World Map, base enemy classes and other underlying fundamentals. Much of this progress still stands documented on the game’s Higher Eclectic Space.
The team then proceeded into a short hiatus from the public eye over the summer of 2016, wherein several aspects of Terra-Force’s existing design, concept and future progress were evaluated, before now resurfacing with the newly finalised name of Abadon: Guardians Rise, its first teaser, an upcoming development blog and more.
A collaboration has further been established between the Bowser-Ganzaels duo and Van Reeves; a Philippines based freelance musician affiliated to Higher Eclectic’s own network of independent game talent, Reeves is currently providing his cinematic, ambient and heavy-metal infused Synthwave sensibilities towards furnishing the preliminary soundtrack and audio base of Abadon: Guardian’s Rise’s upcoming vertical slice.
While his working title track for the game can be heard within its above teaser, attached herein is a preview of the theme backing the platformer’s City level in its daytime version. ‘Abadon’s title theme is all energy with hints of arcade-like sounds,’ explains Van.
‘The Day time track heard here however is more of a dance track by design; faster tempo, pronounced synth work and prominent drum elements.’ More of Reeves’ work on the game will continue to be showcased as development progresses.
Video game background musician, sound designer and member to Higher Eclectic Ground’s network of independent game talent, Caleb Cuzner, is now one of five global musicians that have contributed to the Rhythmic Bullet Hell of Bubble Head Games’ upcoming Action Music game Beats of Fury.
Cuzner adds to a 13-track OST spanning the Electronic, Trap, House, EDM, Dubstep, Post-Rock, and Metal by means of Rock The Rooftops — a three-minute composition of the Heavy Metal genre that will constitute a singular level of the Rhythm Game – Bullet Hell blend.
Due for an early 2017 release, Beats of Fury is the tale of two brothers — Rock & Electronic — confronting the forces of evil musical beats over 13 levels of melodic chaos.
Each of these combine the Rhythmic genre of games with that of the Top Down shooter, tasking players to synchronise their Mouse, Keyboard or Xbox Controller assigned triggers to the barrage of enemy notes that continually fall within predetermined target areas.
Doing so successfully keeps a level’s designated electronic/rock tune going, hence challenging players to make full use of their musical sensitivities and trigger-happy tendencies in creation of what developers Bubble Head are calling the rave of the independent game scene.
This will come supplemented with local, co-operative plus online multiplayer, alongside an Endless Mode that has players compete with the rest of the world in establishing their highest in-level scores across a global leader-board.
At the core of this experience of course is an original soundtrack comprising 13 diverse musical tracks, each of which corresponds to a set level of the game. Higher Eclectic Ground’s introduction of Caleb Cuzner’s prolific portfolio of musical work to the development team as they sought a Rock-based composition earlier this year, was quick to materialise into Rock the Rooftops.
Beats of Fury was Greenlit by the Steam Community on the 20th of October, 2016, barely ten days since its posting on Valve’s popular platform.
It has also previously garnered awards in the form of Casual Connect Europe ’16’s Best Audio Game and the Audience Choice Award at Egypt’s Run Double Jump ’16.
‘We wanted to add another dimension to how you experience music, and that’s why we are making Beats Of Fury. Thank you to everyone that has supported us so far! This is only the beginning!’ state the three-man, internationally based development team spearheaded by Egyptian Aly Ameen.
‘It was a pleasure for us to work with Caleb Cuzner, he could not only deliver all the samples that we needed on time — but also our specific needs for the track. We needed the Rock tune to possess certain features to fill a specific point in the hierarchy of the level design of the game, while also being affordable for us as a team of indie game developers.’
The collaboration with Bubble Head Games is the first Higher Eclectic Ground has helped effect for its member Caleb Cuzner, a United States based freelance audio artist that has to his name well over 900 compositions written for games, film and live performances since 2007.
A vast majority of this has been coordinated via the Game Maker Community forums through the years, wherein he often operates under the moniker of Nijg, all while studying music composition at Brigham Young University, Utah.
Complementing this experience is an eloquence in a wide variety of musical genres, that he renders available to independent developers of games both commercial and non-commercial in scope.
He does so either by crafting individual tunes pertinent to the requests he receive, or by directing them towards his self-maintained library of royalty-free music.
