Indie Game Roundup: Magicks

Thursday Triple is a weekly roundup of Indie Games from around the Net.

When the going gets tough, sometimes the tough like to take a break and enjoy the relative peace and quiet of make-believe worlds. As much as you’d like to make your problems disappear in a whirlwind of flame, that just isn’t feasible (or remotely legal) in the physical world. Enter: this fantastical menagerie totally works as a substitute for all your stress-reducing needs.

Highlands

By Burrito Studio

If you’re looking for a turn-based strategy along the lines of the boardgame Risk, but want something with perhaps a little more personalization, there’s this beautiful hand-drawn title called Highlands. By mixing RPG elements with mechanics like resource management and character recruitment, the game aims to turn the average story of conquest into something more memorable.

So what’s the premise? Invaders have conquered your homeland, thrusting the royal family (your family) into exile. Of course, you’re not going to take this lying down. By travelling through the lands, you hope to rally the people under your banner, working to organise war efforts to take back your country. Ultimately it’s the people who will be your strength, and the game’s emphasis on meeting and learning about individual characters certainly add to this.

I’ve yet to see how the combat will work – I hear it’s modelled with TCG components – so I can’t say whether it’ll be a deciding factor or not in the grand scheme. But just looking at the foundation, it’s got the potential to be a rather intriguing play.

Magicmaker

By Tasty Stewdios LLC

Okay, okay. I get it. RPG stuff can be pretty heavy after a long day at work, in school, or just bumming around. There are times when even the simplest 2+2 deductions are about as arcane as life’s mysteries. During such times, you’ll probably want things to just work, never mind asking why it works or how you manage it (whatever it is). If you want lasers that are also poisonous, then so be it. Suspend the disbelief. Suspend it!

To this end, in order to facilitate the need for entertainment far removed from reality, I’d recommend picking up Magicmaker. Aside from having a name that reminds me of those toy sets you see commercials for on children’s channels, it has a kind of bizarre charm from its aesthetics down to gameplay.

You’re a wizard and you’ve got the wonderful job of a security guard. But forget all that – the background is a thin conceit, if anything at all, to give you an excuse to create and use whatever spells you like. Collecting materials and mixing them together allows you to craft an enormous array of magical abilities. Magicmaker is listed as a platformer, but I’m pretty sure its platforming elements aren’t nearly as relevant as dishing out exploding wormholes.

CodeSpells

By ThoughtSTEM

Speaking of crafting your own spells, the team building CodeSpells is trying their hand at merging computer programming and magic. If you really think about it, given enough computing power and resources, you could simulate the entire universe, simplifying individuals as objects with functions such as eat(), sleep(), and game(). Logically then, to make magic into a reasonable, believable concept, spells have to follow the same kind of programming.

You start with an idea of what you want to accomplish – maybe it’s a fireball or something more ambitious like a teleportation spell. You imagine what ingredients, what inputs you’d need, and then figure out how these inputs have to interact to make things happen. It’s a bit trial and error, and stuff is bound to explode in your face once in a while, but it’s the process that’s truly amusing.

As always, I’m excited to see games being built on the idea of coding as a mechanic. It’s hard to explain sometimes to non-computer geeks how I find writing and debugging programs to be amusing and rewarding. With luck, these games will do the explaining for me – maybe then they’ll believe me when I say programming can be fun.

the author

Executive Editor of ManaPool. A student of game design, Amber is currently writing from the frozen north that is Canada. She has a penchant for tactical team-based games and a particular taste for theorycrafting. Want to discuss community and player experience? Talk to her!

  • http://www.manapool.co.uk/ Evil Tactician

    Highlands looks promising.