Making a new, but Old School RPG

Brenda Brathwaite and Tom Hall of Loot Drop believe that people are ready for more of the old, not the new. They might be right. Their Kickstarter originally started out as simply “Old School RPG”, but has quickly evolved to include many more details and a proper name under Shaker. Its a project that deserves a little attention both for its original story setting as well as its veteran creator cred. We’re going to take a deep look at everything this project is about and try to make sense of it all as you may be about as overwhelmed as I was at first. These Kickstarter projects are definitely beginning to get a little hard to digest!

Shaker looks like it will indeed be old school in gameplay, employing turn-based combat, but with a first-person perspective. I couldn’t help but think of this year’s outstanding indie game Legend of Grimrock, though I know the two games will probably differ greatly in their end-user experience. What Grimrock showed us is that you can pull old school gameplay from classic RPGs and throw new graphics on top to make an experience that feels very fresh. So far Shaker looks like it might be yet another game to try this motif. I can say that the gameplay isn’t too well detailed at this point, but it looks like it will also include party-building, with up to 6 characters at once (that’s going to be tough to wrap my head around!). Free-roam is available, but encountering a set of enemies means you’ll get put straight into turn-based combat.

Interestingly, the story of the game is probably what has grabbed me the most on this project. Shaker will take place in a distant future where the Shaker corporation has invented a machine that can see 100 years into the future and as far back into the past as humanity can remember. Discovering one day that 100 years into the future the world will cease to exist, our protagonist, James Connelly, must assemble a team and travel into the medieval past to unravel and save the future. A clever twist on the cyberpunk genre that Shadowrun is known for, I think Shaker has quite a bit of world building to accomplish and play with.

I’m always interested in what sort of special swag I might be able to acquire by pledging more and Shaker doesn’t disappoint. I’m definitely eyeing a potential boxed copy of the game as I love to display this stuff around my room. But one of the most eyebrow-raising tiers comes at $60, where these old school RPG creators will be going really old school and deliver a pen-and-paper version of the game to play table-side. Of course, its a digital version and would require some printing, but I still love the gesture. I’m not too sure on the viability of this at the moment, but if the drive can hit $1.9 million Loot Drop promises to release a sequel later down the road free of charge to backers.

Lastly what about the creators themselves? Honestly I believe street cred is what gets you the big bucks on Kickstarter, be it Tim Schafer or Brian Fargo, we like to know who we’re dealing with when we hand our money over right? Well the designers here are definitely no strangers to the industry. Brenda Brathwaite is probably best known for the 80’s RPG series Wizardry. She’s also been seen as one of the most influential women in the industry. Tom Hall is the other big name on the design team having classics such as Commander Keen, Wolfenstein 3D and Doom to his name.

Although the Kickstarter project glosses over it pretty conveniently, probably the biggest name attached to Loot Drop is John “Suck It Down” Romero. Best remembered as a key figure at id Software, Romero later went on to form the now-defunct Ion Storm and publish the widely-pandered flop Daikatana. I bring this all up with nostalgic love though, as its all ancient history at this point. There’s no doubt that Romero has the talent and connections to bring together a winning team and that’s why its pretty exciting to see his name attached to the project.

So with all of that what do you think? Does Shaker have the makings of another successful “bring it back” Kickstarter title? If 2012 has told us anything, I think its that the old school rule the Kickstater world. But in any case, they are still a long ways away from their asking price of $1 million. Currently Shaker sits at just over $200k  with 23 days to go.


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About Ryan Saul

Hailing from Portland, OR I work by day and blog by night. I like to consider myself a video game connoisseur, playing as many new things as I can get my hands on. Its hard to hold me down to one game for very long before I move on to the next big thing. Luckily, that works pretty well in terms of video game blogging.

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