Things aren’t as busy or stressful here as they were earlier so it’s time for me to pay more attention to the website! Starting today, I’m going to be striving to bring new content to zeboyd.com every single day, Monday through Friday. I’ll still be doing my weekly Video Game kickstarter reports every Friday, but I’ll also being doing more developer diaries, game reviews, and general musings on the industry.
Speaking of reviews, I’ve noticed that few sites cover the Vita or its games very well so I’d like to focus more on that. If you’re a developer or publisher of a Vita game, regardless of whether its a full-fledged retail game, a midsized PSN-only release, or even a small indie PS Mobile title, send me an email at rdespair at gmail dot com with information about your game and a PSN code and I’ll be happy to review your game on zeboyd.com (as well as talk about it on the ever-popular werezompire twitter account). And of course, I’ll be buying my fair share of Vita games as well so I should have plenty to review even if I have to rely on my personal library. I’m also happy to review indie (and otherwise) games released on XBLA, PSN, and Steam, although I may have to be more selective in which games I cover just because there are so many great indie games coming out these days.
Now for an update on Penny Arcade’s On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3! We’re almost done working on both of the major free updates for Rain-Slick 3. In fact, the Atelier dungeon update has already passed XBLIG peer review so we’re just waiting for the go-ahead from Penny Arcade to launch it (they want a simultaneous launch with the mobile ports of the game which should be coming out later this month). The Rake update is basically done as well (just waiting on Jerry to finish up the new dialogue) and should be coming later this year.
Work on Rain-Slick 4 (the final game in the series) is progressing nicely. Bill has really outdone himself with the art he’s been doing for the new maps in RS4 – I think its his best work to date and a noticeable improvement over his already great Rain-Slick 3 art. On my side, I’ve been working on the general code & design – just finished designing all of the player combat abilities in the game (and IMO, some of them should lead to some interesting player builds & strategies). We know many of you are eager to see how the series ends so we’re hoping to have everything done ASAP so we can release the game early in 2013.
After, Rain-Slick 4, we have several different ideas for what we want to do next. I have one idea for a mostly traditional RPG that would be sort of a blend between Phantasy Star, Lunar, and Shadowrun that I definitely want to do sometime. However, part of me wants to challenge myself and try something a little different than our normal fare. If you’re a fan of Japanese-style RPGs, you know that most of them are very linear. There’s a set story & a set path that the player goes through and though there might be a sidequest or two here or there, for the most part, the storyline & map progression is set in stone. Most of the player creativity in these kinds of games comes through the combat & LVing systems – although you might be going through the exact same content as everyone else is, your party & battle strategies might be very different from someone else who is playing.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with mostly linear games. There are many highly acclaimed videogames throughout the ages that were highly linear and people loved them. Having a linear structure gives the developer many advantages – they can fine-tune the pacing & difficulty curve, they can provide many cool story moments since they know what’s going to happen, and they can put all of their resources & energy in the critical path since they don’t have to worry about creating about optional content as much.
However, I’ve been thinking that it might be fun to make a less-linear game…but not do it in your typical Western-style RPG epic way. Specifically, I was thinking something more like Tokyo Jungle as a full-fledged RPG. Here’s what I’m thinking:
Game takes place in a single massive city (preconstructed so it feels like an actual thought-out place and not just a randomly generated mishmosh).
No separation between combat & exploration.
Survivors who join your party.
No limit to maximum party size (but large parties have their own disadvantages).
Emphasis on exploration & survival rather than a predetermined story.
Perma-death – not just to make the game more difficult but to encourage the player to replay and try different things.
I have some more ideas on how to make this general concept work and make it awesome & unique (and not just a generic zombie game), but I gotta keep a few secrets to myself so we can surprise you when we actually make it.