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Posted on January 02, 2020, 01:20:03 AM by Jubal
Updates from the Forge 36: New Year 2020

Issue 36: New Year 2020

EDITORIAL

Welcome, friends, to the two thousand and twenties - a new year and a new decade! It's amazing to see the good ship Exilian, members, modders, llamas, pangolins and all, sail through into yet another year, and we hope it's been a fantastic holiday season for those of you celebrating various festivals around the world. As we head on into the new future, lots about the world can feel uncertain, but we'll go into it as we always have - with kindness, a good community, and masses of nerd and geek creativity to deal with whatever comes up. We look forward to sharing it with you!

We've got a packed issue for you with ten pieces, and we've had more content that we can't fit in across the site too recently, including new music on our ExilianMedia YouTube channel, the release of the Rome Total War: Vanilla Extended mod and Jubal's travelogue from Bordeaux. We're hoping to have more articles coming up soon - Exilian Articles may have been quiet in recent months but we have a lot of backlogged pieces that should find their way to a computer screen near you in the near future. If you've got something you want to say, please do check out our writing guidelines: as a non-profit organisation with no income streams ourselves we can't financially remunerate authors, but we do provide editing services and feedback to help writers for our articles section improve their skills.

And so as ever, onto the updates...

CONTENTS:

  • Editorial
  • Game Development
    • Snowfall in the Skies: Utherwald Press Updates
    • The Chains That Bound Me
    • Windmill Kings: Dark World
    • Will you find Eternal Hope?
    • Kickstarter success for Void Eclipse!
    • More on the Roadwarden's Journey...
  • Writing & Arts
    • Character art by Tusky!
    • New Free SoundImage Music
    • Couplets and Curses - Jubal's Poems
  • Miscellany
    • Want to know more about the depths of Exilian's past?


GAME DEV

Snowfall in the Skies: Utherwald Press Updates

Our resident Savage Worlds TTRPG setting designers, Utherwald Press continue to put out regular blogposts to add extra content to their  Their updates in recent months include a range of new aircraft for the arctic-dieselpunk Frozen Skies setting, from the near antiquated TrodaĆ­ Fighter favoured by sky pirates who can't find a better option to the sleek new Raven Fighters at the cutting edge of the Commonwealth's technology. There's also been new expansions of world lore around the creepily well ordered Iron Collective and the Commonwealth's more southerly outpost of Orduesh. Outside the world of Frozen Skies, we've had a new adventure for Keep The Home Fires Burning, an in-development Savage Worlds setting based in post-WWI London, with the Spanish Flu epidemic rife in the streets and strange and dark creatures beginning to creep in around this exhausted and disjointed society.

Finally, we've recently had new adventure scenario the Duskfall Run - in the Shrouded Days, the polar night when each year in Aleyska draws to a close, many of those who make their living in the frozen wastes head south to see family and avoid the worst of the long night. Some, however, leave the journey too late, which brings its own risks of a dangerous journey through darkening skies... and one which sky pirates, themselves well used to trying to force planes down in bad conditions, will happily try to exploit.

As ever, you can check out all of Utherwald's posts on their blog and via their Exilian forum - and we look forward to more in the next year!




The Chains That Bound Me



Yobob's The Chains That Bound Me is a classic narrative RPG where the player character must navigate through a gritty existence in a mining town under the thumb of a deeply oppressive state, with tax collectors marching armed through the streets, frequent examples made of those who dare to stand up... and, nonetheless, the smell of rebellion in the air. Amid this, the player, a mysterious potential rebel called Arriados, is unwilling to support an uprising in which many may die - but is both deeply intertwined with the rebel cause, and has another, greater threat looming in the shadows that he must ultimately confront.

The main game is currently on pause to allow for the release of some smaller projects in the setting, but you can get the demo which takes you through the first part of the story, and as well as taking a look at that you can regularly find Yobob on social media where he's continuing to make fun games happen, with the promise of a new short horror title early in 2020.




Windmill Kings: Dark World


The dark wizards have the aesthetic nailed. Also horned, spiked, and painted black and purple.

Bigosaur's Windmill Kings has a new update! In the original range of the story, the King managed to defeat the various soldiers of the wizard's puppet king, rebuild his armies, withstand counter-invasion from the east, and thus reclaim his realm. Now, though, he has been transported to the wizards' dark realm, where, isolated, he must face new foes, rally a fresh army to his banner, and defeat the dark wizards once and for all.