While more on his modus operandi, his musical prowess and services continue to be recorded on his Higher Eclectic Space, a closer look at Beats of Fury and all development progress henceforth may be kept track of via Bubble Head Games’ official website.
In the mere 72 hours since its launch on Steam Early Access, the Imagos Softworks and Pixeljam co-developed roguelike shoot ’em up Starr Mazer: DSP has managed to garner for itself a wholly positive response from nearly over 40 recorded user reviews and counting. While parallels drawn to classic SHMUP’s of old à la Gradius, R-Type and Nemesis continue to be prevalent, a large part of this acclaim stands directed towards DSP’s Art and Musical genius.
‘We are absolutely ecstatic about releasing Starr Mazer: DSP,’ the team writes. ‘We’ve worked really hard to create a polished first act for SHMUP players to sink their teeth into.’
‘Seeing the positive reception on Twitter and on Steam has all of us hyped up and excited to continue working on DSP. We look forward to hearing feedback from fans so we can build the best possible roguelike shoot’em up we can!’
A prequel to Imagos’ Kickstarter funded, 2017 scheduled point n’click-shoot ’em up blend of an adventure titled Starr Mazer, DSP entered Steam’s community-guided development model at midnight, the 25th of August, with a promotional price of $8.99 out of its standard $9.99 tag that currently lasts until the 1st of September.
In very retro side-scrolling action it follows the events of THE GREAT WAR — a near eternal battle between the inhabitants of planet Thearsa CP-IX and the alien forces of the G’ell that ultimately establishes the tone and course of events that are to transpire within Starr Mazer.
En route, players are tasked with commanding a fleet of DSP Mk. I pilots that span humans, aliens and a dog over three Acts of bullet-packed, chiptune ridden levels that culminate in a showdown against the G’ell super-ship The Adamastor.
Given the game’s fascination for roguelike elements through it all though, the traditional lives/continue system of classic shooters is done away with to have players rely on soaring through the adventure in a singular play-through.
This is enabled by hoarding in-game currency called SK:Ore, that one must use to handpick a progressively advanced team of distinctly characterised pilots over multiple attempts.
While this escapade is meant to last an entirety of nine levels however, DSP’s Early Access arrives with only levels 1-3 of Act I fully furnished. Levels 4-6 of Act II do unlock there after, yet these are but rough previews of their final counterparts.
‘We have a very specific plan of what we want to do in the game that we will stick to’, addresses Kazuo Mayeda, Imagos’ community manager in relation to DSP’s Early Access development course.
‘We are taking player feedback into consideration though and will be making changes along the way with them in mind.’ PixelJam Games’ Steam announcement over the weekend further went on to affirm the same, with the developers promising to commence bug-fixing through the course of Monday, the 29th.
The best place to leave any and all game-play related feedback then is the game’s own Steam-based forums.
Moreover console and mobile releases for Starr Mazer: DSP — originally announced during the official declaration of Imagos’ partnership with publisher Playism — are still very much in the developers’ domain of interest;
although Mayeda states that it is a subject for after the roguelike SHMUP is fully past its current Windows, Mac & Linux supported Early Access stage.
Conceived as a passing feature for a scene in creator 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 game-play 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.
In 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.
Notably, those who helped back the original game on Kickstarter are being provided with a 50% discount on Starr Mazer: DSP via this rather explanatory coupon retrieval form.
‘Next up is PAX West, PAX Six and the Tokyo Game Show. All in September,’ Imagos’ calendar now reads. As always, returning fans and those entirely new to the Starr Mazer universe can catch up and tune in to progress via its Higher Eclectic Space.
Independent specialist of two-dimensional game assets and member of the Higher Eclectic network since February this year, Paul Evans, has joined hands with developers Secret Reality to aid in the production of their upcoming mod of Electronic Arts’ 2007 real-time strategy game Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars.
Titled Tiberium Secrets, the mod will see Evans playing the role of a Texture Artist within its team here from as he works towards the creation and manipulation of texture assets for various 3D models that are to populate its universe. The collaboration was initiated by Higher Eclectic Ground back in the month of June, when the network responded to Secret Reality’s job opening by introducing to it Evans’ portfolio of work.
The weeks thereafter involved an evaluation of his quality of style and compatibility by corresponding representatives, following which an agreement was finally signed between both parties last month.
