Monday, December 30, 2013

Episode 14 - Top 5 Things We're Looking Forward to in 2014

This week we take a look at the top 5 things we're looking forward to in 2014!  We also have reviews on Bioshock and Final Fantasy 2, and talk about what it really means to be "Next Gen." We also have our first contest!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spotlight on: Reset

Marc got a hold of Theory Interactive Ltd. last week to ask them a few questions about their upcoming First Person Mystery Puzzle game, Reset. While they are tight-lipped about the plot behind the game, they have a few videos out showcasing AAA visuals and challenging time-travel puzzles. If you are an Oculus Rift fan or just a fan of atmospheric puzzle games, head on over and consider donating!

TFN: How would you describe Reset to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?

Theory Interactive: Reset is a First Person Puzzle and Open World Mystery solving game with a strong emphasis on story and atmosphere. A Sci-fi Noir mystery. The main game mechanic in solving the puzzles is the ability to skip back in time to co-operate with your previous self or selves.

TFN: Games like Portal and Antichamber have helped expand the First Person Puzzle genre but it is still quite small and fresh compared to others. What was it that drew you to the genre? Have you encountered any unexpected challenges?

Theory Interactive: Portal was a real eye opener for me. It was a very pure game but at the same time it was the deepest game I've played story wise. It was a game that succeeded in playing me, a very powerful experience. I feel that games have great, mostly untapped potential in making players experiencing stories, rather than just telling them. It is this aspect that I find most intriguing. I think a game that concentrates more on mental challenges rather than just reaction challenges is more suited to engage the player in a deeper way over all. I don't know if we've encountered unexpected challenges, I'd say all challenges are more or less unexpected.

TFN: You have been very guarded about revealing the plot behind Reset, telling us only that it will take place on a fictional island in the Galápagos and involve time travel. We would normally ask a few questions regarding plot, instead, can you describe the philosophy behind your decision to keep it under wraps?

Theory Interactive: This is a decision based on our goal to get the player to experience the game more deeply. It's likely that you understand the decision once you've played the game through.

TFN: The sights and sounds of Reset are beautiful and build an amazing sci-fi noir atmosphere. Can you tell us some of the sources you’ve drawn inspiration from?

Theory Interactive: I guess all things sci-fi play a big role in the background, but mostly works that are a bit more enigmatic, challenging and not necessarily ending happily are more closer to Reset. We are kids who grew up in the 80's and 90's so a lot of inspiration simply comes from works that emerged in that era.

TFN: Your Indiegogo description mentions you both previously worked for Futuremark and that Reset runs on Praxis, an engine youve developed in-house. Given your tremendous technical experience, is there a feature youve built into Praxis that you dont see other studios focusing on?

Theory Interactive: Technical knowledge is one of our strong points and a of course an interest. Lighting has been one our main focuses from the beginning. Not creating hugely complex geometry but focusing on light reacting realistically on surfaces and in the atmosphere. We we're a bit head of times when we released the first trailer a year ago, but now you can see the bigger studios focusing the same way. It's a natural progress. When computational power is available it's more efficient to simulate rather than do everything by hand.

TFN: What has your experience been with the Indiegogo process and is there any advice you’d offer to aspiring game designers looking at the platform?

Theory Interactive: We'll this is a tough one. It's been a ride of emotions so far. And being such a tiny team has brought it's own challenges. For example I've had to take care of my kids for many days during the campaign when they we're ill (nothing serious, normal flus and vomit diseases), and we weren't prepared for that. Since the campaign is only for a certain time, being away from the project at that time means that we can't drive it forward. We should have been more prepared for the whole length of the campaign before we even started. This isn't really a platform specific advice, but planning the whole thing through properly, at least the major updates (which should be frequent enough) will go a long way. And of course having a big enough community around the project is essential especially for the start. I can't really compare to other platforms since I have no first hand experience. Indiegogo was our choice, because it's basically the best way to go from where we are. Kickstarter is unavailable from Finland directly, and it would have been too big a task for us to set up a business representation in the US or UK just to get the campaign going.

TFN: Our podcast is known for doing Top 5 lists every week, your game promises to feature challenging, mind-bending time-travel puzzles. What are your Top 5 mind-bending games?

Theory Interactive: I think the aforementioned Portal and Antichamber hold the first two places. I enjoyed The Misadventures of P.B.Winterbottom quite alot, and it's kind of a 2d sibling to Reset. Oldie but goldie Day of the Tentacle is awesome of course. The upcoming Parallax seems very intriguing, looking forward to that.

TFN: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! Is there anything else you’d like to communicate about Reset?

Theory Interactive: Thanks for the great questions. Although fallen behind, the Indiegogo campaign is not over yet, so now is the perfect time to purchase a Christmas present for yourself or a friend for... Christmas 2014!

