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RAM BOE: The Giveaway | Complete

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Giveaway Complete.

Starting today till the 23rd of February, 2015 — community members & indie game developers, Poinfive Team, will be making available three copies of the Android version of their indie puzzle game, RAM BOE.

 

Originally conceived as an entry into the 2015 Indie Game Maker Contest by Pointfive Team, RAM BOE is the retro puzzle, Sokoban, inspired narrative of one Beauregard Pete — a rock climbing, tree hugging adventurer who decided to spend one weekend attempting to slay the Ice Demon that terrorized the very mountain tops he so loved. Unfortunately, neither his wit nor strength were any match for Mr. Icey — leading to his soul being trapped in a rune stone for the rest of his life.

Or so he thought; managing to free his soul and possess a passing Ram. With four hooves, two horns, plenty of fur and lots of cuddly — what ensues is 40 levels of brain-squashing puzzles that will involve him moving blocks around and into a ‘well of revival’,  in order to free himself and save others that might fall victim to the same fate. While the Android version of the game was released earlier this month at the break of New Year, the PC version of the game has been sitting for quite a while in its completed state on Steam Greenlight.

This is where you come in. For the next 21 days, Pointfive team is inviting Community members & puzzle game enthusiasts alike — to head down to RAM BOE’s Steam Greenlight page linked at the end of this announcement and simply provide Feedback on the game via the Greenlight page’s comments.

On the 24th of February, Pointfive will then enter the names of all those who commented into a draw — before randomly picking three winners, each of whom will win a copy of RAM BOE for their Android devices.  The winners will be announced by the team on both theirs and Higher Eclectic Ground’s Facebook pages.

In the months since their membership within the Community, Pointfive have been it the Community exclusive insight into RAM BOE’s inception and growth. To catch all that and learn more about the game before opting to vote or provide feedback, be sure to drop by its Higher Eclectic Space. 

 

 
 

 

RAM BOE follows a rock-climbing, tree-hugging adventurer turned RAM on his quest to liberate lost souls over 40 levels…

Posted by Pointfive Team on Tuesday, January 12, 2016

BSRTC PRO Series Biography Now Available on Sim Racer

BSRTC PRO Series, News

Released on the 25th of this month, Sim Racer Magazine‘s first issue of the year now features an elaborate, never-seen-before biography of the British Sim Racers & their increasingly popular, BSRTC PRO Series Touring Car Championship on IRacing — as written by us at Higher Eclectic Ground back in October, 2015.

This biography of course, arrives exactly a week after BSR made one of its grandest announcements in the midst of its on-going Winter Series’ race at Silverstone last week — IRacing has picked up the official title sponsorship of the upcoming, tenth season of the BSRTC PRO Series scheduled to launch later in March this year. This is in addition the the Series’ being granted 45 episodes on Motors TV International, with 2 repeats each,  garnering it 130 hours of International Television time for the upcoming season.


 

Founded in 2013 by IRacing enthusiasts Kip Stephens and Steve Richardson, the BSRTC PRO Series became the simulation racing service’s first user-created, professional-grade Touring Car championship to grace the households of real-world motorsport fans via Motors TV  last year. The television broadcasts arrived halfway through the Series’ ninth season — one that for the first time, featured 50 talent sim-racers & 11 teams compete for a slice from a $10,000 prize pot.

Higher Eclectic Ground’s affiliation with the Series began in October of the same year via a mutual acquaintance — long time BSR member Tristan Boddice Ratsnacker — with us constructing an inside look at the BSRTC PRO Series’ rise from a falling out with Pitlanes.com‘s founders within IRacing’s UK & Ireland community, to what is now clearly a true-to-life Video Game experience vouched by the likes of real world racers such as BTCC Team BMR’s 2015 Clio Cup UK Champion Ash Sutton and Simpit legend Shaun Cole.

This affiliation quickly grew into a partnership, with us not only delivering exclusive weekly race reports to the sim-racing community but also for the first time in independent video game history — offering our member independent game developers & talent the opportunity to uniquely advertise their creations during the races’ Apex Racing TV live streams & television broadcasts.

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A preview of the Sim Racer Magazine issue.

Now as the Series gears up for its largest, most eventful Season yet — Higher Eclectic Ground continues to work with the Series, as it has been for last few months, to help turn it into a more widely recognized, mainstream Video Game event that transcends sim-racing barriers. All of this of course, in recognition of the Series’ potential as a platform for independent Video Game talent.

Stay tuned for announcements & more on the same as we head into February. Till then, if you’ve picked up an issue of Sim Racer Magazine’s latest issue via their portal and read our biography of the Series — be sure to let us know how you enjoyed it. To learn more of the BSRTC PRO Series, catch last season’s races & our coverage on the same, feel free to drop by their Partners’ page.

Starr Mazer Still Cooking; Prequel DSP First Look

Features

22nd January, 2016. Exactly a year has passed since Imagos Softworks, the extraordinarily retro-obssessed pizza-eating ensemble led by movie writer & director Don Thacker, took to Kickstarter to pitch what they called Starr Mazer;  a point & click, shoot ’em up classic of their own, replete with the art, music, action, fun and a storyline reminiscent of the retro games they seemed to have grown up on and yet infused with modern-day gameplay standards. ‘Nostalgia in HD’, as they called it.

Retro-obsessed would be an understatement, given that a quick look at their Kickstarter page today would light up a dark room like a bonfire — with all its glorious, flashing pixelated art; The campaign was a success, amassing nearly $194,000 on its $160,000 goal at its end, leading the team to retreat into a brief period of founding development, before pulling the cloth off an intriguing little pre-alpha build at PAX Prime while announcing a Spring 2016 release.

