Hi, Mark Damon Hughes here.

I write neat little strategy and role-playing games for the iPhone.

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Mark Damon Hughes

MDH's Software Blog

Playing Perilar 2008-10-13 19:00:00 GMT
in games/perilar
by Mark Damon Hughes

Perilar is now up on the App Store! Apple apparently has a loose interpretation of an “October 13th” release date, so it came out last night instead of this morning, but close enough. A fan has already told me it looks pretty good, so at least I’m reaching my target players.

I think there’s going to be a steep learning curve for Perilar, especially with younger gamers who aren’t used to the old-school way of RPGs. Back then, you didn’t always win. In fact, you died a lot, until you learned caution and careful resource management. And I mean, A LOT of deaths. It took me over a year to finish Ultima II, dying and wasting resources over and over, until I learned exactly how the game worked, learned to be careful, to think before fighting, to really stock up and level up before doing anything crazy like entering a dungeon or pissing off a town guard.

In an incredible show of generosity and mercy, Perilar allows you to actually continue your game from last save, though it only auto-saves when you hit the Home button or take a phone call. The real old-school games tended to have permanent death.

I tried to make the help file as complete as possible, like the old Ultima leatherette-bound manuals, but I don’t know how many players will read it. I have a visual tutorial slideshow when you make a new character, but there’s only so much it can teach.

I’m curious to see how players react to the radically simplified inventory system. You only carry one weapon and one armor. When you defeat a monster or open a chest, if it has a weapon or armor as loot, you’re immediately offered a choice: keep your current weapon or replace it with this other. You don’t see the stats, only the descriptive name, like Magic Bronze Rapier. Once you learn how those descriptors map to increased damage or protection, you can make an informed choice. Until then, it’s kind of a gamble. The consumable items are also pretty simplified: there are only 7 different items total, though you can have a large number of each. I’d been trending towards simpler inventory systems in my games over the years, but this is the first one where I really sat down and rethought the whole idea of inventory. In my playtesting, I still had to manage resources, but I wasn’t screwing around rearranging my inventory anymore, I could focus on playing and surviving.

The current game can be played to completion, and should be winnable with any race and job, though some will be considerably harder than others: Wizards have a REALLY HARD early game, but then become unstoppable death machines and wipe out the Harbinger Lord easily; Fighters have a REALLY EASY early game, but then have a hard late game and an incredibly hard time in the Temple of Darkness. Others are in between, but I’ve won that fight with all of them.

In a couple of weeks, I should have an update out with additional dungeons, and some time after that side-quests for the Wizard and Witch, which will allow you to replace the standard spells with new ones, and the Weaponsmith and Armorer, which will allow you to upgrade existing weapons and armor.

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