Windmill Kings is mainly a game designed towards multiplayer play, as a quickfire strategy game where you rapidly build troops to throw at your opponent's castle and balance the use of mighty magical spells and advancing your forces. Giants, ninjas, rains of fireballs and deadly marksmen can all be part of your battle plans. In Dark World, new tougher enemy line infantry and a different pattern of unlocking troops and forces gives you a new and changed gameplay experience in campaign mode.




Will you find Eternal Hope?


"Hello tiny person. Where can I get a scarf that cool?"

From Double Hit Games, new faces for us on Exilian, Eternal Hope is a platformer that follows Ti'bi, a bereaved character who goes in search of lost his beloved's soul and must travel between his own world and that of the parallel shadow realm to do so. As well as running, jumping, moving obstacles, and using your scarf as a parachute, the shadow realm offers a whole range of possibilities for solving puzzles, as the strange and often corrupted creatures from it can both help and hinder you on your quest. Accompanied by your winged light-ball companion you can platform and swing your way through a whole range of beautifully rendered areas towards your ultimate goal.

There is a Steam demo available for the game, which is very worth a look and explains the basic narrative, as well as showcasing the carefully crafted. You can also check out the game's trailer here or at the Eternal Hope website below. The game is scheduled for Steam and Xbox One release in 2020.




Kickstarter success for Void Eclipse!


Yet more new face in the form of Tau Ceti Studios, creators of the strategic card-play game Void Eclipse. Enabling players to explore an immesive sci-fi world and choose their path and character evolution through it, Void Eclipse allows you to explore, expand, and exploit the resources of different planets on your route to victory. The main game factions are the ice-bound Varegon who use bio-suits and energy weapons to maintain a mighty galactic empire, and the virus-like Solehr who have wrought havoc on the Varegons' mighty plans. Turn based card battles decide the owners of planetary territories, and as the game continues, the player can learn more about the origins of these peoples and how they came to be duelling for the land and soul of the universe they inhabit.

Void Eclipse has successfully had its kickstarter funded at the end of November, which is a great outcome - it's always a very difficult bar to cross. The game will be released on Steam with a planned release date of May 2020.




More on the Roadwarden's Journey...



We've had many more updates from Aure, aka Moral Anxiety Studios. His current project Roadwarden is a story adventure game where you must make your way along the roads as you explore and guard outlying regions with strange beliefs, creatures, and characters to negotiate your way around. It is the latest creation from his Viaticum setting, a fantasy world where humans struggle with the power of the wilderness around them and their efforts are far more directed towards protecting themselves from the mighty creatures and disaster threats of the wilderness. As with previous games like Tales From Windy Meadow, Roadwarden is very much focused on character and not combat, with decisions you make about how you present yourself, your emotion, and even what you wear changing how the various people you meet will interact with you.

Recent updates have included new menu screens (above), as well as many new locations and text sections as the game's world and map progressively expand and its range of characters gets further fleshed out. You can also now wishlist the game on Steam. Mechanical/gameplay changes have included the addition of actual deaths for the player, rather than just slowing you down, from certain encounters, new interim screen road sections to show betwen locations, and a redesign of how armour works which will be revealed soon - much still to discover on the road!




ART & WRITING

Character art by Tusky!

We've got a lovely new thread with Tusky, one of our core stalwarts on Exilian for a number of years now, sharing some of his digital artwork with us. It turns out he has far more strings to his bow than just being our senior moderator, developer of games including Escape from BioStation and upcoming jousting game Tourney, and an all round good egg - he's a pretty dab hand at this 2d artwork thing as well.

Meeting the characters of the various pictures is every bit as fun as seeing the pictures - we all tend to know things by attaching them to stories, and art is no exception. Fortunately Tusky has provided on that front too, from the mysterious red knight Astor, who with his banner of a chess piece marches to mete out the destruction of the wicked (perhaps in hope of one day purging the pain and shame of his own past), to the acquisitive Thanbert, here on the right, a cheerful gnome despite his venerable age whose chief interest is acquiring and dealing in unusual trinkets.

We are, of course, all looking forward to seeing more. Hats off!

:tusky:
 




New Free SoundImage Music



New free-to-use sounds from Eric Matyas include the twinkling "The Skies Are Clearing", which imagines the return to normality after a storm, the humming exploring theme "Of Legends and Fables", and the jazz-humour "What the Cluck?!", as well as sound effects from electronic and telelphone static, to industrial drone noises, to the rather mysteriously titled "underwater rumble" - we're looking forward to seeing how they can be used in a whole range of projects.

Eric's website SoundImage is a huge archive of free resources that can be used with credit in both commercial and hobbyist creative projects. As well as the huge array of background music on offer, there are textures and bits of game art available as well - and if you want to know how it all came about, we interviewed Eric back in August for you! The site is organised by theme so you can easily find the stuff you need for your project, with nearly 2000 sound tracks and clips available. Whether you're making games, films, or other creative projects, it's a resource that's always very worth knowing about.




