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The Broken Hourglass - All News

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Box Art

Thursday - August 25, 2011

The Broken Hourglass - Cancelled

by Dhruin, 01:02

Sadly, The Broken Hourglass has been cancelled, although materials will be released for the community to potentially develop:

Planewalker Games LLC is formally abandoning development of The Broken Hourglass as a commercial product. I have concluded that it is infeasible for PWG to deliver the game promised, and unacceptable to try to market a product that would not meet expectations. I take full responsibility for this decision and the factors leading to the conclusion.

It is my intention to release the game materials for TBH and the underlying WeiNGINE game code in some open source/open content license model which will permit the ongoing exploration and development of the game as a non-commercial, community project. The exact licenses and scope of this public release have not yet been determined, and there is no specific timetable for this public release to happen. The intention will be to give the greater community the best chance possible to explore the potential of TBH and to honor the efforts of the dozens of people who have been involved with TBH's development over the years.

Support from RPG players and press has been overwhelmingly positive and constant during the long development cycle of TBH and I am extremely grateful. It remains to be seen if PWG will attempt a commercial project of more manageable scope in the future. Until that day, please accept my apologies for coming short of the mark, and my thanks for your interest.

- Jason Compton

Jason regularly kept us in touch (in the earlier days of the project) and we wish the team the best.

Sunday - June 20, 2010

The Broken Hourglass - Developer Blog

by Magerette, 18:21

A visit to the official site for Planewalker Games' crpg The Broken Hourglass reveals a link to a blog by designer Jessica Greenlee where among other topics she discusses her work on the game.

Here's her most recent post dated June 16, 2010:

The quest I wrote about the last time I discussed The Broken Hourglass is coming together nicely. The characters are chattering away happily, and my grasp of basic code is improving to the point where adding it is no longer quite such an interruption to the writing.

I did have to stop yesterday to build a couple of stores, something I'm glad to say is much easier with WeiNGINE, than with Weidu (where, quite honestly, I only managed to make things crash when I was modding; Miloch & GeN1e built the working stores in Aurora). So, it slowed me down looking for the proper names of items they might carry, but not so much so that I lost the thread of the narrative, and I felt quite pleased with myself for getting it done.

And now, back to the narrative in question.

This ends your semi-weekly update.


Thursday - October 15, 2009

The Broken Hourglass - Interview @

by Dhruin, 23:41

It's fantastic to have something new for The Broken Hourglass, with Jason Compton doing an interview for Polish site  The obvious question about a release date goes largely unanswered with Jason saying "we'll just have to keep working until it's done", so here's a snip on quests:

Klecha ( How are quests handled in the game and what kinds of quests can we expect to see?

Jason Compton (Planewalker Games): We made an early design decision to make our plot-critical quests as independent as possible-that is, although there are a handful of major tasks you have to complete in order to finish the game, we try to make it possible to approach them in any order you like. These plot-critical quests require a variety of disciplines, from negotiating with soldiers and thugs to exploring the inner reaches of your character's subconscious mind.

The game also has dozens of optional quests, ranging from fleeting encounters to some sticky situations. One involves a man whose wife split into four personalities. Another is a tale of rivalry and jealousy played out over a decade. And some are just an excuse to mix it up with some baddies.

Wednesday - March 04, 2009

The Broken Hourglass - Updates @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 21:26

Wow, it's all happening this week.  Out of the blue, the Planewalker Games site has spluttered into life with two new updates for The Broken Hourglass.  The first describes changes they made to the encumbrence / weight system after some thought and the second is an in-character (and topical) piece called Condition Report - Market Precinct:

The situation here is no better than last week. Over my objection, the bazaar merchants have been openly recruiting for thugs to watch their stalls. They reply that since we cannot put enough feet on the street to keep them safe, they are forced to look elsewhere. I can't argue. But they're just as likely to be shaken down as saved by the seedy lot I see hanging around the shops these days. Besides, our peddlers here have had it surprisingly good. Even with the city gone crazy, people are surprisingly content to buy and sell as though nothing has happened. Sure, we have had a few tense moments—a couple of women nearly ripped each other's head off over a second-hand fez yesterday—but things are still quiet, for the most part.

Tuesday - February 05, 2008

The Broken Hourglass - How Spellcasting Works

by Corwin, 06:13

J C Compton the lead developer on The Broken Hourglass has dropped us a line in the forums that he's posted an excellent article on how spellcasting could work in the game. You'll find it here, but to whet your appetite, here's the introduction.

 We have discussed the magic system of The Broken Hourglass in previous articles: see here and here, for example. Recently, we were asked to explain how a caster might choose to manage mana in a step-by-step example. We have devised a simple hypothetical combat encounter to show how two opponents might choose to use their magical abilities in a fight to the death...The "heroes" in our example will be a duo led by Ceyda, a generalist mage who specializes in aeromancy (Air Magic). Ceyda is accompanied by Gemma, who is strictly a sword-arm. Ceyda and Gemma will be trying to defeat Kamberus, a dangerous Fey pyromancer.

Magical Stats

Ceyda likes having flexibility in her casting, so she has studied three different magical disciplines-but aeromancy is by far her favorite, so that is where most of her points are.

Air Magic: 30
Physical Magic: 5
Fire Magic: 5
Total Mana: 65

Kamberus is a dedicated pyromancer, so all he can cast are fire-based spells. They are, however, rather powerful.

Fire Magic: 50
Total Mana: 75

Thanks Jason, this sounds like a winner to me. 

Source: Planewalker Games

Thursday - January 31, 2008

The Broken Hourglass - Interview @ Gamebanshee

by Magerette, 16:38

Jason Compton of Planewalker Games sits down with Jon 'Buck' Birnbaum of Gamebanshee to discuss his party-based indie RPG, The Broken Hourglass:

GB: Bring us up to speed on where you currently stand with the development of The Broken Hourglass. Have your recently reached any major milestones or ran into any unforeseen issues? Any idea what the release date might be yet?

Jason: Aside from a few rough edges remaining on the engine, it's all about implementing playable content at this stage. Milestone-wise, I'm encouraged by the progress we've made on critical path implementation (much of "the stuff you have to do to win the game" is in place now).

All of our issues were fairly well foreseen, but we ran into them anyway--mostly a matter of "boy, this is taking longer and costing more money than I would have liked" with a dash of "what, you mean it's hard finding people out there who know how to make this kind of game and will work for indie prices?" That's not to say we haven't had a number of fine contributors working with us, but, as ever, better-faster-and-cheaper would be nice....

...And I'm not talking about the release date anymore. There is little more I hate than being wrong, and I'm always wrong when I open my mouth about it, so...

 GB: What size party will we be leading and how many NPCs will we be able to choose from when composing our party?

Jason: The game is designed for a party of five (one player-defined character and four joined NPCs.) There are nine joinable characters in the game. We do not plan to directly support starting the game with more than one player-defined character, but as many of TBH's developers are experienced character modders, it would be silly of me not to point out that changing the starting limit and/or adding more joinable characters to the game is going to be fairly easy to do...

