GhanBuriGhan interviewed Joshua DeBonis, founder and director of Sortasoft on their game “Meriwether: An American Epic”.
» Continue reading the article...
Expeditions: Conquistador Review
GhanBuriGhan reviewed Expeditions: Conquistador for RPGWatch and came back with quite a few things to tell.
» Read the article
Poll WatchDo you Kickstart?
Yes, I've supported a bunch!
Yes, but only 1 or 2.
I'm waiting for the right project.
No! No finished product, no money!
No - but only because of my tight budget.
Wednesday - June 19, 2013
Dragon Age 3 - Interview @ CVG
CVG has posted a new interview with BioWare's General Manager Aaryn Flynn about Dragon Age: Inquisition.
How ambitious are you being with the open-world design?
Oh pretty ambitious! That comes down to some of the feedback from Dragon Age II and wanting to give people a lot more exploration. That's one of the reasons why we chose Frostbite as an engine, because we went through a big review of that.
We knew that our own engine Eclipse that did Dragon Age Origins and Dragon Age II was getting pretty long in the tooth. Continuing to develop on that engine would've taken a lot of investment and time. But when we lined up a lot of the opportunities for engines, one of the things that we loved about Frostbite was that it did terrain streaming and big open environments quite well.
So we thought that if we could take that and then layer on beautiful open-world systems and quests, that would be a pretty killer combination. That was a big priority for us.
The first and second Dragon Age titles are quite different games. How are you going to balance Inquisition in terms of incorporating various elements from those games?
The idea for 3 is obviously that the medium has moved ahead again. So we have to take advantage of that and figure out first and foremost where the medium is going. Then from there based on where we see it going, which is to bigger, open areas and more things to do, we then have to decide what from Origins and Dragon Age II we're going to bring in to that.
Each game has things that we like. For example, Origins has a great, tactical combat feel. I personally like that Dragon Age II has a faster, more action feel to it. So we want to blend those and bring them in to Dragon Age: Inquisition and then have it play out in larger, open spaces.
Will player choices from the previous two games factor in the Inquisition story?
Certainly we want to respect the investment that people have made in the first to games. We don't have a specific comment yet on how we're going to do that, but it's become a really big 'BioWare-ism' to do that so want to keep it going. We just don't know how we're going to do it yet so we can't comment.
Information aboutDragon Age: Inquisition
Release: In development
The Great Gaias - A Story-Driven RPG
Here we are with another kickstarter RPG, and I can see the not again expressions. This time the game is called The Great Gaias. The goal is $25,000 with 24 days left.
Horizon’s End is proud to present its first game, The Great Gaias. This modern take on the classic JRPG genre brings forth the best qualities of these forgotten games. With more than sixty hours of gameplay including sidequests, hidden characters, crafting, and multiple endings, we hope to rival such classics as Chrono Trigger, Xenogears and the Final Fantasy series.
The Great Gaias is an ancient tome authored by the Gods that is able to reincarnate the souls of ones who have led a life that was supremely influential and helped shape history. The First Men, the Chosen Ones, having been granted immortality by the Gods and free will, were charged with the governance of lesser man and ruled justly and righteously their new city called Validus. After years of prosperity, a stranger from the east, Grindelwald Maultor, brought magic to the First Men, and with this new-found power came tyranny.
Using this mighty gift he corrupted the immortal First Men, transforming them to wickedness. The Gauf, as these ten immortal warlords were named, waged a bloodthirsty war against the other free folk of Tenat. It wasn’t until the Warriors of Old, souls birthed from The Great Gaias, battled Validus, and pushed their forces back, imprisoning the immortal Gauf and Lord Maultor within an ancient Tower of the Gods.
Peace has reigned for a millennia, but a new age is dawning in which an ancient magic is returning to the world. The souls of the Great Gaias have all been reborn into existence once again, and the seals of the ancient tower are weakening. It is up to a small group of unlikely adventurers to uncover the past and fulfill an age-old prophecy that will undoubtedly shake the very foundations of the modern world and shape the direction of a new age.
The Great Gaias will employ many features that were cherished by the players of this classic style. Throughout the game you will encounter an elaborate and highly developed lore supported and developed upon by the many systems revolving around it. Features such as the bestiary, biography, quest journal, and The Grand Arcanum, all help to compliment our vision of this rich and detailed world.
Thief 4 - E3 Presentation and RPS Preview
GamesHQMedia offers the Thief presentation from E3 2013. The 30+ minute clip includes cinematics and gameplay footage, It ends with a Q&A where Eidos Montreal lays out the vision for the game.
RPS also has a preview of the playable E3 demo.
What Eidos Said: ”Well, with a reinvention, it’s always gonna be a little different. And what people remember [varies from person to person].”
Also, in response to rumors of serious trouble behind the scenes:
“There have been some changes in personnel. The project’s been going on for a while. We were trying to get the DNA right – the essence of the game. It took a while because we tried a few things that just didn’t really fit. And hopefully, you’ll play it and see that we have a solid product. You know, rumors are rumors.”
My Experience: I am conflicted. As you can very obviously tell, the new Thief rubbed me the wrong way in quite a few places. AI and combat, especially, were well off the mark, and that’s definite cause for worry. Oh, and let’s not forget the linear, QTE-ridden escape scene, which felt completely at odds with pretty much everything ever – especially common sense, stealth (or even stealth-action), and the year 2013.
Thief’s level design, however, was solid, and I could see it meshing quite well with competent though basic systems and smart enemy placement if the AI gets stolen and replaced with pretty much anything else. No doubt about it, Thief needs some serious work, but I think there’s still potential. Deus Ex: Human Revolution was an absolute joy, and I can almost see the murky silhouette of a similar miracle skulking around in Thief’s gutters.
Also, there is still tons I wasn’t able to see. Other areas. More open slices of the world. Secrets (of which there will apparently be many). I’m also crossing my fingers for the story, which is still shrouded in a sooty smog of mystery.
