By means of a humble Steam announcement on the 25th of May this year, RAM BOE‘s first major update was released to its casual puzzle-loving Windows, Mac OS and Linux audience; Titled The Awakening of Thrym, the update brings forth a number of much-needed additions and rectifications that were first teased by the development team at PointFive back in April.
These changes, as specified by marketing in-charge Jane Arvine at the time of the teaser, are in response to several inconsistencies and flaws that were brought up by our Editorial team — and subsequently by few of its users — in its analysis of the game during the earlier half of Spring.
The first of which was the puzzle adventure’s penchant for repetition in its visuals, music, level design and overall atmosphere; The Awakening of Thrym addresses the same by introducing up to 15 new levels, scenery and music to the overall adventure. Arvine quickly dismisses all fears of these 15 levels being but simple extensions of the game’s earlier build by justifying their presence: ‘The new levels have a higher difficulty, are bigger in size and require much more time to complete; We have even added in unique challenges that dynamically have say, the tiles of a level fall off as the player progresses and more’.
This is further supplemented by the addition of eight more tracks to the game’s soundtrack for a total of fourteen, courtesy of the archives of Kevin MacLeod, and new scenic additions that take players closer to antagonist Thrym The Mighty Jotun’s habitat — one cold and one dark. And yet thankfully, the update’s major perk lies in its lending of closure to RAM BOE’s tale.
An overshadowing flaw in the game’s earlier build was that apart from two cut-scenes that merely served to explain the premise behind its two types of scenery, RAM BOE’s narrative was effectively non-existent; The story was lost after the halfway point and never made a return even after the completion of all 40 levels.
Now though, an extension of the narrative brought about by added cut scenes is stated to finally bring purpose to players’ puzzle solving endeavours — ‘Thrym takes notice of Ram — and he’s angry. It’s not really something complex, but it all adds up to the story. And yes there is now a conclusion to the game which we’ll let the players find it out.’, explains Jane.
To top it all, The Awakening debuts an all new game mode called The Sandbox; an intuitive custom level creator synced in with Steam’s Workshop, that lets users play developer in constructing their own levels and sharing them with other RAM BOE owners from across the community.
Besides being able to populate a level with their choice of Rune stones, players are even given the opportunity to set traps, dynamically generate obstacles during play-throughs and even change the level’s environmental theme.
Among the graphical and technical fixes it makes is the elimination of Step Control that had begun to annoy several PC players; moving BOE across a level via the arrow keys was hardly a fluid process owing to his tendency of pausing at every tile, causing one to furiously spam an arrow key in their race against the timer.
‘Plus we’ve now replaced it with something more useful for the casual ones — An easy mode, where you can’t fall off the board nor accidentally push an important Rune off which as we know leads to level failure,’ elaborates Arvine. ‘The rest of it has been improved graphical aspects such as textures and shaders — along with fixed sound artefacts. There has also been a lot of code optimisation.’
‘Make no mistake though, in terms of gameplay it’s still as complex and as rewarding as before. Yet with the 15 new levels we’ve inserted a new mood and a continuation to the storyline. We’re seeing things from the villain’s perspective now and the gameplay is subsequently more immersive. Plus, bringing a conclusion to the story makes the game experience a complete one.’
Released on Google Play in early January this year and on Steam equipped PC, Mac and Linux Devices on the 5th of April, RAM BOE is the 3D puzzle tale of rock climbing adventurer Beauregard Pete — whose decision to take on the monster in Thrym leads Pete to be imprisoned in an ice prison for ever. That is until a Ram comes along, has itself possessed by the hero and commences 40 — now 55 — levels of puzzle solving in his quest to save other less fortunate souls.
Inspired by the likes of Sokoban, players must battle timers, untimely generation of obstacles and often convoluted level arrangement to push all present Rune stones within a level into the well of revival. As of June, 2016, reception towards the game on Steam remains Positive. Naturally The Awakening of Thrym is soon due for an appearance on the Android version of the game, following which all of Pointfive’s manpower is to shift towards publishing RAM BOE’s iOS version the team reports. In the meantime, follow-up on the game’s development history and even peruse through our analysis of its Android build at BOE’s Higher Eclectic Space.
With the saga of a young shepherd’s silent battles & dreams to narrate along with those of their own, Indonesian developers Joyseed Gametribe made their debut amid Higher Eclectic Ground’s independent gaming fraternity to considerable response earlier this week. The saga in question of course being Daydream — their episodic medieval themed, current age fantasy drama of a boy’s quest to see himself turn into one among the very legends he’s grown to revere.
