RPG General News - All News
Sunday - May 19, 2013
The RPG Podcast - What Is The True Definition of a Role-Playing Game?
TheKoalition has a new podcast about defining what is an RPG. Other topics include free-to-play and why it's the future.
Richard Bailey joins myself and David Jagneaux in this week's episode of Turn Based. Our colleague ElectroJade asked me a thoughtful question recently. The question was whether a game like Heavy Rain could be considered an RPG, due to the fact you assume the role of the numerous characters and make decisions for them.
I personally wouldn't call Heavy Rain an RPG, but I could easily see how somebody could make the distinction. We decided that this was a topic that should be discussed in more detail, so our main discussion surrounds the question "What is the true definition of a role-playing game?" Be sure to share your thoughts below.
Also on this episode we discuss the recent Diablo 3 auction house exploits, and the Defiance TV to video game events. There was also the awesome news that Rift would be going free-to-play, and developer Epic discussed about free-to-play business models on consoles recently. With the combination of these free-to-play topics we decided to touch on why we believe free-to-play is the way of the future.
Raphael Sbarge - AKA Kaidan Alenko Talks Mass Effect 4
Puresophistry has an audio interview with Raphael Sbarge better known as the voice of Kaidan Alenko.
It wasn’t until Mass Effect 3 when Bioware offered same sex romances options for players that a measure of equality was reached. Sbarge goes into detail as to why this was important not only for the game, but for the industry in general. (Starts at 31:20)
"I was thrilled when they introduced the Homosexual romance options in Mass Effect 3 just because obviously there was a huge audience. I spoke to the developers about it, they said they provided so many different choices we were proud of, to be really honest it was just another piece of extra content that didn’t make the final cut in the other games.
What’s amazing about the game for people is that you can cross gender! You can play through in any capacity you want, imaginatively for any of us that’s a huge factor in the experience. All of the opportunities and complexities are fascinating, and that’s what games allow to go down the rabbit hole and explore it.
As far as relationships, the writing is so wonderful. Dealing with issues of rank, emotionality and a sense of separation in Mass Effect 2. As I understand it, more women began play video games as a results of Mass Effect, I think because of these romance elements.”
Finally Raphael does make comment on the ending of Mass Effect 3, how he believes fans received it and what lies ahead for Mass Effect 4. (Will he playing Kaidan’s Great Great Grandfather?(Starts at 18:10)
“It was done, and people flipped out. What was so interesting about that is Bioware responded, they took it really soulfully to heart and really addressed it. Speaking to the fans and created that other additional content to play through other areas of the game.
Even though on the one hand it was incredibly sad not just for the fans but the people who spent a decade working on this game, but there is something in the fact it’s over. That makes it very precious in a way. It almost makes it more special and remarkable, that folks were part of Mass Effect. That elite club of millions.
That’s not to say that there isn’t sadness but it’s being felt by gamers and developers but they said publicly there will be Mass Effect 4. “
Bloodlust Shadowhunter - A New ARPG Adventure with Vampires
Bloodlust Shadowhunter is a Single-Player RPG from WRF Studios. The game is also on Steam Greenlight looking for approval. The developers have a demo on the main site to try. Give the game a look, and give your opinion in the comment section.
There is also a video of the demo from Cramgaming.
Pre-Thief - Dark Camelot Footage
Rock Paper Shotgun has an article that shows the original concept behind the Thief series. The former Looking Glass Video Director Josh Randall unearthed a VHS of his unseen work, and uploaded it on Youtube
Thief was previously an RPG set in Camelot, built in the Stargate Engine. You would’ve played as Mordred, fighting a despotic Arthur. Merlin was a psychopath and the knights hired muscle. Not ridiculous enough? Your goal was to unearth the truth about the Holy Grail.
Saturday - May 18, 2013
7 Days to Die - A Voxel-Based Sandbox Game
Dallas based indie developer The Fun Pimps Entertainment announced 7 Days to Die. I know some will say but it's not a true RPG. Watch the trailer then decide.
An open world, voxel-based, sandbox game blending the best elements of FPS, Survival Horror, RPG and Tower Defense style games. "Seven Days to Die" looks to carve out its own space giving gamers what they really want with a unique combination of combat, crafting, exploration, and character growth. It's not just Survival Horror anymore its "Survival Horde."
Seven Days to Die Core Features include:
• Explore a modern, beautiful, fully destroyable, fully buildable, fully dynamic, hand crafted, huge voxel world with cities, forests, wastelands, deserts, plains and mountains. Explore hundreds of points of interest and every building inside and out!
• Our advanced "Dynamic Block Stability Physics System," simulates real-time structural integrity. Build it right or watch it come crumbling down.
• Relentless enemies will stop at nothing as they claw, jump and break their way through the world in order to get to you. And watch out for the unique severely mutated.
• Mine and loot a multitude of items and ingredients to survive creating hundreds of weapons, items and traps with the intuitive and deep "Crafting System" inspired by classic adventure games but modernized. No wiki required!
• Uncover the truth as you find survivor notes that lead to better loot from the "Dynamic Story Generation System" which puts the player in charge of the story solving the "now what problem" that plague most voxel games.
• Play solo, Co-op online with friends or in our unique "Zombie Nomad Mode" for a no rules experience!
• Enjoy a fully destroyable voxel-based world blowing up everything in the entire game or build it up bolstering the defenses of an existing structure or building your own fort to try and keep the zombies out.
• Gain experience and upgrade your skills in melee, guns, crafting, and stealth!
• Rummage and mine your way through the world finding food, water, loot and the resources you'll need to survive and discover a purpose for everything in the world.
• Build your own worlds and play them with your friends using the 'Creative Mode Tools" featuring hundreds of block shapes and prefabs.
Thursday - May 16, 2013
City Interactive - Officially Announces Lords Of The Fallen
City Interactive sent out a press release to various websites to officially annnouce Lords Of The Fallen. Some of you might already know about the game due to small tidbits given out over the last year.
WARSAW, POLAND - May 16, 2013 - CI Games, a fast-growing international publisher and developer of interactive entertainment, today officially announced Lords of the Fallen, a challenging fantasy action/role-playing game (RPG). Development of the game is being led by Tomasz Gop, former senior producer of the award-winning The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings. Lords of the Fallen is a demanding and strategic third-person action-RPG experience being created for next generation consoles and PC, coming in 2014.
"Our team is building Lords of the Fallen specifically for players who enjoy taking on huge challenges, where the odds are stacked against them," said Tomasz Gop, executive producer, CI Games. "From the very beginning, Lords of the Fallen will intrigue and satisfy players' hunger to explore each corner of a brand new world, freely customize and build their own character and take down some of the most epic enemies ever seen."
Lords of the Fallen is a hardcore action-RPG featuring an advanced combat systems and robust class skill trees. Set in a richly created fantasy world where the Gods have failed mankind, players will take on the role of a human named Harkyn who sets out on a quest to stand against an apparently unstoppable supernatural force. Players travel across a world that is deeply dived by those that follow and others that resist, the Fallen God. Along their journey they will be faced with a series of decisions that will alter both the world and their character thus dramatically impacting the storyline.
Lords of the Fallen will be presented live at the Electronic Entertainment (E3) Expo in Los Angeles, California at the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 11-13, 2013.
Chasm - Kickstarter Funded Pre-orders To Continue Funding
Discord Games 2D ARPG Chasm has battled its way to Kickstarter success. Their stretch goals are still on the table thanks to pre-orders.
In order to keep project going Discord has opened up a pre-order option which grants goodies depending on your choice of bronze, silver or gold tiers. All this goes toward the same Kickstarter stretch goals and so New Game+ is still within reach.
Check out the to learn more. It's due for PC in May 2014.
Chasm is a 2D Platformer Action-RPG currently in development for Windows, Mac, & Linux. Taking equal inspiration from hack 'n slash dungeon crawlers (procedurally generated dungeons, loot drops, etc) and Metroidvania-style platformers, the game aims to immerse you in its 2D fantasy world full of exciting treasure, deadly enemies, and abundant secrets.
Wednesday - May 15, 2013
GamerEuphoria - Morality Systems Need to be Less Black & White
GamerEuphoria has a new article discussing morality systems, and how they need to be improved. The article refers to The Witcher 2, Fallout 3, BioShock, Fable, and Mass Effect as examples.
‘Black and white’ decisions are the bane of morality systems. The choices are normally between doing an utterly selfless deed that is absolutely morally correct, or doing something that is straight up 100% evil; there is rarely middle ground. The problem with this is that these decisions then become a little detached from the dramatic effect that most of these games are aiming for.
ShowMeTheGames - 32 Indie PC Games On Sale
ShowMeTheGames is hosting it's summer sale, and for the next seven days 32 Indie PC games will be on sale. There are a few RPG's, and other titles in the sale.
The sales on the site are made directly though the websites of the developers so showmethesales.com won't be getting any money from this. All the money goes to the developers so this is a good way to show your support for Indie game companies.
Monday - May 13, 2013
Final Fantasy VII & VIII - Possible Steam Release?
EnixOrigin has a post about Final Fantasy VII&VIII might be released on Steam.
Yes folks thats right‚ Final Fantasy VII is coming to Steam! But wait! Rejoice‚ because it willbe coming with Final Fantasy VIII! Although there has been no official statements have been released by Square Enix themselves‚ the two games have had their logos added to the Steam DB (Steam Database). We’ll be sure to update with a list of achievements and changes as soon as more developments are made on the subject! Be sure to check back with EO!
Sunday - May 12, 2013
Cube World - A Voxel-based Exploration RPG
This new game was brought to my attention in our news box. It's called Cube World, and looks like Minecraft fused with an RPG.
Extended Cube World FAQ
Q: When will Cube World be released?
A: I'm currently tuning and fixing everything but I don't know how long it will take and can't estimate a release date.
Q: How many people are working on this game?
A: I started this as a small hobby project in June 2011. Since May 2012 we are a team of two developers.
Q: Can I help with programming, graphics, sound, music etc?
A: Thanks, but I want to do everything by myself.
Q: Which platforms are supported?
A: Currently just Windows PC. Mac support is planned in the future.
Q: Which games inspired you?
- Minecraft: Endless random world made up of blocks
- Zelda, Secret of Mana, Landstalker, Monster Hunter and more: Style, gameplay, overall feel
- Diablo, World of Warcraft: RPG elements
- And many more
Q: Which features do you still want to add?
- Player customization: I'm planning to add player customization whith different faces, hair styles etc.
- Classes: I'm planning to add a mage class next and more classes in the future
- Different playable races
- Quests: A variety of different quests
- Items: Different weapons, armor and other items
- Building: Different blueprints and materials
- Weapon/Armor upgrading system
- Different pets
Q: Is there multiplayer support?
A: Yes, you can do everything in the game cooperatively with friends. I can't say anything about maximum players per server because it still needs to be optimized and tested.
Q: Will you add mining/building/crafting?
- I'm not planning to add mining or digging.
- House building is supported.
- I will probably add a crafting system that allows you to craft weapons and armor from loot dropped by monsters.
Q: How do you create this game?
A: I've programmed everything with C++ and DirectX (OpenGL for the first version). For the voxel sprites, I created my own voxel editor.
Q: Will the final game still be called "Cube World"?
A: Probably not. It's currently just the project name. I'll have to come up with a new name soon.
Q: Will it be free?
Delver's Drop - Roguelike Zelda
Shacknews has a small preview article on the funded ARPG kickstarter Delver's Drop.
What if a Zelda game went on forever? Pixelscopic, the studio behind the indie game Delver's Drop, conceived of a classical action RPG in the vein of the Zelda series mixed with elements from roguelikes. The result is a promising project that, even in its unfinished state, blends familiarity with longevity.
The "drop" in the title references the progression between stages, as your hero travels ever-deeper into the dungeon by dropping through pits in the floor after solving puzzles or battling enemies. Indie studio Pixelscopic showed off the "Endless Drop" mode at PAX East. The studio is working on defined dungeons with exact level layouts, but Endless Drop randomly mixes levels. The feedback was mixed.
Pixelscopic hosted a successful Kickstarter campaign for the game in February and early March, just before it showed the game at PAX East. It ended up doubling its goal of $75,000, shocking the team.
"We set the goal based on what we needed for the base game, but we also thought it would be the upper reaches of reality," Utter said. "You know, we're an unknown studio, none of us have worked on blockbuster AAA titles. So we didn't have a lot of the things in our favor that a lot of the Kickstarter successes have. I thought we could get to 75 [thousand] but I thought it would be a grind."
Now that it's funded, Pixelscopic is being careful not to rest on their laurels. They mentioned that they don't want to go dark until release, so they're keeping active through their Steam Greenlight and the official site and forums. Most recently, it announced monthly streams of the game to be showing on Twitch leading up to the release.
Delver's Drop is aiming for a full release in October on PC, Mac and Linux, with plans for mobile and Ouya in February 2014.
Lords of the Fallen - To Be Shown at E3
Electronics Entertainment Expo is almost upon us . That means we'll soon be getting new information about RPG's. One RPG will be Lords of the Fallen. It's the new RPG from Tomek Gop.
E3 approaching great strides (less than a month), so more and more often we hear announcements regarding what developers will show at the party. This time it was the turn for CI Games, creators of the popular series of Sniper: Ghost Warrior.
CI Games at E3 2013 will show you a new game Tomek Gop (creator of "The Witcher"), which is, of course, on the next RPG-genes, as well as the presentation of hands-on action packed games sci-fi FPS, Alien Rage, known so far under the title Alien Fear.
Friday - May 10, 2013
Nexus Mod Network - Robin Scott On Hosting Mods
Edge has a new article on the founder of the Nexus Mod sites Robin Scott.
Scott got into the game website business when he was 15, and had built and sold two networks by the time the Nexus was rebranded in 2007. He is now 26. In the eyes of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, he is his company’s fifth employee, alongside four programmers: two for the site and two for Nexus Mod Manager, an increasingly invaluable tool for all but the most hardcore modder.
“But I don’t really see myself as an employee,” he says. “I reply to all the private messages and emails because I want to keep the site going. As soon it becomes a pain, or I stop enjoying games, I think there might be an issue, but it’s not. I’ve got three monitors in front of me. I’ve got shares running down the left-hand side of my monitor, because I do quite a lot of the share market. A lot of people say that I must be doing pretty well. And the Nexus does do pretty well, but the money it does pretty well with just goes right back into hiring more people and buying more servers.”
Scott blogs regularly about the trials and tribulations of running such a bandwidth-hungry monster without totally selling out. Things have certainly improved since the days when the sites would regularly crash, keeping him up in the dead of night restarting MySQL. Nowadays, bedtime is just after 2am, taking him past US peak time, and breakfast is at around 10:30am, after which he gets right back into the routine. He starts by checking emails and private messages, most concerned with site registration delays and the like, and three hours later he talks to the programmers.
“They’ll show me what they’ve been doing, and I’ll try to show them what I think it should look like. I’m working on a few new designs for the Nexus sites right now. Every once in a while I’ll dabble in the code, but it’s so far above me now that I can’t just bring up a PHP file and start editing away. It just looks like Japanese to me,” he admits.
“Steam Workshop’s been great for a lot of things, but if you look at the Valve games, they’re making games like Dota 2 that they’ll give away for free, then they’re making so much money on those microtransactions. The one thing I do buy is the subscriptions to the tournaments; that’s brilliant, I really love that idea. But if you look at TF2 and Dota 2, it’s not the modding you and I know. It’s not the modding Nexus does. It’s a completely controlled, exclusive-to-Steam modding where they get to choose the mods that go on their service based on how well they think it will sell.
“If you say to mod authors that they can start making money out of their mods, are they going to be inclined to share their secrets, the stuff that they found that makes modding easier? That makes it great? Or are they going to hold on to it, because [that] means fewer people are doing what they’re doing? The general dilemma we’ve got with modding at the moment, with what Valve are trying to do, is that people are now competing financially with other people and are going to be a lot less helpful.”
