General Horse and the Guest Blog of Doom

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people and screenshots depicting a trashy video game.
Ah yes. The revenge of the guest blog.

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people in a place where you would expect pretty drawings of bunnies and hedgehogs. The answer is simple: It’s another guest blog!

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people and screenshots depicting a trashy video game.
Not CGI but real sets!

Hi, I’m Zvonimir and I work with Studio Spektar, an indie game company known for bringing you the true indie experience of games made by just a few people, weird art, inappropriate humor and everything going wrong all the time. Back in 2013, while larping, Sven and I met
Gamechuck’s own Aleksandar and together we started working on Viktor, a Steampunk Adventure.

It was a very silly point and click adventure about an unemployed street sweeper Viktor who decides to become an emperor of Austria-Hungary by overthrowing the current emperor:

https://steamcdn-a.akamaihd.net/steam/apps/550990/header.jpg?t=1569425421
https://store.steampowered.com/app/550990/Viktor_a_Steampunk_Adventure/

After three years of on and off work, we finished the game and launched it onto the unsuspecting public. After seeing the sales figures, Alex went on to found Gamechuck and become filthy rich (I hope), while Sven and I decided to keep making games in our spare
time.

We wanted something simpler. Something where we would have fun making the game and with minimal programming work. So I suggested we build a short ’90s style trashy FMV game, but with a bunch of original concepts and completely improvised acting. After half-listening, Sven took my suggestion with complete enthusiasm, but also a few caveats:

a) he had absolutely no idea what an “FMV” is, but he figured he’ll learn along the way.

b) the game needs to be bigger. Much bigger! Lots of encounters! Lots of planets! And no, it wouldn’t be just the two of us with puppets and silly voices, we are going to recruit a bunch of larpers to improvise with us.

Thus, the adventure began. We bought a large green sheet after realising my blue bed sheet is a bit sheety. We traveled across Croatia, from abandoned communist monuments to my grandma’s backyard.

We used all the costumes, masks, and props we could build, borrow, or dig out of our LARP equipment. We brought friends who were given a nice vacation and/or up-to their weight in alcohol to improvise silly voices, terrible accents, and vague goals that often went in a completely different direction.

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people and screenshots depicting a trashy video game.
These screenshots make you wonder why you’re following Trip the Ark Fantastic at all.

Of course, after a party comes a hangover. It took us literal years to assemble all the material with horrid mistakes, bad focus, wrong sounds, green-screen-unfriendly lighting, and a plethora of other issues. It is now stuck together in surprisingly coherent gameplay.

You may be wondering why you are suddenly surrounded by photos of ugly old people and screenshots depicting a trashy video game.
Green screen magic.

“But what the hell do you do in this game is this even game what is wrong with you”, I hear you ask. It’s a travel game with resource management. Think Oregon Trail, but everything that happens is a live action movie sequence.

You obtain and spend resources like food or fuel by interacting with people who LARP at the camera. Your choices decide how much you get or lose. There are many more random encounters than you can see in one or two playthroughs, so every new game is a different adventure.

And the audience? As is normal with this kind of game, the audience is small but dedicated. But it seems that people on Twitch love it.

There’s just something about a trash film full of improvised acting with russian-like accents that turns every streamer into a member of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Apparently, we unknowingly made a great party game to play in a room with friends.

If you have or are planning to have a trash movie party, I definitely recommend you bring this new piece of modern history.

Here’s the link again, have fun with this GOTY title:

https://store.steampowered.com/app/813480/General_Horse_and_the_Package_of_Doom/

Ark Fantastic stories: Legion of the bloodthirsty undead

Ark Fantastic stories: Legion of the bloodthirsty undead

Unlike in some other RPG titles, you should not believe just everything you read, and not everything is a part of the game lore. Or is it? As a reputable scholar, Charles will often be in a position to debunk such stories, or, better yet, use his scholarly reputation to prove them true!

In this Ark Lore, we bring another tale from the Animal Kingdom, written in the form of a diary by an unknown hero, who fought a legion of the Undead.

Author’s remark: The images seen in this blog may not be related to the characters or the places of the story.

