Spellirium is Go!

If you’ve read any of my other posts about the province of Ontario backing up the money truck, you know the score: the provincial government doles out a bunch of cash every year to the Ministry of Culture, who disperses it through an organization called the OMDC (Ostentatious Mixers of Daquiri-like Cocktails). The OMDC doesn’t hand the money out to just anyone: film, television, music, and interactive companies have to battle it out, bare-knuckled and shirtless, in gladiatorial combat, like in that documentary about Thunderdome.

It’s as if the camera crew wasn’t even there.

In addition to that, you have to draw up a very meaty, very challenging document explaining what you’re going to do with the non-refundable grant. (A whole entire document?? The nerve!) The mandate of the OMDC is to divvy the cash among companies who will create jobs in Ontario – preferably, jobs that will stick once the project has ended.

Oh Frabjous Day

For us, the project is just beginning: after two unsuccessful attempts across two different OMDC funds, i am VERY happy to announce that we’ve been approved for funding on our upcoming word puzzle/adventure game hybrid, Spellirium!

Spellirium Logo

You may remember playing a very early prototype of the Spellirium game mechanic last September. (It’s still up for playtesting in the Rubber Room). Despite the rejections, i remained convinced that we were going to build Spellirium with or without funding. Given the choice, we can probably produce a much better game with.

My earlier criticisms of the OMDC still stand: it’s still too difficult for small start-ups to get funded, and the organization should still consider parceling the funds into much smaller amounts, making them available year-round, and spending less money adjudicating them. But i’ve got an opinion on how a LOT of other people should do their jobs. Don’t get me started on those pastry chefs over at the bakery.

Overall, i’m happy and nervous, as if i have butterflies in my stomach before performing my grade 4 bassoon recital for the Royal Conservatory. The OMDC was quick to point out that our application was far from perfect, our budget was possibly unrealistic, and that all in all, it wasn’t a “slam-dunk.” i’m totally fine with that. The application may not have been a slam dunk, but wait til you see the game! :)

slam dunk

(Note: Spellirium is NOT a word puzzle/basketball game)

I Can Play Too?

As days go by, we’ll put together a designer diary for Spellirium, and we’ll hit you with more mechanics to try out. If you’d like to be involved in shaping the game and determining its outcome, or if you’d like to hear first-hand accounts from the trenches (the good, the bad and the ugly), we’re happy to share that all with you.

Big thanks to the OMDC for giving us a boost, and to our adjudicators for having faith in us. We won’t let anyone down!


Sign up for the Spellirium Newsletter to go even deeper into the creative process behind the game. The newsletter contains a first look at exclusive artwork and juicy details about Spellirium that you won’t find anywhere else!

16 thoughts on “Spellirium is Go!

    1. Ryan

      Joseph – Thanks! The one big problem is that you can’t play it on a touch screen, so we could never port to a touch-based smartphone, for example. i’m going to overhaul the mechanic to make it more touch-friendly, and re-release with slightly improved doodles so that people know what the heck is going on.

      – Ryan

    1. Ryan

      Joseph – you know your games! The mechanic is – ahem – borrowed directly from Tetris Attack. Or, more aptly, Pokemon Puzzle League, a Tetris Attack clone that ate up a lot of my time back when *i* was in school.

      The response (mostly from people who have never played Tetris Attack, i assume?) was that people wanted more control, and wanted to be able to move letters horizontally and vertically. We’re competing against games that let you just point to letters willy-nilly and make whatever words you want (“fNArckq? Sure! 20 points.) i have to strike a balance between a fun, accessible mechanic, and just enough rules to keep it interesting and “gamey”.

      – Ryan

  1. Joseph Cassano

    Is it surprising that a game dev student knows games? If it is, I feel sorry for my classmates. =P

    In seriousness, I played Tetris Attack (rented) as a kid quite a bit when my SNES still worked. And I dabbled in Pokemon Puzzle League. It’s funny that Puzzle League — being a clone — is on the Virtual Console while Tetris Attack isn’t.

    But I digress.

    I understand the want for accessibility. It may be the smarter thing to do, actually; during my play of the proof-of-concept, I found it was sometimes hard to put words together, and my life bar was the first to be emptied. Then again, that may just be ineptitude on my part.

    1. Ryan

      Angry RR-F – it’s funny … i never associate Pokemon the tv show/movie series (which Pokemon Puzzle League definitely takes after) with Nintendo. i associate the red/silver/plaid/stadium games with Nintendo, even though it’s all the same franchise.

      There was a game i saw at E3 many years ago called (i think) Nintendo Puzzle Collection, which had a FOUR PLAYER version of Tetris Attack/Puzzle Leage/Panel de Pon/Pokemon Puzzle Leage/Whatever you wanna call it. i lusted after it heartily, but alas, it was never released.

      If anyone has a bead on where i can get me some 4-player puzzle league, please stop holding your peace.

    1. Ryan

      Joseph – i just finished amassing a small fortune of GameBoy SPs so that i could play Zelda: Four Swords Adventures. i have three DSs as well, but i may wait til i can get another for $20 before i embark on that next crazy-asspensive video game adventure.


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