‘I’m hoping to gain significant experience of how mods and games are put together,’ he states. ‘I will be thoroughly pleased when I finally see my textures come to life on a model within Tiberium Secrets.’
The Command & Conquer franchise was first conceived by Westwood Studios’ genre-defining real-time strategy game of the same name in the year of 1995.
Unfolding against a backdrop of resource gathering and base building, the saga centred itself on a global war between two playable international entities — the United Nations’ Global Defense Initiative and the militants of The Brotherhood of Nod — that witnessed them contend for control over a viral extra-terrestrial substance called Tiberium.
Greeted with widespread acclaim, the PC, PlayStation, N64 and Sega Saturn compatible game would quickly proliferate into a decade’s worth of game-based universes, their constituting sequels, prequels, spin-offs — among which has even been a first-person shooter — much after Electronic Arts’ acquisition of the Las Vegas, USA based studio in 1998.
This culminated in Victory Games’ first proposed instalment of what would have been a series of free-to-play games set within the Command & Conquer universe that only ended up being cancelled by Electronic Arts in the fall of 2013, causing the saga to descend into an as of yet unannounced future as a result.
And yet regardless it has continued to thrive by means of the vast array of community initiated modifications to its existing instalments, which Secret Reality now aims to add to by means of Tiberium Secrets.
Based within the Tiberium universe — the series of Command & Conquer games that constitute the plot established by the original — Tiberium Secrets is an ongoing partial conversion of Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars that attempts to create a parallel universe of lore, structure and game-play mechanics that will stand in conjunction, if not independent from that of the main game.
While Tiberium Wars dealt with the warring factions of the Global Defense Initiative, The Brotherhood of Nod and the extra-terrestrials of Scrin, Tiberium Secrets brings to the forefront a biological experiment of infectious beings known as The Colony,
artificial intelligence set on global dominance in the form of The Artificial Systematic Intelligence (ASI) and remnants of a shadowy division of the United States military called the Special Strategic Lunar Division (Dream 51).
With their inspirations lying in the cancelled Tiberium projects of Electronic Arts & Westwood Studios, each of these playable factions will also arrive supplemented with unique play-styles, new story-lines and aesthetics that strive to push the limits of both the game’s engine and its existing canon. It would be natural to assume then that the mod’s development team is composed of enthusiasts inherently reverent towards the franchise.
As Secret Reality divulge though this is not entirely the case — ‘Two-thirds of our team have consistently been made up of those who are new to, or who are returning to the franchise after some time’, they state.
‘Yet although the motivations of our individual members naturally vary, with most doing this for their respective portfolios, the core leadership strives to pose a possible future for the Tiberium universe, and potentially the franchise as a whole, which has had limited official support from Electronic Arts for some time.’
‘We strive for quality across the board, to honor this franchise that revolutionised and started the genre of Real time Strategy (RTS). We do this to show just how far passion projects can go, and how innovation can come from unexpected places.’
The team further differentiates itself from other Command & Conquer mods by emphasising its focus on designs and perspectives that are futuristic to the canon as opposed to being nostalgia driven.
Tiberium Secrets commenced development circa September 2010 at the hands of Seth Brown (ModDB persona Umbrella Secrets) who independently helmed the project’s coding and art departments up until the Summer of 2011. Joined by community veterans Eric Chou (GeneralJist) and Matt Ross (Fandore) that took the lead on administration and Art respectively thereafter, Brown would go onto develop plans and core structures for each of the new playable factions before departing from the project due to personal concerns by 2012.
Progress would stay at a tentative low for an astounding two years, before Chou would go on to recruit John Netzel (CommieDog) as the project’s Lead Coder in the month of November, 2014;
Given his experience working on successful Command & Conquer mods The Forgotten and All Stars previously, Netzel proved fundamental in restoring Tiberium Wars to full pace alongside Tim Cerny (CCH Audio) taking over Audio controls.
With Chou playing project coordinator/ producer, PR Lead and Lead Writer all at once while Ross functioned as Creative Director, work on the Artificial Systematic Intelligence faction’s SFX, animations, soundtrack and infantry has taken priority ever since, with help drawn from various independent professionals both within and outside the Command & Conquer community periodically.
Also noteworthy is the fact that feedback from said community continues to stay rampant; having garnered over 360,000 views, a standing of 121 among over 27,000 projects within 2015’s Mod of the Year awards and a regular ranking among the top with every progress update.