Joyseed are commencing this saga by means of Daydream: The Beginning, an endless arcade game that has been in development for much less than a year and which they hope to launch on iOS & Android devices by Summer, this. With a large part of the game’s asset & character development completed ahead of its pre-alpha version release, Joyseed hopes to not only involve the Community here in the progress of it’s coming to fruition but also muster support for what they believe is truly the start of an epic adventure for both themselves and their saga’s leading character, Mondo.
But just how much of an ‘epic’ can it actually conjure via the endless arcade genre? Set in the world of Ream, inhabited by creatures that exist during the day and those of the night, Daydream will see players participate in Mondo’s seemingly bizarre belief that he’s meant to be a warrior of the DayKnights’ calibre; legendary knights who once put to rest a raging civil war between the day & night creatures of Ream. It is only when the Kingdom of Verdante opens its doors on account of a local soldier recruitment drive will players witness the poverty-stricken Shepherd actually act on that belief, by signing up for them with his best friends in tow.
As one would imagine then, this sets into motion a riveting narrative that will follow Mondo’s rise through the ranks and his subsequent adventures through the innards of Ream. Grand as that might sound, Joyseed reveal that Daydream: The Beginning will focus on only a fragment of that tale i.e. the Verdante trials. As Mondo, players will be tasked with commanding the Shepherd’s friends in attacking a multitude of multi-colored dummies — each designated to a particular character — as quickly as they can before the given timer runs out. Doing so extends the timer which aids players in establishing their highest scores.
Combine this with achievements, leader-boards and a market-place for a variety of costumes to deck Mondo and his characters in — and one has with them a pocket escapade perfect for those mid-office breaks and bus rides. Fun, no doubt, but begging the question of why such an imposing idea of a tale would be granted such a humble start; as Joyseed Gametribe Founder Bernadus ‘Boy’ Dozan admits, its the team’s first joint attempt at creating a top-quality game with the highest degree of perfection possible.
Having founded Joyseed Gametribe with a friend in January last year, Boy started off designing several small-scale endless racing and idle games — the majority of which were abandoned soon after his partner opted to quit the company in the months that followed. Disheartened before he’d barely begun, hope would finally arrive in the form of programmer Michael Sudjono, a programmer whose vision & passion Boy found aligned with his. Opting to start off small in scale while preserving quality of concept & art, the duo were quick to draw inspiration from casual action games such as Tower Boxing & Bishi-Bashi — devising Daydream’s universe & narrative within a few weeks of its inception, before establishing The Beginning’s game play mechanic, primary assets, character designs and even an early build.
As luck would have it though, real life would throw itself in Sudjono’s way by August 2015, causing the programmer to leave Boy with continuing what the duo had started alone, until friends Joseph Putra Wibawa, Yediya Juan and Tommy Prayogo eventually found themselves on the team by September. Interestingly, Sudjono would indeed make it back months later but only as a freelance musician. ‘As a team, we have a lot to learn which is the primary reason for keeping Daydream’s start small’, admits Boy. ‘With The Beginning, our primary concern lies in delivering the most perfect, highest quality game possible by us in all aspects regardless of size. We’re hoping that its success and what we achieve via it sets the tone for the remainder of what we have planned for the Daydream IP.’
A quick look at the game’s concept art & other visual material on its social media profiles thus far, will reveal that this claim of pursuing quality seems to be in no way far-fetched. Citing Vanillaware‘s flawless art style as their primary inspiration, Daydream: The Beginning features fully hand-painted 2D art whose subsequent asset form is being programmed using Unity. The art alone in all fairness, only seems to amplify the appeal of Ream’s human dominated, medieval-themed world that has all the makings of modern-era civilization; Cars, Trains, Traffic Lights, Gyms, Barber Shops & the like.
Furthermore, while its no surprise that only a limited portion of it will be making an appearance within The Beginning, Joyseed’s description of Ream’s lore exudes intrigue. With the dominant population of humans serving as its Day creatures, Ream will comprise of up to four large territories namely Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, each with their own legends & history that stem from the planet’s light sources — the sun & the moon.
Now, with 70% of The Beginning’s pre-alpha version fleshed out — the team hopes to complete the game by May before entering it into this year’s Casual Connect Asia’s indie game talent showcase.‘We then hope to release the final game to the public by June — here’s hoping that date isn’t pushed back’, states Boy when asked about the game’s public release. As for its sequel? ‘We still haven’t thought the sequel through yet. One thing is certain though, The Beginning’s sequels will be much larger in scale and will at its core, continue to build on rhythm arcade. We are definitely going to be needing all the luck in the world for that!’
While one can readily accept the usual onslaught of snippets from their journey on the community here, Joyseed also intend to be walking you through the game’s creative process from the very beginning as it has been doing on social media for a while — beginning with early character art, assets & more to ensure you are fully up to date with its progress regardless of current state. To be certain you don’t miss out on any of that then or should you wish to leave them your thoughts on their game for that matter, be sure to have yourself tuned in to their newly founded Higher Eclectic Space.
