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RPGWatch Forums » Comments » News Comments » RPGWatch Feature: Depths of Peril Preview

Default RPGWatch Feature: Depths of Peril Preview

June 27th, 2007, 08:48
We recently had the chance to spend some hands-on time with a preview build of Soldak's indie action/RPG with a strategy twist, Depths of Peril:
This is the key innovation with Depths of Peril - the competition and interaction with the other covenants. Each of the NPC heroes from the other factions goes out and actively adventures in the gameworld to improve their position. You’ll come across them out in the field (especially in the beginning when everyone hits the starter areas around the same time), see them in town talking to the traders and be able to influence relationships with them by trading, paying or demanding tributes and creating alliances or declaring war. The world is also dynamic, with various events cropping up.
Head here to read the entire article.
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June 27th, 2007, 08:48
I know this one won't be to everyone's taste but I had quite a bit of fun with it, so it's worth a look if you ever play action/RPGs. I'm not under any restrictions, so I can try to answer any questions.

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June 27th, 2007, 10:52
I have to say that those innovations, being a hack'n'slash/RTS hybrid and operating on recruitment time limits, make the game less interesting for me, personally, not more. I'm not a big fan of hack 'n slash in the first place, but if it's going to incorporate design elements I dislike, it's got even less of a shot. Just my personal look at it, of course.

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
I know this one won't be to everyone's taste but I had quite a bit of fun with it, so it's worth a look if you ever play action/RPGs. I'm not under any restrictions, so I can try to answer any questions.
Yes, questions…

Should I assume from the fact that you don't mention its looks or setting much at all that both are bland?

YouGamers posted a preview, too, they seem to have quite a different impression. Besides curiously talking about the fact that an indie game doesn't look graphically impressive (why would that be a surprise?), YouGamers claims Soldak simply missed the mark; they say that the game plays like a MMO with NPCs pretending to be other players, and the strategy elements get in the way of that experience rather than adding anything. Basically, they argue the RTS elements are underdeveloped (and combat is awful), and because it is underdeveloped it only subtracts, and doesn't add anything. Do you agree or see their point? Do you think this is something that will or can be improved in time?
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June 27th, 2007, 12:01
Originally Posted by Brother None View Post
Should I assume from the fact that you don't mention its looks or setting much at all that both are bland?
The looks don't grab me, I'll admit. I generally prefer dark/gritty to bright/colourful, but that's really a personal thing. I don't really like the cartoony look of Warcraft, for example, but plenty of others love it. Beyond that, I'd rather talk about the gameplay and let people look at the screens and decide the artistic merits for themselves.

Otherwise, the graphics do the job fine for a small project with low system specs.

Setting wise, Soldak has produced quite a lot of lore on their website and much of it is pretty good. But I'd say it has little impact in-game - the focus is on the action and the lore really only comes into it if you read the tomes.

YouGamers posted a preview, too, they seem to have quite a different impression. Besides curiously talking about the fact that an indie game doesn't look graphically impressive (why would that be a surprise?), YouGamers claims Soldak simply missed the mark; they say that the game plays like a MMO with NPCs pretending to be other players, and the strategy elements get in the way of that experience rather than adding anything. Basically, they argue the RTS elements are underdeveloped (and combat is awful), and because it is underdeveloped it only subtracts, and doesn't add anything. Do you agree or see their point? Do you think this is something that will or can be improved in time?
Do I agree? No, not really. First, I think they reviewed it - not previewed an alpha version. That said, I certainly agree some aspects could be improved - let's see what they do before release (v0.154, remember?).

It isn't an RTS crossover. Period. There is no base-building and no controlling an army. This is a Diablo / Sacred / FATE / whatever type game that exchanges a quest campaign for a dynamic battle for supremacy against other heroes. The strategy aspect simply comes from being able to form some simple deals (or go to war) with other factions (and, I guess, a wider range of options than many action/RPGs, such as different approaches with recruits). Do you try to knock out weak covenants early? Do you try to stay out of the way and let the others weaken each other? Align with a powerful covenant but run the risk they are hard to beat when only the two of you are left, or align with a weak covenant to combine into something more powerful while still being able to dominate your partner…this is the strategy aspect.

