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Flogging an Undead Cephalopod

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Sometimes you just have to admit defeat.

I have spent the last few months making a game called “Halls of Cthulhu“.

The premise of the game was to be a constantly shifting/changeable set of tiles that made up the game board, inspired in part by the Ravensburger¬† board game “Labyrinth“. But rather than slotting tiles into the board, tiles are revealed and changed according to a fluid ruleset. The player has to reach the center of the board, to retrieve the book of the dead, the “Necronomicon” and return with it to one of exit tiles to escape Riyadh, and the Halls of Cthulhu.

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Also within these halls, four shamblers wander aimlessly, whose mere presence threaten to drive the players insane. Indeed rather than health, or life points players have a limited number of sanity points, the exhaustion of which drives the players insane.

The only problem, designing an AI that could cope with the ever changing board and rule sets, and play an effective strategy to present a reasonable challenge to the human players. After a couple of months I had to admit that I was probably flogging an undead cephalopd, in terms of both the playability and actual fun of the game to play.

Time to move onto the next project, which I am definately going to keep simpler to preserve my sense of achievement. Something pirate flavoured maybe..

Ancient Inspiration and Toil

Before I started work on “Pyramid of the Pharaoh”, I worked on another project that at the time I called rather originally “MYRPG-Caves of Adventure”, which quickly developed into a rogue-like cave dungeon bash game. You can see an early prototype over here (MYRPG – Caves of Adventure) if you are lucky enough to get it to run.

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Any not long after I finished this prototype, which was borne out of my earliest memories of playing on the ZX Spectrum such games as Rebelstar Raiders, and the now infamous Laser Squad (or as its later incarnation as X-COM). I decided to ditch the fantasy genre and instead “relocate” to a post-apocalyptic world, and concentrate on the squad elements of the game. Hence the birth of “Bunker Mentality“.

After spending several years trying to finish the game and only ending up with something more and more nebulous than before, despite repeated attempts to cut back on the game remit, I put it aside.

You can see a video of where the game had got before I started work on Pyramid of the Pharaoh.

One off the Bucket List!!!

Pyramid of the Pharaoh, release for Android 4+ on the Google Play Store.

I finally launched/released my first “finished” game on the Google play store, “Pyramid of the Pharaoh“, which I personally would say is a board game set in a modern-fantasy setting, reminiscent of such games as Games Workshops‘ (Now distributed by Flight of Fantasy Games) Talisman.

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You pick one of six characters, each with their own unique ability, and travel around the board attempting to find the lost artifacts with which to defeat the Pharaoh and claim the legendary prize. Along the way you have to avoid traps and battle the Pharaoh’s minions as you try and navigate through through the levels.

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Movement is done either through playing cards that you pull around the deck as you land on squares, or rolling the digital die and then moving either clockwise or anti-clockwise around the levels. Then depending on the corresponding number on the square you land, you draw X number of cards from the virtual game deck. These cards can either help or hinder your progress, and a few will reveal the secret locations on the game boards where the lost artifacts are hidden, waiting to be dug up.

Once you have one of the artifacts, you can defeat the pharaoh by traveling to the centre of the board, into the very heart of the pyramid, but you can also be sure the other players we be trying to beat or stop you.

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Game play is for 1-4 Players, any of which may be either Human or Computer controlled. At the moment there is only a local play option, and an on-line multi-player option will only happen if there is demand for it.

I have also decided to set myself a reasonable target of 20 sales of this app/game within a couple of months as I suspect that the types of games I make are quite “niche-y“. And a lack of marketing budget and acumen means I will probably be a small ripple in the vast ocean of game releases.

But regardless to release a game has long been a bucket list wish of mine, and it does feel good to accomplish this feat after years of wandering in code.

Homebrew VS Indie Games Development

I remember the days of shareware, of disks stuck to magazines, or small ads clustered, a few lines a piece, in the back pages hawking their wares. Thankfully selling copied cassettes with improvised stuck-on labels, or similarly recycled floppy disks is no longer a concern for the discerning games developer, with the dominance of common-or-garden market places such as the Google App Store for the Android OS, or Steam for its’ desktop counterparts (and that other one for Fruity flavoured eco-systems).

However in the past couple of years that I have been earnestly developing my own small computer games, I have noticed that the term “independent” means something very different now than it did “back in the day“, regarding computer games development.

So to separate what I do, which is essentially the work of a single person (subsisting on the patience of my partner), from those studios/companies where budgets can be upwards of a million pounds or more and still be quoined “independent“. I am self-nominating myself as a “HomeBrew Games Developer“, to conjure those similar rustic imaginings or something brewing under the stairs (where indeed for many years I had my computer workspace troll hole). Just one bloke with a passion for making turn based computer games (as opposed to twitch games), and playing board/card games with his friends/family, on a budget of basically make belief.