 

 

By the end of September — they were here on the Ground, marking the first time us or anyone on the Community on the matter had had their tops blown off by the pompadour wielding Brick M.(Metal) Stonewood; an ancient mercenary who, after having been found drifting aimlessly in sleep-lock as a direct consequence of his participation in THE GREAT WAR as a DSP Mk.II pilot,  is revived with absolutely no memory or recollection of his past. The very same Stonewood who, equipped with nothing but his trusty ceramic-steel Starr Wolf airship, a blaster and a few packets of cigarettes, sets out on a brutal 1980’s shoot ’em up outing blended seamlessly into a point n’ click world, to uncover his past.

The weeks after saw the team bring us more — insight into the game’s Open-Middled game-play that brings unpredictability to the various story modules resulting in multiple endings, insight into innovative new software being created for the game’s development, competitions, music & a barrage of weekly Twitch streams.  Out of nowhere, a prequel named Starr Mazer: DSP was announced — developed by PixelJam Games in association with Imagos and scheduled for a pre-Starr Mazer release. As concept art continued to take shape away from the limelight and the wikis fleshed, the team momentarily broke from the usual hubbub to push out the offbeat interactive media experience, ‘Melissa: A Game of Choice’ for Ludum Dare 34.

 

 

A few more snippets from events, a bit more art and as of yesterday, a Synthwave infected game-play preview that stood to depict vast difference from the original pre-alpha prototype from 4 months ago. Soon after though, Imagos Community Manager Kazuo Mayeda got in touch with more; not only was a preview of DSP ready to go live, but also Starr Mazer’s release had been pushed back to Q3/Q4 of this year.

What? Why? ‘Well’, stated he, ‘This turkey needs a little more time to cook before it is perfect.’ As we drafted an announcement on said Turkey, we watched the same go live on the game’s Kickstarter page and elsewhere; safe to say, with so much happening in conjunction with Starr, a few even seemed perplexed on hearing the word ‘prequel’.

Admittedly, the Community here at Higher Eclectic Ground would have shared much of the same perplexity had we put up the announcement of the delay with first-look GIF’s from the prequel DSP. You see much as Community posts raved about the game, much as members or any occasional visitor on either of the Ground’s social media pages liked, shared or ogled at a game-play snippet here or an image there — we could tell a large part of them were largely disconnected from what was really going on with Mazer.

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 Which we believed was far, far less than it rightfully deserved; hence is why the primary half of this article has served to bring members up to speed with everything Starr Mazer from the dawn of time (Almost. Nearly. Yet sufficient) — before an onslaught of all that is currently happening and in store for Mr. Stonewood over the course of this year was brought on.

And so, the delay. What goes on in the interim? Ardent followers of the game on the Community might recall an uber-cool GIF posted around about the 30th of December (seen above), that put on display the remodelling of one of the game’s prominent bosses — a space-trash eating, asteroid mining…thing called the Scutbot. Readers might also remember the remodelling being attributed to Kirk Barnett, who was in fact the team’s newest addition brought in to assist Art Director Maximo Lorenzo.

Barnett will now be assisting Lorenzo — who himself has spent the latter part of last year developing concept art for various aspects of the Starr Mazer world and populace. Kirk’s current role of course, involves fleshing out several of those pieces of concept art into living, breathing, pixel animations. Furthermore, besides working on the newly iterated UI Design, reactive portraits and enemy turrets that were showcased in yesterday’s gameplay snippet, Lead Developer Auston Montville will be fleshing out the Shoot ‘Em Up tools portion of his very own Mazer Maker.

The Mazer Maker, previewed within the Ground on the 31st of October, is a Mario Maker inspired game creation and publishing tool in development for Starr Mazer’s developers and writers, that allows them to create and modify their own levels within the game via a simple drag and drop interface. While last year saw Montville add elements to the Maker that would simplify the development of the game’s PNC portion, tools for the SHMUP portion are currently being added in at full steam.

 

In conversation, the team admits that the main reason behind Starr Mazer’s incurred delay is in fact the Mazer Maker’s progressive development; what began as but an idea to aid the team’s progress has now turned into a full-fledged tool crucial to the game’s development. Without the Mazer Maker up and running in full force, development stalls — which is where Starr Mazer: DSP, the prequel comes in.

As illustrated by Don Thacker in December , while the core of Starr Mazer developed over the earlier half of last year — the team’s game-play programmer Miles Tillman of Pixeljam Games had very little to do and loads of spare time, which he put to use by creating a whole new shooter using Starr Mazer’s assets. One thing led to another and before anyone knew it, the team were calling it Starr Mazer’s prequel — DSP.

 

Set to release earlier than Starr Mazer for the PC, Mac, Linux and mobile devices, the prequel will put players in the shoes of DSP Mk.I pilots — from the generation that preceded the likes of Stonewood — in the midst of THE GREAT WAR. ‘Players will play as many pilots this time around’, explains Mayeda. ‘Each with their own set of skills.’

Said pilots will generate dynamically — each harnessing what is known as DSP Core, a technology that apparently allows mismatched equipment to work together (read custom tuned space-ships) — as they attempt to survive and withstand the enemy long enough for their partners to make it through. While Thacker directs the entire course of the prequel, Imagos musician Alex Mauer will toil to put into effect a heavy Synthwave/Outrun based soundtrack with Lorenzo shelling out Art herein as well.

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DSP Preview – A bullet eating high recoil laser weapon.

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 DSP Preview – A more devastating spread and a shot of the temporal slow down

 

As Starr Mazer now makes its way to PC Gamer’s list of 2016’s upcoming SHMUP’s then, rest assured, a more playable version of the Prequel is to take form soon. As always, to keep track of everything happening with Starr Mazer within and beyond the Community — its Higher Eclectic Space is the place to be.

Update: A week after this article, the team released a ‘January Update’ trailer putting on show for the first time, Starr Mazer’s progress from over 2015 along with a preview of DSP. Catch the trailer & its details down below.

 


 

 

Insane Decay Of Mind: The Sound Of Silence – A Trip Through Act I.

Features

‘Katherine – Katherine – Are you alive? Katy?’

