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Son of Nor: A Chat With the Developers



A while ago, during my short and foolish foray into gaming (and boy was it foolish) I spent a lot of time seeking help and inspiration on the Unity 3D forums. It was there, whilst I was looking at works-in-progress that I discovered a game; Son of Nor. It was rough. The models barely looked human, and they walked strangely. The world was blocks of orange squares and a coarse looking ground meant to represent sand. But at it’s core, the idea, and above all, the gameplay, looked excellent. Over the following weeks I kept my eye on it’s development, fed to me through weekly developer diaries. Over time, as I spent less time on Unity, my enthusiasm for he project waned, before piquing again when their Kickstarter campaign earned them over $150,000 (!), and then again when the game was greenlit through Steam. I realised that what I had discovered by accident, and that it’s rough outer exterior, had grown into something admirable; an indie game that looked like it was on its way to stardom. The sort of fame that other successful indie titles have earned.

Son of Nor is an indie action/adventure game with a unique power; terraforming. But I won’t be telling you everything about it.

Fortunately for me, the guys over at Still-Alive studios are pretty decent, and when I got into contact with them they agreed immediately to answer my questions.
My responses came from Chris Polus, an original member of the studio, whose main job is to create sounds for the game. But if you visit their site and see lots of pretty pictures, and lots of updates, that’s Chris’s input too.
Without further ado…Son of Nor.

What makes Son of Nor so different from other games?

I think the unique feature of Son of Nor is the category of special powers you wield in the game. Your character has the ability to manipulate, lift, and throw physical objects with the power of his/her mind (telekinesis). The strong connection to desert sand makes players able to shape it, pile up or lower the sand (terraforming).

These two abilities are not just for show. As humans don’t have access to weapons in the world of Son of Nor, players have to use what they’ve got: the environment. Unlike in other games, a rock is not only to hide behind to avoid enemy fire. With telekinesis you can pick it up and throw it. If there are no rocks to hide behind, you can pile up sand and hide behind the terrain you shaped. This combination of powers is not an afterthought or gimmick. This is the essence of the game mechanic: the world is your weapon.

The third power you have in Son of Nor is different types of magic. These types can also be combined to create new magical effects: cast wind onto fire and get a powerful fire tornado! Since the world of Son of Nor is based on physics where possible, we created many phyiscal puzzles during your adventures. Burn down wood constructions with a fire spell, drive a sail mechanism with a wind push spell, infuse rocks with fire and create a potent fireball.

This is what makes Son of Nor’s game idea really unique.

What can we expect in Son of Nor?

Son of Nor is an action adventure. We went through great lenghts to create an intriguing story that makes you want to know what happens in the desert world of Noshrac (the name of the continent Son of Nor plays on). And we went for a cool combination of action packed fights on one hand and puzzle solving by using all your special powers (telekinesis, terraforming, magic) on the other hand.

Tell us a bit more about the terraforming and telekinesis, and how these play into combat.

There are no magical shields, no armor to pick up. You don’t run over a yellow glowing breast plate and are protected from damage. These seemed artificial to us. But then how do you defend yourself and attack when you’re traveling a world of sand? You use the environment, like you naturally would. Telekinesis and terraforming will play a big role in defense and attack strategies. You can pile up sand with terraforming to avoid being discovered. Then sneak by enemy camps without a fight. Or shield yourself from incoming arrows with a wall of sand. In the same way you can pick up big rocks and let them float in front of you to block attacks, or take and throw them really fast to hit and kill enemies.

There will be elevated places you cannot get to. Maybe a rock wall prevents you from passing. But you can pile up sand and create a slope and walk up. Or take rocks and arrange floating stairs. There’s really no limitation as to how you can use rocks and telekinesis. If you have an idea, you should try it out and maybe your strategy will work!

What can you tell us about the story?

I like to think of our story as being a good bit more interesting than the usual “bad guy needs punishment”, hehe. Yes, we have that too, and our story begins in a very traditional way with humans being the underdog and you as player having to protect what’s left of your race. It goes a little like this: Hundreds of years ago, a great war raged between the Sarahul Empire and the humans that populated the desert world of Noshrac. The Sarahul were eager to wipe out humanity wherever possible. Only a few human refugees survived, namely the ones that weren’t found by Sarahul armies searching the desert. For years you, the player, lived and grew up in one of these hidden refugee cities. One day, the inevitable happened. A Sarahul scout party finds your hideout and wants to travel back to report it to the Empire.

