Hi folks! We’re thrilled to announce the official release date of Road Not Taken! It’ll be coming to Steam (PC & Mac) and the Playstation 4 on August 5th, 2014 — just a little more than a month from today! And to celebrate this announcement, we’ve put together a new trailer! This one is a bit, er, unusual. You might need to have lived through the late 80s or 90s to really get it. ;-)
We’ve hit a snag while adding sound effects to the creatures in Road Not Taken. The problem is, we’ve got no idea what this critter should say:
So… we’re holding a contest!
Help us out by creating a sound effect that you think would sound good when the player bumps into this fox. If your sound effect is chosen as the winner, we’ll put it in the game, put your name in the game’s credits page, and give you a free copy of Road Not Taken, too. :-)
How to enter the contest:
- Create a sound effect for the spry fox.
- Upload it to YouTube by April 23, 2014. Tag your video with #WhatDoesTheSpryFoxSay
- Tweet us a link to your video at @spryfox with the tag #WhatDoesTheSpryFoxSay.
- Share your video with your friends to get more Likes. The more likes your video has, the higher your chances of winning the contest.
We’ll pick the winning sound effect from the most popular submissions, so be sure to spread the word. If you’re not an audio whiz, you can still contribute by sharing and liking your favorite entries.
Upload your video to Youtube and tag it with #WhatDoesTheSpryFoxSay, and assuming there are no issues, it will soon appear on our contest YouTube channel. Check back often to check out the competition or like your favorite entries!Details:
- Use this image to accompany your sound effect when uploading to YouTube.
- We will select the winner from among the most popular entries. Having the most likes doesn’t guarantee your sound will be selected, but it definitely helps!
- Entries should be no longer than 3 seconds long. It’s okay to have extra time on the video, but we’ll trim the actual sound effect to 3 seconds at most.
- When the contest is over, we will contact the winner and request a high-quality audio file for use in the final game. This may require re-recording the sound effect.
- You must own the rights to anything you submit. Copyrighted material won’t be accepted.
- Keep it classy. Offensive material won’t be accepted.
- Entries submitted after the due date of April 23, 2014 won’t be accepted.
- By participating in the contest, you agree that if we select your sound as the winner, we may use it in Road Not Taken as we see fit and at our sole discretion, in exchange for the prizes noted in this blog post.
Lately, we’ve been doing a ton of playtesting of Road Not Taken, particularly with fellow game developers. (If you’re ever looking for brutally honest feedback, other game developers are a good place to start.) In general, the feedback has been pretty positive: people love the game’s basic mechanics, art and audio. But one big issue repeatedly crept up in many of our playtests: people weren’t sensing the depth of the game and weren’t feeling a strong sense of progression. This blog post is all about how we’ve been fixing that. :-)
I like to think of Road Not Taken as an iceberg floating in the ocean: a tiny percentage of the total game is visible above the surface when you first start playing, while the vast majority of the game lies unseen, waiting to be discovered. A large part of that depth comes from all the unusual creatures and objects you can encounter as you explore the enchanted forests of the game. Another large part comes from all the secret tools and boosts you can create if you know what you’re doing. (For example, if you combine the right number of red and white spirits lurking in the forest, you can create a useful magic axe.)
In previous blog posts, we’ve talked about the procedural system we use to create the enchanted forests that serve as your proving ground in Road Not Taken. That system is what makes Road Not Taken a fun game to play repeatedly, and as with any good roguelike you’ll need to play RNT many times before you’ve stumbled upon every interesting object and creature lurking in the forest.
But a purely random system, even a very rich one, can start to feel repetitive over time. Every snowflake might be unique, but after you’ve looked at a thousand snowflakes it’s easy to stop appreciating them! Our roguelike developer ancestors have invented a few solutions to this problem, one of which is to change the look and feel of the environment to signal when something new/important/dangerous is happening. Sewers transition into dungeons, dungeons become underground caverns, etc. And in Road Not Taken, peaceful glades might lead to blizzard-ravaged woods, haunted glades and dangerous ice caverns! The changing terrain is both a marker of your progress as well as a warning of new challenges to come.
As we’ve mentioned in previous blog posts, Road Not Taken has procedurally-generated levels. You get a completely new experience every time you venture into the forest. When designing a game like Bioshock or God of War, a designer must hand-select the placement of every corridor, every object, and every enemy in the game. With Road Not Taken, we’re not hand-selecting anything. We spend our time creating interesting objects and enemies and then carefully defining the probabilities of when and where you will encounter them.
