Dark or Light

The VIP RPG Newsletter, Issue #1

Cody Bye Posted:
Columns 0

Introductions to a new series of articles are always awkward. It’s like a first date, lots of posturing, smiling and making a good impression. Let’s get it out of the way and head straight to the good stuff.

My name’s Cody Micajah Bye (@codybye) and I’ve been a member here at MMORPG.com as “Micajah” for 12 years, although I’ve been a rare contributor - time to fix that! Many, many years ago Garrett, Bill and myself all spent some of our formative industry years at Ten Ton Hammer together, and I’m happy to call them friends. After that I ran ZAM Network the owners and operaters of Wowhead, Torhead, MMOUI, and LolKing before resigning and going solo. Now I’m one of the founders of Victoria Publishing, a recently formed organization that’s out to help independent developers be successful in the gaming market.

That’s where we get the title of this column “The Victoria Indie Publishing RPG Newsletter” or VIP RPG Newsletter. In it I’ll be covering two or three indie RPGs or RPG-lites each article, either calling out some recent announcements they made or giving introductions if they’re brand new on my radar. All games will be either unreleased or very freshly launched in Early Access, so most folks should find at least a small amount of new information each issue. Unlike the RPG Files, these aren't deep dives into games,

For full disclosure, some of these indie RPGs will have agreements with Victoria Publishing to help them with various parts of their game, and we’ll make sure to indicate which games we have associations with when it comes up. However, none of our games have had any major updates so you get a selection of the excellent games we’ve been seeing over the last few weeks!

Death Trash

I may have a love affair with Death Trash. One of the first games I glimpsed while falling down the indie game rabbit hole, Death Trash’s unique visual style and unabashedly grotesque content provide a compelling hook for anyone looking to follow an indie game RPG. Rather than settling for typical cyberpunk, fantasy, or grimdark tropes, Stephan Hövelbrinks (@talecrafter) has created a world that is clearly coming apart at the seams, with Cthulu-esque monsters sprouting from the barren wasteland like pulsating, sentient trees.

So far we know fairly little about the story beyond the fact that there’s been a galactic war that screwed up life on a planet that the main character currently calls home. Wastelands dominate the horizon, but the “Ancients” have also been freed, leading to lots of throbbing imagery. The action appears almost “twin-stick” while you're in combat - you’re fluidly running around trying your best to avoid being shot but also to land a few blows on your opponents. There’s no turn-based mechanics to be seen, so be prepared to have a bit of frantic action every now and then.


However, it does appear that you can likely play a majority of the story as a sneaky-type or even as a talker, avoiding conflict when your life might be in danger. It’s all fairly hush-hush at this point, but we do know that Stephan is trying to hit that core RPG playstyle, so it’s a fair assumption that these things are possible. There are also items and modifications you can make to your character, but Stephan is being fairly quiet about specifics and hasn’t showcased a whole lot of different gear or customized appearances.

Speaking of which, the story in the game seems incredibly in-depth, with the various GIFs Stephan has posted reflecting multiple different decision points by the main character as he tries his/her best to navigate an intensely destructive world. One of the core tenets of Stephan’s work is a focus on freedom - both in player time and exploration - that has me hoping we might see Death Trash become a beloved IP in the same vein as the early Fallouts. Check it out, and if you reach out to Stephan let him know I’d love to help with his game.


Unlike Death Trash, Warbanners is a more recent find, hitting my radar this week. At first peek, there’s a pretty stark visual difference between Warbanners and Death Trash; Warbanners is obviously in a more unfinished state and will require a bit more development time to finalize the aesthetics and mechanics. However, this newsletter is more concerned with potential and exemplifying creative ideas and efforts than laying judgement, and that’s where Warbanners shines.

Oriented around tactical battles, Warbanners features a number of elements that make it stand out; from knocking down trees onto your enemies to lighting them on fire with flaming oil to gaining bonus advantage against creatures that don’t see well in the light. There’s all sorts of environmental interactions that are peppered through the small amount of material we’ve seen, and it’ll be interesting to see how the lead developer, Vlad Konung (@vlad_konung) impelements these in the later game.


The RPG elements of Warbanners come in the form of the units you’re controlling. Although Vlad hasn’t discussed it in depth yet, each of the primary units have stats, and many are named implying that those units may level up throughout the progress of the game. Based out of Russia, it remains to be seen what sort of story Vlad is concocting to put in front of fans, but after already displaying dwarves, orcs and other high fantasy type critters, we anticipate a full blown fantasy romp.   

All these features and aesthetics remind me of a late 80s - early 90s series of games known as Warlords; they share the same top down aesthetic and tactical battle focus. While many of Warlords gaming peers - Might and Magic, Warcraft, and many others - transitioned into modern gaming, Warlords somehow missed the boat, and it’s interesting to see an indie successor rising up to retake that style of gameplay.

Preview of Next Week!

There are dozens - if not hundreds - of indie games in various stages of development, and more of them continue to pop up every day. Even writing this article, I didn’t have to look far to find interesting and unique titles to bring into the public light.

For next week, I’ll be talking over two games, Dwarf Heroes and the epic-yet-adorable action RPG, Cat Quest. Both have unique stories, and I’ll see if I can get some interesting tidbits from the developers themselves to include.

Additionally, I’d like to query the community - what indie RPGs have you played (if any) and what was your experience? If you haven’t played any, why not? What do you expect from your RPGs? The informal results will be discussed next week!

Finally, if you know of any indie RPGs or RPG-lites that need to be featured in this newsletter or need the help of Victoria Publishing, let me know. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (and everyone I’ve linked for that matter) and click here if you want this newsletter sent directly to your inbox.

Again a huge thank you to the guys and gals at MMORPG.com for hosting this, and I look forward to writing again next week!

Cody “Micajah” Bye

Co-Founder, Victoria Publishing


Cody Bye