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Default Are we in a new RPG Golden Age?

August 1st, 2013, 20:25
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
Then we're back to the definition of "production values", which I questioned right at the beginning. You're squirming back and forth between which terms you wish to avoid defining, but we're back to the same point. What are the factors that you look at that tell you, this game cost a buttload of money to make? Since you admit you can't see the financial breakdown which you claim to be the deciding factor, there MUST be other aspects that tell you, "I'm looking at a AAA release here." If you attempt to claim it's merely marketing, then Grimoire is (well, will be) a AAA release because it's been advertised extensively for over a decade. Do you really want to hang your hat on that?
Why don't you read what I say instead of imagining things? I'm not talking about "extensive marketing" - I'm talking about EXPENSIVE marketing.

As in, the gigantic Skyrim drape covering a huge building at one point. Hiring known actors to do TV commercials - like the WoW commercials Blizzard paid for. Paying for the largest ad spaces on high profile web sites lasting for weeks.

I'm talking about development BUDGET - which is about team SIZE and time spent in development. It's about fancy cutscenes done by third party specialists, famous voice actors, "experience-driven" content like vast amounts of varied art assets requiring hundreds of man hours to produce, motion-capture animations costing millions of dollars, licensed music and trademarks, and on and on.

What is it about these simple things you don't understand?
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August 1st, 2013, 20:38
Now we're getting somewhere!
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I'm talking about development BUDGET - which is about team SIZE
You don't know these stats about each game, but you cite it as an indicator. Thus, you're admitting there are indicators, yet you're terribly busy denying it.
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
and time spent in development.
Grimoire is a AAA title. Cool.
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
It's about fancy cutscenes done by third party specialists,
So, graphics? Hmmm, have I heard that mentioned as an indicator?
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
famous voice actors,
So, sound? Hmmm, have I heard that mentioned as an indicator?
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
"experience-driven" content like vast amounts of varied art assets requiring hundreds of man hours to produce,
Not sure whether we'll call this graphics again, or length (a measure of content). Could both of these possibly have been mentioned as indicators?
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
motion-capture animations costing millions of dollars, licensed music and trademarks
Graphics and sound again. Wow.

So, to borrow your own words, AAA titles are defined by expensive production values, indicated by very good graphics, good sound, lots of content? Nice to see we can agree.

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August 1st, 2013, 20:54
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
You don't know these stats about each game, but you cite it as an indicator. Thus, you're admitting there are indicators, yet you're terribly busy denying it.
No, I'm specifying how to spot the indicators I mentioned several times already. Don't tell me you've forgotten already?

I'll try again, then.

1. Development budget
2. Marketing budget
3. Expectation of a big return

Are you with me this time, old friend?

Those are three IN-DI-CA-TORS

Get it?

With me?

Grimoire is a AAA title. Cool.
I doubt it - as the team is one person, which means you can spend 50 years and still not invest all that much money. Beyond that, it doesn't seem to have a single example of any of the other ways to spot an AAA indicator.

Let me repeat myself - since you're not too good with reading:

"Team size AND time spent in development."

Can you see how I'm not exclusively talking about time spent in development. I'm using the advanced word "and" - for a good reason.

Get it?

With me?

So, graphics? Hmmm, have I heard that mentioned as an indicator?
No, not just "graphics" - but fancy cutscenes done by third-party specialists.

So, sound? Hmmm, have I heard that mentioned as an indicator?
No, not just "sound" - but famous voice actors making sounds.

Not sure whether we'll call this graphics again, or length (a measure of content).
I'm pretty sure we won't be calling experience-driven content "graphics" - though I'm sure you would

Could both of these possibly have been mentioned as indicators?
Graphics and sound again. Wow.
Ohhhh - I get it now DTE.

Let's use your pre-school technique to try and get out of a corner we've stupidly placed ourselves in.

Every single game with the following indicators:

Graphics
Sound

Has a good chance of being an AAA game.

That's what you're saying, right?

