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Telepath Tactics - All News

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Thursday - October 02, 2014
Thursday - September 04, 2014
Saturday - August 23, 2014
Tuesday - August 05, 2014
Monday - July 07, 2014
Saturday - June 21, 2014
Monday - June 02, 2014
Thursday - May 15, 2014
Tuesday - May 06, 2014
Wednesday - April 16, 2014
Tuesday - March 04, 2014
Saturday - February 15, 2014
Tuesday - February 04, 2014
Monday - February 03, 2014
Wednesday - December 25, 2013
Tuesday - November 05, 2013
Thursday - October 03, 2013
Monday - September 09, 2013
Wednesday - August 21, 2013
Saturday - August 03, 2013
Thursday - July 18, 2013
Tuesday - June 11, 2013
Monday - June 03, 2013
Wednesday - May 29, 2013
Thursday - April 18, 2013
Sunday - April 14, 2013
Friday - April 12, 2013
Tuesday - April 09, 2013
Wednesday - April 03, 2013
Thursday - March 28, 2013
Tuesday - March 26, 2013
Monday - March 25, 2013
Thursday - March 21, 2013
Sunday - March 17, 2013
Thursday - March 14, 2013
Box Art

Thursday - October 02, 2014

Telepath Tactics - September Update

by Couchpotato, 03:02

The September development update for Telepath Tactics was posted this week. As usual I can't list every detail of the update so visit the link above for more information.

Another month has passed, and that means it’s time to provide an update on Telepath Tactics! So what’s new?

First, there’s this! Much as with the voice actors from my last game, I’ve been wanting to interview some of the folks who’ve helped me out with various aspects of Telepath Tactics. These are extremely talented people, and they deserve recognition for their efforts. I’ve started out by interviewing Telepath Tactics composer Ryan Richko. He has interesting things to say about composing for video games, but just as importantly, there is some pretty awesome music embedded in the article. I suggest giving it a listen if you haven’t yet!

Thursday - September 04, 2014

Telepath Tactics - August Development Update

by Couchpotato, 05:53

The next development update for Telepath Tactics was posted this week. As usual I can't list every detail of the update so visit the link above for more information.

Another month, another update on Telepath Tactics!

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of what’s new in the game, I thought I’d share something neat with you all. While visiting my dad earlier this summer, it came up during conversation that he had actually tried being an independent game developer. I had no memory of this (I was a baby at the time), but the fact that my dad had once tried to do something very similar to what I am now attempting came as a happy surprise. I guess it’s true what they say about the relative distance of apples and the trees they fall from!

Anyway, enough about me and my family–you’re here to find out more about what’s new with Telepath Tactics!

Saturday - August 23, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Turning Failure Into Success

by Couchpotato, 05:43

A website called Dice has a new article about how Craig Stern turned his failure on Kickstarter for Telepath Tactics into success on his second campaign.

When you ask random strangers on the Internet to give you money, there are no guarantees. That’s true in almost any scenario, including when video game developers use Kickstarter to crowdfund the creation of a game. While 3,900 or so games have been funded on Kickstarter, more than 7,200 game projects failed to hit their goal.

Within those two numbers are some people who fall into both categories: developers who failed to get funding on their first try, but re-launched campaigns and hit their goals. In fact, the initial failure is sometimes a necessary step toward ultimate glory.

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing proposition. If you ask for $50,000 and receive only $40,000 in pledges, you get nothing. But there’s nothing stopping a developer from re-launching a project. If a significant number of people backed the project the first time around, they can be enlisted to provide an early boost to the sequel. The initial failure can also provide some valuable marketing lessons that tip the scales in your favor on the second try.

These are the lessons learned by developers such as Craig Stern of Chicago, who asked Kickstarter backers for $25,500 in late 2012 to make a tactical role-playing game called Telepath Tactics for Windows, Mac, and Linux. 840 people offered money, but he fell short with $18,615 pledged.

Tuesday - August 05, 2014

Telepath Tactics - July Development Update

by Couchpotato, 06:05

A new development update for Telepath Tactics was posted this week. As usual I can't list every detail of the update so visit the link above for more information.

Telepath Tactics July 2014 Update

Wow, is July gone already? I guess that means it’s time for another monthly update! Perhaps the single most exciting thing (from my perspective) that happened in July was “Tactics Jam,” a 6-hour intensive workshop I ran on how to mod Telepath Tactics. Basically, I gave a small group of Chicago game developers a guided introduction to using the map editor, and to editing data within the Telepath Tactics framework.

In essence, I think I’ve finally nailed one of my big goals with Telepath Tactics: to make it incredibly powerful and flexible for modders (to say nothing of developers who want to make their own, full-fledged games). Still, watching so many people work has helped motivate me to make a number of significant improvements to the map editor. The tools are good, but they can always be better!

Monday - July 07, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Impression @ RPGamer

by Couchpotato, 04:21

RPGamer has posted a new impression of Telepath Tactics, and talks about the latest comedy campaign add-on called Guard Llama.

Telepath Tactics has a lot going on under the hood to interest anyone who can get past the graphics and interface. Fans of tactical RPGs should keep an eye on this one--and the continued career of Lorenzo Llamas. Just because the full campaign is supposed to be more serious doesn't mean there isn't room for a wise-cracking llama with hooves of fire. He's a good llama.

Saturday - June 21, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Guard Llama Campaign

by Couchpotato, 04:59

Craig Stern of Sinister Design sent us news of a new campaign that he released for Telepath Tactics called Guard Llama.

Hello, RPG Watchers! I have released a new Telepath Tactics mini-campaign.

