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Wednesday - July 06, 2016
Tuesday - July 05, 2016
Monday - July 04, 2016
Sunday - July 03, 2016
Saturday - July 02, 2016
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Aubrielle's Column

2016-07-07

Death By Exposure - Trails of Cold Steel

Aubrielle opens her new semiregular JRPG column with an unofficial review of Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel.
» Continue reading the article...

Torment: Tides of Numenera

2016-06-27

Torment: Tides of Numenera Beta Impressions

Corwin entered the world of Numenera in the beta version of Torment: Tides of Numenera.
» Read the article

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Recently Released

Jul: Starbound
Jul: I Am Setsuna
Jul: Necropolis
Jul: Song of the Deep
Jul: Krai Mira

Wednesday - July 06, 2016

Heroes of a Broken Land - Review @Clay

by Silver, 01:52

This IS! Gaming With Clay reviews Heroes of a Broken Land.

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Heroes of a Broken Land

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Retro Remastered - Year of the JRPG

by Aubrielle, 00:17

Retro Remastered recently published an article calling 2016 "The Year of the JRPG". With releases like Tales of Berseria, it's a good argument to make. In all fairness, though, 2017 seems a bit more deserving of the title, since western audiences won't see a lot of those hyped releases till then.

Thanks, Couch!

There’s a lot of exciting games and releases this year covering all genres, across all platforms and devices, however perhaps the biggest note worth taking is the stunning surge of JRPGs. After most of the main series seemed content to spin in circles for a few years, all of a sudden we’re getting new titles from pretty much every landmark franchise, alongside a wave of curious smaller titles. So whether you need help planning out your purchases for the year, or just want a reminder of what’s coming (and what’s already out there), here’s a whistle-stop tour for those of us who live to level up.

Read more.

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

Tokyo Xanadu - PC Release, Localization in 2017

by Aubrielle, 00:09

Aksys Games is localizing Tokyo Xanadu for a western release on PC and PS Vita in 2017.  Tokyo Xanadu is an action RPG with influences from games like Persona.

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At their Anime Expo 2016 panel, Aksys Games announced that they are working on localizing Falcom's Tokyo Xanadu for North America, set to release in early 2017. In addition to the original PlayStation Vita version, the game will also be made available on PC via Steam. 

However, Aksys currently has no plans for Tokyo Xanadu eX+, the upcoming enhanced PS4 port set to release in Japan later this year, which includes new playable party members and scenes.

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

Tuesday - July 05, 2016

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 - PC Version released

by Hiddenx, 21:20

The Historical Sim / Strategy RPG Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13 has been released for the PC:

"The ultimate depiction of the Three Kingdom. A heroic drama of a gathering of Legends." Based on this concept for Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13, we have compiled an experience that will immerse the player deep into the historically turbulent world of the Three Kingdoms, with "human drama," seen through daily interactions both on the battlefield and off between the many heroic characters of the time (all playable), "spectacular battles" shown in majestic battle scenes, "dynamism" expressed across the great land of China in full 3D as each character plots and battles to expand their territory, and much more.
Players will become one of the heroes that lived during the time of the Three Kingdoms and through their actions and decisions will forge their own unique history in that turbulent yet period.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms 13

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Historical
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Banner Saga 2 - Review @ TrueAchievements

by Hiddenx, 20:53

TrueAchievements has reviewed Banner Saga 2:

[...]

Summary

The Banner Saga 2 presents a story that defies the middle episode syndrome, building on the rich lore and expanding its world in new and interesting ways to give players a wholly interesting narrative experience. It comments smartly on the role of a leader and what such a position requires, while trying to beat those leaders into submission. It's a story of great scale and turmoil presented alongside a gameplay loop that does everything that it wants to do very well. It just so happens that what it wants to do is nearly identical to what it did last time. If you're returning to Stoic's Saga then it's more of what you enjoyed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If you're a fan of the genre and new to the series, The Banner Saga 2 is absolutely worth your time, just make time for its predecessor first.

Score: 4/5

Positives:

  • Excellent storytelling
  • Stunning visuals
  • Sophisticated musical score
  • Solid tactical gameplay

Negatives:
  • Fails to build on its formula in any meaningful way

Banner Saga 2

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Startrail HD - New Pictures

by Hiddenx, 20:44

Crafty Studios released a few more screenshots of their Startrail remake -> link

Thank you for the info, Kordanor!

Startrail HD

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Ys Series - 70% Off at Humble

by Aubrielle, 13:26

If you've been waiting to own the Ys series and you missed this summer's sales, never fear.  Humble has them on sale right now for 70% off.

Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Historical
Genre: J-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

RPG Scrollbars - Voices in Your Ear

by Aubrielle, 13:13

Today's RPG Scrollbars column at RPS goes back in time to discuss voice acting in RPGs.

It’s hard to remember just how big of a deal speech was in the 80s and early 90s, back when most of us had a PC speaker capable of half-heartedly farting out a tune. A few companies, notably Access, managed to squeeze more out of it, including speech. Arcade machines too occasionally served up the odd soundbyte, at a reported price of around $1,000 a word. But computers didn’t talk much until the 90s. First they didn’t have the ability. Later, they lacked the storage space. While there were talkie games and CD-ROMs and SoundBlasters before it, it wasn’t really until ’95 or so that most PC gamers could be expected to have both. For ages, speech was largely a novelty.

Origin of course was well ahead of that curve, as befits the company whose motto was “Your PC Can’t Run This”. Their games shipped on floppy, but it was possible to buy “Speech Packs” to jazz them up a little. And I do mean a little. Wing Commander II for instance was largely restricted to in-cockpit comments. Ultima VIII: Pagan only gave voice to a handful of characters, like the Titans, and the kind of voice that answered the question ‘what does buyer’s remorse sound like?’

But Ultima VII… that was a different story. If you had a SoundBlaster, the quest took on a whole different atmosphere thanks to the villain, the Guardian, being able to break into your game at a whim. He could do it without sound, his big head being superimposed onto the screen with a caption, but that wasn’t half as effective as his gentle sentiment to “Sleep, Avatar…” when you went to bed, or finger-wagging “Thou shouldst not do that, Avatar!” when you inevitably pinched something. The use of speech turned him from a villain who honestly didn’t really do anything much into a focus for the entire quest. He wasn’t in some spooky castle. He was in your mind, slowly stripping away the pretence of having Britannia’s best interests at heart. Every time he spoke, his booming voice – the only voice in the game – was a mini jump-scare. Loud cacklings. False guidance. That smug sense of power; of being able to let you go about your business because failure isn’t even on the table.

The result was one of RPGdom’s most memorable, most intimidating, most active feeling villains, despite, as said, him not even having a presence in the world until the final five seconds of the game. And also of course, looking a bit like a poorly constructed Muppet. (Even Origin admitted it, via Easter Egg…)

Read more.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Details

Amplitude Studios - Acquired By Sega

by Aubrielle, 13:10

Endless Legend devs Amplitude have been acquired by Sega.

Sega have acquired Amplitude, creators of the Endless series of strategy games. Endless Legend was our game of the year in 2014 and its predecessor Endless Space is set to receive a direct sequel that will enter Early Access later this year. Sega will now publish that game, as well as assuming responsibility for the back catalogue of Endless games, which includes Dungeon of the Endless, a fantastic tower-defense/roguelike hybrid.

