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Tahira : Echoes of the Astral Empire
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Poll Watch

Did The Witcher 3 Live Up to the Hype?
Absolutely
58.42%

For the most part
22.77%

Really don't know
10.89%

Maybe a bit
1.98%

No Way
5.94%

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Recently Released

Jul: The Amber Throne
Jul: Legends of Eisenwald
Jun: Barony
Jun: Masterplan
Jun: Enchanted Cave 2

Expected Releases

Jul: Antharion
Jul: Interstellaria
Jul: Victor Vran
Jul: Unsung Story
Jul: Kyn

Sunday - June 28, 2015

Beamdog - New Baldur's Gate incoming?

by Hiddenx, 11:13

All you can see here is a mysterious counter and a blurry sphere ... 11 days to go!

Beamdog

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Indiegogo - Fantasy Dimension Update

by Hiddenx, 10:43

Speedstar made a pre-alpha gameplay video for the oldschool game Fantasy Dimension:

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Here's the link to the Indiegogo campaign.

Indiegogo

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Matt Chat - Brian Fargo Interview on Bard's Tale IV

by Hiddenx, 01:56

Matt and Brian talking about the Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter:

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Matt Chat

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Saturday - June 27, 2015

TechRaptor - On Choice and Consequence

by Hiddenx, 17:44

Robert Grosso (TechRaptor) talks about choices and consequences:

Playing Roles: On Choice and Consequence

Note: The following editorial contains spoilers. You have been warned.

“Choices.” “Consequences.” “Engaging decisions.” These are the short and catchy buzzwords of a fast-growing gaming medium that have found a way into the very heart of modern game design. It is almost inescapable in the current market to find a game not touting how much “impact” your choices have, especially in the realm of role-playing games. For each choice we see though, within them is a growing illusion of what they truly represent. Having control and impact on the choices made in games is something of a misnomer, because in the end a fundamental question needs to be asked: how much control does the player actually have over their choices?

It really is a difficult question to answer, mainly because of the diversity of the video game market. On the one hand, the player should have a degree of control, mainly in terms of actual gameplay mechanics. On the other hand, the developers set the rules of the game through those same mechanics, essentially forcing players to operate within the world. For story-driven games,  this also includes controlling the plot through the allotted and limited number of in-game choices. (...)

TechRaptor

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Kickstarter

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Kyn - Preview @ GamerHeadlines

by Hiddenx, 12:28

Vlad Pintea has previewed Kyn - the Hack&Slash game will be released at July 28, 2015. Some snippets:

From my brief preview experience, things look quite promising for Kyn, although there were some elements which I wasn’t able to test, these only arriving in the final version of the game.

When Kyn fully releases, players are able to gather up to six characters in their party, although the preview only includes two. I’m not sure if the beginning of the game allows you to customize your own character(s), because the preview build starts with two, predetermined ones called Bram and Alrik. These two have been trapped in a cave for a couple of months, in hope of absorbing the power of the Magni gems. The preview main quest tasks me with getting back to our protagonists’ mentor, although I wasn’t able to do so, as the map was curiously not updated; i.e., a river is separating them from their mentor, and they can’t swim. (...)

Each character is equipped with three active skills, each one assigned to a key. Skills are separated into three categories: Mind, Body, and Control. Mind skills focus more on enhancing your characters by healing them or even resurrecting, in addition to using various spells like the usual frost or fire blast, while Body skills deal more damage to enemies and allow your characters to sustain more damage, in return. Finally, Control skills allow you to set traps, throw grenades, and make yourself invisible, in addition to being the main category for using bows. In short, investing in Mind skills turns your character into a wizard, while the Body skills are reserved for a “tank”-like character, while Control is primarily used for rogue/ranged-players.

The best part is the fact that characters aren’t restricted to one class or the another, so you can turn one of your characters into a rogue who uses spells, a “tank” being able to turn himself invisible, and so on.

It’s especially worth noting that Kyn gives players the ability of slowing time down for them to issue commands to their characters. Since the game provides a decent challenge even on the Medium difficulty, it’s important to take your time and issue commands to each of your characters, this feature giving Kyn a fair level of depth to its combat system. (...)