The process reminds me of Duchamp’s painting ‘Nude descending a Staircase, No. 2’. For thousands of years, humanity painted a single instant, captured in time. Duchamp, inspired by advances in motion pictures, decided to paint all the possible states of a woman walking down the stairs in a single painting. To me, designing a roguelike is a little bit like that. Instead defining a single level, we use algorithms to define all possible levels at once.
Hi folks! Ray here, another member of the Spry Fox team. I do a bunch of different jobs for our studio, including making video trailers for our games, QA, and community management. Sometimes, just to have some fun and goof around a little, I make live action videos using my fellow Foxes as actors (or guinea pigs…) And since we’ve been working really hard on our upcoming game, Road Not Taken, I thought it would be cool to do a live action video for that!
Hi everyone! Brent here again. We’ve gotten a lot of questions and compliments about the look of Road Not Taken’s main character, so I thought you might enjoy reading about the process I went through in creating it!
First, I guess I should say that designing a game’s main character/avatar is always tricky. The avatar has to work as a functional asset within the context of the game, has to look good in marketing materials and screenshots, but most importantly, has to feel right as something that represents you, the player! Easier said than done.
We recently added the first batch of sounds to Road Not Taken, and the team got really excited, like the game was finally coming together! It’s funny because it was such a small thing in relation to the huge amount of work that has already gone into the game, but it really highlights the difference sound can make in the way we experience things.
The world of Road Not Taken is made up of magical and natural surroundings. That makes me happy, because even though I love the bleeps and bloops you can get from synthesis, my favourite way to make sounds is from scratch like a foley artist.
It just so happened that I started working on the RNT audio catalogue in the fall, right when there were piles of dried leaves everywhere — perfect! I brought a bucket of them inside and rustled them, crunched and dropped them… my studio was a mess! Also, if you listen closely to the end of the second RNT teaser, you can hear some percussion that was made from dry sticks. At the time I was at a cottage on vacation with my family, so I used a makeshift set-up to build that sample instrument. I expect that you’ll hear it again.
How might a roguelike look like if it featured a thinker and explorer, instead of a traditional warrior? If being clever was more important than being strong? That’s a design challenge we’ve attempted to tackle with Road Not Taken.
You play a ranger in a frigid, enchanted forest, trying to save lost children. You start with a few easy-to-learn abilities. You can pick up any adjacent objects, you can carry them around, and you can throw them. Trees, boulders, bears — they all float at your command. But you need to be careful; whenever you carry things, it costs you stamina. If you run out of stamina, you collapse face-first into the snow. No checkpoints, no reloads. It’s over.
Over the past several days we’ve been polishing up and experimenting with lots of little different bits of Road Not Taken. Trying out new behaviors and objects, fleshing out the details of the player’s career; that sort of thing. We also made the mysterious forest a bit more, well, mysterious. Enter the ghost child:
The boosts we previously described are almost all implemented at this point! In the process, the little house we were planning for the main character has exploded into a not-so-little house full of cosy rooms, lazy cats, bear rugs, and of course tables and desks to hold all the aforementioned boosts. This is one of those situations where design drives the narrative I guess; there are so many totems and trophies you can collect that the main character simply needed to have a more spacious home to put them in.
But then again, the size of the home seems to emphasize its emptiness. It’s full of stuff, yes, but almost completely devoid of people. In that regard, it’s far from the stereotypically “perfect” home. That feels appropriate for Road Not Taken.
There is a repeated theme in our upcoming game, Road Not Taken. The characters in our little northern town have all lived their lives according to the same plan: first you go to school, then you get a job, then you fall in love and finally you start a family.
But life doesn’t always work out that way.
I grew up expecting to live a very traditional Norman Rockwell-style life. We had a little house on a lovely winding road in rural Maine. I did well in school; checked all the official checkboxes. Then upon entering the real world, things fell apart.
On the job front, I’ve been through multiple careers. My “safe” job at a large stable employer — the sort of job many people dream about — well, that was an incredibly bad fit for me. I’ve joined sketchy start ups that failed. And some that succeeded. I’ve been fired for idly drawing pictures of planes inserted into bums. I’ve been hired at double the salary because (as I learned later) I wore the right type of hat to the interview.
I live in a tiny condo in a big city, not a house in the suburbs. There is no yard or golden retriever. A bit later in life than the movies would have had me believe, I did stumble upon an amazing love. Back on track!
Then we found out that we can’t have or adopt kids. It is complicated; all my various thoughts about this get tangled up with one another. I’ve now got a checkbox that will never be checked.
