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State of Wonder Alpha Now Available As Print & Play Decks, Tabletop Simulator Mod

Brandon Crampton, News, Press Releases

Following its 28th May, 2017 launch on itch.iothe publicly playable pre-alpha of skill-based card game, State of Wonder, went on to debut at this year’s Gotland Game Conference for a round of play-testing. Bugs aside, the majority of player feedback stood against the game’s lack of UI Design and Feedback Systems despite being generally well-received.

Production issues encountered in the following months however led now-sole developer of the game, Emelie Rodin, to indefinitely push back the game’s digital release that was originally estimated for 2018.

‘Right now the game has no planned digital alpha again, but there are things being worked upon that will be disclosed in due time,’ she writes.

Consequently all focus has shifted towards development of a physical, tabletop version of State of Wonder, that can now be experienced for free by means of two print and play decks alongside a mod of Berserk Games’ 2015 Tabletop Simulator.

‘Currently we are in an alpha environment, trying to get as much testing done on the elements planned for the launch of the game’s physical version, simply called State of Wonder, as well as planning ahead for the expansions to come.’ continue Rodin.

The Mechanics and game-play components have fallen into place, mostly with card design and art being the biggest problems as of now. ‘

 

Rodin’s goals currently involve fostering a community of players willing to download and try the print & play decks with friends/family, engage in tournaments over the Tabletop Simulator mod, discuss the game’s existing rules designs and shaping development of physical/digital versions via one-on-one feedback therefrom.

Originally a student project helmed by a team of five at Sweden’s Uppsala University circa August, 2016, State of Wonder is a turn-based card game that tasks two-or-more players with competitively expanding their empires through the war-ravaged Kingdom of Scathia.

Following the Queen’s demise, alliances are formed and otherworldly powers are sought between the Kingdom’s various feudal regions in a desperate push for power.

Players choose from one of three such alliances to align with — The Crux Militem, Frifolk and Ritualists —  whose weaknesses and strengths they must then exploit to establish dominance over the land.

This may be achieved via simple military might, training powerful Unit and Hero cards, establishing Fortification and Building cards, strategically working towards constructing a Majestic Wonder.

State of Wonder further does away with all traditionally randomized elements such as that of drawing cards, granting players full control of their decks to rely on decisions, bluffs and planning instead as means for victory.

Each game begins with the entire deck in hand, that players take turns producing and training over Start, Main, War, Battle, Retrieval and End phases. The player that wins is usually the last one standing, or one that reaches a set value on the progression counter before the other; as such then, all that’s required to play State of Wonder’s current tabletop build is a bunch of dice, 7 counters to track progression with (paperclips, beads, etc.), at least one other person and two card decks.

Readers might recall that as current manager and representative of South African freelance multimedia artist, Brandon Crampton‘s services, I’d connected him with Rodin and her team-mate at the time, Simon Lundgren, preceding the game’s pre-alpha launch.

Crampton went on to create various graphic assets for State of Wonder’s play area, user interface, card faces and backgrounds before taking a brief break through the months of June and July.

‘The art style I’ve implemented has personally been influenced by Blizzard’s Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering; as both have amazing top-notch artwork, I figured it would be something to aim for.’  stated the artist then, who has yearned to expand his digital art talent into card-based game design ever since commencing his freelance career.

Since August, this year, production resumed with Crampton at the helm of State of Wonder’s graphic design, who continues to develop various card illustrations and relevant visual necessities ever since.

While a few of these designs are seen through the course of this article, perhaps a more comprehensive look at the game and its imagery can be obtained via State of Wonder’s re-designed website.

In keeping with her renewed focus on community development, the website sees developer Emelie Rodin now maintain a regular developer log, a comprehensive breakdown of State of Wonder’s universe, alongside a detailed downloadable rulebook for those exploring the card game for the first time.

Once familiar with the rules, either jump in to the physical alpha with a friend by printing the Crux Militem and Ritualist decks from the website for free, or by downloading the Tabletop Simulator Mod from Steam.

To interact with the developer, discover other play-testers, provide feedback and get involved in State of Wonder, a dedicated Discord Channel is also in effect.

With Brandon Crampton continuing to work on State of Wonder, expect to hear a lot more from the card game’s development progress and milestones.

Alternatively, you may also sign-up for e-mail updates on Crampton’s profile here on Higher Eclectic Ground, that also houses a detailed breakdown of his portfolio of work, professional history, experience, references and a contact form to connect.