It's called Guard Llama. Against all probability, the guard llama is an actual thing that exists IRL; this is a short stand-alone Telepath Tactics campaign about a talking guard llama with delusions of grandeur.

Guard Llama takes place in a different universe than the main campaign; a much sillier universe. Guard Llama satirizes common RPG tropes, and pokes a bit of fun at Fire Emblem in particular.

I created Guard Llama over the course of a week and a half or so. It was originally intended as an entry in the IndiE3 Jam, but I decided to take a few extra days beyond the deadline and polish it up for release. It is now complete, and I have just sent it out to my Kickstarter backers and early access purchasers as a present!

Readers who want to try Guard Llama for themselves can head over to the official Telepath Tactics page and purchase early access.

Monday - June 02, 2014

Telepath Tactics - May Development Update

by Myrthos, 11:52

A new development update for Telepath Tactics is available, which contains amongst others updates on the following:

  • Throwing axes
  • New NPC sprites
  • New portraits
  •  New characters
  • New battles
  • New cut scenes
  • New music
  • NPC thieves that loot chests around the battlefield during the battle
  • A store where you can buy equipment for your army
  • Experience scaling and enemy leveling
  • A stand-alone tutorial
  • Big improvements to the game's dialog tree editor

Thursday - May 15, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Spring 2014 Teaser

by Couchpotato, 06:20

Craig Stern of Sinister Design has posted a new teaser trailer for Telepath Tactics. 

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Tuesday - May 06, 2014

Telepath Tactics - April Development Update

by Myrthos, 12:46

The new development update for Telepath Tactics shows that Craig Stern has been busy polishing the game quite a bit. Here is the overview, but you have to view it on his site if you want to see the corresponsing images and videos as well.

  • New character portraits!
  • I took some more time to practice pixeling–this time, I edited the “cast” animation for the pyrokineticists, making them about 50% longer to bring them more in line with the animations for the photokineticists and skiakineticists.
  • We have two new battlefield objects: the village well and the caravan wagon!
  • I’ve now finished the (surprisingly time-consuming and laborious) work of spiffing up the character info boxes. Both summary and detailed info windows now feature graphical icons for Health, Energy and Movement, as well as a Star icon to denote characters whose death triggers defeat for their army.
  • I’ve put an especially large amount of work into the detailed character screens, which now display all of the character’s attacks and let you mouse over said attacks to see each attack’s name, element, cost, base damage and description. The detailed character info screen now also lets you scroll between characters on the same team using the mouse wheel (or the left and right arrow keys).
  • I have been taking the time to fill in audiovisual gaps in the attacks roster, ensuring that all skills have appropriate sound and visual effects. There are a few left to fill out, but the work is now mostly done.
  • As part of this task, I have now programmed effects for all four of the game’s ultimate elemental AOE attacks; I made some videos showing them off and discussing their uses, which you can see below:
  • As part of the work of making those big, flashy visual effects work with the game’s engine, I had to program in some new features for attack visual effects. In particular, this included forward/backward and left/right offsets for positioning visual effects relative to the target. I went through and added offsets to all visual effects which needed them (the element blast attacks in particular, which were spawning right on top of the caster instead of directly in front of him/her).
  • Attack reticles now calculate and display an attack’s chance to hit right below its eventual damage. Due to the deterministic nature of the game, this will usually be 100%, but it’ll give you a clear indication when that dips below 100% due to things like Dodge, blindness, or attacking while standing on ice.
  • New script actions: AddTag, RemoveTag and AddTagToArmy allow you to dynamically change characters’ tags over the course of a battle (thus allowing you to script changes in AI behavior, among other things). FlipPortrait, too: this tells the game to flip the direction of a character’s portrait so it looks like they’ve turned around.
  • Added one last character attribute to the game: charY. This one tells the game where to vertically position characters and objects within the space. I had previously had this function hard-coded into the game, but it was starting to get laborious carving out exceptions, and would not have given modders the necessary flexibility to do total graphical conversions, so I took the time to make this a user-editable attribute.
  • New attacks! Consistent with my giving photokineticists Blinding Cloak last month, I’ve now given skiakineticists Fury (raises a character’s Strength), cryokineticists Douse (ends Burning status and raises Heat resistance), and pyrokineticists Melt (ends Frozen status and raises Cold resistance).
  • I’ve updated prior battles and cut scenes. Among other things, I finished the battle at Adelbrae, and have updated another battle with a pressure trigger that damages characters who wander into a campfire. (This required fixing a bug that found its way into the code which was preventing pressure triggers from working properly.)
  • I have now added a new battle into the game where you defend a caravan from attack, with two NPC characters you can talk to and potentially recruit into your army (assuming you make it to them before the enemy overwhelms them).
  • Updated documentation in the game manual for script actions DamageChar, DamageCharAt, RemoveConv and RemoveCurrConv.
  • Other minor aesthetic changes concerning doors, fences and gates, plus some balancing changes to certain characters and objects in-game.
  • Updated the map editor updated so it now preserves triggers, tags and lighting attributes within <Unit> tags in maps.
  • I’ve added in some failsafes so the game no longer freezes if you accidentally use a MoveChar script action with a character that doesn’t exist on the battlefield.
  • Fixed a lot of bugs, as per usual–though some of the bugs fixed this time around were particularly serious, including a few which had crept into the game’s AI routines and were degrading the quality of CPU decision-making (as well as occasionally causing the game to break).

All in all, I ended up spending longer than anticipated on polish this month. I’ve been taking my time creating new content so that everything that makes it into the game is really good, polished work–but with that said, I admit that it’s going somewhat more slowly than I’d like. I am going to try to spend less time polishing during the coming month and more time just creating battles and cut scenes.