Amplitude are one of the smartest young strategy studios around and they join Creative Assembly, Relic and Sports Interactive (Football Manager is a strategy game) in Sega’s stable of PC developers. That’s a mighty strong line-up for a company that old men like me still associate with ancient consoles and platform games rather than PC publishing.

President/COO for Sega Europe Jurgen Post had this to say:

“To have the opportunity to add a studio with the growing reputation of Amplitude’s, to the SEGA family, is an exciting one and reinforces SEGA Europe’s position as a market leader in publishing high quality PC games. Culturally, Amplitude are a fantastic fit for the business as they not only produce great games, but also have a proven track record in listening to their fans and directly involving them in the ongoing development of their games through their GAMES2GETHER system.”

That GAMES2GETHER system creates a space for players to give early feedback and perhaps explains why Endless Legend’s time in Early Access was so pleasant. Truth be told, I’d all but forgotten it was ever in Early Access, despite playing it for tens of hours before release.

On the Amplitude side, co-founder Mathieu Girard made these comments:

“Joining the SEGA family represents the culmination of five years of hard work from myself and Romain and everyone here at Amplitude Studios. For the Endless series to be alongside PC franchises with such heritage as Total War and Dawn of War in the SEGA Europe stable puts our games where we feel they deserve to be. We look forward to leveraging SEGA Europe’s expertise in the PC market to take the Endless series to the next level.”

For further information, and to direct any questions about the acquisition in Amplitude’s direction, head to this page, where you can already find an initial answer to one burning question:

Of course you could wonder, “Why Sega?” If you were to ask just Mathieu and I, we could easily answer with the words “Creative Assembly and Relic!” because we are HUGE fans of their games. The opportunity to join them is incredible for us, a real dream come true.

But the bigger reason why we wanted to join SEGA was how they treat their internal studios. Often, studios are controlled by a central department that dictates what games they should do, and how and when. But SEGA is a company that offers its support to the creators, positioning itself as a service provider, helping studios to reach their goals with only one objective in mind: Quality!

Only time will tell if Amplitude and Sega will be a good fit, but as someone who is very much looking forward to Endless Space 2, I see no reason to despair or to cheer. If the plan is to allow Amplitude to follow their existing practices, as suggested by the continuation of GAMES2GETHER and an Early Access release, then the acquisition might not have a great deal of impact on current development at all. And it seems unlikely that Sega would want to make this move for one upcoming game and a small but impressive back catalogue, so hopefully it’ll ensure stability for future Endless titles, or whatever else Amplitude decide to turn their talents toward.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

Amplitude Studios

Details

Unexplored - Dungeon Crawler on Greenlight

by Myrthos, 12:26

Unexplored started out as a proof of concept, to see if automatic generated levels can be done as good as a designer would make them. By means of a new technology, the answer to this is still 'no', but it is getting close.

One simple trick makes machines better level designers

At its core, the theory is very simple to explain. Usually, programs tasked with creating levels typically think in straight lines. Which makes sense, the player needs to get from A to B. However, a human level designer typically does not think in straight lines. Intentionally or not, they design levels thinking in circles, in loops. Intuitively adding a shortcut back to the main path just after a key, adding a secondary path to the same goal with a different type of challenge, those kind of touches.

And that’s the simple but far reaching and fundamental change coming to computer generated levels in the near future: cyclic structures instead of just branching paths. One of the first games to fully embrace this theory is the upcoming dungeon crawler Unexplored (now on Steam Greenlight).

Being the brainchild of game researcher and developer Joris Dormans, Unexplored provides some great examples of cyclic level generation. See for yourself:

A level like this would be impossible to generate using the existing methods of branching paths creation. However, “The biggest and main advantage of a system like this”, says Dormans, “is the fact it makes games with computer generated levels just so much more compelling and fun to play.”

Although Unexplored, which started as a proof of concept but evolved into a fully fledged dungeon crawler, may be one of the first of its kind, it definitely won’t be the last. Dormans: “Every time I play the game myself, I’m surprised about the complexity and hand crafted feel of the levels. After release we will share everything we’ve learned about the cyclic creation process. We fully expect, and hope, other developers will take advantage of this.”

UNEXPLORED
Easy to play, easy to die!
Unexplored creates dungeons so challenging and fun, you can't stop playing! 
Beat hundreds of monsters, slay the dragon and find the amulet of Yendor!

  • 'Easy to learn, easy to die'-gameplay 
  • Brand new dungeon generator tech, the first of its kind! 
  • Hundreds upon hundreds of hours of pure fun 
  • Intense dual wielding melee combat 
  • Clever puzzles and challenging dragons 
  • An epic soundtrack!
 
The next step in roguelikes
Unexplored is a funny but dangerous dungeon crawler. Expect danger, a ‘live fast & die young’-attitude and a brand new dungeon every time your hero fails. It’s really easy to learn how to play, butUnexplored isn’t a forgiving game. It rewards only the survivors. When you die, you can’t go back to a saved game. 
Never dull, never repetitive. The game rewards skill and cunning and lots of practise! Unexplored uses the latest in game design and level-generation, while committing to a vintage look and feel of the classic 80’s RPG storyline. True to the classics, you will enter the dungeon only after you’ve met the old geezer in the tavern who knows a lot about it….

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Steam Games

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: Unknown
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

Dark Souls III - Dark Sword Nerfed

by Silver, 11:16

PCGamer reports that the latest update for Dark Souls III has made some anticipated changes to item balance, notably the Dark Sword.

A Dark Souls 3 update rolled out just ahead of the weekend has made a number of tweaks to various weapons, items, and effects in the game, including a long-awaited nerf to the Dark Sword. The official update notes say the sword now has "reduced weapon efficiency," which the "Detailed Changes" thread on the DS3 Fextralife Wiki has broken that down to mean about a five percent loss in effectiveness.

[...]

The full, official list of changes:

  • All Dagger weapons: increased critical attack power.
  • Dark Sword: reduced weapon efficiency.
  • Anri's Straight Sword: reduced scaling effects.
  • Wolnir's Holy Sword: added faith scaling and adjusted weapon efficiency accordingly.
  • Crescent Moon Sword: added intelligence scaling and adjusted weapon efficiency accordingly.
  • Morne's Great Hammer: added faith scaling and adjusted weapon efficiency accordingly.
  • Lothric's Holy Sword: added faith scaling and adjusted weapon efficiency accordingly.
  • Yorshka's Spear: increased FP damage effects.
  • Scholar's Candlestick: reduced sorcery-strengthening properties.
  • Demon's Fist: reduced weight.
  • Greatsword of Judgement: increased attack power.
  • Heysel's Pick: increased intelligence scaling.
  • All shield-piercing weapons: added shield-piercing properties to regular attacks.
  • All Skills that enchant a weapon with special properties: extended length of effect.
  • Obscuring Ring: increased distance at which ring takes effect.
  • Hornet Ring: adjusted efficiency.
  • Black Serpent: adjusted tracking.
  • Lightning Stake: now requires 1 attunement slot.
  • Magic Barrier/Great Magic Barrier: extended length of effect.
  • Divine Pillars of Light: increased attack power.
  • White Dragon Breath: reduced stamina consumption.
  • All Bug Pellet items: extended length of effect.
  • Addressed other game balance issues and fixed other flaws.