Frankly, you can simply play it like FATE (Diablo, …) and not engage in diplomacy whatsoever. Depending on how the random events develop, you may sail through or you may get taken down by one of the others. *shrug*

The combat is like most A/Rs…if you can't stand that (and I'd understand that), move along. Otherwise, I can't see why the combat is worse than [insert decent action/RPG]. I played a fairly dull warrior (too many passive skills) and an interesting rogue and mage - but I don't have enough play time to say if the builds pass the test of time; with a good choice of skills, it looks like fun so far, and you have full control over the skills you choose.

The comment at YouGamers about being unable to speed up combat is just silly - how many A/R's rely on clicking speed these days?

The diplomacy needs some work (I said that, didn't I?) but I don't think it's a bad idea. In essence, they've exchanged the typical linear campaign for something a bit more dynamic. I don't recall Sacred having any sort of worthwhile story, so these games can succeed on the merits of character development and clicky ombat (for the right audience). Likewise, FATE was well received and all you did was take three random quests and head down an endless, random dungeon. So, rather than follow the crappy story / kill the Big Foozle, this changes it to win the leadership, but others will be competing for it, so you'll need to be on your toes.

Again, some won't like the pace this adds, but I found it (hectic) fun. I quite liked the raids.

This would never replace Fallout (or whatever) for me, but occasionally I don't mind an actiony break. The games seems relatively short and it's quite replayable, so I think this is a good game to come back to between other stuff.

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June 27th, 2007, 12:17
Cheers for all the info! I'm pretty much decided it doesn't look interesting enough for me, 'cause…

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
This would never replace Fallout (or whatever) for me, but occasionally I don't mind an actiony break. The games seems relatively short and it's quite replayable, so I think this is a good game to come back to between other stuff.
….while I agree with this, I don't really need a lot of ActionRPGs to hold me over. So unlike TrueForm RPGs, I'm never waiting for new titles and they need some pretty attractive selling points to win me over. If not, I'm fine with just reloading Diablo II again.
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June 27th, 2007, 13:43
I like the idea of having strategic elements in a RPG, but it doesn't seem that this is what I am looking for. It would just be nice to have a RPG some day that lets you go the Braveheart route: Start out as a lonely hero, gradually acquire the power to influence strategic decisions in a larger battle, eventually leading larger and larger troops to battle. It always seemed silly to me that the evil foozle always gets beaten by a lonely hero or a ragtag band of fantasy flotsam, instead of a decent army…
Spellforce tried this to an extent, but the RTS element is just too typical RTS-basebuilding, its not integrated well enough.
Arguably a difficult concept to pull off, but I would love it.
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June 27th, 2007, 14:48
I still find this one interesting - though I have to say that the words 'ambitious failure' have become larger in my mind based on this article … but it really seems like a decent way to differentiate.

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June 27th, 2007, 18:08
Let me start off by stating that I'm obviously biased since I'm the lead designer and programmer on Depths of Peril

Originally Posted by Dhruin View Post
The comment at YouGamers about being unable to speed up combat is just silly - how many A/R's rely on clicking speed these days?
I'm not going to comment much about the YouGamers article since I disagree with almost the entire thing but does anyone really want the interface to combat to be click as fast as you can?

Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
I still find this one interesting - though I have to say that the words 'ambitious failure' have become larger in my mind based on this article … but it really seems like a decent way to differentiate.
Can I ask why you're thinking 'ambitious failure' at this point?