 

Wednesday - April 16, 2014

Telepath Tactics - March Development Update

by Myrthos, 12:26

In the March update of Telepath Tactics, we learn that the game has been Greenlit and are presented with the many updates of the game.

  • New portraits!
  • The Axe attack is now fully animated for both the male and female Bandit!
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  • The villager NPCs now all have walk animations; which is to say, they’re all complete!
  • We have a talented new animator by the name of Hunter Russell doing some of the larger effect animations for us. So far, he’s adapted the Mind Shield animation for Big Shield, created a Feedback animation, and produced a suitably epic Dark Vortex effect animation. (Click the images below to see the animations in motion.)
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  • Related to the new, big effects animations, I’ve added a couple of new spawn settings for big AOE attack visual effects: OnCenter and TowardCenter.
  • The game now supports gender randomization in single player, so you can have characters randomly spawn as either male or female in battle.
  • I’ve created a few new attacks to make the Shadowling, Bandit and Photokineticist classes more interesting and give them more room for growth in single player. Shadowlings can learn to create hallucinatory decoys that attract enemy attacks; Bandits can learn to use throwing axes and rend armor; and Photokineticists can boost allies’ dodge percentage by blanketing them in blinding light. Pretty cool stuff, eh?
  • I’ve made more progress on polishing the interface! I’ve replaced the default OS mouse cursor with some nice custom cursors that change based on what you’re mousing over (making it easy to see what can be grabbed and what should be clicked); I’ve added little “Equipped” symbols to the inventory screen to easily show which items are equipped at a glance; we’ve completed revisions on attack button icons and created new icons for the new attacks mentioned above; attack buttons now have hotkey visual indicators showing which attack hotkey selects each; pop-up indicators now handle unusual attack effects better; and best of all, we’ve finally replaced those ugly beige “tooltip” boxes with some properly scaling bitmap pop-up boxes that look far more pleasing to the eye.
  • You can now assign tags and lighting to individual characters on a per-battle basis in the same way you’d assign triggers. This includes the new AI tag Passive, which tells a particular character to stand around until an enemy wanders into aggro range, Fire Emblem-style. This can provide some variety in enemy behavior and help pace different battles differently so they aren’t all just the entire enemy army bum rushing you every time.
  • The deployment screen now has a button that opens the common inventory, letting you manage your army’s inventory and equipment before battle starts.
  • New dialog scripts: PlayLoop plays an ambient sound loop seamlessly in the background; KillCharAt slays a character at designated coordinates (to be used for finishing off characters without unique names that have triggered an OnDeath conversation / death monologue).
  • New battle condition Go First lets you designate an army to move first in single player. (For those special occasions where the enemy or an allied army should get to move before the player!)
  • We’ve finished mastering and mixing a bunch of the game’s music; these tracks are sounding really nice now! I’ve also made it so the game plays the horribly sad track “Frozen Hearts” when you lose a battle in single player (you know, in case you didn’t already feel bad enough about losing). Only four tracks remain to be composed.
  • I’ve updated the map editor so it formats map files to be more easily human-readable when it saves them.
  • I’ve updated scripting and features documentation in the manual.
  • Story and character work is progressing well. I now have sketched out 16 unique playable characters you can recruit and field in battle, as well as 12 unique villains / bosses. The official campaign now has 8 working scenes and three battles, with many more to come. I don’t think I quite hit my goal of getting the first hour of the game done, but I ended up needing to add more features to the game to get everything working how I wanted it to than anticipated. All in all, I think I used my time well.

Tuesday - March 04, 2014

Telepath Tactics - New Development Update

by Couchpotato, 06:04

Craig Stern sent news he posted his February development update for his game Telepath Tactics. Here is a small part of it, and be sure to click the link for the full update.

Telepath Tactics February 2014 Update

Hello, tactics fans! With February behind us, it’s time to recap everything we got done on Telepath Tactics during the month

I’ve finally decided to try my hand at pixel animation. With two hours of effort, I was able to produce a decent little “power up” effect for use with character buff abilities (shown on the right). While I was at it, I also created a couple of new item graphic variations for use in the campaign.

Most attacks that need visual effects have now had them added in-game, and are just looking really really nice.The Bandit class now has walk animations in all four directions.

I wanted to have more original character and effect animations done this month, but our main animator, the eminently talented Tyvon Thomas, took some time off to release his own game: Joylancer. (You can check that out here if you’re curious.) We should be back on track and have the Bandit attack animations done this coming month.

We managed to finish up all of the attack animations for the game’s nearly two-dozen alternate gender sprites! Thanks to the tireless efforts of Lan Giniewski, 19 of the game’s 22 character classes now have complete sets of fully animated sprites in both male and female variations.

The biggest undertaking this month has been continuing my mission from last month, cleaning up the game’s interface and replacing placeholder assets with polished work. We’re still not quite done, but we’ve made some excellent progress on that front.

Because we now have all gender variant sprites and portraits, I was able to code support for randomized gender into the game. Character gender is now randomized in multiplayer, so you’ll likely end up with a different combination of men and women under your command each time.

I’ve created the introduction to the game, consisting of the first five scenes and battles of the main campaign; I’m quite pleased with how that has turned out .

Saturday - February 15, 2014

Telepath Tactics - How to Speak Lissit

by Couchpotato, 05:07

Sinister Design has a new update for Telepath Tactics about the games language Lissit.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Today, in honor of the Day of Love, we are going to learn how to speak the most romantic language of all time: Lissit! (Or “lizardtongue,” as it is sometimes called by the humans of Cera Bella.)