Kyn

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

Details

CRPG Book Project - 21 RPGs that brought something new to the table @ Gamasutra

by Hiddenx, 12:14

Another sneak peek at Felipe's CRPG book:

CRPG History Abridged - 21 RPGs that brought something new to the table

As some of you might know, due to my occasional rant here, I'm the editor of the CRPG Book Project, a non-profit, crowd-sourced project to promote Computer RPGs and their rich history.

Over the past 18 months working on the book I've examined almost 300 RPGs, from the latest releases to PLATO titles from the 70's. All this research is being put into the book, but I'm fully aware that not everyone thinks a +400-page book on RPGs is a cool thing (shame on you), so I've decided to make a really, really, really abridged version, focusing on one single aspect: cool stuff.

So here's a clickbait-like article on some of the most interesting things I came across. I'll focus on more obscure stuff (or at least obscure outside hardcore RPG forums), but I'll also add a few well-know games that do deserve another pass at the spotlight:

  • Dungeons of Daggorath (1982)
  • Alternate Reality: The City (1985)
  • Alien Fires: 2199 A.D. (1986)
  • Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna (1987)
  • Bloodwych (1989)
  • World of Ultima: The Savage Empire (1990) and
  • Martian Dreams (1991)
  • Ishar: Legend of the Fortress (1991)
  • Might & Magic: World of Xeen (1992)
  • Wizardry VII - Crusaders of the Dark Savant (1992)
  • Ultima VIII: Pagan (1994)
  • Wizardry 8 (2001)
  • Geneforge (2001)
  • ZanZarah: The Hidden Portal (2002)
  • Fable (2004)
  • Magical Diary (2011)
  • Expeditions: Conquistador (2013)
  • NEO Scavenger (2014)

Special mention: The Age of Enlightenment Trilogy:

  • Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (1985)
  • Ultima V: Warrior of Destiny (1988)
  • Ultima VI: The False Prophet (1990)

CRPG Book Project

Details

Bard's Tale IV - Kickstarter Update #12

by Hiddenx, 08:46

The Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter achieved the stretch goal Advanced Crafting and in update #12 a mysterious person is announced for next week...

Bard's Tale IV

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

Details

Witcher 3 - Review @ RPG Codex

by Hiddenx, 08:18

The Codex is able to review a mainstream game: Angthoron about the Witcher 3:

What can be said about the writing of Witcher 3, then? Well - simply put, it is one of the best-written games to have come out in well over a decade. Perhaps even the best-written RPG since Torment, tackling serious topics and pulling no punches, placing the player in a position of one of the last sane men in an increasingly insane world and never shying away from showing what insanity actually is while avoiding the pitfalls of cheap shock value. The mundaneness of cruelty; the commonness of greed, treason, cowardice; the quiet acceptance of murder, rape, despair, racism and hate - Witcher 3 is all about that. Witcher 3 is about total war without its typical glamor.
(...)
The atmosphere of Witcher 3 does its best to support the writing - and succeeds to do it almost perfectly. Visual and audio design serve to reinforce the writing and create a sense of place. The world hardly feels like a theme park - instead, it is a fairly logical, if occasionally repetitive.
(...)
Still, the world is realistic and rich with detail - from the finally realistically depicted outskirts of a major medieval-like city (undesireables and underclass living outside the city walls, miles and miles of farmland all around - thank you CDPR, I wanted to see this for nearly two decades) to tiny shrines to a deity or to Eternal Fire seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the minute details are what makes the world stand out and feel lived in. Tiny hamlets full of peasants going about their business, refugee camps full of the sick and the hungry, city squares bursting with activity - the developers spared no expense in making the world of Witcher 3 feel alive - thankfully, remembering that ambient sound is an important part of game's atmosphere, too.
(...)
Witcher 3 does not invent the wheel with its quests or their structure. Just as before in the series, the game's quests divide into main quests that are dedicated to the development of the characters as well as to the major changes in regional politics, and into the side quests and monster hunts, the smaller, more localized affairs. Curiously, the side quests, an item that has drawn my ire for years in the products of AAA industry due to the great levels of half-assedness, are actually very well fleshed out in Witcher 3.
(...)
Choice and consequence are frequent in both the main quest and the side/bounty quests - the options rarely break the limit of being binary, perhaps, but the strength of Witcher 3's C&C is not in per-quest variety or material reward - it's in the writing and acting dedicated to the choices; it's in the frequently interesting morality issues, and it's in the short-term and long-term consequence, and as such, it is a great deal more satisfying than a simple reward of a pile of gold coins a-la BioWare's masterful prose-crafting, or Pillars of Eternity's wondrous infodumps. The game's quests feel like dealing with an actual situation that affects actual people rather than helping a humanoid quest-loot-information dispensers. The quests are also usually logical, though an occasional cultural reference or a bit of silliness (like having to find a goat) do slip through. Still, even such quests are not without a place, providing a bit of a chuckle or a change of pace in an otherwise grim world.
(...)