At this point, I feel pretty far off the golden path. And I’ve ended up with a lot of questions. Is it okay that I’m happy? Am I still a useful person? When I’m 87 years old with full blown dementia, who will sign my drooling shell into the retirement home?
Many of my friends are raising families. They are nesting in their perfect houses (with yards) and bonding over baby-induced sleep deprivation. Their conversations revolve almost exclusively around sleep schedules and potty training. It is like watching a whole different life veer away from me. I woke up one day and realized, “Hey, that really is not my future.”
A surprising number of people I know are in a similar place. Their current life is not quite the simple arc they imagined it would be as a kid. Real arcs buckle and twist. I hope we are all richer for it.
So, back to Road Not Taken. It’s a game that puts you in the shoes of a person who has fallen off the standard path. You live alone, outside the village, and every season a new storm arrives. The people of the village need you. There are tragedies and small delights. There are unexpected events and decisions.
You can try to live a perfect life.
This post was written by Brent Kobayashi, our lead artist for Road Not Taken, who is currently enjoying a much-deserved vacation so I’m posting on his behalf. -d
Meeting a few of you in person and talking online to others excited about Road Not Taken, I’ve been asked the question a number (2 is a number, right?) of times what the inspiration behind the look of the game was. Obviously, the style borrows heavily from kawaii aesthetics. The dot-ier the eyes, the higher the mouth, the happier I am. But that’s sort of a rule given my Japanese background. So, I’ll briefly mention a couple of specific points of inspiration behind the look of the game as well.
I have a terrible memory. I don’t often remember artists’ names I like, names of paintings I enjoyed, or what the point of this sentence was supposed to be since I started typing it. But very specific moments seem to stick with me. One of these moments is a brief scene in a montage from Samurai Jack of a matryoshka doll being sliced open, revealing a smaller nested doll, and she perks up for a split second. She’s alive! The moment lasted one second, but it was so unexpected and so delightful that it comes up in my conscience frequently. The memory of this brief moment was the kick-off point for all the artwork done on Road Not Taken up to this day:
Outside of illustration, another place for the inspiration behind the look of many characters in the game comes from old pottery and sculptures. Especially those from my favorite period in the history of humans making art, the Middle Nazca Period, 250 – 450 AD (Thanks to Wikipedia, anyone can sound cultured and look like they know what they’re talking about!) Their use of simple shapes ornamented with textile-like patterns is a look I’ve been going for for several years in my designs. When I started really digging into Nazca art I came to a sad, but inspiring nonetheless, realization that they seemed to have perfected what I’ve been trying to do. They only beat me by something like 1700 years. No biggie.
Finally, to follow up a little more on the idea of simple shapes, here’s a quick peek into an approach I use when creating these characters that will ultimately be shown at small and usually 1:1 aspect ratio size. Whenever I sketch out a character for a concept, I rarely draw them much larger than a Canadian quarter (Can’t guarantee this will work with US currency, sorry.) This ensures that the silhouette of the character will be legible at any size. Then I fill it in with all that fancy stuff. But ultimately, they’re just shadows playing with each other in my eyes.
I couldn’t leave you hanging without an actual update from the game, so here’s a piece of concept art that shows the original sketch for our newest character we’re currently working on, to the final art. Introducing… the Doctor!
If you have any source of unusual inspirations, let me know in the comments!
For the past week or so we’ve been fleshing out and implementing the progression system in Road Not Taken. The premise we’re running with right now is that your character has a “career” of # (20? 30?) games. Once your character has completed that many games, he/she will retire and pass away, and you will take over a new character who succeeds them.
Each career will give you an opportunity to unlock certain boosts that you can use from game to game. A boost, for example, might make the game a little easier by decreasing the spawn quantity of a particular type of troublesome forest creature, or it might make the game more difficult but also more rewarding. Boosts are represented by everyday objects that you collect. Here’s a mockup of what the boost room (where you collect your boosts) might look like:
Additionally, as you successfully rescue lost children through successive campaigns, you’ll encounter new forest creatures and objects. This will serve the dual purpose of making the game more interesting and challenging over time, and also scratch that progression itch (because you’ll have a scrapbook of sorts that you fill up by discovering every possible forest denizen.)
Lastly, you’ll have relationships with townspeople and forest denizens that you will try to juggle and enhance over the course of many games. We’re particularly excited about that system and how it plays into the narrative; we’ll share more in a future update!
Hi folks! We Spry Foxes don’t generally write much about our game that are still in development; we prefer to release games as soon as possible and start iterating on them in the public, with your feedback! That’s easy to do with a web-based game, but not easy with a game that will launch on a console like Road Not Taken. So, since we can’t just put the game in front of you while it’s still in development, we’d like to share our progress on the game here.