A flash of white, a quick glimpse of my own bruised hand and I was off. As I looked around in an attempt to take in my surroundings for the first time, I was met by an on-screen prompt – indicating controls to be used, a blip to follow to the next point of progression and a handy notepad that demanded consulting lest I lose all sense of what I should be doing. And consult I did right away; in one neat, pencil-written line it read – ‘I must find a way out of here.’ Neat.

Here was lifeless; drab, sickeningly bare walls against a solid wooden floor echoed but the sound of my footsteps in unison with the gentle hum of a single overhead light surrounded by flies. I took a peek around the immediate corner – pitch black. Just as I took my first step into the darkness the lights came on with a resonating clang, illuminating a corridor similar to the one I was in prior only this time, with a flashing door by the corner at its end.

As ushered, I swung it open, catching yet another glimpse at what were my battered hands. They weren’t as bad as I presumed them to be – the injury seemingly concentrated around the tallest finger, the blood over which had nearly dried itself black. The door swung open to reveal a room not much bigger than a dozen feet in length and width; a set of old, rusting lockers lay on my right flank – a raven black as death itself perched on top of them. It nibbled at something, breaking only to sneak a peek at the room opposite it. Somebody had left its door ajar, but even that hadn’t grabbed my attention, no. My gaze instead, had fallen on the man that stood by the windows at the other end of the room.

Clad in a dark brown overcoat and oversized trousers to match his gut, he bowed his head to take one long drag off a cigarette. As he moved his head up to exhale, I expected his face – that had up until now been obscured by a fedora – to contort or at least react in my presence. It didn’t; even as I stood less than an arm’s length away. Just as I began my retreat a voice emerged from the room to the left – ‘I don’t care what you do to her, I just want you to make her inoffensive.’ There wasn’t much sense to it nor would the door open to reveal what was going on behind it. I resorted then to the lockers hoping to learn more of my whereabouts, only to be greeted instead by nothing bigger than a bleeding, lifeless rodent.

The next few moments involved turning a few more corners, stumbling over the occasional discarded written note or two that seemed to report on ‘patients’ past and an underlying mental situation; It began to dawn on me that the structure I was in was perhaps an old asylum of sorts. As my thoughts raced I stumbled upon what seemed to be the game’s first offering of a puzzle; a T-junction where three corridors, each with a door at its end, met. To my right sat a woman – dressed in an outfit that seemed to resemble that of a peon’s – sobbing – oblivious to my presence just as the man had been.

I took the door behind her, coming to yet another crossroads that seemed strikingly similar to the previous except this time, the lights were switching themselves off one at a time with loud, resonating clangs. Now tn total darkness, half expecting to be startled to death, I took to the first interactive room that stood beside me; an office with a large desk at its centre replete with a blotter, other office stationery and a table lamp that was still on.  Newspaper cuttings littered its top, speaking of Wars and Politics and just as I peered over them to ascertain their usefulness, my eyes fell over a glass-enclosed model of a manor that stood adjacent to the door.

A closer look revealed it to be that of a St. Angor Manor – dark, grey and ominous, was this where I was? I moved on, getting back out on the crossroads and opting for the corridor and its door at the center. The lights had now begun to come back, one at a time with the same clanging as before, alerting me not only of the fact that I had returned to a similar three way corridor as the ones prior, but also of a presence seated bang dead at the junction’s centre.

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Clad in an all back suit, a tie to go with and a grotesque skeletal face stared right through me with a posture of the living. I winced, not knowing if I should move forward or refrain from, until I realised to my relief that he too, couldn’t see me. I picked the corridorto the left this time, entering a room with only one interactive door in sight and a grand piano on its other end. All I had to do was approach before it began playing a tune so chillingly moody that I decided to quickly moved to what lay behind the blinking door and not linger any longer; Yet another corridor that ended with a 90 degree corner to its left.

As I made my way through the two hospital styled beds at the turn, the screen froze; the character I controlled looked to both her sides as if aware of a presence I was yet to fathom, before looking back around the corner at the corridor I’d come from. There, pale white and clothed in black, a woman stood below the fly infested overhead light with her eyes set dead on me.

She lurched forward; I didn’t walk anymore, I ran, turning corner after corner in quick succession as she stayed hot on my heels. The corridors went on forever until a door finally arrived, revealing behind it a forest enclosure that for some reason – was in monochrome. An anxious look through the rain behind affirmed that the pale woman had not followed me through; Thankful, I carried on along the only visible path before arriving at an opening within the enclosure. Through the foliage, I’d noticed a couple – a man and a woman standing emotionless by the shadows as if awaiting my arrival.  ‘Mum! Finally – I thought I was lost’, exclaimed our protagonist in relief, leading me to believe that the horror had subsided for the moment. ‘We’re leaving Katherine. We’re going to London – your aunt cannot host you any longer.’

What? Why? And what did that have to do with me being here? ‘This isn’t funny Katherine’, announced the man – of course it wasn’t and they weren’t helping any. Unsure of what came next, I moved to look for an alternate path through the forest – I’d turned around when suddenly, my heart skipped a beat. Standing there, staring right at me with glowing, yellow eyes was the protagonist herself – ‘Katherine’ is how the subtitles referred to her as she simply said in the same child-like voice that had opened the game, ‘Goodnight Katy’ before the screed faded to black against a blaring shrill. What the – ?

Hard as it may be to believe, all of the above narrative was encompassed by the mere ten to fifteen minutes that comprised Insane Decay of Mind: The Sound of Silence’s prologue. Inspired by ‘One Foot Wrong’, a disturbing tale of suffering and repression by Australian novelist Sofie Laguna and conceived by independent Italian developers GoManga Interactive, Insane Decay speaks of Katherine Watson – a woman who finds herself trapped within what she recognizes as her school of old. Promising a riveting tale that would be equal parts novella and interactive, the game itself has been immersed in the thick of development since its inception back in 2014.