The notes also state that the update will not require a patch or maintenance, and in fact if you've played Dark Souls 3 at any time over the past weekend, you should already have it installed. And in case you missed it, here's a video of guy who finished the game in well under three hours, without taking a single hit.

Dark Souls III

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Furi - Hack 'n Slash releasing July 5th

by Silver, 05:33

@GamePressure Indie developers Game Bakers will release Furi soon. The game is described as a hack n'slash game. The announced date is July 5th.

Indie developer The Game Bakers announced that their upcoming all-boss combat-action game Furi is coming out on July 5, 2016. The title is going to be available on PlayStation 4 and PC (Steam) for $24.99. Furi is an action-packed, fast-paced game featuring a host of bosses to beat, requiring great timing and reflexes as well as working out the best strategy for particular opponent. Watch the gameplay videos below, to get the gist:

Probably the first thing that strikes you in Furi are the vivid stylistics. The game's artwork is based on bright neon colors and it features character design by Afro Samurai creator Takashi Okazaki. Soundtrack features music by famous electro bands, such as Carpenter Brut, Danger, The Toxic Avenger, Lorn, Scattle, Waveshaper, and Kn1ght. Both gameplay and audiovisuals create a neat mixture for fans of dynamic action.

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Indie RPGs

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

System Shock - Q&A and Patch Preview

by Silver, 01:31

The latest System Shock update focuses on answering common questions and previews the upcoming patch for the free demo.

Common Questions

Before getting into patch stuff, I'd like to quickly answer the biggest questions I've been seeing:

Pixelated / low-res textures - In the current demo, some textures look "pixelated" up close. This actually has nothing to do with their texture resolution. Before video cards became commonplace in the late 90s, textures did not get filtered. We're doing the same thing to have a bit of a retro touch. In the next demo update, we've switched from no filtering to trilinear. Some screenshots are below in the patch preview section
Orchestral vs. electronic music - We're going to have an audio update written by Jonathan, our audio engineer and composer, to go over this stuff in more detail some time this week. Until then, the short answer is that the final score will definitely be more cyberpunk than just straight orchestral. Also, the full orchestra stretch goal will not change the music style. It will make all orchestral elements crisper while maintaining the electronic pieces.
Story / plot changes - We won't be deviating from the main story or plot from the original. We will be rewriting most of the text (well, when I say "we", I actually mean my good friend, Mr. Chris Avellone). The overall story will be the same, but we might change some details/wording here and there for the sake of consistency and pacing.
RPG elements - We understand this is a pretty vague term and has been confusing to backers. The original System Shock was ahead of its time and introduced a lot of new elements to gaming. We want to preserve that innovation and present a game we feel modern gamers will enjoy. Our goal is to have the gameplay somewhere between System Shock 1 and System Shock 2, with sprinkles of BioShock on top (rich melee attacks and ranged weapons, vending machines, upgrades, and damage types). If there's enough of a demand, we'll add a "Classic Mode" to one of the stretch goals that disables all RPG stuff as an option.
Engine - Our pre-alpha demo is in Unity, and that is the technology the team has been using for the past several months. However, we are familiar with other engines and are open to exploring options that make sense. Changing engines during a project is a pretty big risk and not a choice to be taken lightly. At the end of the day, we will use the technology we feel is best suited to deliver the highest quality game with the resources we have.

[...]

Trilinear-filtered textures

As mentioned above, the current version of the demo is using point-filtered textures. In the next patch, we've switched this over to trilinear to see what our backers think. Here are some before/after shots:

button before
Before

Button After
After

Here's an album with higher-res images and more comparisons.

Grenades and items

All consumable items should be usable in the next patch. The item that looks the most interesting to use is the grenade :-D

We've also improved the responsiveness and feel of melee combat.

On top of that, we have lots of fixes and some performance improvements. We're hoping to get the patch out within a few days. Once it's out, we'll post another update with some patch notes.

System Shock

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Spy DNA - Interview with Developers

by Silver, 01:20

@OneAngryGamer they interview Spy DNAs Alex and Jason about the game which is currently on kickstarter seeking $150K.

sneaky stuff
It's not often in games that we get to play as bona fide spies. It's even rarer that we get sandbox games that rely on stealth mechanics and espionage. In fact, the sub-genre is defined mostly by two series, Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid. Well, if things go well for the Kickstarter from Alex Maier and Jason Sams from Shy Snake Games, we could be adding another game to the list of turn-based, stealth-oriented espionage titles.

The name of the game is Spy DNA and it's currently seeking funds on Kickstarter. The game sees players being put in charge of a squad of super spies, with the leader of the squad being the player's own created character.

Spy DNA takes place in the not too distant future, and the game will feature more than 20 hours of gameplay with a variety of missions and locations to visit. I had an opportunity to pick the brains of Alex and Jason about their upcoming project, asking about the what makes this turn-based, sandbox, RPG different from other games out there as well as what you can expect from the actual gameplay. You can check out the Q&A below or learn more by checking out the game's Kickstarter page.

One Angry Gamer: First up, I think the one thing that stands out the most about the Spy DNA project is the fact that you are a husband and wife team working on the game. Is this your first project together or have you been working on games together previous to Spy DNA?

Alex: This is our first game project together, but not the first time we've built something as a team. We work very well together. After seeing the film "Oblivion" our inside joke is that we're an effective team.

OAG: What exactly drew you to the spy genre with turn-based combat as the centerpiece of the gameplay?

Jason: This is actually a long story. I have been running pen and paper (PnP) RPGs off and on for over 20 years. A long time ago we were playing a hyper-realistic pen-and-paper game which was fun, but the players couldn't understand it, and it was difficult to run. At some point I wrote a computer program to replace the book rules and be my GMs tool. It evolved over the years to the point that it now serves character sheets as HTML, and the players can use their phone or tablet to see their character status in real time.

One of the players asked if it could be turned into a computer game. That got us thinking, and Alex started to run with some story ideas and Spy DNA was born.

I built a computer simulation engine for the combat based on that past experience. You can do a much better simulation when it can be physics-based and not limited by the tables and dice rolls of PnP.

We describe Spy DNA as being turn based because of the pacing of gameplay. We felt the most important thing about the gameplay was keeping that feeling of control and awareness that comes from turn based games. We both enjoy games of thought and wanted to build one.

So It feels like a turn based game to the player. However, the underlying simulation engine operates in real time. It slices the time up and presents it to the player in turns of varying length. This gives the player time to think and strategize. We did this to get around the normal realism limits of turn based games.

We were attracted to the spy genre for a couple reasons. It allows for a much deeper stealth and dialog system and is a much better fit for a story line than a straight combat oriented game.

Kickstarter Games

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: Unknown
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

Monday - July 04, 2016

Sovereign - On Steam Greenlight

by Hiddenx, 23:43

You can support Sword and Sorcery: Sovereign on Steam Greenlight:

Swords and Sorcery - Sovereign is the sequel to Swords and Sorcery - Underworld, currently available on Steam (demo and full):

http://store.steampowered.com/app/408400

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The game series emulates party-based RPGs with grid based, first person perspective exploration, turn-based encounters and myriads of complex features that work together to revisit what kept the first generation of role-playing gamers up all night playing (inventory, puzzles, tactics, character development, exploration, NPC interaction, bestiary...).

