Nephrite Games is ran by Rolo, a guy who enjoys tabletop and classic computer games. This blog is mainly about my own personal projects, but I also post information about upcoming wargaming releases and news from within the retro-gaming community.
Current Major Project: FRAG FRAG is a tabletop battle game in a dark universe inspired by 90s first person shooters. The latest version is available here.
It’s Quake time. Quake doesn’t get huge amounts of attention anymore, but it has an active community still making content for it.
Quake modding used to be about strikingly different total conversions / mods (Air Quake, QuakeRally, Fantasy Quake, Horrorshow Quake, Special Forces Quake), but nowadays it is more focused on providing an enhanced and refined Quake-style gameplay within the original Quake universe. Quake+. The bleeding edge of Quake modding is Quake gameplay in hugely expanded and often breath-takingly beautiful worlds, often with new enemies. Arcane Dimensions is the most visible of these.
Then are more vanilla offerings that provide a classic experience – meaning no new monsters, no changes to weapon or monster behaviour, no complex scripting and minimal or no use of new textures. Masque of the Red Death by Tronyn is one of those. It’s a mostly vanilla offering sticking closely to the design of the original Quake, just larger and far more action packed than the original levels.
Masque of the Red Death opens with a desperate battle against huge numbers of knights, death knights, fiends and scrags. The beginning is one of the hardest sections and if you’re not a master of monster infighting the fight is almost unwinnable. It gets easier as you pick up new weapons but the battles against huge numbers of monsters carry on throughout the level. The architecture is impressive but vanilla. It doesn’t make you wonder whether you’re playing a next gen game in the way that limit-breaking ‘Quake+’ levels do. It’s most definitely a Quake level.
I found the fights enjoyable for the most part. The level gives you a clear goal – get the rune to the door to leave – and a clear sense of progression – fight your way up the tower to get the rune. What I didn’t enjoy was how the large monster hit boxes restricted movement and made the combat in tighter spaces more of a chore, particularly the fight against the knights along the battlements.
The number of monsters really felt incredible, but I managed to win most of the battles first time. Ammo was tight in a few spaces but I almost always had what I needed to progress, even though I only managed to find 1 out of 8 secrets on my first play-through.
Masque of the Red Death is certainly worth a try. It’s an intense experience with a satisfying sense of progression.
The Cacowards are the best source of quality levels and gameplay mods for Doom. Anyone who wants to expand their experience of Doom engine gameplay should look there for the best mods and levels. That isn’t to say that it covers all quality content, but it’s certainly a good start.
Special mention for the 2x upscaling project – a project that uses multiple AIs in tandem to redraw the Doom sprites at double the resolution.
This is a trailer for Sonic Robo Blast 2 ver. 2.2.
SRB2 is a mod for Doom that creates a unique 3D Sonic game in the style of the older games. Honestly, it’s probably the best Sonic has ever been in 3D. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect (3d Sonic sets a low bar). The controls have always been too slippery for my liking which makes precision platforming a pain.
It’s nice to see this mod getting some love. It’s over two decades old (originally created in 1998), and it was a technical marvel (for the Doom engine) when it came out. The new release looks like it has added a lot of impressive new effects (destructible terrain using polyobjects!) and I’m looking forward to trying this.
15mm gaming has become increasing popular at my local club, with games like Flames of War and Team Yankee being especially popular. But I am a weirdo who likes to explore obscure rulesets and create my own games where I can.
I also have a resin 3d printer. This combined birthed a nice little mini-project.
The current total is 9 Abrams (the basis for Command and Conquer’s medium tank) , 2 Mammoth tanks, 3 stealth tanks, 2 flame tanks, some prototype M24 Chaffee (the basis for Red Alert and Command and Conquer’s light tank sprite). I’ve also made a massive set of Tiberium terrain and spore towers. It’s been very difficult getting some of this to print but I’ve relished the challenge.
I would like to restate that this is a mini-project. I am doing a quick army list book for the Critical Mass rules with no major changes. Along I was mulling a mass battle 6mm to 15mm sci-fi game after FRAG, I don’t want to let this district me from FRAG anymore than it has.
On 20th June, Amid Evil left early access. I’ve owned it for a while, but not played past Episode 4 (of 7).
I have really enjoyed my time playing Amid Evil, but it hasn’t grabbed me as hard as DUSK did. Something about the combat in DUSK feels more polished, and I find the pseudo-realistic level design and atmosphere a little more immersive.
However, it’s still a great retro-FPS throwback. Seven episodes with four levels each, with gameplay that is reminiscent of Heretic. Some of the level design looks absolutely gorgeous, and the designer clearly had fun making crazy patterns in the level editor.
Lately I’ve had my eye on a company called Wargames Atlantic. They’re a US/UK based company producing some sci-fi and fantasy staples in HIPS plastic. They are making their debut with two plastic kits.
For fantasy, they’ve gone with the Skeleton Warriors. No surprises as skeletons are probably the most popular fantasy miniatures kits.
By the looks of things, this kit will be useful for skirmish or regiment play. The skeletons look more classical than pop-fantasy, reminding me of Wargame Factory’s Greek flavoured skeleton kit. However, these look much easier to put together.
For sci-fi, they’re releasing the Raumjager. 28mm scale human infantry with greatcoats, masks, and several suspiciously familiar weapon options. They’ve got an obvious WW2 German look and when combined with the very 40k style weapon options they scream Armageddon Steel Legion.
Again, I’m reminded of Wargames Factory and their Shocktroopers, but the Raumjager look much more crisp and detailed. The reviews that I’ve seen have been positive, one even comparing the level of detail to Games Workshop. I’m unsure about that claim – I haven’t been able to hold one in my hand yet. They certainly do look nice at least.
The above pictures are all from their website. I’ve emailed them asking for more information, but I’ve not been paid to mention them (ha!). I’m just very excited to see someone else enter the generic sci-fi market.
We need more kits like these from more manufacturers. As I stated in my Tomorrow’s War / sandbox gaming post from last year, I believe that tabletop is most fun when the players are able to take ownership of the setting and their troops. Forge the narrative as Games Workshop says. It seems like Wargames Atlantic really want to sell to 40k players, but there’s a wealth of great sci-fi games out there.