Saturday, January 23, 2016

FissureVerse – Five Cards Get Art

Thanks to Helen Norcott & Dreamgazer for the art!

Excursion, Trail of Emptiness, Yellow Fields, Green Pastures
Click to see the lonely vistas up close.
I see a running theme today: all of the cards have at least one person in them, but they all look quite lonely and bleak.

Excursion was a card I've had a hard time finding art for; I've had it as a 'maybe' for dozens of pieces of art so far, but none have ever quite captured what I was going for. Finally, I got a piece that works out well. The initial flavor text was “If you wander, they will follow,” which was a bit of a play on “If you build it, they will come,” but I guess after my last post and having Wanderlust in it, I'm all wandered out. I went for no flavor text on this one because I like the silence of the image alone.

Trail of Emptiness keeps its old flavor text. For a long time, I wanted to keep the great plains look of the placeholder art, with its lone buffalo and half-cloud-covered sky, because Emptiness is very much meant to be a take on Native Americans. But sometimes it's a little too on-the-nose, and this should be fairly sci-fi/fantasy, after all. So I think this new art keeps with the theme of the game far more, and gives off the proper vibe.

I love how Yellow Fields and Green Pastures are so similar in composition, with a lone figure towards the top left, and sweeping plains following; yet the flavor text says the very opposite of both cards. Yellow Fields is an even playing field, while Green Pastures is very unfair, because it's one man by the rock and an army coming for him. I think these two cards really show how Solidity and The Infinite think.

Romantic, but chilling.
I like how Wedding follows suit with the locations, being bleak and lonely, despite a wedding being a happy occasion. Wedding is unique in that it's the only Rogation that allows the required number of Crusaders in the Field of Play to be split between all Players. I did this partly for the sake of balance (why would you prevent Crusading if you had four Crusaders yourself?), and partly for thematic reasons: the wedding itself could take place between two members of different factions, or the witnesses could be from different factions. I also kinda like how the Rogation is “Lasting”. So sappy!

I've also edited the instructions a little, to clarify the rules a little be more, and I've reduced the term “Field of Play” to just “Field”. The newest version of the instructions can be found on the FissureVerse Google Drive.  I also went through and fixed a few cards that said "Field of Play" on them to be consistent.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

FissureVerse: Vermin, Wanderlust, Eclipse

Thanks to Theresa A Shultz and Olli Siponkoski for their art!

Vermin, Wanderlust
Vermin and Wanderlust.  Click to see big!
I'd been looking for more big scary creatures for the Noise, and this one was so big it can't even fit in the picture space. Now that I think about it, the Noise as a faction doesn't just represent its bloodthirsty religion, but includes all viciously instinctual creatures. I would doubt this sandworm would think of itself as religious, if it can even think.

With Wanderlust, the flavor text seemed naturally to be “Not all who wander are lost ~Tolkien” but I decided it would be too obvious. Instead, I decided to try to reach for something that captured the theme of FissureVerse itself more.

Eclipse also gets a refresh.
I decided I needed to replace the art from Eclipse because the previous artist seemed to have dropped off the face of the earth. They deleted their DeviantArt page, so I could no longer provide a link to their work, and nothing turned up when I searched their username.*

This game will take ages to complete, so it probably wouldn't be worth it to go replacing art every time an artist disappears (thankfully it's only happened this once so far), but if it happens and I happen to find great replacement art, like this time, I'll pop the new art in.

Next Log: Five cards get art...

*Edit: Somehow Esherymack (the original artist for Eclipse) has reappeared. I'm going to have to see about fixing that...

Monday, November 23, 2015

Not dead just yet.

I seemed to have vanished momentarily.  Figuring out just how my schedule works (work, life, etc.) took a while.  For now at least, I have to post infrequently to this blog.  I will continue to post, particularly FissureVerse because that's my top priority, but I cannot guarantee any sort of schedule.

So expect lots of popping in and out of existence.

Invisible Man image found at

Monday, October 5, 2015

FissureVerse - Seven Cards Get Art

Thanks to Georgi Slavov and Maurice Mosqua for letting me use their art!

Carnival, War Machines, Denial
Click to see!
Over half done with the Location cards now! Things are really starting to fill out.

For Carnival, I went with this piece because of the color and the foreboding look.  It's not just an everyday earth-based carnival, but rather the kind of grimdark feel I intended.  The 'carnival' becomes half-metaphor with this art, or stretches what a carnival can be.  The building here looks like a tower, but could pass for a ride.

War Machines is meant to be Green's copy of Fortress of Noise, done in their own style.  Fortress of Noise will be something like a Death Star, so War Machines should give off the vibe of a Red card, but with a sleeker, shinier look.

Denial finally matches with the flavor text I used.  Since Denial has always been a pain to fully match with (considering it is a strange word for a location), it took quite a while to find the art that evokes the feel I'm going for.  To me, the art and the flavor text tell a story now, and Solidity is really coming in to their own as a particularly devious villain.

Respectators, Slowpokes, Nomads, Tearmen

Interesting that I always find so many cards for Blue so fast.  Emptiness is the good guys, if any of the four factions can be considered good at all, so I guess artists like drawing heroes more than villains...