“How I defeated the Scourge of Blavgoz and his legion of bloodthirsty undead” – A true story

Dear reader, How I would love to tell you of my successful infiltration into the wolf’s den! 

Infiltrating the lair of the villainous monstrosity has become quite easy after using my superior intellect.  Letting the poor townspeople deliver me in an empty casket of wine, as an offer to the wolf, was really an ingenious plan!

"How I defeated the Scourge of Blavgoz and his legion of bloodthirsty undead" - A true story
The hero is unknown, but his diary has been preserved. Legends about his adventures are still alive among the town folk who occasionally talk about the grim past of the Kingdom. But, they are just legends, after all.

But now came the more difficult part of my quest: finding and destroying the ritual foci so that these bloodthirsty undead might finally be put to rest.

Unfortunately, I found myself in quite an ordeal: They had delivered the barrel right in the midst of their living quarters and from the sounds permeating the thick oaken barrel, I could hear their vile gurgles and cries, as well as smell the thick rancid stench coming from the decomposing bodies of the undead soldiers.

The only thing that stopped them from breaching the barrel this instant was a speech from their master, the dretched scourge of Blavgoz himself! 

"How I defeated the Scourge of Blavgoz and his legion of bloodthirsty undead" - A true story
The legend says, some herbs can protect from the “blood-suckers”. Garlic is the best, apparently.

I was sure that I could take out a dozen or so of these creatures with my martial prowess alone. (My rapier was left behind in Blavgoz as the still wine-coated inside of the barrel would taint the fine steel of the blade, a risk I was not willing to take.)

There were, going from the sounds, hundreds of those creatures just waiting for their master’s speech to finish! Even my formidable abilities would be tested to their utmost limits when faced with a horde of that magnitude! 

And suddenly, in a flash of insight, I connected every puzzle piece and clearly understood what I had to do. From my satchel, I took the wooden doll I had found by the roadside. This, dear reader, was the doll that started this entire adventure, the doll of which I had traced the origin the entire way to the downtrodden village of Blavgoz.

"How I defeated the Scourge of Blavgoz and his legion of bloodthirsty undead" - A true story
An ominous-looking gate.

All the while under the impression that I had to find the poor little girl to whom it belonged.  Nothing could be more false… I actually had the ritual totem on me all the time and I didn’t even realize it! 

I took another look at the doll and clearly saw the vile miasma surrounding it, why hadn’t I seen this before? I made my decision and snapped the doll to pieces in a single, fluid motion.

Suddenly I heard bodies collapsing on the ground, at least a hundred of these bound creatures were finally free from their wretched curse. The wolf almost choked in the middle of one of his sentences and it became quiet…. Very quiet…

"How I defeated the Scourge of Blavgoz and his legion of bloodthirsty undead" - A true story
If you want to hear some scary stories from the legends of the Kingdom, camping is the best activity for that.

“Well”, I thought, “Time for some fine ass-whooping!” as I burst from my barrel in a cloud of oaken shards and metal fringes. And let out one of my world-famous battle cries. Before beating the ever-living snot out of the still bedazzled scourge of Blavgoz.

Enjoyed this tale? Let us know what you thought on our Facebook, Twitter, Discord, or on the blog itself, just below in the comments!

Guest blog: Support Saint Kotar on Kickstarter!

Guest blog: Support Saint Kotar on Kickstarter!

Hello, mighty community of Trip the Ark Fantastic! You really are something special, you are following a fantastic project!

I’m Marko, the CEO of Red Martyr Entertainment. Just like Gamechuck, we are also from Croatia. Although, we are on the coastline, in Pula, and the guys and girls from Gamechuck couldn’t be more jealous of us. They just don’t want to admit it.

I’m also the game director, writer and narrative designer of Saint Kotar, a psychological horror point & click adventure.

Saint Kotar latest trailer

Not to worry, the focus is on the psychological side, not the horror side, and the story actually has many other genres as well: detective, mystery, crime and drama.

The interesting thing about Saint Kotar is that its story takes place in Gorski kotar, a mountain region of Croatia. A beautiful and mysterious region and a perfect setting for our game which recounts a tale plagued by macabre murders and strange phenomena, allegedly related to devil worship and witchcraft.