BTW, we have already addressed much of what Dhruin thinks should be improved like more graphical oomph on some of the skills and better covenant diplomacy and we will continue to improve it until we ship.
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June 27th, 2007, 18:35
@Steven: I don't know much about your game yet (will get caught up soon), but just wanted to say "thanks" for participating on the boards. Always nice to have a dev join the conversation.
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June 27th, 2007, 18:36
Originally Posted by Steven Peeler View Post
Can I ask why you're thinking 'ambitious failure' at this point?
That isn't meant as negatively as you might suspect - it is actually sort-of backwards praise. That is how I also look at Boiling Point. My concern is the time-based competition and keeping all of that stuff balanced. I can't imagine it is trivial - STALKER was originally planning to have you going against pseudo-real STALKERS for the same missions, with the potential that someone else would get your kill or item, but had to drop the entire concept because it was unmanageable.

I love the concept, and think that what you are doing is great - and I can't wait to support it! I really could care less about the graphic issues that the other guy got so bogged down with.

I spend a lot of time with handheld RPG's, and pretty much all of them for the DS or PSP to date have fallen short in one way or another. Some are just mediocre, others really try some cool stuff but it just doesn't quite click - that is my concept of 'ambitious failure'. I would much rather play a game that aims high and comes up a bit short than one that is happy to be average in all ways.

And to second chamr - thanks for stopping by!

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June 27th, 2007, 19:31
OK, Mr. Peeler, I've read Duhrin's excellent preview (wish more previews were this useful rather than fluff, fluff, fluff). I'm sure you've heard this before, and it's easy for me to say since I don't have to make it work, but I have to say it: you MUST find a way to make this multi-player! The concept screams "fun with friends"! My gaming group would love to backstab and beat the crap out of each other in your setting and game-type. I know it's not trivial, but any plans in that direction?
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June 27th, 2007, 21:41
Originally Posted by txa1265 View Post
My concern is the time-based competition and keeping all of that stuff balanced. I can't imagine it is trivial - STALKER was originally planning to have you going against pseudo-real STALKERS for the same missions, with the potential that someone else would get your kill or item, but had to drop the entire concept because it was unmanageable.
We have thought about that and I think we have balanced it fairly well. The other covenants don't compete with the player on all of the quests. Some quests they will actively compete against the player (like recruiting), some quests they will solve passively (if they run into a unique monster they will kill it if they can), and some quests they will ignore. So we have tried to balance it so that some quests are in danger of the other covenants solving before you but others are at least relatively safe.

Originally Posted by chamr View Post
you MUST find a way to make this multi-player! The concept screams "fun with friends"! My gaming group would love to backstab and beat the crap out of each other in your setting and game-type. I know it's not trivial, but any plans in that direction?
I completely agree, but I had to decide not to do multiplayer for the first release of the game. For the initial release of the game we are trying to make the single player game as fun as we can make it instead of splitting our attention between single player and multiplayer. Now having said that I really want to add multiplayer in the first expansion. I can't promise anything at this point but I would really like to add it in. Luckily, the engine is already designed to do a lot of the multiplayer stuff, so it's not a rewite of the engine or anything.

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http://www.soldak.com/
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June 27th, 2007, 23:06
Nice preview.
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June 27th, 2007, 23:19
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
It would just be nice to have a RPG some day that lets you go the Braveheart route: Start out as a lonely hero, gradually acquire the power to influence strategic decisions in a larger battle, eventually leading larger and larger troops to battle.
I'd say that Mount & Blade fits quite well with this, and is also quite an enjoyable game (linky!). If you/someone else is interested in talking about M&B, we could make another topic.

Sorry for going offtopic.

