Showing posts with label HarleQuest!. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HarleQuest!. Show all posts

Orc Face Games: New SEGA Dreamcast Indie Game Publisher from HarleQuest! Developer

The Kickstarter for Ross Kilgariff's 3D Dreamcast dungeon crawler HarleQuest! may have launched on April Fool's Day 2023, but it is quite clear from the community hype surrounding it that it is definitely no joke. Back in January, we asked Junkyard readers to tell us their most anticipated indie release as part of our Top 25 Dreamcast Indie Games poll, and HarleQuest! won out unanimously, receiving 80% of the total vote.

As the release of HarleQuest! draws closer, and our mitts frankly perspire at the prospect of getting a physical CD copy of the game in them, the universe (or rather, Ross!) has thrown us a curveball with regards to how the publishing of the game will now be handled.

Originally WAVE Game Studios were announced to be producing all the physical versions of HarleQuest!, but Ross has now chosen to self-publish the game through his brand new indie development and publishing studio, Orc Face Games. On Twitter, the brand new Orc Face Games account tweeted the following:

"Hi everyone! With the recent decision to self-publish HarleQuest! for the SEGA Dreamcast, we have started Orc Face Games - a new development and publishing studio! Stay tuned for a video announcement next week, along with the results of our recent Dreamcast indie game survey."

The survey that Ross is referring to in this tweet is one he put out at the beginning of the month, which asked a variety of questions that aimed to "gain a better understanding of the people who play independently made Dreamcast games in 2024". It's a great sign that Ross has looked to the community for feedback when setting up this new studio, and I'll be intrigued to find out what the consensus is from those who voted in the video he'll be putting out next week on his YouTube channel.

We reached out to Ross to get the scoop on everything Orc Face Games…

DCJY: Great to chat to you once again, Ross, and congratulations on the new venture! What can the Dreamcast community expect from Orc Face Games going forward?

Ross: As a publisher, our top priority is to build trust with developers. We live in the indie/homebrew community daily and want to do our part to help developers actually get things over the line into a polished physical release at a reasonable cost. A little down the road we will offer help with every aspect of development including funding, our 3D engine + tools, creative (art, music, sound, branding), porting... but for now we're looking to team up with developers who have an existing game or demo in the works and want to get the physical version made and into players' hands. In any case, if you're a developer at any stage, please reach out to us! We'd love to hear from you even if it's just for a chat!

That sounds great. Obviously HarleQuest! will be the first release from Orc Face Games, but do you have any plans for future titles that you can let us in on?

There is a concrete plan for what's happening after HarleQuest! and it involves a full 3D remake of an indie Megadrive/Genesis game for the Dreamcast. We know exactly what that's going to look like and it's going to be insane! After that, we will be starting a larger project again with a new IP which is still in the early stages, but it'll be bigger than HarleQuest! - that's all I'll say on that for now! As a developer, our focus is finishing HarleQuest! and making it the best game possible.

We’re certainly excited to get our hands on HarleQuest!. For those who missed the Kickstarter, where can they pre-order a copy? 

HarleQuest! pre-orders are now up on the Orc Face website for anyone who missed the Kickstarter! The site is still pretty simple but it works. We'll spruce it up a little before the HarleQuest! launch. In the meantime, you can visit [the Orc Face Games website] to pre-order the game in your preferred region style.

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I look forward to seeing Orc Face develop into the next big-deal Dreamcast indie publisher. With an experienced developer like Ross at the helm, passionate developers could really get the help they need to help get their games pushed out to the community at large. With that in mind, I wish Ross the best of luck with this new studio. You can follow both him and Orc Face on Twitter for updates.

Are you excited to see what the future holds for Orc Face Games? Let us know in the comments below, or on any of our usual social media hangouts.

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Dreamcast: Year Two shipping, HarleQuest! funded, Phantasy Star Collection, Sapphire Hotel - Dreamcast News Round-Up May 2023

Title image featuring a pixel art image of Space Channel 5's Ulala with The Dreamcast junkyard logo and the text "Dreamcast News Round-Up May 2023
Pixel art credit: Xtreme Retro

Spring is now well and truly upon us here in the UK. My central heating has finally been switched off, the nights are drawing out, and the air is alive with the sounds of songbirds, neighbourhood kids, and the obnoxiously loud engines of boy racers. The departure of winter typically does wonders for my mood, but this year my nerves are uncharacteristically shot to pieces as my boyhood football club is flirting with the prospect of imminent relegation. Rather than spend another afternoon anxiously inspecting the league table and fixtures list once again though, I thought I’d try to distract myself by penning a DCJY news round-up. The Dreamcast scene continues to bloom, delivering a bountiful harvest all year round, and there are some vigorous green shoots sprouting up too which are likely to bear fruit later in the year. So, dear readers, settle down, get comfy, and feast your eyes upon all the latest from the world of the Dreamcast.