Information aboutThief 4
Release: In development
Xenonauts - Preview @ Space Sector
Space Sector has a preview of the beta for Xenonauts.
Xenonauts Beta is looking really nice and it already offers an enjoyable experience. Although it doesn’t feel finished yet (well, because it isn’t) – some art assets are still missing (with placeholders at the moment) and more interesting maps are needed, in my opinion – Xenonauts managed to keep me fairly interested through my 10h play session. Until I faced a Terror Site mission that is, and failed miserably (complete squad wipe).
So, although I’ve been playing X-COM games for years, this was my first serious Xenonauts game where I definitely felt a challenge. This Beta didn’t captivate me as much as X-COM: UFO Defense once did, no. Not the same amount of attachment felt. But, it’s too soon to judge the game to that extent. I only played for about 10 hours, and only up until the first Terror site mission appears. I only saw an armor upgrade and had the first few glimpses on the Alien weaponry and story. And, Xenonauts is still in Beta, so there’s still a lot to discover and lots of room for improvement.
But, overall, I feel that after the new UI and the missing assets are in place, a few more art injections are made, more and better maps are produced, the game will be ready for prime time. And, it will be, most probably, a very enjoyable game. I’m confident on that because Xenonauts is already enjoyable now.
Release: In development
Mars - English Re-localization
Focus Home and SPIDERS weren't entirely happy with the English localization for the PC version of Mars: War Logs. They decided to completely rewrite the English text/dialogue and re-record the game's voiceovers.
The update is available from Steam and other digital sites you may have bought the game from.
MARS WAR LOGS REWRITES THE STORY (IN ENGLISH)!
Mars War Logs was released in late April and, if most players who bought the Spiders Studio title liked the game itself, they were disappointed with the narrative element because the English version strayed too far from the original French. The general feeling was that the translation didn’t stick closely enough to the original French story and dialog.
Luc Heninger, Director of Production at Focus Home Interactive, explains:
"Mars contains a vast amount of dialog, even by RPG standards. The plot has numerous strands and the dialog often has many variants to mirror the hero’s changes in reputation. The tight deadlines between the game release dates meant that the initial English translation lacked depth and contained a number of errors; it was then sent to the recording studio, making the job of the actors extremely difficult.
The actual game was thoroughly tested and released with very few bugs on PC, but unfortunately the procedures for the audio and text QA failed and allowed many English localization issues to slip through. We realized the extent of the problem after seeing the first feedback from the press and gamers. The result was so far removed from what we usually produce that we took the decision to halt the submission process for the console version, which was due for release only weeks after the PC title.
We have re-written the game text and dialog and, of course, recorded the actors again, replacing the sections that weren’t true to the characters in Mars. All these problems will therefore be fixed in the console version. An update is now available for players with the PC game, and we have also incorporated the new audio in the PC versions on the various download sites."
Akaneiro: Demon Hunters - Early Access
Akaneiro: Demon Hunters the action/RPG from American McGee and Spicy Horse Studios is the newest game to offer early access on Steam. The cost for early access is $9.99.
Today, Akaneiro launched on Steam’s Early Access program. This is critical milestone for us; something we had been working towards completing for several weeks now and we’re all very proud to have made it. Launching Akaneiro through the Early Access program has been a controversial decision, for in doing so we have made the game available at a cost of $10. This $10 gifts the player with $30 of in-game items, but as a game that it available elsewhere as free-to-play it has garnered more than a few questions.
Why $10? Our initial launch of Akaneiro across our SpicyWorld platform and Kongregate, though successful, simply hasn’t provided us with the necessary feedback to prepare the game for the next stage, for crafting and co-op. When Valve discussed placing Akaneiro in the Early Access program, we saw this as an opportunity to leverage the experience of the Steam community before opening the game to a wider audience.
What about Kickstarter backers? As a Kickstarter backer, you’ve already “paid” for the game once. We’re not going to ask you to pay a second time. If you wish to play Akaneiro on Steam now, e-mail Ophelea and she will provide you with the necessary key.
Can I transfer my account from SpicyWorld/Kongregate? No. This is simply not possible as it breaks the Terms of Service with Valve. We cannot move account information from one platform to another.
What about Groupees participants? If you are a Groupees beta tester and wish to receive your free Karma for beta testing, please contact Ophelea and she will provide you with the necessary key.
Frontiers - Audio Interview
This week's Doom Ray is something a little different. In a two-part epic interview we talk with Lars Simkins, designer of the the incredible-looking Frontiers. An awe-inspiring open world exploration game lovingly created by one man. Lars has a background in VFX with credits that include The Hunger Games, Breaking Bad and the stunning Pushing Daisies. Now he has turned his considerable talents to games design and the results look nothing short of breath-taking. If you're as blown away by Frontiers as we are, check out the Frontiers Kickstarter and consider backing it. Thanks again to Lars for his time and for giving us a glimpse behind the development of this stunning game.
Shadowrun Returns - Delayed to Next Month
The Kickstarter for Shadowrun Returns has word from Harebrained Schemes that the release of their turn-based RPG is delayed until July 25th, after being planned for this month.
Here it is: The Official Release Date for Shadowrun Returns is July 25, 2013.
We know we’ve been saying June for some time, but now that we’ve reached this final stage of development, and although our Kickstarter funding was spent some time ago, we've decided to invest additional time in bugfixing and polishing the game. That means a longer crunch period for a tired team, but everyone agrees that it’s worth it.
One of the most common pieces of Backer feedback we've received over the past year is that we should take the time we need to ship this game. We really appreciate that, and we know we've thanked you already about a hundred times already, but we're doing it again because we mean it. Thanks.
You gifted us with your trust as well as your funding and we take that responsibility very seriously. You gave us the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than ourselves and something we think is worth all the time, sacrifice, and hard work. Soon, we’ll give it all back to you.