This is where your travel begins. You have to make sure the human community you helped build stays safe and the message with the location of your hideout never reaches the Sarahul Empire.

During your journey, there will be very cool and interesting story twists that I will not go into here :) This is for the players to uncover! Let’s just say your not constantly running after that scout party, fighting everything along the way. This would just be too easy.

[The developer diary for the story (complete with storyboard) can be found: here.)

The game has come a long way. What’s been the biggest changes, and which has been most difficult?

The biggest change was definitely the visual style. When we began the project we lacked the expertise to make great graphics. We had to take one step at a time. Make something we found looked great, and then let the community tell us that it really doesn’t. It was a very hard learning curve but we tried harder, constantly thinking about how we could make every aspect look better. We literally threw everything over board one day and started from scratch, took step after step and learned a lot along the way. We’re now confident to produce a graphical quality that is appealing to players. I think that was the biggest change and the one we’re most proud of.

What we find most difficult are animations. Despite constantly trying to get better, we find it very hard to craft fluent, good looking 3D animations. It takes a lot of time.

That’s all from Chris. I know that you guys should be as excited for this as I am.

Son of Nor will release in the 3rd quarter of this year on PC, Mac and Linux.

Visit the official Son of Nor website: here.
Visit the Still-Alive studio website: here.
Their YouTube: here.
Their facebook: here.
And their Twitter: here.


Reasons Why Indie Games Fail



indie game

The gaming industry is a tough place to be in. It is highly competitive and fast-paced. It is especially difficult for indie games to survive this competition as they are not backed by huge corporations that can pour in billions of dollars for its success. An average indie game on Steam is available for $9 or less and rarely sells many copies. Indie games are taking a back seat somewhere but that does not mean there is no hope for them.

It did take a while for indie games to come to the forefront and become widely successful like Minecraft or Among Us. You can find all sorts of indie games available today but not make it through, few see the light of the day. As the number of indie games has increased so has their quality decreased which is quite upsetting because many have great unexplored potential. Let’s look at the reasons why indie games fail and how the right marketing strategies can bring success to them. 

Poor Marketing Strategy 

Indie games are video games that are individually developed without a publisher that usually finances the project. This sometimes translates into no proper planning of strategies for marketing the games. In today’s world, however good a product is, marketing it well to the target audience is important. Unless gamers are aware and curious about a game they won’t want to play it. 

There are chances that a good game will get lost in the sea of games available today without proper marketing. Marketing will create awareness about good indie games and get more people to play them. 

Low budget Advertising 

It is quintessential to have a good budget for advertising your indie game. A compromised advertising budget will yield poor results as we all know. Setting some funds especially for advertising and publicity should be a priority as this will help indie games become more popular. 

Marketing may seem easy but there is a lot of thought put into it. Take help from advertising agencies if you lack that knowledge. 

Even with a small budget, you can run effective campaigns if you have a good team of marketing professionals who understand the demands of the gaming world and the potential of your indie game. 

Not interacting with the right audience

For the success of indie games, indie game developers should interact with gamers on their platforms. Take your game to the right audience if they are not coming to you. Developers focused on building a community around their games are going to garner a lot of attention and craze. 

So many streaming platforms are available now that are popular amongst gamers which should be tapped into. You can showcase your game on these platforms as well as provide support during the game. TikTok, Youtube, and Discord are popular streaming sites that game developers can partner with. 

Lack of Original idea

Some indie games fail because of the sheer lack of an original idea. You cannot sell an old game in a new package. If your game resembles some other popular game there is a slim chance your indie game will succeed. To succeed in this crowded world of indie games, you need to have an original idea and one that stands out apart from other competitors. 

Indie game developers should stick to their niche and create a game that caters to gamers in that particular niche. Stick to an original idea and plan well according to it. This will guarantee success and your game won’t be just another game on the block. 

Technical problems

It is a known fact that gamers like a smooth gaming experience. They don’t want to play a game that has any technical flaws. A bug in your indie game will deter gamers from coming back to it. Give gamers a chance to promote your game and that will only happen with a bug-free game. Many indie games release without any technical trials and this is one of the reasons they fail.
Test out the games as much as possible before releasing them for a wider audience. Indie game developers should hire professionals to improve the gaming experience and fix any in-gaming problems before the big release. 


There is a huge market for indie games today and fixing some of these reasons for failure that are mentioned above can guarantee success. Indie games fail sometimes but that does not mean there is no hope for them. The right amount of planning and marketing can improve the overall quality of games. Don’t fear failure, work on improving the quality of games and you can make history.