Will you be trying State of Wonder? Let me know why/why not in the comments below.

Daath Origins, Sci-Fi Space Opera Out Now on Steam Early Access

Daath Origins, News, Press Releases

Developed by Black Lodge Games LLC. and set over a millennium in the future, Daath Origins is an open world, space RPG that places humanity under the clutches of a totalitarian alien rule.

Players find themselves as the captain of an Earth-life sustaining star-ship, with over a million souls that have escaped to forge a path of their own among the stars.

With a massive 36-sector galaxy, 500 handcrafted planets, over 75 playable quests and seemingly infinite strange encounters with spatial anomalies, black holes, criminals and perhaps, enforcers of the Draconian rule themselves to explore –

  • Daath Origins’ game-play uniquely combines turn-based elements of the SNES-era with RPG mechanics and enhancements of its own,
  • Leaves decision-making to the player, letting them choose between incurring the wrath of the crew or the secret rewards of the multiverse.
  • Requires you to be an actual Captain; choose to promote crew members, foster Away Teams to send on missions, align the remnants to intergalactic factions, mine resources, collect items or recharge at space stations when away from battle.
  • Will also arrive in a special physical Collector’s Edition handcrafted by the developer, including a DVD-ROM of the game, Box, Map, Manual, a 31-track, 2 CD OST and a figurine of the player’s star-ship.

With sole developer Jeff Quindlen, a 33-year old science-fiction loving father/programmer at its helm, Daath Origins is in fact feature-complete and was originally set for a full-release via Steam Direct.

‘However this is a huge open-world RPG, created by one person, and beta tested with only a limited number of users. There are stability and ease-of-life issues that I need players’ help and feedback to properly solve. ’ explains Black Lodge Games LLC.’s founder and developer Quindlen.

‘I am open to feedback during Early Access, which may resulting in adding, tweaking, or otherwise altering features or gameplay.  It would be irresponsible to release this game in this state without a fully implemented beta period, and so Early Access seems like the perfect way to allow players to experience the content early, while allowing me to collect the necessary feedback I need to refine the release candidate.’

Consequently each of the space opera’s 100 Collector’s Edition discs will go on sale only once stability is no longer an issue, and all actionable feedback has been duly implemented.

Daath Origins is available now on Steam Early Access at a discounted price of $8.99 USD, playable on operating systems running Windows XP or higher. To follow the game, avail of a complete overview of its features and system requirements, please visit its Steam page.

To request a review copy, schedule an interview with Black Lodge Games LLC. or any other media/PR enquiries, please contact Sean Braganza at sean.b@highereg.com. Images, game-play videos, the complete soundtrack and social media profiles relevant to Daath Origins can be found here on Higher Eclectic Ground.

About Black Lodge Games LLC.

Formed July 3rd, 2015, and based out of Spokane, WA, USA, Black Lodge Games LLC. is owned, managed and operated by J. Allen Quindlen, a lifelong computer programmer and game developer.

With a vision to inspire game players across the world through immersion in fun, diverse, artistic, and philosophically driven role playing game franchises, Daath Origins is Black Lodge’s flagship title.

Quindlen’s goals also involve expanding into other areas of interactive entertainment, with his second project, an open world RPG by the name of Arcana Kira, Greenlit on Steam as of 2015 and currently in development.

Introducing TinyWars’ Tower Builder & Inventory System

Press Releases, TinyWars

The month of June, 2017, witnessed the successful implementation of TinyWars’ Tower Builder and Inventory systems.

Both were previewed in the form of screenshots earlier last month, with Lead Developer Andrew Taraba illustrating how their interfaces were demonstrative of various ongoing improvements to the game’s HUD.

In the short video above, the player is first seen presented with the Tower Builder screen that provides a brief overview  of the tower defense level that lies ahead while allowing time for mission-prep.

The function of the Builder is to have players develop and customise a tower. As Taraba explains —

‘Objectives of TinyWars’ tower defense levels may involve preventing enemy units from travelling beyond a certain point, attacking a village and so forth. The tower players erect will serve as a road-block.’

Each tower is made of three aspects — the Main Body, the Accessory and Bottom. Clicking on any of the three item slot boxes next to the tower preview will bring up the Item Selection menu.

‘This Inventory screen displays all the current items the player has unlocked. Selecting the items will bring up their name and description.’ continues Taraba.