Witcher 3

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

Details

Friday - June 26, 2015

Dragon Age - Interview with David Gaider @ The Edge

by Hiddenx, 21:43

Andy Borkowski news anchor and host of tech show VGS across Corus Entertainment in Toronto, had a 3 hour talk with former lead writer of the Dragon Age franchise, David Gaider about the history of the game series. In Part 1, David discusses how the idea of Dragon Age first began, what characters he believes failed and what HUGE section of the game ended up on the cutting room floor.

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Here's a link to the interview and transcript.

Dragon Age

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

Details

Deus Ex - 15 Years Later @ TechRaptor

by Hiddenx, 21:27

Micah Curtis (TechRaptor) writes about the legacy of Deus Ex:

(...)

While not a unique setting in and of itself (many Cyberpunk stories are similar), Deus Ex’s setting is superior due to the narrative treating its outlandishness with seriousness, thus allowing for much better player immersion. In essence, Deus Ex was an early master of narrative plausibility. Rather than pointing at the setting with a tongue in their cheek and winking, they treat it with a serious face.

From a design standpoint, Deus Ex still stands as one of the bastions of player choice. Similar to Fallout, there are no classes within Deus Ex. Well, unless “awesome guy with sunglasses” is a class. Thus, during the course of the game, your skills are tailored to your play style. This kind of freedom is almost always welcome by the player, but if the world around you doesn’t allow for any type of play style to conclude in victory, it’s ultimately a hollow gesture. In Deus Ex, if you don’t want to kill a single soul, nothing is forcing you to. If you want to become Nanobot Rambo, that option is open to you.

You see, Deus Ex teaches developers everywhere a very important lesson. Player freedom is ultimately decided by the mechanics and the level design. If they aren’t in tandem with one another, the game is less of an experience for it. The fact that the game’s design is still referenced in this regard after fifteen years speaks for its staying power. When the player feels in control of their character, they’re immersed.

So, what is the legacy of Deus Ex? From my perspective, the series stands as definitive cyberpunk when it comes to its genre as fiction and definitive role playing in regards to video games. Fifteen years later, Deus Ex is still very relevant. With the upcoming Mankind Divided continuing the series, the expectations will continually be set high for the developers. When you’re one of the best, you’re expected to be the best, and many gamers out there hope that the series will continue to match the legacy of its predecessors. Even if things were to go sour for the current development team, Deus Ex has solidified its legacy, and one would even argue its immortality.

 

Deus Ex

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

Details

Bard's Tale IV - Kickstarter Update: Classes and Races

by Hiddenx, 20:48

Kickstarter update #11 for the Bards Tale IV - some snippets:

In combat, The Bard’s Tale IV will have a similar feel to first-person phase-based combat games going all the way back to The Bard’s Tale I all the way up to Might & Magic X – Legacy. While we can draw a connection to the combat of those games, we’re going to heavily improve on many aspects of that style of combat system. One example of this is by decoupling the animations from the inputs. Once you’ve learned your characters, it will allow you to play at a quicker pace, without having to wait for the same 5 second fireball animation to finish before you can make your next move. We’ll have more to say on combat in future updates.

(...)

Each class has a unique function within the party, though that comes with some flexibility depending on the class. Some, like Warrior, Monk or Paladin, are best taking the direct approach, jumping straight into the fray, but their particular role in that position is unique for each. Warriors can use just about any weapons or armor and do very well taking and dealing as much damage as possible. Monks will embrace a bit of a unique combat concept, where they will continue to get stronger as fights or even dungeon exploration progresses, making them more powerful the more you push on (incidentally discouraging rest spamming!). Finally Paladins (with requisite +1 Holy Sword) serve as your faithful shield, protecting the party and providing various status modifiers to your party or enemies. It will be fun to explore more of these concepts with you moving forward.