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Fair & Arcade-Like Gambling Games



Gambling games

Few people know that carnival games derive roots from the royal courts of the Renaissance period. They started as sporting activities and card tricks. Once the concept of traveling road shows got adopted in the 1800s in the US, they morphed into vaudevillian-like magic shows. Later on, in the early 20th-century, they incorporated mechanical elements, and prize machines got birthed.

Around this time, arcades appeared, which mainly consisted of coin-operated pinball machines. The ones hosting video games, the likes we associate with these venues sprung up in the late 1970s. They quickly got so popular that Dave & Busters and Chuck E. Cheese restaurants began offering them. In the late 1980s and at the start of the 1990s, arcades were the main gathering spots for male teens and a premium entertainment option. That all changed with the rise of home video game consoles.

Today, fair and arcade-like gaming options are making a comeback in the unlikeliest of places, online casinos. In the past decade, gambling sites have begun experimenting with featuring products from these genres. Interactive gaming is currently a fledgling industry with thousands of active platforms floating around in the digital sphere, each advertising that it is home to the best casino bonus. What follows is a quick rundown of four unique betting experiences that can induce fair and arcade gaming nostalgia from an online casino lobby.

Tetris Extreme

Fun bit of trivia. Tetris is an invention of a Russian programmer named Alexey Pjitnov, who worked as a software engineer at Moscow’s Soviet Academy of Sciences. He created this simple game that grew into a global phenomenon when testing the then-novel Electronika 60 computer. Tetris quickly became one of the most addictive puzzle games on the planet with a current vast player base. In 2019, developer Red7 figured out a way to morph it into a seven-reel, ten-row slot with an RTP of 94% in its base gameplay. Tetris Extreme by Red7 has a cluster-wins-mechanism and offers a Mega Drop Jackpot.  

Coin Pusher – Ganesh Wealth

Coin pushers are machines featured at arcades, fairs, and even some restaurants. They let players place tokens/coins through a slot hoping that they will knock off a stockpile of them from an edge and win prizes. According to gaming historians, these machines first appeared in 1962 in Europe, with Cromptons Leisure Machines first developing them. Its original product in this category bore the name Wheel-a-Win and was a massive hit. Few coin pusher-like titles exist on gambling sites, with a super trending one being Ganesha Wealth by PlayStar. It got released in June of 2021, boasting a Hindi theme.

Rubik’s Riches

Likely any layperson has seen or tried to solve a Rubik’s Cube at one point in their life. It is a 3D combination puzzle invented by Hungarian sculptor Ernő Rubik in 1974, who licensed it to the Ideal Toy Corporation. The original cube had six faces, covered by nine stickers in six solid colors. In 2013, online gambling juggernaut Playtech attempted to bring the Rubik’s Cube concept into the slot format via Rubik’s Riches. This novel title mixed both genres in a product with an RTP of 94.5%.


Whac-A-Mole machines are popular carnival games that the Japanese TOGO company created in 1975.  The following year, this invention was the second highest-grossing electro-mechanical game in the country. It made its US debut in 1977 at pinball parlors before reaching amusement parks and carnivals. Whack-A-Jackpot is a 2014 Microgaming scratch card-like game that mimics the original Whac-A-Mole machines to a T. 

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Browser Games

Ori and the Blind Forest




Ori and the blind forest

Ori and the Blind Forest is an indie game by Moon Studios that has won several awards in artistic achievement, animation, and musical composition

The Prologue:

You begin the game as a small forest spirit named Ori, who falls from the Spirit Tree during a storm. He is adopted by a creature named Naru but is quickly orphaned when a devastating event sweeps through the forest and wipes out their food resources. Naru gives Ori the remaining food and starves to death. Now, Ori must set out into the forest alone in an attempt to stay alive. 

The young spirit eventually loses energy and collapses near the Spirit Tree. A blue orb named Sein revives him. Here, the prologue ends, and the game begins. From here on out, Ori and Sein set off to restore balance to the forest. They recover its main elements: Waters, Winds, and Warmth. 

The Main Story: 

Two other primary characters are introduced at this point – Gumo and Kuru. Gumo is a spider-like creature who seems evil initially but becomes a friend when Ori helps them out of a sticky situation. Kuru is a large owl. It remains an antagonist for much longer, but its aggressive nature is explained in the game’s latter stages. 

