The RogueWare Project

"Game Recklessly"

FreeHolder Early Access on Steam Has Begun!

My Dear Friends,

There are certain times in life where you have to step back from the madness and try to get a sense of where you are, and, if possible, where you’ve been and where you are going. On the momentous occasion of RogueWare’s first public game release on Steam, and hence our entry into the world of businesses not run at a complete loss, it seems like a perfect time to figure out just how we got here, which is the place we actually said we would get to.

Matt and I conceived of RogueWare before FreeHolder, near the end of 2012. In what is, I suspect, a typical story, both of us were lifelong game aficionados who very much disliked our employment situations. Right around that time, somehow, we managed to grok that we were at a unique moment in history, where people in precisely our situation now have the resources necessary to get into selling original games entirely on their own. We tossed around several much simpler game ideas for a while to determine what our first prototype would be as a company, but we eventually settled on a type of farm sim set in ancient Roman times, originally titled Homestead.

We built a proof-of-concept, with the title changed to FreeHolder, in Construct 2, a useful tool for prototyping games. With this in hand, we attended IndieCade in Culver City in 2013 with several goals in mind - the most important of which was to find a artist who was interested in bringing the game to life visually. With almost karmic luck, Matt managed to demonstrate our game to Haley Friedmann, who was attending the developer’s part of the conference, in the midst of a dozen different randomly positioned game displays and a long and winding line for beer. Her interest was piqued, but at the time we had no money to pay her. We assured her that we would contact her as the project moved forward, and on the fateful day when our kind investors decided to take a risk on us, we did so and started what would be an extremely fruitful relationship.

Particular thanks go to Haley for all of her fantastic art. FreeHolder would not have the wonderful aesthetic it does without her strong vision, memorable style, and the ability to somehow pull mental images directly out of my brain and render them even better than I had imagined. Working with her has been great and we owe her a debt of gratitude for being our de facto art director.

FreeHolder was created and developed in a very open-ended style. The whole thing was not conceived from start to finish but rather a basic game play premise was arrived at, experimented with, and built upon. While this can slow development and sometime lead down blind alleys, the end result is a far more organic game which sort of recursively builds on its own empirical success. It’s testing and designing based on those tests. Playing FreeHolder determined how FreeHolder would expand. It was a true privilege to design a game in this fashion, and of course this is perfect for the early access alpha model, because the player base can absolutely drive the game in any number of directions. We have opened up a world to the players - how that world is elaborated and finished off is in their hands.

The creation of FreeHolder has dominated my mind over the last three years, so it is both a relief and an honor to finally see just what the gaming world makes of it. FreeHolder is unique, it’s fun, it’s replayable, and it has real depth. And it’s only going to get better.

Matt and I wish to thank our parents and investors for their financial support and counsel. I want to give a special thank you to my partner Nicole for keeping the faith and keeping me alive while I worked to make my fevered dream a reality. She’s a true wonder. Matt and I also wanted to give a huge thanks to our friends for their support, input, and good will. We also want to thank the worldwide gaming community for so kindly spreading the word about FreeHolder and helping us get Greenlit. We literally would not be here if it weren’t for all of you. Thank you, everyone.

So that takes us from the past, to the present, but what does the future hold? We’re about to find out. Let the die be cast.

Chris Crooks

CEO, RogueWare

July 5, 2016

My Dear Friends, We Are Greenlit!

Hello one and all! 

RogueWare has returned from the shadows with exciting news - we have been Greenlit by Steam, thanks to the support of the community, i.e. all of you. You were willing to come and vote for us, or mention us to a friend, or even just send a kind thought our way - and that means all the world to us here at RogueWare. Some of you were even so thrilled with the game or just plain compassionate that you were willing to pledge your money up front, in the case of our Patreon subscribers.

Well, the belief that we all had in this game has now manifested. We can start an early access alpha of our game on Steam, once a number of significant steps have been taken, mostly involving coding and quality assurance. It is now our intention, over the course of the next few weeks, to prepare the game for press review and an official alpha release on Steam.

To our Patreon subscribers, we humbly thank you for your willingness to support not only our game, but the development of independent games in general. You are leading a wandering industry back to its roots when you lead game development out of the hands of executive boards and back into the hands of small teams of passionate and original developers. We are sad to say that we will be closing our Patreon page, as it didn’t offer enough visibility to reach our funding goals. All Patrons who pledged were not charged as we never met this minimum requirement for production.  You’ll still be able to provide us your support when we release for Early Access on Steam some time in Q2 of this year.  

We can’t thank everyone enough for their support and good will towards the fruit of our work of many years. Our commitment to bringing you games of the highest quality and replay value shall now be redoubled in the face of this good news. You have made this happen, and we at RogueWare acknowledge that all we can achieve is thanks to you. Without you, FreeHolder may have remained a dream unrealized. But no longer.