Tuesday - February 04, 2014

Telepath Tactics - January Development Update

by Myrthos, 11:17

Craig twittered there was some news on the development of Telepath Tactics, which is still scheduled to be released this year.

  • New character portraits! Fun fact: as of today, Telepath Tactics now has 77 distinct character portraits, with dozens more to come!
  • We’ve created a new character class, the Bandit! Bandits wield axes, and will serve as early game enemies in the main campaign.
  • Alternate gender sprites now all have Rest and Walk animations! Giving them attack animations will come next.
  • We’re continuing work on special effects for attacks in the game. Mind Blast and Mental Effect effects are now completed, as well as Elemental Blast effects.
  • Work is continuing on the main campaign. The game now has more than two dozen unique characters (allies, enemies and NPCs) written up, with plenty of more to come, as well as about a half dozen scenes introducing characters, establishing the plot, and setting up battles. I’m now working on building the first hour or so of the main campaign based on those scripts; I’m aiming to have that finished and playable by the end of the month.
  • We’re prettying up the user interface, replacing the placeholder art from earlier in the game’s development with lovely work by actual artists. On the right, you can see the band-spanking-new Actions Menu, plus a few of the game’s new button icons!
  • As part of my ongoing effort to polish the heck out of the game, I’ve recoded the combat animations system to remove that annoying little lag between the moment an attack animation seems to hit and the moment the game actually shakes the screen, pops up damage numbers, and animates the health bar. It makes everything feel much tighter.
  • We’ve recorded some live instruments for the game soundtrack; the soundtrack itself is mostly finished now. You can hear part of a Telepath Tactics battle track, “For Honor,” in the video above!)
  • Lots of bug fixes. (Because when isn’t that an item in these updates?)

Additional details including images can be found in his blog, which also talks about his funds being low. For those who haven't yet, you can still contribute here by participating in the alpha program for Telepath: Tactics.

Monday - February 03, 2014

Telepath Tactics - Development Update

by Couchpotato, 02:41

Sinister Design has an update from last month that I missed for Telepath Tactics.

With the game engine’s core features now done, I’m spending my time more-or-less exclusively on writing and level design. I don’t want to share too many details of these activities in the monthly round-ups, as (a) they contain loads of spoilers and (b) I want to leave myself room to rewrite and revise as I move forward.

It’s 2014 now; people have been pressing for a specific release date, and while I definitely still plan on a 2014 release, I just want to make clear that there is no way to know for certain when the game is going to be ready. In an ideal world, Telepath Tactics will be finished and released in autumn of this year. However, game dev is ever an unpredictable beast, and it could turn out to take longer. I’ll be updating you all right here on my progress every month, so there shouldn’t be any crazy surprises.

Wednesday - December 25, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Post-Funding Update #17

by Couchpotato, 03:12

In the latest post-funding update for Telepath Tactics Craig Stern takes a look back the development of the game throughout 2013.

Taking stock at the end of 2013

Greetings, faithful backers! As we approach the end of 2013, I thought you might like to hear a little summary of the state of Telepath Tactics. The short version: things are going quite well!

The long version:

  • We have completed all of the game's expanded tilesets.
  • We have completed all of the game's destructible object graphics.
  • We have completed all of the engine features needed to finish the game.
  • Character portraits are complete for all of the game's generic and NPC characters, and we're now well into the portraits for the game's stable of unique characters. Here are a couple of unique characters you might already be familiar with!
  • All of the game's 22 base character classes are fully animated! You can see the Mentalist and Stone Golem here, and the Spirit and Bronze Golem here. Also, just for fun, here's the Skiakineticist mustering the corrosive powers of Shadow!
  • Of the 19 character classes that need a gender variant sprite, 8 now have one. (We're working on the rest right now!)
  • I've hired someone to produce some nice pixel art icons for the game's buttons, including unique icons for each of the game's 105-or-so different attacks.
  • The game's soundtrack is getting close to complete! Tireless composer Ryan Richko has managed to call in some favors, and will be recording live instrumentation with a small group of orchestral musicians in early 2014 to make it sound extra epic.
  • I've been working on adding attack sound effects to the game; most of the basic ones are now in and working.
  • I've been reworking the cast of characters and fleshing them out with an eye to how each fits into the evolving narrative of the game. I've got 5 confirmed boss characters and 12 other uniques so far, with plenty more to come!

So that is where we're at. Telepath Tactics is coming along well, and remains on track for a 2014 release.

Tuesday - November 05, 2013

Telepath Tactics - October Update

by Couchpotato, 00:37

Sinister Designs Craig Stern sent news that he has a new update for Telepath Tactics.

Howdy! I just posted the latest of my monthly updates on Telepath Tactics--you can check it out here.

I'm just about finished adding features to the game engine; I'm now shifting gears and focusing on content and creating the game's main campaign.

I've also included some more personal thoughts about what I want to do with game design going forward based on my experiences working on the game full-time over the past 4 months; you can find that at the bottom of the post.

We're doing quite well on Steam Greenlight right now, but I'd really like to make it that final 7% of the way into the top 100 and seal the deal. Every upvote helps!

Thursday - October 03, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Post-Funding Update #16

by Couchpotato, 00:14

Telepath Tactics has a new post-funding update giving a status update about the games development.

Hey guys! It's been a little while since my last Kickstarter update, but rest assured that I've been working hard on Telepath Tactics in the interim. (The last few monthly updates on the Sinister Design website should attest to that!)

I've got a little more than one month left in my sabbatical from my day job, and with pretty much all the game's big features all in-game and working (including random dungeon generation), I'm looking to use my remaining time off to focus on building out the single player campaign. That means that folks who contributed at "Be an NPC" or "Be a Villain" tiers should expect to hear from me sometime in the next couple of months.