GB: Give us a few examples of party interactions. Will members of our party periodically begin talking amongst themselves as in Baldur's Gate II or will such dialogue only occur during specific trigger events?

Jason: We do indeed have a BG2-esque "random banter" system that will offer up interactions between your joined NPCs at various intervals, and you will also hear from your characters in circumstances where their expertise (or big mouth) comes into play. I feel good about the interplay potential between our nine characters--nobody has a relationship which feels forced or tacked-on to me, for instance.

All of the characters are "compatible" in that we don't have any pairs who refuse to work together, but there are certainly some clear affinity teams. Then again, a lot pivots around the way the PC is built. A physical, healer mage may not see much reason to travel with either Sanelon or Tuhan, while a big bruiser may not see any point in taking Nekos along. And we can never discount the challenge gamers who want to play all-mage, no-mage, etc., so we certainly can't assume any particular party configurations. Everybody will have plenty to talk about with everybody else.

For instance, one character blames another for the death of her family--with some good reason. A career criminal and master blackmailer, and a career government official and master economist, find that they have a surprising amount in common. And one character explains to another how he starts barroom brawls as a scientific exercise.

In addition, we're designing four different character romances--two with male NPCs, two with female NPCs. 

There's quite a bit more, including four screenshots, so follow this link  to read the entire interview.

Tuesday - November 20, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Stagnation and Death @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 22:49

Planewalker talks about two of Tolmira's gods in a piece called Stagnation and Death for The Broken Hourglass:

On the PWG site, we have published a new article explaining the outlook and role of two of the Tolmiran gods--Arithaan, a cold and distant sort, and Uulix, the god of almost everything that isn't nailed down.

Tuesday - November 13, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Interview @ RPG Codex

by Dhruin, 03:06

Vault Dweller's closing (at least for the moment) article at RPG Codex is a nice interview with Jason Compton on The Broken Hourglass that aims to go deeper on a smaller number of topics:

Let's explore the urban setting a bit more. The game takes place in a single city, which is great, interesting, and even innovative, but ... what exactly does that mean? Why should someone be excited about it?

Well, being in an urban setting means something to the type and variety of people you expect to encounter--fewer wayward lumberjacks and nymphs, and more candle makers, weavers, and artists. More significant than the actual location, I think, is the fact that the PC is cast as a resident of Mal Nassrin. Many RPGs put the player in the role of the Eastwood-esque Stranger. That's all well and good, but rather than dropping the PC from 5000 feet into a strange environment and teaching them the local mores as a newcomer, we are able to join more activity "in progress."

Do you think candle makers, weavers, and artists will be able to
generate enough excitement for players?

The more important thing to make clear here is that I don't think every single square inch of the game is there to tangibly "generate excitement." Some elements of a story contribute to that story without, themselves, being "exciting." Sometimes a trip to the brewery is just a trip to the brewery. You may meet someone who gives you a better sense of "Mal Nassrin as a real place" or "Mal Nassrin, a place with real people who need help," and if that heightens the overall excitement I hope we generate every time you start the game and hear the theme music, so much the better.

Now, our candle-making shop just so happens to contain a brief existential encounter, which may amuse or satisfy or enlighten on its own merits, but I don't look at every one of the areas and say "What generates excitement here?" I say "How can this contribute to the story?" Sometimes that means a major, plot-advancing encounter, and sometimes that means just providing a little glue.

Monday - November 05, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Music Interview

by Dhruin, 21:22

Planewalker has posted an interview with the composer for The Broken Hourglass.  Here's the blurb they sent over:

This week on the Broken Hourglass website, we have a conversation with game composer Rob Howard, who explains how he went about composing music for the world and how he was introduced to Turkish banjo. The interview includes an excerpt from one of the game's character themes.


Monday - October 22, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Portraits and Soundsets

by Dhruin, 23:20

This week's update for The Broken Hourglass looks at importing your own portraits and soundsets:

If you are a player who enjoys an easy way to tailor your gameplay experience, The Broken Hourglass offers easy options to add custom character portraits and homemade character soundsets. Although TBH will ship with an ample selection of both, tastes vary widely--and of course, for copyright reasons we are not allowed to include your favorite vampire slayers or starship captains. The privacy of your own home, however, is a different matter...

Wednesday - October 10, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Mashiz, Narimir's Troubled Neighbour

by Dhruin, 00:37

Planewalker sent over their latest update for The Broken Hourglass, which looks at a neighbouring province to the game's setting of Mal Nassrin:

Although The Broken Hourglass takes place entirely within the city walls of Mal Nassrin, from time to time we like to offer you a
glimpse into the rest of the Tolmiran Empire. This month features a side trip to Mashiz, the former smuggler's paradise strategically located between the trade routes of Mal Nassrin and the mountain wastes beyond the Imperial borders. Why is Mashiz unique among Imperial provinces, and why is it widely considered to be the most likely home to the next anti-Imperial uprising?

Wednesday - September 26, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Engine Abuses @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 00:19

The latest update for The Broken Hourglass looks at using the game engine in weird ways:

Unlike some of the popular game engines in use today, WeiNGINE was designed from the ground up for a very singular purpose-to deliver a CRPG. That doesn't make it immune to tweaks and abuses-after all, a popular spreadsheet once shipped with an embedded flight simulator. It just makes them slightly less likely.

With a powerful and flexible scripting language, it turns out that a surprising range of abuses are possible. We thought we were pretty clever when we created an NPC who could play a credible game of cards with the player. We were recently taken to school by engine creator Westley Weimer himself, who decided to spend a few hours this past weekend taking our game engine in a slightly unexpected direction...

Wednesday - September 19, 2007

Character Point of View Editorial @ Planewalker Games

by Dhruin, 00:45

Taking a break from the usual weekly updates for The Broken Hourglass, Planewalker's Jason Crompton has instead penned an editorial inspired by thinking about the late Robert Jordan.  Here's an introductory snip:

Among fans (is there any other word for people who read eleven books on the same topic?) the core of the criticism against the later entries in the series seems to revolve largely around the multiple plot threads, which involve completely different characters in different places and occur at different times. Even when managed deftly, these plot lines tend to take on a life of their own, and merging them back together becomes a literary challenge—as both Jordan and his readers discovered.

Jordan is not alone. George R. R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire book series has made it clear from the very beginning that it will spread its characters far and wide and dispose of protagonists at will. The most recent book in the series notably passes on expanding some of the plotlines altogether. This makes the series a daunting prospect for some readers, not to mention creating large gaps in narrative for fans.

Yet computer games generally and CRPGs particularly have not followed this trend, even though it clearly sells books. Why not games, as well?

