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Planewalker Games
Welcome to Planewalker Games! We are the home of The Broken Hourglass, a new CRPG in development for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux computers.
Rampant Games asks, "Why develop indie RPGs?"
Independent entertainment portal Rampant Games asked several developers, including Planewalker, why they develop independent RPGs in a challenging marketplace. Our answer, and those from several other noteworthy CRPG designers, can be found on the Rampant Games blog here.
 
Rules and Mechanics: Spellcasting, Blow-by-Blow

ImageWe 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

Pre-Encounter

All casters in The Broken Hourglass are allowed (indeed, encouraged) to have protective spells up on themselves and/or their party at all times, because most beneficial, protective ("buff") spells can be cast as indefinite hanging enchantments. That means they are only dispelled when the party rests, or when the caster chooses to release them, or when the caster dies--they do not have a set, limited "duration".

Read more...
 
Broken Hourglass Interview on GameBanshee

The fine folks at GameBanshee were good enough to check on our progress recently. We discuss the game's recently-revamped character creation system, the depth and breadth of the game's content, and unveil some new screenshots.

Read all about it here.

 

 
Stagnation and Death: A Look at Tolmira's Pantheon

ImageHow a society believes in (and fears) a god or group of gods influences how that society develops. We offer a look at two of the Tolmiran pantheon's members--the detached and distant Arithaan, and the nebulous, nefarious Uulix.

ARITHAAN, AND THE ORIGINS OF TIME AND MAGIC: Before Fire and Water departed the world, Arithaan was the God of Knowledge. His interests were in uncovering the secrets of the cosmos left veiled even to the eyes of the Divine, for not even the gods were omniscient. This need to understand the unknown combined with his distaste for the company of the other gods led him to the very edge of creation, the outer boundary of the world. There he hoped to study the nature of the universe--and what might lie beyond it.

Now, it is important to understand that before the Sun and Moon began their chase across the sky, there was no time as we understand it. Things did not age, did not decay, did not change without the action of some outside influence. When the chase began, this all changed, and time ripped outward from the world like a wave.  The other gods were unable to react before time enveloped them, but Arithaan was different. Perched upon the edge of creation, he was able to sense the disturbance that was the origin of time, and ward himself against it, calling up an impenetrable barrier around his realm.

There he remained, for nothing could enter and nothing could leave so long as the barriers remained in place. As time went by on the outside and the other gods received no word from their lost brother, they assumed that he had been annihilated, smashed against the walls of creation by the great wave. From within his shell, Arithaan could not know the same had not happened to the rest of the cosmos. Unable to lower his protections without allowing the corrupting influence of time into his realm, and unable to contact the outside without lowering his protections, Arithaan became restless--and as the god of Knowledge his curiosity would not let him sit and wait forever. Unable to return to creation, he began to look in the other direction: To what lay beyond.

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Broken Hourglass Interview On RPGCodex

RPG Codex recently published an interview with Planewalker Games focused on aspects of quest design in The Broken Hourglass, including the constraints and opportunities posed by a completely urban environment. The interview also has a sneak peek at the many branches of a side quest, involving two business partners having an argument across the barriers of time.

Read all about it here.

 
Q&A With Broken Hourglass Composer Rob Howard

ImageWhat does The Broken Hourglass sound like, and why? Rob Howard, the game's composer and honorary director of the Mal Nassrin Symphony Orchestra, explains. A new music preview is included in the article.


PWG: How do you view the role of music in games?

RH: The way I look at it, scores of games fall under two big categories: They can be very tuneful, with strong melodies, or very ambient and try very hard to stay out of the way. There's merit to both approaches, but I believe in the more tuneful approach. The way I can help a game is that when the player is not playing the game, those melodies stay in their head. I wanted these songs to sound like tunes you could play in your car, and it would make sense to listen to them that way. When I say ambient, I mean that the music is really in the background. You almost forget that it's there.


PWG: How did you know what The Broken Hourglass should sound like, musically? How did you begin?

RH: The process early on involved Planewalker giving me a list of different influences they wanted in the music, and it was an interesting set, so the first thing I did was check those influences out. And we had to decide what instruments would be involved. There's a good example of how that happened early on in the process. Because of some of the influences I was asked to follow, the very first drafts for the theme of the game have a rock-and roll-instrumentation, but Planewalker said it wasn't really what they were going for. So it became clear that I was not going to use any really modern instruments.

I wanted to use ethnic instruments throughout because the gameworld is supposed to be roughly like the Byzantine area of the world. One of the dominant sounds became the cümbüş [a sort of "Turkish banjo"]. Jason (Compton, producer) kept saying, "Man, I want to hear more of that," so it became dominant in the score.

We say there are two types of songs--the ones played by the "Mal Nassrin Symphony Orchestra" and the songs played by the "street band." The orchestra was something that made a lot of sense from the start. When you play an RPG with an epic feel to it, you want the power an orchestra can give. The street band came about as one of those happy accidents. As I was working on the residential music, the music that plays in the various residential areas of the game outdoors, I imagined a little street band. I had spent some time traveling in places like Italy where you see things like that all the time and I thought it would be a cool thing to represent in the game. So the street band plays some songs you might expect to hear in a neighborhood, or in somebody's home.

Read more...
 
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