In the meantime, I've updated the alpha build of the game with loads of new assets, features, bug fixes, and interface improvements, so Early Access Backers should feel free to update their versions of the game. (Just use the same link you received from me back in the spring.)

Once I head back to work, I'll be back to working on this in the evenings and weekends--but that's pretty much par for the course. We're still on target to get this sucker finished and released in 2014.

Monday - September 09, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Pax Gameplay Demo

by Couchpotato, 00:51

RPGamer has a new gameplay video from Pax Prime 2013 for Telepath Tactics.

The Indie Mega Booth videos continue. This time, Craig Stern from Sinister Design shows us Telepath Tactics. He also saves us from being slaughtered by the computer.

Wednesday - August 21, 2013

Telepath Tactics - CPU Fight on Tavern Map Video

by Couchpotato, 00:20

Sinister Design released a new video for Telepath Tactics on the games Official Youtube Channel.

Here is a little snippet of a 4-army, CPU-controlled fight on the new multiplayer Tavern map in Telepath Tactics.

Saturday - August 03, 2013

Telepath Tactics - July Development Update

by Couchpotato, 00:18

Sinister Design has sent us news of a new blog update for Telepath Tactics with the latest monthly update.

Hello, folks, and welcome to another monthly update on my progress creating Telepath Tactics! I’m now 3/4ths of the way into my first month of working on this full-time due to my sabbatical from work, and I’m pleased to report that it is awesome. I love the freedom of setting my own schedule–but more than that, I love how much I’m getting done each day. It’s terribly satisfying. I consider this tentative proof of my long-standing suspicion that full-time indie dev would be great for me.

Thursday - July 18, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Post-Funding update #15, Development Update

by Myrthos, 12:57

Craig Stern provides a development update for Telepath: Tactics at the Kickstarter page, in which he also let's us know that he is working on the game full-time now.

Hello, gentle backers! We're almost at the three month-iversary of successfully funding Telepath Tactics, and so I figured I'd give you fine folks an update on the game.

In short, development on Telepath Tactics has been proceeding smoothly. As promised, I've hired artists to create music, character portraits, item graphics, new character animations, objects and tilesets, and so on. So that's all underway and going well. I've also been coding a lot of features and polishing rough edges, which you can read about in the last few monthly updates.

Also: I just last week began a sabbatical from my day job to work on Telepath Tactics full-time. This has been going extremely well so far! I'm in a co-op working space with several fellow Chicago developers, including The Men Who Wear Many Hats (you might know them as the guys that made Organ Trail) and Greg Wohlwend (Ridiculous Fishing, Solipskier, Hundreds). Not surprisingly, working on the game full-time has meant that I am making much more rapid progress on the game's features, which is very satisfying for me.

For those of you who want regular updates on development, a reminder: I post about development frequently on the Developer's Log and on Twitter, and post monthly run-downs on the Sinister Design front page! (I believe you can get email notifications when I post the monthly run-downs by subscribing to the Sinister Design RSS feed.)

Tuesday - June 11, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Using Female Lead Characters

by Myrthos, 12:54

Craig Stern explains in a blog on his site why he is using female lead characters in Telepath Tactics, referring to amongst others the recent Tropes vs Women debate.

We tend go through life with a lot of unconscious assumptions about “the way women are” and “the way men are” ingrained in us. Inevitably, we are shaped by our social norms–and just as surely, we are shaped by the stories that we tell each other to justify those norms. There are observed psychological quirks in the human brain that play into this dynamic, things that show up over and over in studies, things with names like expectation confirmation and the just world hypothesis.

The bottom line is, it takes work–actual conscious effort–not to fall back on stereotypes when interacting with, thinking about, or writing about people from different groups. But that effort is important to make. The lazy route, merely writing what is expected, leads to predictable stories and characters that are nigh indistinguishable from the characters in other tales.

That need for effort applies equally to all characters regardless of their sex; however, the stakes are higher for those of us who would write female protagonists into our games. Female leads are comparatively rare, and are therefore subject to greater scrutiny when they do appear (see e.g. Lara Croft). There are a lot of well-intentioned people out there who will be sniffing around for any bad assumptions I’ve let slip through in my own attempts at writing female leads, and I fully expect that they will (quite justifiably) hold my feet to the fire for any such mistakes.

The question arises: is it worth all that extra pressure? Why not just write another game starring a male lead? My reasons follow.

This is followed by 4 reasons that motivated him in this direction.

Monday - June 03, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Interview @ Gamefront

by Myrthos, 13:06

Missed this interview with Craig Stern from over a week ago that Game Front had with Craig Stern on Telepath: Tactics.

Fire Emblem is as serious as stories get, while Disgaea is quite the opposite. Telepath Tactics has been compared favorably to both games, so where on the spectrum would you place the game’s setting?

The Telepath setting is serious and bound up in political struggles, so it’s definitely more on the Fire Emblem side of things. That said, it’s also more contemporary than Fire Emblem.

My personal view is that if you’re going to create a fantasy world with analogs to the real world, then you have a responsibility to craft the message in a way that shows you’re actually thinking critically about those analogs. In the Telepath series, I make an effort to address current issues like sexism, the exploitation of labor, the corrupting influence of money in politics, and the consequences of commingling church and state.

Fire Emblem is pretty retrograde, in that you’re nearly always playing as a prince fighting to save his kingdom from an external threat. While most Fire Emblem characters belong to classes relating to their battlefield roles, the main character belongs to the “Lord” class. He’s the only character whose class relates to his socioeconomic status, and he’s the only character whose death triggers a game over. Literally everyone is expendable except for the rich guy. It’s weirdly archaic and classist if you think about it.

