Robert Boyd of Zeboyd Games. Designer, programmer, writer, and friend.

Apr 122012

Before I begin this week’s installment of Kickstarter news, let me thank everyone who stopped by our booth at PAX East last week. The whole convention was quite possibly the most work I’ve ever done in a 3 day period but it was rewarding to meet fans, reviewers, and other developers, and the response for our game was fantastic. Oh and the panel was amazing. Thank you.

Wasteland 2 is nearing the end of its road with 4 days left to go and $2.35 million raised. At $3 million, they’ll add free mod tools to the games so hopefully it’ll get a last minute boost. The Banner Saga is still going strong with $482k raised and a little over a week left. Valdis Story is up to $24k funding (300%+ their goal). Shadowrun Returns is doing fantastic with $858k raised ($400k goal) and 16 days left. The Leisure Suit Larry and Jane Jensen kickstarters are both at about half funding with a few weeks left to go. And Spriter is going strong and has passed its goal of $25k.

Class of Heroes and Map Monsters are both failing big-time.  I’ve discussed Class of Heroes’ many faults in the past, but as for Map Monsters, my guess is that freemium is instant death to a kickstarter.

Republique is the big new kickstarter these days. Billed as a stealth survival game, it sounds quite cool. Only problem is that it’s only coming out on iOS. At $55k of their $500k goal and a month left to go, it has a chance – hopefully the lack of platforms doesn’t hurt them too much.

The popular Yogscast is getting turned into a video game called Yogventures. Looks to be a 3D open world game with nice cartoony graphics. It’s at $174k of its $250k goal so this one’s almost definitely getting done.

As far as kickstarters that bother me go, we have Echoes of Eternia. Lots of grand promises but a few pieces of concept art and a couple screenshots full of stock RPGMaker tiles doesn’t exactly prove that you have the ability to make an epic 30+ hour RPG complete with voice acting, especially when you’re a brand new studio. Comments like we’ll use part of the funding for “Legalities like Copyrights and Trademarks” makes me think they really don’t know what they’re doing. The project is already past its funding goal of $10k (at $15k right now) but I predict this is one project that won’t actually get finished… or if it does, it’ll be several years after the 1 year goal they have right now.

Star Command had one of the most successful video game kickstarters before Double Fine Adventures came in and changed everything. It sounded like quite a fun little game – basically a lighthearted non-licensed Star Trek sim. Now, there’s a teaser trailer:

I didn’t really see anything new that I wanted to recommend for this week so how about something that’s been up for a while? Team Notion is a cute beat-em-up that only has a few days left. They’re only at 50% of their modest $3k goal – why not give them a last-minute bump past their goal?

 Posted by at 8:17 am
Apr 042012

Welcome to the third installment of my weekly Kickstarter Video Game Report! These normally come out at the end of the week, on or around Friday, but I’m leaving to go to Boston to show off our upcoming new game at PAX East so I’m writing this week’s installment early. Not to worry though – there’s lots of interesting stuff to report!

First up, the recap!

The Wasteland 2 kickstarter got a shot of adrendaline when they announced that Obsidian Entertainment & Chris Avellone (of Planescape: Torment fame) would help with the project if they reached $2.1 million. They’re currently at $1.9 million, quite a jump in just a few days. ARG Zombies and Takedown both made surprising comebacks and managed to reach their goals in the nick of time. The Banner Saga has slowed down, but it’s still very comfortably over its goal with $360k. My new pick for last week, Valdis Story is killing it with nearly $16k ($8k goal) and over 3 weeks left to go. And not surprisingly, the Vic Ireland/Monkey Paw Games kickstarter Class of Heroes 2 kickstarter isn’t doing so hot with only $59k of their $500k goal reached and their momentum almost completely gone.

One of the most interesting news for today is that Jane Jensen (Gabriel Knight) has started a new studio and is looking to fund their first games with a kickstarter. Donating not only gives you 1 or more of their releases this coming year, but also gives you a vote as to which of 3 projects they choose to tackle. Gabriel Knight is generally considered to be one of the finest point & click adventure games of all time so it’ll be interesting to watch her new studio’s progress.

In related news, other Sierra Online veterans have recently started a kickstarter to reboot the Leisure Suit Larry franchise with a remake of the first game. The kickstarter has only been up for a day or two and they’ve already raised over $150k of their $500k goal so this one looks like it’s probably getting funded.