Sovereign remains, at the core, a very similar game to Underworld but expands on the formula.

*** Combat ***

Combat (turn-based, tactical) remains very much the same as it was in Underworld. Other than the availability of new spells and skills, as well as a long list of new monsters with new abilities of their own, combat is centered on selecting an option for each character when his/her turn comes up from either a list of spells, tactical positionning, offensive or defensive abilities or special skills. There are about 200 monsters planned, or almost twice as many as there were in Underworld, offering larger tactical variety than the Underworld bestiary did.

*** A large open world ***

The teaser gives a sense of the large variety of environments to explore and the map in the screenshots hints at 48 overworld maps, and many more cities, dungeons, caves, underwater areas, and places beyond the "known world". This adds up to well over 100 areas to explore!

*** New magic system ***

One of the effects of a large open world is that exploration can reward the party with new spells, rather than have them be awarded by a trainer. Also, proficiency in various schools of magic can be developped (neophyte to master), and this, however, does require finding trainers and fulfilling their requirements.

There are four to choose from. A caster can choose to specialize in one or unlock more. Necromancy is only available to those that have learned Elemental, Light and Illusionist so there is some incentive for at least one character to risk spreading him/herself thin.

Each of the four schools has four pillars and higher level spells. Elemental, for instance, is the most straight-forward with Fire, Water, Air, Earth and Higher Elemental spells. Pillars only contain four spells each, but this allows for the same policy as Underworld's: making each spell valuable in its own way.

Each pillar requires a learning process from Neophyte to Master. Proficiency in the school can only be as high as the highest rank obtained in the four pillars, and the same goes for the higher level spells.

I wanted to keep using spell components (runes and holy water), but this needed to be adapted to remain compatible with the possibility for all casters to learn more than their native school of magic. At first, a priest only knows Light magic and can cast Holy Water. Later, if he/she learns Elemental magic, which is the Sorcerer's specialty, He/she will not be able to collect runes. But runes are no longer necessary to cast any of the Elemental spells. Rather, they can be used to make them more powerful.

The same goes with the spell Holy Water. It is the one Light spell only Priests will ever be able to use, and they can spend Holy Water to enhance any spell they cast (including spells from other schools).

Therefore, the new class, Druid, is somewhat gimped. They will never have access to any components. But they start out with some proficiency in Elemental, Light and Illusionist and will find more redeeming factors in the course of their travels.

*** Skills ***

There are combat skills and non-combat skills. Some are active and some passive. Combat skills give several new combat options but there are still only three active combat skill slots, so choices will need to be made. Skiils currently include options that could rightly be called feats, so there is no separate feature for those as of today. This may evolve depending on workload though.

*** NPC interaction ***

I am looking to offer more choices than I did in Underworld, but will hold off on details for now as this can easily get out of hand if dialogue trees branch out too much (for a one-man team to handle).

*** Crafting ***

Sovereign has a basic crafting sytem planned. Rather than a very long list of mostly useless craftable items, it will be restricted to fewer but more rewarding recipes. Proficiency in crafting will be determined by what level of mastery has been unlocked, which in turn will require minimal attribute scores and dealing with the proper trainer. I believe this will make crafting interesting, while taking out necessity to grind that characterizes many crafting systems that reward by useage. Your party will have access to basic reagents for sale, but will need to find rare reagents for the most powerful items.

*** Factions ***

I currently have six factions planned and choosing which one to side with will determine access to quests and their rewards which can include equipment, spells, and skills. Some do overlap though so all choices do not permanently bar access to anything but can offset some until another opportunity arises.

Check out the screenshots and video, stay tuned for development updates and please vote for inclusion on Steam!

Sovereign

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Gyre: Maelstrom - Announced

by Hiddenx, 22:01

Farflame has spotted the new RPG Gyre: Maelstrom, in which you can tailor your own adventure:

What is Gyre: Maelstrom?

Gyre: Maelstrom is a video game for PC and Console that is based on a mechanical post-futuristic dystopia stemming from alt-history events of the mid-1800s. Characters are androids with human consciousness and are capable of massive customization. The player character progresses through a non-linear, non-scripted narrative of meaningful choices generated in real-time, that impact their story.

What is the Gyre?

The inhabitants simply call it “the Gyre”. One of only a handful of massive cities left in the world. The Gyre (pronouned “jahyuhr” or “jire”) has consumed what someone might recall as Paris, the city now having evolved and merged with past iconic landmarks. It is home to millions. A prison to some. A delight to others.

[...]

From HardcoreGamer:

Canadian developer Evodant Interactive are aiming high with a game that looks not just ambitious, but sounds like it’s attempting to wholly add weight and even rewrite the very purpose of the word role within role-playing games. And coupled with a steampunk-like backdrop, fully customizable gameplay and a structural design that evolves the further you get in, there’s no denying there are already earnest amounts of material to catch the eye of even the most light-hearted of RPG followers. But while Evodant may want to spin a tale on continually-advancing technology, it’s the dwindled presence of humanity — and the resulting consequences that’ve unfolded between these two eventful periods —  and the way Gyre as both a city and a game evolves that can potentially give it a huge step-up above others.

Gyre: Maelstrom primarily centers this around a procedurally-generated city populated by a whopping eight million NPCs, but it’s the very fact the city shapes and molds itself around your play-style that is most striking. Whether you prefer to practice parkour across rooftops, fight it out on the streets or try to learn the secrets of the tale behind this robot-populated civilisation, the city of Gyre will change and adapt to the way you want to play it. The game is built around the Toska Engine, a system that reacts instinctively to player-choice and calculates these changes based on real-time decisions. The moment you come up against (but not immediately engage with) a combat situation for example, will be the exact moment — like so many times prior — that the path continues to further deviate and transforms ever further into something more tailored and custom to your own unique play-style.

Gyre: Maelstrom

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Steampunk
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Battle Brothers - New UI Launched

by Myrthos, 12:54

The new UI for Battle Brothers has been released last week Thursday in update 0.6.1.6.

After tinkering with it over the last week in the beta branch, the new UI has just launched to propel Battle Brothers further towards being a finished game. Thanks to everyone who participated and helped us ironing out any issues!

new_inventory

We’ve talked a lot about the why of the new UI in blog posts over the recent weeks, so instead of doing it again, here’s the short list of changes for this update.

  • A more responsive UI with a hand-crafted look that fits the game’s setting.
  • A new reserve roster for a total of 18 Battle Brothers to keep with your company.
  • The formation in battle is now customizable via drag & drop.
  • Battles can now be ended once all your enemies are in retreat.
  • Four new events on the worldmap.
  • A new music track on the worldmap.
  • Movement sounds in combat specific to each type of terrain.
  • Numerous bugfixes.

This update does not break savegames.

The next major milestone for us is the introduction of a more complex injury system to take full advantage of the reserve roster, as well as the long-awaited perk overhaul.

Battle Brothers

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Grim Dawn - Introducing the Crucible

by Myrthos, 12:49

In number 99 of the Grim Misadventures some information is provided about the upcoming DLC The Crucible.

Grim Misadventures returns with a bang. Last time we left you with a teaser, a little taste of what was on the horizon for Grim Dawn: The Crucible. Today, we will detail just what’s in store for you with Grim Dawn’s upcoming DLC content.

