I’m a recent convert to the indie side of videogames. Quality titles like Minecraft, Bastion, and Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery have made me a firm believer in the ability of small, independent studios to create fun—even sublime—gaming experiences that can rival industry powerhouses like EA. And from what I see so far, Castle Story from Sauropod looks to be another milestone title in the making.

An RTS Unlike Any Other

Castle Story bills itself as a “voxel-based creative strategy game”, or as I like to call it, Minecraft: The RTS (and if that doesn’t get you salivating, then you haven’t played Minecraft yet).

In

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Castle Story, you control a race of plump, yellow-skinned characters called “Bricktrons”. You order them around to gather resources and build your base as you normally would in a traditional real-time strategy game, but instead of dropping buildings down on the landscape, you have to have the Bricktrons build it from scratch, brick by brick. This gives players a lot of creative freedom with

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the layout, and you’re only limited by the games’ physics rules and your imagination.

Wait, Physics?

Yes, physics! Although it’s not a new feature in and of itself (in-game physics have long been a standard part of any game, whether it’s FPS, racing sim, or MMO), Castle Story makes unique use of its physics engine by applying rules to how you build your castle. Different building materials have different values for strength, weight, and flexibility, which affects how they can be used and how the environment affects them. Wooden planks, for example, can support objects such as chests and Bricktrons, but will collapse under anything heavier. Wooden beams can be used to support stone floors and planks, but

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can’t be made too long, otherwise they would collapse as well. This physics engine also lets things go kablooey in a realistic (ish) and pleasing fashion.

Castle Story also seems to use the law of conservation of mass, which is something it shares with Minecraft. This means that all matter in the game is (sort of) constant. Unlike other RTS games where harvester units gather an arbitrary number of resources from a “mine” building, harvesters in Castle Story gather resources from the landscape itself. If you build a castle wall, for example, that nearby mountain you’re harvesting from is going to be a lot shorter when you’re done.

The game’s video trailer revealed the presence of a dark enemy called “Corruptrons”—of course! What kind of strategy game would it be

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without someone to fight? The Bricktrons aren’t defenseless, though. They’ve got swords, bows, and even catapults at the ready to fight off the monstrous hordes.

Who Are These Masked Devs?

Sauropod Studio is made up of three people so far: the brothers Francois and Benoit Alain, and Germain Couet. All three hail from Montreal, Quebec (that’s in Canada), which is a major hub for gaming developers right now,

both indie and mainstream. Germain and Francois first started working on the game in 2009, when they were graduating from the video game design classes (a course I wish they’d had when I was still in school). Inspired by a colleague and the success of his game, they took the plunge and started to build their own.

A year later, they showed a moderately presentable build of their game at the Mount Royal Game Society, which got positive feedback and a small following. Thus encouraged the pair kept on coding, unaware that a friend of theirs posted a video of the game on Reddit, causing the Internet to explode and an avalanche of emails to flood the inboxes of Sauropod offering support and encouragement.

Sauropod wanted to ride this wave of support, but there weren’t enough funds. Only one of them

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had a job, and they’d been working on this for too long already. So they turned to the community for help.

A Big Kick in the Pants

At the time of their Kickstarter campaign, the game was still in the very early stages of development (not even an alpha). But Castle Story showed so much promise that Sauropod reached their $80,000 goal in 5 hours, and ended the campaign with over $700,000!

Thanks to the efforts of the community, Germain, Benoit and Francois can now work on the game full-time. While we won’t be able to see their results for quite a while, feel free to check back here for the latest news, information, and discussions about the game.

Please feel free to comment and tell us what you think of Castle Story and what you’re hoping to see in the final build!

 

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