Consoles and Controllers Out Now
Consoles and Controllers, our latest game in which players take on the role of characters from video games and explore their digital world, is out now on itch.io!
It’s a Powered by Charge game, giving it a highly flexible system derived from the award-winning Blades in the Dark. A focus on simple but representative characters means that you can set up a character in minutes and be ready to play with friends and family.
Aimed at an audience of all ages, it’s a love-letter to nostalgia and whimsy.
I’ve been radio silent on the Loreshaper Games front for the past couple weeks and I feel like I owe something of an explanation.
Some of this has been a consequence of Consoles and Controllers. I had planned to work on it as a weekend project last week, and it went from Saturday and Sunday to basically the whole week. There’s about 20,000 words in Consoles & Controllers, plus a handful of graphic design elements and other stuff.
It’s not strictly finished. I submitted it to two game jams, one of which ended tonight (hence the release being not quite perfect yet). While the original jam version will remain, I plan to go through and neaten up some of the type-setting (I do some slightly gnarly stuff in there right now, and I think the font might actually be too large, in an odd inversion of my usual error), add some more graphical elements, and also upload it to DriveThruRPG. In particular, while the character playbooks are sufficient for the scope of the game, the character sheets for each of them were originally going to have unique visual styles (not individually, because there are a couple playbooks for each game, but they were going to have a shared per-game style) and I just didn’t have time to do that.
I also want to make the different sections of the book stand out a little more.
While I had said that I expected to get a draft of the Kenoma core rulebook out in early March, a couple things are causing problems for that. Obviously Consoles and Controllers winding up to be more work than I expected is a blocker on that progress.
I’ve also had some health issues, and as much as I enjoy Kenoma it’s something of a downer setting. Or, at least, a good chunk of it is. I’m in better spirits now, especially because I have another game under my belt.
The upshot is that I still expect to have the Kenoma core rulebook draft out sometime in March, and that includes a new version of the Quickstart. The rules haven’t really changed, barring a couple tiny tweaks, but I want to revise parts of the adventure to make them better.
This may be a little bit premature, since I will also get Cybrine Dreams out by the end of March and that’s being done for a game jam, so I might need to postpone to April, but since Cybrine Dreams and Kenoma were always intended to run side-by-side it’s just going to be a consequence of my miscalculation, not the projects.
I made some forward progress primarily on setting stuff as it popped into my head. One downside is that I’m expanding certain sections more than others, but I think I’ll be able to accept that when time comes to do the Core Rulebook in progress release.
Cybrine Dreams has had less progress. If Kenoma’s a little dark, Cybrine Dreams is downright angsty. Fortunately, I’ve been thinking about how things work in it, but I haven’t really touched the document in earnest since I started Consoles and Controllers.
Right now the setting elements are ready. They’re not hyper-deep, and I might go back and add some characters in if my plan to tell a lot of the lore through items doesn’t seem to be panning out. I’d say that since Cybrine Dreams is inspired by Soulslike games I’d be using the Dark Souls method, but I’m actually probably making item descriptions that are more like what you’d expect from Magic: the Gathering–or at least what I think of as Magic: the Gathering cards as someone who never really played MtG seriously, which may bias me toward the fluffy cards and not the serious ones–so you’ll get things like quotes, references to specific parts of the world (as opposed to the setting section, which focuses on generic “biomes”), and characters that are built into the lore in item descriptions.
I say items, but it’s worth noting that the Synod has doctrines, which handle like items but are really better thought of as professional rhetorical strategies that have ties to the Lex Cybrine. These doctrines let you influence people to do what you want, since it’s basically making a case that anyone who doesn’t is a heretic and traitor to society, and they are ripe for referencing historical figures.
I’m optimistic about how it turns out, but I need to do playtesting on it quite badly since it’s a complete from-scratch system. I’m familiar with cards and have used them for games before, but knowing how one part of the math works is not the same as knowing how it all works.
The Future of Loreshaper Games
I’ve released three game products this year so far. The Kenoma Quickstart, Glassmakers’ Fall, and now Consoles and Controllers are all available on itch.io, and soon they should all be on DriveThruRPG by the end of the month (right now it’s just Glassmakers’ Fall over there).
I’m also doing a bunch of other writing stuff, and I hit the point where I had written 180,000 words this year sometime yesterday. For reference, that’s about six Kenoma Quickstarts (rounding down to the nearest ten-thousands).
There have been some things I’ve started that haven’t come to fruition, since not all projects are winners. There are also some things that I’ve done that are still in progress, like Kenoma and Cybrine Dreams, that just need to be finished and released.
I left/lost my job back in December. One reason I’ve had such tremendous output this year is that I’m trying the self-employment route, and while I’m also pursuing some freelancing and other work it’s difficult to keep one’s head above water as a game designer and writer in this economy and with my poor connections.
Obviously, if anyone’s reading this and likes what I do and would pay for it, feel free to reach out and I can send a portfolio and resume (or, if you’re reading this, you probably are familiar with my work), but I don’t necessarily expect that.
I mentioned that I’ve had some medical issues recently. Fortunately, they all seem to be resolving and I’ve had professional medical attention, so I know that there’s nothing serious wrong. However, I wound up having to go thethe ER and I’m looking at a lot of bills that need paying.
I’d planned to do the self-employed thing through the end of March and see how it goes, since I’m pretty frugal and I saved up at my last job. I was planning to get a new car, but figured that starting a business would probably be better in the long run.
So, what’s the plan?
I’ll probably be able to keep going through March, but it’ll be close. I have health-sharing, but how works is that I’m liable for bills up to a certain point and then they cover it, so I’m not having an apocalyptic crisis in my personal life, but I am not in the best-case scenario.
That means a fully playable version (with character creation!) of Kenoma’s core rules and Cybrine Dreams are definitely coming, unless something unforeseen happens and I can’t deliver on that, like World War 3 or me getting hit by a car while out on a walk.
Meanwhile, we’ll see how it goes. My health-share place handles the bills directly, and they may negotiate my obligations down. In that case, I could make this full-time thing work if the glimmers of motion I’m seeing continue.
Otherwise, I’m probably going to go back to traditional employment somewhere.
On a “me” level, I’m fine with that, at least if I’m able to find something. I’ve always been happy doing pretty much whatever, so if it’s not writing and working on games I’ll still make do. My experiences at the last place have biased me toward wanting to be self-employed, but I’ve got some in-demand skills I can leverage and, again, I like work.
But for Loreshaper Games it probably means a return to my lower output of previous years. I’ll still keep working on stuff, but I probably can’t put out major projects every month. There are still things I can do, or I could move to a less aggressive release schedule, so there will still be content.