I was a huge fan of the old Shadowrun SNES RPG and so it is with great excitement that I point you to this kickstarter to make a new Shadowrun RPG video game. It’s going to be turn-based, it’s going to implement a dialogue system similar to the SNES game “with a new twist or two” and the project is staffed by many Shadowrun veterans including the original creator. They’re only at $29k of their $400k goal so this one NEEDS your support. EDIT: I guess the Shadowrun kickstarter was still relatively new when I posted. A few hours later and they’re at $141k. Still should be supported though. 🙂

This week’s pick for smaller kickstarter to watch out for is Spriter. Although not actually a game, Spriter is software to create sprites for use in games. Looks like a quality project and at $22k+ of their $25k goal already with over 3 weeks to go, this one is likely to succeed.

That’s it for this week’s early installment! Stay tuned for next week! And if you’re going to be attending PAX East, be sure to stop by booth 678 and say hi!

EDIT: Breaking news! Richard Garfield (creator of Magic: The Gathering) just started a kickstarter for a GPS-based iOS game called Map Monsters. Modest goal of $40k.

 Posted by at 8:18 am
Feb 142012

So You Want to Be an Indie Game Developer?

First off, enjoying the playing videogames is not the same as making them. Seems pretty obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people assume that just because they like to play videogames, they’d also enjoy making them. If anything, deciding to make videogames will actually cut into your time playing them, at least until you’ve made it big and have enough money to turn game development into your full-time career.

Making games is not about the sudden burst of inspiration and brilliant ideas. Oh, don’t get me wrong – you’ll get those too (and if you don’t, game development might not be for you), but they account for a relatively small percentage of your game development time. The vast majority of your time will be spent slowly constructing the game, whether that’s by writing line after line of code, drawing sprite after sprite, composing song after song, or any of the other tasks that needs to be performed to have an actual game. While having a completed game is rewarding and fun, the process itself also involves a lot of tedium and frustration along the way.

Start small and work your way up. When you’re just starting off, you’re not good enough to make your dream game. For that matter, you might not be good enough to make a game that someone will be willing to buy. Doesn’t matter. The time you spend now making Text Adventure Game Extreme! or The New Adventures of Bootleg Pac-Man is time that you’ll be learning your craft so that you can make your dream games eventually. It is also crucial to see a project through to completion – even with a simpler game, the experience you gain from finishing a project teaches invaluable lessons on how to proceed with more ambitious games.

You’re probably not going to make much if any money at first. Don’t let it discourage you. When you see a successful indie developer, chances are they made several games before they had their big hit. The successful indie developers are the ones who don’t stop when they hit a setback.

Learn from your mistakes. When you release a game and it doesn’t do as well as you expected, figure out why. Maybe the gameplay was good but the amateurish graphics scared people off. Maybe it was too similar to another game. Maybe you released it on the wrong platform. Maybe the price was wrong. Figure out what you did wrong and how you can improve in that area so that you don’t make the same mistake next time.

Before you make a game, plan out the game’s scope. Individual features will often change as you come up with new ideas or discover that old ideas don’t work out as well as you thought, but if you have an idea of the general scope of your game, you can avoid it turning into a project that’s beyond your time and abilities. Perhaps the number one killer of indie game projects is feature creep.

Don’t do it alone. A few people are multi-talented geniuses and can make a fantastic game all by themselves. Most of us are not. Once you have some small confidence in your talents, find someone or a group that can compliment your strengths and make up for your weaknesses. Share ideas, insight, and progress – this will help keep everyone motivated.  Motivation and momentum are absolutely crucial.

Make games that people will want to buy. It’s not enough to just make good games. Your games need to be different enough from what else is out there that people will want to buy your games instead of the alternative. Remember, you’re not just competing against other indie games, you’re competing against big blockbuster games, older classics, and in short, everything out there. You need a unique hook, in gameplay, concept, execution, or whatever – if you don’t, then why go for your game over someone else’s?

Seek feedback especially before but also after release. Don’t become defensive when someone offers criticism. Analyze the complaint and see if it’s valid. If several people have the same complaint, it’s probably valid.

Spread the word. You can have the best and most original game in the world but if no one knows about it, it won’t sell. Create a list with media contacts to send news and free copies of your game to. Become an active user on various forums or where people who might like your game gather. Create a website, a twitter, a facebook, and other forms of social media for your company.