Our humblest gratitude and best wishes.


Let The Die Be Cast: FreeHolder Patreon Launch!

It's been a long, hard, and strange road, but RogueWare is finally ready to rest the fate of FreeHolder squarely in the hands of the community. This was our plan from the beginning, and through a number of permutations including Greenlight and Kickstarter we have finally settled on Patreon as the ideal crowdsourcing option. The incremental nature and fee-for-service model that they use fits more or less perfectly with the early alpha access model we had originally planned. 

We believe without question that the game is now far along enough that anyone who plays it can actually get a feel for the immense possibilities and compelling genre blend it represents, and in our opinion that should be enough to get someone to go about investing a few of their gaming dollars in something this unique. That has been our belief from the beginning, and it is now time to test that belief.

We are pleased to announce our Early Access Alpha launch on Patreon has begun! Our Patreon page includes everything you need to be easily convinced that investing in RogueWare is investing in quality gaming. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, or, if you have too much money and have no idea what to do with it, visit our Patreon page without delay. Your support can turn an idea into reality, and what is this but the alchemical dream?

Unending thanks to all our early investors, supporters, testers, allies and others that have made this incredible journey possible. The long-awaited day has arrived. Excelsior!

Chris and Matt Crooks

Visit our Patreon page, where you can watch our video and download the game demo, at:

FreeHolder - The Original Farming Roguelike
 Enters Alpha Development!

We've officially entered the alpha stage of development for FreeHolder!  We managed to obtain only some of the funding that will be necessary to bring the game to 1.0, but we have plans to push for early access via Steam Greenlight and a Kickstarter campaign to close that gap and complete this ambitious project!  In the meantime you can support us by visiting our Steam Greenlight concept page and giving us a vote and some feedback:

In this turn-based roguelike strategy game, you are an escaped Roman slave in Northern Gaul who stumbles across an abandoned farm.  When a corrupt census-taker agrees to let you stay in exchange for a hefty bribe, you must work the land, feed your people, level up your skills, and make the yearly wheat quota before winter falls.  As you fend off roving bandits and forge alliances with local tribes, you can choose your final path to freedom: Roman Citizen or Rebel Leader. 

Who knew farming was this epic?

The Story of FreeHolder

You and two comrades are escaped slaves who while fleeing Roman territory, stumble across a recently-raided farm, and although almost everything of value has been taken a small amount of wheat, a few tools and a couple silver denari might allow you to eke out a stealthy existence on the fringe of Roman lands. Unfortunately, you agree to run the farm together just as the Roman census-taker is knocking on the small home's door.

Only slightly terrified of being found out, you are unable to convince the Roman that you are anything other than escaped slaves. However, this particular census taker is, 'flexible' and offers the fugitives a deal: if they run the farm and produce enough wheat to fulfill the wheat quota demanded by Rome, and toss a bribe on top for himself, they can go on running the farm instead of being sent back to face their master. With no other options, and no way out, you and your compatriots agree hastily.

This state of affairs does not have to last, however. A slave you may have been but you can choose to resist the Romans by stealth, subterfuge, or brute force, and by allying with the northern tribes. Or you can purchase freedom for yourself and your friends and buy your way into Roman high society. With ten different classes from agronomist to ranger, engineer, rancher, witch, and gladiator, with multiple different upgrade paths and special actions, you can play exactly the way you want to.

Mission Statement

We are two brothers on a singular mission.  To create the next great gaming sensation that adds something unique to the gaming world.  How we get there?  We're not quite sure yet, but we hope you'll help us.

We've come to understand that there are many people like us out there; gamers who, can't for the life of them just give up this life-absorbing hobby.  And why should they?  Each of us is in pursuit of the perfect game, whatever form it might be in.  We crave tactical challenge, captivating stories, gritty thrill or historical knowledge.  Games are an important part of our society, whether it be football, Dungeons & Dragons, Settlers of Catan, Pacman, Halo, or friggen' laser tag, it doesn't matter.  Playing is a fundamental part of being human.

Our intention with this site, is threefold:

-To create a development journal of our game prototypes for public input and scrutiny.

-Share our thoughts about games, the industry, design etc..

-Foster a community of like-minded gamers, developers, and artists to contribute to the creative process. 

Play the FreeHolder Prototype

We used Construct 2 from Scirra to create the prototype for FreeHolder. The game runs inside your browser using HTML5. At this time the demo functions best on Mozilla Firefox (You can get Firefox here).  You must be logged in to try the prototype.

Once you're signed in, you can click here to get to the Demo Portal page.

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