That said, Intelligent Systems do manage to slip in some good social commentary here and there: I particularly liked the commentary on racism in Path of Radiance.

Telepath Tactics - May Update

by Myrthos, 13:03

Craig Stern has provided us with a new update on the status of the development for Telepath: Tactics. It lists a whole range of changes that have been made to the game.

Welcome to another monthly update on Telepath Tactics! Today, we’ll be summing up everything that happened in May. First and perhaps most importantly, I just submitted Telepath Tactics to Indiecade. Most of the past few weeks have been spent polishing the game and stamping out bugs in anticipation of that submission, but I’ve continued adding new content and features to the game as well.

The changes:

  • There is now an exploration mode in the game! This turns off player turns and allows the player to move characters freely around the map. (This can be used to create freely explorable towns and puzzle areas.)
  • There’s a new dialog trigger, OnTalk, which allows player-initiated conversations (via the “Talk” command) when two particular characters are adjacent. In battle, this works just like the Talk command in Fire Emblem; and in exploration mode, it works just like talking in your standard-issue jRPG or wRPG.
  • We’ve got a bunch of great new art assets! Both the Castle and Town tilesets have been significantly expanded by Lorne Whiting, there are a lot of item graphics in progress by Julia Buge, and there are a bunch of great new attack animations from Tyvon Thomas

Check out the link for a complete list of changes.

Wednesday - May 29, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Preview @ IndieGameInsider

by Couchpotato, 00:19

IndieGameInsider posted a brief preview for Telepath Tactics based on some hands-on time with the title.

The only thing that bothered me during my experience with Telepath Tactics was the story for the single-player campaign. Reading the text, the story seems to be fine, but it’s presented in a very bland fashion. Text boxes merely appear over characters’ heads to display what they are speaking; no sprite image next to the text box or any kind of extra flavor is displayed. This turned me off at a few sections, and I often found myself just skipping through walls of text to get to playing the actual game. This issue I do not think will drastically affect the game in the long haul, mainly because of Craig’s reiterated focus on multiplayer, and, with mod support, that could very well provide dozens of user-created campaigns that do not share this problem.

Overall, I am deeply satisfied with Telepath Tactics considering it’s only in early alpha. Its smart AI and reliance on skill make it a satisfying experience that really captivates a player. Destructible environments, mod support, and a lengthy single-player campaign is more than enough to provide for a solid tactical RPG game, but the addition of multiplayer really makes Telepath Tactics stand out. It’s a simple but amazing game that has great potential to be a hit with fans of the genre. If Sinister Design can deliver the multiplayer Fire Emblem-esque game that fans have dreamed of, it will surely be a must-play experience. You can visit the Telepath Tactics Steam Greenlight page to vote for it to come to the popular digital distribution platform if it sounds like Telepath Tactics is up your alley.

Thursday - April 18, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update # 11 & 12

by Couchpotato, 00:43

Telepath Tactics has two more updates for there kickstarter. First lets give them congratulations for being funded.

Telepath Tactics funded!

I couldn't have asked for a better result, really. I'm exceptionally grateful for all the support you guys have shown, and I'm looking forward to getting this game done for you!

I've had several requests for a way to contribute now that the Kickstarter campaign is done; I'm going to set up a system using BMT Micro (which accepts Paypal) over on the Sinister Design website. When that is up and running, I'll let everyone know.

I'm going to send out the first batch of backer rewards over the next few weeks. (Among other things, I still have a few more changes I want to make to the game before I send it out to early access backers.) Keep an eye on your email, folks!

And the next update.

 "When will I be charged?"

Hey guys! Here's a quick update on why you haven't been charged for your pledge yet.

Ordinarily, Kickstarter pledges are charged as soon as a campaign ends successfully. However, people were reporting that they hadn't been charged, so I called up Amazon Payments yesterday evening to find out if there was a problem. An Amazon rep confirmed to me that a bug had screwed things up on their end; he assured me that they're working to fix it right now, and I should be getting an email from them later today or tomorrow.

Earlier today, Kickstarter's Head of Community Cindy Au was nice enough to contact them herself and confirm that that is indeed what happened; she says the bug should be fixed within a couple of days.

So, long story short: if you haven't been charged yet for your pledge, don't worry! Amazon will make that happen within the next few days. Just make sure to leave enough money in your account so the pledge goes through; I'd hate for any of you to get hit with overdraft charges!

As for me, I'll be posting updates in the comments section if there are any new developments. Thanks for your patience!

 

Sunday - April 14, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #9, Craig answers your questions!

by Couchpotato, 14:53

In update #9 from Telepath Tactics kickstarter Craig Stern answers various questions.

Hey guys!

First, we have an exciting tidbit of campaign news: we've hit our third stretch goal! This means that procedural level generation is going to be supported in the game, which is pretty darn exciting. I'm not planning to use this too much in the main campaign (I want the main campaign to be a tightly focused, hand-crafted experience), but there should definitely be some room to use it for optional side missions. (Plus, I just know that modders are going to make some really awesome stuff with it once I have it in-game!)

Second, we have another piece of exciting campaign news: we're roughly $3,000 away from the "branching campaign" stretch goal! If we hit this one, I'll be adding a significant decision to the campaign that branches it in two directions, each with its own unique missions. We still have 62 hours to hit this one. We can definitely make it!

And now, on to the meat of the update. I got a really enthusiastic response from that last update where I talked about the Lissit (it turns out that people care about little things like "lore" and "world-building." Who knew?!) So last night, I took all of your questions from below that update and made a brand new video answering them all.