(...)

The original Bard’s Tale games also let you pick a race for your characters, a system we plan to return and expand upon. Your race choice will be represented in gameplay modifiers, though we intend to do so in a way that avoids forcing you towards a set of particular race/class combos.

One of those expansions will be that the races you pick will have an influence in certain spots in the game, with NPCs reacting to the presence of a Trow in your group in certain, perhaps not always favorable ways. Some options may open or close to you depending on who you have in your party. As you know, we're huge fans of reactivity in our games, and that's one way we can use the character system to add more depth.

Speaking of the Trow, we’re looking to make some new additions to the roster of races based on the specific lore of The Bard’s Tale IV. The Trow is one such example of a mythological creature from Orkney Island folkloric tradition that we’re making available as a playable race.

As you may be able to tell from all the above, we’re not looking to make The Bard’s Tale IV a simpler game than its predecessors. We’ll have clever ways to introduce you to the game’s systems and ease into it for newer players, but if you are the type who loves building a full roster of heroes, carefully going over the options and considering your possibilities and spending hours to craft your perfect party, then The Bard’s Tale IV is very much the game for you!

(...)

 

Bard's Tale IV

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

Details

Banner Saga 2 - Preview @ HardcoreGamer

by Hiddenx, 08:01

Marcus Estrada (HardcoreGamer) takes a look at Banner Saga 2:

E3 2015: The Banner Saga 2 is a Deeper, Darker Sequel

In 2012, developer Stoic Games launched a Kickstarter for The Banner Saga. By the end, they had raised 700% of their goal! Something about this turn-based strategy game had gained massive interest. That interest did not wane in the least as it trucked toward release. There was a bit of confusion with The Banner Saga: Factions and The Banner Saga proper, but eventually everyone played it in 2014 and the majority found it an epic, gorgeous and depressing RPG. This also happens to be a three part series, which is why the first game ended on a bit of a cliffhanger. The Banner Saga 2 picks up a few weeks after the initial title concludes and proceeds from there.

You don’t actually have to play the original game before this one, of course, but it would probably make more sense to have done so. If you have a spare 10-15 hours to spare I’d recommend just playing through it before jumping in. The Banner Saga save will transfer right over, along with all your character stats. If someone died on your watch then they’ll remain dead in The Banner Saga 2. With that being the case, perhaps some players would rather hide their saves… but let’s continue discussing what’s new about this game.

One of the main complaints against The Banner Saga was that battles became a bit dull after a while once you got used to the mechanics of them. The developers have paid attention to such criticism and amended the sequel accordingly. Now players will find that new enemy units (as well as on your own side) which switch up the flow of battle. A new class in particular is actually able to go invisible. If you recall from the first game there was never any fog of war, so there was really no way of enemies being “invisible” beforehand. Now though they can actually cause serious damage by ganging up on a character while they’re untouchable.

There’s some aspects which remain the same. The most obvious is the visuals. Yes, that outrageously good looking art and animation is back in full force here. Everything still looks stupendous, at the quality of an animated film in my opinion. Of course, this is a very sad tale of humanity rather than something akin to a Disney flick. It’s just great to see that the team was able to keep up this high level of visual artistry after pushing it to the max in the previous release.

The Banner Saga 2 is still all about tough decisions both on and off the battlefield. Choices just within the demo lead to events such as a character dying. If you thought that Telltale’s The Walking Dead was difficult to handle then you’ll be surprised by the emotional turmoil that this game is set to cause. And this is only the midpoint in the series, so who knows how rough things will get by its conclusion. The Banner Saga 2 will be available on PC, PS4, and Xbox One sometime later this year.

