I wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye (not sure I ever was to be honest) when Jeff McCord started work on Gammaquest II, the game that would become one of the first roguelikes, Sword of Fargoal. Flash forward from the non-twinkling eyes of my parents to the dark hollows around my own ocular cavities. I am tired, I am drifting above the ocean in a metal tube, I should be sleeping but instead my eyes are glued to a tiny screen. I tap it, it shrugs and my avatar dies again. It is 2012, I am flying to London from Vancouver, and I am playing Sword of Fargoal on a phone. It occupies me for the entire journey. Now there’s a Kickstarter for a much-expanded sequel on Mac, Windows and Linux as well as iOS.
The pitch video shows that Jeff not only registers in a similar section of the Uncle Spectrum as Charles Cecil, but also somehow manages to look less haggard and wearied of life than me, despite making an entire game before I had even decided to be born. Here he is.
$15 is the minimum pledge for the desktop version of the sequel, which will have new…everything. Animations, spells, monsters, traps, graphics, music, animation, classes, quests, area types and a completely new dungeon-generation system. I can see Fargoal sitting in a very desirable middle ground between the accessibility of Dungeons of Dredmor and the likes of ADOM and Stone Soup, which often ascii a little too much of those new to roguelikes.
The details on the talent on board are all at the Kickstarter page, including programmers, animator and composer, and the good news is that the game is apparently around 80% complete. The Kickstarter is one of those Kickfinisher’s we’re seeing more and more of, aiming to raise $50,000, of which $15,000 is already secured.
I’d quite happily replace most of the food in my fridge with roguelikes, just reaching in and cracking one open whenever I’m hungry, and considering the age of the original game, there’s no real nostalgia here for me. Fargoal was only a name, and something I still don’t feel entirely comfortable pronouncing, until that flight back from Vancouver earlier this year. As a sort of teaser, anyone with an iThing can grab the port of the original for free at the moment.
Jeff also mentions a “secret stretch goal”, which he simply calls “Project X”. Although I can be sceptical about stretch goals, I do like a mystery: “…there have been several other Kickstarter campaigns built solely around a reward like we’re planning — but ours will be in addition to our video game”. Hopefully I’ll be speaking to Jeff in the coming days to find out about what he’s been doing since working on the original game, how he feels about the changes the industry has gone through and why roguelikes are the best. I’ll also keep saying “what’s Project X all about then?” when it’s least expected because I’m canny like that.