Important Note for Kickstarter Backers:
Your Steam key (for Windows & OSX) will be available a day early, on July 24th, from the HBS Accounts website, though the game will not activate until July 25th. (If you need help getting access to this site, contact email@example.com.) On July 25th, you will also be able to download your DRM-free version of the game and all Kickstarter digital rewards directly from the HBS Account website. More information about physical rewards delivery will be forthcoming in a separate Kickstarter update.
Information aboutShadowrun Returns
Release: In development
Tuesday - June 18, 2013
GOG - Summer Sale Started
In addition for a day their Dungeons & Dragons games can be had with a discount of 80% (if all are bought) or 50% individually. This contains all of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Neverwinter Nights and Temple of elemental Evil, PST, Dragonshard and Demon Stone.
Besides this, you can get Torchlight for free now for a bit less than 48 hours.
They have a new deal every day, so check back at GOG often.
Bound By Flame - E3 2013 interview and Previews
Bound by Flame was at E3 but seems to be ignored by most sites. Here are two previews and a new interview video.
Bound by Flame Interview with Jehanne Rousseau at E3 2013
Bound by Flame is not designed as a full open world, but instead is divided into chapters, with each chapter having its own quest hub and areas to explore. Because of this design, we were told that the game will be "semi-linear," but with a heavy focus on story.
Combat appears to fairly standard action RPG fare, though we were impressed by the creative monster designs and the detailed environments in which you'll fight. Over the course of the game, you'll meet up to five potential companions, of which two at a time can join you in battle. While you only directly control your own character, you can issue commands and assign set behaviors to your AI-controlled companions.
Outside of battle, you'll interact with your companions and NPCs through a variety of dialog options, a WRPG staple. Depending on your choices, you can affect your relationship with other characters, enough that certain companions may even leave your party if you alienate them enough. For you lovers out there, yes, there will also be romance options.
We don't yet know if Bound by Flame will break the mold of the dark fantasy action RPG, but the wealth of customization options and imaginative monster designs show promise. Maybe being possessed by a hellish flame demon isn't so bad after all.
Bound by Flame utilizes a traditional Third Person Action RPG gameplay system: run around and slash at enemies, use magic, level up through skill trees. There’s crafting, alliances, and conversation choices. There are up to five additional party members than can join in, and multiple side quests that pop up, seven per party member. The visuals carry a sort of dark fantasy style, with plenty of skeletons and giant demons running around. The environments we saw during our demo presentation showed us the insides of caves, tops of cliffs, and warrior encampments. Characters look like knights or savages, wizards or fighters. It’s not going to blow your socks off from that respect.
Where it does do some interesting things is in the morality side. The main character, which can be created based on our gender and appearance whims, has been possessed by a fire demon. As the game progresses and choices are made to gain power, take the hard way, do good or bad, our hero can become more possessed by the entity, slowly turning into one along the way. The change is both physical and plot-based, too. In our presentation the character grew horns, became scaly, more muscular and threatening, and the appearance will be different based on how we’ve designed our characters. The game’s different factions and allegiances will change, since some groups are considered pure and others are nearly cult-like towards the demon.
It’s a little like the team took the idea of Mass Effect 2‘s Shepard physical changes and expounded upon them to the nth degree.
It’s an intriguing idea that may inspire a few playthroughs, as players take different paths and make different choices along the way. It seems like it has the ability to make everyone’s experience with it unique. It’s still early in development, and has been pushed out of 2013 into the beginning of 2014. Though it’s being developed for XBLA , PSN, and PC right now, the team hasn’t made any choices yet for next gen consoles as of yet.
Information aboutBound By Flame
Release: In development
Frontiers - Explore, Discover & Survive
Today we have another kickstarter to showcase and we can all thanks Joxer for bringing it to my attention. FRONTIERS is a one man ambitious project that is described as a massive relaxing open world that emulates classic first person RPGs.
Video Update 1 - Structures FAQ
Hello, I'm Lars Simkins. I'm a VFX artist by trade and an indie game developer by passion. I'm here to make that first person exploration/survival game we've all been dreaming about.
I can still remember the first time I played Daggerfall. Yes, it was uglier than a monkey's armpit and controlled worse than a bumper car on a frozen lake.
But it also created the feeling of a world that lived on even after I'd stopped playing, and that feeling still sticks with me all these years later. A world where you could spend hours searching every pixelated nook and cranny. A world of potential. A world of EXPLORATION...
...and then a Dragonling would chomp my face because I hadn't spent ten hours grinding in the easy regions. Arg! So frustrating!
Other games have touched on that elusive feeling, especially Elder Scrolls and early Fallout games, but as fun as they are and as much as I love hardcore RPG mechanics, I've always dreamt of a game that emphasized exploration above all else.
Skyrim - Civil War Overhaul Mod
A talented modder called
I have painstakingly restored the civil war in the spirit of what Bethesda intended, before they decided to ship the game half-done. This feature restores battles for Morthal, Markarth, Falkreath, Fort Greymoor, Dawnstar, Riften, and Winterhold - and puts them all back in the game.
Skyrim's civil war is a much bigger animal than you could possibly imagine. The underlying framework of the civil war was designed to be a completely dynamic series of campaigns for holds, incorporating elements of strategy and diplomacy to bring your opponent down. In the planned version, it's my guess that the designers were going to create some kind of map menu for the player to decide which hold he wanted to hit next, and allow the enemy to counterattack as well. Regardless, each hold was to be won by doing up to TWELVE RADIANT QUESTS, as opposed to up to TWO in vanilla skyrim.
There were quest rewards, series of dialogue, and it was far more dynamic than any other kind of radiant quest in Skyrim. Dialogue was recorded, scenes were created, and scripts were set up. Somewhere along the line, likely in the last stages of development, the devs look like they ran out of time and could not complete the dynamic campaign. So what they did was hardcode the gears of this radiant masterpiece to ONLY allow a very limited set of quests that operated entirely linearly.
Just let that soak in for a sec. The civil war is nothing more than a facade.