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And yet through it all, GoManga have managed to keep fan interest stoked; releasing its first playable teaser back in October, 2014 that acted as but a short amalgamation of a several sequences from the game and another in April this year, that showcased but an older version of the prologue that I’ve spent the earlier half of this article narrating. Now over a year since its first teaser, Insane Decay stands not only with a pumped up version of said prologue, but with the entirety of the First of Three Acts that are to comprise it fully functional as well. With changes and updates being made daily in preparation for a crowdfunding campaign by the end of the year, we were more than anxious to take a whirl of said version of the Act, more so given the limited amount of visual material we were exposed to in its month’s tenure on the community.

Shortly after the pandemonium of the prologue, a quick introductory credit roll had commenced a recurring pattern within the Act – one where the narrative would oscillate between Katherine’s current predicament and her past, the latter of which predominantly involved the Act’s ‘exploratory’ portions. These exploratory portions were in effect ‘flashbacks’ that served to delve deeper into Katherine’s past in school – the very same manor – and the events that had finally culminated in her current plight. More than provide a backstory however, these exploratory portions played an important role in maximising user engagement by breaking away from the adrenaline rush and having players perform a set amount of ‘quests’ or tasks to progress within the narrative.

These tasks mandated interacting with the students and the supposed faculty of the school, performing errands for either party across the manor. Disappointingly though, these exploratory portions quickly turned out to be the lowest point of the game’s offered experience. The reasons for this were uncountable; for one, the tasks themselves came off as absolutely pointless and rather murderous of the brilliant pace & tone the game had set for itself in the beginning. A peer would require Katherine to distract a faculty member so that the rest could steal food from the canteen, a ‘teacher’ would ask for a lost book to be sought out amongst the students’ rooms, another would ask for a notorious student’s clique to be determined while someone else would ask for help on a speech.

To be fair, these tasks were creatively challenging in their own right. The two storey portion of the manor within which the exploratory portions did take place was rather drab and minimal in furniture and layout in the absence of any map/compass, forcing players to rely on the sign-boards beside each door to indicate which of the canteen, reception, office, warehouse, garden and so forth lay behind them and guide their way forward. Hints were kept at a minimum to keep finding that way forward stimulating – offering players the option to avail of one within a task only when the game realised you were dilly-dallying for too long, which I had been doing quite a bit.

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In this way, the exploratory portions encouraged the use of wit in completing its set of tasks but also destroyed it on account of its own design; one of the alpha’s most prominent flaws was its poorly written dialogue and voice acting. While that of Katherine’s and the others during the prologue were mediocre, those of the students and faculty in the exploratory sections were abysmal. This, coupled with the fact that the alpha did very little to explain what I should be doing next made it difficult for me to understand how I was supposed to, say, find out who was talking about my friend Ian’s secret ‘rebellion’ to a certain Ms. Hudson .

For which I wandered around aimlessly, knocking down doors and looking under every table until I found a note lying in a room that alluded to a certain Oswald being the rat in question. Overjoyed, I returned to tell Ian – being as he was the one who’d set me on the witch hunt – only to realise he couldn’t be interacted with. Perplexed, I consulted Katherine’s notepad, which only said ‘It is Oswald. Oswald is the one talking to Ms. Hudson!’ What was I supposed to do now? And how was I to progress? I wandered some more until a blip appeared on screen signalling me to a particular area of the manor.

There stood a woman motionless, whom I assumed to be Ms. Hudson given that I could interact with her. Choosing to do so had me complain to her about Oswald and divert her attention to his misdeeds.  Leave alone the task coming across as being of unworthy of any time spent over it, things could have been made so much more easier had there been more comprehensible dialogue from Ian that said, ‘Katherine, you could try looking through the others’ rooms or eavesdrop on conversations; and once you seem to learn who the rat might be, get back here and let’s discuss what comes next ’, or at least if the notepad alone alluded to it more firmly.

This would soon prove to be a massive angst builder – as tasks similar or even worse than these piled up with no sign of a reward, rhyme or reason to justify spending half an hour trying to figure out what to do next. Interestingly, certain tasks did offer the benefit of choice in either choosing to support or defy a peer or task provider over certain morally challenging actions – as was with the Oswald task wherein I had the choice of both supporting Ian and informing Ms. Hudson of Oswald’s misdeeds or betraying Ian and warning Ms. Hudson of his actions. Unfortunately, the results of my moral choices weren’t witnessed within the first Act, adding all the more to my frustration.  At the end of it all, neither could I relate to Katherine nor think like her anymore; making it seem as if I was in control of a bot subjected to pretentious little tasks for the sake of progression within the game.

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Naturally, my troubles were brought to the developers’ notice who had been monitoring the alpha’s performance as I played it throughout. It was one thing to bring down the pace for the sake of a good narrative but to take it in a new direction altogether with meaningless, poorly written tasks was disheartening, I confessed. They weren’t meaningless, Director Francesco Squillante explained. ‘ The choices made within the Act do affect its course – you may unlock a enw area of the manor, quests and even notice changes in Katherine’s behavior. The effect those choices have however isn’t as profound or noticeable as it will be in Act II though – Every choice, every decision you make. while it may not seem so now, will radically change the manor over the course of the Second Act. These tasks were meant to serve as but a warmup to the next Act’s quests.’

Squillante also stated that the team was aware of the game’s poor state of voice acting and dialogue. ‘The first thing we’re considering is perhaps making the game’s dialogues open source and allowing our fan base to make changes and even translate them to new languages.’ This if anything, would help tackle several of the typos and sentence construction issues that plagued not just the subtitles but the loading screens that showed off quotes from Katherine as well. ‘If the changes made are drastic, we’ll go back to dubbing. As for voice actors, we’re definitely in need of new ones.’