Tuesday - May 07, 2013
George Ziets - Interview @ RPGCodex
RPGCodex interviewed game designer and writer George Ziets about the games he worked in in the past, the games he is working on currently (Project Eternity, Torment Tides of Numenera), Baldur's Gate 3 and more.
How would you describe the 'Ziets approach' to game design? Which designers and writers have influenced you the most over the years?What’s unique about the medium of games is its interactivity. A game is really a shared narrative between the developer and the player, and the more we can do to make the player an equal partner in that exchange, the better.
So my goal as a designer is to make the player feel like the most important character in the game… and to give the player as many ways as possible to customize their experience. Examples: Let the player decide who their character is and was – avoid imposing an identity upon the character if you can. Provide multiple ways to solve every problem, make sure the player is aware of their options, and provide clear consequences for the player’s choice. When important events happen in the story or world, they should result from the player’s actions, or they should play out differently because of the player’s choices. Anticipate what cool thing the player would want to do in any given situation, and try to find ways of letting them do it. Make your villains threaten things that are important to the player - not just to NPCs. And never impose words or actions upon the player in a cutscene (or anywhere else).
Another important goal is to think of all elements of the game as part of a coherent whole. No element – gameplay, story, art – is more important than any other. They all need to work together to create a unified experience. Ideally, we should approach every game with a high-level idea of what kind of experience we want to craft and then make sure that the story, mechanics, and art style all reinforce that big idea.
This perspective can be difficult to keep in mind at mid- to large-sized studios, where disciplines have become increasingly specialized, with one person doing nothing but combat design, another doing nothing but writing and story, another focused entirely on items, etc. This is one of the reasons I favor the older system of designers as generalists, which tends to encourage us to look at the whole experience, rather than one specific part.
Finally, I always prefer to put the player into a situation where they don’t know the rules. I’m not referring to game mechanics (which should always be clear and understandable), but to the story and the world. If you can drop the player into an unfamiliar situation that isn’t quite like anything they’ve seen or experienced before, they’re going to be more attentive and engaged, leading to a more memorable experience. Everyone likes a mystery – the key is to use plenty of unanswered questions about the setting, the story, and the characters to drive the player through the game.
Influences are tough. I’ve ingested such a mixed-up cocktail of games, books, movies, and TV over the past 30+ years that it’s difficult to pick out the ones that have had the greatest effect on me as a designer.
Certainly the team at Obsidian – Chris Avellone, Josh Sawyer, etc. – has had a significant impact because we share a lot of the same sensibilities and because I’ve worked with those guys longer than anyone else. The Infinity Engine games, in general, had a strong influence. Also the early to middle Ultima games from my childhood, so I’d include early Richard Garriott and Origin Systems as another influence. Sid Meier too – especially the open-ended structure of his original Pirates game, where the player could even determine when the game ended. As a storyteller / world builder, influences include Greek mythology, real-world history, psychology, and current events, Japanese animation (especially Miyazaki, but others too), the Fighting Fantasy novels of the 80s, Tad Williams, George R. R. Martin, David Brin, Steven Erikson, Gene Wolfe, and probably many authors that I’m forgetting. And it’s difficult to ignore the influence of D&D, since it played such a big part in my early creative work.
R.A. Salvatore - Neverwinter & 38 Studios
R.A. Salvatore gave an interview on GameReactor TV. In the interview he was asked about Neverwinter, and 38 Studios.
Best-selling author R.A. Salvatore talks about his most recent books set in the Forgotten Realms, their ties with Neverwinter, and the unfortunate demise of 38 Studios.
We caught up with Salvatore at the PAX East Neverwinter party, with the author sitting down in a comfy armchair with guests and journalist gathering in a circle to hear what he had to say. We sat back for a while, but finally stepped in and asked if we could steal away R.A. for ten minutes for an interview. With the crowd dispersed a number of issues were covered - including how it came to be that his latest series of books set in the Forgotten Realms are tied in with the MMORPG from Cryptic Studios.
"We'd really like your books to set the stage for the game, and I said "what does that mean?". And basically what it meant was you know, new game, they want a different look so basically blowing up a city... (laughs) So I finally get to destroy a city in the Forgotten Realms count me in."
"Curt Schilling gets beat up a lot, but he did something real magical with the people he brought together. He handselected that team and he brought in some of the best people ever and I give him a lot of credit for trying. He put himself, he put his own money on the line - I give him a lot of credit for that so no regrets from me. It is what it is, I'm sorry people got hurt, you know I got hurt, my sons got hurt, but as that fades the good parts come to the forefront."
Speaking on former 38 Studios colleagues and friends, Salvatore had the following to say:
"A lot of them seem to be landing on their feet with good companies or their own companies, so you know... It's journey right, everything we do here is a journey if you live your whole life think you just have to get to the goal you're not living your life you're just trying to get somewhere. You think you're going to some magic fairy land when you get to that goal. It's the journey, it's not the ending - the ending is death, dude."
"The IP is going to come up for sale. I hope somebody buys it. I hope they contact me and want me to come back and do some work with it. I think it's awesome, and I'm not just saying that cause I wrote it. The parts I wrote - great - but the work the team did... the love they poured into that expanding this hundreds and hundreds of pages in the wiki - just amazing stuff was coming out of that team."
Forbes - Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
Forbes reviews and unboxes the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. For the record it's not the PC game, but the table top version.
Call it the Pathfinder Cinematic Roleplaying System and borrow heavily from some of the marvelous indie d20 games on the market (as well as from other modern gaming systems which place more emphasis on character, roleplaying, and tough moral choices rather than combat.)
Fortunately, the adventures and system is also compatible with myriad d20 variants, so it’s no problem integrating the adventures and setting with games like Microlite20 (which has its own Pathfinder version) or Legend or any other d20-based system.
Meanwhile, for anyone who enjoys a solid book in hand with lots of other products to choose from, the Beginner Box is a great entry point. Moving on from there to the other Paizo books is simple enough, and there’s simply no denying that the artwork and production value in all of these products is top-notch—a great way to have the books themselves help deepen player immersion in the game world.
Monday - May 06, 2013
Indie Done Right - Interview with Anodyne Devs
Transistor - Podcast Interview @ Video Game Sophistry
Video Game Sophistry has a new audio interview with Supergiant's creative director Greg Kasavin on Transistor.
This week on VGS!
We discuss the recent departures from E3, Batman isn't Batman and a HUGE feature on all of the new GTA V info. We have EVERYTHING! Fact speculation,. Fever Dreams! If it's GTA related we got it.
FEATURE INTERVIEW: Starts at 25:54
Greg Kasavin from SuperGiant Games, the maker of the Indie hit "Bastion" have a new game! We find out all about it.
Edge-Online - Inside Irrational: System Shock 2 to BioShock Infinite
EDGE has a new article focusing on Irrational Games. The article has comments from various employees about the company , and the Bioshock games.
Navigating the constraints of tight budgets and outdated engines, the burgeoning team at Irrational infused System Shock 2 with “a mood and a vibe”, as Levine succinctly puts it. This was something that would become apparent in an early prototype that Levine recalls as being one of his fondest memories of the project.
“It was basically a demonstration of the shooting and RPG stuff, and it really was cool,” he explains, an enthusiastic grin spreading across his face. “I remember playing it and it was not functional in any way, shape or form – it barely held together. We had no AI. We had things that pretended to be AI. We had lots of things that pretended to be things, but there was no real anything. But we really tried to tell a story in this space with the limited tools we had and I remember finishing it and thinking, ‘Wow, we created something that has an emotional feel to it.’ It was powerful to me as a setting, sort of a vision of my future as a game developer encapsulated in this demo.”
Fortunately for the studio, System Shock 2’s roleplaying leanings were a hit with critics; 90 per cent or greater scores abounded (as well as eight out of ten in E77). “We were as stunned as anybody else as to it getting the reaction it did from the press,” admits Levine. “I think we expected the critical reaction to be on par with the commercial reaction, which was tepid.”
And therein lay a hard truth for Irrational. Although System Shock 2 spawned a dedicated fanbase that thrives even now (mods are still being cobbled together that improve the game’s graphical fidelity and overall performance), the game failed to ignite the sales chart, crossing the 50,000 copies sold mark around six months after release.
It would be eight years before the studio produced a title that was truly commercially successful, despite working on well-liked and critically praised games such as SWAT 4 and Freedom Force Vs The 3rd Reich in that period. Yet despite the sudden influx of capital and obvious physical growth of the company that it brought, the success of BioShock changed Irrational’s work ethic surprisingly little.
Sunday - May 05, 2013
Lost Spirits of Kael - Interview @ DualShockers
DualShockers has an interview with Pablo Coma on his new Indie RPG title Lost Spirits of Kael.
Chad: It was mentioned in the press materials that Lost Spirits of Kael is a very atmospheric game with an emphasis on the themes of loneliness and finding one’s way into the unknown. What was the inspiration for these themes and the direction you’re taking with the game?
Pablo Coma : As funny as it may sound, Lost Spirits of Kael was born from music. The songs featured in the trailer were composed before I did even think about making a game. At that time I was considering myself just as a composer. As there were not so many games out there that really match what I like to compose, one day I decided to create the game myself, tailored to my music. I took my inspiration in a trip to Ireland that I made just one month before starting development. I really liked this country, its legends, its forests, the Celtic crosses in graveyards, the sound of the Celtic harp…
Now to talk more precisely about Lost Spirits of Kael‘s gameplay, I consider Dark Souls and Shadow of the Colossus as being my main inspiration sources in the video game area.
C: The game takes place entirely within the Forest of Kael. How did you approach the visual aspect of the game? Does the game provide a change in scenery even though it takes place entirely within this forest?
PC: Something I really like is to work on color ambiances. When you learn to colorize at school, people ask you to make the trees brown. But they could tend to be purple, blue, or green. I also tried to give a kind of surrealistic tone to the art by working without any stroke. I work directly with colors, in a style that could be described as “painted sketch”. This results in the border of every element being somewhat murky, which is done on purpose of course. Why should video games be realistic, anyway?
When playing Ico, I really enjoyed the fact that the whole game consisted of exiting in just one place, and I wanted to make something close to this idea. However, I also wanted to have variety in environments, so while “normal” forest backgrounds will predominate, you will have to wander in places such as undergrounds, swamps, graveyards and snowy forest [areas], to name just those who appears in the trailer. There are more, but I’d like to keep the surprise on this point.
C: Is there anything else you’d like to tell our readers about Lost Spirits of Kael?
PC: Sure! I’d like to talk a little bit about how labyrinthine the game will be. The entire game is designed to make the player feel completely lost. I wanted to do the opposite of games where locating oneself is made too easy with auto-maps and such things. If you ever wandered in the Lost Woods of Zelda III, you’ve got a basic idea of what is going to happen in the Forest of Kael.
But here I’ll give you a few tools to help you finding your way:You have the ability to mark your way in the forest. As you don’t have paint, you’ll have to use your blood, making you lose a few HP when using this ability. So use it carefully.
Secondly, as the view of the game is more horizontal than in most action-RPGs, you can see where you will go in the background before actually walking to it. Look carefully around you and try to remember the places you already went, because nobody will come to rescue you… You will be all alone.
Friday - May 03, 2013
Greg Zeschuk - Moving From BioWare to Beer
IGN caught up with and interviewed him about various topics, and of course beer.
My first question is obvious: what happened?
“Once you’ve done something for so long, at some point it’s just not that exciting anymore,” Zeschuk confesses. “I had trouble looking down the road at something that was just incredibly interesting and challenging and new and unique that stretched me personally. I think video games, for me...it was very clear what the future held. It was more of the same.” It’s a reply we’ve heard before, one that closely mirrors the message of the retirement letter he posted last September when he and partner Ray Muzyka stepped down. Naturally the gaming community was quick to offer other explanations -- including the controversy surrounding3’s unsatisfying ending and BioWare’s merger with mega-publisher EA -- but when I question him, Zeschuk calmly maintains that his reasons were purely personal.
“The passion and level of engagement was so high that it makes it very hard to solve every scenario you wanted to solve at the end of it,” Zeschuk says of3. “I always still sincerely think it’s because [the fans] really really care about what we make. It’s not random. It’s like, they may be disappointed when they can’t get the choice they want because they’re so intimate with their story or their character or their game. If it’s not just the way they want it, it’s not right. So it’s a very hard thing to reconcile, but the reality is, I can understand completely where it can come from.”
Anytime anyone writes about Greg Zeschuk, they’re always quick to point out one compelling piece of his personal history: before starting BioWare, Zeschuk was a licensed, practicing medical doctor. His choice to abandon years of training in order to make video games might seem brilliant now, but at the time, it surely felt like an insane risk. Speaking with him now, however, his decision somehow feels like the only one he possibly could have made. “It’s actually a personal philosophy of mine,” Zeschuk says. “For me at least, the secret to being happy, in a way, is just doing stuff. If I’m not doing stuff, I’m not happy. I think from a philosophical perspective, people kind of owe it to themselves to try to do things nowadays. There’s very little reason not to try to do stuff.”
Stuff like, say, quitting your job as an award-winning developer in order to pursue a new passion. While The Beer Diaries may not be the next Mass Effect or Dragon Age, it all makes perfect sense given Zeschuk’s mentality. “At the end of the day, at the very least, we did something,” he states. “Maybe we made some people angry, made some people happy... You can live your life without doing anything. The reality, though, is simply, having done something is really, really rewarding.” I think we can all drink to that.
Thursday - May 02, 2013
Crowdfunding - One Year Later
Gamasutra have a lengthy article on what the crowdfunding landscape looks like now by talking to Chris Roberts (Star Citizen), Brenda Romero (Shaker), Greg Rice (Double Fine Adventure), and Jim Rossignol and James Carey (Sir, You Are Being Hunted) about how they feel about it and if they would do it differently next time.
David Daw: You funded Star Citizen with a rather unorthodox combination of in-house crowdfunding, Kickstarter, and traditional investment. How’d you come up with that mix?
Chris Roberts: Yeah, we’re not typical. Everybody talks about our Kickstarter, but that was just one small part of what we did. In fact, most of our money’s been raised outside of Kickstarter.
I’ve always felt like there was a pretty strong community that were fans of my previous games, and fans of space sims in general. I felt like if I looked at everything going on on Kickstarter, a lot of it was really good -- but once you did the initial campaign, it was done and over, and I was fairly disappointed with what happened after that. I felt like no matter what, you’ve got to have a place where all the people that backed you are going to hang out, listen to what’s happening with the game, and interact, so why wait to do that later on?
So we actually launched a teaser site for what we were doing a month before we started the crowdfunding campaign -- the idea was to aggregate the really diehard fans. We’d gotten about 30,000 people to sign up and register when we launched the campaign, which gave us a bit of a leg up in terms of the initial awareness in crowdfunding.
I think it really just came out of the fact that you’ve got to have your own solution, even with Kickstarter, because a Kickstarter campaign ends at some point. So then you’ve got to have some way that you’re interacting with your community, and everyone always has to have some kind of option for PayPal or whatever, so we figured, “If you have to build it anyway, let’s just build it and do it upfront.”
DD: Do you think that the Kickstarter has shifted? Has the wave of big Kickstarter-funded games passed?
Brenda Romero: Kickstarter in and of itself has become a game. It’s a spectator sport, and it’s super fun to be involved in these projects. It’s fun to watch them succeed, and it’s fun, in a sadistic game, to watch them fail. Watching people succeed and watching people fail, for better or for worse, as humans, there’s something to that.