Two things to note before you watch:

(1) I used my webcam, which apparently ignores my high quality mic in favor of the lousy one built in to the webcam. Sorry for that! I did try to spice it up a bit by adding in some art.

(2) When I made this video, we still hadn't hit our third stretch goal. (We then went on to hit it, of course, which is pretty awesome.)

All right, enough disclaimers. Here's the video!

Friday - April 12, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #8, The Lissit

by Myrthos, 09:44

Update number 8 for Telepath Tactics shows us the lizardman, also known as The Lissit.

Hey guys! I've been posting all these updates about the features of Telepath Tactics (which I'm still working on, by the way)--but what about the world of Telepath Tactics? I could stand to talk about that some more, couldn't I.

So let's talk about one of the major races of the setting of Telepath Tactics: the Lissit.

The Lissit are a tall, physically imposing, reptilian race with a strong resemblance to bipedal komodo dragons. (In many populations, male Lissit have been known to grow frills around their heads, used in courtship displays with Lissit females.)

Like most reptiles, Lissit are ectotherms, reliant on their surroundings to regulate their body temperature. As such, they stick almost exclusively to warm or temperate climes with lots of direct sunlight; they universally avoid the frigid southern isles of the Dundar Archipelago. Their lack of internal temperature regulation makes the Lissit particularly vulnerable to heat- and cold-based attacks.

Lissit are natural predators; they regularly hunt wild pigs and deer for food. Although Lissit can run at a top speed of 20 miles per hour, they generally prefer to hunt through stealth. Lissit eat by tearing flesh with their teeth; their loosely hinged jaws allow them to swallow smaller prey whole as well, though this is frowned upon, as it prevents the hunter from sharing the meat with the rest of the clan.

Despite some of their more brutal tendencies, the Lissit are actually highly intelligent and organized, and speak their own language* (referred to by humans as "lizardtongue.") They are generally wary of humans due to past conflicts over land and resources. The Lissit refer to humans somewhat derisively as "hesh" (which translates literally to "hair" or "fur," and has a connotation roughly equivalent to "walking mound of hair").

Tuesday - April 09, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #7, Changing Conditions in Battle

by Myrthos, 12:58

In a short update for the Telepath Tactics Kickstarter (just $4K away from their next stretch goal) Craig Stern is showing what the results are of his work on being able to spontaneously change battlefield conditions using scripts. In the video you can see changes to fog of war, lighting, and weather triggered over the course of a single turn.

In addition also a music clip is available to be used in some of the boss battles.

 

Wednesday - April 03, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #6, Dungeons, Q&A and Map Editor

by Myrthos, 18:05

Update #6 for Telepath Tactics teaches us that the dungeons stretch goal has been reached. Also Craig Stern answers some questions:

  • Can you create single player battles with more than 2 armies?

Yes! That is already supported in the game. You can have a single player campaign battle between 3 different armies--or 4, 5, or 6, for that matter.

  • Can you make different armies ally with one another?

Yes! What's more, the AI knows how to cooperate with allied armies, and will do so if you set up multiple armies in an alliance with each other. (That's true for both single player and multiplayer, incidentally.)

  • Can you give human players control of more than one army in single player?

Yes! If you want to create a mission where the player fights alongside allied armies, you have the option to make those armies CPU-controlled or player-controlled. (You can also make enemy armies player-controlled if you so desire.)

  • Can you make it so a campaign's plot branches based on whether a specific character survives a battle?

Yes! That's just one of the many, many cool things you can do with the scripting system in Telepath Tactics (and one possibility for how the main campaign could branch if we hit our fourth stretch goal).

  • Is it possible to have certain characters get player-directed stat gains on level up instead of randomly chosen stat gains?

Yes!

And there is a video of the map editor.

Thursday - March 28, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #5, Dungeons are Getting Close

by Myrthos, 12:58

Craig Stern is back from PAX and had the following to say on Telepath Tactics:

Hey guys! I'm back from PAX East, where I spent three days straight getting interviewed by various journalists, grabbing random passersby to play the alpha demo, and handing out roughly 700* business cards (*that's an actual estimate, not hyperbole). I'm still not fully recovered, but heck if that's going to stop me from posting an update!

Now, things always slow down when Kickstarter campaigns move into their middle two weeks, but we're actually doing very well despite that fact. Prominent Youtubers TotalBiscuit and NorthernLion are working on impressions videos of the game, I'm sending out preview builds to interested journalists, and...well, let's just say that I'm genuinely feeling really good about our prospects as we move into the second week of this campaign.

Thanks to your generosity, we're currently sitting pretty at $24,690 pledged, which leaves us only $3,310 away from having proper dungeons in Telepath Tactics. Traps, buttons, levers, openable doors, stone blocks and pressure plates--I don't know about you, but I'm actually pretty excited about this one!

Mind you, I'm not just excited about the tactical and level design possibilities that proper dungeon functionality opens up for Telepath Tactics: I'm also excited about how this could intersect with the third stretch goal. The third stretch goal is procedural level generation. Just think about that for a second. Dungeons, procedural level generation; dungeons, procedural level generation. Is it just me, or is there is a distinct possibility that Telepath Tactics could end up with the capacity to generate unique, procedural dungeons filled with monsters, puzzles, traps and treasure? Call me crazy, but I do believe that that could make for some legitimately entertaining optional side missions, and add a good bit of replayability to the main campaign in the process.

So that's where we're at: just $3,310 away from having proper dungeons, and the ability to procedurally generate them (along with other, more conventional battlefields) is now visible off on the horizon as well. What do we think, folks? Shall we press on? (My vote is for "Yes"!)

At the moment the Kickstarter is as $26,615, which is even closer to the $28,000 stretch goal.