Tuesday - September 11, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - 2nd Chapter of ' Fetish' @ Official Site

by Magerette, 23:21

In their refreshing alternative to mass-produced PR, Planewalker Games posts instead one of their fictional descriptions of some aspects of the game world of The Broken Hourglass. This is the second and final chapter of "Fetish", which deals with the adventures of a young apprentice healer named Annika:

In the still air of the shed, the oppressive sensation of an alien gaze fell upon her again, as near and heavy as the heat all around her. Before her imagination could wander, telling her of teeth as sharp as fish bones that would sink into her hide and leave her skin wedged perfectly in a grey back molar, she slipped the brooch out of her pocket for the comfort and distraction of its beauty. She tilted it this way and that, letting it catch the dim light. Its was a shape that seemed ever more alive, as if it had been plucked from some tall, silvered tree and a pin simply affixed to its shining back.

Monday - September 03, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - The Senate and the Emperor

by Dhruin, 23:33

Planewalker's weekly update for The Broken Hourglass takes a look at the Imperial Senate of Tolmira:

It's the Labor Day holiday in the US where Planewalker Games is headquartered, but work on The Broken Hourglass goes on. This week we bring you new insights from the fantasy world of Tolmira--specifically, a look at the Imperial Senate and the uneasy alliance they have with the executive Primarch they appoint, as well as with each other. Nuggets of Imperial history abound. Learn about the Imperial Senate and the new Primarch at . We hope to see you there!

Tuesday - August 28, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Inside the Engine: Area Creation

by Magerette, 17:00

Planeswalker Games post their weekly update on The Broken Hourglass, focusing once gain on the features which modders can use to work with the game:

Any 3D environment artist (or 2D artist willing to put in a little extra effort) can create an area for The Broken Hourglass or other WeiNGINE games. WeiNGINE does not use tile-based environments, so each area is a unique project unto itself, and artists need not be constrained by texture limits imposed by the game. Any of the dozens of 3D staging and rendering packages in existence are solid choices for area creation. 3D software makes it easy to exactly match the camera angle used in The Broken Hourglass.

Source: GameBanshee

Tuesday - August 21, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Point-Buy Strategies @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 23:47

Planewalker sent over a note on their latest update for The Broken Hourglass.  This week, they look at point-buying during character creation.  Here is the blurb:

The third week of the month brings a new look at the rules and mechanics of the upcoming RPG The Broken Hourglass. This time around, the rules department offers a column on devising strategies for spending experience points most effectively--with four primary attributes, dozens of secondary abilities and special skill-boosting traits to choose from, the decision isn't easy. Read up on the emerging strategies.

Monday - August 13, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Story @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 23:24

Planewalker has the first part of a new story for The Broken Hourglass titled Fetish, which takes a look at the city of  Mal Nassrin through the eyes of apprentice healer Annika:

Autumn light is always slanting light, when not even the noonday sun can hold shade perfectly beneath it. Somehow the shadows always slip away, sideways. It was the dusty saffron of an afternoon, when the weather should have cooled with the approach of winter, but had not. Annika stood in the doorway of a house not her own and listened to the sound of women weeping.

The boy was dying.  That was all.  The women had waited too long, cared too little, or been too poor, none of which mattered now.  Anikka only half-listened to the women's lament, though. Her new shoes pinched her feet and she was absorbed in trying, unobtrusively, to flex first one foot, then the other.  Nevertheless, when her mentor spoke,  all thoughts of grieving women and cramped feet fled as she lifted her head trying to see what he wanted before he named it.  Catching her eye, he gestured curtly to the bowl that sat by the boy's head, and then wordlessly turned his attention back to the women.

Monday - August 06, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Myths @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 23:56

Planewalker covers some of the origin myths of Tolmira in the latest Broken Hourglass update:

Where do we come from? Why are we here? Every civilization asks these questions and has its own answers. In Tolmira, the answers pivot around two primal forces of creation, and the nine gods which succeeded them to ascendance. We offer this week a look at the early creation of the world, and one of the gods which is credited--and blamed--for much of what goes on within it.

The world began with Fire and Water, primal forces of creation. Together they conspired to create the world and everything in it, beginning with the lesser gods who mortals worship today. In all things they were of one mind, until they forged what was to be their final creation: Man. Humanity was unique in its ability to worship--to recognize its creators and revere them. Both believed they should be revered above the other, though their parts in creation had been equal, but they also knew they could not fight amongst themselves for such a conflict would destroy all they wrought. They decided instead to allow the newborn race of man to choose for itself which god would be worshipped above all--or so it seemed.

Monday - July 23, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Modding Update @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 23:54

Here is the latest update on The Broken Hourglass:

It's the fourth Monday of the month, so the update for The Broken Hourglass focuses once again on topics for modders and gearheads. This time we look at the concept of "skipping" events--scripting the engine so that when the player expects one result, the game can substitute something entirely different. An explanation of the "skip" as well as example code for the Second Wind trait are posted at . We hope to see our technically-minded readers there!

Monday - July 16, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Mechanics of Race @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 23:37

The blurb sent over by Planewalker for their latest Broken Hourglass covering race mechanics explains things nicely, so here it is:

In the past, we have offered an in-depth look at some of the races of The Broken Hourglass through historical record and storytelling. This week's update, however, is for those who simply want to know what each race does to the character sheet. Our Rules and Mechanics department breaks down the five non-human races and explains the different bonuses and penalties enjoyed (and suffered) by each, with a brief, no-nonsense rationale for each.

Wednesday - July 11, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Galen's Magical Weapons @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 00:56

Planewalker's latest update for The Broken Hourglass covers the interesting idea that virtually all magical weapons come from one man - Galen:

In The Broken Hourglass, powerful magical weapons and devices are not only artifacts from antiquity. They are an important, if exclusive, manufactured product, and a man named Galen controls virtually all of the mainland's production and distribution in unconventional arms.

Tuesday - June 26, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - NPC Creation @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 14:39

The lates update for The Broken Hourglass takes us into the engine to look at NPC creation:

Many of the developers of Planewalker Games' upcoming RPG, The Broken Hourglass, got their start years ago as NPC character modders, back when unraveling the technology behind a new character required months of research and the production of dedicated software tools. In this week's update to the Broken Hourglass site, we demonstrate how WeiNGINE makes it possible for new joinable characters can be created in just a few lines of scripting with a simple text editor.

Tuesday - June 19, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Tinkered Spells @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 13:52

The Broken Hourglass site has an update from Planewalker that looks at so-called tinkered spells in the game:

Characters in The Broken Hourglass have an almost unlimited ability to customize their spellbooks through the use of the Tinker Spell interface. A "tinkered" spell is one defined by the player, selecting from a menu of spell sources and effects and given a player-defined mana strength.

Once one of your characters tinkers a spell, every member of the party may use it, if they have the necessary magic skills and mana to cast it. The entire party "learns" the customized spell. Tinkered spells are remembered with your saved games. You may, at your option, later delete a tinkered spell when you feel it has outlived its usefulness.