Check out Theory Interactive Ltd.’s First Person Mystery Puzzle game, Reset, over at

Monday, December 16, 2013

Episode 13 - Our Top 5 Game Worlds

This episode we go over our top 5 game worlds!  Brian sees things differently than the rest of the world on.....well just about everything!  Marc and JJ gush over the Elder Scrolls and we also do a review for Mass Effect 2!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Spotlight: Stasis Interview with Christopher Bischoff

Last week Marc caught up with Christopher Bischoff, the creator of the horror adventure game STASIS, which is now taking donations via Kickstarter. A few days still remain in the kickstarter and a demo is available for the curious via Be sure to read our interview and check out the game! .

TFN: How would you describe Stasis to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?  

Christopher: STASIS is set on a seemingly abandoned research facility. The player takes on the identity of John Maracheck to explore and solve puzzles in a 2D isometric environment. Essentially, it's an horror, adventure game in the same vein as Monkey Island and The Dig. To help John find his family, you're required to interact with your surroundings, collect and use items all while uncovering the deepening mystery.

 TFN: One of the things that drew me to your project was the idea of using the adventure genre as the framework for a modern Sci-Fi horror game. Can you tell us some of the ways the genre has enabled you to explore your story in a way other genres could not?  

Christopher:The adventure game genre is perfectly suited to a horror game, in that it almost goes directly against the grain of needing to explore. It forces you along a path, that goes against human nature and almost creates an 'uncomfortable feel' in the environment. You don't want to go through that door, but you have to... You don't want to know what's under that hospital bed, but it could be an integral part of the game... Science Fiction is also a wonderful tool in adventure games, from a story point of view. I found that many of my favorite adventure game experiences were reflections on who I was as a person as the time of playing them. Through Space Quest I got to live out my time as an awkward kid, trying to see where I fit into the world. Day of the Tentacle was am exploration of friendship, reflecting many things that a young child was looking for in the world. As an older gamer, I am looking for experiences that speak to me and to my role in society. The best Science Fiction is the type that holds up a mirror to the feelings and emotions that society is going through at that moment.

 TFN: During my play time I found puzzles which seemed well grounded in reality and followed logically. Is there anything you can tell us about your design philosophy?

 Christopher:John is very much a part of me. I'm not an engineer, so if I was trying to get through a locked door, there is very little chance of me rewiring the lock! I'd most likely try to lever the door open with a crowbar. The design philosophy is really, "What Would John Do?" He isn't a marine or a scientist. He is a normal, untrained man, in search of his family - and that's constantly in the forefront of my mind when designing the game, the puzzles and the situations that John finds himself in. But that's not to say that there aren't instances where he'll need to move far from his comfort zone to get through the ship.  

TFN: Groomlake is a reference to the dried up lake north of Area 51, would you say that American cult mythology has influenced this game?  

Christopher:The world is a very small place and the influences in STASIS range from American Cult Mythology to Japanese political cover-ups, post World War II. STASIS is an amalgamation of ALL of my interests; some are obscure (like conspiracy theories and black holes) and many are more direct like film and games and you'll find these references throughout the game. Did you know that John's name is a good example of a truly obscure Aliens reference?  

TFN: In a recent kickstarter update you expounded on the influence Alien has had on you over the years and in particular with Stasis. What I have always found remarkable about that movie was Ridley Scott’s courage to pose deep, disturbing questions and offer no clean answers. Beyond subject matter, have Ridley Scott’s works had an impact on your approach to narrative and exposition?  

Christopher:Ridley Scott's ability to give a lot of information without relying on dialogue (or any focused written word) is something I've tried to emulate. Things like small signs on the sides of doors, a bloody hand print, a sound that echoes through the scene at just the right time... Every piece of information in a Ridley Scott film is carefully given to the viewer, allowing them to piece together the puzzle without being overt about it. It's an incredible skill. I'm trying to pull this thread through into STASIS.  

TFN: Kicktraq expects you to exceed your Kickstarter goal by a healthy margin. What has your experience been with the kickstarting process and is there any advice you’d offer to aspiring game designers looking at the platform?  

Christopher:It really has been an intense few months - counting the four months of preparation for the Kickstarter campaign. My two cents: Treat the time leading up to your campaign as importantly, as the time during your campaign. A strong build up and strong start is the best thing I could've hoped for, because it gives supporters confidence in your project, if the campaign slows down a little.  

TFN: Our podcast is known for doing Top 5 lists every week, you have mentioned your love for adventure games. What are your Top 5 adventure games?

Christopher: The Dig Space Quest 5 Day Of The Tentacle Broken Sword Beneath a Steel Sky  

TFN: Thank you again for giving us a bit of your time! Is there anything else that you'd like to mention? About Stasis or any other projects you're working on?

 Christopher:STASIS has been my focus and my life for three years now! The future is going to be interesting for The Brotherhood and for fans of isometric games...  