‘We are currently at the threshold for Closed Alpha’, the team now evaluates. ‘Our plans were to run through the phases of Closed Alpha in these coming months, and to be ready for open Alpha in time for mod of the year 2016, which typically begins in the end of November.’
‘Delays however are anticipated due to historic flooding in the state of Louisiana, where Mr. Ross resides. Threat assessment is in progress.’ Tiberium Secrets’ first release will consist of all functioning Artificial Systematic Intelligence structures, defences, SFX, soundtrack, along with the corresponding first portion of its written and audio canon for the parallel timeline.
The collaboration with Secret Reality is the first Higher Eclectic Ground has helped effect for its member Paul Evans, a Tipton, United Kingdom based artist with over four years of experience in varietal material and 2D texture creations.
Independently operating under the moniker of CraftyTextures and currently employed as a 2D artist at MACH 2 Simulations, Evans’ work process has concurrently been in the midst of a metamorphosis over the past couple of months —
— as he gradually transitions from a once predominantly Adobe Photoshop based approach to using Allegorithmic’s Substance Designer in his pursuit of realistic textures.
While the results of this along with all portfolio-relevant details continue to be documented on his Higher Eclectic Space, Evans’ forthcoming contributions to Tiberium Secrets and the mod’s overall progress per se can be kept track of by means of its ModDB page.
Details pertaining to various other openings currently available on the Secret Reality team are also present within the same.
Every year the interactive accelerator program of Global Top Round selects up to ten independently developed games to provide funding, development, exposure and publisher networking support via its nexus of industry professionals in return for equity and revenue shares.
Devoted to nurturing sustainable game studios, the entirety of the program is a five stage process that begins with the invitation of applications from America, Europe and Asia based indie games that are 60% of the way to completion with a functional demo.
Among those that partook in this year’s GTR application process back in May was Higher Eclectic Ground member Troglobytes Games, whose upcoming PC/Xbox One tale of Tenebrae: Twilight of The Gods successfully passed the program’s screening process to join nineteen other selectees for its next round at Cologne, Germany.
Spanning the 15th and 16th of August at the city’s Radisson Blue Hotel this year, said round is the Global Top Round Conference responsible for picking out ten of the twenty finalists that are to be fully supported by the program’s six-month Acceleration period wherein game development and launch support is provided. The top five graduates of this tenure will further receive investment and marketing support through the months of March-June, 2017.
Cologne will see Troglobytes Games pitch Tenebrae to a diverse group of professional attendees and developers, before being subjected to a hands-on and voting session responsible for determining the top ten. ‘This year has been about working towards a vertical slice of the game’, explains Troglobytes’ Lead Programmer Luciano Iurino.
‘Post that the plan involves looking for some way to complete Tenebrae given how it has been totally self-funded at this stage. A program like GTR sounded like just the thing we needed — not only for the chance to receive a slight amount of funding, but for all the other perks it offers.’
The Conference’s 20 invitees will be granted $40,000 USD with one grand prize winner garnering an additional $10,000 USD.
The last we’d heard of Tenebrae: Twilight of The Gods served to demonstrate the game’s 3D mechanics and AI in action circa April, the completion of the female lead’s design in May, before finally inviting Higher Eclectic Ground’s own Network of developers and artists to a closed test of the vertical slice’s controls in June. This test however is yet to take place, delayed primarily by various business and development subjects.
‘We had to shift focus towards certain aspects of the game — particularly the loot system and the combat mechanics,’ continues Iurino while also stating that the Vertical Slice is not far from completion.
‘We also had to do an almost total rewrite of the movement and control mechanics since after a bit of play-testing, we realised we weren’t entirely pleased with what we had.’
While Tenebrae now possesses smoother dungeon exploration as a result, one of the biggest conundrums currently consuming the team’s time is if the game’s loot system must derive from Diablo’s style of scattering treasure chest items for players to pick up as soon as they’re opened —
or trigger a pop-up interface à la Skyrim that lets players organise the items they need in favour of greater detail. ‘That and the AI is what we’ll be working on over the next couple of weeks,’ Iurino confirms.
‘We hope to exhibit all of these features as part of an advanced demo at the GTR conference while the Vertical Slice will arrive in September.’ The Slice will also consist of a portion of the game’s introductory motion-comic that the team alludes will debut somewhere around this weekend; marking the first time a glimpse of Tenebrae’s narrative style is offered.