Tuesday - June 12, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Story @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 14:25

Planewalker has posted Chapter 4 of the serial story Moonshine for The Broken Hourglass:

"I thought I'd find you here."

I look up and see Roye leaning two doorways down on the opposite side of the street. "Good for you, Roye. Keep earning that Watch stipend," I say. The rain has slowed to something like a mist. It beads on my hair and face, feeling unpleasantly like somebody else's sweat.

He laughs. "I came to tell you that you had a tail trailing after you, my friend. But I guess a smart man like you doesn't need someone like me to tell him that." He sounds genuine. But who knows? I don't trust a smiling man any more than I do a crying woman.

Thursday - June 07, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Podcast @ iGame Radio

by Dhruin, 00:19

Jason Compton from Planewalker has been interviewed in the first of two podcasts at iGame Radio, which also features a new music track from The Broken Hourglass.

Monday - June 04, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - NPC Profile @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 14:51

This week's update for The Broken Hourglass is an NPC named Halima:

As this week's Broken Hourglass update, the Planewalker Games website now features a glimpse at Halima Phaenon, one of the nine joinable NPCs in the game. We bring you a look at the young wizardess Halima through the eyes of her last mentor, one of Argoniss' most powerful air mages. Read about why Halima is leaving the magical island fortress for Mal Nassrin--and why her stay could be a short one.

Monday - May 28, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Random Encounters @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 22:11

Time for another update from Planewalker on The Broken Hourglass, with this week's entry delving into the engine again and looking at random and semi-random encounters:

Creating random (or semi-randomized) encounters in an RPG is a little bit magic and a little bit science. We expose some of the science used in The Broken Hourglass this week by taking the cover off the _encounter function and explaining its inner workings. Although the focus of TBH is not on "procedural" or "random" content, dynamic creature generation is a useful tool to offer gameplay variety, and _encounter is one of the major procedural tools in the WeiNGINE arsenal.

Monday - May 21, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Understanding Weapons & Armour

by Dhruin, 13:28

Today's update from Planewalker Games on The Broken Hourglass explains the mechanics behind weapons and armour:

Understanding weapons and armor in The Broken Hourglass takes more than just glancing at a base damage score or a damage resistance rating. Find out more about the unique properties that make a flail distinct from a staff in our new look at special equipment properties, published now on the Planewalker Games website.

Monday - May 14, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Story @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 14:37

It's Monday, and that means an update for The Broken Hourglass.  This weeks its another chapter for the story Moonshine:

Klavel's got a bad eye, a nose for murder, and a strange effect on people. All he's missing is the dirty trenchcoat to round out his detective act. In Moonshine, the latest story set in the gameworld of The Broken Hourglass, the body count is rising but there is no end to the mystery is in sight.

Saturday - May 12, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Podcast @ GamingTrend

by Dhruin, 08:02

GamingTrend has a podcast that features Jason Compton from Planewalker and The Broken Hourglass, although as always with these things, you never know what is covered until you listen to the whole thing.  Here's the short accompanying blurb:

Today we have TrendCast #32 posted. In this TrendCast, I interview Jason Compton of Planewalker Games. Originally a group of modders, they have decided to strike out on their own and create a new game with a new engine. They have high ambitions with this game.

Monday - May 07, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Death and Beyond in Tolmira

by Dhruin, 22:18

Planewalker's update for The Broken Hourglass this week is a series of lore excerpts on death customs and rituals in the gameworld:

Superstition holds that shadow is not merely the absence of light-- that your shadow is born with you and follows you to the grave, standing witness to all your actions and reciting them before your maker at the time of judgment. This tradition derives from the lesson of the god Oron, who governs law and death.

Monday - April 23, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Level Scripting @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 22:48

This week's update for The Broken Hourglass takes a look at scripting levels:

Last week we explained to you and your readers the unique way we manage the "character class" and "level-up" concepts in The Broken Hourglass. In this week's game update, we explain the engine's inner workings with regard to the level path process, including a quick tutorial demonstrating how to create a new level path with just a few lines of scripting.

Friday - April 20, 2007

RPGWatch Feature: The Broken Hourglass Diary #1

by Dhruin, 13:49

The Broken Hourglass is one of the promising indie titles expected this year that we've been keeping a close eye on. Planewalker's Jason Compton offered to write a diary series for RPGWatch and this first entry is titled The Dangers of "What You Asked For":

I have always considered myself to be a "good asker." As a student, I was never shy about raising my hand (or not) and asking questions during class. As an adult, I am not ashamed to admit I need help and not afraid to impose upon others to get it. Being a good asker, overall, has served me well as an independent RPG producer, a role in which I frequently have to ask for things to be done faster, better, and for less money than the providers would otherwise be inclined to deliver them.

Read on...

Monday - April 16, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Interview @ Rampant Games

by Dhruin, 22:26

Indie games site Rampant Games has interviewed Jason Compton from Planewalker on The Broken Hourglass.  It's a lengthy article that covers a little of Jason's history and influences through to the game itself:

Rampant Coyote: In a lot of games, it feels like you are railroaded through a story, regardless of what you want to do with your character. How were you able to achieve that balance between story and player freedom?

Jason: Well, uh... (laughs) we’ll just have to see, in part. I know how we think we’re doing it. I’ve always been up front about saying that we are not a sandbox game. We do have a finite and limited and non-random number of things to do in the game. We are not procedural content people. So there’s only so much you can do, and a certain number of things you’ll have to do.

We hope that by making a lot of the decisions about what order to do things in, and to a some extent which path you’ll take to reach those goals open-ended, players won't feel like they're in a box. Not everything has to be solved in a specific way. It’s not just “obtain the sort of blah from the Foozle over here, and give it to this guy, and doing that unlocks the gate.” There are some other … some different strategies to reach the end of some of the major quests, and alternative strategies for many sidequests as well. If anything, from a design standpoint I worry sometimes that we don't have enough plots which just consist of "You meet Party A. They hate you, and conflict ensues!"

We’ll have to see! What I have in my head as enough freedom may not be enough freedom for some players. But I can’t know what we do wrong until people play the game.

Source: Bluesnews

The Broken Hourglass - Levels Explained @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 15:31

The Broken Hourglass site has an explanation of the leveling system.  Here's the intro they sent over:

In this week's Broken Hourglass game update, we explore the concept of level paths. Because point-buy systems can be intimidating, we provide a hybrid point-buy and class template system, which allows players to have the bulk of their experience points automatically spent along sensible class or occupationally-focused lines, while still leaving a reserve pool to preserve the flexibility of a point-buy system.

Thursday - April 12, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Podcast @ IMG

by Dhruin, 22:30

Inside Mac Games has a Broken Hourglass interview in podcast form - here are the details straight from Planewalker Games' site:

The podcast crew at Inside Mac Games recently interviewed Planewalker Games about our upcoming title, The Broken Hourglass. Links to the half-hour recording, including several download sources and podcast feeds, can be found here. (Hint: For non-iTunes users, we've had the best luck using the "Odeo" link.)