To add to my momentary dismay, the alpha refused to progress after completing all quests – which thankfully, was narrowed down to a Quest line error and rectified within a moment’s notice by the development team. Fortunately the game’s novella and horror roots continued to stay alive when I wasn’t forced to explore and do others’ bidding; the game would return to the present after performing a set number of quests, subject me to a quick thrill that would raise even more questions, before reverting back to the past.

By the end of the second exploratory section, the narrative had picked up; Shedding more light on Katherine’s personality as a school child and an event that may have subsequently left a scar on her mental being. This quickly culminated into the Act’s finale sequence that was by far the most engaging and enthralling portion of the alpha yet. I was exposed more than once to the unexpected – interactive encounters with dark entitites, jumps, scares and an eventual cliff-hanger that succeeded in fuelling my anticipation for Act II.

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It was then  that I realised that the terrible writing of the game’s exploratory sections aside, Insane Decay was – at least judging from what was played the Act’s prologue and finale – a very innovative and intelligently conceived horror tale that could very well rival the if not surpass some of mainstream gaming’s horror offerings in terms of a primary plot. A large portion of this feat is achieved via its unpredictability and suspense not just in its storyline, but in its gameplay as well.

For instance, the T-junction sequence in the prologue would differ depending on the sequence or order in which each of the three doors were picked. This would lead to new areas, encounters and a few more interactive objects that not only served to shed more light on the Manor’s occurrences and past, but were also elusive in that one might quite easily progress to the next stage of the game without experiencing any or all of them. The Act’s finale illustrated more of the same randomness through different game-play sequences asserting that even in its alpha state, Insane Decay was showing remarkable replay value.

Through it all, gameplay remained relatively smooth and suffered a major dip in frame-rate only once during the prologue’s forest sequence. The basic structure of the manor and its claustrophobic, occasionally gory ambience in the prologue and Act’s finale came off as incredibly well-crafted – more so with the updated version of the alpha that was provided to me following the Quest line bug. Materials, textures, reflections, particle effects and lighting were more than effective in conveying a sense of dread, loneliness and looming danger.

That said, the Manor does deserve to be populated not only with sa larger variety of inanimate objects & furniture, but distinguishing features in each of its rooms & corridors to add to its mystery, variety and size. In its current state, several of the rooms, areas and corridors seem very much alike each other and while this might be part of its attempt to drive the player insane by causing them to feel they were travelling in circles – there’s no reason why its walls and corridors shouldn’t be populated with frames, tables, personal effects and other artifacts that would only add depth to the narrative and experience.

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The exploratory sections though seem to demand an overhaul. Even though supposedly populated by children, as conveyed by a running sound effect of a crowd of children screaming, playing, laughing and yelling, the same failed to come through visually. Intricately designed as they might have been, the minimal number character models didn’t do much besides standing around by themselves against a wall like mannequins or sitting/lying down like toys in their rooms – which were rather drab as well. Of course, some of them could be seen interacting with each other or chasing each other around but these came off as rather unnatural given that there was barely any dialogue between the conversing parties.

This was also prominent during one other scene that took Katherine outside the manor to a circus. While the ambience brought about by sound effects and music was that of fun & frolic, NPC’s merely stood looking at suppossed circus performers who was an inanimate themselves. Perhaps this was meant to be to illustrate only the fragment of the scene that Katherine did remember?

Regardless, if said exploratory sections are to be improved, not only do they need to be populated to a greater extent but also filled with a greater variety of NPC animations and dialogue to truly create an atmosphere of being amongst Katherine’s peers. Moreover, rooms and corridors in these sections need to be detailed in a manner that actually conveys the presence of other children and faculty members at a time when horror was yet to enter the tale. Differentiating the Manor’s past and present interiors would go a long way in drawing players into the tasks and having them emote as Katherine does. Without a doubt though, the audio and SFX department (not considering the voice acting) is where Insane Decay comes into its own. The sound effects that accompany the sequential turning on/off of overhead lights in the prologue, the intermittent crescendos and subsequent musical bellows are undeniably classic horror material that significantly amplify the jumps and scares of the Act.

In terms of ingenuity then, Insane Decay of Mind excels at every avenue – construing a narrative and tale that succeeds at drawing a player in and encourages them to push forward in a desperate attempt to unravel the mystery and horror that shrouds it. The adolescent team of Italians have created for themselves what is quite possibly a lore with every potential of being an indie horror classic – provided its chinks, major ones at that, created by bad voice acting, subpar dialogue, overall inconsistency in writing and experience and an intermittent lack of detail are eliminated, which in its own right won’t be an easy task. They have the concept of a great narrative nailed, no doubt, yet only need to realise their immediate shortcomings and work to overcome them in a manner that does their tale justice.

Now, with Act two well into development, Squillante tells us that the team intends to make an all new demo of the game available to the public by the dawn of next year. The start of the year will also witness them debut Insane on a crowd-funding platform with three other Italian developers while progressing with the game’s core development as normal. If successful, an appearance at the Game Developers’ Conference in San Francisco and Game Connection is also on the books. And so, with them aiming to finish the second Act by April and the third by summer, 2016 – Insane Decay Of Mind is already gearing itself up for a late 2016 release.

As always, to keep track of everything Insane as they unfold, follow up on progress so far or simply drop them a message, feel free to stop by their Higher Eclectic Space.

This report serves to provide our members – GoManga Interactive –  with constructive criticism and feedback pertaining to the development of their game. Every flaw, error and shortcoming has been personally conveyed to the team; improvements and changes may or may not be made as per their vision. Feel free to share your opinions on the same as well.

Is Sim-Motorsport The Independent Game Community’s Future?

BSRTC PRO Series, News

Thursday night was immense. The BSRTC Pro Series– an IRacing based Touring Car Championship that witnessed 50 drivers and 11 teams compete for a chunk of the $10,000 prize fund concluded with an electric finale that was in many ways, a shocker. Yes, it’s been only two months since I ventured into their eclectic community – and stayed – but even so, its finale was spectacular; made possible by the array of incidents and hubbub that surrounded it, all of which is a topic for its subsequent race report.