Respectators has been this concept for a while now: a group of people watching a battle from afar.  I found similar artwork by another artist but could not get permission to use it.  This art works just as well (in fact, it might even work better because you can see the battlefield below).  I considered some flavor text, since spectators usually make lots of noise, but these people are more likely to watch in respectful silence.

The golem art reminds me a bit of those rock creatures from Tera, which is certainly not a bad game to evoke.  I knew I needed something one would consider slow, and using plant life would probably have been a little too close to Ents.  A big heavy rock creature works well.  I also changed the special rules to add that you cannot Reinforce with Slowpokes when first in Turn Order.  I'm thinking Slowpokes will be difficult to balance because the number of players really dictates how likely the special rules will come into play.  In a two player game, you can't use Slowpokes half the time; in a four player game, only one quarter.

Nomads may be too powerful; I may need to drop that violent 5 down a bit, seeing as the special rules text probably isn't the end of the world for Red, should they lose the card.  But in any case, the idea behind Nomads is of a race that wanders between planes of existence--here and the afterlife, for instance.  So killing them doesn't really kill, since they can come back, and instead they just discover what the afterlife plane is like, which makes True Converts of them.  For the art, I always wanted a creepy vibe, and this fits perfectly.

I consider quite a few Emptiness cards to be somewhat 'generic defenders', like Steadfast Clan or Walkers, and Tearmen is along those same lines.  They are one tribe among many that are being slaughtered by Solidity, and they've risen to defend themselves.  But while I want most of those tribes to be human-like for the purposes of relate-ability, I'm looking for some twists on the form.  This art works well because of the almost demonic horns and face markings, but she still looks both forlorn and stoic, which is just the expression I'm going for with these kinds of Emptiness cards.

Next Log: Vermin, Wanderlust, Eclipse...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Latchkey - Interface

After quite the long break from Latchkey, I'm giving it a reboot.  Now that I know a bit more about how to get things properly programmed, I'm starting from scratch and reworking many of the kinks.  I'm also rethinking the basic design of it, and I'm going to carefully consider each design choice, beginning with the user interface:

A more streamlined look.
I've tried to streamline the user interface to give it a less complicated and less intimidating look.  Now there's only three windows: one for chat, one for the main window, and one for directions.  I still feel that directional text is too important to get jumbled in with the main action window, and chat would be cumbersome there, as well.  But player actions, various descriptions, realtime text, and error messages are all being condensed into the main action text field.

I've also tried to get closer to a classic look by removing the basic Flash textfield borders and creating a text-based border.

One problem I've discovered is the way things stretch when you maximize the window, distorting the placement of the textfields, so I'm going to lock the window to 1024x768 (which is far larger than old games anyway), which gives plenty of room so things don't seem cramped, but still gives off (hopefully) the feel of those old text adventures.

Latchkey attempt number two begins...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I'm back

Hectic month with moving and such, but that's all done now.  I'm going to get back to at least a semi-regular posting schedule again, as things are starting to settle down.

I've got a slew of projects to get on, so the blog may be scattershot for a while (as it should be).  I'm restarting Latchkey, and continuing work on FissureVerse, so at minimum you've got those to look forward to.  I think I also promised a while ago that I'd begin showing some work on a tabletop RPG I've been designing, so there may or may not be something presentable for that.  Other little projects here or there may pop up when I'm in the mood, like working on those DOOM levels or making some corrections to Dominion expansions.

All in all, lots of work to do!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Flash Game Mini-Review: Dangerous Dungeons

Title Screen

I waited quite a while to review this game, mainly because I don't like to give positive reviews of games I haven't beaten.  Dangerous Dungeons probably should have been an exception.

It took me ages to beat the last level, but in a good way.  Dangerous Dungeons is a frustrating, challenging pixelated puzzle platformer that would feel right at home on an eight- or sixteen-bit system.  Not only does it evoke the graphics of that era, but the challenge, gameplay, and even music, as well.

It's a simple game, in terms of story: get the loot in the dangerous dungeons.  It's also a simple game in terms of controls: left, right, and Z to jump.

But using just those simple mechanics, it really shines in the level design.  Every level is unique, and the difficulty ramps up perfectly.  My only real complaint is that there aren't enough levels--there's 34, but it seems to go by too quick.  I very much hope for a sequel that is simply more of the same.

Big scary level
Simple, yet challenging.
There's a Story Mode and a Time Attack Mode, which are fairly self-explanatory.  You have unlimited lives and unlimited time in both, but there are achievements for beating Time Attack in ten or fewer lives, and in thirty minutes or less.  Regular Story Mode was so brutal, I don't think I'll ever be able to beat Time Attack.  You can also enable checkpoints if you like, though I never tried; I assume it's for the levels that are longer than a single screen, like the four boss battles or the three secret levels.

As a minor complaint, it would have been nicer to have the Level Select be a menu or something other than a long corridor.  While it's nice to see your progress in a straight line, I took so many sessions to beat the last level, I got sick of running a mile before trying again.

But overall, Dangerous Dungeons is a thorough challenge for those who enjoy the likes of old school platformers and want a taste of new nostalgia.

You can play Dangerous Dungeons here.

Update: Dangerous Christmas is an ice-themed level pack!