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Warhammer 40,000: Boltgun – announced!

June 2, 2022

Very, very excited to announce a new title – Boltgun! Trailer below and some commentary here.

As ever, please do wishlist the game!

Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics Podcast Episodes

July 15, 2021

Back in 2018 we worked with the good people of MODIPHIUS and Ripstone to adapt the TTRPG & tabletop wargames, Achtung! Cthulhu into a digital version. I was very pleased with what we created! Here’s the Sony blog announcing the project:

Anyhow, as part of this, we did a series of podcasts about the game and I wanted to collect them all here:

Hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed making these!

Mars Horizon has launched! Some links, podcasts and resources.

November 21, 2020

So proud & pleased to say that Mars Horizon has finally launched. The game is now out on PC, PS4, Xbox & Switch. You can grab it here. Here’s a quote from me:

“I’m extremely proud of all the team at Auroch Digital – from development right through to marketing – for the resoundingly successful launch of Mars Horizon.

I’m also extremely grateful to all of our partners in the project without whom it would not be the success it is; our publisher, The Irregular Corporation, who have been steadfast in their support for the project and brought considerable marketing and production resources and expertise into the mix.

Also the European Space Agency – ESA and the UK Space Agency who have been able to give us a level of expert input that completely lifted the authenticity of the game, and in the process have engaged so many more people with the actual work of space exploration.

This project hit on two key pillars of the work we do at Auroch Digital; it showed our commitment to connecting gaming to real world events and also the simultaneous cross-platform release demonstrated our development capacity to bring games to console as well as PC. We hope you all enjoy our game!”

If you want to know more, here’s the trailer:

The game’s FAQ page is here. If you’re enjoying the game, always great to get a review!

Over the years of development, we’ve put out a number of podcasts on the game, listed here in chronological order, newest to oldest:

(There is an index of other podcast episodes, indexed, that we’ve done before, here)

So #DigitalTabletopFest has completed!

October 26, 2020

A few months ago, I pitched Steam the idea of doing an online festival looking at the interesting space where physical games (board games, card games, miniatures games etc) meets video games. This event is about a form of gamign we can call ‘Digital Tabletop’ which I define as;

  • Games that are either digital versions of tabletop games (e.g. Ogre, Terraforming Mars, Bloodbowl, Gloomhaven)
  • Games that have an experience that crosses from digital to tabletop (e.g. Plague Inc, Crusader Kings, Mars Horizon, Sniper Elite)
  • Games that have a strong tabletop aesthetic (e.g. Lord of the Rings Adventure Card Game, For The King, Slay the Spire, Kards)
  • Games inspired by a tabletop game. (e.g. Dark Future, Vermintide)
  • Gaming Platforms with tabletop aesthetic (e.g. Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia)

Steam were very interested (we cover all this in our podcast in more detail) and so we got going to organise and run the event. Fast forward a few months and it launched on 21st October 2020!

And so over the next few days we saw a whole host of let’s plays, streams, interviews and panels on the festival’s theme. Here’s a few that I had more of a hand in;

The curated streams are all online now, here. What was also interesting is that, as part of this, I got to do interviews, informal zoom chats, text chats and more with a whole host of people connected to this area, which has been a hugely valuable research tool for us as a company interest in this area in a way that it would be hard to replicate in any other way.

If you took part, as a player or participant and have any feedback, do let me know! Thanks.

Sunday Podcast Recommendation – 28th July 2020

June 28, 2020

A bit of listening for today if you’re doing things that give you space to have a podcast on. This episode is part way though a series but it is such a powerful moment in history (and one related to and notable in today’s politics/events). It’s the 4th Episode of the Revolutions Podcast series on the Haitian Revolution, which charts the history of revolution, starting with the English Civil War. In this episode the host notes, “We are now seeing actual slaves rising up against actual tyranny.” This is when the slave uprising actually happens. Note that the language used to describe the various factions has a context, explained in the first episode, and I’d recommend the whole series.

