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Returning to “Alakaram” as Auro’s Spiritual Sequel

Hey everyone! This will be a short post, but I wanted to let people know that we’re UN-SHELVING Alakaram – sort of!

Okay so, about two years ago, we started working on a “spiritual sequel to Auro. The idea was, at first, to make Auro but with longer strategic arcs. At some point, we decided to change the game from turn-based to real-time, and we were working off of a codebase I started, and I was a far worse coder in late 2016 than I am now. So overall we just got to a point where the game felt too big. The codebase was really weighing us down, and I had a really ambitious game design idea for making the game a strategy game (something which I have been able, partially, to test out on my own game, Escape the Omnochronom).

We went to Play NYC in 2017 and saw all these great developers exhibiting these cool little games, some of which took the developers just a month or two to put together, and we really wanted to achieve that. That’s when we got the idea to make Jelly Bomber, as a quick, fun little game that we could bring to cons. We just wanted to make something that worked quickly and was simple. I think we accomplished that, and maybe more with Jelly Bomber. It’s fun and cool!

But I also think Jelly Bomber isn’t a super Dinofarm-y game. What we’re really all about are games like 100 Rogues and Auro: turn based, Rogue-likey, tactical, and also maybe fantastical and a little silly.

The new Alakaram

We decided recently to make a true spiritual sequel to Auro. We think the basic gameplay of Auro is just so strong. I’d go as far as to say that it’s as good a “tactics game” as you’ll find anywhere, in terms of its ruleset.

With that said, I think the complete package that Auro is, even with the Steam version, is lacking in a few crucial ways that has held it back from being as successful as it could otherwise be.

  • Videogame Meta Stuff – Auro was, by design, just one thing: the single player Elo-fueled Rank Mode. There’s nothing to unlock, there’s no asymmetry, there’s no customizability, there’s no “custom game” mode, there’s no story mode (even though we actually built an entire one through the development, it got scrapped around 2014), no nothing else. Looking back, it’s just too pointed a game because of this. It became about 50 people’s favorite game of all time, some of whom are still playing it, but most people who saw it just didn’t get it.
  • Theme – We think the theme of Auro could be improved upon a lot. The entire concept of “bumping” didn’t exist when we were first designing the game (back when it was called The Golden Prince). The whole “theme” of Play Mode, that you’re talking to your rivals and doing this weird bumping sport, never really worked. The theme as it exists now could just generally be better in terms of design, but also could better support the mechanics. Alakaram is, well, about ram-people, which makes a lot more sense in terms of supporting a “bumping game” theme.
  • Polish – Auro’s development was started in 2011 in something called HaxeNME and used Flash heavily. It was supposed to be a 6-month game, which turned into a 6-year game. So because of that, stuff that seems like it should be super easy, like “having a fullscreen mode”, turned out to be freaking impossible (I remember sitting on a call with two programmers, both of which who had multiple degrees in CS and SE and no one could figure it out). Anyway, we have much better programming resources now, and Unity is great, and we’re going to make Alakaram into a great piece of software.

The basic idea is this: let’s re-make Auro, with a better theme, more modes, more content, more unlockable stuff. We can still have a pure competitive mode that’s like Auro‘s Play Mode, but I’m really excited about doing more of an FTL/X-Com style “campaign mode” (similar to the not-so-Kickstarted Quest Mode expansion concept, but bigger). The game will be turn based, and hex-based. We’ll have more details on the game in the future.

We also intend to start having more articles on the blog soon, and we’ll probably get back to doing podcasts as well. Thanks so much for reading, and as always, you can support our work on Patreon if you like what we’re doing.

 

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keithburgun • 12/05/2018


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Comments

  1. Jeremy 12/05/2018 - 3:00 pm Reply

    I really like this idea… I completely agree about the reasons Auro didn’t do well. But in addition to the lack of game modes and customization, I found the gameplay itself to be a bit repetitive… in Auro the only difference between games was the spells you had.

    I’d like to play individual ranked games where certain generation variables (enemy distribution, amount of water, and so on) are randomly tweaked each round, so that each round has a unique feel to it, even at the expense of balancing. (I don’t mind some rounds being harder than others, as long as they aren’t super long and the player has no way to save-scum to get good set-ups without dropping in rank.) I’d like if analyzing part of the level could give some insights as to what the rest of the level was like… like if you see lots of water and slimes on the first screen, you should expect more as you move around, so you need to prepare for those, maybe by collecting the right ability tiles or going after totems quickly, or something like that.

    • keithburgun 12/05/2018 - 4:16 pm Reply

      Thanks for the comment, Jeremy! And yeah – pretty much yes-to-all. There will be a lot more variation each time you play, and also some degree of asymmetry, at least in the main mode.

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