‘Each item has a shield icon next to it which displays its Shield Count: this adds to the total HP that the player will have with their tower configuration. As expected, higher HP items might not have as many perks as items with lower HP levels. Pick your strategy wisely!’

Once deployed via the ‘Fight’ button, the customised tower then plays into the ‘tower defense’ aspect of TinyWars by tasking players with strategically placing units to defend it from incoming enemy attack.

Furthermore the Inventory System is not just for tower accessories; items acquired by the player during the RPG/Quests portion of TinyWars can be brought onto the battlefield and deployed in various ways, from having more spots to place your units to dropping bombs on enemies.

Of course as announced in June, part of TinyWars’ ongoing development involves redefining the in-game graphics and visuals to have it stand apart from the existing prototype.

The team is now close to finalising an art style for the game and expects to do so by the end of July, with various samples of the first level’s design seen below.

T-shirt designs featuring Ayasal’s official artwork for the game are also being considered, with Bizurk currently inviting sign-ups from interested followers of the game here.

TinyWars’ Story Demo is due for a release later this year, and will be a vertical slice of the full TinyWars experience consisting of three of the main game’s levels.

Those wishing to get their hands on a free tech-prototype of the game’s tower defence element meanwhile, can download the same for Windows PC and Android via the Downloads section of the game’s website.


To ensure you’re up to date with the latest progress  updates, subscribe to E-mail updates via the sidebar on TinyWars’ 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 sean.b@highereg.com


About TinyWars

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 the end of 2017. Comprising of a portion of TinyWars’ soundtrack and early concept art meanwhile, a pre-gameplay demo is now also available for download.

Twitter | Website |  Soundcloud | Facebook | Wiki | YouTube | PR Contact – Andrew Taraba – tinywarsgame@gmail.com

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.

Website

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.

Website | Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Press Room

Exploring TinyWars’ Live World Concept, Improved User Interface & Game World Graphics

Press Releases, TinyWars

Bizurk Software concludes another month of TinyWars’ development by further expounding its Expanded Gameplay Model.

The current build of TinyWars now features a functional Overworld page; functioning as an in-game dashboard, the Overworld provides a visual representation of player progress.

Current build of The Overworld.

It was announced in April that said Gameplay Model would seek to blend various quest-based mechanics with tower defence gameplay, with players being granted the ability to complete both mandatory and optional quests to further the game’s tower-defence narrative.

Zooming-in on The Stump Village area.

‘As the player progresses through the game, more and more pieces of the map will become colored,’ explains Lead Developer, Andrew Taraba. ‘Each area will contain its own story and characters; players who take their time to visit the optional areas on the map will most likely be rewarded well for their time and unlock certain items which might make beating the main tower defence missions easier.’

Zooming-in and selecting a particular area on the Overworld map yields various elements within that area — buildings, foliage and other populace — clicking on which takes players to a ‘Live’ world.

A concept of the ‘Live’ Stump Area.

The Live world is a responsive version of the selected area, featuring various characters and elements that players can interact with, shops from which items can be purchased/sold, acquire/maintain properties within and even earn in-game currency via side quests.

‘This portion has not been fully developed yet, and it will actually be developed a little later in the development pipeline, ‘ continues Taraba. ‘After we finalise and refine the gameplay a little further, that is. But this is a feature in the game which we are very excited for!’

With regards to which, updates to the game’s various visual/GUI elements are now in effect. These include a new and improved notification system that aims to reduce cognitive load, as opposed to speech bubbles that exist within the current prototype.

Existing speech bubbles on the TinyWars prototype.
 

All notifications are set to appear in a distinct section at the top of the in-game HUD, which although providing the same information as the prototype HUD, now has a cleaner and more minimalistic feel.

The new notification system that attempts to reduce cognitive overload.

The improved HUD design further incorporates player feedback procured from the prototype, implementations of which can be seen in new pre-Battle screen and inventory designs below.

The older version of the HUD found on the TinyWars prototype.

Pre-Battle Screen that lets players pick power-up’s and items they’d like to take into battle.

Inventory Screen. Switch between different inventory types using the side tabs while a smaller display describes selected items.

The team is also working on various revisions for the game’s graphical style, hoping to implement them in code by the end of the month.

A quick concept that experiments with a slightly altered in-game graphical style.

Finally designs for a new enemy character, concepts of which were previously previewed on social media, were completed by artist Litchipix during the course of May.

Rose.