Saint Kotar screenshot

Image 1 of 5

What’s also interesting is that the Saint Kotar’s prologue was released a week ago. It is completely free, offers 2 to 3 hours of gameplay time, it is fully voiced and localized into multiple languages. Players are giving very positive review ratings on Steam!

And here comes the sad truth: Red Martyr Entertainment needs more funds to develop the rest of the full game Saint Kotar.

Saint Kotar screenshot

Image 1 of 5

We turned to Kickstarter for that matter, and the campaign was launched on the same day of the prologue’s release. Right now the project is 33% funded, with over 400 backers, but we need more people to come aboard and get the word out. Consider backing us:

Also, don’t forget to continue following this great devblog! The Gamechuck team is doing a great job and they deserve to be supported as well.

Stay safe!

Mr. Moles and the Hollow Prospect

Mr. Moles and the Hollow Prospect

As with many role-playing games out there, Trip the Ark Fantastic has its fair share of tales and stories that complement the game lore.

During Charles’ adventure, the player has to do research to find the location of the Ark as well as to discover the truth behind other mysteries. Charles will stumble upon both research books and lore books. Lore books are not necessary for research purposes but are nuggets of information for the player to enjoy and get a sense of the world that Charles is living in. This is one of those stories.

This lore book was written by our programmer Piet Bronders, and he hopes you enjoy it.

Continue reading “Mr. Moles and the Hollow Prospect”

Another week, another (humble) bundle!

Another week, another (humble) bundle!

Following a gargantuan charity bundle organized by Itch.io which raised over $8 million USD, we are giving a big shout-out to another fantastic bundle that we are part of, created by Humble. For a price of $28 USD (or more), you get $1,243 worth of awesome stuff.

Gamechuck is participating with All You Can Eat, an interactive comic where you take a role of a “hero” so lazy he decided to quit his job and just spend his life inside an All-you-can-eat diner – which is closing down.

Will our hero finally settle down and find a regular job? Of course not. His life mission is to save the diner!

There are several great story-driven games that can be found in the bundle, and one of them definitely is 11 Bit Studios’, This War of Mine.

In this side-scrolling game, civilians are trying to survive in a besieged city (inspired by the dreadful events in Sarajevo during the ’90s); struggling with lack of food, medicine, and constant danger from snipers and hostile scavengers. The game provides an experience of war seen from an entirely new angle, and the player will have to make life-and-death decisions.

Moving on from those grim realities that happened in our past, to a messed-up underwater metropolis. If you haven’t, Bioshock (remastered) is a game you definitely should play.

The atmosphere, the characters, the enemies, the Big Daddies, and Little Sisters. Also, there’s a lot of hacking (plumbing). Seriously, though, you should play it.

Similarly, the bundle offers System Shock: Enhanced Edition and System Shock 2.

If you’re more into adventures, Humble is offering Broken Age, a family friendly, hand-animated, puzzle-filled adventure game with an all-star cast, including Elijah Wood, Jack Black and Masasa Moyo.

The two protagonists are two teenagers in strangely similar situations, but radically different worlds. The player can freely switch between their stories, helping them take control of their own lives, and dealing with the unexpected adventures that follow.

In the vein of All You Can Eat, Framed Collection is a series of visual puzzles, requiring logic and imagination, where each panel move changes the current narrative, leading to all kinds of comedic blunders, untimely deaths—and when solved correctly—stylish heists, fast getaways and nail-biting escapades.

There are a bunch of other great games to be found in this Humble bundle. Make sure to check it out!

The Mysteries of the Southern Continent

Ante scriptum – this week’s lore post is about the various mysteries that Charles will encounter (and hopefully solve) in the southern continent of the Animal Kingdom while searching for the origins of the Ark Fantastic (this being the second act of the game). Since we don’t have many art assets for the southern continent yet, this blogpost will be filled with pictures of the step-by-step artwork process for our first artwork ever – the three protagonists exploring the southern jungles. This artwork was done way back in 2018 when we still had many different ideas on what exactly we want out of the game, and served as one of only a few mock-up pieces we sent to our Creative Europe application in 2019. In a way, the pictures tell their own, separate narrative from the text, and hopefully, both are equally interesting.

