After more than 10 years of running Hypnotic Owl together, Jan a.k.a. Dr. Hackenstein and I are parting ways. We’re looking back over a fairly sizeable catalogue of releases, jam games, prototypes, podcasts, streams, and even a few awards. Despite us never quite achieving that financial breakthrough we were hoping for, I think it’s safe to say we’ve still managed to build a bit of a legacy. But as all things, they eventually must come to an end, and so Jan will move on to his new venture Spell Loop while I’ll continue running Hypnotic Owl on my own.
What does this mean for you? Functionally, not a lot. Jan will still work on Kevin’s Path to Wizdom and continue to make the strategic, turn-based, thinky games you’ve come to love. You’ll now just find it on his new website and the Discord too will be renamed accordingly in the next few days, no action required on your part.
On this end, Hypnotic Owl will continue to put out the same weird, silly and occasionally uncomfortable things it always has – maybe more so now that I don’t have anyone to reign me in when I go overboard.
Thanks for joining us on this ride and here’s to an exciting new chapter!
The time has come! The Wizard is finally live in Early Access! That took only 6 years! So let’s talk a bit about what that means, what we have done and what we plan to do:
State of Affairs
As you maybe saw in the Early Access notes, the game as it is right now is pretty much the original Wizard, with major visual upgrades, a remastered soundtrack, and a lot of small improvements that we’ll keep on rolling out continuously. That includes the beginning stages of a new leveling system (instead of collecting XP, spells will now upgrade with use) and, of course, the checkpoints so many of you have asked for – nay, demanded! – for years.
So the game is fully playable and we’ve tried our best to catch the most egregious bugs and mechanical inconveniences. But of course, the game is in active development, so things might not work as intended now and then. Such is the nature of the beast. But fear not! We tend to work quickly, so any bugs or requests you have should be swiftly taken care of.
If you want to report a bug, talk features, or just hang out and follow the development, the easiest way to that is our Discord server. You can join us here: https://discord.gg/qfyND9D
Aside from improving and expanding the base game, we of course have grand plans for the future!
This one has been on Hackenstein’s bucket list from pretty much the first prototype. An endless Roguelike Mode, where you can wizard away to your heart’s content, and Daily Challenges to measure yourself against your classmates!
This will likely be the first major addition we’ll tackle, and as it grows, we might also incorporate the new features, spells, enemies and the like, into the main campaign as it fits. There are a lot of cool ideas floating around already, and we’d really love to get your input and feedback!
If you follow our weekly Hootouts, you’ve heard us go on about how level editors are often our favorite part of a game, so naturally we want to include one for The Wizard as well! We’re thinking of a Mario Maker-type approach, where you can build levels and have to be able to complete them yourself before submitting them to be played by others. Should be exciting to see what everyone will come up with!
Customization and Accessibility
Lastly, we really want to give players as much control over the game as reasonably possible. Especially when it comes to the Roguelike Mode, we know that everybody has a preferred way of playing, and we’d like to allow you to customize it just to your liking! Our goal is to expose a lot of settings, but offer setting templates, as not to overwhelm players who just want to get on with it. So instead of fixed difficulty modes, you’d have difficulty templates, and we’ll also let the community help us determine what those templates should be.
We’d also like to make the game as accessible as possible, so in addition to gameplay settings, we want to be sure to cover visual, control, and other settings that will help everyone have the best possible time with the game. Here, too, we’d really love to hear from you if there’s anything in particular you’d like to see in the game.
We still have a bunch of things we want to add, tweak, and improve in the base game, and there’ll probably be more as more people play it. We also need to recover a bit from pre-release crunch and enjoy the holidays with the few loved ones we’re allowed to see.
So serious work on the big new features will likely begin January, and we would estimate that it might take us around 6 months to implement them. We also know that we’re consistently wrong in our overly-optimistic estimates, so it’ll probably be in development for a year or more. But as mentioned before, we always aim to not have Early Access mean a husk of game, but a fully enjoyable experience that we will continuously improve and update along the way.
We sure hope you enjoy it, and if you want to join our wholesome little community, here’s the link again: https://discord.gg/qfyND9D
Hey, guess what! We made our first wishlist goal! Which means: Hypnotic Discord Server! Hooray!
It’ll be a space for you to hang out and chat with us, get some exclusive insights into development, get stream alerts, vote on new topics, and just all around have a great time! We’re also planning some other fun shenanigans in the future, but mostly we look forward to building a nice and inclusive community with you all!
It even looks like, in the time it took us to get everything set up, we made it almost halfway to our next goal, the regular dev streams which will offer a look behind the scenes and give you the opportunity to give feedback and take part in The Wizard’s development!
So wishlist away and tell your friends, neighbors, grandma, and everyone else you know to do the same!
You play as Kevin, the handsomest wizard in school — until your face gets stolen! Learn gesture-based spellcasting as you beat challenging enemies through mind boggling mazes in this turn-based tactics game. Can you catch the thief and save face?
After we had such a great time with our birthday stream, we decided to start a weekly hangout where we chat about life and stuff and maybe even play a game or two! Come join the Hypnotic Hootout, every Friday, 4pm CEST on twitch.tv!
And if you can’t make it, worry not! The Hootout will also be available on YouTube as well as a podcast! You can check out the first episode on these channels right now:
Those are some strange times we find ourselves in, huh? We certainly feel the effects of it as well, being on lockdown at home, bored and not knowing what to do with ourselves.
But luckily, people are crafty and coming up with new ways to come together even as we are separated physically: brunch via video call, Netflix Party for that good ol’ movie night, and many services being made available for free to provide us all with some much-needed entertainment and distraction during these worrying and financially difficult times.
Here at the Owl, we too have been thinking about ways we can contribute, and so we have a bunch of news we’d like to share with you today:
The Pepper Prince Episode 1 Goes Free
We have decided to make The Pepper Prince: Episode 1 available for free on Steam. In the game, you step into the role of Hansel or Gretel as they venture out to bake the most bestest wedding cake for the titular Pepper Prince! We hope its cheerful silliness can brighten up your day a bit!
A rhyming fairy tale adventure about love, grief, and the power of friendship. Solve puzzles, meet quirky fairy-tale-inspired characters, and help your friend regain confidence and self-love after heartbreak!
We had originally considered it for commercial release, since it turned out a lot cooler than expected and we had long been interested in exploring dating sims as another potential avenue for us, and we still might! Definitely let us know how you liked it and if you’d be interested in seeing more odd little games like this in the future!
Another thing we’ve long considered and are now finally going ahead with, is the release of all our smaller projects, our internal prototypes, experiments, and game jam titles, on itch.io. We’ve already assembled a couple of games over there and will continue to add more over the next few weeks. Be sure to check our Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
And of course there’s the games and experimental projects on our homepage, so hopefully you’ll find something fun to pass the time (my personal recommendation, brainfucked. I’ve replayed it myself recently, figuring out all those tricky operations again, it’s good fun if you like puzzley stuff!)
So enjoy, stay safe, and let’s all get through this together!
Last week, I once again found myself traveling across the pond, to visit the Games For Change festival in New York. It was a great couple of days, filled with interesting talks, fascinating games, meeting friends old and new, and in fully crabtacular manner, zero sight-seeing.
So I got to go to Train Jam as well as GDC in San Francisco recently. Words still elude me in describing what an amazing experience it was, but suffice it to say, I had blast, hung out with a bunch of friends as well as making lots of new ones, seeing some awesome talks, and all in all just having an incredible time.
Here’s a couple of images from the scenery whizzing past on the train:
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