Back during the Kickstarter, one of the campaign’s final stretch goals was the unlocking of what we then called Survival Mode. It was described as follows: “In survival mode players will fight to stay alive against increasingly difficult waves of monsters.” At its core, the new Crucible mode embodies this statement, but it also delivers so much more as you tackle its 150 waves.

Push On, or Cash Out
In the Crucible, death marks the end (especially true for Hardcore players). Every 10 waves of enemies, you have to make a difficult choice: continue on for the next 10 encounters for a chance of greater reward, or cash out what you’ve earned and not risk your own demise.

Should you perish, you cannot continue and the treasure will be reduced substantially.

Earn Tributes
Tributes are the currency of the Crucible, earned only through bloody combat. How you spend your hard-earned Tributes is up to you:

  • Activate powerful Celestial Blessings to give you an edge in battle
  • Create devious Defenses to aid you in combat
  • Gamble them away for better rewards

Battle Across Multiple Arenas
The Crucible is a cruel place where even the mightiest heroes meet their match. But we couldn’t stop with just one deadly arena. Crucible mode will feature several battlegrounds, each with a different layout and defensive positions.

Overcome Cruel Mutators
Mutators are global effects applied to all monsters or players, each one a unique twist that strengthens monsters/players in one way, but weakens them in another. As you progress through the Crucible, additional Mutators will be applied, and every 10 waves they will be re-randomized.

Three Difficulty Modes
The Crucible will test your characters like nothing has before as you battle through the Aspirant, Challenger and Gladiator difficulties. Defeating 100 waves on a difficulty unlocks access to the next, where greater rewards (but also greater challenges) await.

The Crucible DLC is coming later this summer (pricing to be determined at launch). As a special thank you to those who have been with us at the beginning of Grim Dawn’s journey, everyone who purchased the game through our website prior to/during the Kickstarter, or through the Kickstarter campaign itself, will receive the DLC for FREE.

Beyond the horizon, you can also look forward to more free content updates for Grim Dawn, as well as the expansion, which is yet to be unveiled. Release of the Crucible will coincide with patch 1.0.0.5, which will include a balance/tuning pass.

Grim Dawn

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Hack & Slash
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Pantheon - Twitch Stream #2

by Myrthos, 12:41

A new video for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen is now available on YouTube, showing the latest game content.

After much glee and celebration of our first stream in March, Visionary Realms is ready to show off all new game content for Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. On Thursday, June 23rd, Brad McQuaid, Chris Perkins and John Diasparra took three guests from the Who's Gaming Now network through two hours of gameplay through Black Dagger Keep and into a surprise dungeon. Viewers get a first on-screen glimpse of the perception system some of you may remember from GDC earlier this year. Find out for yourself why MMO gamers are salivating at the promise of a new MMO that remembers the tenets of community, reputation, and cooperation.

(note: the focus has been on gameplay and environments -- the character models and animations are still placeholder -- this is pre-alpha footage.  That said, if you compare to the last twitch stream video, you can see the progress we have made.)

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Pantheon

SP/MP: Massive
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: MMORPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

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Fallout 4 - Opinion: Bigger Not Always Better

by Aubrielle, 05:17

A Polygon op-ed argues that Fallout 4 is a good example of why bigger isn't always better.

...If added open-world space comes at the expense of full artistic potential, each new location banged out without the extra little flourishes that makes it special, it may not be worth it.

As a genre, open-world titles, from Destiny all the way back to Grand Theft Auto, have long suffered from technological restraint, resulting in some overuse of techniques like procedural generation, empty buildings and modular level design. Each of these development strategies and tools have their place, and employing them is an art form, but you can feel when they've been stretched a bit thin.

In an exploration-based game like Fallout, the loss is felt the most. I want every area I approach in the Fallout universe to be a Pandora's Box of danger and mystery, each with its own story to tell. That key series element has already been tampered by heavy enemy re-spawns, repeating side quests and the constant grind of collecting scrap and parts, which arguably contributes more to the generic feel of many areas than the art kit. The solitude of methodic exploration that first drew me to the series is gone, and the feel of Fallout 3 and New Vegas lost. It's a casualty of efficiency.

If Fallout 4 were just a bit smaller, but in return offered the mystique and addictive allure of Fallout: New Vegas with each and every location, this would be easier to handle. Size is important of course, I'm mostly arguing for a slight course correction in the other direction to even things out.

Can taking a step forward technically be a step backward artistically? Sometimes, yes. While simplified development tools facilitate more efficient open-world games design, a sandbox game is only as strong as its environments. In the case of Bethesda and open-world games, I wish they'd be a little worse at their job.

Fallout 4

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Post-Apoc
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Kickstarter - Game Backing Decline in 2016

by Aubrielle, 05:11

According to industry analysts, less has been spent on backing games on Kickstarter in 2016 than in 2015.

Crowdfunding for video games on Kickstarter is down sharply for the first six months of 2016 compared with the same period in 2015, suggesting that roughly the same number of video games projects are successfully backed, but at much lower amounts.

Kickstarter backers pledged $8.2 million to video game projects in the first six months of 2016, says ICO Partners, a U.K.-based consultancy specializing in market analysis for online games. Donors pledged more than $20 million to video games in both the first and second halves of 2015. That's despite roughly the same number of projects being successfully funded overall in all three periods.

It's true that Shenmue 3 raised $6 million dollars in a campaign spanning June 15 to July 15, 2015, and Bloodstained: Ritual of the Nighttook in $5.5 million just one month before. But the 2016 dropoff appears not to be skewed entirely by the success of a single project. Both halves of 2015 (Jan. 1 to June 30, and July 1 to Dec. 31) saw more than $20 million in pledges. Removing Bloodstained and Shenmue 3's take from their respective halves of 2015 would still leave the $8 million of 2016's first half down about 40 percent from either half in 2015.

Read more.

Kickstarter

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Vampyr - Preview Roundup

by Aubrielle, 05:03

GameBanshee's got a whole lot of impressions (and fifteen minutes of footage and interviews) from the upcoming dark ARPG Vampyr.

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We've put together a new round-up of impressions for Vampyr, DONTNOD's latest upcoming title and their first action-RPG, still courtesy of last month's E3 expo. While it's not the Bloodlines successor some people were hoping for, it does sound like Vampyr might be a title worth keeping an eye on.

We Got This Covered:

Of course, what would a vampire game be without enemies? Vampyr seems to have a decent amount of those, in the form of vampire hunters who’ve returned to the city after hearing about its worsening infestation. Combat between Dr. Reid and said hunters was briefly shown, and it involved some stealth (including bat-based teleportation mechanics) and some more in-your-face attacking, through a decent-looking system that promotes timing and verticality.

One of the best ways to accomplish your goals is to mesmerize a human and have him follow you into the shadows before you feast. Before you do that, though, you’ll want to try your best to gain intelligence about each and every person you encounter, in order to figure out who’s best for eating. Generally speaking, doing research helps you find out who the scumbags are, and can make your choices easier for that reason. You have to eat, after all, and it’s not always easy, especially since vampires must be invited into someone’s home before they can enter.