Therefore, in order to restore the civil war, I have certain challenges that I must constantly fight off:
1) Rebuilding broken parts - Much of what is behind the civil war is epically huge and dynamic and prone to bugs. It has also NEVER been updated by Bethesda. That means I have the work of multiple patches ahead of me for every new function I use.
2)Building parts that weren't complete - Much of the coding and quests for unused material looks like one day the devs just got up, went out to get a pizza, and never came back. This is probably the easiest thing to fix, because I already know where they were headed, and am basically already there, with a few holes to fill in.
3)Building things that were referred to, but never built - This is pretty easy for me to do, as it gives me total creative license on how to use the assets that were left behind. Unfortunately, I need to get the basic framework solid first before I spend my time adding to its accouterments.
4)Tearing down the "vanilla civil war" - The vanilla civil war is a problem, because all it really is is the hardcoding of the dynamicism of the original design. To put it in car terms, Bethesda decided to only let the car go one way. A normal person would say, "Let's just use one of those U lock things to hold the steering wheel in place." However, Bethesda, wanting to make it absolutely error proof (I assume to keep the console kiddies happy), decided to BLOW TORCH THE AXLE TO THE FRAME AND TEAR OUT THE STEERING WHEEL. Then let a family of badgers nest in the hole left behind by said steering wheel, because badgers. This is the hardest thing to work against in making this mod, because while I can just flip a switch and turn on a quest, it usually breaks EVERYTHING when it runs up against the vanilla civil war.
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Fallout 4 - Shown Behind Closed Doors At E3 2013?
According to Bubblews Fallout 4 was shown to a select group behind closed doors. The site has has not revealed its source so take everything you are about to read with a grain of salt.
Fallout 4 has (apparently) been absent from E3 this year. However, behind closed doors, Bethesda gave details and a 37 second trailer for the upcoming Fallout 4. Pete Hines of Bethesda is keeping tight lipped about the 45 minute presentation, but it seems there was a leaker inside who was willing to give this information.
-Fallout 4 has been in development since January 2011 by a small team, as the majority were working on Skyrim.
- As of February 2013, the team working on Fallout 4 is the size of the team which was working on Skyrim. This is due to Skyrim development ending.
-As it stands now, Fallout 4 will release on Xbox One, PS4, PC, Xbox 360 and PS3. However, this is still subject to change.
-The actual announcement for Fallout 4 will come BEFORE E3 2014, but will NOT launch in 2014.
-The expected launch is in October 2015.
-The game is (as of June 2013) 55% complete, consequently, voice actors will be hired towards the end of 2014
-There is no planned multi-player, but there is a possibility of Co-Op locally.
-The game will take place in Somerville, Cambridge, Arlington (and surrounding areas). The main setting is in a Post-Apocalyptic Boston. However, this area will not be immediately accessible.
-The story is not clear, however, Vaults exist.
-The 37 second trailor starts starts with a half-broken phone sparking. The scene pulls out slowly with the stereotypical music you would hear. Slowly you work out the scene is pulling out of a belltower. As it pulls further out, you see a destroyed town around. This is Boston. Suddenly, you hear the bell chime loudly, and the screen changes black instantly. The words of Ron Pearlman are heard "War... War never changes...". The logo for Fallout 4 appears with the 5 platforms above listed.
Soul Saga - A J-RPG Inspired by Playstation Classics.
Indie developer Disastercake has announced a new retro-styled JRPG Soul Saga. The goal is to get $60,000 and so far it's earned $11,849 with 27 days left. Now if you dislike or just loathe JRPG's this game wont be for you.
A love letter to J-RPG classics from the Playstation era like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and Persona.
The Tempest Reef is a protective barrier of storm clouds that Medonia sits on. This barrier is the only thing keeping the islands safe from the terrors of the Ink corruption that ravages the planet below. Nothing can pass through the Tempest Reef without being utterly annihilated.
300 years after it's conception, the Tempest Reef is weakening, and the Islands of Medonia are dying and falling from the sky. There are rumors of a passage called Cloud's End that will allow a ship passage through the Tempest Reef to the surface world below. It is assumed that Mithos' father had found this passage, but he left no trace of its existence behind. The Guilds of Medonia now search for Cloud's End in hope to find a cure for their dying islands somewhere on the surface of Oterra.
What's a Disastercake?
Disastercake is one normal guy with one large dream: to make games he's passionate about. This guy's name is Mike Gale... and that's me! I've been working on Soul Saga for years as many roles including a programmer, game designer, and technical artist. I also outsource a lot of Soul Saga's art to talented artists around the world using my life's savings. I use to work at Microsoft in their games department, but I've quit that comfy job to work on Soul Saga, a game inspired by classic J-RPGs.
Why a J-RPG?
J-RPGs (Japanese Role Playing Games) are the reason I fell in love with the game industry. When I was young, I spent countless hours playing games like Final Fantasy, Breath of Fire, Suikoden, and Persona.
What attracted me to J-RPGs was that they are one of the most impressive forms of multimedia to date. They contain nearly all forms of media in one beautifully orchestrated piece of art. Traditional art, graphic design, 3D, music, sound, lighting, cinematography, choreography, script writing, acting, story telling, and a whole lot more!
But it's a fine balance. If one part seems off, the rest suffers greatly. For this reason, it's also one of the most challenging forms of media to orchestrate successfully. I hunger for that challenge!
Massive Chalice - Update #11
Massive Chalics has has been updated on it's kickstarter page. Not to much to say really just two videos and some E3 informaion.
XCOM’s Jake Solomon on MASSIVE CHALICE
Recently Brad and John Skyped with Jake Solomon, lead designer of XCOM: Enemy Unknown. Jake spoke about some of the challenges he encountered during the development of XCOM and how the team at Firaxis overcame them. Along with lessons learned from making a modern turn-based strategy game, Jake gave his unique perspective on the early design direction of MASSIVE CHALICE. Check it out below or on Double Fine's YouTube channel!
