Posted on January 06, 2024, 09:15:04 PM by Jubal
Issue 52: New Year 2024EDITORIAL & COMMUNITY NEWS
Welcome back to another traditionally late issue of Updates from the Forge, Exilian's newsletter of creative geekery! As ever, these pages contain just a handful of the many projects that indie game developers, ink-handed writers, wandering bards, scholars of repute, and other folk of an eccentric, creative, and nerdish persuasion have been churning out for the edification and delight of the general public - which here, dear reader, means you.
A small change for this issue is that I'm trialling renaming this header section to include community news, which is usually what about two thirds of the editorial actually covers - or perhaps we should move that to a separate article or section in and of itself. Feedback would be very welcome on where that should go, so let us know where you'd like to see the bit of this newsletter where we recap recent site events, give important announcements for the whole community, and give a quick run-down of links to things that didn't get space in the main issue. It'd be great to hear from you!
And what news is there, before we get to the updates, I (would like to imagine I) hear you cry? Well, the last quarter of 2023 had all the usual Exilian things, continued online meetups and much work at the creative forges with everything from travels in Bulgaria and the space industry in Spain to bardic music for an angry space frog warrior and disabling strikes in game rules coming up across the forum. We also had the announcement of our fourth Coding Medieval Worlds workshop run between our community and the University of Vienna in Austria, which you can find out about here - if you're interested in coming late places may still be available. The Exilian Discord had a successful film night, run by Jafeth Who Is Also Here, who we can also welcome as Exilian's newest voting member as of this weekend! We also launched our 2023-2024 Creative Competition, this time with the theme of Hibernation, for which we're really looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
There's plenty coming up, too: the first part of the year is always a busy run here, with Coding Medieval Worlds and Cyril and Methodius Day in February and Exilian's anniversary day in March. We're also expecting more than one game project to reach fruition in the coming months, so there's lots to stay tuned and get excited about.
But that's all yet to come, and you're here to see what excitements people have already prepared - onward, then, to a new year and a new set of Updates from the Forge...
Maciek's Monk TowerA new project from a new Exilian member, Monk Tower is a small roguelike where you must try to retrieve a lost manuscript from the twentieth level of, well, a tower. Besides being twenty storeys tall, the Monk Tower has plenty of inhabitants, none of whom seem to like you very much, most notably rats, snakes, and (this next one will shock you) monks, who have a whole range of abilities including poisons, ranged weapons, and other powers to throw in your general direction. You can find herbalists' cauldrons, unidentified potions, mislaid weaponry, and forges throughout the tower to help you on your quest - in other words, it's a traditional roguelike, and a nicely done and enjoyable one at that.
The combat is turn-based, and ensuring you don't get surrounded by enemies can be crucial to your survival, as can checking your weaponry, with a weapon durability system that, at worst, can leave you flailing for a weapon just when you need one most. Despite this complexity the controls and overall game are simple to pick up, and its billing as a coffee-break roguelike and browser-based play makes it very easy to have a run at in odd moments. As such, well worth checking out and dropping some feedback on, and it'll be interesting to see how future versions develop.
To the far corners of Kavis Jubal's slow and long-standing project to map and build RPG rules for the early medieval fantasy world of Kavis has continued with a number of recent additions and blogposts, with recent months focusing on some of the more outlying regions of the world and how one gets between them. The last post covered letters and letter-carriers, from official postal services to the more general use of merchants as. This might be of interest for anyone designing TTRPGs and computer games, as one of many areas where defaulting to a modern expectation can shut off some potentially interesting opportunities for interactions and quests available in game contexts.
There have also been two new places given brief write-ups that may expand in future. The smaller of the two, Caracess, is a cliff-cut city in the far east of the setting, noted for its lamp-makers and its fleets, situated on an impenetrable coastline yet making a name for itself as one of the great ports and craft centres of the world. Verasine meanwhile is an entire archipelago to the deep southwest of the setting's core, a vast island-chain realm of magicians with forces of goblin and troll servants, keeping itself largely in stern isolation from much of the rest of the world except occasional permitted ports and exiles.
There's also a write-up of a new test game, indicating that as well as the overall work on world building things are moving along on the rules and play side, so keep an eye out for adventures and stories coming out from Kavis in the coming months as well as the general setting designs available on Exilian: there's much more to explore in this mysterious world, wrapped between dawn and dusk where weavers spin thread and the mists rise in the mornings. What will you find there?
After the TourneyRecently from Tusky, we've had a post-hoc recap of Tourney, the medieval tournament simulator, how the project went and what happened - and if you're an indie game dev or considering your own projects, it's fascinating reading. Everything from a word-cloud of the Steam reviews to reflections on the huge challenges of game development on a budget in a pandemic has been gone through. Some of the particularly interesting take-aways are on player expectations and the aspects of the game that sat between or inserted bits of other genres, and the balance of delivery dates and building a game that lives up to expectations.