Be nice. If you’re nice, people will help you to succeed. If you’re nice and your games are good, people will buy your games. If you’re not nice, they’ll just pirate them.

Start now. You’re never too young or too old to begin game development. The sooner you begin, the sooner you’ll gain the skills necessary for you to eventually make the best game ever!

 Posted by at 9:01 am
Oct 102011

Dark Souls has gotten a lot of attention for featuring an extremely high level of difficulty, however it would be unfair to dismiss it as just another masochistic game. In this article, I examine nine areas that Dark Souls excels in and discuss how we can apply those lessons towards improving game design.

Level Design – Dark Souls has some of the most complex sets of level designs I’ve ever seen in a game. Each level typically has one main path but countless detours, secret areas, and shortcuts, and is usually connected to a number of other levels at various points as well. Despite the high level of complexity and my horrible sense of direction, I’ve rarely gotten lost in the game DESPITE the complete absence of an in-game map! The fact that the game can maintain such a high level of map complexity without completely confusing the player is a testament to the skill of the developer’s ability to create memorable areas, both through the visual style and through the memorable events that happen therein.

One aspect of the level design that bears special mention is the game’s use of 3D space. The game is full of stairs, inclines, ladders, and cliffs. Rarely a minute passes where the player isn’t going up or down in some way. Even when there are not actual parts of the level above or below the player, there are always interesting things to look at in all directions such as the cavernous roof with a small opening for strange light in the top of the cave that you’re exploring or the valley below the cliffside undead village that you’re fighting for your life in.

If you’re a professional level designer, you need to study the level design in Dark Souls to gain a better understanding of how you can improve your craft. If you’re making a 3D game, take advantage of that fact and build your levels in every direction, not just x & y.

Sense of Scope – This aspect goes along with the level design but is sufficiently important to be worth discussing individually. Not since Shadow of the Colossus came out in 2005 have I seen a game that has such a great mastery of portraying the scope of its world to the player. While you’re exploring an area in Dark Souls, you might see a castle on the distant horizon. In most games, that castle would just be a nice piece of background art that the artists drew ’cause it looks pretty. Not in Dark Souls. Keep playing and no doubt before too long, you’ll actually be exploring that castle (and have found something new on the horizon that you’ll explore later).

This sense of scope also applies to the game’s enemies. There are moments where you might see something in the distant that’s so far off that you’re not even sure what it is. Get a little closer and you may realize to your abject horror that the huge thing you see is alive and will probably destroy you without a moment’s thought if you get any closer.

By portraying a sense of scope to the player, Dark Souls makes its world, enemies and quests feel epic in a way that simply having a long game would not accomplish. Dark Souls does this through its use of levels and enemies, but there are other ways to give a sense of scope. For example, in the old SNES RPG, Lufia, the game begins with a playable introduction that lets the player use a group of legendary heroes. By seeing their power and the power of their foes firsthand, it gives a clear sense of the range of power in that world right from the start.

Enemy variety – It boggles my mind how so many big budget games today can have huge worlds, and then fail to populate them with interesting enemies. Take Deus Ex: Human Revolution for example. It’s a good and often great game, but in the first 6 hours of playing it, I only saw one real enemy archetype – guy with gun. Sure, some of the guys were walking and others were standing around, some of them were soldiers and others were punks, some had sniper rifles and others had machine guns, but for most practical purposes, the vast majority of enemies were very similar to each other, both visually and mechanically. How boring.

Not Dark Souls. Just in the first hour or two, I saw skeletons that won’t stay dead, ghosts that could only be hurt under specific conditions, undead soldiers with a variety of weapons (including fire bombs), poisonous rats, well armored knights, and some impressive bosses. Sure, many of the enemies were fantasy archetypes, but they each had their own distinct visual style that set them apart and more importantly, they behaved differently from each other thus resulting in more varied gameplay.

Environmental combat – Walk to an arena. Have enemies spawn. Kill the enemies to unlock the next arena. Repeat. Bleh.

When did we forget that the environment can be a great way to add variety and depth to combat? Exploring a tight passage way in Dark Souls? Guess you’d better put away that huge broadsword since its wide swings will just bounce off the walls. On a narrow ledge high above a deadly fall? Be wary of using fast, weak weapons because you might just combo yourself into an early grave. Better yet, you might decide to knock off that tough enemy off a cliff and avoid an otherwise hard fight.

Just fighting can get old. Add non-enemy factors like the environment to keep your combat engaging throughout the entire game.