Wednesday - April 11, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Story @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 00:50

Planewalker Games has posted the second chapter of the background lore story Moonshine for their indie RPG, The Broken Hourglass.  Here's a sample:

One of the men glances up as I approach. His spine straightens, and he ambles toward me like a big dumb dog. The kid's called Knock; I've forgotten his real name if I ever knew it. Knock is a nasty piece of work. If things start going bad for him in a scuffle, he goes straight for the eyes, a tactic of which I do not approve. Knock hadn't gotten on well with Larius lately. He thought the old man was taking out too big of a piece of his prize monies. Truth is, we had to bribe the other owners to keep them from kicking up too much of a ruckus about Knock's technique. Larius and me had dues as well. Our bosses took their cut and there wasn't always enough left to soothe grandiose expectations.

Monday - April 02, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Character Profile @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 13:27

It's Monday so Planewalker has a new update for The Broken Hourglass.  This week's article introduces Nekos:

Nekos is one of the characters who may join your party in The Broken Hourglass.

Any long-time resident of Mal Nassrin knows the draw of the arena--many a dusk settles on the city with the crowd still roaring in appreciation of a marathon battle. But the spectacle has survived the test of time on its personalities as much as violence and escapism. Although the anonymous undercard combatants come and go, one name has stood out for years--Nekos.

Monday - March 26, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Creating Sprites @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 14:32

Being Monday, a new update has been released at The Broken Hourglass site.  This one is a tutorial on creating sprites with the WeiNGINE and here's the intro they sent over:

Our Monday update brings a tutorial for those with an interest in modding the graphics of a WeiNGINE game. Sprite creation is on the docket, with an overview both of the procedure to create a sequence of frames suitable for the game, as well as the code necessary to play back the animations in-game. The skills map very well to those possessed by many 3D animation enthusiasts, but the finished product is used in a very different way.

Monday - March 19, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - RULES and MECHANICS: Hiding and Finding

by Corwin, 07:01

Planewalker Games have updated their site with more information on aspects of eagerly awaited game The Broken Hourglass. This time it deals with the key issue of finding hidden items and people. Here's the entire update:

From tripwires to deadly assassins to a storage nook behind a wall painting, hidden people and objects help spice up the experience of The Broken Hourglass. Here, we briefly explain the rules for hiding as well as finding that which has been hidden.

Although individual characters have their own sight range, from a mechanics standpoint all members of the same party are considered to be sharing the same knowledge about the people and things they can see. This reasonably approximates one party member's ability to alert companions that "He's heading your way!" or "Look out! She's behind you!" When people or things are hidden, then, they are potentially hidden from every single party in the game.

Hiding Characters and Creatures

Any character or creature with at least one point in the Stealth skill may attempt to hide at any time. As far as they are aware, they are now hidden.

An opposing individual or party which encounters the hidden creature will spot it if its Perception score exceeds the Stealth score of the hider. Perception is a group skill, meaning that when party members are within a certain radius of one another, they are able to fractionally combine their abilities to have a better chance of locating a hider than they would on their own. (Group skills were discussed in a previous Rules and Mechanics installment).

Messenger is attempting to sneak past both the Guards and the Player Party. Messenger's Stealth score is 25.
The Guards have a combined Perception score of 20.
The Player Party has a combined Perception score of 30.
The Player Party will spot the Messenger, but the Guards will not.

The benefits of hiding from opponents speak for themselves:

For more information visit their site .


Monday - March 12, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Story @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 12:26

Having returned from GDC, this week's update for The Broken Hourglass is the first chapter of a four-part story titled Moonshine:

"It's hard to live in a world that is dying," Larius says, delivering this lofty pronouncement in the pious tones of a drunk.  A drunk so sloshed that the very air is causing him to wobble slightly.  But be that as it may, I cannot stop my eye from rolling, though I do it looking away so he won't see.  I hate it when he's like this.

"Don't be such a sop, Larius," I tell him, and he fixes me with a sour look that has anger at the edge of it.  He's long on bark and short on tooth these days. Still, one never knows what day he'll decide to reassert his position as the leader of our duo.

Larius and me go way back, long enough to have a solid history of friendship and animosity.  I suppose that I really would be his protégé and not his friend, if we were being honest.  But I'm not.  Honest, that is.  I don't hold to honesty. It rarely does as much good as a kind and careful lie.

Monday - March 05, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Sanelon @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 12:44

This week's update for The Broken Hourglass is a look at one of the joinable characters, Sanelon:

For our monthly gameworld update on The Broken Hourglass, we have updated the Planewalker Games website with a glimpse of Sanelon, a man with formidable magical abilities to conquer disease and alleviate suffering--gifts he typically employs to provide information and services to his underworld organization.

Monday - February 26, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Details on Item Creation Released

by Corwin, 05:09

Plane Walker Games has released details on how item creation will work in The Broken Hourglass. It's fairly long and detailed, so here's the introduction:

In keeping with last week's discussion of itemsets, we will use the engine mechanics column this month to discuss the basics of item creation.

There is an old joke which goes like this:

What is the best way to make one million dollars?
Start with two!

The best way to make most WeiNGINE items is, in fact, to start with an existing item. The power of template inheritance means that there are really very few cases when a good base will not already exist for an item you wish to make.

Head over and read the entire article here


Source: Planewalker Games

Friday - February 23, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Interview @ Four Fat Chicks

by Dhruin, 09:14

Planewalker's Jason Compton has spoken with Four Fat Chicks about The Broken Hourglass and how the main team came together through the mod scene years ago.  A text version is available as well as an audio recording of the 'phone conversation and a music track.  Here's a snip on the status:

K: Excellent. I know it's never easy for any game developer to project a completion date for any given project, but may I ask how are things progressing in reference to The Broken Hourglass?

J: Where we're at now is—all of the artwork is just about done. There are a few areas that I am waiting to get in from the area artists, there's a few things in the visual effects area—you know, big flashy spell effects and explosions and so on and so forth. And then there's—sorry, got off track there—so art's almost done, much of the writing, the vast bulk of the writing is also done, and so now it's a question of wiring everything up and making it playable. The content is there in pieces, and now it's down to scripting it all together so that A happens after B and C says something to D and so forth. It looks a lot like a game now. It's just in terms of implemented content. There's a long way to go there, but the design is all there.

Source: Bluesnews

Monday - February 19, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Inventory @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 11:10

This week the Planewalker site tackles an important subject for any CRPG, including The Broken HourglassThe Quantum Mechanics of Inventory:

It is a truth universally acknowledged. A single adventuring party in possession of a well-organized inventory of powerful items must have already won the game.

To put it another way-inventory screens are rarely the most impressive features of computer games. Game designers have struggled with inventory management concepts since the days of Colossal Cave. There is no clear formula that provides the perfect balance of player convenience and intriguing simulation, but in The Broken Hourglass, we have designed inventory and rules relating to equipment management around these guidelines [...]

