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Bedlam: It's Like Chess with Nukes!

Interviews By William Murphy on October 20, 2014

Bedlam: It's Like Chess with Nukes! For those who are just learning about BEDLAM, can you give our readers an overview of the game?

Jeff: In BEDLAM, the player takes on the role of The Mechanic and is tasked with transporting passengers across a deadly wasteland in a mobile fortress, protected by a diverse crew of Humans, Cyborgs, Mutants, and A.I. Robots.

Sam: I recently described the game as “the most epic board game” combined with “Oregon Trail” in a far-future post-apocalyptic world with chess and battle cards added in for safe measure. Because we designed the basics of the game with pen and paper, using dice and and drawn cards, the game retains that feeling of playing a more involved boardgame like Talisman or Galaxy Trucker.


John: Fictionally we are pulling from the stuff that inspired us as kids, it’s a little Mad Max, Judge Dredd, and the sense of humor of Robo Cop or Total Recall. We want to indulge that post-apocalyptic road trip fantasy in all of us, but at the same time make you laugh out loud. We are not a ‘grim-dark’ game, we’re like a game from the 80’s when it seemed like a post apocalyptic lifestyle might be kind of fun...At the simplest level you have a giant radiated wasteland to cross with a vehicle packed to the gills with weaponry to fend off the natives in search of the mythical Aztec City. You have a saucy crew to manage, and you have to get to your destination with as many of your crew and passengers alive! How will Bedlam intrigue RPG fans? Roguelikes are something most of us are fond of, but does it go deeper than that?

John: Being a roguelike game allows us to structure BEDLAM in a more creative way than most linear RPGs would be allowed to, thanks to the environment and events being randomly generated at the start of each new game. With a shorter playthrough time and greater content to be discovered, BEDLAM really encourages multiple playthroughs, especially with our Double-Down and persistent NewGame+ systems we’re implementing.

Sam: I’ve always equated the Dozer to the Main Player Character you would find on most games -- this is where you do most of the customizing by equipping Weapons, Upgrades and Crew Members to be used in battle. Certain Weapons or Upgrades will even allow you access to special areas if you have them equipped, similar to a “metroidvania” lock-and-key system.

Jeff: Beyond that, each character can evolve in the game depending on how many battles they survive. A new Crew Member created from one of your passengers will start off as a battlefield rookie, but as they survive various combat encounters, they evolve and gain better abilities and statistics on the battlefield, eventually earning a complex history that will come into play during random events. Can you tell us about the Blitz Battle System? How will it work?

Jeff: The Blitz Battle System is our solution to keeping combat encounters fast, surprising, and especially fun. We went back to the turn-based roots by approaching chess in a new way with class-specific movement and attack ranges, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, allowing for more team-based tactics.

John: The Dozer Upgrades, when activated during a battle, will have various results like explosives, healing, attack buffs, or even deploying additional characters like the Dreadhounds. Dozer Weapons, on the other hand, are usually “last resort” methods of mass destruction.

Sam: Our combat system started off with us going to the root of all turn-based strategy games: chess. We wanted our system to be easily accessible, but incredibly deep when it came to tactics and strategies on the battlefield. Often, turn-based combat is very complicated and requires a major time commitment from the player, and we wanted something that was easy to learn but difficult to master, with simple rulesets for the game “pieces” (character classes) and more strategic complexities coming in the form of “battle cards” (Dozer Weapons and Upgrades).

Jeff: One word, Over-the-top. Borrowing ideas from some of the early 90’s arcade sport games I worked on, I want battles to be aggressive, fun and quick. I want people to say’ did you see that?!?’  

John: Chess with nukes...I’m not speaking in metaphor...actual nukes! How customizable will the Dozer be? In looks, stats?

Sam: The Dozer will probably be the most customizable area of the game. When you install a new Weapon or Upgrade to your Dozer, you will see the artwork change to reflect your choices. The Dozer Weapon and Upgrades can be used on the battlefield and have massive effects on the outcome of each combat scenario.

John: We are really excited about all the potential for different types of Dozers. We want to have themed dozers with our factions that you can unlock like Marauders more of a mad max looking beast. A.I. having some weird death cube on tank treads, Mutants, Cyborgs….Aliens? Let's talk a bit about the characters. Does each have a story to offer? Will they have their own quests and objectives in Bedlam?

Sam: As your crew members survive multiple battles, they will evolve into better soldiers, earning better bonuses from Dozer Upgrades, or even transforming into a Cyborg or Mutant if certain conditions are met. The first level of evolution is called the Elite Status, and earns the crewmember a name, backstory and unique weapon. The second level of evolution is called the Veteran Status, which is a rare occurrence that only certain crew members are capable of obtaining. We’ll leave a little mystery here :)

John: As your crew members evolve, so does their combat abilities and the level of interaction they have with you as The Mechanic. When arriving at a Boomtown, one of your Crew might come over the intercom, explaining the new location while offering special quests or objectives to the player.

In addition, you will encounter special NPCs during your journey through Bedlam, each of which has their own distinct personality, history and objectives. Some may hinder your mission, but others will join your Dozer crew and assist in battle with unique abilities! The idea of traveling from Bysantine to Aztec City reminds me of games like the Oregon Trail.. please tell me that's a sort of inspiration?

Sam: Oregon Trail was a huge inspiration to our gameflow and if it came out today, I’m sure it’d get labeled as a roguelike. Resource management, permadeath, and a randomly generated world. It’s got it all! Procedural content seems like a big part of the game. I assume replayability is a huge goal?

Jeff: We were really inspired by roguelike games such as FTL, which really encouraged multiple playthroughs thanks to randomly generated content.

Sam: JOURNEY was a huge influence on me -- a mystery-packed three hour game I played for 15 hours straight on the first day, I couldn’t get enough of it! I’ve also been infatuated with NewGame+ and the various implementations seen over the years. I think a roguelike gameplay structure with a randomly generated world, encouraging multiple playthroughs, just screams for NewGame+!

John: Each of our random events is very much hand crafted, it’s basically a big deck of cards we can continually add to and each play through pulls a certain number of those cards. Finally, as we're all fans of crafting... let us know how the resource and upgrade systems work!

Jeff: Three resources (Metal, Meat and Crude) are consumed during events and while traveling to various locations in your Dozer, so you’ve got to keep those reserves full by bartering and earning rewards after successful battles. Unfortunately we don’t have any traditional crafting systems planned for our game as they take a lot of time and additional manpower to get right. Though we do have “Alchemists” aboard the Dozer, so it’s not too far fetched if we added something in the future!

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all of his pointless rambling.