Kotaku:

Many game designers have intertwined the moral opportunities in their games with rewards systems, though the most prominent examples tend to balance the consequences of making either choice. Ruthlessly “harvesting” the “little sisters” in 2007's BioShock may have netted twice the immediate reward as rescuing them did, but other rewards for the rescue option made both options similarly viable. The Paragon/Renegade morality system of the Mass Effect games gave players distinct but balanced options, offering the greatest rewards to people who went far in either direction.

In Vampyr, much of the gameplay advantage will come from killing civilians. The reason not to do so will simply be because it might feel wrong. That’s the idea behind giving each of the game’s civilians a backstory. You might feel bad about the families you’re hurting or, say, the child you’re leaving without a dad.

“Each time you kill someone you have access to his last thought,” Beauverger said. “We want this to impact the player. We want them to not just feel like each kill gives them an amount of blood but that they’ve destroyed a life, [a person] who was worrying about something.”


Brainy and Nerdy:

Stephane Beauverger, the writer of the story said that the game is more about a tragic figure than about a horror setting. The creators only wanted the gothic atmosphere but you won’t get jumpscares here. Instead, you get to develop the character and make choices that are always going to be difficult.

The way the vampires appear here is inspired from the gothic novels more than from contemporary sources like the Twilight saga or similar things, so you get many of the tropes we were used to. For example you cannot enter into someone’s home without being invited there and this limits the things you can do in the beginning.


ZAM:

And it seems like one of the major themes in that system of choices is the self-loathing inspired by the protagonist's need to feed. He's a doctor, actually (he fights with what seems to be a comedically gigantic doctor's bonesaw) and he views his vampirism as a disease that needs to be cured. His chief quest in the game is to research the origins of vampirism so that he can figure out how to eradicate it. Meanwhile, the Spanish flu epidemic is in full swing, and people who are exposed to both vampirism and the flu are transforming into wild, feral vampires.

I'm not going to lie: this looks like a game where the protagonist will spend a lot of time agonizing over his vampire guilt and misery. And frankly, since it's a game about vampires, that's what I hoped for: some super dark and overwrought emotions. The demo opened with our hero gazing down at the funeral of a young girl-- a relative of his whom he'd actually killed. Afterwards, a woman vampire in a snazzy Victorian suit asked him how he felt; when he refused to be honest with her, she told him he'd need to open up emotionally or he'd turn into a ravenous fiend. Nice!!

The game features a dialogue wheel pretty similar to the ones in Bioware games-- but this one doesn't seem to have any kind of icon-system telling you what category your choices belong in. To this I also say: nice!! I am a huge fan of unlabelled choices in RPGs-- and for a game where you spend all your time deciding who to unwillingly murder for their XP, morally-ambiguous choice systems seem like a good idea.


GamesRadar:

Your actions or inaction can also contribute to a district's stability rating, similar to Dishonored's chaos rating. Kill too many and you'll lose your humanity as the streets pool with blood and more ravenous monsters. Save too few and the plague will likewise devour the population, leaving bloated corpses rotting in the streets.

It's not enough to be a doctor trying to save everyone, nor is it enough to be a creature of the night growing in power - in Vampyr, you are the giver of life and the bringer of death. You'll need to heal and harm strategically, not just to earn arbitrary good guy points and/or bad guy points.

The complex web of relationships between NPCs also makes the decisions you make infinitely more interesting than choosing between mustache-twirling evil and halo-on-head good. Who deserves to be spared, and who deserves to be food? Do you sacrifice someone with the intention of using your dark powers to save the city, or do you hold onto your humanity as tightly as possible, even if it means dooming those around you?


Entertainium:

The hands-off demo started out at a funeral of a girl, seemingly buried after dying under mysterious circumstances. Jonathan Reid, former surgeon turned vampire, watches from afar, hiding in the shadows, before approaching the casket and questioning his life choices and eventual fate.

Things aren’t just hinged on drama, though, placing a heavy load on fighting against enemies such as vampire hunters, members of an ancient order hell bent on eliminating the fanged treat from the face of the earth. From watching the pre-alpha demo being shown, the combat seemed very fluid, making use of the fiction in order to infuse some vampiric excuses for some ridiculous moves, like turning into mist in between combos and such.

Source: GameBanshee

Vampyr

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Historical
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

XCOM 2 - How to Play Your Next Run

by Aubrielle, 04:58

PC Gamer has some great suggestions on how to properly optimize your XCOM 2 experience.

There's new XCOM 2 DLC out, and you can probably guess what that means—we've got the itch. The itch to kill more Sectoids. To rage at RNG. To feel our hearts pound as we line up a do-or-die shot. It's time for a new run. And why should we play vanilla XCOM since there are now more than 1800 mods on the Steam workshop?

You can browse through the Workshop’s thousand-plus mods from start to finish and find all sorts of tweaks and enhancements you never knew you needed. If you don’t have that kind of time, however, here’s a short list of excellent mods to get you started on your next world-rescuing campaign, broken down into four specific categories:

Optimizing XCOM 2: small changes and tweaks like an improved line-of-sight indicator. Quality of life improvements that make XCOM 2 a better game without dramatically changing it.
Adding more content: More map packs, custom soldier classes, and customization options.
Difficulty mods: Fun ways to make XCOM 2 easier or more challenging by changing AI behavior, grenades, and more.
Gameplay overhauls: Big changes to how XCOM 2 plays, including new mission types and reworks of the mission timer and overwatch.

Source: PC Gamer

XCOM 2

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Dark Souls III - Finished Without Getting Hit?

by Aubrielle, 04:55

One very skilled (and very dedicated) Dark Souls III fan has apparently beaten the game without getting hit once.  Of all the things...

Most of us play Dark Souls games once, get killed a tonne of times, finish the game with only a shred of willpower left, and then retreat forever. Others approach it differently, like Twitch streamer FaraazKhan, who is so good at Dark Souls 3 that he's managed to complete it in less than three hours without being hit by a single enemy.

As you'll see, FaraazKhan spends a lot of time dodge rolling. Bravely, he's gone with a pure melee setup, so there's little sniping from afar with magic or arrows. Understandably, he avoids most of the game's optional bosses, and falls back on the trusty Homeward Bone in cases where things are getting a bit too hairy.

Check it out below. Cheers, Reddit.

(video at source)

Source: PC Gamer

Dark Souls III

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Sunday - July 03, 2016

System Shock - Feedback Process & UI

by Silver, 23:54

In the latest update for System Shock Remastered Night Dive is interested in gathering your feedback on UI and other things and are using reddit to do this. Expect this area of reddit to be updated with new questions and feedback with members of the Shock team answering questions.

Hello Everyone,

My name is Corey from the Nightdive Studios U.I. // U.X. team. As a fan of the shock series since its inception, I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity to work on this classic remake.

Though the U.I. and HUD are still in a conceptual phase and will not be updated in the first patch to the pre-alpha demo, we thought we would share some of our concepts. Keeping in mind that this is only one direction prior to the full user interface and user experience study that will take place after Kickstarter - we are happy with the stylistic direction that has been explored thus far.

There are many challenges in redesigning the interface and HUD of System Shock (1994). There are a few antiquated features that have to be either removed or completely replaced. One example is the toggle-able ability to see behind your head with a cybernetic implant. The original game built this in as an "implant" or "ability" because the turn radius was quite low, making the player vulnerable from mysterious attacks from behind. This is just one of many things we are looking into outside a fresh modern look.

ui layout

The new HUD concepts shown here are based off of a minimal yet futuristic cyberpunk aesthetic. Concepts for the new HUD will be based on the idea that this interface that the Hacker is interacting with is projected on his retina. The grid, shown above is meant to keep all elements aligned as though on a surface before they are "bent" for the radical look.
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System Shock

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Enderal - German Version released

by Hiddenx, 14:37

The German version is out now - Congratulations!

