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ENTER THE DARK FANTASY WORLD OF INNKEEP


The Weary Pilgrim has a new master of the house. It's you! Time to wear an apron, put on a warm smile, and rob your guests…

Of course, you'll need to cook them something to eat first. And give them plenty to drink. Only, supplies are short, what with how dangerous the roads have become. Hopefully they don't recognize the taste of mountain rat. A little water in their wine won't hurt them either. Then you'll have to tell your guests a good joke or two to win their trust. Maybe share a few rumors. That will make it easier to get nice and close, so you can listen to their conversations, and learn who among them are the best targets. Then, when they are drunkenly asleep at night, you can sneak into their rooms, rummage through their belongings, and take their ill-gotten gains for yourself!


RUMORS OF GREAT TREASURE HAVE SPREAD


Innkeepers have all the fun. That's what you've observed. Hanging around indoors all day, talking, drinking and eating, wearing fine aprons and wiping bar tops. No need to plow a field in the rain or dig ditches. No need to chase after muddy pigs. You've always coveted the job. But... you're merely a Profane. And only those of Divine blood can run a public house in Buccolia. So, resigned to your fate, you lose yourself in drinking and dicing.

Until, one day, somebody murders your friend.

Everybody knows he owed you money. And worse, they found you with the body! It was run or be hanged. But as Cirr takes with one hand he gives with another, and through a strange twist of fate you soon find yourself the new master of a once proud inn, the Weary Pilgrim, located in the Valley of the Incarnates. There’s no law to bar you from innkeeping here. Indeed, right now, there’s no laws at all! The imperial guard has been disbanded, as strife engulfs the Divine Empire. Now all kinds of folk are turning up, with digging tools and mean eyes. They want to rob the tombs of the gods themselves.

Now you must attempt to run this lonely house in a lawless land, playing host to ghoulish grave robbers, bragging adventurers, cold blooded bounty hunters, and worse. If you’re going to survive out here you’ll need to get creative. Very creative. Starting with what’s going into the stew.


REVEAL AN ANCIENT SECRET


Desperate though you may be, you never expected to become a thief. But as the tomb robbers burrow deeper into the bone-strewn hills of the valley, they are beginning to unearth the vestiges of an ancient secret. Little do these impious illiterates know about the true significance of the old tablets and inscribed trinkets they hope to sell as curiosities. Yet a disgraced sorceress of the Divine blood believes they may be the key to preventing the outbreak of war and the certain destruction of your new home. And so, each night, you sneak into your guests' rooms, rifling through their belongings for fragments of a long forgotten mystery.

It is a race against time. As the tomb robbers unwittingly bring you more revelations, so too do they draw outrage from the provinces. Who will be the first to send soldiers into the valley? And how will the rest of the Empire respond to the breaking of this taboo? You listen to the rumors as they swirl amidst the pipe smoke of the Weary Pilgrim's common room.

Alone, it may be a hopeless venture. Yet along with the sorceress, you have gained the aid of a band of outcasts, heretics, and freaks, who have come to dwell under your roof in fractious friendship. It is a strange irony that while each of you has seen your lives smothered or upended by the Empire's inflexible laws, together you just might be the ones who ultimately determine its fate. And so, here you stand, in the eye of the storm. Another day begins. The guests arrive. The cauldron bubbles. You put on a smile. Watch. Listen. And wait.


FEATURES


Pour some ale

Your guests are a thirsty bunch, so keep the ale flowing. You'll need to get hands-on, hauling barrels, and pouring drinks. Just keep an eye on the stocks in your cellar. If supplies get a little short you might need to mix in a bit more water.


Get ‘creative’ in the kitchen

The road to the Weary Pilgrim is far from safe these days. The merchants who still visit are bringing plenty of extra protection, and charging four times the usual prices. If you're going to keep your fine establishment running you'll need to go outside your culinary comfort zone. Or at least, your guests certainly will. They say mountain rat kind of tastes like beef. Kind of.


Spy on your guests

Every guest who visits your inn has their own story… and their own secrets. Listen in on their conversations while you innocently bustle about. If you're clever enough you might learn a few things. Maybe a new story or joke to add to your repertoire. Or maybe the fact that they just unearthed a fancy trinket from a nearby tomb.


Build a band of bards

It'll be easier for your guests to relax if they have some music to listen to. So assemble a band to help keep them drinking merrily, late into the night. Of course, the kind of bard who'd turn up at the Weary Pilgrim must be pretty low on options. Maybe they're running from someone. Or from something.


