Aug 10

Order of the Thorne The King’s Challenge – Post-mortem

I’ve written this post-mortem about five times over the last couple of months. It’s hard because I feel like I’m clutching at straws trying to nail down something as concrete as “these are the three main reasons TKC failed”. Rest assured, this game was a commercial failure. We might make some of our money back on the longer tail that adventure games have, as well as sales and such, but it’s not going to be enough to fund the next game.

Here’s the simple truth for most, if not all, indie developers. The success of the next game is life or death for your company. It’s only when you get a catalog of games that have residual income coming in can you afford a poor selling release. Even then, it’s tough.

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Jan 21

Order of the Thorne – 5 days to go!

The Grand Master of the Order of the Thorne looked up from her desk as Kunchen, a Monk of the Order, was escorted into her chambers. “Greetings, Brother. Thank you for coming so quickly.”

“Of course, Grand Master. I am always at your service,” he replied while he looked around the Grand Master’s chambers. The furnishings were sparse, as he had expected from someone of her position, while the bulk of the room was taken up by the large oak desk which the Grand Master was currently sitting behind. Everything on the desk was in order, neatly stacked piles of papers sat to the side of the one she was currently working on while her quill and ink-well sat neatly above them. The only other item on her desk was the seal of the Order, used on any official communications such as the letter which brought him here today.

“Brother Kunchen, I’ve asked you here today to take on a very special mission for the Order. Our monestary in the Faerie Realm has been left unmanned for a number of months since our brother there passed away. I’d like you to take up the monastary there, conduct any repairs it may require and fly the flag of the Order, so to speak,” the Grand Master said.

Kunchen was taken aback at the request, “Thank you for the honor Grand Master. I would gladly do so.”

“Good! Good. Speak to my chamberlain about anything you require for your journey when you leave,” she said by way of dismissing him. “I will Grand Master. And thank you again.” Brother Kunchen walked out of the room and closed the door quietly behind him, his head already full of the plans he had to make for his mission. The Grand Master watched him leave and for a moment envied him. To run a monastary was a high honor. Of course, to be Grand Master was also a high honor, but with much more responsibility. Sighing, she returned to the paper she was studying before Brother Kunchen had interrupted her.

“Not good. Not good at all,” she whispered to herself. “We should have heard back by now. I shall have to send someone to see what’s happening there. Brother Caradoc should do.” Making a note on the paper she put it aside and took the next one from the pile, quickly reading it. “Why would the crystal mines have stopped production…”

Jan 19

Order of the Thorne Q&A – 7 Days to go!

Before we start, here’s the brand new trailer for newest game, Order of the Thorne: The King’s Challenge, which is out January 26th.

This time next week you’ll be able to get the first Order of the Thorne game, and we’re very excited to see what everyone thinks! To kick off our launch week celebrations we give you an interview with Shawn Mills, Executive Producer of The King’s Challenge and ask him the tough questions!

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Jan 05

Deconstructing Quest for Infamy – The Game

It’s been over a year since our first commercial game, Quest for Infamy, was released and with the impending release of our next two games I figured it was as good a time as any to look back at what we’d done and make some of my thoughts public. I’m going to try and be objective in this article, but as with anything creative, a lot of ourselves went into it so a lot of the time things I like or hate are my personal feelings. There’s plenty of reviews on the internet if you want to see what other people thought!

Quest for Infamy


Steve (Steven Alexander – my partner is this crazy game creation business) and I have talked a lot about our game in the time since it’s release and we’re pretty much on the same page with this stuff, so while I’m making writing this post, we’re both in agreement about it. Two final thoughts before we start, a lot of people worked very hard on this game so I’m using the the terms “we” and “our” when talking about it to simplify matters. And secondly, this is going to be quite a long post, so grab a drink!

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Nov 17

Roehm’s Adventure Continues

We have been talking a lot about Order of the Thorne : The King’s Challenge lately, and rightly so because it’s a bloody fun game, but I just wanted to let you all know we hadn’t forgotten our Mr William Roehm!

Roehm’s adventures continue (or should that be begin?) in Roehm to Ruin, the second of our games to be released very soon. One of the early events that happens is this shakedown of his friend Gareth, a local fish-monger and supplier of illegal pharmaceutical enhancements. Does Roehm help out his friend? Does he run and get some guards? Does he help the thief? You’ll work it out, we’re sure!