You can check out Christopher Bischoff's game, STASIS, via his Kickstarter page located here:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Episode 12 - Our Top 5 Games We'd Like to see Rereleased

Brian spoils Star Ocean: Till the End of Time!.....but the game's been out for years so we forgive him.  We talk about digital gaming purchases versus physical copies, and also go over our top 5 games that we would like to see rereleased!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Q&A With Caleb, Developer of "Chaos Drift - A Nostalgic RPG Experience"

Recently JJ had the opportunity to talk to Caleb, who is the sole developer for the upcoming RPG "Chaos Drift", which is now taking donations via Kickstarter.  Chaos Drift promises to be a throwback to those old school video game RPGs that made the genre great, such as Final Fantasy 6 and Chrono Trigger.

Alright well first off, I just wanted to reiterate how much we are looking forward to Chaos Drift, and can't wait to get our hands on the finished product!
So what can you tell me about the process of making this game so far? I noticed that you seem to be the sole developer for it. Does that mean you're handling everything from gameplay to music to story all on your own? Or have you had any additional help along the way?

Well, I first want to say that there is a tremendous community around RPG Maker VX Ace. You can buy high quality custom assets and scripts rather easily and find help to any questions you may have... I have also bought royalty free music for the project.
Beyond those things, I do everything. I take tilesets, music, and scripts and arrange them into a story.... into a cohesive project that people will love to play. Every rock, every tree, every bird tweet is there because I put it there. Every line of dialogue is created by me solely. And the story as well.

It must be pretty cool to see your own world spring to life, and know that other people will get to experience it as well!
What initially drew me towards Chaos Drift was the fact that you call it "A Nostalgic RPG Experience" and mention that it draws inspiration from classic games like Final Fantasy 6 and Chrono Trigger, two of my absolute favorites. I also noticed that you have put your own twist on a skill system that can be compared to Materia from Final Fantasy 7. Are there any other games, classic or new, that you feel gave you inspiration for the game?

I don't mean to be overly vague here.... but EVERY game I play gives me inspiration. I am always looking for the art in games... for what separates one experience from another. I get so much inspiration from watching movies and playing games.... I'll hit a certain point in a movie or game and just shut it off because I have to go create. But FF6 and Chrono Trigger are the biggest influences from my childhood... I suppose you could Skyrim and Dark Souls in there as well... I think about how those games make you feel with a big open world and so many optional things to do, and places to go... and I'm going to capture that with Chaos Drift.

That's great! I think there's a lot of people who tend to get inspired by things they love, but then don't really do anything about it. However, you seem to be taking it by the reins and it looks to be shaping up wonderfully judging by the videos you've posted. That being said, which part of the development process do you feel has been the most challenging for you so far?

Oh, definitely the Kickstarter process. Most people don't realize what goes into these campaigns. I've made so many mistakes myself, but I'm learning. Once I'm funded and can focus solely on developing my game, I'll be very happy. A load will be lifted off my shoulders.

That makes sense. It looks like you're pretty close to hitting the goal, so hopefully it'll happen soon!
So, about the actual game itself. Any info you can tell us about the story or the characters?

Yeah, definitely!
Chaos Drift centers around an officer in the Travellian Army by the name of Solar Avarius. Solar, who has been looking for his lost lifelong friend and superior officer Dar Whitmore, hears news that Dar has died. Upon inspection of the tombstone, he is attacked by a pair of familiar faces. Through a series of events, Solar is accused of murder and sentenced to be executed. That is when the beautiful and mysterious mage, Evandra appears. She is from the past and reveals truths that explain everything that has happened recently in Solar's life. Solar, Evandra, and the comical Tull set off on a quest for revenge and justice against the Mad King Belteshazzar who has come to their time via a magical pillar. They quickly find themselves flung to the far reaches of time and space in a journey that will define them all and forever change the course of their world. Solar will quickly realize that he may have to choose between changing the past... and the future as he becomes aware of his true enemy. Many characters will join them along the way including a humorless king and a scheming desert assassin.

That sounds incredible!
How about the gameplay itself? While reading your updates, I noticed that you've decided to do away with the "traditional" leveling system to cut down the need to grind experience. Can you elaborate a little on what this means?

This means a lot of things... one, I think players of Chaos Drift will enjoy the battles a lot more without it feeling excessive. Two, it means players CANNOT powerlevel themselves early on in the game... it lets me as a developer control how high of a level a player can obtain at any given point in the game. That makes it much easier to balance content as well for the players since I KNOW within a few levels how strong a person can possibly be. Three, it means that players are not punished for exploration. There are many levels available through completely sidequests, so players will want to explore as much as possible in order to become stronger. It puts more emphasis on actually DOING things in the game rather than grinding battle after battle.