‘Rose is not our friend; she’s capable of using her forbidden magic to control thorny bushes and plants.’ describes the development team.

‘This will hopefully make for an interesting battle and we do intend to throw the player immediately into the fray with the characters, story, and some big battles in the limited content we have to show off in this new Story Demo! We hope you’re excited for it.’

Due for a release later this year, the Story Demo will be a vertical slice of the full TinyWars experience. Those wishing to get their hands on a free tech-prototype of the game’s tower defence element meanwhile, can download the same for Windows PC and Android via the Downloads section of the game’s website.

 


To ensure you’re up to date with the latest development milestones in relation to TinyWars, 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 sean.b@highereg.com


About TinyWars

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 the end of 2017. Comprising of a portion of TinyWars’ soundtrack and early concept art meanwhile, a pre-gameplay demo is now also available for download.

Twitter | Website |  Soundcloud | Facebook | Wiki | YouTube | PR Contact – Andrew Taraba – tinywarsgame@gmail.com

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.

Website

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.

Website | Google+ | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Press Room

State of Wonder Pre-Alpha Trailer Out Now, Art Assets In-Development By Brandon Crampton

Brandon Crampton, News, Press Releases

The two-man game development studio of Better Built Studios has unveiled a first look at its upcoming multiplayer strategic card game, State of Wonder, by means of a special cinematic trailer. Featuring in-game art developed by Higher Eclectic Ground affiliated 2D/3D artist Brandon Crampton, the trailer serves to set the tone for the game’s upcoming pre-alpha that followers will be able to get their hands on Sunday, the 28th of this week.

Originally a student project helmed by a team of five at Sweden’s Uppsala University circa August, 2016, State of Wonder tasks two-or-more players with competitively expanding their empires in a period of post-apocalyptic war and strife.

As the ruler of a city state driven towards expansion of their empire, one must claim dominance over what’s left of the land — waging war against enemy states, building trade economies, bluffing and implementing political tactics to ensure supremacy.

Facilitating all of this is a system of uniquely designed card mechanics, that enables players to train powerful unit cards, build mighty fortifications and send out heroes on their enemies in a race where the only means to achieve victory is by constructing a majestic Wonder.

State of Wonder does away with all traditionally randomised elements such as that of drawing cards or rolling dice, encouraging players to employ a plethora of tactics — from going head-on against aggressive conquerors to constructing superior defence systems that none can oppose.

‘It’s not an easy task,’ states the development team, ‘for the leader to first build a Wonder is sure to be attacked.’ Much of these tactics, mechanics and other elements of the in-game setting are not only previewed in the aforementioned trailer, but will be publicly playable in their pre-alpha form at 13:00 GMT +1, on the 28th of May, 2017, on itch.io.

With a functional game-play system, the pre-alpha will also serve to fuel the development and implementation of others such as in-game account, chat and friends systems, improved menu experiences, card-acquiring methodologies and a shop for added card purchases.

These improvements, along with a greater number of playable card designs, are intended for the beta version that currently sits with an estimated release of Summer, 2017.

Expansions, ranked and tournament play modes are to follow, all en route to a potential 2018 release of the full game on the Steam marketplace. A physical table-top version is also being actively considered, with plans to expand currently dependent on player interest.

As a freelance artist hired by the development duo of Emelie Rodin and Simon Lundgren, Brandon Crampton’s role for the past month has been that of developing various graphic assets for State of Wonder’s play area, user interface, card faces and backgrounds, several of which are seen displayed through the course of this announcement and the entirety of the pre-alpha trailer.

‘The art style I’ve implemented has personally been influenced by Blizzard’s Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering; as both have amazing top-notch artwork, I figured it would be something to aim for.’  recalls Crampton, who has yearned to expand his digital art talent into card-based game design since commencing his freelance career.

‘Putting everything I had into it while having fun, I’ve set out to create aesthetically well-rounded artwork that I hope will leave players going “Oh wow, that is indeed awesome.”‘ More of Crampton’s creations from the forthcoming months are to subsequently make their way into the beta and eventual full-release.

‘State of Wonder began with the original team conducting a survey on random elements in card games in 2016, and discussing how a fun, entertaining card game could be built without random elements.‘ explains Rodin.

 

‘Early production heavily relied on this survey before designs of the card game were established, with an early paper prototype further made available at local conventions. The game was very well received with many returning to play it; local tournaments were also held.’