Tuesday - March 26, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Hands-On @ Destructoid

by Myrthos, 12:55

Destructoid had a look at Telepath Tactics and mentioned things like this:

The game itself mixes the traditional SRPG elements that the fans know and love with some pretty interesting and fresh mechanics to keep it from feeling all too similar. Throwing and pushing enemies is possible, which makes a character's proximity to cliffs, water, and lava way more important.

It is also possible for certain classes to build bridge tiles, connecting two previously separated areas. It's a simple addition with complex implications. If the enemy can bridge two areas and get their fighters across in a single turn, you had better be ready.

I didn't get to play with any of the editing tools, but it looks like the map-editing tool will be easy to use and understand. Creating a new NPC or scripts seems a bit more complex, but you can always be like me and just appreciate the content that other, way more skilled people create. As if it wasn't wonderful enough that there is going to be an intense and classic SRPG on the PC, it's also playing to the platform's strength by including mod support!

Monday - March 25, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #4, The Next Stretch Goal

by Myrthos, 13:01

Craig Stern sends an update from PAX East on the stretch goals of Telepath Tactics. With the first already down we are heading to the second stretch goal at $28,000 (currently the Kickstarter is close to $23K).

 

The second stretch goal will allow me to commission an extra set of tiles and interactive object graphics, then code them all to create scriptable dungeon areas in Telepath Tactics. (Of course, the buttons and levers and other objects will work in any sort of scenario, not just a dungeon.)

Want a mission where you have to pull a lever in the gatehouse to open the door to an enemy keep? How about a mission where you have to slide blocks onto floor panels to open the door to a tomb while holding off enemy forces? Or perhaps side missions to loot dungeons under time pressure? I'm not saying these will necessarily be in the main campaign, but that gives you an idea of what's possible when we hit this stretch goal!

Also, I want to thank you all for backing the game; this campaign wouldn't be anything without you guys, and I'm terribly grateful for your support. Let's keep it up and smash through stretch goal #2!

Thursday - March 21, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Update #3, Character Classes

by Myrthos, 12:29

As the first stretch goal for Telepath Tactics is close (less than $400) and update was made providing some information for the 'Extra character classes with animated sprites' stretch goal.

Hey guys! First, a quick update on the campaign. As I write, there are 831 of you and we've raised $19,009. Thanks to all of you, we're now within striking distance of our first stretch goal: extra character classes with animated sprites! So let's talk more about that.

Extra character classes with animated sprites is exactly what it sounds like. There are loads of possibilities: axe-wielding bandits, more types of golems, lizardmen with bows, shadowling guardians, and so on. When we reach this stretch goal, I'll be able to afford to commission sprites for our extra classes with a full suite of high quality animations. At a minimum, this means greater enemy variety and a more interesting campaign!

But there's actually more that we can do with this. Remember the promotion systems from the old Shining Force and GBA Fire Emblem games? With this first stretch goal, I'll be able to commission variations on the default character class sprites and add character promotions to Telepath Tactics as well.

To sum up: we're now less than $3,000 away from having both class promotions and a greater variety of character classes in the game. I don't know about you guys, but I'm pretty pumped. Let's do this! (And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to leave 'em in the comments below.)

Sunday - March 17, 2013

Telepath Tactics - Funded

by Myrthos, 20:15

Craig Stern informed us that his Kickstarter for Telepath Tactics reached it's goal of $15K in just 3 days. So it is time for stretch goals

$22,000 - Extra Character Classes with Animated Sprites.
$28,000 - Dungeon Tileset with Traps, Openable Doors, Scripted Levers and Buttons.
$34,000 - Randomized Battlefield Generation.
$38,000 - Extra Branch in the Main Campaign.
$46,000 - Mobile Ports.

 

Thursday - March 14, 2013

Telepath: Tactics - A New Kickstarter Start

by Myrthos, 22:39

Craig Stern has started a new Kickstarter for Telepath:Tactics. The money he is asking for ($15K) is less than before and it looks like it will fly this time as almost half of that amount is already pledged.

Telepath Tactics is a turn-based tactical RPG in the tradition of Fire Emblem and Disgaea. Featuring mod support, a robust map editor, and a dialog editor, you can create your own campaigns and download others' off the internet!

On top of single player, Telepath Tactics also features 2-to-6 player local multiplayer matches (i.e. you and your friends playing together in the same room, Super Smash Brothers style).

Telepath Tactics is being developed for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Setting

Telepath Tactics takes place in a fantasy-steampunk universe that averts most of the tropes you're used to from these sorts of games. Magic doesn't exist: instead, there is psionics and steam-powered technology reliant on a volatile, crystalline substance called vibra. Cavalry don't ride horses: they ride giant, armored praying mantises. There are no elves, no dwarves, no goblins, no dragons. The world is populated by humans, steam-powered mechanical golems, and other, original races (such as the shadowlings, disembodied heads from the nether reaches of the earth that quite literally feed on human suffering).

Shadowlings were the first to discover the secrets of vibra mining. Crucial to powering steam tech, vibra turned out to be big business–and no place had it in greater concentrations than the Dundar Archipelago, a string of islands governed by the Roman-style Dundar Empire. The influx of moneyed interests to the islands has corroded the empire's adherence to democratic traditions, and the native human population now faces increasing exploitation as Dundar's politicians turn a blind eye.

If you want to learn more a demo is available for Linux, Mac and Windows.

Thanks Bob.

Information about

Telepath Tactics

Developer: Sinister Design

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: 20-40 hours
Voice-acting: Partially voiced

Regions & platforms
World
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· To be announced
· Publisher: Sinister Design