Back in March, we had a talk with Jeff Vogel, the Seattle-based developer who, working almost solo, has been putting out massive computer RPGs like the Avernum and Exile series for almost twenty-five years. He mentioned back then that once he’d finished porting his game Avernum III to the iPad, he planned to make an announcement about his next project.
That announcement came without real preamble early Wednesday via Twitter, as Vogel put up a Kickstarter for development on his new game Queen’s Wish, a CRPG for Windows, Mac, and iPad. Vogel describes QW as “old-school 80’s-style gaming, with a low budget but tons of clever design and charm.”
In other words, it’s a Jeff Vogel game. Specifically, it’s his first brand-new game since the conclusion of the Avadon trilogy in 2016.
Queen’s Wish places you in the role of the youngest child of the Queen of the Empire of Haven. At your mother’s command, you’ve been uprooted from a life of luxury and sent to the continent of Sacramentum, the former home to a colony from Haven that fell apart under mysterious circumstances.
What the Queen wants is for you to rebuild the colony and win her favor. What you can do instead is unify Sacramentum under your own rule as a despot; treat your new neighbors diplomatically and secure a place for yourself in the world; or simply look for an escape hatch so you can get out from under your mother’s thumb.
By Vogel’s description, Queen’s Wish combines the turn-based combat and exploration of his previous games with the ability to build and customize your own forts. You can (re)settle Sacramentum by installing appropriate facilities such as shops, smithies, and furniture, which in turn gives your character useful bonuses. Unlike Vogel’s most recent project, the second remaster of Avernum III: Ruined World, Queen’s Wish features a top-down, grid-based map, as opposed to an isometric view.
Much of the Kickstarter money for Queen’s Wish is slated to go to hiring freelance artists to generate brand-new in-game assets. When I spoke to Vogel in March, we talked briefly about his then-unnamed next project. “…for this game, everything just needs to be redone from scratch,” he said. “I reuse stuff mercilessly. I’ve always said that if an icon of a wolf looks good… it’ll still look good when you’re writing the next game. I’m going to buy a new wolf [for Queen’s Wish], and that’s going to be my biggest splurge.”
As of Thursday morning, the Kickstarter had already surpassed its initial $30,000 goal, with total pledges of more than $37,000. The planned stretch goals for Queen’s Wish currently include an iPhone port at $50,000 and a brand-new nation in Sacramentum, “an alien underworld nation shrouded in mystery,” at $75,000.
Rewards for backers include the ability to add a name to the game ($200), design an artifact ($400), create your own custom NPC that will be included in the final game ($700), or work with Vogel to write and implement your own custom quest ($1,000). If you’ve got a checkered history with Vogel’s line of CRPGs, you can also pony up $75 to get a personalized Scroll of Absolution, which officially entitles you to forgiveness for any point in the past where you might have pirated a Spiderweb Software game. (“We get apology emails about this all the time. Now you can make our forgiveness official!”)