Despite the game’s development and three of the team’s early members falling by the wayside in the early months of 2017 however, Rodin and Lundgren have pushed forward to transform State of Wonder into a full-fledged game project with focus appropriately shifted towards its marketing, business and public release. ‘Our goal is to build interesting game systems, where the player is challenged to think and work within these systems to accomplish their goals.’ 

To this end, Rodin plays the Studio’s Lead designer, Marketer, Technical Artist and Project Leader, employing her love for analytics, years of experience crafting role-playing and board games for local youth communities since the age of 16 (inclusive of two Gotland Game Conference attendances), along with  the academic study of Game Design in her arsenal.

Lundgren on the other hand functions as Lead Programmer and Designer as he constructs State of Wonder’s digital systems, bringing to the table his fascination for the mechanics involved in the MMO, MOBA and RTS genres, as well as programming expertise that dates back to high school.

‘We at BetterBuilt Studios couldn’t hope for a better person to work with,’ they write. ‘Brandon has exceeded our expectations with both the speed and quality of his work. He is good at both — discussing concepts and understanding instructions, but can also be given free rein to create artwork based only on thematic instructions.’

This is the fourth collaboration Higher Eclectic Ground has succeeded in effecting for Brandon Crampton, a South African freelance video game artist that has been affiliated to the network since 2016. Previous contracts have included avatar work for YouTube/Twitch streamers Evanzo7 and Potshotpete, as well as the complete design, texturing and rigging of a playable character for Two Piece Games’ upcoming 3D-platform fighting game, Melee Masters.

 

While associated professional details, a broader view of his portfolio and bio-data lays centralised on his Space, Higher Eclectic Ground will continue to broadcast various milestones and development related achievements pertinent to State of Wonder with regards to the artist’s contributions henceforth.

Those wishing to interact with the team of Better Built Studios on a first-hand basis, follow the game’s progress more closely or prepare for the upcoming pre-alpha meanwhile, may do so via its Website, Facebook and/or Twitter pages.

A dedicated group for those wishing for a more nuanced involvement in State of Wonder’s development can also be found on Facebook, while announcements linking to the pre-alpha’s itch.io page will be put up across each medium on or before the weekend.

Carried Away Now On Steam Greenlight; Launch Trailer Features Music By Alfredo Sirica

Alfredo Sirica, News, Press Releases

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.

Are We In This Together? Choice-Making RPG In Production, Antonio d’Amore Helms UI/UX Art

Antonio d'Amore, News, Press Releases

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.

 

Ummagumma Games Unveils The Worldmap Prototype For Abadon: Guardians Rise

Abadon, Press Releases

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.

 ‘We’ve also gone through multiple iterations of the City Level because we can’t seem to get something that we like. ‘ Bowser admits. ‘Since then, there has been a lot of bug fixing, testing, and working on the Worldmap. The Worldmap, being its own game essentially, has taken up most of the development time in order to lay the foundation to build the rest of it upon. We’ve also been designing new characters and how they will be playing.’

 

Abadon: Guardians Rise will as a result not be making its planned demo release period of Q1 2017 but has instead been postponed to an unannounced date. ‘Work continues regardless.’ the development duo assures. ‘If we’re not developing, we’re designing, if we’re not designing, we’re brainstorming, if we’re not brainstorming, we’re developing.’

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 sean.b@highereg.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.

Higher Eclectic Space

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.

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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.

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NTK Gaming, The Zombie Chimp Announce RAM BOE Giveaway Winners

News, Press Releases, RAM BOE

Both Need To Know Gaming and The Zombie Chimp‘s hosted giveaways of Point Five Team’s 2016 indie puzzle, RAM BOE,  attained closure on the 17th of this week with the winning entries being picked by each outlet as so —

The Zombie Chimp has randomly pulled out Shawn Oliver, Admir Brkic and Brandon Taylor’s names as winners.

While Kelly Jo Francisco, Donna Kozar and Tracy Shafer lead Need To Know Gaming‘s vast pack of entries. Felicitations to all!

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.

Story Quests To Tie-in With TinyWars’ Expanded Gameplay Model

Press Releases, TinyWars

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 updated mock-up of The Worldmap in development.

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 sean.b@highereg.com


About TinyWars

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.

Twitter | Website |  Soundcloud | Facebook | Wiki | YouTube | PR Contact – Andrew Taraba – tinywarsgame@gmail.com

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.

Website

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.

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