The Mysteries of the Southern Continent

Traversing the southern jungles – sketches

For as long as collective memory serves, the Kingdom has been a large landmass, surrounded by sea on all sides. This is the continent we now call Kingdom Proper. However, a new southern continent was found during the recent times of King Michaël.

Traversing the southern jungles – final sketches

This caused major ontological and cosmological troubles for the scholars of the Kingdom – how to fit this new continent into the world we thought was just a single landmass surrounded by sea and nothing else? Many hermeneutical ideas about the Ark myth had to be done away with, and many more had to be re-framed to fit newfound truths – such as the existence of monkeys, crocodiles and various birds found on the southern continent, all of which bear no mention in the Ark myth. At least not in its modern form.

Traversing the southern jungles – background line-art

The Sentient Water?

While technically a part of the Kingdom in its entirety, the Colonial Continent is very different from the Kingdom Proper. The flora and fauna are very different, and even the land behaves strangely – whenever Vincent’s expeditions tried to set a foothold deeper in the continent, rivers would dry out, like they had a mind of their own, and new ones would spring from dry beds… There have been many old-wives tales and folklore pertaining to ghosts and river spirits, all scorned by serious scholars of course, but unfortunately no scientific explanation has yet to be found for this erratic and the seemingly “intelligent” and maybe even “mischievous” behaviour of the southern waters.

Traversing the southern jungles – character line-art

The Valley of Gilliam

While the river mystery has puzzled the scholars for centuries, but it is not the most interesting one, by far. No, the most alluring mystery of the colony is the myth of the “Valley of Gilliam”.

The Gilliam mountains in the deeper reaches of the continent are where many monkeys dwell in huts and villages, but there has often been talk of a secret valley hidden in the mountains, that holds the City of Gold, a city built by monkeys and hidden from the colony. Explorers have devoted their entire lives to the scouring of the mountains in an attempt to find anything of the sort, to much derisive laughter of the local monkeys, but to no avail.

Traversing the southern jungles – color compositions

Where the Money Trees Grow

The biggest mystery in relation to the Ark myth and the history of the Kingdom is the Money Forest in the newfound continent. While the Money Trees (the trees that grow the leaves used for commerce in the Kingdom) are grown only in the royal capital, and the secret to their cultivation and growth is heavily guarded, it appears that in the colony there is a forest where these trees grow completely naturally without any need for cultivation. Indeed, it would seem the colony is their domicile, and they were imported in the Kingdom Proper across the sea many years ago.

Traversing the southern jungles – background render

This strange discovery has changed the idea about the Kingdom – the dominant school of thought is that after the flood, the Kingdom ruled over both continents across the sea – the north as well as the south? And, as the theory goes, at some point, there was a dark age and the southern continent was cut off from the Kingdom, and all knowledge of the south was forgotten. When did this happen, and how, is still a hotly debated topic in arkology.

Traversing the southern jungles – final render.

Solutions? Soon…

In any case, these mysteries, and many more, are what awaits Charles as he ventures to the colony in search for the elusive Ark.

Traversing the southern jungles – alternative take.

While you wait for the game to be finished so you yourself can find out the answers to many of these mysteries, if you’d care to know more about the world of the Animal Kingdom, be sure to follow us on Facebook or Twitter or even talk to us developers via our official Discord.

Itch.io Bundle shoutout!

Today, we wanna give a shout-out to the Itch.io huge 1400+ games bundle (including Gamechucks own debut All You Can Eat) for only 5$. If you already played it (and its free spiritual sequel vApe Escape), don’t worry, the bundle has you covered with many great story-driven titles such as:

Night in the Woods – a story-driven adventure about returning to a small town you grew up in… If you are following Trip the Ark Fantastic because you like animals walking around in a side-scrolling manner and having meaningful dialogues, this is gonna be right up your alley!

