Introducing Goblins Grottos

15 Jun 2016
Keith Killilea By Keith Killilea

Goblins & Grottos is a new collaboration between Psychic Software (from Ireland) and Goblin Portal (from Sweden). We’re calling Goblins & Grottos an “inverted RPG”. You play as the goblin, trying to escape a series of dungeon levels while a team of callous adventurers lays waste to everything around them. The idea is to turn normal RPGs on their heads, and see everything from the eyes of the poor helpless cannonfodder for once.

Goblin Portal have created a clean pixel style for the game, and I’m the programmer (of course). It’s working out well under control of a 2D physics engine: we have spent a lot of time getting the core animations and interactions with the environment as good as possible; the goblin runs, jumps and climbs walls, swings from chains as he attempts to escape the numbskull adventurers .. who in turn have no respect for the goblin, seeing him only as a quick kill for 10xp which brings them along the road to their next level and unlocking their next skill.

I’m using the same core set of technologies as I have for several recent projects: it’s written using HTML5/Javascript packaged into a desktop executable using nodewebkit and with pixijs for pretty efficient WebGL rendering. Nodewebkit gives access to things such as local file reading/writing, which isn’t normally possible from a browser. I’m using the matterjs javascript physics engine to move stuff around, but other than that there’s no actual game engine to be seen. I have found this suits me well for the 2D games I have been making lately – I can construct my own architecture rather than having to learn someone else’s; and the lightweight nature of Javascript suits me.

The near-term plan for Goblins & Grottos is to make a playable one-level demo, and to engage with players while expanding this into a complete multi-level adventure, starting with the goblin’s parents being hacked down by a merciless bunch of greedy adventurers, and ending with an unexpected and heart-wrenching moral dilemma. Or something.

We’re also planning on releasing the map editor as a core part of the game, and on making an on-line repository for player-made levels. There’s plenty of creative freedom in the map editor I have been creating, including customising the skills and chat text of the adventurers.

You can sign up as a tester over at, or follow us on Facebook. A playable demo should be available within the next few weeks.