Monday - February 12, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Story @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 12:31

This week's update for The Broken Hourglass sees Chapter 6 of the story, On the Fly:

The first serial tale set in the land of Tolmira reaches its conclusion this week. On the Fly is no more, sending flying postman Lyrio sailing away into a very dangerous future. This chapter takes place on Wasteland Day, the day the Primarch's Walk neighborhood is demolished, and includes a first-person look at the twisted affair, as time and space are ripped apart and put back together. The Broken Hourglass takes place in the aftermath of these events.

Monday - February 05, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - The Feyborn @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 23:16

This week's update at Planewalker Games for The Broken Hourglass is an article on the Feyborn:

Sometimes, when a human daddy and Ilvari mommy (or vice-versa) love each other very much, they have a baby together.

This usually does not make them popular with their neighbors.

The Feyborn (only occasionally known as "half-elves") are the product of cross-species mating. Humans and elves are sufficiently genetically compatible to produce offspring, but the match is far from perfect. Physically the Feyborn tend to represent a subtle blend of human and elven features, typically favoring whichever race their mother belonged to. Feyborn grow faster and for longer than either humans or elves, so fully-grown Feyborn are typically at least six feet tall. Their pupils have the unnerving appearance of being permanently dilated.

Monday - January 29, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Artist Interview @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 20:14

A short interview with the lead sprite artist for The Broken Hourglass, Ric Halliwell, can be found at Planewalker Games:

PWG: How does creating a good sprite differ from just creating a good 3D object?

RH: When making a sprite for 2D graphics, I can have a very high poly count for my models. For a 3D game, I would have serious restrictions on the poly count.

Animating an object to use as a sprite is actually very easy. It doesn't get hard until the sprite is a human—then it gets hard, because the human brain has an area specifically for analyzing other humans. So a level of realism that would make a tyrannosaurus look okay would still leave a human looking like a cartoon. The slightest error in a human walk cycle looks like a serious limp, yet for a lesser animal it would look quite normal to us.

Monday - January 22, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Inside the Engine - Dialogue

by Dhruin, 20:52

This week's Planewalker's The Broken Hourglass feature returns to the engine to look at using dialogue:

On the fourth Monday of the month, we discuss content development and modding topics in The Broken Hourglass. This month we build on our previous example and explore basic dialogue and store interaction.

Last month, we introduced Harika the shopkeeper as a CREATURE--she has basic stats, a sprite, some equipment, and an assigned area and X/Y position in the game. We also assigned her a dialogue and store resource, but we did not actually create those resources. We will do that now.

Monday - January 15, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Group Skills @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 08:36

The regular weekly update at Planewalker Games for The Broken Hourglass sees discussion on Group skills:

Usually, the numbers and notation on a character sheet entirely reflect personal accomplishment, achievement, or potential. In the Broken Hourglass, however, some skills reflect the knowledge, ability, and potential of the entire party. These are collectively known as "group skills."

Most skills and statistics are not group skills. For example, a character's raw ability with a sword, or command over a type of magic, or agility, are all individual skills.

Group skills reflect those activities where it is reasonable or expected that the ability and insight of each member of the party could be used in conjunction, to increase the overall chances of success. For instance, it seems only natural that a group of smart shoppers working in tandem should be able to negotiate better prices in a shop than a single negotiator. Similarly, one strong tactical mind in a group during a fight is a benefit--but two working in tandem should be able to do even better.

Monday - January 08, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Story & First Screens @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 08:49

Planewalker's update for The Broken Hourglass this week is Chapter 5 of the story On the Fly, which brings this serial to a cliffhanger conclusion:

In that instant, Lyrio realized he would crash. He had to make a choice if he wanted to avoid it. He could maintain his grip on Zephra, and the glider frame would inevitably break in two. They would both tumble into whatever fate the remains of the maelstrom had in store. His alternative was letting go of Zephra's dead weight. He might manage the glider over the city walls with a lighter load on the frame, perhaps as far as the channel if he took it gently. The leapwood creaked and bowed as Zephra continued to hang limply over the crossbar. Lyrio made his decision. He swept the glider as low as he could, until the fragments of supporting walls threatened to scrape their knees. It wouldn't be such a bad fall, Lyrio thought bravely. He might even manage a full landing if he was lucky...

Lyrio blinked as a wall seemed to appear out of nowhere before him. The air swelled in a buzzing aftershock, and he reacted in blind terror.

...and the first three in-game screens are on offer, showing a fight in the arena, the city streets and a long-forgotten tomb.

Tuesday - January 02, 2007

The Broken Hourglass - Ringing in the New Year @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 08:38

Planewalker's The Broken Hourglass site has a lore/story update that tells how the Tolmiran Empire rings in the New Year:

In the cities and villages of the Empire, the New Year is celebrated shortly before the spring equinox--what we would call March 1. Tolmiran traditions include:

- "Freeing the Old Year." In order to purge the old year and welcome in the new, Tolmirans often leave all of their doors and windows open all night, and employ pots, pans, and crude fireworks in order to shoo the demons and spirits of the old year on their way. Lighting streets and homes as brightly as possible is a newer tradition accompanying many New Year celebrations. Overnight illumination was originally reserved for a minor state holiday and had nothing to do with the change of the calendar, but as burglars began taking greater advantage of the "open-door" policy, larger cities subtly shifted the bright night to New Year's.

Wednesday - December 27, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Creating Creatures @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 04:52

This week's Planewalker update for The Broken Hourglass looks at using XML files with the WeiNGINE to create and populate the gameworld with creatures:

Broadly speaking, any living being on the screen is a "creature", whether it is the player character, a joinable NPC, a shopkeeper, or a bloodthirsty beast. Like most other WeiNGINE resources, creatures are defined by one or more XML data files.

There are actually three different types of file which can be used to define a creature. The first is the "character" file, a special resource which defines objects which a console player (the person sitting at the computer) can select to start a game session with. Character files are most commonly created using the game's built-in character creation interface, although they may be tweaked or edited once generated, or constructed from scratch if truly desired.

Friday - December 22, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Interview @ Clan DLan

by Dhruin, 22:56

Spanish site Clan DLan has an interview with Planewalker's Jason Compton on The Broken Hourglass:

P and I - We understand that The Broken Hourglass will be based in PC-NPC interaction as opposed of fighting against monsters. What is your goal by this?

JC - To be clear, both dialogue and combat are important aspects of the game--you will have to fight to survive and triumph in this game, make no mistake. But we are focusing a great deal of attention on story and character interaction, particularly between the PC and joinable NPCs, yes. Relationships, whether friendly, romantic, or antagonistic, between two or more people working in a group are a great storytelling resource.

Having strong characters with strong personalities is a huge opportunity--and frankly it is an area of game development where having the shiniest technology does not make you the winner, providing us a nice level playing field to compete with the "AAA titles" on.