The Ending: 

Gumo uses stored light from the Spirit Tree to help Naru. They team up to protect Sein and Ori, working together to restore warmth in the forest. Gumo sees the dangers that lie ahead, and in the game’s final act, Kuru catches Ori and Sein, but Naru protects them. Kuru changes his heart and takes Sein back to the Spirit Tree’s top to end the spread of fire throughout the forest. A giant light emits, wiping out the fire but ultimately wiping Kuru out in the process. 

What You Need to Do: 

Your task as the hero is to bring Ori back to his home and save the forest from dying. As you go through the game, you will gain more abilities. Eventually, you will be able to spend experience points on three different skill trees. 

Core Skills: 

  • Spirit Flame
    This is the first skill that Ori learns, which can be used to attack enemies. To upgrade this skill, you need to put ability points into the Offensive Skill Tree. 
  • Wall Jump
    By jumping repeatedly, Ori can climb walls. This skill allows you to gain access to areas that are usually inaccessible with a single jump. 
  • Double Jump
    This is another essential skill that grants you access to new areas. You need to jump into the air while performing a double jump. Leru’s Ancestral Tree in Gumo’s Hideout gives you this ability. 
  • Charge Jump
    To enable this skill, you need to hold a directional key to charge the Charge Jump and then let go to propel Ori in your desired direction. You can choose to charge straight up, hang on to a wall, or charge left or right. This skill is found in the Sorrow Pass. 
  • Charge Flame
    This is an offensive skill that can be used to break specific barriers and damage units within a certain radius. It is found in Hollow Grove, and it is given by the spirit Ano’s Ancestral Tree. 
  • Stomp
    Ori learned this skill in the Thornfelt Swamp. Using this skill, you can smash the ground and break barriers underneath you, thus damaging nearby enemies. 
  • Bash
    Found in the Ginso Tree, the Bash ability is what allows Ori to fly through the air. It uses the momentum of a nearby lantern, projectile, or creature, and it can stop time for a while, giving you the time to choose a direction. The object you bash against is then flung in the opposite direction. 
  • Climb
    This skill allows Ori to shimmy up and down a wall or hang onto them without doing a wall jump. To hold onto a wall, press the ‘Shift’ key or ‘RT.’
  • Dash
    This skill allows Ori to move quickly in one direction for half a second. It is found in the Black Root Burrows and can be upgraded in the skill tree. 
  • Light Burst
    Also found in the Black Root Burrows, this skill allows you to cast spheres of light into the air to light lanterns. 
  • Kuro’s Feather
    With this feather, you can glide to the ground. You can also use it to be lifted up if you are in a wind tunnel. To pick up one of these feathers, you must distract Kuro on the way to the Misty Woods. 

Ability Tree

The ability tree is a collection of various knacks that Ori can purchase with Ability points and enhance their performance. The available abilities can cost either 1,2 or 3 points at a time. If you fail to produce the proper payment, Ori will be prevented from receiving that ability until they have accumulated enough points. 

Abilities may also be unattainable because Ori doesn’t have the skill that it enhances or has not bought the ability to come before it. If either of these options is true, the text below the description of the ability will be bright red. This will indicate that Ori does not have the necessary requirements to have that particular ability. 

The tree has three branches, each with abilities that share a common theme. They are: 

  • Utility Abilities
    This branch is cyan, with abilities that help Ori with survival and defense. It is at the top of the tree. Some of the branch’s abilities include Rekindle, Charge Dash, Water Breath, and Air Dash. 
  • Efficiency Abilities
    In the middle of the tree, this purple branch can help make exploration and pickups more efficient. Some of the abilities that come with this branch include Spirit Efficiency, Spirit Magnet, and Map Markers. 
  • Combat Abilities
    These abilities enhance Ori’s offensive capabilities. This branch is at the bottom of the tree; it is red. Some of the skills on this branch include Quick Flame, Split Flame, and Ultra Stomp. 

You may be wondering what the best skill point build is, but ultimately, the answer to this question depends entirely on your gameplay. Investing ability points in the survival brand can make the game a lot easier, especially when you get to the Triple Jump. Offensive capabilities are convenient but not necessary. Most deaths in the game are caused by environmental damage. To find secret areas and extra pickups, you can search the exploration line or even the internet for additional information. 

Ori and the Blind Forest is an adventure game with beautifully designed visuals and an outstanding score. Developed by Moon Studios, it was released on March 1th for Windows, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. Reviewers have highly praised the storyline, graphics, level design, and gameplay.

If you loved Ori and the Blind Forest, make sure you check out its sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps!

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