—-

As for the game, I must admit the graphics turn me off. I'm not a graphics freak, far from it - in fact, I usually tone graphics down to get the best performance - but this is just too… fuzzy for me to be able to look at for prolonged periods of time. Personally, I don't think it's realistic for an indie RPG to have good, 3D graphics - on the other hand, 2D can look great (for example, Eschalon: Book I (gallery), and is, IMHO, the way to go.
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June 27th, 2007, 23:47
Originally Posted by Steven Peeler View Post
I completely agree, but I had to decide not to do multiplayer for the first release of the game. For the initial release of the game we are trying to make the single player game as fun as we can make it instead of splitting our attention between single player and multiplayer. Now having said that I really want to add multiplayer in the first expansion. I can't promise anything at this point but I would really like to add it in. Luckily, the engine is already designed to do a lot of the multiplayer stuff, so it's not a rewite of the engine or anything.
Understood. And this is good news. DoP is now officially on my "must try" list.

@VPeric: do you mean the text? 'Cause I see nothing wrong with the rest of the graphics. They may not be your style, but I can't see how they're blurry. And the text blurriness is more likely a screen resolution or screen capture issue than a graphics issue.
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June 28th, 2007, 00:00
Originally Posted by VPeric View Post
I'd say that Mount & Blade fits quite well with this, and is also quite an enjoyable game (linky!). If you/someone else is interested in talking about M&B, we could make another topic.

Sorry for going offtopic.

—-

As for the game, I must admit the graphics turn me off. I'm not a graphics freak, far from it - in fact, I usually tone graphics down to get the best performance - but this is just too… fuzzy for me to be able to look at for prolonged periods of time. Personally, I don't think it's realistic for an indie RPG to have good, 3D graphics - on the other hand, 2D can look great (for example, Eschalon: Book I (gallery), and is, IMHO, the way to go.
Isn't mount and blade 3d? When I played it it was pretty blurry, and the graphics in Depths seem to be as good, and far better than the overland map of M&B. But thats besides the point, if the gameplay he provides is good then the game should be good. I'm not a Diablo fan by any means, and I skip all the clones, but I'll definitely check this game out. I'm not going to spend my money like an idiot on anything, but if the demo hooks me I'll bite. If I can like WoW, I must have some sort of action gamer inside me waiting for the right game to bring it out.
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June 28th, 2007, 02:12
Sounds interesting. I'll be keeping my eye on this.
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June 28th, 2007, 02:39
I like the "strategy wrapper" idea in an ARPG. The genre is flooded with mediocre look-alike titles, and this could be an excellent gameplay addition.

The difficulty is having an AI that responds well to the player's moves. In typical strategy games, rts or tb, too often the AI 'cheats' by having superior resources or enhanced skills and abilities to keep it in the competition with a human player—that is, without those advantages to the AI player the game is too easy— with them it becomes outrageously difficult, and few games hit a happy medium. (I prefer those that err on the harder,faster, expand-your-vocabulary-in-new-ways side myself.)

Looks like Soldak is addressing these balance issues pre-game, which makes the whole project look much better to me.

And as the resident action/rpgish junkie, I agree that no one, not even the most rudimentary beginner, would consider "clicking as fast as you can" to be a combat enhancement.

Where there's smoke, there's mirrors.
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June 28th, 2007, 03:44
Originally Posted by Steven Peeler View Post
We have thought about that and I think we have balanced it fairly well. The other covenants don't compete with the player on all of the quests. Some quests they will actively compete against the player (like recruiting), some quests they will solve passively (if they run into a unique monster they will kill it if they can), and some quests they will ignore. So we have tried to balance it so that some quests are in danger of the other covenants solving before you but others are at least relatively safe.
Excellent - thanks for clarifying. As chamr said, having you drop in here is a wonderful thing!

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June 28th, 2007, 18:37
I guess saying "fuzzy" wasn't the right word, but there's definitely something there - the graphics are, at least to me, simply not good (I don't suppose "blaaah" is a good description, is it now? ).

As for M&B, yes, it's 3d, and yes, the graphics are far from spectacular. Still, for some reason, I find them easier on my eyes.

In the end, yeah, you're right - graphics are much, much less important than gameplay, so my "objections" are fairly moot, anyway.
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