I think people have a limited amount of funds to spend on Kickstarters, and I think the market is a lot more crowded than it used to be. I also think in the early days there was a lot of press coverage of “Here’s some RPGs on Kickstarter you might like,” and you’re not seeing as much of that these days. So I think there is a bit of atrophy in the community and apathy in the community. There’s not as much money because the money there was to go around has gone around. Kickstarter really is its own social network, and it’s incredibly fun to see what’s on there, but that wanes after a while.
Tuesday - April 30, 2013
GameBanshee - Cancelled Planescape RPG Interview
GameBanshee has an interview with Colin McComb on the cancelled Planescape RPG.
GB: You mentioned a PlayStation-exclusive Planescape game that you worked on at Black Isle Studios in one of your recent blog entries. Can you tell us more about that?
Colin: There's seriously not much to it, though - it was six months of me playing King's Field, talking to people, and getting a design document together. The only team members were me and Greg Christensen, the programmer. Where the expanded design doc is now is anyone's guess. I don't think we had developed any assets for the game, so it's not going to be too exciting to see.
GB: Before we let you get back to Tides of Numenera, can you briefly sum up the main path or plot of the game?
Colin: This was about 16 years ago, so I hope you'll forgive my hazy memory on the exact details: The core of the game's story was that you took the part of a young Mercykiller recruit. It's your first day on the job and there's a riot in the Hive, the slum of Sigil. You go into the tenements with your squad, but are quickly separated from them by the press of flesh and the flames, and you need to find your way out. Clues lead you into the Lower Ward, where you discover a criminal enterprise run by (apparently) a shadowy thieving organization. Your superiors send in investigators to wrap up most of the conspirators, and they send you to Ribcage in order to pursue certain loose ends. While there, you discover that this is a much bigger conspiracy than you thought, with tendrils extending into the politics of Baator itself. You plunge into Hell to exact justice, even though it means your near-certain death.
We'd have had the politics of Sigil tied into this, which is to say lots of other factions getting involved, and some celestial hierarchy as well. I was looking forward to doing it, but I learned so much from Torment that I have to say it was really for the best.
Monday - April 29, 2013
Mass Effect DLC - Looking Back
SpiderDuck has an article discussing all the Mass Effect DLC. Enjoy and share your thoughts on his rankings.
The Mass Effect series is my favorite gaming series out there. I love pretty much everything about it and has kicked up my emotions so many times that I've lost count. That last statement is pretty impressive considering I have about as much personality and emotion jumping from me as a brick wall.
A couple months back we got the final piece of DLC, thus ending the Shepard trilogy. It was a bittersweet moment. I knew the end was coming and it was one hell of a ride I will never forget but it kills me that Shepard story is over. Through the course of this thrill ride we have had some amazing DLC and some not so amazing. In this article I am going to go over and rank the DLC for the entire trilogy. Now keep in mind that in my ranking I will not go over smaller bits of DLC (weapons packs, appearance packs, fire-walker, comics) and this is strictly for the single player. Sorry ME3 multiplayer. I will try and keep this as spoiler free as possible and as always, this is a personal opinion piece. I do not expect everyone to feel the same. I only wish to guide newcomers into which DLC they should not miss.
Saturday - April 27, 2013
Chris Avellone - Interview @ VGS
VGS' audio recording of their interview with Chris Avellone is available on Soundcloud.
FEATURE INTERVIEW! Starts at 33:08
Chris Avellone from Obsidian Entertainment joins us to talk about EVERYTHING he’s involved with right now and provides a retrospective on his latest title Fallout New Vegas
On “Torment Tides of Numenera” From 34:08 – 37:08
Highlights: “My friends don’t even call me by my name any more….just “The Stretch Goal”
On “Project Eternity” From 37:08-40:00
Highlights: “I LOVE working on Kickstarter Projects, first of all, you get to share a lot of stuff with the fanbase (design documents, how you build levels) some of that stuff when working within a normal publisher model is just not allowed, with Kickstarter you can take player feedback iterate on it and make them part of the process.”
On “Wasteland 2” and Why People Like Kickstarter. From 40:43 -49:30
Highlights: “Developers behind Wasteland 2 wanted to some more socially integrated features and the fanbase did not like the idea of having this feature added. But it allowed the devs to realize, “Hey!” we don’t need to waste precious hours on creating it, since no one was loudly advocating for it. You can actually poll the community to see if they want these features in the game….and if they don’t you can save everyone time and grief and not devote any resources too it! “
On “South Park: The Stick of Truth: From 50:10-52:30
Highlight: “Whenever (South Park) creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone get really excited about a quest or storyline…they start acting out the characters voices right in front of us…I wish we had a recorder turned on for that, because it’s the funniest stuff I’ve heard in a design meeting”
On “Fallout New Vegas” and Why are Obsidians NPCs SO Amazing? From 52:30
Highlight: “The way we approach characters in Obsidian, is that we try to examine the game mechanic of the title and try to make sure all of the companions you meet in the title compliment that- what I mean by that is..We look at things like “Hey New Vegas has a brand new reputation system” Once we know it’s a mechanic- we need to make sure all of the NPC’s you interactive with react to that system and compliment it in some way.”
Wednesday - April 24, 2013
Brian Fargo - The Man Who Made Fallout A Reality
It seems Brian Fargo is a busy man lately between two kickstarters, and the constant interviews. Well this time Edge-Online has a brief article about him.
One pivotal, life-changing moment of Brian Fargo’s career almost didn’t happen. Between 1994 and 1997, a motley crew of designers, creators and QA testers were working long hours for low pay on a new Interplay IP – a roleplaying game that eschewed the traditional elves and goblins in favour of a future world savaged by gun-wielding mutants and nuclear war.
Getting the game from pre-production to the shelf was an uphill struggle, with two near-cancellations and designers squabbling with marketing and executives over everything from the setting to the name. Finally, after taking an early build of this troubled-yet-promising title home for the weekend, Fargo – who founded Interplay as a programmer and game designer in 1983 – gave the game his blessing. He went to lead programmer Tim Cain and said, “You should call this Fallout.”
Fallout was a risky proposition that paid off, picking up nines and tens in reviews and spawning an equally successful sequel just a year later. But its hard-won success was more than merely a personal high point for Fargo and its designers, and Fallout became the poster child for the Interplay RPG – an expansive world in peril with plenty of backstory to uncover. “Exploration has always been the thing that motivated me in the game world,” says Fargo. “I love wondering what is around each corner, what lies inside the cave I can’t get to yet, or the meaning of a cryptic passage.”
Dark Quest - A New Turn-Based RPG
The Dark Quest website offers a debut gameplay trailer. Its a turn-based RPG that looks inspired by the HeroQuest boardgame. The game is currently available for iOS, but a Steam Greenlight campaign is underway for a Windows edition.
"Dark Quest is a turned based fantasy role playing adventure game where players assume the role of a mighty barbarian on his epic quest to destroy the forces of the evil sorcerer and save the land from evil."
Tuesday - April 23, 2013
The Dark Triad - Conspiracy Vision
Autoloot Games has a new update on the canceled kickstarter The Dark Triad. The developer has decided to rename and redesign the entire game.
Hi guys!Today we bring you great news. We can finally share our vision doc with you for Dark Triad: Conspiracy. This is a new take on the game and the old story is being rewritten from scratch, also some new game systems are being added. This will make of DTC a more engaging, deeper and meaningful experience in many senses, as we explain in the doc.Yes, we also changed the name.Most of you didn't like "Dragon's Death", besides, with the new take on the game, no dragons are to be seen... so it seems! Of all the names we added to the poll vote, you decided "Dark Triad: Conspiracy" would be the most suitable, and we also like it very much, so let's roll with it!This is the first draft of the Vision Doc and there's sure some room for improvement. Our aim is to polish it thanks to your feedback so we can release a new revision for everybody along our next KS relaunch. We'd deeply appreciate if you help us to make the game better within our resources and budget, so each opinion counts and we'll take all your comments into account.We keep working hard on the game development to bring this new vision to our next Kickstarter campaign. We will make the pitch video much better and we'll show more stuff, and also we are already in talks with a PR agency so more people can know about Dark Triad: Conspiracy. Anyhow, rest assured we will keep you up to date of any news about how things are going, and now, enjoy the reading!Here is the link:
You can also give us your feedback on the forums!
Lords of the Fallen - Releasing on PC and Next-gen Consoles
Well if anyone remembers Thomas Gop's new RPG Eurogamer has a new article on Lords of the Fallen. Just remeber the article seems to be a rough translation.
Lords of the Fallen will be "a challenging game" - an RPG a bit like Dark Souls but for PC, PlayStation 4 and the next Xbox.
CI Games, the company behind Sniper: Ghost Warrior, is in charge, although it's a separate team doing the honours - most of the work is being done by experienced German studio Deck 13.
"It's a challenging game, action RPG, which means a lot of advanced combat," he explained. "When you walk through a location, and you have to fight 10 enemies, that takes around an hour.
"When you fight in Mortal Kombat, when you fight in Tekken, that's why it takes so long - Dark Souls is probably a strong reference as well. But we've done a lot of things differently. For example, we have a skill tree. I would call Borderlands here, because we're gonna have something like action skills in the game, so classes, stuff like this.
"I would say Dark Souls, I would say Borderlands in terms of the experience of developing your character."
Gop couldn't talk about the online features of Lords of the Fallen but said the team was looking at "some of the functionality that could be called online-ish". "It's definitely going to be primarily a single-player game," though.
Right now, the Lords of the Fallen team numbers around 40. There are 30 at Deck 13 in Germany, 10 at CI Games in Poland, but the team will grow now full production is under way.
Sunday - April 21, 2013
The Black Tower - New Indie RPG
PCGamer has news of a new indie RPG called the The Black Tower.
I occasionally get nostalgic for the PlayStation-era Final Fantasy games – a feeling that generally passes when I play a PlayStation-era Final Fantasy game and find my patience tested within the first minute. Having said that, I’m intrigued by TBT: The Black Tower, an upcoming RPG with more pre-rendered backdrops and oversized swords than you can shake a bunch of Gysahl Greens at. If you understood the reference, you may proceed past the break, where I will tell you more things about this French take on a very Japanese genre.
I’m assuming TBT stands for The Black Tower (but if so, why the subtitle?), however I know that it revolves around Yan Forté, “a kind of ranger” who lives in the woods in the year 2032. There’s some business about a “strange alien Cube” and “Ellana, a young girl with a strange black Die as a pendant around the neck”, but the three-person development team is going to need to shove a few more ancient gods, magical eight-year-olds and giant yellow birds in there if they’re going to compete with the Final Fantasy series.
The Black Tower will have links to Simon Mesnard’s ASA: A Space Adventure, a Myst-esque adventure game with a similarly loose grasp on the whole subtitle thing. TBT is still very early in development, but that doesn’t mean you can’t vote for it on Steam Greenlight, await the crowdfunding campaign in May.
BlizzCon 2013 - Tickets On Sale Next Week
The BlizzCon Website has a reminder that BlizzCon 2013 tickets go on sale on Wednesday.
Remember, tickets usually go fast—so if you want to attend this year’s show, it pays to be ready prepared on the first sale date. If you miss out, you’ll get a second chance when the second batch goes on sale Saturday, April 27 at 10 a.m. PDT. In addition, tickets to an exclusive pre-BlizzCon dinner to benefit Children's Hospital of Orange County go on sale Wednesday, May 1 at 7 p.m. PDT. Visit the BlizzCon Ticket Information page for more details.
BlizzCon 2013 will take place November 8 and 9 at the Anaheim Convention Center, and tickets cost $175 USD each. Tickets to the BlizzCon Benefit Dinner cost $500 USD each and include BlizzCon admission. Even if you can’t join us at BlizzCon in person, in-depth coverage will be available at home through the BlizzCon Virtual Ticket; further details will be announced at a later date.
Indiebundle - Dungeon Crawling Bundle
Indiebundle.org has started The Hellish Dungeons Bundle. The bundle allows you to choose 3 or 5 dungeon related games redeemable through Desura. Most of games will also yield a Steam key if they are approved through Steam Greenlight.
The choice of games are listed below.
Saturday - April 20, 2013
Burnedsap - Gameplay vs Graphics
A small blog called Burnedsap has a editorial that discusses gameplay and graphics. A constant problem with many RPG's and other games.
There used to be a time when the graphics of a game would define how good it was. Every year a new game would be launched with better, more realistic graphics, and everyone knew that there had to be a point where the hardware simply wouldn't be able to cope up. There are computers which can beautifully run those heavy processor intensive games, but the average gamer cannot afford those systems. Even gaming consoles have a limit to which they can play the more graphic oriented titles.
There is a saturation point where we simply will not be distinguish the virtual world from reality. I have no doubt that in the next few iterations of the Gran Turismo series, cars will look so realistic that one will simply not be able to make out if it's real or virtual. It will be fascinating and wonderful to have a game which is indistinguishable from reality. But it might not be necessarily fun.
Friday - April 19, 2013
Worlds of Magic - There's Magic In The Air
Worlds of Magic brings news on there kickstarter. The update shows the magic system of the game, and announces the game is at 80% of there funded goal.
Hail to you, our friendly, talkative backers! Today's update opens with a bit a news and moves on to a brief explanation of something we've received a number of questions about.
The News: We passed the 80% mark!! That means we're certainly gearing up to hit at least a few stretch goals. We want to hit more than a few, however, and are doing our best to get the word out!
Now for the explanation bit: It's all about the magic system. As posted on the main KS page we have 12 magic circles or schools to choose from.
Thursday - April 18, 2013
Hammerwatch - A New Age of Gauntlet
Here is another gem this time the game is called Hammerwatch. It was brought to my attention from Steam Greenlight.
Puresophistry - Why a “Moral Choice” in Gaming Is Awful
Puresophistry wrote an article about why moral choices are terrible in games.
It’s easy to see what the developers are trying to achieve by including these sorts of choices. If each player has a different experience they’ll have more to talk about to each other, and they’re also more likely to play the game a second or third time to see how it would have panned out had they chosen differently.
You could also be forgiven for thinking that giving the player the opportunity to steer the game at certain times would add depth and meaning to it, but unfortunately the opposite is true.
In the end, it’s difficult to impart a moral choice on the player that is both meaningful and recognisable as a moral choice. In real life, moral choices are complex and often don’t have a polar divide between good and evil, or selfish and selfless for example.
In video games the choices have to be crafted so that both options are viable and reasonable, but distinct, and this is a very difficult thing to do.The result is either unrealistic choices, that are often laughably exaggerated, or similar ones where it’s not evident which is correct.
The latter are more interesting for the player, certainly, but many people feel unfulfilled because they wanted to do the right thing, but didn’t know what is was.
Unfortunately, this is the true nature of moral questions a lot of the time, so perhaps it’s not that moral problems are done badly in games, but more that we don’t want them to be done too well.
All in all it may benefit many games to leave out the moral choice system altogether and focus on the gameplay and core events of the story. Again, which branching plotlines can offer an additional level of depth and intrigue, be wary of them if you ever want to make a sequel as you’ll probably leave a decent chunk of your fan base unsatisfied.
Bonfire - Tactical Turn-Based Battle RPG
Let me introduce a game called Bonfire. Bonfire is a battle roguelike with a puzzle element. The puzzle is: “How the hell am I supposed to survive this!?”
Bonfire is what happens when you take a battle system out of an RPG, boil it down to what really matters strategically, and make it super-hard. It’s a game takes 10 minutes to learn, but hours upon hours of sweet suffering to get good at.
You form a party of three distinct heroes and use it progress through randomized quests and puzzle-like challenges. You manage your health, come up with cool strategies to get out of hopeless situations, think when to activate powerful single-use items, and improvise to get the most of your setup. Defeat comes often, but it only makes the rare victory that much sweeter. Progression unlocks more characters, allows to develop their stats, initial equipment, and further customize your strategy.