The Higher Eclectic Ground exclusive Controls Test meanwhile is now scheduled for mid-August post the conference at Cologne, and will let participants test a portion of the game that is closer to its final build. In the interim, which of Diablo and Skyrim’s style of user interfaces would you rather be associated with Tenebrae’s direction of gameplay? Troglobytes Games are listening; be sure to leave your feedback in the comments below.
Troglobytes Games’ PC/XBoxOne oriented Tenebrae: Twilight of The Gods is a 3D dungeon crawling, Metroidvania tale of two warriors forced to confront and unravel the mysteries of the underworld. Learn more at the game’s Higher Eclectic Space.
From the 6th till the 20th of May ran this year’s Adventure Jam, a Cassie Benter & Stacy Davidson co-organized GameJam that invited avid game developers to create and showcase their best adventure themed creations on popular game sharing platform, GameJolt.
Its extended voting period, one that lasted between the 20th of May and the 1st of July, brought news earlier today that Luminy Studios’ submission of The Mystic Journey of Atriom secured an overall ranking of 36 amid 163 other adventure game entries. Contributing to this grade is its ranking of 14 within the Best Visuals category and that of 15 within the Best Music Category.
The game’s Best Music ranking bears special relevance to Higher Eclectic Ground by means of Network member Sam Oz; a France based musician proficient in a multitude of classical and modern genres, who had helmed the original soundtrack for the game under the request of its developer and friend Juanjo Barcelo Molina. Oz had first introduced the Network to The Mystic Journey on the 1st of June, wherein he described how the onus of developing up to three tracks, each of three variations, within a span of but a single week was picked up by him.
In doing so he debuted the game’s Main Menu theme on his Network Space — followed by variations of its gameplay and ending music on the 19th and 28th of June respectively — also describing their significance and his frustrations with them in the process. ‘As I was leaving on vacation at the time, I had to compose The Mystic Journey’s music without knowing anything about the game; I just knew it had to be Fantasy themed — I think it turned out satisfactory’, he had mentioned in conversation with Higher Eclectic Ground during the same time.
The Mystic Journey of Atriom fosters exploration and spirituality as its primary themes, narrating the tale of a young boy whose tribe demands that maturity be achieved only by making a Sacred journey to reconcile one’s soul with that of the Great Spirit. To this end, players are tasked with exploring the Sacred Forest in search of 10 Sacred Stones as the young boy — Atriom — amid inherent features such as hand-painted environments and day/night cycles.
‘I’m very happy with the result because is my first game with this aesthetics (handpainted textures), for me this JAM has been an experiment with a happy end!’, stated developer Molina who operates under the Luminy Studios moniker, when reached out to earlier today. ‘Working with Sam Oz has been a real pleasure, in one week he was able to create several themes perfectly synchronized with the history and atmosphere of the game; Sam is a great professional and a person with a lot of talent!’
In announcement of the rankings on The Mystic Journey’s GameJolt page however, Molina revealed that the game would unfortunately never be built upon due to him losing the game’s Unity files to hardware issues. ‘The only thing I can do is start over, but now I’m too immersed in important projects and do not have enough time to start from scratch’, he wrote. The game’s soundtrack meanwhile survives on both Oz’s YouTube channel and his Bandcamp, where from the entire album can be bought for a customer stated fee.
A member since February this year, musician Sam Oz has had the trailers of popular titles such as Valiant Hearts, Child of Light and The Division listed on his portfolio as an original music composer for Ubisoft. The years after his parting from the game development/publishing giant circa 2013 have seen him devote his energy towards conjuring the soundtracks of several independent game projects (Gadan Games’ My Last Friday, Simon Mesnard’s The Black Cube), when not devoting time to his ongoing musical tribute to Studio Ghibli and other personal ventures that is.
Adept at both traditional and computer based instruments, he continues to promote his independent services as a musician of extremely flexible rates via the Higher Eclectic Network, while also being open to revenue share agreements provided a game piques his interest. One can freely observe a brief portfolio of his work thus far, his contributions to Atriom’s OST and even get in touch with him at any instance of time with their own commissions via his Higher Eclectic Space.
Don’t forget to download and play The Mystic Journey of Atriom only via GameJolt.