As our community’s members watched the race’s proceedings together on the Bulletin – four of Higher Eclectic Ground’s independent game members’ creations took centre stage over the breaks and the few minutes preceding the race. Careful readers and community members will recall that last week witnessed two of our members debut exclusive trailers to their games during the Series’ penultimate race. This of course, being part of our partnership with the BSRTC Pro that sought to provide our members with sponsorship opportunities that highlight their creations.

For a small fee, independent developers have not only been sponsoring drivers on behalf of their Video Game ventures, having their logos imprinted on the Series’ most prominent drivers’ in-sim vehicles as a result, but also availing of a 30 second ad slot during the livestream – that reaches out to nearly 1,000 members on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel alone followed by IRacing’s Twitch Channel – and slick, animated pop-ups advertising their ventures on the subsequent MotorsTV UK broadcasts. MotorsTV UK of course, being a counterpart of Europe’s largest motorsport channel – MotorsTV.

 

MotorsTV Sebring Broadcast Segment I Telecast on 4th December- Catch The Insane Decay Of Mind: Sounds Of Silence Pop-Up At 2:27.

 

 

MotorsTV Broadcast Segment II  Telecast on 8th December- Catch The Online Racing Championship Pop-Up At 2:16.

 

MotorsTV Sebring Broadcast Segment III Telecast on 4th December- Catch The Isle Of Bass Pop-Up At 0:29.

 

 

Following members GoManga Interactive and Ash McConnell who debuted teasers to their independent games – Insane Decay Of Mind: Sounds Of Silence and Online Race Championship, respectively – during the Sebring International Raceway livestream, sponsored individual drivers and even had their games advertised on the race’s subsequent television broadcast as seen above, this week’s finale at Daytona Road saw the Online Racing Championship return with three other members of ours in tow.

The first of these were community partners, Isle Of Bass – an independent music label that provides our indie game developers with access to a variety of indie electronic musicians. While the Isle Of Bass had sponsored the New Homes Digital team the week before at Sebring International Raceway, Daytona was the first time the label had managed to put forward a fascinating, feet-tapping new advertisement.

In tow, were Troglobytes Games – sponsors of then BSRTC Pro Series’ leading contender Andreas Katz of Team Euro Chip Digital, who finished the PRO Championship in second place, 26 points behind Season champion and ApexRacing TV’s Sebastian Job. Troglobytes’ 30 second teaser served to invite viewers to its upcoming 2.5D, procedurally generated RPG – Tenebrae: Twilight Of The Gods’ Square Enix Collective Campaign. The campaign, similar to Steam Greenlight has gamers vote for and shape the future of the games they wish to see on the big screen.

Blob Games Studios’ indie Super Mario Smash Bros’ inspired platform fighter on the other hand, sponsored GT Omega’s Steliyan Chepilevsky who finished the PRO Championship in 8th place. A 30 second teaser of the game served to invite viewers to try the game on Steam for themselves.

That of course, makes 7 of our independent game developer members to be featured on IRacing’s biggest Touring Car event – not forgetting AJ Picard’s Eyegames App at the season’s final team race at Donington Park and Mike Blundell’s Mike Pad at Interlagos – over 4 weeks of racing. Since ApexRacing TV and Higher Eclectic Ground were yet to devise the teaser and pop-up structure for our members at the time, EyeGames and Mike’s Pad attained mentions by the commentary team during the live broadcasts in addition to having their logos pasted on vehicles.

Dig The Indie Game Battle image On The Roof.

Dig The Indie Game Battle Logo On The Roof.

With the waters now tested and the PRO Series’ winners having their prize money delivered as we speak, plans for the BSRTC’s next season are underway. Although details will be revealed in due time, the league is looking to mix things up for its next season, hoping to beat this year’s record and outdo itself in establishing its most professional and rewarding season yet. Furthermore, us at Higher Eclectic will be devoting a large portion of the next two months in association with them – to taking the BSRTC’s next season beyond traditional sim-racing borders, towards mainstream gaming.

Our plans at Higher Eclectic include involving several mainstream Video Game entities as full team sponsors during the next season, for the sole purpose of building an active, adrenalined packed platform for independent game developers and artists from within our community and beyond to showcase their work. The per-driver sponsorship structure devised over the last few weeks will continue at its inexpensive rate to stay true to the purpose of things, but in order for these independent members creations to gain even greater attention it is mandatory to involve more establish Game companies as well. A rigid fee structure for the team sponsorships is being devised, payments towards which will go towards a grander, $20,000 prize fund for IRacing’s top drivers participating in the Series next season.

Couple the mainstream gaming viewer base that will subsequently follow with the excitement, action and professionalism of IRacing’s most popular Touring Car event – and you have a platform for independent gamers to shine beyond mere internet communities and forums. And so stay tuned for several more updates over the holidays as we race towards this vision of ours. Till then, do pitch in your ideas and thoughts on potential sponsors, ideas and more; We want to hear from you.

Also Catch The Ads Debuted Our Members During The Season’s Finale Race At Daytona Road At 0:38 and during the breaks at 52:45 and 1:45.28.

A special shout-out to ApexRacing TV, the BSRTC’s commentary and broadcast team for making it all happen.

GoManga Int., ORC Debut Indie Games At BSR IRacing Touring Car Championship.

BSRTC PRO Series, News

The penultimate outing of the 35 week IRacing Powered BSRTC Pro Series – a Touring Car Championship that sees 50 of the best Sim Racers from over the world compete for a chunk of the $10,000 cash prize – was held at Sebring International Raceway yesterday.

Streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube Channel and IRacing’s Twitch TV Channel to reach a cumulative audience of over 1,000 – the event saw up to three of Higher Eclectic’s indie game community members debut their ventures during the event’s livestream at 8.15 P.M GMT in the form of 30 second ad spots.

