Frogdice is, in many ways, the Little Engine That Could. It's a company that has set a standard for itself and has maintained that standard by successfully funding and delivering two previous titles. Not ready to hang it up and revel in that astonishing record, Frogdice is attempting a trifecta of games with its newest Kickstarter project to fun Stash, a turn-based RPG that seeks to bring some of the best features from RPGs of yore to the modern generation.
But Stash isn't content to rest on the laurels of yesterday's success, but is, instead, combining those features with some of the modern era's best as well. Stash will be, in many ways, all things to all people who have a love of RPGs and is also a game that is trying to wrangle MMO players into the fold as well.
From the Stash Kickstarter page:
- Delivered on time!
- Were loved by our backers and players.
- Delivered more than we promised in the campaign.
Our massive experience and track record for success are excellent reasons to have total confidence in our ability to deliver this game.
You will play Stash, and we hope you will love it!
It's difficult to argue with a track record like that, so much so that we reached out to Frogdice's Michael Hartman to find out a bit more about Stash.
During the course of conversation, Hartman mentioned that Stash rises and falls on two main pillars: Turn-based combat and Housing. While generally part of any game's development, Stash's entire core is based on simply two, with all other features and components growing organically from them.
Players begin the game with a robust character creation experience that, in many ways, ties into the notion of housing. Frogdice wants players to be able to take the same high level of character creation that most have come to expect from today's games and bring it to housing within Stash.
Housing is much more than simply a gathering spot or somewhere to stash the pretty things picked up along one's journey. It is an interactive experience that allows players to quite literally own a piece of the world.
Homes begin with a modest plot and a small domicile. That doesn't, however, have to last for long as players can find and send things back to make improvements on their homes, including growing them into massive castles over time.
Housing also affords players a chance to display pets and mounts in interesting ways. Players can interact with both by playing with, bathing, or feeding them though it is not required. If a day is missed in the feeding department, players won't return to their home to find everyone starved to death. It's purely for entertainment value and a type of mini-game purely for the sake of fun.
Crafting is also tied to housing in that players can build stations to create things though cooking, metalworking and other typical options. In addition, world events and contests are crafting-based with players having a certain amount of time to create a masterpiece for submission and consideration for 'the win'.
If that wasn't enough to make home owners swoon with delight, clans are also able to take advantage of housing features and can create massive compounds with all of the same components and with the ability to participate in contests as a group rather than individually.
Decorations, both earned and found, can be used to populate rooms. Materials can be found or purchased within the game and sent back to expand one's place in the world, a fact, according to Hartman, that is central to the entire game: Owning a part of the world.
But ownership doesn't simply stop with housing. During adventuring across the tile-based map, players will encounter towns, or more accurately, outposts, that can be taken over from the default NPCs. Once secured, players or clans can set the rules for NPCs including sell prices, hours of operation, services offered, transportation options and more. Funds can be earned by players or clans when others venture into the outpost to sell "junk", the economy's fuel. The more junk sold in an outpost, the more currency is earned by the owner(s). Fair pricing will keep players coming back and activates the idea that people can vote with their wallets.
Lastly, the expansive housing and outpost options allow players to engage in meaningful and fun social interaction with one another. They offer inherent roleplay opportunities for those who wish to participate.
The second pillar on which Stash stands is that of turn-based combat. Frogdice chose to make Stash accessible to all and easy on player rigs by utilizing turn-based combat. Doing so slows combat to give players a chance to consider options and lag is kept to a minimum.
One of the most interesting things about the combat system, however, is the dueling and PvP features. Players and groups can challenge one another and a "snapshot" of the parties is made. The mirrored images take part in the PvP battle or duel while the 'real world' character can continue adventuring in the world. Also of note is the fact that players consenting to PvP can set the rules for the battle, most interestingly, its duration. Hartman likened it to email battles of yesterday and said that this type of engagement is only possible due to the game's turn-based system.
Players adventure across Stash's game world via a tiled map that allows for faster travel. Frogdice is committed to maximizing player's time in game and find that long travel times are counter-intuitive to that goal. Allowing players to get where they want to go in an expeditious manner is a good thing, according to Hartman.
The map also contains "points of interest" that players can choose to explore, each one taking them to what is in effect an instanced area that might contain a dungeon or a cave or some other way for players to engage in combat opportunities with the denizens of the game world.
Stash is and, according to Hartman, will remain free to play with an option for purchasing convenience items from the in-game shop. Players are reminded, however, that all things in the shop are obtainable through the game as well, though it might take time to obtain. There are KickStarter packs available that give players in-game items including potions, armor dyes and more but, again, none are required to play the game successfully and are for the player's convenience only.
The bottom line is that Frogdice has a proven track record of not only funding games, but delivering those games on time. Fans of traditional RPGs with a generous helping of MMO features will definitely want to check out the Stash Kickstarter.
Will you be backing Stash? What do you thin of its unique approach to the genre? Let us know in the comments!