To see veterans like Jake back the project is super exciting for us! If you’d like to discuss this chat then head over to the forums!
Reddit AMA Tomorrow
Brad and Tim are going to be on Reddit answering questions tomorrow, June 18th starting at 11am Pacific! Keep an eye on the MASSIVE CHALICE Facebook page and the Double Fine twitter feed for more details!
You asked for it and we listened! Our tireless web team has added another method of backing MASSIVE CHALICE by supporting Bitcoin. Head on over to www.massivechalice.com/back and select either Bitcoin or PayPal to show your MASSIVE love for MASSIVE CHALICE!
Information aboutMassive Chalice
Release: In development
Monday - June 17, 2013
RPGWatch Feature: Meriwether - Interview with Joshua DeBonis
GhanBuriGhan had the opportunity to ask Sortasoft's founder and director Joshua DeBonis a few question on “Meriwether: An American Epic”. Like this question on the RPG gameplay elements:
RPGWatch: The historical setting as well as the financial support the project received by various public sources could lead gamers to the conclusion that Meriwether will be more Edutainment than game. What are the central gameplay elements that you think will make Meriwether attractive to RPG players?
Josh: It's been a constant struggle to separate Meriwether from edutainment. Yes, you will learn things playing this game. But we are approaching it first and foremost as a game, in the same way that we approach other games we design. I tend to favor elegant, distilled game mechanics that are easily approachable but have great depth to explore. This philosophy manifests itself in Meriwether in many ways; we wanted a game that won't feel too daunting to a history buff who doesn't play a lot of video games, but also will have lots of difficult choices to offer to hardcore gamers. We have shown and playtested the game at both PAX East and a Lewis and Clark convention, and had a very positive response at each. I think we are well on way to making that difficult balance a reality.
There's two parts that will be especially attractive to CRPG players. The first is our dialogue system. Our writer, Carlos Hernandez, is an incredible storyteller and he is giving a unique voice to all of the amazing characters. The conversations are a pleasure to play, but they also offer an interesting "facet" mechanic. We associate each dialogue choice with one facet of Lewis's personality-leader, soldier, diplomat, scientist, or melancholy. When you choose an option, it increases your level in that facet. Occasionally, you need to choose melancholy to keep balanced, which can often lead to an undesirable situation. The trick is to choose it at the right moment! So the facet system will couple a good story with good gameplay and provides players with a pretty unique dialogue system.
The other mechanic that I think will interest CRPG players is managing the party as a whole. You need to balance all of your resources very carefully. Will you spend your timing hunting or clearing a safe path for your boats? Will you trade your last spare rifle for horses to make your journey across the Rocky Mountains easier? The real Lewis and Clark Expedition had to think about balancing those choices every second of their voyage, and they import beautifully into our game.
Release: In development
Expeditions: Conquistador - Review Roundup
Here are a few more reviews for Expeditions: Conquistador.
Indie Luchador, 4/5
Outside of combat, Expeditions Conquistador has a lot of great RPG elements. You will take missions from the Spanish governor as well as others along the way. The dialogue for this is great and makes you feel like you're in the historical time period of the 1500s. The characters match the setting perfectly, and saying the right thing can give you an advantage. You can use things such as diplomacy to avoid combat in certain situations altogether. You will also have a lot of interactions with your team of conquistadors -- during exploration you may take some time out to get to know a few of them better or make some decisions based on their actions. This can help them trust you or despise you and everyone on your team will react in a positive or negative way depending on your reaction. These decisions range from outside opportunities for team members or even religious beliefs which really adds morality and your own belief structure into the game. This helps to gain attachments to some of the characters, and it is some great storytelling.
Although the writing, and its depiction of characters both American and European, doesn’t shy from the horrors of the situation, the portrayal has enough complexity to avoid generalisation. Indeed, it uses fantasy tropes – forbidden rites, abandoned temples, mysterious shaman – and then casts them on their head. The writers also avoid the temptation of creating pure and noble natives pitched against thoroughly nasty Europeans. The people, whatever their culture, are flawed, interesting and frequently unusual.
The characters and plotlines are the game’s strength and they’re strong enough that even when I was feeling the strain of yet more wandering, camp management and combat, I still wanted to continue, to see what happened next. In its depiction of the theme and times, the writing hits the sweet spot between historical accuracy and flexibility, allowing female characters much more active roles on the frontline than might be expected, and permitting the player to make decisions that are modern and almost entirely based on hindsight and an anachronistic worldview.
No matter where you are in the world, what you do, how the people are spoken to, the decisions that you make, everything affects each and every person in your crew. Have a few aggressive followers? They won’t hesitate to assert their feelings on the natives, but don’t be too hasty! The more open-minded, peaceful folk might take offense to purging a town full of women and children. Do enough to upset specific followers and they could leave your expedition altogether or, even worse, rise up in attempted mutiny. Character interaction on this level hasn’t been done this well since Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn – which, to those in the know, understand how large of a feat that is.
This last review is also available in a video version
Information aboutExpeditions: Conquistador
Matt Chat - Interview With Lord British
Information aboutArmchair Empire
Fallout: New Vegas - Cut Material
No Mutants Allowed bring us an overview of material that was cut from Fallout: New Vegas according to a trustworthy source.
Here are two of them:
When Ulysses was still a companion in the game, he was indeed meant to be recruitable at the location that became Wolfhorn Ranch, as some people have guessed from the fact that the location was called "Ulysess' camp" in some localized versions of the game. This version of Ulysses would actually not be open about his allegiance with the Legion, but rather try to gently steer the character to more pro-Legion views while offering commentary of the various locations and events of the game. Ulysses would only openly admit his pro-Legion beliefs when dealing with a Legion-affiliated PC.
The Black Mountain location was meant to play a larger role in the NCR/Legion conflict at one point, with factions interested in controlling it due to its satellite system (the NCR to expand their broadcast range and the Legion to use as a jamming system). Digging through the files of the game one can still find some references to a quest that involved blowing up the satellite dishes that was tied to that older design of the area.