The first of these was GoManga Interactive, a young team of independent Italian game developers brought together by Luigi Squillante, who sponsored Team Peter Newman Media’s – and one of the BSRTC’s – quickest racing driver Ashley Sutton. Sutton, 2015’s Renault CUK Clio Cup Champion as part of the official BTCC Team BMR, finished the first round of the race in 13th place after a 32nd place start before being prevented from finishing the next couple of rounds as the result of two separate racing incidents.

The GoManga Interactive Banner Envelopes Sutton’s Roof.

GoManga’s sponsorship of the driver witnessed the indie team of developers debut an exclusive teaser of their upcoming horror trip Insane Decay Of Mind: The Sounds of Silence. The tale of one Katherine Watson who – trapped in World War II era ‘St. Anger Manor’ with no escape – must fight against a terrifying past that continues to imprison her within a living nightmare, Insane Decay Of Mind is currently well within development as documented on the community. The teaser more than anything, served to announce the game’s upcoming crowdfunding campaign that is set to commence by the end of the year.

Next in line was Ashley McConnell, Lead Software Developer of the indie racing simulator Online Racing Championship. The ORC sponsored Team Laser Tools’ driver Aleksandar Smolensky, currently 4th in contention for the $1,000 prize that comes with the Championship’s PRO Driver’s title. Smolensky placed himself on the podium as a result of a 3rd place finish at the end of Round 1 followed by a 11th place finish in Round 2. He was unable to complete the final round as the result of a racing incident.

Regardless, the ORC debuted an exclusive teaser that aimed to invite sim-racing enthusiasts to download its Alpha via the game’s portal. Still within development, the ORC is all set to use a Formula One team engineered physics engine, response towards which has been rather positive among indie and sim-racing circles. Although not a part of the community yet, Higher Eclectic Ground is currently in communication with McConnell to set a collaboration in motion.

The ORC banner atop Smolensky’s Laser Tools’ vehicle.

Lastly, while unable to premiere a teaser during the race, independent Isle of Lewis based electronic music label Isle Of Bass went on to sponsor the entire New Homes Digital Team of PRO Drivers Jamie Rushworth, Ellis ‘Kip’ Stephens, Jamie Fluke and AM Drivers Laura Bond and Steve Richardson. With an audience of 10,000 plus spread across SoundCloud, Youtube, Twitter, MixCloud and Bandcamp, the label promotes independent music creations spanning genres such as Drum and bass, Dubstep, House music, Electro and many more. Currently a partner of the Higher Eclectic Ground community, Isle of Bass aims to provide independent video game developers with access to talented EDM musicians from under the label.

The reason behind its sponsorship including an entire team of drivers and not a solo racer lies in the fact that the label had applied for the same well before the official announcement was amended to restrict sponsorships to solo drivers only.

New Homes Driver Laura Bond Dons The Isle Of Bass Flag.

Given that the race will also be broadcast live on MotorsTV UK – a counterpart of Europe’s largest motorsport – on the 10th of December, each of the above sponsors will also have their ventures advertised during the one hour telecast, via animated on-screen popups. Moreover, while each will be making an appearance within the final week of the championship at Daytona Road on the 3rd of December, several more of the community’s independent game developers are to debut their games as well.

A live stream to the races – which will commence at 8.15 P.M GMT – will be posted on the community well in advance. To learn more of how an uncanny collaboration with the BSRTC is helping Higher Eclectic Ground provide the independent game and art community with opportunities for exposure via sim-racing motorsport like never before, have a look at our announcement from last week that also outlines the criteria for independent game developers to participate.

Catch the Ad Spots At The Start Of The Race and During The 10 Minute Breaks at 51:14 and 1:39:00.

Promoting Your Indie Game and Art Ventures Via Sim-Racing.

BSRTC PRO Series, News

October 27th, 2015 marked a valuable milestone within the Higher Eclectic Ground calendar. Post a month of discovering the British Sim Racers and their BSRTC Touring Car Championship – an IRacing based, sim-racing Touring Car Championship that has 50 of the racing subscription service’s most talented drivers competing for a slice of the $10,000 prize fund – we’d constructed an elaborate never-seen-before biography of the BSR’s rise from being but a dream harboured between two individuals to being the first IRacing based Touring Car championship to be aired on MotorsTV UK.

Yes, MotorsTV – a name well known within every British racing enthusiast’s home for bringing world-class events such as the World Rally Championship, the FIA World Endurance Championship, United SportsCar Championship, V8 Supercars, British Formula and much more, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to homes across 41 different countries worldwide. The biography set into motion a lot of things for both the BSRTC and Higher Eclectic Ground – we are currently in communication with SimRacer, the world’s first commercially available sim racing magazine, to showcase the article within their January 2016 issue; we’ve partnered with the BSRTC to provide post-race reports of each of their remnant races that take place every Thursday at 8.15 GMT; we’re in communication with IRacing’s News counterpart to feature those weekly reports and now – with barely two weeks left till the end of the season – we are offering our independent video game and art members an opportunity to promote their ventures, on British Motorsport television.

British Television? How Do You Mean?

The BSRTC is near the end of its biggest, most expensive season yet – with 35 races of three rounds each spread over the year that has been and a $10,000 prize fund. Every Thursday at precisely 8.15 GMT, the British Sim Racers’ Touring Car Championship Pro Series takes to a variety of tracks for three rounds of adrenaline packed racing. These races are broadcast live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel – known to be a regular broadcaster of numerous sim-racing events – and IRacing’s official Twitch channel to reach a cumulative racing audience of well over 2,000 based on the stats associated with each video.