Roehm to Ruin

Roehm interrupts to shake down! (Artwork may change for final release)

Roehm to Ruin is now complete and all the graphical assets are in the game and working a treat! The game is being tested as we speak (or type in my case) and after some more runs through the testing machine we’ll get the speech recorded and in-game, for your listening pleasure!

Apr 29

Order of the Thorne: Fortress of Fire

This went out as an update to our amazing backers a couple of days ago, but we thought we’d share it with everyone because we’re just so darn excited about this game!

We thought it was about time we shared a bit more information about Fortress of Fire, the second title in our Order of the Thorne anthology series. With a week to go before our Kickstarter campaign finishes, Fortress of Fire is getting close to being funded!

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Apr 14

Nostalgia … what’s it done for us lately?

I was thinking about nostalgia for computer games today. Adventure games specifically.

It’s not a stretch really because with our first game (Quest for Infamy – in case you missed it!) it was driven largely by that nostalgic feeling for adventure / RPG hybrid games. There’s a million (or maybe less) references in the game to those games of the “golden era”. Heck I wrote a chunk of them myself! I’m pretty sure there’s at least 3 references to a golden ring in a birds nest. And there’s something just great and satisfying about another person getting that reference and laughing at it too.

But where is that line between nods to the past and living in the past? I want to play a new game like Quest for Glory EGA but should it be a DOS game in 16 colours with vector drawing? Is that the extreme of nostalgia? To make new games that won’t even run on a modern system without emulation?

Or should we look at the past and see what was great about it? Should we take those elements that worked, like a great fairy tale story, and use modern tools to tell it? It’s possible to get so focused on making a game that brings back all those longingly remembered feelings from yesteryear that you can forget that computer games, players and the world at large has change one heck of a lot since then. And what worked then may not work now. Would any significant number of players today be satisfied with a command input (parser) style interface in a game? I would suggest the answer is no. Personally I love it, but I don’t think I’d make a game using it. Or what about using the save function to progress in the game? It was standard in classic games but it screams bad design today. Those two things though do invoke memories of playing Space Quest I with my dad and brothers and working our way through the game. Nostalgia.

We live in a time now where it’s possible for a group of people to make games without ever sitting in the same room. Where we have the choice in style and content that simply wasn’t possible at Sierra or LucasArts in the early 90’s. So the trick is to select the good things that worked but not to be limited by those limitations that those designers were limited by. We don’t have to worry about disk space (mostly). We’re not limited to a 256 colour pallet. Or vector based graphics. Or PC speaker beeps and boops.

With Infamous Quests we make a conscious design decision to make games with that “retro” look. God I hate that word “retro”, it’s so wide-ranging it could mean anything. I don’t consider the 2000’s pop culture to be retro but then 5 years ago 90’s pop culture wasn’t retro. It’s a subjective term that in the end means nothing because there’s no common ground for it. Anyway, that’s a different topic! So while we make those games with 2D hand drawn backgrounds, pixel animation and low resolution, that’s our choice – made for a variety of reasons including nostalgia, but also including costs and production time. (3D might be the way everything has gone in the last 2 decades but there’s no middle ground with it, it is either awesome like Pixar, Blizzard, Ubisoft, or it’s bad. Again though, a different topic!)

But our games are modern games. Under the hood is a modern engine fully compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Android and iOS. The sound isn’t limited to old midi forms, the graphics can be 24-bit in any size resolution. The voice pack can be as big as we want because we’re not limited to space. So while we make games that have that distinctive look made popular in the 80’s and 90’s, they’re not old fashioned in any other way. There’s no difference between that as a choice and a movie producer like Steven Spielburg using black and white to tell Schindler’s List.

So that’s my thoughts on adventure games today. Lets not live in the past, but look back and remember it fondly. It was awesome after all.

Apr 09

“So what do you actually do all day?”

First off, I want to apologize. This is a very self-involved post about something that I think about from time to time. Today I was asked by someone I know, “So what do you actually do all day?” followed up after me trying to summarize my typical day, with “It must be fun to play games all day.”

Making games and playing games are poles apart, I’m sorry to say. And there’s two roles I take at Infamous Quests. One is the creative side. I create games, whether it be design or programming or the occasional piece of artwork. The other side is the business side and that’s the side that takes most of my working day.

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