Death matters – Stuck on a relatively hard part of your typical AAA game? No worries – just keep trying until you get lucky. Death doesn’t matter since you can just reload whenever you mess up.

In Dark Souls, death hurts…some of the time. You lose all of your souls (the game’s currency) whenever you die, but if you can return to the spot of your death without dying again, you can reclaim them. Dying does return you to the last bonfire you’ve activated, but those are usually never more than a few minutes away, what with all the shortcuts you unlock. It’s a far cry from the old 8-bit games where you could have been playing for an hour or two and have to start the entire game over due to running out of lives, but there’s still a penalty involved for failure. And hey, sometimes you can take advantage of the death system – items are not lost upon death so making a nearly suicidal run to grab a valuable piece of equipment or treasure before your demise can be a valid strategy at times.

When failure has no penalty, tension is lost and victory becomes a matter of inevitability and loses its feeling of triumph.

Freedom of Solution – I’m currently playing a sorcerer in Dark Souls who wields a giant holy halberd. A halberd, for those unfamiliar with ancient weaponry, is basically a spear with an axe at the end. A wizard who is a master of the giant spear/axe – how often have you seen that in a game?

Dark Souls gives the player a wealth of possible equipment, stats, spells and items to play with and lets them forge their own solutions to the game’s many challenges. Not only that, but the order that the player attempts those challenges is largely left up to the player (although some areas are easier than others).

By allowing the player to dictate their style of gameplay, you let them play the game they want to play and not the game you think they should be playing.

Style and creativity trump technology – Dark Souls doesn’t have the most advanced engine out on the market. The frame rate suffers in the more demanding areas, the ragdoll physics sometimes result in laughable results (like when an enemy corpse gets stuck on your foot and you start dragging them around), the textures aren’t always the highest quality, and the camera doesn’t always do what you might want it to. However, in 10 years, when people will have long forgotten many of the more technologically advanced games released this year in favor of even more technologically advanced games, people will still be going back and playing Dark Souls and thinking “What a beautiful game this is!” The game presents an amazing and cohesive world filled with terrifying enemies and that’s what matters.

A great engine is nice, but vision is more important. The engine should serve the design’s purpose and not the other way around.

Progression isn’t just stats – About 5 hours into the game, I decided I wanted to start over and try a drastically different character build. I was able to surpass my progress from the first time in less than half the time that it had taken me the first time around. My stats weren’t any better the second time, but I had gained experience and understanding into the game’s mechanics, the enemies, and the levels that allowed me to make much more rapid progression.

Allowing the player’s character to level up is great. Allowing the player themselves to level up is even better. Well designed games have enough depth that the player can constantly improve themselves.

Multiplayer for people who hate multiplayer – I’m not a big fan of most multiplayer games. Sure, it’s fun if you can get your friends together to play some co-op, but with most of my friends scattered around the world and all of us with our own jobs, families, and lives, it sometimes feels like more work than it’s worth to arrange a multiplayer game session. Playing with random strangers is an option, but from past experience, I’ve found that for every decent mature player that you run into, you’re bound to run into twice as many immature ones. Again, it doesn’t feel worth it.

Dark Souls handles multiplayer in a way I can appreciate. You can read and leave messages for other players offering tips (only using a set vocabulary and syntax so you don’t have to worry about long strings of obscenities). You can occasionally catch a glimpse of another player in your vicinity. And players can join other players as both friends and foes using certain items. However, if you want to, you can ignore all this (just stay undead all the time if you’re worried about invading players).

Would it be nice for the more multiplayer inclined players out there if there was a robust matchmaking system that let you team up with your friends? Oh, probably. However, the way it is currently set up is ideal for people like myself who aren’t fans of traditional multiplayer experiences.

Conclusion – Dark Souls is not a perfect game but it is a well designed one. As game designers, we would be well advised to learn the lessons it has to teach.

 Posted by at 4:37 pm
Aug 242011

Since I expect we’ll get a lot of new visitors after our big announcement at PAX later this week, I thought some introductions to bring the newcomers up to speed might be in order. Hopefully some of this information will be new to our longtime fans as well.

Zeboyd Games was created in 2010. The first game that we released was Breath of Death VII: The Beginning. Our second game was Cthulhu Saves the World. You can get both games on PC via Steam here, via Gamersgate here, or on the XBox 360 here and here. We have received a number of positive reviews from sites like Eurogamer, Joystiq, and RPGamer.