Games with GRAPHICS and SOUND.

Ok, DTE - that's something even Sherlock Holmes couldn't deduce.

You should be PROUD!

So, to borrow your own words, AAA titles are defined by expensive production values, indicated by very good graphics, good sound, lots of content? Nice to see we can agree.
No, because "very good graphics", "good sound" and "lots of content" can be done without expensive production values and they don't even need to have marketing or investors expecting a huge return on their investment.

I know it's pretty advanced stuff - and we should probably stop before you get a headache old friend
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August 1st, 2013, 21:01
Those characteristics can imply a big budget and AAA'ness. But a big budget on its own doesn't necessarily imply a AAA (for example, if all the money is spent on booze and hookers).
Last edited by Thrasher; August 1st, 2013 at 21:18.
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August 1st, 2013, 21:13
How about The Drinking Age?
—-

I break it down CRPG's into distinct eras:

The Antediluvian Age
The time before CRPG's including Tolkien, Howard, etc., Dungeons and Dragons PnP, Collosal Caverns Adventure, Mouse Maze 1.0 for tile base, Chess 1.0 for AI.

The Genesis
Pedit5, DnD, Akalabeth, MUD1, Ubliette, Intellivision D&D games, Atari Venture, Zork

The Golden Age
Wizardry, Ultima, Bard's Tale, Might and Magic, The Gold Box Games, Rogue, Telengard, Questron, Wasteland, Dark Heart of Uukrul, Tunnels of Doom, Moebius, Zelda, Phantasie Star, Dragon Warrior

The Lost Wilderness Years
aka The Console Era or JRPG Era
Final Fantasy 7, Zelda for Gamboy, System Shock, World of Xeen, Dungeon Master, Dungeon Keeper, Elder Scrolls, AOL NWN, Gemstar

The Great Revival (The Second Golden Age, The Silver Age)
Might and Magic 6, Diablo*, Fallout, Ultima Online**, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, Deus Ex, Gothic, Arcanum, Temple of Elemental Evil, Dungeon Siege, Morrowind and Oblivion, NWN, Star Wars:KotOR, Jade Empire

The Dark Gritty Mature Era
Fable, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Alpha Protocol, Fallout 3, Vampire: Masquerade

*Diablo signals the beginning of the Action Era
**Ultima Online signals the beginning of the Online Age. Also Everquest, Warhammer, and DDO.

The Crowded Era
Shadowrun Returns, Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Project Eternity

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Last edited by Lucky Day; August 1st, 2013 at 21:45.
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August 1st, 2013, 21:49
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
No, I'm specifying how to spot the indicators I mentioned several times already. Don't tell me you've forgotten already?

I'll try again, then.

1. Development budget
2. Marketing budget
3. Expectation of a big return

Are you with me this time, old friend?

Those are three IN-DI-CA-TORS

Get it?

With me?
By your own admission, you cannot know the first two. As to the third, if you can find me a developer that goes into a project intending to move no more than 5 units, I'll immediately concede the point. Thus, you have exactly zero ability to directly identify/quantify/qualify your IN-DI-CA-TORS. So, you're defining the term with things that are undefined. Ain't gonna fly, my friend. JemyM will bury us both in Latin for the mere thought. I propose we call them "Bob" going forward to avoid terminology problems and differentiate your definitive (as in, defining) indicators from the indirect indicators you're actually forced to use, which I hereby dub "Rufus".

Let's go over this one more time. You don't know Bob. You can't know Bob. Thus, it is completely impossible for you to describe anything in terms of Bob. Can't be done. No way to get there from here. No room at the inn, so sorry.

Enter Rufus. Rufus isn't Bob, but he hangs around Bob quite a bit and tends to act quite a lot like Bob. We can get an indirect eye on Bob by looking at Rufus, yes? So, tell me about Rufus and we can speculate on Bob, with the goal of knowing whether we have a AAA title or not.

