Perilar: Dark Weaver

Perilar was my favorite of my games, an original iPhone RPG (loosely inspired by Rogue, Ultima, & Zelda). Alas, the App Store is a pain in the ass to stay current in, and Perilar needed updates I wasn't willing to jump thru Apple's hoops to deliver, so it's been gone from the store for a few years. Does anyone even remember me?

Then I wrote & released Brigand, a stripped-down realtime roguelike, which apparently everyone got mad at either because it was too hard (it was, but I liked that), or cost $9.99 which is SO MUCH MONEY on the goddamned App Store. And again the App Store made it obsolete and it wasn't reasonable to update it.

So I got back to a new desktop version of Perilar. I wrote a JS prototype (Fallen Kingdom) that wasn't fast enough to be usable, but let me rapidly test a bunch of new things. Now in Scheme, after a very long time, I have a nice, fast, nearing-complete sequel to Perilar: Dark Weaver.

Where I am right now:

  • World has both hand-designed and random sectors, tho the latter need some smoothing out to look like real terrain. I can walk across the world, at least until I hit impassable sectors. Porting my complex map and dungeon generators in is the next task. I have spent the last 6 months building features in the Town of Amity, and I'm ready to move on!
  • Most of the tile art is from the DawnLike set, with a lot of customization and new art where needed, and I've stuck to the DawnLike palette, it really has a nice old-timey look, a little less garish than the Atari 800, brighter than C64.
  • Player art isn't going to be these sprites, but the paperdolls I have are 2-facing (East/West), and I'd prefer 4- or 8-facing (you can move diagonally!); so I still need to find or draw (oh no) those.
  • NPCs have dialogue trees, stores, and special abilities (like the Innkeeper healing you; they're not super-powered).
  • Combat, with multiple attack/defense options, works in my test area. I haven't spread monsters around the sectors yet, but they've been developed and tested in the JS prototype.
  • Loot is extensive, magical weapons and armor have all the complex options you'd expect. I'm being a hardass on encumbrance in this one, because you can drop loot anywhere and come back for it. (Not quite the hardest possible ass; gold doesn't count towards weight, which it does in tabletop RPGs!)
  • Spells beyond Magic Missile are not implemented at all yet; will probably ship with only the dozen basic spells from the original release, and advanced spells added in an update. You won't find anyone to teach those for a long time anyway. Despite that, Wizards are still useful with magic wands.
  • New bosses, boss arenas, deeper dungeons, main quest, and sidequests.
  • At least one sector will be user-modifiable, tho I don't know if it'll be in the first release. You can buy furniture and walls, and fix up your own town. There's useful things you'll be able to get from that. (The building mechanic half works now; gathering doesn't).
  • Currently tested on Mac, should be buildable with no or very few changes to Windows, Linux, BSD, etc., but I need to get proper test environments for all of those.
  • Will be for sale on itch.io sometime this year. Price TBD.

I feel super awkward about self-promotion, but I do have a Patreon, and for Gold level you'll get betas; I haven't explained this, but at any level, when you've paid up whatever the cover price of the game ends up being, you'll get a full release license for it, too.

darkweaver-2020-01-08-2
darkweaver-2020-01-08-3

Game of the Year

I've decided there is no Game of the Year 2018. Everything's been mediocre sequels or ripoffs; that a shitty deathmatch shooter is the most popular makes me disrespect your species nearly as much as sportsball.

I'm still playing old games:

  • Elder Scrolls Online: Mixed bag this year. Summerset's a fantastic "chapter"/DLC they make even subs pay for. Murkmire DLC is awful, its only virtue is that Shadowfen's no longer the worst zone in the game. Mac client performance has been garbage since Murkmire, and the nerf to Sorc shields has annoyed the shit out of me. But, close to 5 years in it's still the best Elder Scrolls game.
  • Unturned: France map is fun and moderately hard, but 3.0's reaching EOL and who knows how buggy 4.0 will be. Ominous.
  • Minecraft: 1.13 update was a buggy shitshow for a while, but it's made the waters interesting. But I build bases in taiga or mountains. Very little time in it this year.
  • Animal Crossing Pocket Camp: Least bad gachapon/daily clicky-toy game in its second year. The monthly cycle of garden event, fishing event, scavenger hunt is pretty solid now. The Cabin recently added lets me save a few favorite animals outside the ever-rotating camp roster. It's OK.

This year's failed contenders:

  • EXAPUNKS: Haven't bought it yet because like TIS-100 and the rest of Zach's games, real coding is more fun than fake-coding, but maybe if I was more fun-not-GTD it'd be on the shortlist at least.
  • World of Warcraft Classic demo: The most exciting pre-release was a 10-year-old version of the most boring MMO.
  • Dragalia Lost: Good but compromised design. I loved it for a few months, the characters are fun and cute, action dungeon's great for quick play, but the gachapon store drives the game and creates too many identical heroes, dragons, and cards, and it nagged me out. This could've been GOTY if it was paid up front, earning heroes by questing instead of random pulls.

My own failure to ship is appalling. I can't justify it. Perilar gameplay is excellent roguelike tactics & resource management, but some dungeon generation's not right yet.

Delvers in Darkness, my new tabletop RPG, is getting another rewrite of the adventure and I haven't done any art direction. I think it's fun in solo tests, but still need table testing.

Why Even Make Software

Long week at the grindstone on the game, actual gameplay is mostly done, but a lot of the fine details of UI, animations, and music are janky or nonexistent: "the first 80% takes 100% of the schedule, the last 20% takes another 100%", as they say.

So I may take beta-testers and let them at it soon; comment/email if you'd like in. If you've played any of my games before, you know what you're getting, but much bigger:

Perilar: Fallen Kingdom, an entire world of Perilar, massive dungeons deep into the earth, towers up into the sky, hard tactical roguelike RPG. Mac/Windows/Linux.

I'm running late to think about marketing now, but: Should I Kickstarter for the final stretch? Set up a Patreon? Those feel like begging or grifting, even though I support some stuff that way. I prefer to release, try to get copies in front of the people who'd like it, collect money. Advertising used to be viable for user acquisition, now I suspect a large part of my potential audience are savvy enough to ad-block, and giant horrible things like EA drive the CPK up. There won't be ads or IAP in the game.

Apple killing the affiliate program could not come at a worse time. Kick all the little guys while we're down, Phil Schiller, that's what you're for.

And then there's always people who say "just release it as open source!", by which they mean I should starve and die in the street, and no software except command-line developer tools should ever be made. Yeah, that's not an acceptable business plan.