Archive for the ‘ Games ’ Category

As I’ve become more active in the games industry over the past months, %%% % % % I’ve also paid more attention to gaming related links, %%% % % % as you can imagine. No, I’m not going to talk about the Playstation 4 announcement. I will leave the hyperbole to others who have more panache for the upcoming new console from Sony. It leaves me pretty cold, to be honest, and the PS4 has virtually no new features I care for. I do not need game play recording and I certainly do not need a “Share” button. What I really need are better games… and those have nothing to do with faster hardware or higher pixel rates. All the game demo videos I’ve seen running on the PS4 do not impress me. I am hard pressed to really pinpoint real highlights where I’d say the graphic elevate the game play to new levels. It’s just all more of the same, just as little more orgiastic.

While I was following some game related posts on Twitter and Facebook, I stumbled across the website Kultpower, and I thought I’d let you guys know about it, particularly my German-speaking readers. This website has an online archive of many classic German computer magazines. You can find scanned versions of magazines such as Happy Computer, Powerplay, Amiga Joker and others. Every page of the magazines has been scanned and is available in fairly large format, making it possible to read all the exciting news of yesteryear, going back something like 1985 or so.

For me personally, it is just fun to go back and check out the articles and reviews of my old games, such as this first preview of the Realms of Arkania games. This article was written when we first made the announcement that we would bring famed the pen&pencil game to computers, revealing details and screenshots for the first time. As such this article is real computer games history, so make sure to click on the pages for a larger view. I hope you enjoy the read as much as I did.

There are countless other gems in these archives, not to mention the small photo of myself from back then, posing in front of the top of the line computers back then – an Atari TT! Also note that the black box visible on the left side of the picture under the computer monitor was actually a development prototype of the Atari Panther, an ill-fated video game console that was cancelled and replaced by the Jaguar system before it ever saw the light of day. I had actually started development of a role-playing game specifically for that console when Atari pulled the plug on the hardware. Ah yes, good times…

Meanwhile, I am plowing away on my own little project here. I’ve spent a lot of time with Unity and since my last post I have decided to use NGUI for all my user interface needs. The package is absolutely fantastic and a real treasure trove. I constantly discover new features and things that are exceedingly helpful. For me, the $95 it cost me to purchase NGUI were well spent. Not only have I used NGUIs functionality throughout my current project, it has also offered me a lot of insight into effective Unity programming.

Another true gem that I’ve found is SceneSync, a Unity plug-in that allows collaboration of multiple people on the same scene. It is incredibly easy to use, plugs right into your project and works without a hitch. Combined with some version control system – I am using GIT for that purpose – it makes it breezily easy for people to work on the same project without risking to lose data or destroy one another’s work.

Because I found both NGUI and SceneSync so incredibly valuable, I am now constantly browsing the Unity Asset Store to see what other gems are lurking there. If you have any plug-in or script you can recommend highly, feel free to leave a comment below for me to check out.

So, what am I working on, you may ask? Well… I’m not going to tell you. At least not yet. Let’s just say for now that it includes Elves, Dwarves, Warriors, Wizards and such and a lot of virtual dice rolls.


For the gamers among you, I have some exciting news to share. For the past months I have been working on a new project that took me back to my computer gaming roots. Teaming up with veteran game designer Neal Hallford, I have prepared a concept for a cool new computer role-playing game that we are currently trying to fund through Kickstarter.

As many of you may know, I’ve been developing computer games for over 30 years and most of them were role-playing games. For the past years I’ve diversified into different areas, such as my book writing, but the game bug bit me again this year, especially because so many of you seemed to still remember and enjoy some of the games I made, like the Realms of Arkania trilogy and Planescape: Torment. (For a cool look behind the scenes of the making of the cover of Planescape: Torment, don’t miss this blog post I made some time ago.)

Neal, has been in the industry almost as long as I have, and he was one of the co-designers of Betrayal at Krondor, a wonderfully rich PRG based on the books by Raymond Feist. Neal has gone on to work on games such as Might&Magic III: Isles of Terra, Dungeon Siege, Lords of Everquest and many others.