In addition, as part of the BSRTC’s partnership with MotorsTV UK this year – every race’s highlights are broadcast live on the motorsport channel two weeks post the actual occurrence of the race. Our partnership that serves to boost their awareness within the mainstream gaming community only serves to help those numbers and well, it’s safe to say that it’s been an eventful one month. With such a solid membership and audience base – a large part of which are video gamers – we couldn’t help but fathom the opportunities this would help provide the Independent game developers and artists we serve to promote and assist with growth every day.

One of the primary contributors to the BSRTC’s success this season has been its elaborate and creative sponsorship structure. Every ‘team’ of drivers is owned by an entity that has thus far, contributed £25 per event. This contribution earns them a team of their name and the privilege of having their name mentioned, associated and reported with their team’s drivers in every broadcast, report and piece of gossip – definitive coverage. With that said, the sponsorship structure’s biggest plus point so far has been its willingness to welcome any additional ‘sponsors’ to the championship at a moment’s notice.

By paying £5 per event – one event at a time – new sponsors can jump into the series prior to any given race and sponsor any one driver, allowing them to have their venture/company logo pasted on the side of that driver’s car. ApexRacingTV’s camera control ensures that the cameras hit the sides of the car when they can, providing these ‘guest’ sponsors with momentary coverage for the duration of the three-round race.

We were blown away. What if – we had each of our independent video game developers and artists sponsor a driver for the duration of a race? Wouldn’t this help with exposure? Not sufficiently, and so we sat down with the BSRTC to come up with additional privileges – a new ‘guest’ sponsor would not only have their logos pasted on a driver’s car, but also attain a mention from the commentary team prior and during the duration of the race.

With that settled, the races held at Donington Park and Interlagos on the 29th of November and the 12th of October respectively had us offer two of our members the opportunity to sponsor not just drivers, but whole teams on behalf of their independent game ventures. On the 29th of November, member AJ Picard and his mobile-based Video Game index EyeGames app sponsored the Engine Oil Direct team – while on the 12th of October Video Game Blogger Mike Blundell and his blog Mike’s Pad sponsored the GT Omega team. Both garnered mentions through the course of the races during their livestreams which carried over to their television broadcasts.

While both were satisfied with the mentions and coverage they’d received – we weren’t. Sure their logos were noticed and so were their mentions, but we began to realise that not only did they seem unnatural but took away from the racing as well – a point the BSRTC made rather aptly. With three weeks to go till the end of their season then, we sat down yet again and make one final revision.

Officially Inviting The Higher Eclectic Community As Sponsors.

And finally – a deal was struck with the both the BSRTC and ApexRacing TV. By paying but £5 per race, ‘sponsor’ would attain –

  1. A logo of their Game/Game Studio/ Product/ Blog/ Venture imprinted on the hood, side and roof of a driver’s car.

A GT Omega Team Car Flying The Mike’s Pad Colors At Interlagos.

  1. A 30 second video slot during the 10 minute breaks between each of the rounds that allows them to have a short-trailer of their creation showcased during the races.

The Current Roster Of Ads Serving As Fillers.

  1. A special pop-up during the MotorsTV edit of the race since the advertisements do not carry over, that sponsors can edit and fill in with a short-quote and logo of their choice to be aired on National Television. About two-three pop-ups will be displayed within a 12 minute segment of the 1 hour MotorsTV broadcast.

The First Ever MotorsTV Stream From August 20th, 2015 At Laguna Seca. Note The Pop-up At 1:20.

With only 2 weeks remaining till the end of the Season – the next two races being on the 23rd of November and the 3rd of December – we are now inviting each of our members to have their independent video game and art ventures promote a driver for one, if not both the races.

Things You’ll Need.

In all likelihood, if you’re reading this post we’ve reached out to you already. Regardless, should you wish to participate in the races as a sponsor you will need –

  1. £5 to cover costs incurred by the BSRTC and Higher Eclectic Ground.
  1. A 25-27 second video trailer to have featured as an ad within the livestreams. Note that these are deliberately kept a few seconds shorter than 30 to allow for us to fly the ‘Higher Eclectic Ground’ banner at the end of the video and announce our support.
  1. A logo that you would like to be displayed on the car and the pop-ups.
  1. A one-liner for the pop-ups.

It is advised to keep the trailer and the quotes as entertaining and explanatory as possible for maximum effect on the 2000+ audience tuning in to livestream and the larger majority tuning in to the television broadcasts.

Schedule For The Final 5 Races.

 

Remaining Races. ApexRacing TV/ IRacing Livestream Date and Time. MotorsTV UK Air Date and Time Deadline Submission Of Sponsor Details.
1. Sebring. Thursday, 26th November, 8.15 PM GMT. Tuesday, 15th December, 6:23 PM GMT Wednesday, 25th November.
2. Daytona Road Thursday, 3rd December 8.15 PM GMT. Tuesday, 22nd December, 6:23 PM GMT Wednesday, 2nd December.

Only two races remain as per the schedule above – i.e the one at Sebring on the 26th of November and Daytona Road on the 3rd of December. Those interested can opt to sponsor a driver for either one or both of the races. Either way, all details and queries should be e-mailed to [email protected] before the aforementioned deadlines.

The Future?

Unprecedented. There’s a lot we have in the works for next season – and it involves you. All of that will be announced in due time of course but till then – running a crowdfunding campaign, a Steam Greenlight campaign, in need of a few views on your blog/podcast or just looking to have your creation associated with motorsport? Never before has there been an opportunity as such.

Meanwhile, Higher Eclectic Ground is not only covering the last three races of the BSRTC’s Showdown, set to be streamed live on ApexRacing TV’s Youtube channel at 8.15 P.M GMT every Thursday. To make sure you do not miss out on anything, do head down to our Facebook page where all the activity lies and ensure you’re signed up. Moreover, those interested in racing with the BSRTC community or simply hanging out with them by the pitlanes, can do so by signing up to their closed group on Facebook . Those still doubtful about what the BSRTC is all about meanwhile can learn more by viewing our previous coverage of the same which also includes a never-seen-before look at the championship’s rise.