Burn the midnight oil

Once your guests are finally fast asleep it's time to pay some of them a visit. If you were watching carefully through the evening you'll know who the juiciest targets will be. Paw through bulky travel sacks. Check the heels of boots for extra gold. Wiggle rings from fingers. Look for anything that glints in the candlelight. Just be careful to be quick about it. And quiet.


Feature Summary


  • The ability to collect and share rumors, stories, and jokes by eavesdropping on real time conversations.
    A challenging core game loop revolving around serving and entertaining your guests, while learning their secrets and deciding which of them you will rob each night.
    A cooking system that lets you get a little “creative” when it comes to what goes into the stew or pies.
    A lavishly detailed inn where walls and floors fade away to reveal what is behind or beneath them.
    A host of guest characters with their own unique portraits and dialogue.
    Musical tracks that are incorporated into the game, played by the bards that can join your band of down-and-out bards.
    An unfolding narrative with a number of possible endings.



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Hang on, tell me what Innkeep is again please!

INNKEEP immerses the player in the experience of running a fantasy world inn as a less-than-scrupulous master of the house. Each day, groups of unique guests will come to visit. Eavesdrop on their conversations as you serve them, learning their secrets, and acquiring new stories and jokes to tell. Gather a band of down-and-out bards to help fill them with mirth and keep them drinking until late. Then, when they are sound asleep each night, sneak into their rooms, rummage through their belongings, and take their pretty trinkets for yourself.

steampage 1

Sound’s pretty cool, right? By the way... Did you know that Innkeep has a Steam page? It's true! Go check it out, and hit that Wishlist button. More wishlists helps a lot with getting steam to recommend the game to people, or for when I try pitching to publishers for financing to finish the project.

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The Basic Setting

When I first started working on the concept of Innkeep, I knew that something appealing about using a fantasy world Inn as a setting was that you could minimize the amount of work needed on creating different locations. You have the interior of the inn, maybe a bit of the immediate exterior… and that was it. A nice, narrow scope that would be suitable for a solo-developer.

Another thing I knew from early on was that I wanted to bring in a sense of resource scarcity, particularly at the beginning of the game. The player was not a cheerful, honest fellow, running a bustling inn, located in a prosperous town, which they had inherited from their dead uncle or some such. Rather, they were somewhat desperate, struggling to make ends meet, and willing to steal from (some) of their guests in order to survive. Not necessarily because you were roleplaying as a villain, but because you had to make some hard choices in a difficult situation (and maybe because some of your guests deserve to be robbed!)

robbingVorish


The Narrative Problem

The above basic setting does however, does pose a narrative problem. Put it simply, we need to be able to answer the following question: What is the situation? In other words, why is the inn experiencing a state of resource scarcity? This might sound like a fairly easy problem to solve. We could imagine a number of scenarios.

For example, perhaps we could opt for a financial reason: the previous owner had a significant debt, and you need to help pay it off. So supplies are technically available, but you are unable to easily afford them. Yet this answer has some difficulties. Debt can be an interesting emotional mechanic in a game (like in Hard Space: Shipbreaker, or Landlord’s Super), but if the player has fairly easy access to income (from stealing from guests), then it becomes less a problem of resource scarcity, and more about remaking loan payments. It might work mechanically, with some tweaking of how difficult it is to steal, and how frequently / how much you have to repay, but would this be a satisfying situation for the player? And more generally, while wage slavery is an increasingly common topic in indie games for obvious reasons these days, did I really want to rehash that particular dystopic subject in my fantasy world game?

robbingVorish2


OK, so what if there had been some kind of war recently? The land had been ruined. Perhaps the inn itself was damaged and needed repairs. Supplies are scarce, because times are hard for everybody. This answer is potentially a little more interesting. But again, it raises some problems. If times are hard, then who exactly is the player stealing from? If not local people, then presumably outsiders. And if outsiders, then what is their motivation for being in this ruined area? Are they just passing through on the way to somewhere else? And if so, why? Is there a nearby mountain pass, perhaps? With the war ending, had traffic been restored that had until now been cut off? Perhaps this might explain an increase in certain kinds of guests (merchants?) But what about adventurers? How could we get the kind of diversity of guests that would help to make the game interesting? There is also the risk of falling into some grim-dark fantasy world clichés about war and violence. Themes about armed conflict were not really linking up with what I wanted my particular game to be about.

Reformulating the Parameters of the Problem

And so, as I explored different possible answers I was able to clarify the parameters of the problem.