-> Installation page

Enderal

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: Action-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Fallout 4 - Modular Level Design

by Silver, 14:20

This GDC talk about Fallout 4 focuses on its modular level design and how it helps create locations in relatively short periods of time.

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Large, open-world games like Fallout 4 require an efficient approach to creating many high-quality locations in relatively short period of development. Modular art kits and an iterative level design process are essential to the team at Bethesda Game Studios. This 2016 presentation from Bethesda Game Studios' Joel Burges and Nathan Purkeypile provides an in-depth analysis of the techniques used to create art kits, the level design workflow which takes advantage of them, and the production approach which empowers a relatively small content team to make an enormous world.

GDC talks cover a range of developmental topics including game design, programming, audio, visual arts, business management, production, online games, and much more. We post a fresh GDC video every weekday. Subscribe to the channel to stay on top of regular updates, and check out GDC Vault for thousands of more in-depth talks from our archives.

Fallout 4

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Post-Apoc
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC
Release: Released

Details

Deus Ex: MD - Interview @ RPGSite

by Hiddenx, 14:20

RPGSite interviewed the lead writer of Deus Ex: Mankind Devided Mary DeMarle:

Deus Ex Interview: Exploring the world & narrative of Mankind Divided

Where would a decent role playing game be without a compelling story, or at least a well-built world with which to take up roles in? World building was arguably the biggest success of 2011's Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Square Enix's prequel to the classic PC RPG which heralded a return for the franchise to the top of the triple-A video game space.

With that success comes the pressure of sequels, and often universes feel the strain under the weight of a rapidly-expanding universe that must support multiple properties. One of those most responsible for bearing the weight of Deus Ex's impressively sized and considered worldview is Mary DeMarle, now serving as Lead Writer on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided at Eidos Montreal.

[...]

RPG Site: There's a big push all over currently for open world games. You've stuck with several smaller-scale hub areas. Were you ever tempted to go open?

Mary DeMarle: We're very committed to stick with where we were headed with Human Revolution. Open world games are a lot of fun, I like open world games myself, but you don't get that with Deus Ex. It's so story driven; it's about freedom and choice and consequences. And it was a real conscious decision that with the amount of story we need to put in and the world building and the crafting we're doing of this universe. Rather than go wide with open world, we should go dense and deep within the world.

I think the biggest challenge for us is the question of how we build something that feels open in gameplay and is yet somewhat constrained so that it'll enable you to go deeper and deeper with the freedom, the flexibility, the choices, and the narrative storytelling within the world itself. It was always a conscious decision to not embrace open world, but constrain it.

[...]

Deus Ex: MD

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Sci-Fi
Genre: Shooter-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details

Game Cities - Implying Size & Complexity

by Silver, 12:55

The Gnome's Lair has come up with another article on designing cities in games. This one focuses on how to imply size and complexity. The Gnome is currently designing a city for Frogware's The Sinking City.

Implied Space

Let's imagine for a moment that you have created a unique, believable, sprawling, and impressively detailed metropolis. You have it mapped out, thoroughly described, and have its architectural styles all sorted out. It's a unique, beautiful, and complex place, and you are rightfully proud of it. Only problem is that realizing all of it on screen would probably cost you a few million dollars/euros/pounds/what-have-yous.

Assuming you are neither Blizzard nor Rockstar, you'll thus have to try and keep things as simple and cheap as possible -- your ability to create assets will always be limited. Chances are you will have to abstract and generalize your world, decide to move to 2D, avoid creating an open-world, or to even allow exploration and gameplay in only a handful of locations. As you will not be able to show the full size and complexity of your work, your city, you will simply have to imply it.

Now, take a look at the picture above if you will. Notice how few buildings are actually shown, and ask yourself whether this could be a village scene. Or even a picture taken in a small town.

It could not. Of course, it could not. You know, possibly without exactly knowing why, that this is a picture depicting a part of a big city neighborhood; most probably of a 20th century metropolis. You might only be able to see a tiny part of said city, but this sort of density, and this kind of spatial organization couldn't be found anywhere outside a big urban centre. A town or village would neither be able to support it, nor would they need it.

What's more, said picture provides the viewer with even more information. Information that goes beyond the type of urban agglomeration we are looking at, and lets us feel the living texture of the particular place. A thousand little stories, some of them possible only in this particular city, have left their mark on the hanging clothes, those buildings, the women, and even the wires we see, while the organization of everyday life itself and the class-based nature of those tenements is instantly obvious.

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

Details

General News - How to survive the Indiepocalypse

by Hiddenx, 12:23

Interesting post by Vince from Irontower Studios:

How to Survive Indiepocalypse in 5 Easy Steps

Step 1 - Design

Your game has to stand out. It has to do at least one thing extremely well, preferably something that hasn’t been done before. Why be an indie game developer if not to try new things, right?

It’s not enough to do a game with tried and true mechanics, because in most cases "tried and true" has been done to death long before you decided to throw your hat into the ring. If all you’re adding to the recipe is new visuals, think twice. Sure, it’s possible that Kim Kardashian might tweet about your game and it becomes the next internet sensation, but Kim’s busy taking selfies, so let’s not rely on dumb luck alone.

Of course, every rule has exceptions. If you’re replicating the tried and true gameplay of something as venerable as Jagged Alliance 2, Wizardry 8, or Shadow of the Horned Rat, go right ahead. If not, don’t bother.

For our first game, we went with Choices & Consequences (C&C) – an "easy" category considering that 99% of games promise meaningful choices but never deliver because it takes a very long time, which is something we’ve learned the hard way after making the game for 11 years. AoD gives you:

  • More meaningful choices than you can shake a stick at
  • Parallel questlines showing events from different angles and points of view
  • Radically different "Craft Your Own Story" playthroughs

For our next 'full scale' RPG, we’ll raise C&C up a notch and add party "dynamics", which will be very different from what you’re used to and go against the established design staples, possibly upsetting some folks in the process (again). It’s a very ambitious design, but as I said, doing what’s been done before – even if it was done by you – is not enough. You have to push forward or you will not survive.

Step 2 – Community

Now that you’re working on your game, you have to build a community around it and spread the word. No matter how well-designed your game is it will fail all the same if nobody knows about it. Yes, that too is your job.

Many indie developers look at what the AAA developers do and take notes. They think that if they act like the AAA boys, you know, professional and shit, everyone will assume they are real developers too and take them seriously.

Don’t do semi-official press-releases where you quote yourself. Don’t ask volunteer testers to sign NDAs as if you have the time, money, or desire to enforce them. Don’t write you own EULA on Steam as if Steam’s EULA isn’t good enough for you. Worst of all, don’t guard your stories and design ideas because someone might steal them. Yeah, Bethesda will decide to postpone The Elder Scrolls 6 and steal your shitty totally awesome ideas instead.

You have to sell people on your vision and you can’t do it if all you give them is a brief summary and Todd Howard’s famous “Trust us, it will be cool” line.