The game is set up so that every encounter and party combination requires improvisation and custom approach. All monsters are designed to break or counter different strategies, and your characters are pretty fragile. Trying to do the same thing over and over results in a quick defeat. Every turn, you must consider what’s the best action to take, depending on the encounter’s composition, your characters’ status, and what items are available. Each battle is a puzzle of its own.
Wednesday - April 17, 2013
System Shock 2 - Mod Spotlight
GameBanshee put together a System Shock 2 mod highlight article.
SHTUP--installs the high-resolution textures and fixes for in-game objects that allow the game to make the most from the large modern displays. It adds much detail to the things that surround you in the game, from potted plants, through monitor screens, up to every single graffiti.
Four Hundred--another important texture pack. It makes the game's scenery look crisp and sharp by applying high-res textures to walls, floors, doors and whatnot, while remaining quite faithful to the original mood.
Vurt's Space--for those of you who love stargazing. This mod applies nice high-res texture to the in-game windows, so you can admire the ominous beauty of the Tau Ceti system while looking through them.
SHMUP--music update! It provides the game with better quality files of the original soundtrack, so you can admire the excellent work of the composer Eric Brosius, just as he'd wanted you to hear it.
All of the above improve on the game's various aspects but don't affect the gameplay. If you don't mind to stray somewhat from the game's original feeling and concepts, there are also some mods allowing you to change such things as weapons, enemies, and AI behaviour:
ADaoB--this is a modification offering fixes to some of the original game's quirks and re-balances the gameplay. Please note that you will have to start a new game after installing, as the changes are severe enough to make the game incompatible with earlier savegames.
Rebirth--enemy models modification. It replaces the original AI models with their more detailed counterparts, that make use of modern systems' power.
GameStop - PC Spring Sales Deals
GameStop has a huge list of RPG's on the up to 75% Off spring sale. The list includes many RPG's.
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim PC DLC/Expansion packs are 50% off at GameStop.
Tuesday - April 16, 2013
Worlds of Magic - Gains Master of Magic Veteran
Destructoid brings news about Worlds of Magic. They have hired George Edward Purdy. He was Assistant Art Director, and Character Designer on Master of Magic as well the much beloved Master of Orion.
It looks like Wastelands Interactive, the developer behind Worlds of Magic, isn't just all talk when it comes to calling its new title a successor to the MicroProse classic, Master of Magic. The development team has recently been bolstered by the presence of George Edward Purdy, who was Assistant Art Director and Character Designer on Master of Magic as well the much beloved Master of Orion.
As Creative Director for Worlds of Magic, Purdy will be working on character designs as well as providing assistance to the other artists in an effort to "capture the essence" of Master of Magic. As excited as I was about the prospect of a successor to one of the ultimate 4X titles of my youth, I wasn't particularly enamoured with the art direction -- so hopefully that will change. Purdy's drawn up some basic concept art for some of the characters, which you can check out now.
As a bonus here is a teaser video of gameplay. If the video excites you don't forget there kickstarter.
The Dark Eye: Demonicon - Demo Trailer
Thanks go to Dr. A for bringing my attention to the following video. Here is a Demo trailer of The Dark Eye: Demonicon.
Take a look at The Dark Eye: Demonicon demo from GDC 2013.
The Dark Eye: Demonicon - Interview
Strategy Informer has another interview and this time it's with Demonicon's Lead Writer Daniel Hessler.
Strategy Informer: Were there any challenges involved in crafting a story that dealt with such ‘Adult’ themes? Did you encounter any resistance?
Daniel Hessler: We just did it! Kalypso gave us the opportunity to, and they agreed with what we were dong, and I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the age rating’s tell us. Basically the whole thing was about writing a good story, and about the themes that are linked to that story. The player may have some questions relating to specific scenes in the game, but these questions will be answered. Whenever there is a dark theme, it may look like a provocation but I can guarantee it’s linked to the main quest. When a subject is that closely linked, you can have different ways of showing it, so there are less challenges involved I feel. We’ve been lucky to have a good publisher!
Strategy Informer: We first saw Demonicon two years ago at GamesCom, and obviously the game has evolved a lot mechanically over the past couple of years – has the story similarly evolved?
Daniel Hessler: We re-wrote certain parts of the story and we made changes. But the basic part of the story, the core of what the game is about, has remained the same.
Strategy Informer: Obviously The Dark Eye is an established franchise – how closely did you consult with the makers of TDE with regards to the game world, and more specifically the darker tone your story takes?
Daniel Hessler: Very closely. We have a close contact with The Dark Eye producers of the pen & paper game. We’ve been publishing some texts in their periodical, and something you can do in Demonicon is read background books that relate to that pen & paper game. The thing about The Dark Eye world is that it has many variations, so you can play a classic Tolkein Fantasy, or you could play as a Viking, you can play a fencing musketeer, or something completely different. We decided to deal with the horror approach, and the horror parts of the continent in which this takes place. We thought it would be fun to do.
Source: Strategy Informer
Monday - April 15, 2013
Mass Effect Movie - Drew Karpyshyn's Opinion
Drew Karpyshyn gives his opinion on how the upcoming movie adaptation will have to make some concessions. He hopes the focus of the movie will be on humanity as the newcomer on the galactic stage.
Kotaku asked Drew Karpyshyn, the man who lead the creation of the series’ universe, what the movie should do and not do. “I know fans don’t want to hear this, but you have to remove some of the characters. I think you just have to realise we can’t tell everything that’s in the game in a two-hour movie. Some of them are just going to be cameos, like in Ocean’s Eleven. ‘Oh, that guy was in there. I don’t even remember his name, but he’s the bomb guy.’ It’s going to be a muddled mess if you don’t do that.”
“If you say ‘We want this relationship between Shepard and Liara because it parallels humanity’s relationship with the various alien species,’ then you don’t even use certain characters at that point. Now Ashley’s gone. Then people are going to go ‘Oh, Ashley’s gone. What the heck?’”
The movie version of Shepard will also present a problem, as it’s impossible to reflect the millions upon millions of different versions that exist because of character choices. “Obviously, you’re going to have to define Shepard which is going to annoy a lot of the fans. That is something you just can’t avoid as a film. You just have to bite the bullet and realize that’s going to happen,” Karpyshyn says.
Whatever concessions need to be made, Karpyshyn really hopes the main focus of the movie will be mankind’s status as a newcomer on the galactic stage. “As far as what I think they really need to leave in, for me, Mass Effect is really about this idea that humanity is the newcomer and trying to prove themselves to the other races or trying to find their place.”
“Humans as newcomers will allow you to have these different species and lets viewers react to them. Shepard is trying to find his way through as the first human Spectre. For me, I hope that’s one of the things I really hope they’re able to capture in the film if and when it ever gets made,”
Fingers crossed everyone. Drew should be the lead writer, or at least give his knowledge for the script.
Sunday - April 14, 2013
Metacritic Matters- How Review Scores Hurt Video Games
Kotaku brings an article about Metacritic and how they affect video games.
Bugs in Fallout: New Vegas might have eaten your save file. Maybe they took away a few hours of progress, or forced you to reset a couple of quests. Maybe game-crashing bugs pissed you off to the point where you wished you could get your $60 back. But they probably didn’t cost you a million dollars.
Perhaps you've heard the story: publisher Bethesda was due to give developer Obsidian a bonus if their post-apocalyptic RPG averaged an 85 on Metacritic, the review aggregation site. It got an 84 on PC and Xbox 360, and an 82 on PS3.
“If only it was a stable product and didn't ship with so many bugs, I would've given New Vegas a higher score,” wrote a reviewer for the website 1up, which gave New Vegas a B, or 75 on Metacritic's scale.
“It's disappointing to see such an otherwise brilliant and polished game suffer from years-old bugs, and unfortunately our review score for the game has to reflect that,” said The Escapist's review, which gave the game an 80.
If New Vegas had hit an 85, Obsidian would have gotten their bonus. And according to one person familiar with the situation who asked not to be named while speaking to Kotaku, that bonus was worth $1 million. For a team of 70 or so, that averages out to around $14,000 a person. Enough for a cheap car. Maybe a few mortgage payments.
Those sure were some costly bugs.
Another problem for developers: outlier scores. What happens when tons of people like a game, but for one or two reviewers, it just doesn’t click?
“The problem is the scale,” said Obsidian’s Urquhart. “There's an expectation that a good game is between 80 and 90. If a good game is between 80 and 90, and let's say an average game is gonna maybe get 50 scores, if you wanna hit that 85 and someone gives you a 35, that just took ten 90s down to 85... Just math-wise, how do you deal with that? Some guy who wants to make a name for himself can absolutely screw the numbers.”
There's plenty of more information in the article. Now do you Agree or Disagree?
Eador – Masters Of The Broken World
Erador Masters of the Broken World is a Strategy/RPG title from Snowbird. It's the sequel to the original Erador. RPS has a preview of this good game enjoy.
Eador: Masters of the Broken World will be released into our very own fractured realm later this month and I’ve spent a few hours with a preview copy and had many of my expectations defied. Is it more of a King’s Bounty than a hero’s swordsmanship and spell-biffing, or is it something entirely different? I’m still not entirely sure, but I’m looking forward to finding out.
The particular way in which Eador’s world is broken does not involve a history of imperialism, and a present of corporate colonialism and financial malfeasance. More accurately, I should say that it may well involve some of those things, but the bigger issue is one of total physical collapse. The place has done a magicsplode and is separated into shards, each now adrift in space and glittering like a jewel, presenting just the sort of challenge that demands the conquering attentions of some sort of strategic master of magic.
It’s a far more ambitious game than I expected going in and each part is appealing, but it’s also difficult to understand the thing in its entirety without more time at the table. The preview code isn’t complete (nor, I should add, does it represent the current state of the game this close to release), particularly in the campaign mode, and the biggest queries I have are to do with the progression through a full journey across the broken world. Will the sense of achievement be maintained as map after map is uncovered and controlled? Will there be a fitting sense of escalation as the other Masters are encountered and crushed? I’ll revisit as soon as all of the pieces are in place.
Remember Eador: Masters of the Broken World is out on April 19th. Preordering from Steam or GoG.com provides a copy of Eador: Genesis.
Friday - April 12, 2013
Brian Fargo - How to win at Kickstarter
Brian Fargo is interviewed at pcgamesn. He gives his opionion on how to make a successful kickstarter.
PCGN: Is it a challenge to sell a Kickstarter campaign on concept art alone? What's the worth of that artwork to you, as a developer?
BF: I like to start with the concept because there are no technical parameters, let’s just dial in the look that we have that really captures the feel of what we want to do. Then when we’ve done that we’ve set the bar really high and we can say, how do we get to that? And that drives us to push ourselves harder, and that’s how I’ve always done it. That’s why they can be meaningful when done properly.
PCGN: When you reboot these old IPs, fans often have diametrically opposed ideas about what they want the game to be. Is it a problem making sure most of your backers are satisified?
BF: Ahh, no problem at all. None! Well yeah, I mean, it’s sort of a yes and a no. You’re right, not only are you trying to build a product, you’re trying to build a product that’s often based upon their memory of what it was, and not even what it actually was. We all get fonder of things as time passes, so I recognise that we are competing with people’s memories of those games also. Not what they actually were.
The reason I have confidence is because our communication is much tighter than it’s ever been before. Back in the days when we worked on Wasteland or Fallout of Planescape: Torment, we would work on these games in a vaccum and then hope we nailed it. We’d realease it and keep our fingers crossed. Kickstarter is anything but that, we’re in this constant communication, showing them things and reacting and modifying and dialling it in. We have our own sensibilities too, we know what pillars we’re going to hit and those aren’t going to change, but they know what those are and we know what those are. It allows us a greater confidence that we’re delivering against a vision.
The other part of it is that we have an amazing writing staff on this team. It’s unbelievable, you know, we’ve got Colin McComb, Pat Rothfuss, Chris Avellone. It’s an amazing team of writers.
General News - Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
Gamebanshee brings news of a RPG/Brawler Chronicles of Mystara Fighter.
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara brings reworkings of two of Capcom’s classic arcade hits - Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow over Mystara – together in one definitive digital package for current generation platforms. Just as in the arcades, up to four players will select their character class before doing battle against the mythical beasts from the Dungeons and Dragons’ universe with a mix of melee, range and magic attacks.
General News - Agarest: Generations of War lands on Steam Greenlight
I know a small segment of watchers enjoy JSRPG's so bear with me. Agarest: Generations of War was released on the XBOX 360 last year. Now thanks to a studio called Ghostlight Ltd it's being ported to the pc with Steam Greenlight. It's there mission to bring more JRPG's to the pc worldwide.
At the dawn of time, the world of Agarest was plunged into a terrible war between the forces of good and evil. Entire races fought and died for their divine masters, ending in the total destruction of the world. The victorious Gods of light unified their defeated foes, creating a new world and sealing their broken bodies into an eternity of darkness.
With the ancient wars fading into distant memory, all have forgotten the evil slumbering beneath their feet, but the darkness remembers. It watches. It waits. The seal that held the evil for aeons is fading and war is again raging among the Kingdoms of Men.
Leonhardt, an officer in the Gridamas Army is disillusioned by the brutal war against the races of the Frontier. Coming across a young elven girl about to be killed by his men, Leonhardt betrays his own nation, selling his soul in an attempt to rescue her.
Now, Leonhardt must become the first to cross the continents since ancient times on a quest to defeat the forces of darkness and renew the seal. The dark road ahead is paved with betrayal, death and sacrifice, but the light of love and companionship will guide him on his journey.
• Choose the path of darkness or light through a truly epic story spanning 5 generations and featuring a massive 60+ hours of gameplay
• Battle hundreds of different creatures using an array of character abilities, in compelling and strategic turn-based combat
• Control the battlefield in the Extended Turn Battle System; position your team and link characters for awesome combo attacks and use your skills and items to destroy your enemies!
• Unite with your chosen heroine using the “soul breed” system and together shape the fate of the next generation of heroes
• Collect hundreds of items and weapons, and harness the power of alchemy to vastly improve equipment
• Build the ultimate army of warriors and master Extra Skills, Special Arts and Over Kills to defeat colossal enemies!
• Enjoy the vast selection of stunning cut scenes and unlock over 800 items in the in-game gallery
• Command your destiny as your actions and decisions lead you to discover the many different possible game endings. Which path to victory will you tread?
New for the PC Build
The PC version of Agarest: Generations Of War will be based on the North American Xbox 360 release and will feature Aksys Games’ excellent English text translation but will retain the original Japanese voice overs. The PC version will also feature both gamepad and keyboard/mouse support along with Steam Achievements and dozens of both free and purchasable downloadable items and additional content.
Friday - April 05, 2013
Lords of Xulima - Food and Resting
Lords of Xulima developers Numantian games have published a new post on their site about food and resting in RPGs, how it has been handled in games and how they plan to handle it.
Traditionally, characters in RPGs are healed by resting for a period of time, through the use of potions, spells or by requesting help at a temple or from priests or clerics. In many RPGs, like Wizardry or Baldur’s Gate, the only drawback to resting was that there was a possibility of being ambushed by enemies, but it was a matter of chance, so you could always just save your game and load it in case your rest was interrupted, so in practice, rest and recuperation were practically worry free.
We were inspired by Might & Magic VI and have adopted a similar mechanism. We have taken the idea a step further in order to adapt it to our game system. In Lords of Xulima, the fundamental component is Food Stocks. The food level is always displayed on the screen and lets you know how much time (in days, minutes and hours) of rest you can take before you run out of your food stocks.
How can your food stocks be used?
To recuperate all of your hit points and powers and to cure minor wounds, your party will need to rest for 8 hours. To cure the fatally wounded condition, they must rest for 24 hours. This will consume your food stocks if you rest in the wilderness, but not if you rest at an inn.