So here we are, teaming up and supported by a team of incredibly talented artists and programmers who are ready to bring our latest game, Thorvalla, to life. (Yes, I will not only co-design, but also do programming on the project, because I’ve always felt programming is my true vocation.) Thorvalla, as the name already suggests is a game steeped in Norse lore, a world where men and dragons are at peace and fight together to vanquish evil. It features a vast world with many cultures while at the core remaining true to a high fantasy setting that includes staple favorites like orcs, ogres and skeletons alongside cool monsters from world lore.

You can help us make this game a reality. Take a look at our Kickstarter campaign page for more information. We’ve sadly had a slow start and can use every bit of support we can find. So, if you are a gamer, or if you have friends that love roleplaying games, let them know. Talk about Thorvalla, tweet it up, put it on your Facebook wall or whatever else you can do to help us spread the word.


What’s in a face?

Before I dive into today’s post, I wanted to remind everyone of the great give-away I am running right now. What do you mean you don’t remember? You have not been afflicted by Astaroth’s demon curse of forgetfulness, have you?

Well, fret no more, simply click on this link and visit the promotion and give-away post where I outlined all the details. More incentive, you need? You are one tough customer, my friend, I tell you that. But if it is incentives you need, look no further. How does a 1-year subscription to Fangoria sound, or an ultra-rare, highly collectable “Book of the Dead” DVD version of the horror cult classics “Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead 2?” Or, perhaps, a $25 Amazon gift card would be more to your liking, or movies, or books, or t-shirts… I think we understand each other now, don’t we? All you have to do is spread some Jason Dark love for me!

Now, on to other things… One of the key ingredients of Halloween are costumes, of course, and I thought I’d make a little post about some of my past disguises. No, I’m not referring to Halloween costumes, but to some cameos I made on the covers of products. Yes, I know, it is hard to believe, but I am a model.

Most recently, my visage appeared on the book cover of Gord Rollo’s and Gene O’Neill’s anthology of urban horror stories, “Mean Streets.” Don’t believe me, well, let’s take a closer look.

Mean Streets cover

I know, I know, it’s all bit dark and shady, but if you look closely — and ignore the silvery eyes — this is really me. My wife, Lieu, designed the cover for the book and we had trouble locating a properly sinister urban gangster. Since we’re not real fans of stock photos either, she asked me to put on a hoodie and pose for her. And that’s what I did. Some light from underneath and a good deal of Photoshop massaging turned the photo into what you see on the final cover.

I had a cover stunt before, back in the year 1999 or so when we were finalizing a computer game called “Planescape: Torment” that I was producing for Interplay at the time. An ad agency had a cover design laid out and we had booked a male model for the cover shoot. About a day before the shoot, news came in that the model had a scheduling conflict and would not make it. While we were sitting around the office and wondered what to do, someone looked at me and said, “Maybe you should be the model.” I thought it was joke at first but everyone in the room looked at me and went, “Yeah, why don’t you?”

Planescape: Torment cover

Well, who am I to say no? So, the next day I went to the photo shoot. The really cool part about it is that we needed a monster-like look on the cover, as the character to be portrayed was undead. The agency had hired Hollywood special effects guru Tom Burman for the job, so I went to his workshop in Burbank. It was bit surreal, to walk into his studio and seeing all the work he had done on all sorts of movies, going way back to the original “Planet of the Apes” movies.

Guido Henkel

The next few hours were a completely new experience for me. Tom applied prosthetic make-up to my face – a process that took about two hours if memory serves me right. Applying layers and strip of latex to my face he slowly transformed me into a demonic-looking creature. Then, to top it off, he hand-painted the entire make-up to give it a realistic look that would hold up under the glaring light of a camera.

The photographer then took a series of shots of my face, trying to capture what we needed for the cover layout and about 45 minutes later it was time to take it all off again.

Guido Henkel

Just on a fun side note, my face was red as a beet and burned for the rest of the day, because of the solvent that was used to remove the appliances. Nonetheless, it was all well worth it, and as you can see in the pictures, it was a lot of fun. A once-in-a-liftetime experience, really, and an incredible honor to meet Tom Burman and actually have him work on me.