Couplets and Curses - Jubal's Poems


"So I will dance your tears into sunbeams..."

Finally in this section, we've had yet more poetic forays from Jubal, on subjects as diverse as the new year, city life, and the Warhammer Fantasy mercenary regiment Richter Kreugar's Cursed Company! Jubal's poetry archive stretches back to 2008, and covers huge ranges of topics and styles over time, including song lyrics some of which have ended up recorded and on our Exilian Media YouTube Channel. There's also a special New Year Poem just out to welcome us all into 2020, on the theme of why we celebrate new years - and that it's not so much that we do it to mark a change in reality, but to hope for one that we can make ourselves. Some interesting thoughts to carry into the new year!

Our poetry and writing section has had many other contributors over the years and is always open to newcomers and new entrants, so please do jump in whenever you feel like doing so: all levels, styles, and types are very welcome! It's a great place to get feedback on work, discuss or vent about the writing you're doing, and have a friendly space in which to showcase your latest projects. Even if you're not a writer but you'd like to drop by and comment on and discuss the work of others, please do head over there - additional angles and opinions can all be very much useful and welcome.




MISCELLANY

Want to know more about the depths of Exilian's past?

The 2020s are the third decade in which Exilian has been here, and as of March 18 (before our next issue), Exilian will have existed for 12 years. We've done a lot in that time - and there are records to show it. We've always felt it was important to chart the course of the site over time, with detailed notes on the site's history and perspectives from different members available in the Exilian: A History thread. As an unusually run and created website, democratically run and owned by our membership, the community aspect of Exilian has always been important to us and it's great when new people can come in and poke through the dusty archives of the site's past - and, of course, contribute so their own names and projects get inscribed in the annals for the future. Could your name, too, be in Exilian: A History one of these days?






Thank you as ever for reading your humble human-and-llama team's efforts to let you know about cool creative stuff. We hope you've enjoyed it, and we'd really appreciate your feedback in the comments, by email to megadux at exilian dot co dot uk, or via any of our Exilian social media channels. If you've got something you think should be featured, we usually pick up stuff posted in the relevant areas of the forum, but you can also always contact us directly to chat about specific items and we're happy to help. See you in March, and stay cosy/cool (depending on hemisphere) until then!

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Posted on December 25, 2019, 04:53:50 PM by Jubal
Happy Christmas

H A P P Y   C H R I S T M A S !


Happy Christmas, Hannukah, Solstice, Yule, and other winter holidays from all of us at Exilian! it's been a fun year with lots of ongoing projects, new and old faces, and things continuing as ever. Stay tuned though - we have bigger plans for 2020, and we hope you'll be along for the ride then. Until then, season's greetings and hope you and yours are all having a wonderful end to 2019.

...
Posted on November 01, 2019, 02:05:43 PM by Jubal
Rome Total War - Vanilla Extended Released!





Korsakoff's Rome Total War: Vanilla Extended mod has been released! This mod replaces a number of the vanilla Rome: Total War factions with additional historical realms, from the post-Macedonian mediterranean Kingdoms of Pergamum and Epirus, to the tiny Bosporan kingdom and mighty Media Atropatene in the east, or the Celtic Tribes on the northwest fringes of Europe. There are also reworked unit rosters for a number of factions, with an extended range of troops available to Numidia, Thrace, and Dacia among others, as well as tweaks to the campaign map. The whole mod retains the feel and balance of classic vanilla RTW, giving you its classic gaming experience that gamers have enjoyed for the past fourteen years - do check the mod out at the links below:

...
Posted on September 30, 2019, 10:01:08 PM by Jubal
Updates from the Forge 35: Autumn 2019

Issue 35: Autumn 2019

EDITORIAL

Autumn browns and damps are seeping into the forests across the northern hemisphere, colder winds are beginning to blow, and the slow days of summer are coming to an end. And with that comes your Autumn edition of Updates from the Forge, Exilian's newsletter of creative geekery! This issue contains news from across the site for July, August, and September - since the change to a quarterly schedule we're ending up with very packed issues, and there are several projects, including some fantastic game dev work, that haven't made it in this time, but we'll prioritise those for the next issue of course. We've got two entirely new projects on Exilian this time, which is always nice, and a great array especially of medieval themed game dev going on - appropriate as your editor is about to start teaching a university course on medieval topics in computer game design!