While your characters are traveling, time is passing and food stocks are being consumed. The rate at which they are consumed is affected by the type of terrain being traversed. For example, traveling through desert or snow consumes 5 times as much food as traveling over a grassy plain. An Explorer with the ability “Pathfinder” can reduce the rate of food consumed during travel. The more developed the ability the lower the rate will be. The exception to the traveling rule is that when your party is in a village or town no food will be consumed as they move.
- By certain actions:
For example, breaking a lock when you are out of picks takes time during which you consume food. The amount of time depends on the difficulty of the lock. Another example would be breaking through a barrier of ice, which could go a lot faster if only you had the right spell to melt the barrier instead.
- Other methods of consumption:
Some enemies, places and special situations can also cause you to use or lose food stocks.
Wednesday - March 27, 2013
Current Bundles including RPGs - Overview
Here's a brief overview of the current Indie bundles and their highlights:
Groupees Build a Bundle 5 - only 10 hours left:
- Nethergate: Resurrection (Spiderweb)
- Geneforge Saga (Spideweb)
- SpellForce Platinum (Phenomic)
- other notable game: Oddworld Abe's Oddysee + Exoddus
- Warlock - Master of the Arcane
- also notable: Europa Universalis 3 Chronicles
- Avadon: The Black Fortress
- No RPGs, but a strong selection of adventure games like Still Life 1 & 2 and Syberia 1 & 2
Tuesday - March 26, 2013
Sword of the Stars: The Pit - Impressions @ IndieStatik
IndieStatik has played Sword of the Stars: The Pit and share their impressions of the game.
At the end of the day, The Pit’s grand undoing is that it’s merely a fun, solid game in a genre where the competition is often completely free and of exceptional quality. Any praise is going to sound damningly weak when there are genre titans out there like TOME that aren’t asking for a penny in return. What we have here is a solid foundation that, if supported, could grow into a universally recommendable roguelike. At the moment, it’s merely a distraction – a slightly insubstantial snack between larger, more developed meals. That’s not to say that it’s a bad game by any means, just that I’m really hoping that Kerberos decide to expand The Pit over time, starting with their proposed addition of a Psionic class (even more System Shock 2 parallels?) and some new content to freshen up those samey rooms.
Thursday - March 21, 2013
Richard Garriott - Your Headline is Wrong
In order to deal with the backlash of the recent interview with PCGamer in which we learned that Lord British virtually never met a game designer that was any good, he comes with an explanation.
In it he explains that it is the press who has put his quotes out of context and they are an inaccurate representation of the intent of his full commentary.
Perhaps my statement that has been quoted so often in recent days could have been presented in a more eloquent fashion. But I stand by the point I was making, that game design is the hardest profession in our business to understand and to learn.
He also discusses again why game design is so hard to learn and that most people in game design are not good at it.
Sadly, I really do think that most people who get into design roles on a team have no more skills at design than the programmers and artists. They may not be worse, but they rarely have better training than theothers to tackle the hardest job of all, determining what game is going to be built.
Which in my opinion is the same thing as he said before, but nicer. However to be sure you should read the entire thing for the proper context.
Wednesday - March 20, 2013
Richard Garriott - Most Game Designers Suck!
Richard Garriott was interviewed by PCGamer about game design and game designers in the industry where he used statements like:
"I've met virtually no one...who I think is close to as good a game designer as I am."
"And every designer that I work with...I think, frankly, is lazy."
Fortunately this only applies to game designers Lord British actually met, so for those designers that have not met LB before you might still be good. However if you did meet him, you are lazy or suck... or both.
I'm sure he means to say it is just very hard to do well.
Besides that he also says some less controversial things.
So how does a good game designer work? Garriott went on, explaining the design process which started back with that high school writing assignment. Using a “four-dimensional spreadsheet,” Garriott says he records every character, location, and item in a game and blends them into the whole.
“OK, here’s some magic items, have I distributed them around enough?” Garriott asked himself, miming his process. “How do they migrate across the story? What is the journey of that item through the game?”
“I think it’s this discipline of how I break down storytelling—not just the story, but each region, each thread, each object, and I kind of do them all simultaneously. I kind of have a four-dimensional spreadsheet in this sense, even before there were ‘spreadsheets,’ that’s how I broke them down in the beginning.
Tuesday - March 19, 2013
Lords of Xulima - Death in Party Based RPGs
In a blog on the Lords of Xulima website death in party based RPGs is discussed including an explanation on how this is handled in the game.
The group DOES NOT automatically recover at the end of combat.
Every fight counts, every trap activated and every wound inflicted. Actions, of whatever type, should have consequences, good or bad. Every encounter should be engaging and meaningful and require strategy on the part of the player to obtain the best possible outcome.
If ALL characters die, the game is OVER!
This can happen in combat, through traps or if the party decided to try to walk through lava and didn’t make it…
There is no death and resurrection of individual characters
If a character loses all his hit points he remains in a state called “defeated” and his portrait will turn gray. This character can walk and talk, but cannot engage in combat or perform actions such as lock picking or spell casting, until their hit points have been restored to a positive number. The game is novel in this aspect; the characters can have negative hit points (up to their maximum value of hit points). So, it will be more costly to revive seriously damaged characters (it will require more spells, potions or rest).
Defeated characters will suffer penalties
When a character has lost all of their hit points they are then assigned the condition “Fatally Wounded”. Even when they recover their hit points through rest, magic or potions, they will suffer penalties to defense, combat speed, attacks and skill actions. The effects will last until the condition has been cured. To recover from this condition, characters need to rest for an entire day, drink a special potion or be cured by a grand cleric (the cleric may be part of the group or the party can use the services of a temple if they are able to provided sufficient donations)
The Player Decides…
In Lords of Xulima you will frequently have your characters fall defeated in combat or other dangerous situations, but that’s not the end of the game, far from it. The player has many options, like resting in the wilderness (a dangerous risk), seeking refuge in a town, curing party members with spells and potions, or continuing on with the survivors. Each player will be able to develop their own strategy. There may be many situations where characters being defeated is inevitable. You may decide to walk across lava to obtain an ancient artifact, or run through a poisonous cloud to escape a giant serpent, the choice is yours…the only thing truly fatal is losing all of your characters at once.
Tuesday - March 12, 2013
Deathfire - Guido Henkel's New Baby
After the cancelled Thorvalla kickstarter Guido Henkel started working on something else; a RPG going with the temporary title Deathfire. The game is being designed in Unity and besides Guido two other persons are working on this game. One of them is Marian Arnold who worked on Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity and also did the artwork on the extensive strategy guide for Beyond Divinity of which I was one of the authors. The other is Thu-Lieu Pham who did the artwork for Thorvalla.
There is not much info on the game, but we will likely see more in the near future.
I’ve decided from the outset that I will be using Unity3D for the game. As you can tell from previous posts and some of my tweets, I have become a big Unity fan, as it puts all the right development tools at my disposal at a price point and level of quality that is unbeatable. The package has not let me down once so far – though I would like to say that 3D object import could be improved quite a bit.
Deathfire is using a first-person 3D role-playing environment, and I am glad that we can rely on the muscle of Unity to make sure that we do not have to limit ourselves because the technology can’t keep up. Unity may not be a bleeding edge engine, but it can sure play ball with the best of them, and the fact that it is so incredibly well thought-through, makes developing with Unity a lot of fun. More importantly, we can focus on creating the game, instead of the technology to run it on.
I know, you may have a lot of questions now, about the game. What, when, where, how… I’ll get to all that some time later down the line. For now, however, I simply want you to let the info sink in, and hopefully you’ll be as excited as we are. Visit this blog regularly. I plan on sharing more of Deathfire with you as time goes on. In fact, after some deliberation, I’ve decided that I will cover the development process like a production diary of sorts, right here on my blog. And also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@GuidoHenkel) for a constant vibe-meter as to what I am up to.
Source: RPG Codex
Monday - March 11, 2013
Sword of the Stars: The Pit - Review @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee has a rather positive review of the roguelike Sword of the Stars: The Pit.
The Pit gives you three character classes: Marine, Scout and Engineer, which roughly equate to fighter, rogue and mage archetypes were this a fantasy title. Each class starts out with different attribute and skill distributions, and they also have unique starting equipment. Ergo, the Marine is brawnier than the others, but also dumber, has combat-focused skills, and starts out with an assault rifle and several grenades; the Engineer is the polar opposite, carrying minimal weaponry to start, but making up for it with more computer hacking tools, repair devices, and a skill distribution favoring brains and working with technology; the Scout sits somewhere in between and could be described as a sharpshooter with survival training.
The Pit doesn't have the most extensive list of attributes and skills compared to some other games in its genre, but it has more than enough to get the job done. The three core attributes are Might, Brains and Finesse - Might affects your hit points, food consumption, resistance to poison, inventory carrying capacity, etc.; Brains affects most non-combat skills, makes you more resistant to mental status effects such as confusion, etc.; and Finesse deals with coordination-based skills (weapon accuracy, trap detection and disarming) as well as countering status effects like blindness. When you level up, you're able to distribute points to increase these, but you won't get so many points that you'll be able to make up for your character's weaknesses entirely, and you may stunt your growth if you try to do so.
Sunday - March 10, 2013
Dungeon Gate - Demo Available
On the Greenlight page of Dungeon Gate the news can be found that a demo of the game is now available. In case you, like me, don't know what this game is about, maybe this description and video helps.
*** Play with more than 30 characters ***
*** Drain the DNA of any creatures in the world, play and upgrade it ***
RPG/Adventure with more than 30 characters to upgrade
Huge open world to explore + 5 Dungeons with traps, puzzles and challengig fights
30 characters to drain, play with and upgrade and more
30 customizable levels per character
25 hours of gameplay and more
PC and Mac
Concept Game :
RPG Dungeon Gate is different. You can not equip your character. You must drain the DNA of creatures to use their equipment, power or capacity.
Why do you shapeshift? Because it will take you deep in the game. You're too weak to fight or you want infiltrate an enemy camp, drain the DNA of one of them and you turn them. Beings too tall to access a passage, drain the DNA of a small creature to pass. You must transform into different creatures through the adventure. You can drain the DNA of all living things in the game, even dungeon bosses.
Open World, you can walk as you want in a large valley, visiting several houses and villages. You will pass through five dungeons in the game dungeons with five different environments and different gameplay.
List of some possible transformation :
- Giant Spider
- Giant Scarab
- Dark Guardian
- Cassius Robot
Once Upon a time…
The story takes place in the besieged world of Barrilian, which is being devastated by the dragon hordes. In small village, pillaged and left to burn, not one soul was spared except for two babies; one recovered by the dragons and the other by a mysterious mage…
20 years later, a vicious tyrant has taken over the people of Barrilian, forcing them into slavery by using the influence he has over the dragons. By making the people extract precious stones from mines which enhance his magical skills, the citizens are unwillingly witnessing the gain of magical strength in the dictator.
A young man named Dysan will perhaps change everything…
Friday - March 08, 2013
Dark - Preview @ Strategy Informer
A preview of the 'vampire stealth game with some RPG in it' Dark can be found at Strategy Informer.
Dark is very much a back-to-basics game, and the developers have tried very hard to recapture the ‘root’ of the stealth game. Despite my previous protestations, the cell-shaded look combines with the comic-book style perfectly, presenting the player with a highly stylised world that’s not boring. As for the stealth part – it’s all down to you. There are no guns for Eric Bane (protagonist, voiced by Geralt of Rivera) to use, no weapons... you simply have to use your natural strength and guile, as well as the array of Vampire abilities you can unlock over time. Vampire abilities range from doing a shadow leap – going from one spot another instantaneously, to Vampire vision so you can scout out the area. Abilities require blood points to use, which you can get by feeding on moral enemies as we’ve just mentioned. A standardised RPG system allows you to level up and develop, and offers some flexibility in terms of what route you take.
Wednesday - March 06, 2013
Lords of Xulima - Pre-Made vs. Custom Characters
The Lords of Xulima blog has been updated with the characters in Lords of Xulima and how they are created.
When originally conceived, all 6 of the characters were completely pre-made and each had its own personality. Conversations were written for the characters and they had dialogs that were at times intense and dramatic and sometimes touching. The characters were written to evolve throughout the story. Personally, I can’t recall another game where this has been carried out to such an extreme. The characters truly came to life and communicated their emotions.
However, I felt this was betraying the spirit of the old school. I think a fundamental aspect of these games is the way they allow the player to create their own characters in a fashion that I think is lost in many modern games. So with this in mind I decided to do away with the original narrative direction for the characters and take out the conversations and feelings that had been included with the pre-made party.
Saturday - March 02, 2013
Lord British - Countdown
Lord British Presents is a countdown teaser with a little under 6 days to go as I write until...? Based on various comments he has made over time, this will be some sort of social MP game but I know some readers will want to watch. Here's a tweeted image to whet your appetites:
Source: Blues News
Dark - Trailer
Kalypso has released a trailer for their upcoming vampire stealth/action/RPG, Dark:
Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Wednesday - February 27, 2013
The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death - Introduction to Two NPCs
Information on two party members that can be part of your party in The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death found its way to our mailbox.
This small, slippery halfling has become part of the Saviors group by the highest merits - merits according to the Half-Ssized cultural and military standards of course- Being such land the most peaceful of the Gléah Lands, the mentioned standards are things as peculiar as being able to swallow as many mapplepies per hour as possible, running with one single foot during four miles without halting to rest and also disappearing from the audience without using magic, even any halfling would love to learn some magic tricks.
No matter if this race abhors killing animals to feed their bodies, they are not so forgiving when it’s about perpetrating such ominous deed against orks sneaking near the shores of their Islands -even they would not dare to eat such evil flesh!-. Barton has outperformed the vast majority of requirements to be considered amongst the citizens as the Ork Scourge.
Few is known about Barton's past. Only his father's death by an Ork axe explains his uncontrollable hatred towards the halflings natural enemies.
"Barton, from the Half-Sized Islands, also known as the Ork Scourge. You avenged your father long time ago, but your heart hasn't yet found peace..."
The members of the Elven Council at Oniria have appointed this slender, sculptural elf to join the Saviors on his quest. This last minute decision of the Council to join forces with the Gilgegard Empire obeys to the bidding of a former loyal Alliance, when humans and elves fought side by side against the Agaroth Hordes. Leindal is captain of the Moonless Night Wizards, an army that alone retrieved the cities of Mayreia, Adlaeiht, and Galinh in only seven days without any support units.
A fact not known to many, when Leindal was yet a child under the Order of the Divine Cosmic Triad, he took the bow of not killing any life form...
Even his bravery and imperturbable attitude during the battle, some say that he never sleeps at night as penitence for having broken his early childhood oath. The Moonless Night banner actually symbolizes the inner state of those wizards whose destiny is to live under the recurrent grief for past deeds while at the same trying to assist others in need to bring peace to their lives.
"And you are Leindal, Captain of the Moonless Night Wizards. Your brotherhood is not allowed to kill any living form. You know what you expose to on this mission, things can only get worse for you..."
Monday - February 25, 2013
Telepath Tactics - February Update
Craig Stern informed us of the February update for Telepath Tactics, the indie tactical RPG with mod support and local multiplayer that he is developing, which offers amongst others this:
- New title screen art!
- New music!
- New attack animations!
- The map editor now has a built-in dialog editor for crafting your own dialog trees!
- New dialog scripting capabilities!
- The ability to freeze water and form destructible ice bridges!
- An improved interface!
Furthermore Telepath Tactics is going to be in The Indie MegaBooth at PAX East, which should give the game more press coverage.
And finally he will Kickstart the game again in mid-March using a different strategy and synchronizing it with PAX East and an updated alpha demo to have a better chance in succeeding.
Friday - February 22, 2013
Egosoft Open Letter to the Community about X on Steam, Linux, etc.