The resulting game, regardless, ended up with positive reviews and a great four-level campaign: if you're up for some medieval tournament tycoon madness and the ability to back your own winning horses (and for that matter riders) then it's definitely a game to check out!
ARTS AND WRITING
The Old Goat and the Alien: Kickstarter Success! It's lovely being able to congratulate our friend, SFF author, and 2022-3 Exilian Winter Competition winner vicorva on another successful kickstarter, and here we are, able to do just that! Their next book, The Old Goat and the Alien, turns to the sci-fi side to explore some of the issues of a non-capitalist society and seeing humans from a different perspective, done with their characteristic gentleness and warmth as a writer. The book also promises boardgames and sparkly space animals, which seems like the sort of alternative sense of perspective that the world could really do with more of sometimes, and we've no doubt that many folks will be looking forward to reading it.
The kickstarter successfully got to 212% of its funding total, and after proofing and printing the final book should be out by sometime this coming spring, with a public online launch party when it hits readers' bookshelves, so if you're a van of Veo's work then do keep an eye out for that!
The Khan Poetically Returns...
After an absence of a few years from the streets of Exilianople, Cuddly Khan has ridden back through the front gates with some new poetry to share! He's been discussing the importance of poetry to him as a way of getting through difficult situations, as well as sharing several of his works from recent years. These include themes of darkness, light, and cycles, including one on the theme of the Ouroboros and an untitled piece on the ideas of abyss and hiding fragments of oneself out of view. To find all these and future poetry, why not head over to the Khan's thread and see what's going on?
Around and around in circles again
Repetition is my old new friend
With my tail in my mouth there is no end
Back to the same place all over again...
A Tale of Life UnbiddenJubal may more usually post poems and songs than prose to the good people of Exilian, but we've had a recent new example of the latter in the short tale Life, Unbidden, in which a witch or two face some unexpected problems and visitors. On a spring day, there is blood in the air across some old barrow-mounds, and two small feet pad their way through old burial mounds that play host to deep purple flowers which - so they say - grew from the blood of ancient warriors long ago. To find out what happens next, read on, dear reader, read on...
Seasonal StoryDragon PoetryWe've had lovely poems from StoryDragon as well this year, and to close out 2023 we had a seasonal special with the wintry Christmas verse Notlaic ṡon. It borrows inspiration from Old Irish poetry and schemes, even containing a full verse in the language which those of you who are particular sorts of linguistic nerd may have fun translating. The rest of the poem is great regardless of one's skills - many of those who've been celebrating Christmases around the world will find that the festival's write-up as "the great birthfeast" might come as a particularly apt way to describe the festivities! If you're really enjoying StoryDragon's work, do check out the StoryDragon Ko-fi as well as checking out the link below to read more!
The Great Plate Debate
If you're interested in history, this is a thread not to miss, with historian and Exilian regular Dubsartur discussing the topic of historical armour and its colouration, especially the process of blueing or blackening that can provide both rust resistance and at times a particular panache to certain suits of plate armour used in the past. Much of our knowledge of the original state of these armours involves interpretation of surviving pieces that may have been modified by having their older finishes scrubbed off, or art which is restricted by the demands of its particular medium as much as the things that it seeks to depict in the first place. So how much do we really know about medieval and earlier armours and what they looked like? This thread is a good read for starting to think about the evidence:
Game Dev resources around ExilianWhatever side of game design and development you're interested in - or even if you're just considering getting into it - people have been posting some really interesting resources around Exilian, giving a unique mix of areas and thought spaces for you to explore around the art. Recent examples include the free book Freedom, Oppression, Games and Play, which is the anthology from the Future and Reality of Games 2022 conference. There's plenty of history-and-games content elsewhere on the site too, including the subforum for our Coding Medieval Worlds workshops and a video Dubsartur recently shared on 3D sword models in games.
Alternatively, if the more technical side is your thing, we've been having some discussions of 3D Math Primer for Graphics and Game Development, another free book that covers the maths of three dimensional spaces with a view to honing your game dev skills. It moves from the basics of cartesian systems at the start of the book up through four-dimensional space and polar coordinate maths through to the complexities of rendering equations, parametric curves and rigid body mechanics. It's a really nice resource to have freely available, and should be really interesting for anyone wanting to get into the engine development side of game dev. Do take a look!
And that's all for another few months! As ever, please do share this newsletter with your friends, colleagues, sworn nemesis, cat, or anyone else who might be interested in the creative things we're doing here. The more feedback and support we get, the better this newsletter can support the lovely creative folk who are building and sharing knowledge about their creative endeavours. Hope to hear from you soon!