• 11Sep

    We’re a weird studio. When demoing a new game at PAX, most companies try to make the demo as good as they can before the show, then lock it down and live with whatever they’ve got until the show is finished. We, on the other hand, treated PAX Prime 2014 as a giant ongoing playtest, and iterated every evening on the demo/prototype of Free-Range Dragons. Each morning, we brought a new build of the game to PAX that was substantially different from the previous day’s build! :-)

    In case you’re curious to know more about this process, we’ve copied below the entirety of our Skype development log from that very intense time period — all 35 pages of it!

    One thing to be aware of: Andrew Fray, one of the lead developers on the project, lives in the UK. That’s primarily how we were able to make this work: he did most of the iterating while the rest of us slept.

    Skype Log, starting 8/27 (just before the start of PAX Prime):

  • 25Aug

    Hey folks – I’m pleased to reveal the teaser trailer for Free-Range Dragons, an original action game that we’ve had a small team quietly prototyping for the past year while we were putting the finishing touches on Road Not Taken. :-)

    Free-Range Dragons is all about the joy of movement. We’ve spent a ton of time experimenting with and refining the mechanics of flight in this game, as well as the mechanics of chasing and being chased by wild dragons. Your dragon can loft itself into the air slowly, or use the terrain to send itself rocketing. You have a flaming dash maneuver that can be used as both an attack and a tool for altering your trajectory. We’re still experimenting with a variety of additional attacks and powerups, like fireballs, flame breath, lassoing, and more.

    If you’d like to stay up to date on the ongoing development of Free-Range Dragons, just keep your eye on this blog, follow us on Twitter @spryfox, or sign up for our email newsletter!

    And if you’re attending PAX Prime in a few days, stop by our booth and check out Free-Range Dragons in person! :-) We’re booth #135.

  • 05Aug

    Hey everyone,

    I’ve got a whole lot to say today, but first and foremost: Road Not Taken is available for download today!! You can get it worldwide on Steam (PC & Mac) and in North America on the PS4. And hey, we’ve put together a snazzy launch trailer to whet your appetites:

    To celebrate the launch of Road Not Taken, we’re offering a limited-time 20% launch sale on Steam, where players can pick up the game for just $11.99! We’re also thrilled to be partnering with Sony, allowing PlayStation+ subscribers to get Road Not Taken absolutely free during the month of August. (For PS4 fans who live outside North America: the European PS4 launch is tomorrow, the Asian launch is the 7th, and the Japanese launch is the 20th, as per the PS+ release calendar.)


  • 25Jun

    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. ;-)


  • 07Apr

    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. :-)


  • 02Apr

    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.)


  • 14Mar

    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.


  • 25Feb


    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.


  • 13Feb

    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!


  • 24Jan

    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.


  • 20Dec


    This post is by Danny Simmons, the audio producer extraordinaire for our game Road Not Taken

    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.


  • 10Dec

    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.



  • 01Nov


    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.

  • 09Oct


    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.


  • 23Sep

    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.


  • 16Sep

    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!

  • 09Sep


    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. :-)

    RNT_Promo_09-09-2013_wolf2 RNT_Promo_09-09-2013_goat1

    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!

  • 30Aug

    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.


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