So, how do we go about describing Rufus, with the goal of inferring things about Bob so we can determine whether any given game is AAA? Tell me what he looks like, what he sounds like, how big/tall he is, whether he has an interesting personality. Just so we don't get lost in the metaphor, that's graphics, sound, content, and story…

Because if Rufus looks like Kate Moss and sounds like Oleta Adams and converses like Stephen Hawking, we can guess that Bob's a pretty serious dude to bring it all together in a single package, yes? Similarly, if Rufus looks like Mike Ricci, sounds like breaking glass, and argues like Thrasher, we can assume that Bob just ain't that impressive. Now, occasionally our first Bob with the gorgeous Rufus will somehow screw the pooch and the second Bob with the Leatherface Rufus might catch lightning in the bottle, but generally speaking we can rely on Rufus to give us a fairly good feel about Bob, who, remember, we do not and cannot know directly.

Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
I doubt it - as the team is one person, which means you can spend 50 years and still not invest all that much money. Beyond that, it doesn't seem to have a single example of any of the other ways to spot an AAA indicator.
See, your supposed direct knowledge is flawed, as recent reports show that Cleve has outsourced a few parts of his baby, by his own admission. So, how can you possibly define Grimoire as AAA or not when you don't actually know the team size, the team budget, and Cleve's sales forecast? You know it because of Rufus!
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Every single game with the following indicators:

Graphics
Sound

Has a good chance of being an AAA game.

That's what you're saying, right?
Not at all. I'm saying we can, generally speaking, differentiate a AAA game based on the quality of the graphics and sound. Actually, you're saying that and I'm agreeing with you, but you seem terribly upset about it.
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
No, because "very good graphics", "good sound" and "lots of content" can be done without expensive production values and they don't even need to have marketing or investors expecting a huge return on their investment.
No, you said it takes a big team with a big budget and extensive marketing to create that sort of game. It's supposedly the definition of a AAA release. Can't change your argument now.

Sorry. No pearls of wisdom in this oyster.
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August 2nd, 2013, 08:19
Originally Posted by dteowner View Post
By your own admission, you cannot know the first two. As to the third, if you can find me a developer that goes into a project intending to move no more than 5 units, I'll immediately concede the point. Thus, you have exactly zero ability to directly identify/quantify/qualify your IN-DI-CA-TORS. So, you're defining the term with things that are undefined. Ain't gonna fly, my friend. JemyM will bury us both in Latin for the mere thought. I propose we call them "Bob" going forward to avoid terminology problems and differentiate your definitive (as in, defining) indicators from the indirect indicators you're actually forced to use, which I hereby dub "Rufus".
I can't know the exact amount - that's true, which is why there are things to look for that we know cost a lot of money. That's my point - and it's not even a very hard one to grasp.

You're asking for ways to spot an AAA game - and apparently, you're not willing to accept it's about money - even though that's basically the entire point of an AAA game.

I'm giving you examples of how to spot it - but does that mean it's an ironclad 100% perfect way? No - but you'll still be able to spot most AAA games by following these simple principles.

There will be examples that are "blurry" - because "big budget" and "expensive marketing" are not set in stone.

This is just like any other definition that deals with something like this. What's an "adventure" game and what's an "RPG"? With most games - most people will agree it's this or that - but there are games people will disagree on.

For instance, I'm not sure I'd call The Witcher an AAA game - because it's got SOME elements that I'm talking about - but it's missing others. The Witcher 2, however, seems to qualify for most elements - though I'm not sure they really expected that big of a return - because they seem to be funded by people who care more about games than most publishers. So, it's hard sometimes.

Actually, you're saying that and I'm agreeing with you, but you seem terribly upset about it.
No, you said it takes a big team with a big budget and extensive marketing to create that sort of game. It's supposedly the definition of a AAA release. Can't change your argument now.
I originally said an extensive marketing CAMPAIGN - which should have been enough for anyone not just looking to get themselves out of a silly position.