So if I had to state a "goal" for character interaction, it would be that we want to create a game that makes players care as much about _who_ is involved with the plot as they do about _what_ those characters do to advance the plot.

Monday - December 18, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Trait System @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 11:46

This week's update at Planewalker's site for The Broken Hourglass looks at the trait system:

Since The Broken Hourglass employs a point-buy experience system for character advancement, a natural question is, "Exactly what can we buy with those points?"

There are two major categories of assets "on sale" to a character in our system. Attributes and skills make up the first category--these are ability ratings which are measured on a scale from 0 to 100 (except for Health, which has no ceiling). Additional points in these abilities can be bought over and over again.

Sunday - December 10, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Update @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 21:06

Planewalker Games continues their lore story for The Broken Hourglass with Chapter 4 of On the Fly.  Here's a snip:

Share the fear.

Zephra did not look happy. That thought crossed Desonir’s mind first, but he could live with her unhappiness a while longer. And so could she.

His second thought concerned the elf’s robe. Cotton. The postman could obviously sense his malevolence toward the garment and tugged self-consciously at his collar.

"My apologies, Councilor," Lyrio said. He showed more courage than Desonir had expected, especially for a civil servant. Most men in his situation would have been too concerned over his future safety to do more than sputter and bow. "I did not learn of your preferences in clothing before Mary--uh, Maron--brought me at your invitation."

"Your invitation?" Zephra gaped at the pair of them. "His invitation?"

Monday - December 04, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Update @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 09:48

This week's update at the Planewalker site on The Broken Hourglass is titled Magic, Mageborn and the Island of Argoniss:

The nearest neighbor to the Tolmiran Empire is the independent island nation of Argoniss. Argoniss is, in no particular order, home to the region's finest magical scholars, a chain of mostly inactive volcanoes, and lush plant life. In the Empire itself the use of magic is uncommon and not studied or cultivated with any degree of formality. On the other hand, the people of Argoniss are entirely devoted to the development of magic and mages. It is commonly believed that the vast majority of human Adepts are concentrated on the island of Argoniss, though the truth of this may be exaggerated. The mages of the island have limited contact with the outside world, usually limited to trading magical services and items for supplies from Tolmira. Goods are often teleported directly to and from the island, as no outsider is allowed to set foot upon their shores--ships which approach find that the winds and currents turn against them, and are sometimes sunk to the bottom of the sea by storms that arise out of nowhere and fade just as quickly.

Monday - November 27, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - The Scripting System @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 09:00

Planewalker's latest weekly update on The Broken Hourglass describes the scripting system.  It gets a little technical but here's the intro:

The Broken Hourglass uses a novel scripting language under the hood called wscript. Here's the official definition of wscript:

The WeiNGINE scripting language wscript is a strongly-typed functional programming language with parametric polymorphism, first-class functions, and variable updates in the style of Objective CAML.

Don't worry--you don't have to understand all of those terms in order to successfully edit and compose scripts in a WeiNGINE game. (Although it certainly doesn't hurt.)

Monday - November 20, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Principles of Magic @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 09:22

Planewalker has written up quite a bit of detail on the magic system for The Broken Hourglass, which features some intriguing mechanics.  Here's a snip:

With these explanations in mind, it becomes easier to understand that our magic system is a mana-potential system. The amount of mana possessed by each character represents how much magical energy they can divide up among one or many tasks at a given time. Any effect which has a long duration is considered a standing enchantment, and standing enchantments tie up mana until they are released. A mage with 15 mana points who invests five mana points in a damage-protection spell is reduced to having 10 mana left to spend. When he releases the armor spell, he will once again have 15 mana available. Beneficial standing enchantments typically remain in play until party members choose to drop them. Deleterious standing enchantments, such as an attribute penalty or a spell to lower resistance to damage, typically remain in play until the end of combat, or until the party rests.


Monday - November 13, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Story @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 13:35

This week's The Broken Hourglass site update is the third Chapter in the background story On the Fly, set in the gameworld of Mal Nassrin:

Lyrio emphatically did not expect to see Zephra again. He scratched his head, puzzlement lingering as to why she had wanted to see him in the first place. Zephra had been—ahem—a sociable female, demonstrating a generous fascination with his glider routes over the walls of the city. Still, Lyrio endured a persistent sense of inadequacy, as if the encounter was all a matter of mistaken identity, and he simply hadn’t been caught out yet as a fake and opportunist.

Opportunist? Him? The role continued to strike Lyrio as a mite far-fetched. After all, a woman of Zephra’s—ahem—profession, certainly could do better than a glorified postman for scintillating conversation and...

Monday - November 06, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Site Update

by Dhruin, 21:00

The latest Monday update at the Planewalker site for The Broken Hourglass sees the Mal Nassrin Economic Report, written from the perspective of one of the joinable NPCs:

Day 6

* Mal Nassrin commerce still frustratingly impenetrable and backwater in its organization. On sheer money supply alone is likely in top 15 Empire-wide in buying power (entirely too many sanguil are stuffed in mattresses and jars, however—these conservative and unimaginative people tend to save whatever they can scrape together, as though they can take it with them.) MN is a city of untapped potential, but most residents too content/fatalistic/moronic to realize it.

Friday - November 03, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Interview Part 2 @ RPG Vault

by Dhruin, 12:41

RPG Vault continues their conversation with Jason Compton from Planewalker on The Broken Hourglass, asking about "weapons, armor, magic, quests and more":

Jonric: What role will quests play in the game? Will there be very many side tasks? What would you like to tell our readers about this element?

Jason Compton:
At the end of the day, you can always boil down quests into two categories, things you must do in order to complete the game, and those that are optional. There are four major story arcs that must be completed to reach the endgame, and dozens of other things you can do in the city, which do not directly lead you to it, but may provide greater enjoyment, understanding or goodies that may come in handy, or a better outcome for the city in the end, etc. Because Mal Nassrin has been through a rough spot, tensions in the city are high; there are some unusual situations the player can get involved with, either to defuse them or exploit the matters. The disturbances in time also mean that the player can meet some interesting (and mundane) figures who have been pulled out of their proper places in time - and also have to sort them out from the impostors who are trying to make names for themselves.

The player will also be haunted by the consequences of an early tragic event in the game. The rest, we want to let players discover for themselves.

Monday - October 30, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Story and Music Snippets

by Dhruin, 21:01

Planewalker's latest updates on The Broken Hourglass offer Chapter 2 of their serial story On the Fly and a music preview consisting of a combat piece by Rob Howard.

Saturday - October 28, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Interview Part 1 @ RPG Vault

by Dhruin, 03:57

Planewalker's Jason Compton has been interviewed at RPG Vault about The Broken Hourglass.  Here's an excerpt:

Jonric: What kind of combat system will we find in the game, and to what degree will it be possible to address situations without having to fight?