There's not much news from across the site this time - the summer months are usually quiet - but there've been some discussions starting on some MUCH bigger news for 2020, so keep an eye out for that in the Winter/New Year edition. We'll also have elections coming up in December and we'd love to see some new faces on the team, so if you'd like to help make this newsletter happen or otherwise support our work helping creative projects out, do give one of the admins a shout or ask about it in Questions & Suggestions.

And with that, here's this issue's nine projects in the showcase...

CONTENTS:

  • Editorial
  • Game Development
    • Tourney: Fools and Foibles, Statues and Surgeons
    • Mostly Intense Monster Defence
    • Introducing: HEUSS!
    • Onto the grid - AI tactics from Heralds of the Order...
    • Rome:Total War - Vanilla Extended Returns!
  • Writing & Arts
    • New Exilian Music Releases!
    • Meeting Megiumi in Aviarium...
    • Mountain Leopards: One Year On
  • Miscellany
    • Let us know what you're reading - and find recommendations!


GAME DEV

Tourney: Fools and Foibles, Statues and Surgeons



Exilian moderator Tusky's wonderful project Tourney continues to come along, with several new additions to announce. One notable one is the surgeon's tent, where injured knights can get "fixed up" after a joust goes wrong... though with the standards of medieval decidedly medieval, they may have to hope that the cure isn't worse than the injury! As well as the surgeon, the jester has also arrived to the tournament ground to wander around and entertain - or perhaps make fun of and annoy - your various tournament guests. More detail has been added to many of the characters as well, including subtle tips that may help you annoy enemy knights in critical banterous moments. With all this, and more features like statues starting to be added, there's a great deal to be looking forward to - and you can find regular updates on the Exilian devlog thread.




Mostly Intense Monster Defence



New Exilian member Patsui has recently released Mostly Intense tower defence, a game with bouncy pixel graphics in which you must defend your dungeon from hordes of downright impolite "heroes" (who do they think they are) who are showing up to ruin your day. Skeletons, goblins, mages, and other monsters can be summoned to bolster your defences across a sixteen level story mode or, if you're feeling the long haul, an endless mode with an eternity of randomised waves of foes to be thrown at you! With lots of humorous dialogue through the campaign as well, and an interesting "tactics wheel" control system that allows you to switch the focus of your defending troops at speed, there's plenty to look at in this new title.




Introducing: HEUSS!



Another new project, this one from Manic Arts, Heuss (pronounced roughly rhyming with "goose", in case you were wondering), is an upcoming medieval themed combat game inspired by One Finger Death Punch which involves a centred player being attacked by enemies from both sides, with the combat arts and skill of dodging, blocking, and of course swinging a sword being the core focus of the gameplay. As well as basic spear-wielding grunts, enemies will include sword-and-board heavies capable of defending themselves, archers whose shots you will need to dodge, and sneakier quick-attack foes among others.



Heuss is especially well worth looking at for any aspiring developer as well thanks to its exceptionally well crafted series of YouTube devlogs, the "Road to Steam" series which is a core part of the project. These take the watcher in great detail through the process and design decisions in making the game, relating them to other games and showing the production process and results clearly on the screen in bite-sized episodes of just a few minutes each. The short format and effective delivery make these a particularly good playlist for the aspiring developer. Well worth checking out!





Onto the grid - AI tactics from Heralds of the Order...



We've had some fantastic new devlog posts from Archaean Games, creators of Heralds of the Order, on their grid-based tactics system. There are some really interesting insights involved on how their AI calculates units' tactical options, and the necessity of building an AI that provides for a fun game over and above one that gives the greatest effectiveness via tactics that feel wrong from a human perspective. How the range of units and gameplay style functions in is also discussed, as well as the underlying systems of influence maps and behaviour trees that allow the AI to calculate what it thinks is the correct move for its unit in any given circumstance. These new articles are a really good under the bonnet look at the constricution of a game AI and are very well worth having a read through. With an upcoming improved demo release apparently likely, we're hoping to hear much more from the Heralds of the Order in weeks to come!




Rome: Total War - Vanilla Extended Returns!



Korsakoff has recently returned to Exilian with some cool new updates on his Vanilla Extended mod for RTS/TBS classic Rome: Total War! This mod keeps close to the classic game but extends it to better showcase the wars of Alexander's successors, the diadochi. RTW: VE's faction list has recently undergone some changes, with the Briton-only faction being switched out in favour of a broader "Celtic Tribes" faction straddling the English Channel that will have more room for expansion on the European continent. Another change is the removal of Parthia in favour of Atropatene, one of the actual historic counterweights to Seleucid dominance deep in the Middle east.