Night in the Woods - Wikipedia

Oxenfree – another side-scrolling adventure about a group of teens unravelling a mystery while vacationing on an island. Short but with many endings and some cool replay value, not to mention several innovative game mechanics like using a radio and interrupting other peoples dialogues.

OXENFREE: LAUNCH TRAILER - YouTube

They also added Celeste, another story-driven side-scroller but unlike the previous two titles this one actually is a platformer and requires some platforming skills, but since we’re no strangers to difficult action games, we love it anyway!

Celeste on Steam

Then there’s “Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger And The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist” – if it’s not already obvious from the title (why wouldn’t it be?), this game is a spiritual sequel to the Stanley Parable and offers a short but great (bizarre) story-driven experience.

Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A ...

Apart from these heavy-hitters, there’s also a ton of other stuff, like for example a cute pen-and-paper roleplaying game with mice called Mouseritter. Maybe we’ll try out some internal Trip the Ark Fantastic PnP roleplaying in this system at some point, who knows!

Anyway, all that and over a thousand more titles, just for 5$, which go to charity anyway? A great bargain, we’d say!

By the way, if you want to discuss cool games we like, be sure to join our Discord! We’re all there and love talking to fellow story-driven-gamer folks!

A Charming Conversation With Charles on the Topic of Charity!

A Charming Conversation With Charles on the Topic of Charity!

This will be a short entry to read, but might provide you with a lot of replay value!

We already talked about our dialogue system, more than once, and for this weeks lore blog, we decided to give you a glimpse of how the conversation works with actual in-game dialogue. It’s from almost the very beginning of the game, so don’t worry about spoilers.

As you might know, we’re using ink, the open source format for writing non-linear stories. So far we’ve written tens of thousands of words of dialogue, not to mention many times that amount in lore discussions and so on… Just the blog-posts alone count over a hundred thousand words already. We’re prolific that way, but is there quality behind the quantity? We’ll let you decide for yourself today!

We’ve compiled a short conversation excerpt from the Burrows (the mining city where Charles also has his lab), and it’s really all a tangential discussion on the role of charity in society. It gets triggered when you ask the miners (Inigo, Crabbe, and Rowan) to answer some questions about the outbreak of a strange new disease, but they would much rather you didn’t investigate out of the goodness of your heart.

A Charming Conversation With Charles on the Topic of Charity!

The dialogue should give you insight in the problems ailing the Kingdom and the solutions that are slowly arising. The main characters:

A Charming Conversation With Charles on the Topic of Charity!

Rowan – a young miner, a revolutionary at heart, spreading dissent and enticing his fellow miners to strike. He’s using the outbreak to try and stir up a strike and change the working conditions in the Burrows for the better.


A Charming Conversation With Charles on the Topic of Charity!

Inigo – an older miner who’s gotten over the disease and whose insight you really need to help the doc solve the outbreak. He’s bitter over what happened to his friend Paul (a miner who also got the disease but didn’t quite make it), and is helping Rowan strike against the management of the mining company to get them to do something about the outbreak.


A Charming Conversation With Charles on the Topic of Charity!

Crabbe – a tough cookie, a bit slow but well-meaning at heart, and although he doesn’t get most of the stuff Rowan says, he believes Rowans union is in his best interest, and that of the other workers too (incidentally, some of us think so too)


A Charming Conversation With Charles on the Topic of Charity!

And finally – Charles – our protagonist – a hedgehog scholar summoned by the King for an unknown but urgent reason, now sadly stuck in the Burrows due to the mine-shaft elevator being broken down and the main engineer being in a coma induced by an outbreak of an unknown disease.


Find out why the rabbit miners don’t want you to help out for free, and see how you can convince them to share their insights anyway in this short exchange. Feel free to replay as many times as you like for various conversations, by using Quill, the online ink compiler:

Once you’re done, we’d be happy to catch your thoughts and get feedback on any of our standard channels – Discord, Facebook, Twitter or even right below this very article.

The Three Game Factions – Explained

The Three Game Factions – Explained

In the past few months we’ve endeavoured to explain the basics of the political and social intricacies of the Animal Kingdom in 1848.