Banner Saga 2

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

Details

XCOM 2 - Interview @ Gaming Nexus

by Hiddenx, 07:36

During E3 John Jahn of Gaming Nexus sat down with Garth DeAngelis, the lead producer on XCOM 2, and talked about XCOM 2 - some snippets:

What was the biggest thing you learned from developing the last XCOM game that you are applying to second one?
That's a great question. So we learned a lot with Enemy Unknown and there is a foundation that we got a lot of good feedback on. Certainly the game move between strategy and tactical. You can't lose the foundation of combat, the two turn system, the fog of war, the cover system. It's a tricky proposition to say what we want to change for a sequel to innovate more but those things we want to keep. We thought they worked really, really well when we looked at the core of what XCOM's about. But we said we definitely need to improve the game and how can we make it better and when you look at something like the procedural aspects like that we're adding to the game. We learned a lot on Enemy Unknown. failing that early. We tried random levels and finishing XCOM Enemy Unknown allowed us to have a lot of clarity for how to do it right. So we took a lot of those lessons with hand crafted maps and said OK, let's subdivide those, let's still design and hand place elements of maps but then we'll plug them into this procedural system that will make the game better. And so now you'll never see the same layout twice and we're super excited about that.

OK, cool. So, how are you tweaking and streamlining the core mechanics of the game?
Yeah the biggest thing that we're changing is the procedural maps but that there's a lot of tweaking happening with even just core combat. There are things like, now when you drop into a mission, since you are this resistance force that is sort of working from the shadows, the enemies don't know you're there because you're sort of invading their cities right? They've occupied Earth. So now you can sneak up on them and set traps and ambushes before they sound the alarms and know you're there. That's at its core, XCOM combat. That's a really good example of taking that foundation of combat and sort of twisting it a little bit to make it more interesting and different without losing the spirit of the original.

XCOM 2

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

Details

Legends of Eisenwald - Combat Video

by Hiddenx, 07:26

Aterdux Entertainment released a new video about combat in the upcoming game Legends of Eisenwald:

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Legends of Eisenwald

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

Details

Thursday - June 25, 2015

Torment: Tides of Numenera - Interview @ Redbull

by Hiddenx, 20:30

Interesting interview with project lead Kevin Saunders and design lead Adam Heinesome snippets:

Tides of Numenera and the tides of crowdfunding

We speak to the team behind the spiritual successor of 1999’s critical darling Planescape: Torment.

It's been well over two years since inXile Entertainment's ambitious RPG Torment: Tides of Numenera was successfully funded on Kickstarter, raising over $4.1million to help bring the game to life. While we've not heard too much from the team since the game was funded, inXile has been steadily plugging away to keep its vision alive.

Originally slated to land last December, the game's release has been moved back to this year, all so that the team can meet the ambitious stretch goals the community voted for with its wallets. The finish-line is definitely in sight though and ahead of the game's final release, we spoke with project lead Kevin Saunders and design lead Adam Heine on what to expect from the final game, updating gameplay for a new century, and the team's take on our world a billion years in the future.

Numenera is based in our world, but a billion years in the future. How is that different to it being a new world altogether and what are you preserving from the present that players will recognise in Numenera’s far future?

Adam Heine: The difference is that in knowing the Ninth World is (or once was) Earth, it forces one to imagine how and why. There is no magic, so if that man is capable of healing someone with just a touch and a few muttered words, how is he doing that? Is it some hereditary mutation, some change done to him by ancient technologies he stumbled upon in the wasteland, or is he drawing on unseen powers in the air? Do the words even matter (he certainly believes they do)? If there's a standing dome of water – held in by nothing but a few stone obelisks – then somebody in the past had the technology and desire to build it. Why? How does it work? And how powerful must that civilisation have been to have created such a thing?

These questions aren't raised in a typical fantasy setting. But for every weird thing in the Ninth World, one has to ask how it got there, why, and what it was originally for. The answers to these questions are rarely given in the Numenera setting, but that's not the point. The point is to ignite the imagination.

Nothing from the 21st Century will have survived a billion years from now, but what players will recognise in the Ninth World is humanity. Nobody knows why humanity emerged again on Earth some thousand years ago – barely changed from the way they are today – but they are obviously people, with all of our same flaws and struggles and loves and fears.

The Tides of the title are, according to a recent interview, ‘essentially a way to get around big fights’. We’re still a little unclear on how they work. Is their use in the game only to manipulate NPCs? Is it fair to characterise them a bit like karma, where characters or quests will only be open if you are a very just person? And if that’s all they are, why such prominence in the game’s title?

Heine: The Tides aren't a gate for fights, but rather an alignment system. They play two main parts in the story of TTON. First, they change based on the PC's choices, but unlike PS:T's alignment axes of good/evil and law/chaos, the Tides are focused on the type of legacy the PC is building. The player's Tides are determined by his words and actions – not by a set of morals or inscrutable motivations – and they have a subtle effect on many aspects of the game, including manipulating NPCs and conferring bonuses and item effects.