Exilian grew out of the Rome Total War and Mount & Blade modding scenes more than anything else, having provided support for mods including Rome Total Realism, Warhammer Total War, Persian Invasion, Valar Morghulis, Narnia Total War, and more - and it's really good to see some RTW modding continuing here. Please do head over to the RTW modding forum and discover many new options for playing one of the greatest classics in strategy gaming!




ART & WRITING

New Exilian Music Releases!


We have new music from Jubal on the Exilian Media YouTube channel, with two new songs including the above new original sea shanty "Salt Horses", written in a traditional style as one of two poems produced for Tusky as a prize from one of our creative competitions. The other new song is another of his long series of Game of Thrones themed pieces, a long House Arryn themed ballad called The Falcon Knight. Jubal's Game of Thrones song cycle project started several years ago, but new GoT themed music keeps emerging from it now and again, with nearly all of the major houses having their own songs up on the channel now!

Exilian has two YouTube channels - The Exilian Channel for vlogs and news, and Exilian Media for songs, convention talks, drama/audio projects, and more besides. Please do subscribe to both: we'll hopefully be updating bits of them more in the coming months and we'd very much like you to be along for the ride.





Meeting Megiumi in Aviarium...


In Aviarium, Ierne's world of fantasy and flight, we've been introduced to new character Megumi. Enigmatic and blunt-spoken, her role as guide to the new world that Winter must explore will no doubt be important, aided by her wide array of expertise as a time traveller and adventurer and her apparently very limited array of expertise as a void ship pilot. There's also her folding bed. There has been little detail as of yet about the folding bed, but the folding bed undeniably exists, it is undeniably Megumi's, it may or may not have been heavily discounted, and it may prove crucial to the fate of the multiverse. Or it might just be a folding bed. Who really knows what secrets lie in a creaky set of easily foldable bedsprings?

Aviarium is the setting for some upcoming fiction by Ierne, but is also getting setting updates and periodic art releases on the forum which are well worth looking at, with some lovely creative bits of world building that are worth looking at for inspiration. It's a multiverse fantasy setting with the eponymous focus on flight, but with a gentle undercurrent of Pratchettian/Adamsian whimsy that brings its characters all the more to life. With other time travellers, mages, and dragons all appearing in watercolour in the Aviarium thread, as well as side discussions on Ardan Shakspeare and the logistics of magically generated wings, this is a great project for lovers of light hearted fantasy to go and follow.



 
 
 
 

Mountain Leopards: One Year On



Jubal's fantasy webcomic, Mountain Leopards, reached one year old in August, with 22 episodes released so far. Based on a mix of Caucasus culture and world folklore, in a style inspired by comedic fantasy titles such as The Order of the Stick, this comic follows Botso Kakhaisdze and his friends - or at least, his acquaintances - as they stumble across adventure in the wild mountains of the far-flung kingdom of Datvieti. Complete with scheming priests, murderous assassins, an unexpected visit from Annie Lennox, and a very great deal of banter, the comic romps on into its second year of existence with many new pages planned and the main plot really beginning to get underway. Read on!



MISCELLANY

Let us know what you're reading - and find recommendations!

In Exilian's Storytellers' Hall, we've got a long running "What Are You Reading" thread where Exilians have periodically over the last ten years been posting about their recent reading matter, giving thoughts, reflections, and recommendations. It's well worth a leaf through to find thoughts on books from N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth to Sholokov's cossack epic The Don Flows Home To The Sea, and much in between. We'd like to hear from you as well - giving recommendations and discussing recent reads is a great part of our community, and we hope you'll head over and take a look...






And there you have it. Hope you enjoyed this issue, take care as the year turns colder, and see you in December!

...
Posted on August 13, 2019, 06:08:25 PM by Jubal
Fringe Planet Kickstarter is Go!

Fringe Planet - The Kickstarter!


The Fringe Planet kickstarter is happening! As of today, you have 30 days to go and back Beebug Nic's horror-themed block-based game set on a floating rock in the dark void of ethereal space. On this strange frozen world, a small band of peons will struggle for existence. They may not make it through the trials that their harsh and barren existence throws at them - but those that do will learn to harvest and live alongside the nightmarish spirits that inhabit the void alongside them, and grow stronger - and, just maybe, discover something of the lore of their new home and the secrets of their own past!

As the player, you must shepherd your peons through their attempts at survival, building new constructs, protecting them from the horrors of the void, and hopefully not having them go too mad... click the image link below to see the kickstarter campaign and back the game, with rewards including the game soundtrack, the ability to name and provide backstory details for peons, and at higher backing levels even to design creatures for the game!