For the past few weeks we’ve been hard at work making the world of Road Not Taken more beautiful, lively and haunting (there’s a bit of comic relief thrown in there, too.) We’ve set up an animation pipeline and Brent has been crafting dozens of delightful idle and active animations for the various objects and NPCs in the game. Wolves howling, owls leering, goats pooping… that sort of thing. We’ve also started working on environmental effects such as gusts of wind and sunbeams. This is just the beginning; we’ll continue adding visual polish as we get closer to launch. But RNT is already starting to look like the kind of world you wouldn’t mind exploring for hours on end. :-)
This week, we’re hoping to get started on RNT’s progression system. We’ve had the design on paper for a while (where “paper” == “Google Docs”) but we haven’t had the chance to actually implement it. Once that stuff is in the game, it will start feeling a lot more complete and we can start to fine-tune the balance of the various difficulty modes.
So that’s our quick update! If you’ve got any questions about our progress, please leave us a comment and we’ll try to address it in next week’s update at the latest!
Hi folks! We’re very excited to share the news that Road Not Taken is going to be Spry Fox’s first console game! Specifically, we’ll be launching the game on the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita in addition to PC/Mac via Steam. With Sony’s support, we think we can make this a pretty fantastic experience on the console. :-)
Now, there is a tiny bit of bad news. We don’t think we can make this game as awesome as we want it to be and still get it out the door by the end of this year. We’ll keep trying to make it happen, but there’s a good chance Road Not Taken is now a (hopefully early) 2014 title.
If nothing else, we’ll try to be better about posting occasional updates letting you know what is happening with the game! Right now, we’re focused on fleshing out the many little animations that make the game world feel alive, as well as building a solid tutorial experience. Curious to see a glimpse of our latest work? As it happens, we’ve whipped up a second trailer to show off what we’ve been up to, plus celebrate our PlayStation news of course. :-) Here it is!
PS. If you missed our original announcement about Road Not Taken, please find it here.
PPS. And here’s some new images from the game for you!
More game info:
Road Not Taken is a game about life’s surprises, both positive and negative. In our take on Robert Frost’s poem of the same name, you wander through a mysterious forest in the aftermath of a large snowstorm. As you explore, you’ll come across wild animals, impassable barriers and lost children. Road Not Taken explores the question: “What happens when life’s events throw you off the path you expected to take?” It’s been a lot of fun for us to try and stretch the ideas that games can tackle!
In terms of gameplay, you can think of Road Not Taken as a puzzle roguelike.
- You can play for many dozens of hours, and no two sessions will ever be quite alike.
- Each game is full of unexpected surprises and dangers. We’re not going to spell out how to play the game. What does each creature do? Figure it out!
- You’re going to die many, many times. But you won’t mind that because each death teaches you something new about how the world works and how you might do better next time. The world unfolds and becomes more complex as well over time; you’ll progressively unlock new things to encounter and boosts that change the way you play the game.
Road Not Taken is an original puzzle game about life and loss that is currently being developed by Spry Fox! Adventure through a vast, ever-changing forest in the aftermath of a brutal winter storm. Will you find your way?
Progress is coming along nicely and we are aiming to release Road Not Taken before the end of the year. But we’re getting excited now and wanted to share a few tidbits of what’s to come! :-) Apologies for being a bit of a tease.
This game grew out of a variety of influences. We borrowed the name and theme from Robert Frost’s 1916 poem “The Road Not Taken“. The mechanics are reminiscent of an evergreen roguelike and should provide hundreds of hours of original gameplay. The art, created by the amazingly talented Brent “Meowza” Kobayashi (previously the Art Director for the Glitch MMO) blends the puzzle rooms of Zelda with his own very personal storybook illustrations.
For Daniel, the designer on the project, (and previously designer of Triple Town, Panda Poet, Leap Day and co-designer of Steambirds and Realm of the Mad God) this is one of the more personal games he has created. When you grow up, you are often told that there is a singular path through life; you go to school, you get a job, you fall in love and then you start a family. What happens when someone wanders far off that path? There’s no single answer to that question, but this game is an exploration of at least one answer. It’s also an experiment with a more pointillist approach to narrative, which we think is particularly well-served by the roguelike genre. Each object, each animation, and each bit of text is a bit of paint on the canvas. Over dozens of playthroughs, a greater theme will be revealed to players.