Our third game will be announced at PAX later this week. We’re all very excited. 🙂

Zeboyd Games is primarily a 2-man operation. There’s me, Robert Boyd – I do the design, writing, and programming – and there’s Bill Stiernberg – he does the graphics, animation, and level designs. In addition to helping to make our games, Bill has also gained a certain amount of Internet fame for having one of the oldest DNF preorders. We’ve also worked with various talented individuals such as Gordon McNeil (did the music for Cthulhu Saves the World) and Alex Mauer (doing the music for the secret game that will be announced at PAX).

As for me personally, here are some random factoids:

I’m 30 years old, married, and have 4 daughters.

My top 10 favorite games of all time in no particular order are probably:  Resident Evil 4, Siren 2, Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX, <Insert newest Civilization game here>, Titan Quest, League of Legends, Chrono Trigger, Persona 4, Lunar: Eternal Blue, and Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne.

My oldest daughter’s favorite game is Final Fantasy IV.

My younger daughters’s favorite game is Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure.

My wife’s favorite game is Plants vs. Zombies.

My favorite authors are Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, and Brandon Sanderson.

My favorite mangaka is Junji Ito.

I lived in Taiwan for several years and speak Mandarin Chinese as a second language.

My favorite color is purple but only if it’s dark. Like Evil Purple.

Now as for how I got into game development…

I’ve been a fan of RPGs ever since I first heard about the original Dragon Warrior and have long wanted to make them. When Microsoft announced their XBLIG service that would allow anyone to make games I was very excited. I started out by making a couple of text adventures – Epiphany in Spaaace! and Molly the Were-Zompire. Then I played Guadia Quest (one of the games in Retro Game Challenge) and thought, “I could totally pull this off!” Thus Breath of Death VII: The Beginning was born.

My basic design philosophy is that the RPG genre is a great field with limitless possibilities that can be unlocked through a combination of learning from the past and trying out new things. Many developers and publishers seem to feel that the RPG genre is broken and the only way to make good RPGs these days is by combining them with other genres. Now don’t get me wrong – there have been a number of great hybrid RPGs like Mass Effect, Bioshock, and Borderlands that I’ve enjoyed playing – but I think there’s still a place for innovation and quality in the RPG genre without needing to change the genre into something it’s not. I think we’re seeing a lot of this promise in the indie game scene with quality, innovative games like Desktop Dungeons, Recettear, Dungeons of Dredmor, and hopefully our games (both present and future) as well.

And here’s Bill introduction!

I’m 27, and I’m about to be married (Yay! 🙂 ).  I have an engineering degree with a minor in business, and I’m a licensed attorney. My legal background (focused on IP) is incredibly useful for our team and company.  My passion has always been the videogame industry.

My favorite games in no particular order include Super Mario Bros., Chrono Trigger, Quake 3, Super Metroid, StarFox, Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid 3, Castlevania SOTN, Street Fighter IV. I enjoy almost every genre.

As far as game development, I’ve always been interested and involved with it my whole life.  I used to code my own games in QBasic, and later worked on mods and maps for popular FPS games.  I vastly prefer making game assets to coding, but having some experience in that area has been invaluable.  When I started working with Robert, it seemed the ideal situation for both of us.  We both have a passion for making games, and we appreciate the classics as well as newer well-known and lesser-known games.  I love working within the RPG genre, as bringing life to our team’s ideas and producing these worlds and characters is extremely rewarding.

 Posted by at 1:23 pm
Jul 262011

From Dust Review

From Dust is the first game that Eric Chahi has designed in over 10 years. As a huge fan of his past work (Out of this World/Another World and Heart of Darkness), I was very eager to give From Dust a try. What I found was very different than what I had expected.

In From Dust, you control a disembodied force that is trying to help and protect various aborigine tribes. In the story mode, your goal is to help the tribes create villages at set points on the map which will eventually unlock a gateway that permits travel to the next map.  You also have the secondary goals of spreading vegetation across the land and finding secret points.  You do all this by telling the villagers to travel to set locations on the map, absorbing elements like sand and water and depositing them elsewhere, and by using various spells. For example, if a river blocks your path, you might grab a big chunk of sand and place it at a specific point so as to redirect the river and allow safe passage.

