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The Joystiq Indie Pitch: Sequence

Justin McElroy

Being a giant, beloved video game site has its downsides. For example, we sometimes neglect to give independent developers our coverage love (or loverage, if you will) as we get caught up in AAA, AAAA or the rare quintuple-A titles. To remedy that, we're giving indies the chance to create their own loverage and sell you, the fans, on their studios and products. This week we talk with former DS Fanboy blogger and Iridium Studios head Jason Wishnov, about his rhythm RPG Sequence.

How did you or your company get started?

This is a boring question. I am going to replace your questions with interesting questions instead.

What? But that's not how-

Hello, Jason! You are handsome and talented. Can you please explain the trailer to me?

Of course, Justin! The trailer shows off some of the core gameplay of Sequence, which is a fusion of RPG and rhythm mechanics. You see three streams of notes falling down from the top of the screen; each corresponds to a different action. You can rotate between them freely, but you can hit only one stream at a time. The stream in red is where you play defense; if you hit a note, no damage is done, but if you miss, you lose some HP. The stream in green is where you cast spells (found at the bottom of the screen, in the Spell Ring); you need to hit every note of a spell for it to actually activate. There are damage spells, healing spells, barriers, and so forth. And finally, the stream in blue is where you regain mana to cast more spells.

What about outside of battle?

There's a pretty robust item synthesis/desynthesis mechanic in the game. You use this to obtain weapons, armor, accessories, spells for use in battle, and other various trinkets. The RPG-standard experience points are in effect, though there's an interesting twist: you need to spend your own experience (and quite possibly level down) to create many of the items. The player needs to decide how to best utilize their spoils.

But I'm a square and have no rhythm. What about me?

Don't worry, Justin! There are four difficulty levels, and you may freely switch between them until the halfway mark of the game. And remember, this isn't like a standard rhythm game; you can fight easier enemies and level up to get past the harder battles.

That's some impressive art. Did you draw it?

Holy hell no. I'm as talented at drawing as Lebron is at managing his public image. Most everything you see is the work of Wendi Chen, who's done work for both Dreamworks and Pixar. There's a lot more that doesn't appear in the trailer, but I wanted to hold some stuff back. You know, for suspense.

There seems to be a heavy emphasis on story.

There is indeed. Rhythm games are not often framed by a narrative, but that doesn't mean I can't shoehorn one in there somehow. Our hero, Ky, wakes up in a mysterious Tower (it is important, because it is capitalized). Naia, a mysterious girl who communicates via the intercom above, tells him that he needs to climb the seven floors of the Tower to escape. What choice does he have? So he begins his climb.

At the end of each floor lies a guardian. You can see a couple in the trailer. They tend to have some, ah, interesting personality quirks.

Why is Ky there? Who, exactly, is Naia? Will they totally make out? It's up to you, dear reader, to find the answers.

Voice acting? In an indie game? A recipe for disaster, certainly.

Well, you're certainly entitled to your dangerous and ill-conceived opinions, I suppose, and to that end I've included an option to turn off all voice acting. However, I couldn't be happier with the talent involved; Barbara King is an amazing lead, Patrick Seitz (World of Warcraft, Starcraft II, et al.) is the primary antagonist, and Heather Anne Campbell (The Midnight Show, Saturday Night Live, Improv-a-ganza) plays a significant role as well. Every actor is a seasoned Los Angeles veteran, and I think you should certainly give them a shot.

Ronald Jenkees? Wait, THE Ronald Jenkees?

I know, right? I got in touch with Ronald about a year ago to license his stuff for the game, and he couldn't have been more accommodating. The battle music in the game is his very best stuff, so I think you'll all enjoy the experience. There's a bonus mode to just listen to all his stuff free from the battles, of course.

I'm as talented at drawing as Lebron is at managing his public image.

Michael Wade Hamilton (DJ Plaeskool) composed all of the scene/environment music, and there are some really spectacular avant-garde tracks.

How much is this gem going to run me? A million dollars? TWO million dollars?

Yes, Justin. Two million dollars.

But for everyone else, it should be 240 MSP, or about three bucks even. It should be out in March. Ish.

I'm running on Valve Time, here.

Thank you for briefly illuminating the pit of abyssal despair I call existence.

You're welcome, friend.

Want to check out Sequence for yourself? You can follow the game's progress at the official site. If you'd like to have your own shot at converting our readers into fans, email justin aat joystiq dawt com, subject line "The Joystiq Indie Pitch." Still haven't had enough? Check out the Pitch archives.

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