Paws what you’re doing! We’re giving away 10 limited edition Foldable Triple Town Bears! For a chance to win, just Like and Share the post on Facebook!
We are incredibly proud and excited to announce the open beta of our latest original game, Leap Day!
Co-developed by Spry Fox and Sparkypants Studios, Leap Day is the first-ever cooperative multiplayer video game of its kind! Join forces with up to seven other players, over the course of four real days, to help the cute but single-minded Flan recapture their homes from the frozen wastelands and ghosts of their ancestors. It’s a puzzle game unlike any other.
There are massive crafting networks. There are infinite problems to solve (with the help of friends and strangers alike.) There are adorable Flan hopping, chugging, and wobbling everywhere in service to their Flannish princes and princesses. If a Spanish restaurant and Toys-R-Us had a baby, it might look something like this.
Leap Day is 100% free to play; all purchases are entirely optional. We believe that everyone should be able to enjoy our games whether or not they can afford to spend money on them. So what are you waiting for.. give Leap Day a try!
For all you folks who wanted to play Triple Town locally on your computers, the wait is over! Triple Town is now available on PC and Mac via Steam! The Steam version of Triple Town comes with the Capital City meta-game and Unlimited Turns. Additionally, you can play it in full-screen mode and offline. Check out the trailer and purchase the game here: http://store.steampowered.com/app/209950/
We’ve got our very own online store now! Want a Triple Town stuffed bear? Or a Steambirds poster? or a t-shirt? Here’s where you can get ‘em! :-)
The contest winners have been chosen!
But there were so many other good submissions that we felt the need to give a few honorable mentions! Free, signed Triple Town posters will be sent to the writer of this sweet story about bear adoption: http://bit.ly/S09YxJ, and the writer of this unexpectedly funny ode to parents: http://bit.ly/S0a7RE.
And to everyone else, our sincere thanks for participating in the contest! We really enjoyed reading all your stories and are so glad you took the time to share them with us. :-)
When our first shipment of plush Triple Town bears arrived at Spry Fox HQ, we noticed that a few of them were a little bit… special. Some had eyes that were too far apart. Some had eyes that were not inline (one eye was an inch higher than the other.) Some had funny muzzles that were lopsided. They’re all still cute, just in their own unique way!
We’ve been trying to figure out what happened to these little guys. Did they eat radioactive bush berries? Did they get ambushed by a crack team of angry villagers? Have they discovered “illicit recreational uses” for all that grass in Triple Town? The mystery is killing us. So we decided to run a little contest. Tell us your story about how these bears became so special. Post it in our forums for the whole world to see. We’ll pick the best stories, and the winners will receive their very own FREE special needs bear!
These bears are truly one-of-a-kind, so please don’t participate in this contest unless you truly love bears and want to give one a good home!
Spry Fox will be participating in the Indie Megabooth at the PAX Prime show in just a couple weeks. We’ll be unveiling two of our latest games there (both still in development, but expected to launch sometime in the next few months.) The first is Steambirds 2, the online multiplayer sequel to our popular Steambirds games co-developed with our friends at Backbeat. The second is Leap Day, a brand new, cooperative simulation co-developed with our friends at Sparkypants. For those of you not attending PAX, here’s a couple videos for you to check out!
We are proud to announce the Capital City expansion to Triple Town on Facebook and Google+! We’ve been hard at work on this for months, so we really hope you like it. :-)
Your capital city is the permanent heart of your empire. You get new items for your capital city by playing classic Triple Town, and as your Capital City grows, it generates great rewards for you!
Unlike in a normal Triple Town game, which has a single possible build path (grass -> bush -> tree -> etc) there are three possible build paths in the Capital City: farming, industrial and military. Each of those build paths terminate in an ultimate building, and each of them generates different types of rewards for you over time. You can freely earn all three of the capital city item types simply by creating treasure chests or matching 4+ items in any normal game of Triple Town.
In the future, we plan to add lots of decorative options and cute animations to your Capital City to make it more alive and more interesting. In the meantime, please enjoy what we’ve released so far and let us know what you think!
After two years of being embarrassed by our incredibly bad website, we’re so glad to be launching a new one! MAJOR thanks to our friends at Xhtmlized who did a great job setting this up; we’re so grateful for their help and highly recommend them to anyone looking for similar work!
Please poke around and let us know what you think! And hey, there’s a brand-new Spry Fox newsletter that you can sign up for — see bottom of this page — if you’re feeling so inclined. :-)
-Dave & Danc
PS. We finally have forums (and it’s only 2012!) We hope they’ll be hopping soon enough.