From Dust features what is quite possibly the best depiction of water in any video game to date. The water looks amazing and behaves just like you would expect it to. It’s very fun to just mess around with the maps and see how the water reacts as you change the face of the landscape. And when a typhoon approaches a village and the villagers use the Repel Water spell, the results are breathtaking.

Unfortunately, just messing around with the landscape was the source of most of my enjoyment in the story mode. Simply put, the story mode isn’t very good. It walks an uncomfortable line between sandbox game and strategy game and doesn’t really do either justice. There aren’t enough options to make for a truly compelling sandbox game and the tasks that need to be accomplished in order to proceed aren’t interesting enough to make for a rewarding strategy game. Not only that, but the controls can be annoying at times – like trying to grab some water but grabbing sand instead because your cursor was slightly off.

To make matters worse, the game subscribes to the Braid philosophy of story design of “Tell, don’t show.” Most of the story is locked away in hidden paragraphs of text, with very little of the story coming up while actually playing game. Given that Eric Chahi has shown himself to be quite capable of telling moving stories without words in his past games, the fact that From Dust relies so heavily on exposition from outside the game itself is highly disappointing.

However, all is not lost! Though I found the story mode to be a disappointment, the challenge mode is a different matter all together. This mode contains a number of puzzle levels – maps where you are given a limited set of powers and a time limit and asked to complete a certain task. The first few levels in Challenge mode aren’t too exciting, but the difficulty and cleverness of the levels quickly increases as you go on. There were a number of moments where I thought I had the right solution but it wasn’t working out. Then I had an “Aha!” moment where I realized that doing something drastically different would provide a much more elegant solution to the problem. If that’s not the sign of a great puzzle game, I don’t know what is.

Whether or not you enjoy From Dust will depend on what you expect out of it. As a story-based strategy game, it is a failure. As a sandbox God game, it’s somewhat fun but lacks depth but as a puzzle game, it’s unique and even has moments of brilliance. Score accordingly.

From Dust come out tomorrow on XBLA.

 Posted by at 10:51 am
Jul 202011

Dwarfs!? review

Dwarfs!? is a game of chaos. The titular dwarfs continually spawn from your bases and then randomly head off in any direction. When left to their own devices, they’ll inevitably unleash some disaster like a flood, lava flow, or monster hive. It’s up to you to keep them from destroying themselves, while simultaneously earning the most gold and racking up the highest possible score for the online leaderboards. Like multi-tasking? If your answer is yes, then Dwarfs!? could be the game for you.

Dwarfs like to dig and love gold which is good for you since gold is the key to everything you do. You can use gold to tell a specific dwarf to go to a specific spot (ideally a spot full of riches), use it to build additional outposts, use it to create and upgrade warrior dwarfs (essential for fighting off enemies), and use it to quarantine off disaster areas. I have heard some people complain about the fact that directing individual dwarfs costs gold, but as long as you let the dwarfs move on their own most of the time and only intervene when you need to (or when it’s profitable), I didn’t find it to be a problem.

The main mode of the game lets you pick a difficulty level and a time limit and then tasks you with gaining the most points possible. Changing the speed of the game doesn’t affect how quickly the time runs out so there’s a balancing act – you want to go as fast as possible to get the most gold and earn the most points, but at the same time, you don’t want to go so fast that you neglect a problem before it’s too late and your tunnels are all full of lava or infested with horrible monsters. The game’s scoring system gives the player points for reaching various milestones as well as certain achievements and there’s much fun to be had just in discovering what actions give the most points.

The game also has other modes like Rush mode where instead of giving the player a time limit, dwarfs are spawned at a very fast rate and the game ends when 200 dwarfs die and Campaign mode which contains short specific scenarios like protect your base for a set amount of time while natural disasters approach from every direction. My favorite mode, however, is Base Defense which is a full blown tower defense game using some of the monsters from the regular game. The catch is that in the first few rounds, the player can use their gold to dig out the path that the enemies will take – creating a well designed route is essential to doing well in this mode.

Between the various modes and difficulty levels, there’s a lot more game here than you might think at first glance. And the option to pick a time limit in some modes is very welcome as it makes the game easy to fit into your schedule whether you have just a few minutes or a few hours.

If you’re looking for a complex mining simulator, look elsewhere. However, if you enjoy fast paced arcade games with a dash of RTS and an emphasis on improving your score, Dwarfs!? comes highly recommended.

Dwarfs!? is available on Steam for $10.