Egosoft's managing director Bernd Lehan posted an open letter to the community in their forums. He talks in open and precise language about their policy regarding Steam, long term support, a non-Steam .exe for X3: Albion Prelude (already available!), Linux & Mac conversions, Steam's Big Picture Mode and Egosoft's business strategy.
Here's a quote:
Steam Play (Linux and Mac):
Today when we talk of "PC Games", we no longer ONLY mean Windows. For some time already, both Mac OS and Linux have become valid alternatives. External partners ported our games over to MAC and Linux and sold them as a new product, sometimes for a different price. Unfortunately these externally developed ports had a number of problems for us as a developer as well as for our customers:
For the customer: Should you ever switch to a different operating system and want to continue playing our games, you had to buy the game again.
For the developer: Since the porting is not based on a single set of source code, it gets increasingly expensive to develop updates for all platforms.
Steam's solution to this problem is quite radical and customer-friendly. Steam encourages all developers to turn their titles into so-called "Steamplay" games, where versions for all operating systems are part of just one product. You buy it once and you can play it on all operating systems that the developer supports. This even works if you bought a game for windows in the past and the developer adds support for another operating system later.
Announcement 1: Steam play: X3 games on Linux and Mac
EGOSOFT is currently working on porting all X3 games (X3: Reunion, X3: Terran Conflict and X3: Albion Prelude) natively to both Linux and Mac OS. There will be a transition period in which we phase out the older ports by 3rd parties, but our goal is to make all three versions available under "Steamplay" for all customers. This means that everybody who owns a Windows license on Steam will automatically own all three versions!
German equivalent found via GamersGlobal.
Thursday - February 21, 2013
The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death - Introduction to Combat
More detailed information on combat in The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death was delivered to our mailbox:
The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death will showcase a turn-based combat system, where the player can select his party members on each turn and perform movements, attacks, or many other feats against his enemies.
Turn-based combats are an essential element in TDT:DD. When a combat starts, the player will be able to choose the degree of strategy or action desired and also define, if he wishes, the speed, difficulty or other options to adjust the combat to his personal preferences.
Tactical elements during the combat
Besides normal attacks, one important element during the combat is what can be done during the current turn in order to improve the attack on the next turn (a kind of piling up effect). Analyzing the emerging gameplay of this element, we realized that it added interest to the combat dynamics. This ‘accumulating powe'r feature will enhance attack and defense on later turns, and thus will add an important tactical component. This won't only influence the result of the current turn but also the new mecanichs and rules that will emerge along with it during the rest of the fight. For example, you can choose a skill boost for the next turn. This implies concentrating and therefore losing the current turn. So you lose this character's outcome on the current turn but gain an extra bonus for the next one ... but everything has a price, and we will talk about it in another update (Chaos Factor)
Skills & Specializations
The importance of skills and spells in TDT:DD is crucial. We could say that we've created a system so focused on the skills, that each one of them has an essential role in the value of a class.
Each skill have its own specializations, so you can create hundreds of combinations and be able to build very many different and interesting models of the same class to play with. For example, we have a Blue Mage that specializes in healing and summoning clones of himself, one of the strongest abilities in the game. He can also focus on damage over time (DOT), draining life from enemies. Or maybe he'll can become an expert in crowd control (teleportation of friends and enemies in the battlefield, etc ...). All this is possible because each of these skills are associated with specializations. This interwoven links allow to create a great web of relationships within the same skill.
Our goal with combat
Our primary goal with turn-based combat is immersion and fun. We know there are players who prefer to stop for a moment and enjoy a good tactical component. We know there are other players who prefer to play more aggressive and fast, without halting to consider those tactical aspects. We've tried to find a balance and give players the best of both worlds without mixing both playstyles.
We want TDT:DD turn-based combat to make a difference gameplay and engagement-wise. The level of risk will be largely determined by the player himself and above all, by the great variety of encounters and enemies. We are working on a formula so there can be huge battles in which the player -through an appropriate mix of party-member skills and risk factor) can effect devastating attacks and wreak havok among the enemies.In future updates I'll talk about more aspects of the combat, IA, encounters with enemies, skills, spells and much more.
Sony Announces Playstation 4
Sony announced the PS4 for Christmas this year at a huge event last night. You can find the official PR on every other website. We'll give you a brief summary instead:
- The PS4 is basically a mid-price PC with an 8 core AMD CPU, 8 GB RAM, a mainstream AMD graphics chip and a Blu-Ray ROM drive.
- It will allow streaming of game content with the simple press of a button.
- All the internet stuff and social media crap no one needs is supported.
- Every publisher except MS supports the PS4 and thinks it's the bestest thing evar ... or at least until MS announces the XBox 720.
- Used games can be played! Sony will not force the user to lock them to his account.
Wednesday - February 20, 2013
Lords of Xulima - Announcement of A 2D RPG
Numantian Games send us word of their first video game, currently in development called Lords of Xulima. It is an isometric, turn-based, single-player 2D role-playing game and according to them features a challenging vast world where the player has to command and create a six characters party in an epic story between gods and men. Also:
It is a game inspired in old-schools classics like Ultima, Might and Magic, Wizardry (epic story and turn based combat), with some touches of Heroes of Might and Magic (like the exterior map view and static guardian monsters) and even Final Fantasy X (with dynamic queue of turns in combat).
You can find more information at:
And support them with your vote in their Steam Greenlight campaing.
Very soon, a blog will start about the development and RPGs mechanisms in general.
And here is the trailer:
Tuesday - February 19, 2013
General News - The Use of Previews
In an editorial on Gamasutra the question what a preview of a game is for is asked. The intro describes things nicely:
The traditional game preview event is a no-win situation. On one hand, it's interesting to get an early look at what a studio's been up to, hear them talk about their goals, see some examples of the work in progress. On the other hand, the process is so tightly-controlled that the only possible outcome is usually that we, the press, dutifully hand forward to our audience only what a company wants them to see.
What can one learn about a long-form, interactive product from standing at a plush, crowded display for prescribed minutes, directed through a sequence by a "helpful" marketing professional? That's when we are allowed to touch it at all, which is rare.
The consumer press watches theoretical gameplay segments that have been carefully prepared for the preview day. These demonstrations are bookended by one-sided conversations: An executive proffers canned statements, lists the names of writing talent intended to engender our confidence, sketches out the promise -- and it's our job to convey that promise to our readership. Often we do this without asking questions. Often we are only allowed to ask so many.
The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death - Pre-Kickstarter Campaign
In a month from now The Dark Triad: Dragon's Death should be launched on Kickstarter. because of that the devs have moved the game to the main section of Greenlight.
At the moment there is no gameplay yet to be seen so this appears to be a quite early move, but this is their reasoning behind it:
Why we did it this move so early when we can't show a gameplay demo yet? That's because in a month, mid-March, we'll launch a Kickstarter campaign so rpg gamers can help us to continue with the development of the game, and want to generate a bit of awareness.
That would also be the time a basic gameplay video is available. The name has been changed as well from Akhazal Quest to Dragon's Death.
For more information you can also visit their website.
Monday - February 18, 2013
Groupees BMA Bundle Includes Eschalon 2 and Two Worlds 2
The current Groupees Be Mine Anniversary bundle includes two games we cover: Escalon Book 2 and Two Worlds 2. Bonus is, amongst others, the Two Worlds 2 sound track composed by our forum member Glorian.
Minimum is $1, the whole thing costs at least $5.
The Kickstarter Promise @GamersGlobal
German site GamersGlobal published a thorough article explaining the results of the author's study of a huge sample of all gaming Kickstarters so far, including all 114 finished in January 2013. The piece includes detailed numbers and many conclusions, and deals with topics like risk, PayPal and star power.
Here's a random German quote. If you are a developer who considers to run a Kickstarter campaign, feeding the whole article into Babel Fish will save you days of research.
In der Gaming-Landschaft hat sich Kickstarter mittlerweile als feste Größe etabliert. Doch durch die Natur der Sache – unterstützt werden Spiele, die dann in der Regel allermindestens ein Jahr brauchen, um entwickelt zu werden – lässt sich noch gar nicht abschätzen, ob die Hype-Plattform auch zu spielenswerten Titeln führt. Kein einziges VIP-Projekt ist bislang erschienen (Giana Sisters war, wie geschrieben, bei Kampagnenstart bereits weitgehend fertig). Und das Beispiel Code Hero dürfte nur das erste bekannte von mehreren ins Schlingern geratenen Projekten sein. Denn wenn einem per Kickstarter finanzierten Projekt das Geld ausgeht, ist eben kein Publisher im Hintergrund, der im Notfall bereit ist, weiteres Geld zuzuschießen (das er sich dann später ja wiederholt). Dann ist im Zweifel nichts mehr da, und die von tausenden Spielefans gezahlten Dollar führen entweder zu einem vorschnell herausgehauenen, enttäuschenden Spiel – oder im schlimmsten Fall zu gar nichts. In den letzten Monaten scheint uns zudem die Masse nicht sonderlich interessanter Kleinprojekte zuzunehmen.
Thursday - February 14, 2013
Ravensdale - Interview @ Gamers.de
Once there was Spellbound Studios who worked on ArcaniA and on Ravensdale. ArcaniA was released and we all know how that went. With the insolvency of Spellbound the RPG Ravensdale was thought to be lost, however now there is Black Forest Games, founded by people from Spellbound studios who are continuing development on the game.
However the game went from a first-person action RPG to a multi-player, tactical heavy survival and conquer game in an Over-the-Top-Petrol-Punk-Setting as Steam-Punk apparently didn't really went down well with publishers.
In any case it is no longer an RPG, so I won't be following this and just mention it because it once was.
Monday - February 11, 2013
The Future of RPGS - - According to Urquhart and Muzyka
Eurogamer has a summary of a DICE 2013 talk from Feargus Urquhart and Ray Muzyka on "the next step for RPGs". Apparently social aspects will be even more important in the future:
"You could imagine online gameplay modes in the future that could work with a single-player game, like ghosting or seeing other players' characters - being able to play with other players' characters in an asynchronous multiplayer mode - or seeing achievements," he said.
"We've had ideas at Obsidian from the standpoint of why can't you share your world map with your friends?" Urquhart remarked. "If there's different ways to play the game, good and evil, why can't you look at how your friend is doing the quests, how the world is doing the quest - how are people in America or Europe... What's the ebb and flow of that?
"We always thought it would be really interesting to - instead of having to go to a website or having to go somewhere else, it's actually in the game," he added. "I can go into the game and look at my friend's characters and then see the trinkets, see the weapons and get information about where they got that.
"It's almost like putting the water cooler into the game."
Friday - February 08, 2013
Van Helsing - How monsters are born
Neocore has a blog post and some concept art on the development of monsters in Van Helsing:
A monster has several "parents" because every phase in the creating process belongs to another person.
Conception: First of all the narrative designer and the producer discuss with the concept artist what kind of characters the game needs. The monsters must be suitable to the game's universe and be skillful in the battles.
Modeling: Modeling is about creating a 3D model from a drawing. In the gallery below you can see more raw figures, still without textures. It's quite similar to making plasticine sculptures.
Texturing: Monster texturing is the very best job in the world because it's exciting and amusing! (In my opinion.) The monsters can be disgustingly slimy or cankerous or scaly or luminous, so there are several variations. The little details make lovely a character.
Animation: It's not difficult to make a monster move. But to make it move with life and spirit is a more complicated task. The unique movements give unique personality to each character.
Voice recording: There is still something missing for the perfect production. The voices! The sound designer records the voices in our own sound studio mostly with professional voice actors or sometimes with a team member. Grumbling, rattling, yowling or barking....everybody is good at something. :)
Wednesday - February 06, 2013
Age of Wonders 3 - Announced by Triumph
After a number of teases, Triumph Studios has finally unveiled Age of Wonders 3, which is scheduled to be released Autumn 2013. From Eurogamer:
Dutch studio Triumph (Overlord) is bringing the Age of Wonders strategy RPG series back to life with Age of Wonders 3.
Triumph co-created the series with Epic Games in 1999. The last instalment in the series was Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic in 2002.
Triumph is targeting an autumn 2013 release for Age of Wonders 3 on PC, but won't force it if it's not ready. There are plans for a Mac version - maybe even to launch simultaneously - but these aren't set in stone. Later on, a tablet version may appear.
It's not a Kickstarter project - work began in 2010 before the Kickstarter boom - and it doesn't have a new-age business model. Age of Wonders 3 has high production values and will be sold on Steam and Good old Games and in boxes in regions where that's appropriate.
Thanks, komandos1983! Screens and a trailer are available at the Eurogamer link.
Thursday - January 31, 2013
Dungeon Gate - February Release for UK
I can't actually remember if we've covered ths before but German publisher UIG sends word that Dungeon Gate will launch in the UK in February - presumably other territories will be a similar time:
UIG Entertainment announce UK release of Dungeon Gate
Step forth to save the world of Barrilian in February 2013
Munich, Germany –January 30th 2013; Established German publisher, UIG Entertainment have today announced Dungeon Gate, a fantasy role-playing game for PC releasing in the UK in February 2013.
Set in the desolated and vast world of Barrilian, the once prosperous land has been destroyed and left in ruin by dragon hordes years previously. Now, Barrilian’s people remain enslaved by a vicious sorcerer, yielding his influence over the dragons to impose his absolute rule. The population are forced to work in the enchanted stone mines, extracting the very minerals that enhance their oppressor’s magical powers and increase his hold over them. Amid the despair steps forth a young unlikely hero named Dysan whose destiny may change everything.
Explore this expansive and beautifully crafted game world, packed with diverse quests, over 40 characters and an enthralling storyline, delivering a compelling Role-Playing Game experience for fans of the genre and newcomers alike. Dungeon Gate will be available Q1 2013 on PC.
You can check out an old, awful trailer here.
Wednesday - January 30, 2013
General News - Voting with your Wallet
In an editorial on Rock, Paper, Shotgun the concept of 'voting with your wallet' is explored taking the recent demise of THQ and potenitally future demise of Gas Powered Games as carriers for the story talking about the downside of it.
It’s never easy to say goodbye.
Sometimes, though, acceptance comes quickly. All good things must come to an end, after all. But watching THQ go from slow tailspin into inescapable nosedive last week just left me with this wretched knot in my gut. It felt equal parts unreal and all wrong. I mean, here was this fixture of the gaming industry responsible – especially in recent years – for some games I legitimately fell in love with (oh Metro 2033, Red Faction: Guerrilla, and Saints Row: The Third, let me count the ways) crashing and burning. And I was powerless to do anything about it. So I just looked on from the sidelines as a vulture storm of other publishers lapped up the remains.
Here’s the thing, though: much as it tears me up to see super talented heads roll, the part that really bothered me concerned THQ as an organization. Because ultimately, it did a whole, whole, whole lot of things right. Or at least, its publishing choices were correct by our traditional, gamerly views of correctness. I mean, the Activisions of the world steer clear of risk and novelty with the cold, calculated expertise of a professional figure skater. An evil figure skater. But while THQ certainly wasn’t innocent of dipping its bucket into a well of stagnation (hi, Homefront), it certainly did its fair share of rolling the dice. Metro 2033 was a shot in the dark, Saints Row evolved into a gloriously unique rainbow cocaine explosion of pure madness, reviving Company of Heroes in a climate where RTSes are (depressingly) near-dead financially may have been madness, etc.
But it died. It died horribly, a fact that can mainly be chalked up to one awful business decision. Kid-friendly doodle peripheral uDraw failed miserably on Xbox 360 and PS3, and – for a company that needed a boost while the digital era forced everyone out of their comfort zones – it was the beginning of the end.