Information aboutFallout: New Vegas
Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Witcher 3 - Interview @ RPS
In an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, CD Projekt's head Marcin Iwinski talks about free DLC and DRM concerns for The Witcher 3.
“A lot of people on forums are saying, ‘No, but you guys are anti-DRM,’” Iwinski admitted during an interview with RPS. “And we really are anti-DRM. But at the same time, there are people who’ll be fine with [Xbox One's online-heavy DRM]. They’ll buy the console and just want to play. Why should we not give them this option?”
“That’s our approach, but at the same time, we don’t know what the final policies are. Things might be changing. There’s a lot of heat right now. From our perspective, we’ll always choose the most gamer-friendly solution. And on the platform where we have control – which is PC – we’ll release on GOG day one and DRM-free.”
“We’ll be supporting The Witcher 3 for years after it comes out,” he said. “We’re also building the Redkit, and we’ll talk about modding Witcher 3 when the time comes. It’s all about a long-term relationship with our gamers. It even works from a business perspective. Abandoning our baby that we’ve worked on for several years would be crazy. The fact that we have a second game in development just gives us a better way to reallocate resources – QA and whatnot. It’s just a better way to manage the process internally. It’s better for the people and the team.”
Information aboutWitcher 3
Release: In development
Cube World - Game Information
I reported on a game called Cube World last month. It's a voxel-based exploration RPG, and now the webpage has been updated with more infomation. Give it a look and see if the game interests you.
I'm Wollay, the creator of Cube World. I started this game in June 2011 as a hobby project. My inspirations were Minecraft, Zelda, Secret of Mana, Monster Hunter, Diablo, World of Warcraft and many more. My aim was to create an infinite, colorful, procedurally generated world, full of adventures, monsters, and mysteries. The result is Cube World, a voxel-based role-playing game.
My wife joined development in 2012, and we're planning to release an alpha version for Windows PC soon. The alpha already has many features, but some are still missing. You can check out a feature overview below.
The alpha will be available for a lower price than the beta version and the final version. We're planning to release updates regularly. Updates are free.
A main feature of Cube World is the random world generation. In contrast to many games, worlds are not designed by a level designer, but generated procedurally by the game using math and random numbers. The result is an endless world (nearly endless, i.e. players can't reach the borders), so players can explore new landscapes all the time.
Players can generate their own worlds by specifiying one single number, the seed. The same seeds result in exactly the same world, so players can share their worlds with friends by telling them their seeds.
Worlds are generated on-the-fly while playing, so there are neither long precomputations nor huge save files at the beginning.
There are no artificial borders. You can literally reach each cube the world is made of. If you see a mountain on the horizon, you can climb that mountain. If you see a tree, you can climb on top of the tree. At least if your climbing skill is good enough. :)
Cube World consists of different lands with varying climates and themes. There are grasslands, snowy landscapes, wide oceans, dangerous lava lands, jungles, and deserts. Landscapes are full of mountains, caves, rivers, lakes, forests, rocks, dungeons, castles, ruins, catacombs, temples, villages, and more.
Transistor - More Previews
Here are a couple of recent previews and one interview for Supergiant Games' upcoming action-RPG Transistor.
Besides launching both short and long range attacks along a prescribed axis, the Transistor grants Red the ability to stop time, move from cover to cover or around her opponents, and launch multiple attacks on multiple targets in a single ‘turn.’ Each decision drains a section of the Transistor’s stored power, and when the power bar is drained, the player must execute the chosen moves in the real world, watching as Red makes real what they had planned out beforehand.
If all of that sounds a bit more complicated than Bastion’s brawler mechanics, the game’s tutorial helps communicate the surprisingly intuitive and simplistic control scheme against a number of single enemies. But when the Process arrives en masse, the game’s true genius begins to shine through. As mentioned above, Red’s attacks are only damaging along a single line drawn directly out from her position; if the player can manage to line up the enemies like dominoes, Red’s attacks are capable of inflicting damage against everytone in that path.
Those who recall the more frenzied and frantic sections of Bastion’s endgame – or that game’s Training modes for individual weapons – don’t need to be told just how quickly a battle can become a fast-paced game of chess. Planning out repeated strikes against larger opponents and seeing the damage to be inflicted stack up on screen, or using attacks with higher splash damage to inflict widespread injury is satisfyingly calculated. The balancing comes when Red is forced to seek cover and stay mobile until the Transistor recharges, before returning to the offensive once more.
At the top of the screen is a meter that comes into play when you press R2 to immediately freeze time. At this point, you can move Red around and queue up attacks. Each of these actions takes up a portion of the meter, but you are free to move and line up attacks on rows of enemies, which is where the unique pattern of each attack comes into play. Once you're ready, pressing R2 again will unfreeze time, and Red will execute all of the selected moves and actions. Enemies are still able to move — albeit slowly — during this phase, but careful planning of attacks often allowed me to wipe out an entire room of foes. The meter recharges quickly, so the flow of combat has a unique pace, with real-time action beats alternating with meticulously executed queued combos.
The queuing mechanic also seems like it will be used in puzzle solving. One such situation included a locked door with two switches. Pressing both switches would open the door, but not long enough to pass through. By using action queuing, I was able to hit both switches and pass through the door before it closed. I was pleased to see this, because it gives me hope that the full game will feature more extensive puzzles that make creative use of your abilities.
Regarding the greatest excitement of working on Transistor, Kasavin noted that the team simply enjoys making deep and interesting worlds wherein players "give a damn." The team enjoys its games' unique identities and wants to explore the limits of their potential. When asked if he felt pressured to produce a game at the level of Bastion's success, Kasavin noted that the real pressure comes from being surrounded by so many talented people on a daily basis and wanting to contribute as effectively as his colleagues. He also remarked that debate and disagreement within the company aids in the creative process, ultimately providing a better product. Fortunately, events such as E3 present the opportunity for validation from the public, letting Supergiant Games know that they're moving in the right direction.