Those things are still the definition of an AAA game. All your nonsense about Bob and Rufus can't change that if you're looking for ways to establish whether a game is AAA or not - you're going to look for the things I'm talking about.

You can't look at "good graphics" - because "by your own admission" Grimrock is a pretty game. No, you have to look at how much money was involved - and that requires knowledge of what is expensive and what isn't. I've given you examples of the most prominent things in the vast majority of AAA games - actually enabling you to spot them in the majority of cases.

My limited list is far more exact and useful than your list - because it's about AAA elements - where as yours wasn't. You were ignorant of what an AAA game really means. You brought up things like good AI, good UI, decent length and what not. None of which are required for an AAA game. You didn't go into the cost of "good graphics" or "sound" - because you don't understand that you can have good graphics and sound without investing a lot of money.

You CAN'T - however - have "experience-driven" content with a massive variation in assets, motion-capture animations, high-profile voice acting and so on without investing a lot of money.

Grimrock is a game with some ex-developers who're professionally capable of making high-quality tetures, models and animations - but if you know what you're looking for - you will notice a clear lack of variety - and you'll notice that they're recycling most of the assets over and over again. You'll notice no voice acting, no motion capture animations, no fancy cutscenes, no "experience-driven" content like massive explosions going off all over the place every step you take - and so on.

That's how you separate Grimrock from an AAA game like Skyrim.
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August 2nd, 2013, 15:56
Originally Posted by DArtagnan View Post
Grimrock is a game with some ex-developers who're professionally capable of making high-quality tetures, models and animations - but if you know what you're looking for - you will notice a clear lack of variety - and you'll notice that they're recycling most of the assets over and over again. You'll notice no voice acting, no motion capture animations, no fancy cutscenes, no "experience-driven" content like massive explosions going off all over the place every step you take - and so on.

That's how you separate Grimrock from an AAA game like Skyrim.
You could easily spend a lot of money on a game and the product would be on the level of, or beneath, Grimrock.

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August 2nd, 2013, 16:16
Money helps, but it doesn't guarantee a good game.
Some stuff is not possible without some major bucks, full voice over, top notch graphics …

I would say:
1) A good game (gameplay wise) sells even without eye and sound candy.
2) A mediocre game (gameplay wise) can get good sells with eye and sound candy and proper marketing.
3) A bad game will always stay a bad game …

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August 2nd, 2013, 16:22
We're not talking about good games - we're talking about AAA games.

I thought it would be clear by now
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August 2nd, 2013, 16:28
Ups - I don't read walls of text

but my above statements are universal and applies to all games, (AAA) too.

For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. - HL Mencken
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August 2nd, 2013, 18:26
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
How about The Drinking Age?
-

I break it down CRPG's into distinct eras:

The Antediluvian Age
The Genesis
The Golden Age
The Lost Wilderness Years
The Great Revival (The Second Golden Age, The Silver Age)
The Dark Gritty Mature Era
The Crowded Era

Really liked your breakdown there Lucky Day. If this is the third Golden Age, (bronze age?) I feel like it's really taken a turn for the worse lately with Chaos Chronicles cancelled or on hold and Shadowrun Returns being a bit of a dud. Legends of Dawn was meh, Expeditions Conquistator was ok but didn't really grab my attention for that long.

Are Wasteland 2, Project Eternity and D:OR enough for a third Golden Age? Plus we don't know if they are any good yet. I guess you could throw Dead State, The Witcher 3, Underrail, AoD and a few others in there as well. I'm not really making a distinction between crowd funded or not. Just if this is the coming of a third golden age or not.
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August 3rd, 2013, 12:52
Originally Posted by Lemonhead View Post
Really liked your breakdown there Lucky Day. If this is the third Golden Age, (bronze age?) I feel like it's really taken a turn for the worse lately with Chaos Chronicles cancelled or on hold and Shadowrun Returns being a bit of a dud. Legends of Dawn was meh, Expeditions Conquistator was ok but didn't really grab my attention for that long.

