Friday, 19 October 2012

Grimoire : Heralds of the Winged Exemplar

Making games can be a difficult business.  There are numerous examples out there of  games which have taken years to create, or which have just disappeared forever.  There are thousands of them that have fallen by the wayside, thousands more that never got past the planning stage.  The eternal highway that we call "gaming" is littered with the burnt out wrecks of projects that aimed too high, too low or in just the right place, but which were driven by idiots.

However, there has never been anything quite like Grimoire.  Grimoire splits opinions, it may be the greatest dungeon crawler ever created - it may never be completed.  Its um.. eccentric developer Cleveland M Blakemore first started working on it in 1995 - in the wake of a disastrous spell at legendary software house Sir-Tech.   He was allegedly employed on the follow up to Wizardry 7, one of the greatest RPGs ever made - but the project quickly descended into acrimony, penisaurus's and 9 inch dildos hanging off shower rails.  Rattled, but unbowed, Cleve picked himself up off the floor, squared his impressive shoulders and set out to make the RPG to end all RPGs.  To make the RPG at the end of time.  To make history!

Now finally, 17 years later, Grimoire has been shown to the public, on Indiegogo. Even if you have no interest in old-school RPGs you should still watch the pitch video as it is hilarious.
Sounds good huh, but unfortunately Cleve is also a little bit strange.  He describes himself as a Neanderthal, a lunatic and famously, in the pitch video for Grimoire, as a madman.  It has taken him 17 years to get Grimoire to where it is today and he has promised faithfully many times during that period that THIS TIME it's ready and that it will be released imminently - needless to say none of these promises were ever fulfilled.  If you combine this innovative approach to building customer confidence with his frequently offensive interactions with the outside world (oh, and he lives in a vault too, by the way) then you can see that the man has a bit of work on his hands if he wants to convince the paying public that they should support him. 

Now Cleve isn't stupid, he knows that people are lacking faith in him and he needs to convince them that he is dependable, committed and that there will be a good game at the end of this to reward their pledges of support.  So... how does he react?  Well, there is the good and then there is the bad.  On the one hand Cleve can say something that seems almost painfully honest, he can respond to criticism in a way that makes it clear how passionate he is about all this.  But then he also can't resist sticking the boot in to other games developers, on their own Kickstarter page no less.  He's an enigma.  That's what he is.  He's the main reason why the game splits opinions.  The game itself looks good.  Assuming it's mainly bug free and playable then it demonstrates a lot of things that people are looking for at the moment.  A genuine old school experience, something authentic, something different and something that is a labour of love.  The problem that many people have is who has made it.

What it comes down to is, do you want to play something that's come out of this man's mind?  Personally speaking (and I would like to make it quite clear that I am not responsible for any money you may lose backing this) I do.  God yes because, if nothing else, I am quite sure that it will contain plenty of WTF moments.  In a world full of identikit AAA games or play it safe indie odysseys this promises to be a madcap ride through the imagination of somebody who is anything but boring.  To my mind that makes it worth the money on its own.  You may not like Cleve, or you may think he's some kind of hero, whatever, any game that he has spent this amount of time and effort on is not going to be boring.  So, really, what have you got to lose?  It's only money.

About a month after this was written the story behind Grimoire took another, bizarre, twist.  You can read about it here.

And a demo was released in February 2013.  See this.


  1. He's no enigma.

    What is an identikit ?

    1. An identikit is the thing the police use to make up pictures of suspects. It consists of a number of components which they combine to make something which looks different, but is in fact made up of the same things as everything else.

      In much the same way as games are made up of.... you get the picture.

  2. Greatest game ever!!!

    Support Grimoire... support incline and monacles... be against decline, godless communism and popamole.

    1. Hi Not Cleve,

      Glad to hear that somebody who definitely isn't Cleve thinks this game is good.

      I've been playing Wizardry 6 in preparation for this magnum opus, this masterpiece, this epoch-defining, career-ending bastard of a game.

      You'd better release it Cleve! Don't let me down!

      Ahem... not that you're Cleve, obviously. Cough. Cough.

    2. I'm the real Cleve and I don't know the guy who posted as "Not Cleve."