In terms of qualities specific to Transistor, Kasavin noted that "The Process" is a sort of force that seeks out the Transistor, a blade that the protagonist, Red, discovers at the onset. While exploring, players encounter columns jutting from the floor and monsters; Kasavin states that this is The Process. The sentient blade, Transistor, is aware of The Process, and responds in the present, differing significantly from the omniscient narration of Rucks in Bastion. I asked Kasavin if the types of powers gained from the dead bodies Red encounters had anything to do with the deceased's former lives or personalities, to which he was bemused, noting that that may be a motivation behind the types of powers gained.
System Shock 2 - Source Fan-Made Remake Cancelled
The fan made source remake for System Shock 2 has been cancelled. Mark Valentine the man behind the project has released his assets for the Source Engine remake. Valentine said that people are welcome to continue working on it, and that he’ll help with this project’s development if that ever happens.
“I’m releasing all my assets because I hate it when people make something cool and they just sit on their assets and all that work is lost forever. I refuse to do that. So here’s all the map files, all the models and textures I had converted, some basic instructions for the pipeline I was using.”
Those interested can download System Shock 2′s Source assets from here. There is also a video showcasing what the project looked like.
Information aboutSystem Shock 2
Borderlands 2 - Q&A on Future Content
2K Games released a new Q&A video hosted by Borderlands 2 writer Anthony Burch, creative director Paul Hellquist, and Gearbox VP Steve Gibson. The five and a half minute video answers questions from fans about characters, gameplay and future releases.
We asked you for your questions on Borderlands 2. Here are some of them answered by Steve, Paul and Anthony from Gearbox!
Information aboutBorderlands 2
SP/MP: Single + MP
Witcher 3 - Preview Roundup #3
Hopefully this is the last roundup of news from E3 for the The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. First we have a full audio presentation from E3 from gamertagradio.
Now here are the previews.
After speaking with a jarl, the demo took Geralt to the seas, where he passed a raiding party's ship (the rowers' song reaching across the water). We then saw the fast travel option, which is quite appreciated in a game of this size. The game, which can occupy a thorough player for over 100 hours, is 35 times larger than The Witcher 2. Yes, it's also larger than Skyrim, although comparing the two misses a few points. Allegedly it takes Geralt 40 minutes to pass from one end of the world to the other. On a horse. The developers actually have tools to develop realistic geography. They have one tool, for example, with a single purpose: to measure where rain would gather on terrain and allow a forest to grow.
I later interviewed Jonas Mattsson, an environment artist, and he explained the construction of the world as "organic," a term I commonly use when critiquing level design and world building. He assured me that the player would encounter something interesting every two to five minutes, and I believe it. From a single vantage point, we could see a house on a little island cliff, a fallen ruin, roads leading away, farmhouses, mountains, a forest, and probably more things I missed. That I couldn't take control of Geralt and explore almost killed me. There are sure to be side quests, caves, monsters, and treasure along all these routes, and some of the quests randomly pop up, although none are randomly generated. The entire game is handcrafted, which gives it a feeling of immense authenticity.
When Geralt headed to some ruins, he discovered a Fiend eating a corpse on the ground. A Fiend is a hulking three-eyed antlered beast of terrifying composure — you can spot it in the E3 trailer. It immediately attacked and an intense battle unfolded. The Fiend unleashed its special attack: using its third eye to hypnotize Geralt, causing his vision to darken and blur. The effect was horrifying, exciting, and unique — probably the coolest single thing I saw at E3.
Littering the landscape are mobs of creatures and monsters, small and large, as well as bandits, mercenaries, and other humanoid opponents. Like any good open world action game, whether or not you engage your opponent is entirely up to you. If you see bandits attempting to ransack a house you can, if you desire, keep on walking and let them go about their business. Or you can intervene. Doing so might give you access to secrets and lore about the world around you, fleshing out Wild Hunt‘s narrative, or may even open up an entirely new side quest story. Either way, if you do chose to engage opponents you find Wild Hunt has changed up the combat in a few ways from Assassin’s of Kings. Enemies are generally a lot tougher and methodical to take down, Geralt’s sword play faster, and sign powers like Igni easier to chain into battle (like incinerating your enemies). CDPR have also noted the negative reception from fans in regards to Assassin’s of Kings quick time events, removing all such things from Wild Hunt‘s combat.
Graphically speaking, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt captures those little details beautifully. Although we were reminded that we weren't seeing a final version of the game, the graphics were simply stunning. One sequence showed Geralt meditating for hours, and as the sun moved around him and day turned to night and night turned to day, the complex weather system and dynamic landscape of The Witcher 3 really came to life. Rippling grasses, wispy clouds and impressive lighting effects looked as good as anything I've seen at E3 and the team at CD Projekt RED should be (and is) proud of their product. But it's more than just a pretty game. Mattsson reaffirmed the company message that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is about bringing an intense, gripping story to the open world genre.
"Story can be lost in the open world," said Mattsson. "We want it to make sense. There is no 'collect ten flowers' or 'take this package over there' type questing. We are eager to prove that we made an open world with a strong story."
And here is a interview from OnlySP.
Q: On that note, will there be multiple endings?
A: Yes, sure. We’re having around 36 endings, as far as I remember. These affect the state that you will leave the world in after your playthrough.
Q: Firstly, the loading times… how prevalent will those be? Do you have any idea how long they’ll be and how often you’ll encounter them?
A: Thanks to new technology on RedEngine3, we were actually able to create a world without loading screens as you travel across the world. This should answer your question. *laughs*
Q: I did see a few framerate issues during the presentation. It was from a pre-alpha version, though, so I imagine those will be ironed out in the full release.
A: Yeah, definitely. We didn’t have everything fully optimized. It’s still very much a work-in-progress, so many elements, such as streaming, are still being created.