Are Wasteland 2, Project Eternity and D:OR enough for a third Golden Age? Plus we don't know if they are any good yet. I guess you could throw Dead State, The Witcher 3, Underrail, AoD and a few others in there as well. I'm not really making a distinction between crowd funded or not. Just if this is the coming of a third golden age or not.
It's too early to call SR:R a dud. NWN1 wasn't considered a dud, though it was worse than SR:R at release. I did enjoy SR:R as it is, and there's more to come.
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August 3rd, 2013, 21:25
@Lucky Day : I like your "Ages" concept.

However, I do wonder when the "Bronze Age" will begin ?

(You went from "Golden Age" to "Silver Age", which means that there's probably be an "Bronze Age" one day ?

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August 3rd, 2013, 23:20
I think one thing that you will notice is there has always been CRPG's, and even in the darkest times some major titles. Most of them adapt to the times - that is - what sells at the time, ie the era of JRPG's. The folks behind Looking Glass Studios, who invented the FPS, started out with Ultima Underworld and gave us Deus Ex.

The Great Revival is a period when "traditional" Western style RPG's came back in vogue; but they weren't without controversy for non-traditional features like pause and play instead of turn based.

During that time we saw the birth of the Action RPG, diablo 1 and 2 being one of the best selling games of all time, virtually monopolizes the category. Precursors to it are Rogue, Gauntlet, Robotron 2084. With MM6 its credited for the revival.

We also saw the birth of MMORPG, of which, only one title seems to be allowed to dominate at any one time. Its now its own category because the massive online element leads to a completely different style of gaming experience.

Both these styles have affected the direction that WotC has been taking.

There was no Browser RPG that created any notice and Social Network Gaming hasn't birthed a significant RPG. Additionally, mobile platforms have only seen the porting of products, and only Dungeon Defenders has had much notice.

By the time the "dark and gritty era" came around you could argue we were still in the Silver Age, but some of the things that changed was a focus on consoles, the complete move 3D rendering, and more aggressive marketing which affected style (dark, gritty, weird sex, swearing, "hard core", multi-million $ budgets).

The Crowdfunded Era, which we are just at the dawn of, marks a return to more traditional style gaming away from that. Yet, there are no distinctive lines in the sand that mark a significant shift since the Great Revival. For all intents and purposes we seem to be still in that era.

Until there's more titles released I think the jury is still out - but it is interesting that they include a number of titles we've seen in the past and have advertised returning to an experience that we had in PnP, in the CRPG's of the 80's which is what marks the success of the revival in the late 90's.



If the crowdfunded games are a success is it a revival not of CRPG's, but traditional Western CRPG's, which presumes the titles of the past few years are not?

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August 4th, 2013, 10:16
I think Lucky Day should perhaps be honest and indicate that this concept of "Ages" isn't his as such, as it has been explored earlier and in greater detail by Matt Barton in his book "Dungeons & Desktops". Although I do note that there are key differences to his theory; but by and large the conception and structure is the same.

As to the topic: Do I think we're in a new RPG Golden Age? No, definitely not.
Do I think it's a fascinating period though for RPGs? (the Crowdfunding era) Certainly.
Many more opportunities now to seem to exist for the older games to receive greater recognition and acceptance and I'm trying to be optimistic about the future where sites like Kickstarter offer for the potentiality for gamers to see games they truly want, actually made.

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August 4th, 2013, 12:23
Originally Posted by Lucky Day View Post
and more aggressive marketing which affected style (dark, gritty, weird sex, swearing, "hard core", multi-million $ budgets).
I don't remember anymore who it was, but two rather well-known persons from the film business recently told in an newspaper interview that they both see a similar thing just going on in the movcie business today as well :

Million-budget movies.

No small ones, beware !

Blockbusters, only.

And with high risk.

What's surprising is, that risk-averse movie companies nowadays tend to put more and more money into blockbusters - which they hope will sell.
Like in the gaming business.

