Simon Boxer + Twice Different
Based in Melbourne, Australia
PC / Mac on Steam
Roguelike flavour, card game pacing. Dungeon crawl, chaos embracing. Shadows cast a truth to see, in darkness you can visit me.
Ring of Pain’s a creepy card dungeon crawler, where levels are dealt from cards and arranged in a ring. As you interact with cards the level dynamically adjusts based on your actions.
Strategise and adapt to a world distorted by fear and delusion. Delve as deep as you can to discover its secrets, with help from a motherly creature known only as Owl.
Early 2018, Ring of Pain started as the solo project of Simon Boxer.
After 10+ years as a professional concept artist, it’s the first commercial project he’s programmed.
With the support of Film Victoria, Simon’s hired a small team of freelancers to help bring it to life.
- Dungeon crawl in a card game, no walking required! No empty tiles, and nowhere to hide.
- Accessible gameplay, a challenge distilled. Hard due to choice, not mechanical skill.
- Move through the Ring interacting or sneaking. When fighting is futile, it’s stealth you are seeking.
- Strategy comes with inventory limits. What you can hold is a means to inhibit. Mix and match items within confines, of item types and slots defined.
- Cooperative mimics, with hunger for souls. Acquaint you with power if you pay their tolls.
- Cryptic writing, often in rhyme. A story of fears, obsession, decline. Exploring the line of imagined, distorted. Real then forgotten? Maybe contorted.
- Illusion depicted, aesthetic created. Bold colour accents, a style elevated.
- Belinda Coomes’ music is thrilling, immersive. All brooding and chilling, the horror coercive.
- Damion Sheppard’s soundscape will evoke, a threatening darkness, all crafted bespoke.
Press story angles / ideas
1. How aphantasia inspired a game’s art
The idea of a “mind’s eye” is really fascinating – Simon first learned about aphantasia through a writeup he shared, not realising how it’d impact a good friend. “I thought ‘picture this’ was just a metaphor”
It sparked a big discussion trying to understand what we each see (or don’t see) in our mind. How we make sense of the world.
Simon’s mental images aren’t particularly vivid but he can visualise imagery – faded, blurry, detail popping in and out.
The art direction for Ring of Pain draws largely on trying to depict a memory being recalled. It’s not quite all there. It’s raw and graphic with colour accents lining the edges.
Exploring the line of imagined, distorted.
Real then forgotten? Maybe contorted.
2. When you’re scared, what is real?
The game is about perception, the story explores how your mental state can project onto the world. Distorting it in alarming ways, making everything feel more hostile… and maybe it is? But how do you trust?.. And who?
3. Going from artist to developer
Simon was a professional concept artist for 10+ years, with art in games including Counterstrike: GO, DOTA 2, and Armello.
Learning to code was more accessible than imagined, but really catalysed by friends and peers willing to answer questions. We live in an age where knowledge is super accessible and some people are very generous with their time. Simon would post questions on Facebook or reach out to people, and get lengthy responses from well-respected indie peers. Sometimes people he’d never met. People who’ve made millions from their games!
Still rings true that the more you know, the more you realise you don’t know much at all. After a year of solo dev Simon had a working closed beta, and used this to get people excited and bring on a few freelancers.
More about Ring of Pain
Designing the gameplay
Highly replayable with short-ish play sessions: 40min – 1hr for a single playthrough (if you can make it to the end!).
We set out to create an accessible roguelike dungeon crawler, with a non-explicit narrative about falling victim to your own mind and trying to grow, learn, and heal.
Like a turn-based Binding of Isaac in the darkest corner of your mind.
The level progression is always forwards, diving deeper until you reach endings determined by your final choices.
The mechanics are inspired by a number of other games, with the main innovation being the card format. Cards are mostly displayed in a ring (though other arrangements are being tested). Where a standard dungeon crawler requires you to walk around, all navigation in Ring of Pain is done automatically.
I want the game to be difficult through the choices and situations you’re presented with, not because it needs keen reflexes.
Persistence favoured, grit desired. Patience is good, but not required.
We look forward to supporting Ring of Pain for as long as possible, building new features and gameplay alongside the community to bring you new ways to play, tweak the things you don’t like, incorporate more of the things that you do like, and bring you new expansions to the game.
On launch, we will be delivering;
- Over 150 items to discover and collect
- Over 50 creatures to discover
- Creatures with unique combat behaviours to learn and adapt to
- Mysterious story encounters and friendly mimics!
- 4 uniquely themed regions to explore
- Over 25 special rooms to discover
- A main story with branching ending. Who will you trust?
- A Daily Dungeon with over 25 modifiers, challenging you to different ways to play
- Hard Mode (for those who like an extra challenge!)
- Over 50 Achievements to unlock
- Stunning art and visuals
- Immersive audio and an Original Soundtrack
- Cryptic rhyming writing and dark lore to uncover
Narrative and characters
Frail and fragile, bear the curse. Through the ruins you traverse.
You start the game in the nest of a creepy yellow bird who calls itself Owl, a scavenger who’s rescued you from the Shadow. The Owl takes care of you, guides you, and warns you of the Shadow, who you first meet in the form of an ominous abstraction which speaks in cryptic rhyme…
The game creates a sense of mystery, with opt-in lore for players who want it, and those not interested in talking to characters can ignore them or choose other paths.
Darkness favours cunning few, stare too long and be consumed.
Other rhymes which might be useful
- Shadows cast a truth to see, in darkness you can visit me.
- Roguelike flavour, card game pacing. Randomised, chaos embracing.
- Facing perils, dungeons random. Roguelike flavour, card game tandem.
- The in between, the harsher states. Between your breath a solace waits.
- A body lost to worlds between. Calm forever, mind serene.
The .zip contains the images and logos below:
Logos and Icon
Ring of Pain credits
Creative direction, art, game design, writing, additional code
Game design, additional code
Sound and audio implementation
Music and soundtrack
firstname.lastname@example.org@sboxle on Twitter