The Tides also are a natural force, akin to gravity or magnetism. This force has been harnessed by the PC's sire, allowing him to jump from body to body in his apparent quest for immortality, and it may be an unforeseen side effect of the Tides that creates the cast-offs. The Tides are an important, underlying facet of the game's story. (...)


Torment: Tides of Numenera

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

Details

Shenmue 3 - Excited about Shenmue 3

by Myrthos, 17:59

In an article at PC Gamer, the author explains why he is excited about Shenmue 3.

Shenmue 3 is happening, and it’s coming to PC. As a fan of the series, I can’t believe I’m typing those words. But there’s a very strong chance you don’t give a shit. The first two games were only ever released on Dreamcast and Xbox, and there hasn’t been a new entry in the series for 14 entire years. Why should you?

There’s every chance this new game, which is being funded on Kickstarter and by Sony, will be a disaster. A pale imitation, cynically fueled by nostalgia. But if its creator, Sega legend Yu Suzuki, manages to conjure up even a little bit of the magic of those first two games, it could be something special. I want to believe.

We don’t know much about Shenmue 3 yet, and all that exists is some (admittedly dodgy-looking) concept footage. So instead of speculating about what the game might be like, or what I want to see in it, I thought I’d look back and tell you why I love the series so much, and why its return could be a wonderful thing.

Shenmue 3

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

Details

Bethesda Softworks - Pete Hines Interview

by Myrthos, 17:55

The Telegraph interviewed Bethesda's Vice President of Marketing and PR Pete Hines at E3 and talked about Fallout 4, why there is no Skyrim 2, Dishonored, E3 and other stuff.

“It’s rare to have franchises like the ones we have and to have people joking about “when is Skyrim 2 coming out?” says Hines. “The reason they say that is because generally speaking that’s what you’d be getting with another publisher in charge. They’d be spitting out a Skyrim 2 the year after or two years later. That’s just not how we view it. We’re not the sort of publisher that focusses on 'what’s our 25 titles for 2015'.

"We do smaller stuff, we don’t publish to scale, we try to publish to quality. Make sure everything we do is noteworthy. Our approach to that hasn’t differed. Here and there we might change our approach to how it’s presented but we’ve still stuck to who we are.”

And Bethesda are a publisher that certainly has a certain ‘type’ of game, focussing on adult themes and often oodles of blood. The presentation for Doom at Bethesda’s press conference came under fire somewhat for its relentless brutality. “We make mature games. We make games for grown-ups. Or at least 17 and up,” say Hines. “That is our target audience for sure.

"If you look at what we have… even BattleCry, online free-to-play but visceral, bloody, decapitations, dismemberment. We know who our audience is and we haven’t wavered from that. We make games for an older audience because that’s what our devs know. They make the games they want to play.”

Bethesda Softworks

Details

Underworld Ascendant - Answers from the Abyss #2

by Arhu, 15:30

The website of Ultima Underworld I & II's upcoming sequel, Underworld Ascendant, has been updated with Answers from the Abyss #2, in which some community questions get adressed.

Some excerpts:

"Why abandon PnP-inspired RPG systems in favor of perks?" - CyberP

For Underworld Ascendant we want the focus of the game to be on the world and your interactions with it. Anything that might get in the way of this, anything that might put itself between the player and the experience of living in the Underworld, is something we have to seriously consider before including in the game.

So, how does this relates to perks and character progression? Our preference is not to have players spend a lot of time in a system or UI where they are studying stats and points or worrying about whether to increase strength over dexterity. We'd prefer, instead, to have character progression consist of a smaller number of meaningful decisions, such as choosing a new attack or movement ability, rather than numerous numerical tweaks, as allocating skill points every level.

(..)

"We know creatures in the ecosystem are going to function within it (i.e food needs, survival, and whatnot). Will this affect NPC's in the factions as well? Can I go hunting with Lizardmen?" - SteveC

Yes, NPCs and factions will be positioned in the ecosystem alongside the flora and fauna. This means that NPCs and members of factions will have needs and desires that hinge on accessibility and conditions of the environment: access to food, protection from predators, warmth, and so forth.