You can read about the principal actors – Coriolanus representing the revolutionaries, King Lav representing the monarchy, and Duke Nicolas representing the reformists. But what are the real differences between all these eagles and tigers and lions, if any?

Well, our ambition was to write these factions as equally appealing and for the player to have real difficulty deciding which faction to side with, not going the easy route by giving each leader certain flaws so the choice is between varying shades of dark-grey (like in so many games today), but for them to be paragons of real underlying ideological issues they present. We wanted their worldviews to give you real pause about their world and by extension ours.

The Three Game Factions in Trip the Ark Fantastic
Charles receiving a letter from the King Lav.

In essence, the main question that divides these factions is their view of the concentration of power – should concentrated power be checked (and if yes – who watches the watchers?), or on the flipside – should concentration of power be done away with completely?

To find relevancy, one might liken the royalists’ worldview to the modern managed democracy of many technocratic governments, the reformists to the worldview of representative democracies seen in the liberal west, and the revolutionaries worldview as the equivalent of direct-democracy.

They will all be presented to the best of our ability, and as this is a difficult task, we’ve decided not to dive into any of their arguments today (however we have been known to discuss this on our Discord). We will leave the bulk of this for the players and the game, but today we will just “lay out the battlefield”, and let your imagination take over, after reading the three “manifests” of these factions.

ROYALISTS: MONARCHY – The current world

The Three Game Factions in Trip the Ark Fantastic

First, there is the monarchy – the rule of Lions, and the land-owning right of the stewards and nobles of the Kingdom. The world is an unbroken constant – unfaltering like the line of kings from the time of the Ark to modernity.

The debate over nature versus nurture finds no quarter with these sovereigns – they are both born and bred for leadership. A kingdom that would tie the hands of these titans away from the absolute rule would be a kingdom that is more foolish than cautious. The petty motivations of lesser castes – wealth or food or pride – these are all given to lions at birth, and their only focus – the big picture and the wheels of history – that is what every lion thinks of.

And that is why the monarchy has prospered so well in the millennia of earth. A different system has never existed nor has it ever been tried. This is how loyalists view the monarchy and its feudal rules – dictated by tradition, and just and true by its very definition.

REFORMISTS: DEMOCRACY – The emerging world

The Three Game Factions in Trip the Ark Fantastic

Opposing the loyalist view, one can hear the whisper of reform creaking through the halls and balls of high society. The world is not constant, nor is it the recurring pattern of the ebb and flow following the great flood.

Where once were fields, now stand the mines of industry, and where once was an infinite and impenetrable sea, now is a route of trade and possibility. It stands to reason that the roles within such a society must change as well, with the changing times, and with the changing names. The responsibility of rule is not something one should be born with, it is a reward to be earned – and re-earned: the steward who ruins the mill he runs should not be left in charge of it, nor should a ruler disliked by his subjects be left on the throne unchecked.

The captain of industry who captains no more should be allowed to fall, so that a better may take his place, and the same goes for Kings as well – for the good of the realm. These are the whispers of democracy and these whispers, coming from the Tiger Duke and his allies, are slowly getting louder, and more appealing.

REVOLUTIONARIES: ANARCHY – The unknown world

But across the sea, in the colony prison, the rocks are beaten into pebbles, and pebbles into the sand, and sand is thrown back into the sea. The meaninglessness of society starts to sink in after a few decades of such work, as these people have seen the backside of wealth and power, and know it exists.

For whoever wields some power or wealth, and tastes the sweet fruits of their use over others, only desires more power and a larger divide, so wherever there is affluence, there must also be poverty, and wherever there is the powerful, there must also be the rejected. A just society cannot abide by such contradictions, and therefore – they must be done away with.

The only truly just world would be a world – without power. A world where the structures of power – the thrones and bureaus and offices and prisons – are done away with, completely. In this reasoning, the prisoners, dissidents, rejects, and criminals have found a common cause with the beggars, the farmers, the miners, and slaves. These are the ramblings of anarchy, as it slowly stirs and wakes all over the Kingdom.

Which one do you choose?

So, which one of these factions suits your play style the best? Let us know in the comments below, or poke us on Facebook, Twitter and Discord!