(There’s an index of all the series/episodes here)

On the subject of politics, we did an episode looking at a brief history of democracy and gaming.

Sunday Listening…for 21st July 2020

June 21, 2020

Might I suggest a couple of listens for this Sunday? (I listen to a lot of them, especially when doing chores or painting miniatures or playing (some) games..(mostly ours for play-testing – I find it helps me to focus on the gameplay and details)

  1. This Radiolab episode that follows the translation of a 1000 year old Viking recipe and how it connects to a new antibiotic. Fascinating!
  2. One of ours; A brief history of non-Warhammer Games Workshop Games. I loved recording this as I got to be really nerdy about GW stuff and go deep on the topic.

Have a great day 🙂

I’m still amazed by the rise in popularity of pen & paper RPGs

June 20, 2020

Amazed and pleased. I should note that I was a huuuge D&D (as well as Stormbringer, Runequest, Call of Cthulhu and a few more) fan in my youth. Discovering D&D was transformative to my life. As well as giving me a lifelong love of gaming (of all forms) it also put me on the path to becoming a games designer. But while back in the 80s, D&D became huge, it didn’t last as competition for the ‘mind-space’ of kids arrived via technologies such as video games, as well as business woes of some of the main players in RPGs such as TSR (the company founded to publish D&D) who went bankrupt and was sold to Wizards of the Coast (WotC), who in turn was sold to Hasbro. What is interesting is back then during the sale D&D was not at all what Hasbro was interested in:

In 1999, Hasbro bought WotC for Magic the Gathering and the Pokémon card game. The waning profits from D&D’s second edition certainly didn’t help the acquisition. Like many folks in 1999, Hasbro executives probably wondered if people had to dress up to play D&D. Would remnants of the satanic panic stain Hasbro?

The same fall in sales and waning interest also hit other then big RPGs such as White Wolf’s Vampire: The Masquerade games. I’m in a way emblematic of that loss of players during that period, I was now playing video games more than RPGs. When I did play an RPG it was Call of Cthulhu. I remember in the early 00s in Bristol going along to an RPG gaming group, asking what all the other people played, it was almost totally Pathfinder (a D&D-like fantasy RPG that did while D&D struggled). I didn’t really get back into RPGs much then.

Back to our story; So while D&D bumped along as part of Hasbro, now a small fish in a big pond, watch what happens as the 2010s get underway;

So the question becomes – what happened in 2014 to see a rise in sales? 5th Edition is released and to cut a long story short, the developers got lots and lots of things right with it. Then in 2017? On July 15th 2016, Stranger Things debuted and with it’s nostalgic love of D&D put the hobby in front of many, many more people.

What is interesting about the re-rise of D&D and RPGs is that now technology, far from killing these games, is giving them a new life. People play games using video-chat systems like Roll20, the connectivity of crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter (I mean this campaign for dogs in D&D grossed over £350K!) has allowed creators to make a whole bunch of new, re-born and odd RPGs that explore every possible niche of the hobby. Meanwhile D&D just gets bigger – one count being that there are more than 13.7M players worldwide. (This podcast episode does a good job of showing the range of RPGs around) We’ve seen a return to form of classic titles such as Call of Cthulhu, new editions of Runequest as well a new titles that explore very different worlds such as Tales from the Loop.

RPGs are back and are only going to get bigger.

Mars Horizon is in Steam Festival

June 20, 2020

Just a quick note to say Mars Horizon (our space agency management/tycoon/strategy sim) has been on the Steam Festival since Friday and it runs for a couple more days, so now is a good time to try the demo out! We’ve been so pleased to have the support of both ESA and the UK Space Agency throughout this!



How reliance on one system or approach creates vulnerabilities

March 22, 2020

As a game developer we have a number of key systems that we rely on to function; that can be engines (Unity, Unreal) or distribution stores/platforms (Steam, Switch, Xbox, Playstation etc). However either by success via one route or lack of resources to expand to more, we’re, as game developers, all too often on a limited path (say one engine and one store?). That can be an efficiency that makes sense, but it is also a potential vulnerability as if one of those critical systems make a change that impacts you, you can be in serious trouble!