Jason Compton:
Our combat system is real-time, with available pause on request (hit the spacebar) or upon predefined events (e.g. "auto-pause because my target is dead or invisible"). The player can choose to control each character individually or as a group (you can select multiple characters at once to save time when focusing an attack, for instance), or let the system AI manage any or all of the characters.

We have also implemented a system of "combat stances" - trade off a penalty to defense for a bonus on offense, or vice-versa. The basic combat stances available to all characters are relatively disadvantageous (mostly suited to extreme circumstances), but it will be possible to learn or obtain combat stances that offer better tradeoffs and advantages throughout the course of the game.

Speaking for myself and the rest of the game designers, we are writers first, tactical scenario designers second. So there are plenty of situations in which picking up a sword is not the right solution - but there are some instances when winning a fight will, in fact, be necessary. I believe we can strike a balance that preserves role-playing choices for our players.

Wednesday - October 25, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Inside the Engine @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 02:12

This week's update on The Broken Hourglass at the official site delves deep into the engine and the use of XML data files:

One of the major design goals of WeiNGINE was to make it easy for developers to create playable material with a minimum of fuss, and without the need for several specialized "editors" to create game content. Instead, almost everything which represents on-screen or behind-the-scenes gamecode is stored in a plaintext XML data file. For Planewalker Games itself, it means that we do not have to spend valuable development time creating and then maintaining a raft of individual file editors, and our designers can create Broken Hourglass material on virtually any computer with access to a common text editor.

Monday - October 16, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Combat Mechanics @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 23:30

The second major weekly update is up at The Broken Hourglass site, covering combat mechanics. Here's the start of the article:

It's the third Monday of the month, so this week we have a quick lesson in combat rules. The Broken Hourglass isn't just about fighting, but when skirmishes do start, it may be reassuring to know the rules which determine success or failure, life or death.

One of the key (potential) advantages of combat mechanics in CRPGs is the presence of the C: the computer. Because computers do math and generate random numbers very, very quickly and very well, and always intimately know the rules of the game being played, CRPG combat can focus on action instead of rolling, adding, and then arguing with your opponent.

But not everyone is simply content to "take the computer's word for it" when a vital blow has been struck or a well-planned attack misses. For those inquisitive skeptics, we offer a brief overview of the attack resolution mechanics of The Broken Hourglass and WeiNGINE.

We aim to answer the fundamental questions: "How do I score a hit?" and "How hard will I hit when I connect?" (Or, for the cautious and/or pessimistic among you, "How do I avoid getting hit?" and "How much will it hurt when I get hit?").

Read it all here.

Monday - October 09, 2006

The Broken Hourglass - Lore Updates @ Official Site

by Dhruin, 13:27

Planewalker Games dropped us a line to point out two lore updates for their indie title, The Broken Hourglass. Head over to read about The Elves of the Tolmiran Empire and the first part of a serial story, On the Fly, Chapter 1:

Life changes in an instant.

Lyrio knew this fact from experience. He remembered a promising youth full of expectations and dreams of what was to come. He remembered crushing disappointment. He recalled the day he learned that he could be good, but never good enough. He could recollect with devastating accuracy how his world had reduced to the twin impulses of the blood pounding through his temples and his breath rasping in his throat. His dreams dashed, he had nothing left but the next heartbeat, the next gulp of air, then the next after that. In one instant, he could have been anything. In a second’s rejection, he had become just another unremarkable body, counting out his existence in breath and breakfasts.

Regular updates are planned over the coming weeks.

Wednesday - September 13, 2006

The Broken Hourglass: Interview @ RPG Codex

by Dhruin, 02:41
You may recall Planewalker Games and The Broken Hourglass from our interview or the team's previous history of outstanding BG/2 mods...RPG Codex has an excellent new interview with Jason Compton - fans of the Infinity Engine games should definitely follow this indie effort. Here's a bit on the magic system:
5. Another unusual design decision is the magic system. It reminds me of my TIE Fighter days: one energy pool that feeds both shields and engines. The more energy spent on shields - the stronger they are ... and the weaker your engines. Decisions, decisions.... So, please explain the system and what it may offer to avid mage players?

That's a good analogy. In that game you had a fixed pool of energy and you could split it up among laser charging, shield charging, and engine velocity. In our game, you have a fixed pool of energy and you can split it up among offensive spells, defensive and protective spells, healing spells, and wielding (and thereby controlling) magic items.

What it means for mage players is that you get to spend more of your time actually casting spells, and less time doing things that bog mages down in other systems like

- Deciding what spells to memorize
- Chugging mana potions
- Withholding magic because "we might need it in a bigger fight coming up."

It also means that you can interactively switch a mage from being an "offensive" mage to a "buff" mage, instead of having to make a daily (wizard) or a career (sorcerer) commitment to that path as a d20-style mage would.

Thursday - June 01, 2006

The Broken Hourglass: Audio Interview @ Four Fat Chicks

by Dhruin, 08:52
In addition to our own interview, you can head to Four Fat Chicks for an audio interview (transcript also provided) of Jason Compton from Planewalker discussing The Broken Hourglass.

Source: Blue's

RPGDot Feature: A Conversation on The Broken Hourglass

by Dhruin, 00:49
Continuing our tradition of exploring indie titles, we had the opportunity to talk to Planewalker Games about their recently revealed title, 'The Broken Hourglass'. Many readers will know Jason Compton and Westley Weimer from their Infinity Engine mods and fans of games such as Baldur's Gate, as well as those that particularly like party banter and interaction (including romances) should check this out. Here's a sample:
RPGDot: The Broken Hourglass is party-based, with the player creating a single protagonist and adding additional party-members as they go. Given your background, should players expect a distinct emphasis on party interaction? Please detail the party dynamics and what form the interactions will take.

Jason Compton: {...} Yes indeed, players should expect a distinct emphasis on party interaction, both between the NPCs and the PC and among the NPCs. NPCs will strike up conversations with each other and the player, and interrupt and interject their thoughts in the middle of discussions or quests when it strikes their fancy. There will also be the prospect of romance between the PC and some of our NPCs, depending on the temperament of the PC and the level of interest on the part of the player, of course.

Some NPCs will get along relatively better than others. A couple won't be terribly popular with anybody in particular. Some will mix like oil and water, although we have made a conscious decision to avoid any "come-to-blows/he-goes-or-I-go" incompatibilities this time out.

In addition, our engine allows us to easily track the qualities of PC actions or words. One NPC may greatly disapprove of actions or words spoken in anger, for instance, while another may applaud the application of rational thought. This will affect their degree of commitment to the PC's leadership, and the PC's ability to influence their power development.
We were fortunate to get some very detailed answers, as well as an exclusive screenshot - head here to read it all.

Information about

The Broken Hourglass

Developer: Planewalker Games

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Pausable Real-time
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: Unknown

Regions & platforms
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Canceled
· Publisher: Planewalker Games