Information aboutWitcher 3
Release: In development
South Park - Preview Roundup #3
Here we are for the third time for more previews for South Park: The Stick of Truth based on it's showing at E3.
Combat itself plays out very similarly to Mario & Luigi, with timed button presses for extra damage becoming a must. All of the skills, like the rest of the game, involve a combination of school-age "magic" and real-life perversion. It's safe to say that Obsidian didn't skimp on any of South Park's foul-mouthed humor, as our demo's final battle with Cartman saw us mashing the A button to overpower his farts with our own.
It's tough to call South Park: The Stick of Truth "gorgeous," with its cardboard cut-out characters, but it is easy to say that it is extremely true to the show. Take away the HUD and UI and an argument could be made that just maybe you're watching an episode of the television show. The environments are equally impressive, with destructible objects aplenty. South Park's level-up system takes place within the world of - what else - Facebook, as the New Kid gains power by finding new friends in South Park, and the aesthetic works quite well.
Combat is turn-based, so players alternate turns with computer-controlled enemies they will encounter. The spells and abilities players use are comical, such as a lightning spell involving a bucket of water, jumper cables and a car battery, or the Flame Blast combining a can of hairspray and lighter. To restore mana, players must down burritos.
The show's humor is on full display during Stick of Truth, starting with the rampant passing of gas that serves as the game's equivalent to magic. After cupping his hands to catch farts, the player tosses them to cause damage.
"No magic with the fan running," shouts Butters. "You'll kill us."
Game developer Ubisoft demonstrated how "The Stick of Truth" would honor the show's spirit at E3 conference in Los Angeles. The demo begins, as so many episodes do, in South Park Elementary School. Rather than playing as existing characters from the show, the game puts players in control of a new student, dubbed "Commander Douchebag" by Eric Cartman, one of the show's main four characters.
The Commander finds himself in the middle of a war that's broken out in the school between two factions competing for the titular Stick of Truth — an artifact that holds either great power, or just provides a plot device for 8-year-old boys to fight over. Green-hatted Kyle leads the peaceful Elves, while Cartman has taken control of the belligerent Wizards. The Commander recruits series regular Butters into his party and sets out, under Cartman's orders, to stop Kyle.
The game looks exactly like the show, and the animation retains its occasionally jerky feel. All of the series regulars reprise their voice roles, and the music sounds like a parody of the epic tracks in games like "The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim."
Information aboutSouth Park
Release: In development
BioWare - GM Aaryn Flynn Reflects on E3 2013
BioWare's GM Aaryn Flynn shares his thoughts about this years E3 on the company's blog.
What did it feel like to show the first glimpse of Dragon Age: Inquisition to the world during the E3 press conference?
[Aaryn Flynn]: Very humbling. Many team members who are much closer to the game could have stood up there, but I got chosen because I’m more ‘expendable’! To represent their collective effort, in front of thousands of people is a big responsibility.
I wish I could convey how hard the team has been working for the past couple of years on the game. They had a vision to not do a CG trailer, but instead to show a trailer made from in-game footage, and they accomplished that in spades. But beyond that, there’s so much we haven’t shown yet, and we will very soon. This was just the team’s way of showing a small window into the game for fans that’ve been with us from the beginning.
You shared just a few of the first details about the game during the conference, but for those that weren’t able to watch, could you leave us with a refresher?
[AMF]: Dragon Age: Inquisition will launch in the Fall of 2014 on PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360. We’ve shown Varric, a Qunari (who has a name, we’re just not releasing it yet!), Cassandra, and Morrigan.
With the breach of the Fade happening in the sky, demons have poured out and created a pretty big problem for the Inquisitor, the character you will play. You’ll have to cover huge areas of Thedas to uncover what happened. As you do, the choices you make will impact the world and bring everything to an ultimate conclusion.
Project Eternity - Social Round-up #3
Gamebanshee has another round-up of forum posts, and social network activity from the developers for Project Eternity. Most of the topics cover the UI mockup from a few weeks back.
Thanks for the feedback, everyone, divergent though it may be. Here are some things we are going to continue to look into:
* Better use of space overall. Not all of the decorative elements need to be there. We would like to have more room for the ability icons in particular.
* Re-working and re-positioning of the player menu (inventory, etc.).
* Possibly vertically orienting the character portraits and ability icons on one side of the screen. The combat log pretty much has to be horizontally-oriented, but other than scrolling through it, that's a non-interactive element of the UI.
I have to say I think it's strange that people are requesting UI layouts with character portraits far away from action icons, floating wireframe UIs, and similar features. While it's true that BG1 and IWD1 used wrap-around UIs, that was because 640x480 base resolutions didn't allow us to fit all of the elements along one edge of the screen. As soon as we went to 800x600 in IWD2, we immediately went to a consolidated UI layout that made mouse movement much more efficient. I understand that a lot of people use hotkeys and we certainly plan to support that, but GUIs need to be functional for people who use them. Putting abilities 75%+ of the screen width away from the character portraits is really inefficient.
While I certainly think the idea of a bone and obsidian UI could be really cool looking [note: he's referring to a forum user's idea], it would also be very stark and high-contrast. I think it would wind up dominating the screen, regardless of the environment. Our outdoor environments, especially, will fall more in the BG and BG2 spectrum of colors, which is why we went with more subdued natural tones and copper accents. We can certainly look at alternatives, but I wanted to give feedback on that particular idea.
Information aboutProject Eternity
Release: In development
Sunday - June 16, 2013
Video Game Reviews - The Ten-Point Scale And Inflated Scores
Forbes has a new editorial discussing game reviews, and inflated scores.
There’s a perception out there among many gamers that video game review scores are inflated or biased. Why do so many games get scored between 7 and 10 on a 10-point scale? What happened to the rest of the numbers?
And why do some games—especially ultra-hyped AAA franchises—get such high numbers?
There’s a few things going on here, I think. First of all, the 10-point scale is deceptive.