Day-to-day routines of NPCs and factions will also be in the game as much as possible, including those that draw from and/or impact the ecosystem. So, yes, lizardmen will be seen hunting and, depending upon your standing with them, they might even allow you to tag along.

 

"Are NPC's/creatures going to have other needs besides food in the ecosystem?" - SteveC

Absolutely. While food may be the strongest need for many creatures, other things will also factor into their behaviors and motivations. For instance, creatures will have a predilection for the kind of environment they want to live in - lava bat want to live in hot areas, preferably with some lava flows. If that environment changes then the creatures will have a desire to migrate to a new location that more suits their needs.

We expect light and darkness to play a real role in creature behaviors as well. To feel safe some creatures or NPCs may be more comfortable in well-lit parts of the Underworld, while others may prefer the darkness in which to hide. Light levels is an atmospheric state which can be readily changed by the player, or even by happenstance, and which will have a big impact on the lives of creatures and NPCs.

Underworld Ascendant

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

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Shenmue 3 - Update #13 - Funding and Budget Statement

by Gorath, 13:55

As you can see in the headline there have been already 13 updates to the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter page. The latest one clarifies the project funding to a certain degree.

There have been many questions concerning Shenmue 3’s budget and what outside sources will be added to the money collected through Kickstarter. I apologize for not having been more forthright in this area and would like to take this opportunity to help clarify the situation.  

Ys Net and I have been putting in many long years trying to find a way to bring back a sequel that so many fans have waited so long for. After learning of Kickstarter, I knew it would be possible to get Shenmue 3 started. Wanting to make the best game possible, I also knew that I would have to look to more traditional means to obtain all the funds that would be needed to create the game I had envisioned. [...]

Shenmue 3

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

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Fallout: NV - Modding FNV to Make it Look Like Fallout 4

by Myrthos, 12:51

Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an article up in which the author attempt to find the mods needed to make Fallout New Vegas look somewhat like Fallout 4. The author presents the article not as a guide, but as a discussion item.

For context, I barely played Fallout: New Vegas upon release because, despite sterling wordsmiths Obsidian handling it, I found Fallout 3’s engine and especially combat too distractingly wonky to deal with. As much as I wanted to I just couldn’t lose myself to the wasteland, because the wasteland looked and felt like Team America recreating Riverdance on some mudflats. Half a decade later, I can avail myself of the many mods aimed at resolving just that, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll finally be able to enjoy a game that half the internet is madly in love with. I’ll think about survival, difficulty and new campaign mods some other time: this is about seeing if I can find a way into to the game Obsidian made.

After many and varied types of fiddling, there were three and a half tools I needed before I could meaningfully get going. The first was Fallout Mod Manager, one of several rival tools for (un)installing and managing legions of FNV add-ons. Even that is split into two different forks, which is where the aforementioned half a tool comes in. The most recent ‘official’ FMM is available here, but you’ll almost certainly need to install the 4GB RAM usage patch on top of that. So I went for this custom build which has that built in already, but is only available via (free) registration for the Lovers Lab forum (a place which I should probably warn you is festooned with assorted nudey mods, so possibly NSFW and all that, although the FMM thread itself is clean).

Fallout: NV

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Post-Apoc
Genre: RPG
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Release: Released

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Witcher 3 - Marcin Iwinski interview @ GameTrailers

by Myrthos, 12:40

Gametrailers talks with Marcin Iwinski about what he is doing at E3 and what's next for The Witcher 3 (DLCs, Expansions). In the very last minute they ask if Cyberpunk 2077 will be shown at the next E3 and there is no answer on that.

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Witcher 3

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

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Pillars of Eternity - Update 2.0

by Myrthos, 12:26

The 99th Kickstarter update for Pillars of Eternity brings us the somewhat belated announcement of The White March, Part 1, consisting of the two new companions and the 2.0 updates (which will be vailable to all).

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Pillars of Eternity

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

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PoE: The White March - Preview @ Destructoid

by Hiddenx, 00:58

Good preview of PoE: The White March at Destructoid - a snippet:

In the expansion, the player character and their allies come into contact with the mayor of Stalwart, who seeks their help in dealing with an encroaching force upon their land. A once great fortress has been long abandoned, leaving all its riches untouched. The mayor wishes for the heroes of Caed Nua to travel through the dangerous mountains of Durgan's Battery to retake it. Venturing to the new area of The White March, a snow-covered land with relics to uncover, players will come into contact with several new characters and foes that may help or hinder their quest to retake the mountain.