We’ve posted everything we had from day one. If we didn’t show something, it’s because we didn’t have it. We’ve "spoiled" every aspect of the game and answered every question about the game on as many forums as we could, giving people reasons to follow the game.

Go out into the world and engage gaming communities. Don’t hide behind moderators or "community managers". People who give a fuck about your game don’t want to be "managed", they want to talk to the guys making the game.

I made over 10,000 posts on multiple forums talking to people who showed interest and had questions. Oscar made over 6,000 posts. That’s not counting posts on Steam since we launched on Early Access and even more posts later after the game was released. If you can’t be arsed to talk to people who’re interested in your game, don’t expect them to support you in the future. Find time or you won’t stay in this business for long.

A word of warning before we get to the next chapter: when mingling with people you might discover that not everyone thinks your game ideas are as great as you think they are. Some people might actually harbor suspicions that your game sucks and be willing and even eager to share these thoughts with everyone they run into. You’d better get used to it because it’s going to happen a lot. ‘tis the magic of the internet.

Step 3 – Making a Game

Surprisingly, this step isn’t really about making a game. If you can’t make one, this handy guide won’t help you. It’s about the "economics" of it. You see, unless you hit it really big for an indie, like Darkest Dungeon-big, you won’t make a lot of money (for a real studio). Thus you must budget and ration like a lost-at-sea sailor to avoid these two fairly typical scenarios, which happen more often than you might think:

  • You made a good game, it sold well for an indie but now you’re 100k in debt because the costs spiraled out of control. Basically, you made a good game but you spent more than you should have and now you’re dead in the water.
  • You made a good game, it sold well for an indie, you recovered your initial investment and bought yourself an ice-cream but you have no money to continue and now you must try your luck on Kickstarter where you get not what you need to make a game but what you can get, which is anywhere from 10 to 30% if you’re lucky.

Treat what you earn from the first game as your operational budget for the second game. So the more you spend making your first game, the less you’ll have to make your second game. You see, the first game is always done on pure enthusiasm. You’re making a game, living the dream, working part-time, evenings and nights for years, because sleep is overrated. Enthusiasm is a great and cheap resource but you can’t run on it forever.

The goal here is to survive the indiepocalypse and build a real studio, right? So you make a game on enthusiasm, use what it earned to make a second game, use what it earned to make a third game, etc.

The Age of Decadence sold over 50,000 copies to-date at $22 average. The revenues aren't our reward for 11 years of hard work (that's done and gone) but our budget for the "Colony Ship RPG", our second project.

Step 5 (yes, we’ve just jumped from 3 to 5 because math is a social construct) – Make Another Game

You made your first game and it sold well enough to continue. Congrats! Now you have to do it all over again, but you need to do it better (see Step 1) and faster. In our case it means making the second game in 4-5 years without lowering quality. We’re aiming for 4 years; 5 is acceptable, 6 isn’t. Granted, the main reason AoD took so long is because:

  • We had no experience, aka time-consuming trial-and-error approach to game design.
  • We had no tools, no systems (things like combat, dialogues, etc), no engine; literally everything had to be done from scratch.
  • We worked part-time for 10 years (enthusiasm doesn’t pay the bills) and switched to full-time only when the finish line was already in sight

... so there's a good chance that we can make a better game in 4-5 years but it's far from certain.

Anyway, the point is that your first game shows that you have what it takes to make an indie RPG that stands out in a crowd and sells enough to keep you in business. Until you do it again, the first game’s success is nothing but a fluke. You have to perform consistently without any margin for errors because the first mistake might kill you.

A second successful game will secure your future and turn that fellowship of geeks that is your team into a real game development studio. That’s the last hurdle to overcome, which is by no means an easy task.

But wait, there’s more…

Step 4 – Recycle

Even if we manage to make the Colony Ship RPG in 4-5 years AND it will be well received by our existing audience AND it will sell enough to make a third 'full scale' RPG, releasing games once every 4-5 years might not be enough to survive.

I wish we could expand our team right now and hire more people but we can’t, otherwise we risk running out of money and releasing the second game deep in debt (see Step 3). We need a reliable revenue booster, so we’re going to recycle and make an inexpensive tactical, party-based RPG using the first game’s engine, systems, and assets. Such a game is relatively easy to make, since we’re using the already existing building blocks, so the plan is to put it together in under a year and hope that it’s well received.

If it works, the revenues will boost the second game’s budget just as it enters production (we’re working on it now while the Colony Ship RPG is in pre-production), allowing us to get a couple of extra people and spend more money on art.

If it works, we can release a tactical combat game after each 'full scale' RPG and boost the next game’s budget.

Bonus Chapter – What About Marketing?

What about it? Marketing is a game of chance that all but guarantees winning IF you have enough money to stay in the game. There’s a famous saying attributed to John Wanamaker who knew a thing or two about marketing: "Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don't know which half."

It’s all about effective frequency, which means that you have to have faith and keep throwing money at ads even when they give you no return whatsoever. Harvard thinks that the magic number is nine. Most people have to see your ad nine times before they start responding to it. Thomas Smith thought the magic number is twenty. Krugman was convinced there are three phases: curiosity, recognition, decision, but obviously each phase takes a number of ads.

So what it means is that unless you have enough money to run ads until they start turning profit, don’t do it. You will spend 5k of your hard-earned money, which is the equivalent of a penny in the exciting world of advertising, get nothing and stop advertising, thus wasting the 5k you’ve just spent.

Without a marketing budget, your options are limited: you need the goodwill of the gaming media, which brings us back to Step 1 – design. Unless your game is worth talking about, the media will ignore it. They want to write what people want to read. If nobody wants to hear about your game, well, this brings us to Step 3 – Community: your most effective way of marketing your game and creating that interest that might result in the media gods looking at your creation favorably and blessing your efforts with a preview or a quick impressions article.

Overall, I don't think there was EVER a better time to be a game developer. Sure, the landscape is crowded (12,818 games on sale on Steam right now, which is insane), but the market is HUGE and there's plenty of room for everyone. There are over 125 million Steam users - that's paying customers able to buy a game with a single click, and all you need to do well is make a game that would appeal to 0.05% (or 0.3-0.5% if you like money a lot) of that ever-growing market. It's easier said than done, of course, but far from impossible.

General News

SP/MP: Unknown
Setting: Unknown
Genre: RPG
Platform: Unknown
Release: In development

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Saturday - July 02, 2016

Expeditions: Viking - Delayed; New Features

by Aubrielle, 16:18

Expeditions: Viking has been delayed, but has picked up some new features in the process.

Logic Artists' Expeditions: Viking title is being delayed into next year, but fans of the historical RPG will also get something for their trouble.

The PC title now has a tentative launch window of February 2017, changed from this fall.

However, the studio says it's adding environmental hazards into the game. These are objects in the environment (placed before or during combat) that players will have to considering when resolving their tactics on the battle field. The developer says it also wants to support English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, and Polish when the game comes out, as well as add more random encounters and side quests.

For more on the game, check out these hands-on impressions as well as a dev diary talking about the game's combat and character creation.

 

Our Take
Given how it sounds like there are plenty of choices already in the game, the choice to spend more time on development – as well as add more tactical options and quests – seems like a great move.

Source: Game Informer

Expeditions: Viking

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Historical
Genre: Strategy-RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development

Details