You mention that it makes it easier for you, as the developer, to balance the content. So then with that in mind, what kind of a difficulty curve does Chaos Drift have?

Well, I am still working on the difficulty curve. There are a lot of limitations with the engine I'm using in regards to the battles. One complaint levied against old school RPGs like FF6 is that it is too easy. I am endeavoring to fix that. But I don't want to go for Dark Souls hard... I don't want to make the game inaccessible. I will have very hard content though that is completely optional. For example: the bonus dungeon included in the Special Edition requires you to have completed every sidequest and most of the main story to be able to be strong enough to even attempt it. It is completely optional, but the best gear in the game can be found in this dungeon, and the dungeon can be repeated multiple times. It is for the hardcore only. :)

Sounds like there's definitely going to be something for everyone!
Anything else that you'd like to mention? About the game or any other projects you're working on?

I grew up in a poor family. I'll never forget the Christmas my parents scrounged up enough money to buy us kids a SNES and I fired up Super Mario World for the first time. A few years later, I played a little game called Final Fantasy III (what we now know as FF6) It changed my life forever, I've been daydreaming since then of creating my own game... my own world. Chaos Drift is the fruition of that dream. I want people to know that I understand what makes a game like FF6 special, and Chaos Drift will definitely be special. After Chaos Drift, I've got a few other RPG projects I might move onto... we'll see. :)

I know exactly how you feel! Final Fantasy 6 has been my #1 game for a long time, and I don't know that I'll ever feel the same way towards a storyline or group of characters, simply because the game wasn't just a fun game to play, it was an experience that still to this day, makes me smile to think about. Knowing that Chaos Drift is coming from a place with that kind of nostalgia in mind makes me more excited than ever to finally try it!
Caleb, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, we certainly look forward to what the finished product of Chaos Drift, along with any other projects you have in mind for somewhere down the road, ends up being. Keep up the great work and keep us posted!

You can check out Caleb's game, "Chaos Drift - A Nostalgic RPG Experience" via his Kickstarter page located here:

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Episode 11 - Our Top 5 Gaming Related Things We Want for the 2013 Holiday Season

This week we introduce our new segment:  Spotlight!  We also talk about what we'd like to receive this holiday season, as well as review The Walking Dead and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Episode 10 - Our First Milestone!

Episode 10!  We begin with a review on the new Pokemon X/Y games, followed by a special segment that we like to call "The Great Debate", news with Brian, and also our top 5 heroic characters from video games!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Episode 9 - Our Top 5 Gateway Games

This week we give our thoughts on The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker.  Marc was unable to join us for this episode, so what do we do?  Make fun of him while he's not here of course!  We also go over our top 5 gateway games!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Episode 8 - Our Top 5 Games We Wish We Could Finish

This episode we review Bastion and the original Deus Ex.  JJ sends Marc some hate mail, and Brian...*shocker* his brother play more games!  We also talk about our top 5 games that we just can't seem to finish!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Episode 7 - Our Top 5 Video Gaming Consoles

This week we talk about our favorite consoles throughout the years that hit us the hardest as gamers.  Marc reviews Saints Row: The Third, and Brian loves to make JJ's editing experience miserable!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Episode 6 - Our Top 5 MMOs

It's a supercharged MMO special!  This week we take a look back at our top 5 MMOs, compare JRPGs and WRPGs, and give our initial impressions of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Episode 5 - Our Top 5 Silent Protagonists

This week we talk about the silent heroes (or heroines) who have made an impact on our gaming lives!  There's also a whirlwind of JRPG goodness as we review Chrono Trigger and Tales of Xillia!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Episode 4 - Our Top 5 Video Game Soundtracks

Episode 4 - Our Top 5 Video Game Soundtracks.  This episode we talk about music in games!  JJ once again gushes over (you guessed it) oldschool Square games!  Marc tries to sound like a dragon and fails miserably, and Brian summons a "Flame Astronaut"!  Reviews on Borderlands 2 and Skyrim.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Episode 3 - Our Top 5 Cooperative Games

This week we talk about our top 5 Cooperative games! JJ gets "Left 4 Dead" by Marc's brother! We also review The Last of Us and Mass Effect 1, and answer a few emails! As always, any and all feedback is appreciated, shoot us an email at!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Episode 2 - Our Top 5 Video Game Villains

Episode 2!  In this episode we discuss our top 5 video game villains, as well as a review of Kingdom Hearts 1 and Farcry 3.  We also talk a bit about the next gen consoles.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Frozen North (Episode 1, Who We Are)

We are a podcast dedicated to the best adventures and RPGs that gaming has to offer. Listen to our show on iTunes and then join in the discussion on our Facebook page, or email us at, and follow us on Twitter @FNPodcast 

In our first episode, we go over our personal top 5 games of all time, as well as a review of Final Fantasy V.