  1. Resources were hard to come by (expensive, but also somewhat rare).
  2. The player was willing and able to steal from guests to help deal with that scarcity.
  3. Stealing from guests presupposes a supply of guests with something to steal, who are visiting the inn.

I needed a narrative solution that would help address these requirements in a satisfying way. More specifically, how could we make sense of a situation where there was both scarcity (of resources) and abundance (of guests) at the same time.

flicker


Deadwood

What inspired my eventual answer was a friend telling me about the TV show Deadwood, based on a real life town in the United States. Deadwood was a built illegally on the land of the Lakota people, in the 19th century. Its population increased massively during the Black Hills Gold Rush. Numerous famous individuals passed through (and /or died in) the town, including Wild Bill Hickok (1837–1876), Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary) (1852–1903), Wyatt Earp (1848–1929), and George Hearst.

This scenario resonated with me right away. You had a situation where there was a sudden increase of people in an area (an abundance of people with money you could cheat or steal from), and yet supplies had to be brought in from the outside, at some expense and difficulty (because of bandits, or attacks from local tribes).

What it needed was just a bit of a twist, to adapt the situation in a way that would make it feel more suitable to a fantasy setting. What if, instead of a rush for gold or silver, we had a rush for the robbing of tombs?

Valley Walk


The Lore of the Land: A Fantasy World Gold Rush

Let me now paint a picture of the narrative setting of Innkeep, building on the above. In our fantasy world, an old empire had traditionally entombed its noble dead in a certain valley, which remained uninhabited by decree, and was located some distance from its core regions. The specific reasons for this are historical (and relate to the kingdoms that predate the empire, and some other narrative elements I won’t go into here). This “Valley of Ancestors” was a site of holy pilgrimage for many, as the dead Emperors and Empresses were worshiped as deities, in a manner similar to the Imperial Cult of Rome. The Weary Pilgrim inn was located at the entrance to the valley, a place where pilgrims could rest when visiting the holy tombs to pay homage. The local area was also watched over by imperial guards, who prevented any looting.

Then, following certain developments that aren’t important here, the empire collapsed. The praetorian guard was disbanded, and the provinces began to split into their own competing kingdoms. As a result, the Valley of Ancestors was now unprotected. The ancient tombs, filled with treasure (and traps!) were waiting for somebody to loot them.

The Weary Pilgrim was no longer a place for pilgrims to come and rest, but a stopping point for tomb robbers. A fantasy world gold rush, which would explain a diverse cast of visiting (and possibly wealthy) strangers, yet resource scarcity brought on by remoteness, and danger.

killthemall


This was an unstable situation. How long would it go on for? Would a nearby kingdom come and secure the tombs for themselves? And questions remain about the nature of the tombs. Do some of them actually pre-date the empire? Is there, possibly, something locked away down there that had better remain locked away? Was the imperial cult in fact established to hide and protect something? Hmmm… We can see how this setting could help feed into the broader narrative arc of the game quite nicely.

heckyes


A Gold Rush ‘Ecosystem’

What I particularly liked about this answer however was that it could work really well with helping to establish the different kinds of guests the player might encounter over the course of the game, and how those kinds of guests might relate to each other. This particular ecosystem finds its origins in the “input” of treasure from the tombs (like sunlight and nutrients might be inputs for organic life), but this input is then spread around the system in different ways via the different groups and their relations to each other. A non-exhaustive list could include some of the following:

The ‘Prospectors’ (tomb robbers)

These individuals have come to the Valley of Ancestors to try their hand at looting the abandoned tombs. Some of them fancy themselves “adventurers”. They want a bit of treasure, a bit of excitement, a bit of glory. They might be in groups, and be well supplied. Others might be more desperate individuals who have been lured above all by the call of gold, and are willing to attain it by any means necessary.

The Professors

Ancient tombs contain more than just gold. They also contain texts. Knowledge. Secrets. Was the imperial cult hiding something? What is there to lean? Learned magic users might see this opening as a long awaited chance at getting some answers.

The Provisioners

While the prospectors might seek profit in a direct fashion, by delving into the tombs, and the professors seek an abstract profit in the form of knowledge, the provisioners profit indirectly by providing them with food, shelter, or equipment. As an innkeeper, the player could be regarded as belonging to this group. Other members of the group would include traders who continue to bring supplies into the valley, selling them to the player. The roads have become quite dangerous these days, however, on account of the bandits. Somebody has to pay for the protection, so prices have gone up even further!