Here’s an example of how that can pan out:

For a few years, Ben Cohen was living the dream. His political opinion site, The Daily Banter, was growing in leaps and bounds, generating enough traffic and ad revenue to support several full-time writers. At its height, the site was getting upwards of 6 million unique visitors a month, fueled in large part by readers sharing his content on Facebook.

But you probably know what happened next. In January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was pivoting away from news, and that publishers would see a decline in exposure in the Newsfeed. Virtually overnight, Cohen saw his Facebook traffic drop by 90%.

We’ve seen how this can happen in games too!

Here’s the graph:

So as we’re seeing in the world around us now, a good tip is aim to build resilience and redundancy in your game-dev practice where you can, as you can never predict what will change.

Review – Color Out Of Space film @colorspacemovie – it is very good and now in my top Lovecraft media list!

March 22, 2020

I’ve had a chance to see the new Color of Space film by film directed and co-written by Richard Stanley. I’m going attempt to give a no spoilers review. The film is an adaptation of Lovecraft’s The Color Out of Space story. The TL;DR review is – it’s really good, go see it! Here’s the trailer:

The film updates the setting to modern day and also changes the narrative to focus more on the interactions of the family at the center of events. What director Richard Stanley has done really well imho is show how a family of people respond to the unfathomable events around them in a range of ways, as humans tend to. As events get odder and odder, so too thier reactions become more and more incongruous. Lovecraft’s work is well known for its focus on the encroaching madness of his characters as the crushing nature of the universe is revealed to them, and what this film does so well is a very human and character-based study of how that might actually look.

The events of the film swing between horror and farce – which I think is its great power – that in the midst of the most terrifying events or in the face of death we can act with the laughter of resilience, defiance or denial.

In addition the portrayal of being itself, the color out of space, is odd in the sense that it is hard to understand how it is functioning and what is it and what is its impact on the ecosystem around it. That odd-ness is good, great even as that was at the heart of what Lovecraft portrayed in the story, a being working on a plane of reality that is utterly alien to us (and I’ve written about this before).

So the film is really good, I enjoyed it a lot and it is clearly one of the best Lovecraft adaptations out there and I’d love to see more by Richard Stanley in this setting. As such I’m now adding it to my ‘Top 5 best of Mythos, Cthulhu and Lovecraft Film, TV, Games, Stories and more… (A Work in Progress)‘ list.

With that all said a few easter eggs from the film:

One of the characters (Ward Phillips, the hydrologist) is reading ‘The Willows’ by Algernon Blackwood, which Lovecraft thought the finest supernatural tale in English literature.

Indeed the name ‘Ward Phillips’ is an easter egg, being a reference to Lovecraft himself, also a character in ‘Through the Gates of the Silver Key’ and also a character in Derleth’s The Lurker at the Threshold. He is also wearing a Miskatonic University sweater.

We also see the character Lavinia Gardner reading a number of books including The Necronomicon….

As you can see she is reading the ‘Simon’ Necronomicon, published in 1977. You can also see there The Book of the Law by Aleister Crowley. Crowley and Lovecraft are often connected in theme or fiction;

Kenneth Grant, the British occultist, disciple of Aleister Crowley … suggested in his book The Magical Revival (1972) that there was an unconscious connection between Crowley and Lovecraft. He thought they both drew on the same occult forces; Crowley via his magic and Lovecraft through the dreams which inspired his stories and the Necronomicon. Grant claimed that the Necronomicon existed as an astral book as part of the Akashic records and could be accessed through ritual magic or in dreams. Grant’s ideas on Lovecraft were featured heavily in the introduction to the Simon Necronomicon

Before I go … important announcement! Achtung! Cthulhu Tactics is now out on Steam and console!… plus if you wanted our ‘Vote Cthulhu’ card game (aka Elections), it’s available now 🙂