General News - Best of 2012 @ RPGamer
Xenoblade Chronicles is a massive game. Hearing gamers talk about spending over a hundred hours playing it is somewhat intimidating and might even scare some away, but whatever you do don't let it. Xenoblade is a fantastic experience filled with dynamic and loveable characters, a gigantic world to explore, a story full of twists and turns, and a real-time battle system to tie everything together. And it's worth every minute you spend with it. Those first few hours might be overwhelming with all of the quests that get thrown at you and trying to figure out how best to juggle skills in combat, but once you get your head wrapped around Xenoblade's depth, there is so much there, and it's all wonderful.
What's incredible is how close North America came to never getting Xenoblade Chronicles. It was first revealed quietly in 2009 via a trailer tossed into an E3 press kit with no further details. Shortly thereafter, it was renamed from Monado: The Beginning of the World to Xenoblade in Japan where it was finally released in 2010. After much debate on whether the game would ever see an English release, Nintendo of Europe stepped up and localized the game in 2011. Many North American RPGamers imported the UK version, a fan campaign began petitioning Nintendo of America to release the game, and eventually everything fell into place early in 2012 when NoA launched Xenoblade to a limited retail release.
While the game has a few issues, especially the clumsy UI, there is just so much it does right that it's hard to complain. The world is huge and you get rewarded in experience points simply for exploring and finding new areas. Quests are often streamlined where once you find all the items someone sent you out into the wilderness to hunt down, you automatically obtain your quest reward on the spot without having to backtrack. But if you ever want to travel back to a prior location, you only need to bring up the map and select any prior landmark and you're there. Not to mention you can save anywhere, which is nothing new to the Western RPG world, but is more the exception than the norm for Japanese-developed RPGs. All of these things combine to create a masterful experience that takes the top spot as RPGamer's RPG of the Year for 2012.
Second place is this year goes in a slightly different direction. Borderlands, while a visually impressive and solid quest-oriented first-person-shooter, was not without some issues. This grandiose title featured a clunky inventory system, predictable AI, and a story so thin that it raised more eyebrows than questions. Thankfully, Borderlands 2 manages to improve nearly all of the negatives that were holding the original sandbox shooter back while retaining the fun multiplayer-oriented nature and violence that brought it notoriety in the first place. Not much has actually changed about Pandora itself, but with the Vault now open the story has a chance to take center stage. Player characters, antagonists, and NPCs now feature robust personalities, and the level of humor for everything from minor quests to Achievements has been cranked to the max. Additional players mean more loot and more fun, new guns mean cooler UIs and more impressive kills, and of course Claptrap makes a grand return. This is one sequel that manages to do everything a sequel should.
In a year with a number of epic-length console contenders, who would have guessed that this little DS crossover strategy title would land in the top three? The wide appeal and easy accessibility of Pokémon Conquest led it to rate highly amongst the RPGamer staff. Pokémon fans found Conquest to be a fresh take on the series, while Nobunaga's Ambition fans appreciated the lighthearted take on their favourite characters. The addictive combination of quick battles and a huge amount of content led to many, many staff hours being poured into Pokémon Conquest. Activity Log doesn't lie, man.
This reminds me I have to upload the articles from our GOTY contest.
Friday - January 25, 2013
General News - Complexity of Designing a RPG
On Gamasutra Jordane Thiboust discusses what makes it so complex to create a RPG with the right user experience.
The RPG genre is a complex one. I've always known this, but I never realized just how much until recently. Beyond the complexity of the mechanics, the multiple systems, and the narrative, I noticed that what makes the RPG genre complex is focusing on, and nailing, the player experience.
I really started noticing this during the pre-production of a project I was working on. A lot of feedback or suggestions would be misguided because of the misconception that whatever was brought to our my attention was "RPG stuff."
The reason behind this is that the term "RPG" is used to describe lots of games, and it is easy to overlook the fact that some of those games have a completely different goal for their player experience. That's the hardest part; narrowing down that experience, asking yourself "What will drive the player for 30-plus hours?" and sticking to it... Instead of simply adding every RPG feature that you can think of.
For that reason, I found out that it is extremely important to subdivide the RPG genre by the experience of each subgenre and focus on, and then clearly decide, which of those subgenres you are aiming for.
Thursday - January 24, 2013
Upcoming RPGs of 2013 - @ RPG Site
Bob points out RPG Site's Upcoming RPGs of 2013, with a mix of western and jRPG choices:
Mistborn (PC, Mac, 360, PS3)
Release Date: Fall 2013
Developer: Little Orbit
Synopsis: Based on the series of popular fantasy novels by author Brandon Sanderson, Mistborn is set several hundreds of years before the first book. In a dark and dangerous world dominated by the immortal demon Lord Ruler, there are a select number of individuals who can use powerful magic known as Allomancy. This rule-based ability grants users to temporarily enhance their physical and mental capabilities by ingesting and “burning” pieces of metal. Those who are only able to burn a single metal are called Mistings, and those that can burn all metals are called Mistborn, the most powerful of their class. Fendin “Fiddle” Fathvell is a pretentious young nobleman who after realizing he himself possessed the powers of Allomancy must master them before a foreboding force destroys his family.
Worth Noting: Brandon Sanderson is already an accomplished author who not only penned the entire series of novels and will be doing the writing on Mistborn, but who also worked on Infinity Blade II and Infinity Blade: Awakening. He also took over for Robert Jordan after his passing to finish the wildly popular Wheel of Time series. Little Orbit may have very little experience as a game developer in the industry having only worked on a handful of titles few have ever heard about, but it will be interesting to see what they can come up with on a bigger budget.
Wednesday - January 23, 2013
General News - A Recipe for Dungeon Crawlers
In a blog post on Dungeon Crawlers the recipe for making them work is given. So if you ever wondered how that is done, check it out.
This is my dissection of the game genre and what in my point of view are the pillars of what makes a dungeon crawler a great dungeon crawler.
1. Well Defined Goal
Since the beginning that the player needs to know the reason of his quest. Of course there will be numerous loot and monsters to slay, but there needs to be a main purpose that will drive the player during the entire game. Generally, the reason for the quest is one of the three “R’s”: Revenge, Retrieval and Rescue. Look back to all the dungeon crawlers you played in the past, and you will see that in some sort of shape and form they adhere to the three “R’s” rule.
The environment needs to be consistent across all levels, in order to not break player immersion. If you are creating a medieval/fantasy game, do not throw to the mix cultural references from other ages. Do not mix medieval with Renaissance or Victorian and vice-versa. Keep a unifying theme that is believable for the player, because if you break that consistency you may well be ruining the players play experience.
3. Over-Arching Goal
In order to establish the setting for the game, it’s extremely important that there is a common link across all the enemies that the player will find in the game. They may all come from the same region in the world, or they may all be minions of the same master villain. What is important is that there is a common, unifying theme for the enemies, which blends with the world lore.
4. Traps & Puzzles Galore
A dungeon crawler is not a dungeon crawler if you don’t find traps and puzzles everywhere. Besides adding tension and challenge for players, they are also great reward mechanisms. When the player spends time trying to figure out how to avoid an encounter with a creature, and then he is able to successfully circumvent that encounter… That is a great moment. The player will feel he is incredibly smart, and the adrenalin boost will provide him with more excitement than if he had confronted the creature directly.
When designing a dungeon crawler, you can never leave space for the players to breath. They must be constantly faced with new challenges (walking through empty labyrinths without nothing to do is not that exciting, don’t you agree?). Whether they are enemy encounters, traps or puzzles, keep the flow of content quick. Design it so that when the player finishes one problem, he is almost instantly introduced to a new one. Keep the players on the edge of their seat.
General News - Good Violence in Games
In the never ending discussion on violence in games, Gamasutra weighs in with an editorial on 5 approaches to have 'good' violence in video games.
When, from a design standpoint, does violence "work"?
When it's necessary to the narrative. Some of the moments in games that are most widely remembered and appreciated involve acts of violence, like the plot climax of BioShock or the end of Metal Gear Solid 3 -- cases where the player is asked or forced to execute a death in a way that enhances the story.
When an act of violence is a crucial part of a game's story (assuming the story's well-established), the player naturally takes ownership of the action and its implications. That sense of agency is supposed to be one of the strengths of interactive entertainment, so it makes sense to be judicious with it.
Giving players the opportunity to perform any action in a very specific and intentional context virtually requires players to think about what they're doing and be engaged.
Tuesday - January 22, 2013
Van Helsing - What is the senior programmer up to?
The Neocore devblog has a new entry on the work of the senior game programmer, for those following this hack'n'slasher:
Robi created the objects that we use in the game, so it is his responsibility to deal with the appearance and the functionality of everything that you will be interacting with in the game world, when you destroy chests, interact with NPCs, open doors and switch between levels.
The functionality of the quests is his responsibility as well, mostly coding the conditions required to accomplish these tasks or writing special scripts and developing the quest interfaces.
Sometimes he helps out with the programming of the behaviour patterns that some monsters use, like the retreating tactic of the ranged fighters or the use of the resurrection skill that the necromancer-like Pale Gentlemen use, or the tactics of the cannon-wielding huge frog we call Batrachiantaur. Later this list will expand with even more interesting activities.
Robi spent a lot of time working on the physics as well, using the opportunities provided by the PhysX. This game has to be more realistic than our previous titles. He upgraded the editor into a more detailed version, so now each creature has a unique physical model in the game. Check out the result of his hard work, the really cool dance movements from our esteemed Pale Gentleman.
Thursday - January 17, 2013
Nyrthos - Demo Coming Soon
If you recall Nyrthos, the browser-based RPG with lovely 2D art, it seems the demo is very close according to this tweet:
Nyrthos demo hopefully next week! Get ready and check out Nyrthos on Facebook for more info.
Friday - January 04, 2013
Van Helsing - What is "Weird Science"?
Neocore writes about the setting for Van Helsing, saying it isn't really Steampunk but "weird science":
"The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing" is set in the majestic town of Borgova, where soot covers the walls and giant machines rumble in the dark. It is a city of old brick, grey slate, ugly factories and cast-iron walkways.
It all sounds very much like a steampunk setting, doesn’t it? Well, the artwork of Borgova certainly incorporates some steampunk elements, but it is far from being a proper steampunk setting. Firstly, steampunk is a concept deeply rooted in Victorian society and technology, which is very far away from our game world. And secondly, we don’t really have magnificent, larger-than-life steam engines in the game.
What we have instead is weird science. And by weird science we mean proper Mad Scientist stuff, with lightning rods, sparkles, bubbling vats, strange devices and someone in a lab coat, cackling madly in the shadows.
The truth is that Borgova is the playground for all your favorite gothic villains, the mad scientists. And they just love to dabble into all sorts of obscure fields: electricity and clockwork and steam and things that never existed, like phlogiston, the highly flammable element that was supposed to be contained within combustible bodies, making them burn.
Or think of the fantastic devices of Nikola Tesla (who was not a mad scientist, by the way, but he was indeed brilliant). By the way, did you know that Nikola Tesla spent a couple of months in Budapest and worked for a telegraph company? Considering that Budapest is where the headquarters of NeocoreGames are located and it also serves as a constant inspiration to create parts of Borgova, it’s a nice connection.
Wednesday - January 02, 2013
The Best PC Games of 2013 - @ PC Gamer
PC Gamer has kicked up a lengthy Best PC Games of 2013 article. Here's the RPG page, which is more a collection of everything they could think of than specifically the "best", but there are some interesting low-profile titles in the list. Some of the dates are definitely rubbery, so I'd wouldn't pay much attention to that.
Publisher: Harebrained Schemes
Lifting fantasy cliche out of the medieval era, Shadowrun sends its dwarves, elves, trolls and dragons hurtling into a cyberpunk future. However, the version of Shadowrun that made its way to PC in 2007 was hardly worthy of its name, sullying the memory of the classic turn-based RPG which had delighted console gamers some 14 years earlier. Harebrained Schemes looks to right this wrong with a loyal return to the classic series.
Publisher: DoubleBear Productions
This turnbased survival RPG sees players struggle through a world suffering the early stages of a zombie outbreak. It might not wow visually, but there’s clearly a lot more going on under the hood. The ample talent of Brian Mitsoda (he of Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines) is being applied to writing duties, weaving a rich story through the sprawling, non-linear world. There’s a lot of brutal decisions to make here at the end of the world, with players being faced with choices that defy conventional scales of morality.
Sunday - December 23, 2012
General News - 10 Years of RPG Trends
RPGamer did some digging and created an article where they show the trends in RPGs over the last 10 years.
Most of us have a general understanding of what is happening in the RPG world, but many of the trends that were identified didn't cross my mind prior to this analysis. For instance, I could have sworn there were more western RPGs and fewer JRPGs on the market, but western RPGs have simply become more high profile in North America and more JRPGs are moving to new platforms. Also, while it was clear that there have been fewer RPGs on console platforms since the heyday of the PlayStation 2, I wouldn't have assumed that portable systems were starting to lose traction. And while it's clear that the mobile market is looking like the new frontier for RPG releases, this release trend shouldn't be terribly surprising or tremendously upsetting. A substantial amount of the population owns a smartphone of some type, and with more uniform development specs and low publishing fees, RPGs can be far cheaper to develop and release on mobile platforms than they ever could be on consoles or portables. The development process is so favorable on mobile platforms that even inexperienced developers can get in on the action
Friday - December 21, 2012
Van Helsing - Into the Wild Trailer
Here's a new trailer from Neocore's Van Helsing:
General News - 50 Games that Defined 2012, The Other Parts
From the games we have followed in the past the following are mentioned: Mass Effect 3, the failed Kickstarter for Shaker and XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
The fact that XCOM: Enemy Unknown even exists is kind of weird, in the best way possible. During a time when major publishers like Take-Two are investing in console-based first-person shooters and action games that take place in big, sprawling virtual worlds, here strolls in XCOM: Enemy Unknown, a turn-based strategy game developed mainly with consoles in mind (though also available on PC, naturally). It's a game based off of a classic series that was born in the 90s on PC, it's developed by a studio that is among the elite PC strategy game developers, and it's getting a pretty good amount of attention from players. That bodes well for this idea that maybe players are willing to pay a triple-A price for a quality strategy game -- a game that makes them think instead of running and gunning.
Tuesday - December 18, 2012
General News - The 5 Biggest 'Fill in the Blanks' of 2012
Over the last week or so Gamasutra created various list where they share their views on the video games of 2012. Not much is RPG related, but maybe you want to give it a go in case you are bored.
Double Fine starts the Kickstarter revolution
Before Tim Schafer's Double Fine launched its Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter earlier this year, Kickstarter was a place where smaller indie studios could seek an audience (and hopefully their wallets). I personally didn't know a single person who was even signed up to Kickstarter, let alone was pledging money to video game projects on the platform.
At about the mid-point of the current console generation, prognosticators warned the game industry: Going toe-to-toe with studios in the top-tier, high-budget "triple-A" video game sector is going to become an increasingly harrowing task.
We saw this happening last year as well, but the trend continued in 2012 -- mid-level developers and their games are falling out of the picture. Slow sales of Square Enix's Sleeping Dogs hurt the publisher's earnings this year -- a disappointing shortfall, as the publisher made a special effort to scoop the game up from Activision, where it was called True Crime: Hong Kong.
When 38 Studios imploded
The mere existence of 38 Studios was one of my favorite things about the video game industry. That a man could make his fortune being an all-star baseball pitcher and use it to jumpstart a video game studio, hire his favorite people, and make the kinds of games he wants to play was proof that even the wildest adolescent fantasies can come true.
Mass Effect's Ending
After three installments in BioWare's widely-celebrated franchise, the saga of Shepard came to an end. And yet it was far from over -- the ending of the game caused a vocal outcry of fan dissatisfaction with everything from the tone to the logic of the story itself. Particularly damning was the allegation that fans didn't have enough choice and control over their destiny, given that one of the strengths of the series is that it works to give players exactly that.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Almost a year ago, Star Wars: The Old Republic launched amidst tremendous fanfare and confident projections from publisher Electronic Arts about its commercial potential. Astute observers had noted signs of trouble for years; many had questioned whether or not BioWare's strength in single player storytelling would translate to an MMO; whether too much money was being spent on the game's development; whether the subscription model still worked, and other concerns.