Friday, the 5th of February not only brought along with it the Community’s first member independent game of the Tower Defense genre but also one of its most enigmatic yet; promising a journey of personal strife & character growth intertwined with Tower Defence at its core, the vision and passion of Bizurk Software’s TinyWars was described in but words on our Facebook page, while offering only a sample of what the game’s mobile marketplace banner would look like as a visual supplement.
With its prototype put together in mid-2015, TinyWars is described by its creator & CEO of Bizurk, Andrew Taraba as a tale that is both easy to fathom and complex in lore, about people that are tiny, and their wars, which are also relatively tiny. Set within the imaginary kingdom of Tiny that happens to be under relentless attack from as yet unnamed forces, the game narrates the tale of Mary, a Tiny resident who faces a subsequent metamorphosis into a matured being on her quest to liberate herself & those around her from bloodshed.
While the game itself promises to opt for fewer, meticulously detailed levels over multiple smaller ones, it makes no claims of innovating the Tower Defence genre in anyway. Having mulled over the game’s concept for years on end, when Taraba did put together the game’s prototype it turned out to be nothing more than basic — Red Squares vs Blue Squares, as he fondly recalls. And yet despite that, the fact that it worked was a testament of the sense his vision held, encouraging him and the others to work on it further.
‘Tower defense has been tried many times before, and I guess I could consider myself a tower defense expert’, Taraba explains. ‘I notice a lot of indie gamers tend to create a gameplay engine as their first step into the game, but we seemed to have a bit of a backwards approach. Since Tower Defense is a relatively regular genre, we don’t expect to make any ground breaking gameplay mechanics in the world of tower defense games. Many have tried and there’s a point where it either is no longer even tower defense or it’s just wacky weird one off type of game that couldn’t branch out into its own sub-genre. Our aim is pretty humble in that we just want to make a good, challenging tower defense title. I know tower defense very very well, I know what’s challenging, what’s annoying, having planned the game’s design with all of that in mind.’
I, on the other hand, was more intrigued by the game’s claim of comprising a narrative that held parallels with life; it it is after all, not often one hears of a Tower Defense game pledging personal growth of its players. ‘We aim to bring the challenge level of TinyWars to a higher degree, requiring users to not mindlessly place towers but to carefully think, budget, and place their units wisely’, states Taraba in response. ‘Part of growing up means one must learn to manage their finances wisely. One must learn when to speak up and when to be quiet, when the right time to act is and when it’s not the right time to set out your most powerful unit. Careful consideration must be put into all of your “moves” in life. And that it can be at times, impossible to predict what will be in the “next wave” that life throws at you. All these things must be taken into account, when one is playing the game.’
Interestingly, despite being 6 months into its development stint — that has so far witnessed original character designs, animations, assets & a lovely live orchestral soundtrack take form — the team has managed to garner a reasonably large following on social media without even delving into the finer details of the game’s tale or mechanics. This appreciation from the indie game community, seems to have stemmed out of a rather deep-rooted fascination for the protagonist, Mary’s design.
This of course, in no way means the team intend to keep the veil on for longer. As Taraba clarifies, ‘We want to build our fan base, that is what is most important to us in this early stage. To gather fans on our social media, so we can reveal content to them, get honest feedback, and continue to work towards the eventual release, knowing full well that the game has fans that are waiting for us to complete it and release it. We certainly will release more regarding specific details of the story, some test screen shots, and maybe some more artwork of the game’s characters! ‘
Taraba however does admit that despite the project’s being being funded by Bizurk Software — said funding does have a fast-achievable limit. ‘We may at some point reach out to a sponsor for funding or even crowd funding, it all depends on how much we can accomplish with our own funds. If we do get to a point where money is too tight and we can no longer make progress but we can see the end of the tunnel is near, then we may begin a crowdfunding campaign or work a deal with a potential sponsor. It’s unlikely that the project will be abandoned now that we have put so much effort, time and money into it.’
Additionally, Taraba also hints at the possibility of not only pairing up with other developers to further the game’s progress — but also utilising the talents of YouTubers both in and beyond the Community, especially with the game’s first demo now in the works. This demo, scheduled to arrive sometime in 2016 as soon as character, art & asset design reaches closure, will more than anything serve to put on display the team’s original, creative progress thus far and hopefully appeal to a few potential sponsors.
Either way, it’s already looking to be an illustriously vibrant ride ahead on the PC, Android & iOS. Be sure you keep an eye out for their progress via their Higher Eclectic Space, while also feeling free to leave them your feedback via the member forums, the Bulletin, or the comments below.