 Posted by at 5:32 pm
Jun 232011

Cthulhu Saves the World/Breath of Death VII combo pack coming to Steam & Gamersgate on July 13 for $3

Cthulhu Saves the World and Breath of Death VII: The Beginning will be available on the PC for the first time on July 13th, 2011. The two games will be bundled together in a convenient combo pack that will sell for a mere $3 from Steam and Gamersgate. Friends and family of the developers attribute the low price to cosmic insanity, induced by the developer’s prolonged exposure to Lovecraftian monstrosities.

Cthulhu Saves the World:

The lord of insanity, Cthulhu was all set to plunge the world into insanity and destruction when his powers were sealed by a mysterious sorcerer. The only way for him to break the curse is to become a true hero. Save the world to destroy it in an epic parody RPG journey of redemption, romance, and insanity!

Not content to merely repackage existing content and sell it at an insanely low price, the PC version of Cthulhu Saves the World will feature numerous improvements over the original XBox 360 release. Dubbed the Cthulhu Saves the World: Super Hyper Enhanced Championship Edition Alpha Diamond DX Plus Alpha FES HD – Premium Enhanced Game of the Year Collector’s Edition (without Avatars!) or CSTW:SHECEADDPAFH – PEGYCE (WA!) for short, the new version will include such features as:

Cthulhu’s Angels game mode – Cthulhu is too lazy to save the world so he talks a bunch of beautiful women into saving it for him! This remix mode features new dialogue, new playable characters (Molly the Were-Zompire! Elonalina the generic healer! Dark Knight Umi! Low level October!), new music, new abilities, and much, much more!

Director’s Commentary mode – Specially marked commentary icons scattered throughout the game tell the inside story on how one of pop culture’s most popular cosmic monstrosities became an RPG hero for great justice!

Rebalanced Gameplay – Many abilities and monsters have been rebalanced for even silkier smooth RPG gameplay! Plus a new Insanity difficulty mode and new super-hard bonus dungeon have been added to challenge even the best players ability to grind out higher LVs (because they’re really not as skilled as they like to brag)!

Unlockable Character Bromides – Due to the frothing demand for sexy Cthulhu art!

As well as all of the great features of the original release such as:

Old school RPG style mixed with modern design sensibilities!
Inflict insanity upon your opponents for fun and profit!
6-10 hour quest with unlockable game modes & difficulty levels for increased replay value.
All of the great features players know and love from Breath of Death VII: The Beginning have returned – fast-paced gameplay, combo system, random encounter limits, branching LV-Ups, and more!

These enhancements will also be made available to owners of the 360 version of the game via a free patch released at or near the PC version’s release date.

Breath of Death VII: The Beginning:

Resurrect the classic era of RPGs with the retro parody RPG, Breath of Death VII: The Beginning. Join Dem the Skeleton Knight, Sara the ghost historian, Lita the vampire techie, and Erik the zombie prince as they explore an undead world in search of the secrets of the past. Laugh! Cry! Laugh some more!

Key features:

Old school RPG style mixed with modern design sensibilities!
Fast-paced turn based combat!
4-6 hour quest with multiple game modes & difficulty levels for added replay value.
Easy to understand branching character customization system with frequent LV-Ups.
Multi-character unite techniques and combo break system for added depth!
PC enhancements – Save anywhere functionality, new Easy mode, and new customization options.

Check out what the press are saying about our RPGs:

“It’s rare to find a game that is both entertaining and genuinely funny, and so far Cthulhu Saves the World is both.”

“So when I say Cthulhu Saves The World is already one of my favourite games of 2011 you can be sure I’ve not been swayed by its astonishingly precise pastiche of early 1990s JRPG cliches, strident synth music, chunky menus and all. It’s simply a really clever, hugely enjoyable game, and it’s as much honest tribute as cheeky spoof.”

Breath of Death VII: The Beginning is a real surprise. It’s an RPG that feels like it was a classic from back in the day, but it doesn’t have any RPG hang-ups.”

“For an RPG whose sheer fun factor is on par with a lot of the $30 to $60 games people shell out multiple bills for, it’s an extreme bargain.”
-RPGFan Breath of Death VII review

Breath of Death VII: The Beginning/Cthulhu Saves the World
-Winner of RPGamer’s 2010 Best Downloadable award

For press inquiries and media assets for Cthulhu Saves the World, Breath of Death VII: The Beginning and Zeboyd Games, contact Robert Boyd at or visit our website at

 Posted by at 3:32 pm