Homebrew Happenings


The Dreamcast has long been blessed with a dedicated cast of coders who love nothing more than cooking up homebrew offerings of all shapes and sizes. The degree to which homebrew efforts have extended the console’s software library and capabilities is truly remarkable and the selfless souls who deliver these goods deserve our thanks (thank you!).

Lately it seems that Ian Michael’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Cowabunga Collection has become a trend-setter, as several other ‘collection’ type projects are now in the works. First of all is Ian’s own follow-up, a Phantasy Star collection, which allows the classic Master System, Game Gear and Mega Drive titles to be played on the Dreamcast in seamless fashion, complete with a menu system that pulls everything together, and extras such as separately playable soundtracks and videos. Sega produced a package of this sort for the Saturn, but its release was limited to Japan. If Ian’s previous work is anything to go by, then we anticipate that this follow-up will be well worth your attention.

Cover image for the Phantasy Star Collection for Dreamcast.
Cover image for Ian Michael's Phantasy Star Collection created by 'caruse'.

Shindougo has joined Ian in flaunting their chops in the DC homebrew collection space too, releasing Castlevania and The Simpsons collections in December and April respectively. Neither of these franchises ever saw official representation on the Dreamcast - exclusive titles were in development, but never made it past their fledgling stages. Leaked builds of both are available but are pretty bare bones. Those who want to scratch that itch they’ve been having for a Castlevania or Simpsons experience on their little white box should check out Shindougo’s releases, both of which are available via the links posted above. Video demonstrations of these collections have also helpfully been produced by friend of the Yard, gamesreup.

Screenshot of Hydro Thunder working in VGA mode.
Hydro Thunder working in VGA mode, as shown by Derek Pascarella (ateam).

Another homebrew project of a different ilk has also surfaced in recent weeks. Dreamcasters who have (justifiably) clung to VGA as their preferred video output option will be pleased to hear that TapamN appears to have delivered a method for playing virtually any DC game via VGA. Until now there have been a few dozen games that have stubbornly resisted efforts to force them into outputting VGA, but thanks to the elbow grease of TapamN, a comprehensive solution seems to be at hand. TapamN first demonstrated the new patching method in action with Bangai-O. A frenzy of further contributions have quickly followed from others within the community demonstrating that the method works for games such as Airforce Delta, Deadly Skies, and Hydro Thunder. A full list of the VGA patches created by TapamN are available on the console mods wiki.

Online Optimisations

Putting your Dreamcast’s modem to work really should be mandatory. If you aren’t swimming in the warm crystal-clear waters of the console’s online capacities then you are missing out - especially so, given that the experiences available keep expanding.

Screenshot of the Crazy Taxi 2 website replay upload function.
Hey hey hey, it's time to upload some CRAZY replays. Crazy Taxi 2 website screenshot courtesy of Xiden.

In mid-April, Xiden announced that the replay upload function of the Crazy Taxi 2 website has been revived. Now, as if it were 2001, that means you can upload replays of your lucrative fare-maximising runs, and find out how paltry they are in comparison to those of your compatriot taxi drivers by downloading their replays. Baggy jeans are recommended for the fully immersive turn-of-the-millennium experience. All you need to know can be found in Xiden’s Dreamcast-Talk post.

In other online news, Johne, a stalwart of Brazil’s DC online community, has launched a Dreamcast Now Android phone app. Dreamcast Now, of course, being the website that provides a live summary of who is currently online on their Dreamcast and what game they are playing. With the app, users are able to set a variety of notifications for different events, including when designated friends have come online, and when favourite games have currently active players.

HarleQuest! - A new 3D Dreamcast Game launches on Kickstarter!

HarleQuest! Kickstarter artwork
A game that I know myself and the other members of the Junkyard team have definitely been excited for is HarleQuest!, which started its life as a prototype called Dungeon Ross for a Global Game Jam event that was held back in late 2016 in Dundee, Scotland. The developers were a two-man team made up of Ross Kilgariff (also known as ross.codes) and Alastair Low (of LowTek Games). We covered a more fleshed-out build later in 2017, and it was looking mighty impressive, even back then.