During our presentation, we got to see just what sort of trouble your group of adventurers can get into. For those wondering, the new content becomes available once you've acquired your own stronghold, and from there, you can engage in the expansion's content at any time. Taking inspiration from Icewind Dale, a classic CRPG title, the developers at Obsidian wanted to include a vastly different setting to go along with the big jump in difficulty.

Along with the higher level cap (raised to level 14) and new weapons and armor, there are two more companions to join your merry party. The first is Zahua, a drug-addicted monk who possesses powerful unarmed melee attacks that can make quick work of foes, and the Devil of Caroc, a construct made of pure copper who uses stealth and agility along with rogue abilities to get the jump on the enemy. Moreover, there's a new system, multi-class talents, allowing characters to spend points on abilities from other classes to develop skills in areas they couldn't previously.

There's a stronger focus on building characters this time around, and it's clear the developers want players to have more freedom than before. To further illustrate this, the scripted story moments (shown in D&D-esque story prompts) now offer far more options than in the original and each one gives a different result.

(...)

Trailer:

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PoE: The White March

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

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Wednesday - June 24, 2015

Wizardry 8 - A Samurai, a Valkyrie, and a Bishop walk into a barů

by Hiddenx, 20:51

Rampant Coyote on Wizardry 8:

A samurai, a valkyrie, and a bishop walk into a bar…

That’s either the start of a really lame joke, or a regular play session of one of the definitely non-lame Wizardry games. Although the Valkyries didn’t appear until Wizardry 6. No matter…

Ye Olde Day (and Night) Job gave me Sunday off, so I managed to pour a few hours into playing my new acquisition, Wizardry 8. Yes, all this talk of new RPGs hitting the store shelves, and I’m thrilled about getting my hands on a seven-year-old game (Editorial note: Now it’s been almost as long since this was originally posted. Time flies!).

I am just a few hours into it, but I’m mighty pleased. Why?

#1 – The world and storyline are intriguing. I was never a huge fan of the mega-epic plot-line of the power to create and destroy the entire universe and all that from the previous two games, but I’m not minding it so much here. The game starts you out with a trite imperative (you are the sole survivors of a crashed space ship, and have to survive and save the universe), but the monastery section was focused and felt a little like unfolding a mystery, full of hints and clues to a bigger picture. I love that.

#2 – TACTICS! Holy cow, this game reminds me of how fun turn-based, party-based RPGs can be. Granted, Wizardry 8 probably takes it a little overboard, with party movement and positioning, party formations, and everything. But still, I’m having a great time with it. I got clobbered in a combat on the road to Arnika last night, and found myself considering all the things I could have done differently to have won. Too often, in RPGs these days, it really comes down to having been too unlucky, too slow on the healing-potion button, or not having saved during the middle of the battle often enough. Here, it was a case of me encountering a new monster type and underestimating their capabilities.

#3 – The monastery – the first “dungeon” – was not a run-of-the-mill miniature bunny-slope dungeon. I spent three hours of playtime in there, and dealt with multiple “boss monsters” and lots of exploration. Maybe I’ll get sick of similar dungeons with the same graphics set in the future, and I did play through some of this in the demo, but for now, I enjoyed it. I’m really a dungeon-crawler at heart, I guess.

#4 – I’m also a sucker for first-person perspective RPGs. Chalk it over to being more “immersive” or whatever – I’ve always preferred it. Not that I don’t love other perspectives, too (Ultima VII remains, to this day, my favorite RPG), but I love seeing the world through the eyes of my character(s).

#5 – STATS! Lots of juicy, geeky numbers. This might be a detriment for many players, but I really like the customization opportunities and being able to numerically compare my characters and my improvements as I level. Seriously, I get bugged by RPGs that seem to say, “Don’t worry your pretty little head about these big, scary statistics… just look at the eye-candy and you can see your character get cooler special effects!” Give me crunchy numbers, please. As much as I get into story and roleplaying and all that jazz, I’ve got repressed power-gamer tendencies that need to be exercised. (...)

Wizardry 8

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

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