The Bandits

Another form of ‘indirect’ profit is to simply take the looted tomb treasures from the prospectors, professors, or provisioners. Bandits have begun to swarm into the region. Perhaps some of them initially intended to be prospectors themselves, but found the tomb raiding a little harder going than expected. Perhaps some bandits are carrying out a little of each activity at the same time (there is no reason why any particular individual can’t belong to more than one group at a time, or switch between them.) There is also the general appeal of a now lawless area. Some of the bandits might have come to the valley because they are wanted by the guards of a specific province-turned-kingdom.

The Protection

If there are bandits in the area, then there is need for some protection. The professors and some of the wealthier prospectors may have brought their own guards with them. And the provisioners such as the traders and merchants certainly wouldn’t brave the road to the Weary Pilgrim without some hired muscle.

The Bounty Hunters

If there are bandits who are wanted elsewhere, then we can imagine bounty hunters who have come to profit by taking their heads back to where they came from.

The Secret Keepers

And to push it a bit further, there may be those who, like the Medjai from The Mummy, want to prevent the professors and prospectors from disturbing things best left undisturbed. And they are willing to go to great lengths to do so.

windysign


Summing Up

From the above, you can hopefully get a picture of how the setting of a fantasy world gold rush works so nicely. It helps make narrative sense of the scarcity of resources and abundance of diverse guests, and also provides a framework for thinking about a kind of ecology of those guests; what kinds there are, and how they relate to each other. Importantly, it helps with enabling the player to enjoy some of the transgression of being a thief, without feeling the need to roleplay as a moustache twirling villain who steals from innocent townspeople. Furthermore, it fits very nicely with another theme of the game, which is the inversion of the typical position of the player at the center of any fantasy world game. In the ecosystem mapped out above, your role as a provisioner is a marginal one in terms of importance. Your job is to pour the beers, rather than explore the tombs. Yet it is also a role that still brings you into contact with all these other different kinds of people. The treasures and stories of those tombs still might find their way to you indirectly. In other words, you can still have the experience of a fantasy world, only now recreated within the microcosm of your inn.

woodtofire


Hope you enjoyed this not-so-little update. I'll follow up with another soon.

Do remember to drop by the Steam page and give us a wishlist!

Innkeep Dev Feature - Making the Valley of Ancestors

Innkeep Dev Feature - Making the Valley of Ancestors

Feature

This week I'm taking a closer look at how I created the exterior of the Inn, including the background art, as well as the dynamically moving grass.

Innkeep Dev Feature - Barrels of fun

Innkeep Dev Feature - Barrels of fun

News

Hi everybody! It’s time for another article on Innkeep development. Today I thought I'd write about a really neat feature: barrels you can grab, carry...

Innkeep Dev Feature - Cooking System Closeup

Innkeep Dev Feature - Cooking System Closeup

News 2 comments

Last year I sat down with pen and paper and got to work designing the Innkeep cooking system. After some months of work it's shaping up quite nicely...

Innkeep - Making Basic Lighting in a 2D Game

Innkeep - Making Basic Lighting in a 2D Game

Feature

Hi there fellow Makers of Games and indie game aficionados. I’ve had some positive comments from people about the lighting effects in my game, along...

Comments  (0 - 10 of 13)
Guest
Guest

Great game idea ,i am going to whislist this masterpiece.

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BeerDrinkingBurke Creator
BeerDrinkingBurke

Thank you!

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Sluggo971
Sluggo971

Looks fun! Great job!

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BeerDrinkingBurke Creator
BeerDrinkingBurke

Thanks!

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DarylThorne
DarylThorne

This development of the game looks very promising and i can see this gaining alot of interest. I would like to offer my graphic design skills to either help in game or with advertising and promotion of the game. I can send a link to my portfolio.

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LuomoAmava
LuomoAmava

Do you need music? I can write virtually any style of music, and can capture a lot of different moods. If you're interested, hit me up on instagram, LuomoAmava

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BeerDrinkingBurke Creator
BeerDrinkingBurke

Thanks for the interest. I already have a musician.

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NoahLoganVO
NoahLoganVO

The dry sense of humor surrounding this game is intoxicating (no pun intended). Hope development is going well for you!

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BeerDrinkingBurke Creator
BeerDrinkingBurke

Thank you. ;-) I hope to bring some of that to the writing in the game, without overdoing it. Check out my twitter feed for frequent updates.

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JillValentine69
JillValentine69

I like micro management games and career/Life sims similar to this. keep up the work ill be keen to try this when you can release a build!

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BeerDrinkingBurke Creator
BeerDrinkingBurke

Thanks! It's been quite slow going, but I'll get there in the end.

Reply Good karma+2 votes
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