And when the customers suddenly decide otherwise - well, that's a risk, then.

In gaming : Blockbusters like Max Payne 3 (I think it was) - great, aggressive marketing - and then no-one bought it.

It was a safe bet - they pumped millions of dollars - as an risk-averse company !!! - into it - but then people just didn't buy it. At least not here.

On the one hand they shy away from risks - but then they pump so much money into SINGLE games, not spreading their money at all.
Which is very, very, very risky, in my eyes.

And, it shows that they just don't fund original, creative games because these are to "them" so "risky" - but rather because they find creativity and originality ITSELF far more "uneasy", risky and "unwanted" than risky blockbusters, of whom actually no-one can really say whether customers will really buy it, or not.

That's how I see it.
I hope I could make more or less clear what I mean.

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August 12th, 2013, 16:01
Originally Posted by Dajjer View Post
Mars came out of nowhere a few weeks ago, Legend of Dawn out last week. Shadow Run this week and with Consortium, Divinity, Wasteland and Southpark due shortly not to mention a ton of others I have left off, it is just wonderous.

I'm going to have to go back to my old habits in the 90's when I had to be more selective in my gaming dollars and time. Well I'm older now so maybe just time selective.
You gotta be joking OP…

Alright we've got Original Sin, Wasteland 2, Project Eternity, Sui Generis and other indie/kickstarter RPG's. Legend of Dawn has been slaughtered by critics and gamers alike and all these other indie RPG's have not compared to the RPG's of the past in any way.

I have no hope for the Southpark RPG. Who thought that would be a good combination? Ergh.

The others release significantly down the road next to non-kickstarter RPG's bound to triumph over them (Witcher 3, Dark Souls 2, Inquisition if it's anything like Origins and uses the ME2 dialogue wheel instead of the personality based one, Cyberpunk 2027, Lords of the Fallen).
  • Original Sin
  • Project Eternity
  • Wasteland 2
  • Sui Generis
  • Torment: Tides of Numenera

Those are the only ones I'm looking forward to that have come from Kickstarter and which are bound to rival the aforementioned titles. However they all have their roots from existing IP's and experienced companies/developers behind them (not sure about Sui Generis) so it's no surprise they look good. The other kickstarter RPG's I'm seeing look poor in quality. I think we'll see a lot of Legend of Dawn titles coming from kickstarter if you know what I mean but I would like to be wrong and see many of these old school RPG's turning out to be good.

I've got to agree with Lemonhead. There's too few to consider this the new golden age of RPG's and half of them haven't even released yet.
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August 12th, 2013, 16:10
We won't see a lot LoD titles coming from Kickstarter.
When it comes to indie games, Kickstarter is degenerating towards phonegames. PC games as Kickstarter projects will become a rarity.

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August 13th, 2013, 06:02
The problem with this whole idea of "Golden Age" is that everyone has their own criteria for what makes for a high quality cRPG. While we can probably all agree that a game is "bad" if it has nasty game-breaking bugs that make it virtually unplayable, there isn't really a semi-objective way to decide whether a game is a "classic" or future classic. I mean, I hate Diablo; I think it is the very definition of a terrible ACTION "rpg", but obviously lots of people love that series for reasons I'll never understand. I also think we tend to remember the past with rose-colored glasses and even a lot of the "classics" have glaring flaws that we probably wouldn't be as willing to forgive in modern games.

I'm excited for a lot of upcoming cRPGs for the first time in many years (PE, D:OS, T:ToN, Wasteland 2, Dead State, Sui Generis, Might and Magic X, Blackguards, The Banner Saga, Lords of Xulima, Witcher 3, etc.)… I'm particularly excited that most of these are turn-based RPGs! Now, I really hope most of them meet my expectations. Is there a magic number of great cRPGs that would make this a Golden / Silver / Bronze age? I don't know but I'll take quality over quantity any day.
Last edited by daveyd; August 13th, 2013 at 19:30.
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