Since those days of yore, Ross went on to  work on contract with LowTek Games, porting Alistair's NES games Flea! and Tapeworm: Disco Puzzle to the Dreamcast, both of which have gone on to be regarded as DC indie staples in their own right. This gave Ross a taste of the process of bringing a new game to the Dreamcast, and along with being introduced to WAVE Game Studios (who re-released Flea!), it also inspired him to turn his and Alastair's 3D prototype into a new independent game!
Dungeon Ross being demoed
Dungeon Ross being demoed
We've been following along with Ross' development progress on Twitter for quite some time now, and it's fair to say the footage of HarleQuest!'s work-in-progress gameplay has never failed to wow us. While we champion Dreamcast indies of all shapes and sizes here at the Junkyard, there's nothing quite like seeing a fantastic-looking 3D game for our little box of dreams, and HarleQuest! is exactly that. This top-down roguelike dungeon crawler boasts a distinctive style too, with character designs that almost hark back to games like MediEvilJersey Devil (does anyone remember Jersey Devil? No one?) or 40 Winks. With all this going for it, no wonder we were buzzing to learn it was coming to Kickstarter on April 1st.
HarleQuest artwork of its main character
And no, before you say it, this isn't an April Fool's prank. On this wretched day of fools (which has only been amplified to insufferable levels by the very internet with which I am beaming you this very information), I am happy to tell you that HarleQuest! has launched on Kickstarter, with a goal of £11,250. Let's take a look at it.

The game's pitch reads as follows: 
"HarleQuest! is a tough-as-nails roguelike with technical combat, randomised dungeon layouts and tons of weapons and loot! Combat encounters require precise control and care, enemies lurk around every corner and bosses guard your only exit. Death is permanent. This is not a game for the faint of heart.

"The unlikely hero of our story is Estienne, a jester who has been thrown into the dungeon by a cruel and capricious king. He must run, spring, tumble and sneak his way through the twisted depths below the castle. Can you help Estienne regain his freedom and put an end to the King's tyrrany?

"Go it alone, or invite a friend to play couch co-op!"
Working on versions for both Dreamcast and PC, Ross states that with the help of backers, he can take HarleQuest! from being a "simple, fun" game, to a "fuller,  more feature-packed" title, and potential stretch goals of £15,000 and £20,000 even hold the promise of digital versions for the Nintendo Switch and PlayStation/Xbox respectively. Ross' goal is to deliver the game by October 2024.

But we're here for Dreamcast, and with the help of WAVE Game Studios, HarleQuest! can be delivered to our doorsteps in the professional, high-quality DC packaging that WAVE are very much known for. This means proper pressed discs (CD-ROMs) that are region-free, a full colour instruction manual, and your choice of EU Blue, US White or JP Orange theming in a standard CD jewel case. To get yourself this physical Dreamcast release, the lowest you'll be paying is £35 (excluding postage), although a genuine EU PAL case “upgrade” is on offer for the purists at an additional charge of £10.
A photo showing a Dreamcast controller, keyboard, and two versions of the physical HarleQuest! Dreamcast game
A lower tier that includes both digital versions (Dreamcast and PC) is available, for those who run ODEs, etc. There is also a £10 "goodies pack" tier, which gets you an enamel pin, a sticker and badge pack, as well as an embroidered patch (to sew onto your battle jacket, of course). It doesn't get you the game by itself, but could definitely be added onto the physical game tier to get you some extra goodies.
HarleQuest! gameplay footage showing the main character about to fight a hoard of skeletons
If you're looking for the real deal stuff though, look no further than the collector's and developer's editions. Including the physical Dreamcast game, the collector's edition includes a metallic print inlay, enamel pins, stickers, badges, an embroidered patch, a branded beanie (to wear while you rock your HarleQuest!-branded battle jacket), a personalised letter of thanks from the developer, as well as the ability to help "shape the game as it’s being developed". This basically means people who back this tier get priority on the feedback and ideas they share with the development team. 
HarleQuest! gameplay of the main character fighting a knight
The developer's edition includes everything from the collector's edition, but also grants you full access to the game's source code, art files, audio files and tools, as well as a copy of the game's design document with extensive details on every aspect of the game. This edition would also grant you permission to distribute a modified version of the game on the HarleQuest! website (non-commercial), and it even says that if you do make something great with the HarleQuest! assets, engine, etc., Ross would maybe consider it for a commercial release! Let's hope this could be the start of more special things to come from the Dreamcast indie scene.

Wrapping up these two editions, if the campaign reaches a stretch goal of £25,000, vinyl figures of in-game characters will be added to them! This would be really awesome to see, and I sincerely hope the campaign can reach this stretch goal.

If you want to try the game before you back the Kickstarter, Ross has released a demo .CDI which can be burnt onto a CD-R or put on an ODE. In this demo, you have to defeat all the enemies in each room to win! You can download the demo here.

Finally, and this is the most important bit: we have until Sunday the 30th of April to get this Kickstarter fully backed (and reach those stretch goals), so in order to get that "fuller, more feature-packed" version of HarleQuest!, the Dreamcast community will need to get backing! Again, you can back the Kickstarter here.