General News - 50 Games that Defined 2012, Part 2
Here are the next 10 games of Gamasutra's list of games that defined 2012. This time there are a few more games that are RPGish; Dishonored, Diablo 3, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Guild Wars 2.
Monday - December 17, 2012
General News - 50 Games that Defined 2012
Gamasutra have made a list of games that have defined 2012 in their opinion. In this first part 10 games are listed, so this could be a 5 part article.
In this part we see Borderlands 2, which is the only game of the 10 we have followed, but also high lights such as CoD: Black Ops II and Boyfriend Maker (not often do you see those mentioned in the same sentence) and this on Copernicus:
The state of Rhode Island probably never expected to own the rights to an ambitious fantasy-themed MMORPG but, hey, here we are. Copernicus was the codename for the game that 38 Studios -- the developer founded by retired all-star baseball pitcher Curt Schilling and partially funded by the state -- was pouring money into before its money dried up and it was forced into bankruptcy, its assets (including whatever work was done on the game) defaulting to Rhode Island. The specifics of what happened are beyond the scope of this article, but in 2012 Copernicus was a reminder of just how expensive and risky a triple-A MMO is in our rapidly evolving climate.
Thursday - December 13, 2012
General News - Top 10 Game Developers 2012
It is the end of the year, so it is time for the lists. Usually one more sillier than the other. Here is one covering the top 10 game developers of 2012 according to Gamasutra. Determine the worth of it yourself.
Obsidian EntertainmentIf Double Fine paved the dusty road between game players and game developers, it was Obsidian that turned it into a two-way street.
Double Fine proved that crowdfunding game development is viable, but it was Obsidian that made its fans feel like they were part of the team. Through constant updates, fan forums, and a constant back and forth feedback loop, the team's "Project Eternity" feels like a crowd-developed game.
More importantly, Obsidian represents a developer quickly adapting and thriving in what is a rapidly changing game development world. The studio had been struggling with bad deals and draining triple-A work, but thanks to crowdfunding, it may have reinvented itself while playing to its core strengths.
If the studio is able to sustain with Project Eternity, and even have a follow-up developed in a similar way, it will have proven that a decently-sized studio can survive and thrive by independently making the games it wants to make, for fans that want to play them.
Wednesday - December 12, 2012
Warhorse - New Blog Entry
You've probably seen the shakycam footage from Warhorse' un-named RPG we posted about a few days back but we haven't had the chance to catch up on the subsequent blog post from Dan Vavra about the "leak":
In any case, more than a year after establishment of the studio it’s worth recapitulating a little what we’ve been up to so far for everyone interested in knowing what a demanding, time-consuming process developing a triple A game is.
In August 2011 we started with nine people. Since then, the studio has grown to a stable of 24, plus several external collaborators. For the first few months we were dealing with technology. We evaluated practically all the engines available at the moment, as well as a whole series of middleware technologies, and in the end we selected CryEngine 3 as the best candidate.
After that, for a relatively long time everything was settling down and people were getting used to each other. We sorted out the best work methods etc. A few people had to leave us during this time, or chose to, because it wasn't working out between us, but others came to reinforce the ranks.
At the outset we were a bit crestfallen at how slowly the graphics were progressing, but now it’s turned around and we have a whole city and a huge chunk of landscape done, more than I had anticipated right at the beginning, and I must say it looks pretty good. Obviously, not everything is yet optimized and there’s a whole bunch of interiors still wanting. Nevertheless, in comparison with the “average RPG”, on which dozens of graphic artists work, it’s a worthy feat.
We developed a number of the complicated game systems needed for creating an RPG. Our combat, dialog and dressing systems are truly unique and I’m duly proud of them. Lots of other, smaller systems are slowly starting to function, too (I have to admit I’m clueless about the purpose of some of them). We’re also finalizing one of many minigames). All of it for the time being is still in a more-or-less sketchy state and we’re putting together at this point the first sample quest script, which is proving a relatively complicated birth.
General News - Are AAA Studios DOA?
In a blog on Gamasutra Josh Bycer discusses the survival of AAA studios.
With the growth of digital distribution from sites like Steam, Amazon and many more, has allowed both designers and the online retailers to introduce sales. Before, retail chains like Best Buy and GameStop had the final say on what a game would cost.
The rate that games have become discounted, has caused many gamers to no longer buy games at release, or what would be considered full retail ($60.)
In other industries, products retain their value due to the quality of the brand and the product itself. For example, I will never be able to buy a brand new Lamborghini for $1000 no matter how long I wait.
Likewise, car companies know that they can't make every car like a Lexus or Mercedes as it would just over saturate the market with high end cars.
That's why cars are made and priced at different levels, obviously the more money you spend means a higher quality. But at the same time, lower priced cars still have a standard of quality to them that lets them retain their price.
But in the video game industry, specifically AAA studios, there is no differing value. A $60 price tag can be attached to anything from Halo, to Dead Space or Playstation All Stars Battle Royale. But as we're seeing, the $60 price doesn't come with the same standard of quality, as evident by the review scores games are getting.
Monday - December 10, 2012
Warhorse - Shakycam Footage
We've been following Warhorse Studios' semi-historical open-world CryEngine 3-powered RPG for a little while but we haven't actually seen anything yet. Slamdunk points out this shakycam footage from a Game Developers Session 2012 lecture. It's important to understand this footage was built with in-game assets but isn't a scene from the game:
We had several lectures at Game Developers Session 2012 and one of them was about graphics. We showed a little scene with assets from our game to demonstrate how we create "next gen" graphics in CE3. Below you can see "leaked" video from this presentation. Keep in mind, that this is not actual scene from the game, its just assets illustrating the presentation. :)
Thursday - December 06, 2012
General News - 5 Creepy Ways to Addiction
Cracked.com has an editorial on 5 creepy ways used by game developers to get us addicted to their games. Here is number 5: Putting you in a skinner box.
If you've ever been addicted to a game or known someone who was, this article is really freaking disturbing. It's written by a games researcher at Microsoft on how to make video games that hook players, whether they like it or not. He has a doctorate in behavioral and brain sciences. Quote:
"Each contingency is an arrangement of time, activity, and reward, and there are an infinite number of ways these elements can be combined to produce the pattern of activity you want from your players."
Notice his article does not contain the words "fun" or "enjoyment." That's not his field. Instead it's "the pattern of activity you want."
His theories are based around the work of BF Skinner, who discovered you could control behavior by training subjects with simple stimulus and reward. He invented the "Skinner Box," a cage containing a small animal that, for instance, presses a lever to get food pellets. Now, I'm not saying this guy at Microsoft sees gamers as a bunch of rats in a Skinner box. I'm just saying that he illustrates his theory of game design using pictures of rats in a Skinner box.
This sort of thing caused games researcher Nick Yee to once call Everquest a "Virtual Skinner Box."
So What's The Problem?
Gaming has changed. It used to be that once they sold us a $50 game, they didn't particularly care how long we played. The big thing was making sure we liked it enough to buy the next one. But the industry is moving toward subscription-based games like MMO's that need the subject to keep playing--and paying--until the sun goes supernova.
Now, there's no way they can create enough exploration or story to keep you playing for thousands of hours, so they had to change the mechanics of the game, so players would instead keep doing the same actions over and over and over, whether they liked it or not. So game developers turned to Skinner's techniques.
This is a big source of controversy in the world of game design right now. Braid creator Jonathan Blow said Skinnerian game mechanics are a form of "exploitation." It's not that these games can't be fun. But they're designed to keep gamers subscribing during the periods when it's not fun, locking them into a repetitive slog using Skinner's manipulative system of carefully scheduled rewards.
Why would this work, when the "rewards" are just digital objects that don't actually exist? Well...
Sunday - December 02, 2012
General News - Colin McComb - What's Next?
Colin McComb's thoughts turn to Planescape: Torment (and what a successor would be like) as he thinks of what's next after mostly finishing his work on Wasteland 2:
Though I was a big fan of my early work (just because it was my early work, and evidence that I was working as a game designer) one of the first things I was truly proud of was TSR’s Birthright, my first published world, which took AD&D into a lower-fantasy setting and let you take the part of a ruler of a realm. Second was my work on the Planescape campaign setting, which allowed a huge degree of creative exploration. In that body of work, Monte Cook and I (along with our able editors, Ray Vallese and Michele Carter) were able to flesh out a significant part of the cosmology and background of the planes, defining and creating a foundation that would lead to my next big gig (and to Monte’s; not only did he help design D&D 3.0, he also produced an amazing string of successes, the latest of which is his Numenera setting).
Third, and perhaps most importantly, was Planescape: Torment. That’s almost certainly the work that people remember best, even if they don’t necessarily remember my name. Working on PST was… well, let’s turn on the Wayback Machine.
I came onto Torment as, I think, the fifth or sixth person when my Playstation Planescape game was canceled. It was a blow to lose my first lead designer gig, but it turned into a real education. The first members of the nascent team had been working on the game’s preproduction for a few months. At that time, it was called “Planescape: Last Rites”, a name that had to change because of the game “Last Rites.” But the concept remained largely the same, though it grew stronger and stranger as we progressed.
Source: No Mutants Allowed
Friday - November 30, 2012
General News - Video Games as Art
Here is something that you might find interesting. The Museum of Modern Art has 'acquired' a selection of 14 games from a list of about 40 that they will show as art.
Not sure what 'acquired' means as some of the games can still be bought right now, but quite a few might be very hard to come by.
Here are the games they have now and that will be shown in the Museum’s Philip Johnson Galleries in March 2013:
• Pac-Man (1980)
• Tetris (1984)
• Another World (1991)
• Myst (1993)
• SimCity 2000 (1994)
• vib-ribbon (1999)
• The Sims (2000)
• Katamari Damacy (2004)
• EVE Online (2003)
• Dwarf Fortress (2006)
• Portal (2007)
• flOw (2006)
• Passage (2008)
• Canabalt (2009)
These they still like to have:
Spacewar! (1962), an assortment of games for the Magnavox Odyssey console (1972), Pong (1972), Snake (originally designed in the 1970s; Nokia phone version dates from 1997), Space Invaders (1978), Asteroids (1979), Zork (1979), Tempest (1981), Donkey Kong (1981), Yars’ Revenge (1982), M.U.L.E. (1983), Core War (1984), Marble Madness (1984), Super Mario Bros. (1985), The Legend of Zelda (1986), NetHack (1987), Street Fighter II (1991), Chrono Trigger (1995), Super Mario 64 (1996), Grim Fandango (1998), Animal Crossing (2001), and Minecraft (2011).
And this explains why they are doing this:
Are video games art? They sure are, but they are also design, and a design approach is what we chose for this new foray into this universe. The games are selected as outstanding examples of interaction design—a field that MoMA has already explored and collected extensively, and one of the most important and oft-discussed expressions of contemporary design creativity. Our criteria, therefore, emphasize not only the visual quality and aesthetic experience of each game, but also the many other aspects—from the elegance of the code to the design of the player’s behavior—that pertain to interaction design. In order to develop an even stronger curatorial stance, over the past year and a half we have sought the advice of scholars, digital conservation and legal experts, historians, and critics, all of whom helped us refine not only the criteria and the wish list, but also the issues of acquisition, display, and conservation of digital artifacts that are made even more complex by the games’ interactive nature. This acquisition allows the Museum to study, preserve, and exhibit video games as part of its Architecture and Design collection.
Thursday - November 29, 2012
General News - The Top Ten Dumbest RPG Plot Twists
RPGFan has made a list with the 10 dumbest RPG plot twists. Here is the number one, Mass Effect 3:
I am Commander Shepard, and I will win this war without compromising the soul of our species. Until I commit mass genocide or become a godlike (and no longer human) being or forcibly enact the homogenization of every single living being in the entire universe, that is.
Leading to what has to have been the most publicized outcry due to a game's ending, well, ever, Mass Effect 3's final moments are both controversial and flat-out stupid. Prior to the Extended Cut, which was the narrative equivalent of putting plywood boards over a gaping chasm (oh, so the Normandy is going to park in front of Harbinger for a few minutes while I have a tender scene with my love interest? Thanks for "clarifying," Bioware), the ending was simply a series of sequences that were thematically inconsistent with the rest of the plot and completely contradictory to the ideals players had been told they were fighting for over the course of three games. Twist endings aren't unusual, but they're rarely pulled off with such utter ineptitude. Remember how tonally inconsistent the theatrical "happy ending" of Blade Runner was with the rest of the film? That's exactly the mistake Bioware made in ME3, only in reverse. Top that off with a number of plot threads that seemed to be leading somewhere else (which many players ran with, forming the indoctrination theory), and you've got a recipe for the dumbest plot twist of all time.
Monday - November 26, 2012
General News - Going Back in Time to the TRS-80
Being old enough to have toyed with gaming on Radio Shack's TRS-80 I found the article on Gamasutra that delves into the history of the TRS-80 and its games a worthwhile read, so I'll bother you with this as well....
The TRS-80 was hardly a gamer's dream; it was designed for "serious" home and business use, though users were hard pressed to find many practical uses for the primitive technology -- a 3 x 5 card and a pencil were still superior tools for most purposes. Radio Shack wasn't quite sure how to market the system to consumers beyond the type attracted by its basic technological appeal, usefulness be damned.
While the TRS-80 was intended to help file recipes and balance the household checkbook, good tools for actually doing so were slow in coming, and most required the additional expense of a disk drive. Many of these utilitarian software packages were promoted with appropriately dull black-and-white one-sheets -- three volumes of Real Estate software, anyone?
It's hard to believe from a 21st century perspective, but Radio Shack's marketers didn't quite grasp the appeal of games as a way to sell home computers. This ad promoting a paltry launch selection of "Games and Novelty Programs" is just as uninspiring as the company's other software promos.
Ultima Ratio Regum - Version 0.2 Released
The developer of Ultima Ratio Regum informed us that he has released version 0.2 of this game.He states the following about this release:
Ultima Ratio Regum contains a guidebook, new world generation, sixteen skill trees, options, controls, saving and loading, multi-square trees, a thousand bug-fixes, and two massive secrets I’ve been keeping back until now. You’ll know them when you see them. It can be downloaded from http://www.ultimaratioregum.co.uk/game/downloads/.
To be honest I never heard of it before, but the site mentions this:
Ultima Ratio Regum is a middle-ground between roguelikes, RPGs and strategy games. It has no fantasy elements and seeks instead to be closer to a realistic history simulator, and a strategy/4x game which just happens to be in ASCII. Combat is rare and deadly – whilst these mechanics are modeled in detail, exploration, trade and diplomacy factors will have just as much effort put into them.
URR aims to eventually be a fusion of roguelike and strategy genres – rather than a strategy game where you command with omniscience (even in ancient eras), you instead command as an individual character also in the game. Orders must be issued in person; you can lose contact with distant armies; but the same mechanics affect the AI players who also lack omniscience and depend upon the knowledge of situations they themselves can garner.
Worlds can be generated over a vast array of sizes, climates and types, but all ultimately with no fixed objective but a world full of civilizations and factions to be allied with or battled against. It aims for depth in character development and world events, but with stuff in the ‘middle’ – constructing buildings, city growth, resource management – abstracted out (as many other games exist which cover those). Political and social dynamics will be modeled via a complex system that aims to generate both a history for the world, and the current state of political affairs when your game begins.
Read more about the game here.
Wednesday - November 21, 2012
Van Helsing - Miscellaneous Updates
Alrik points out we haven't checked on Van Helsing, the action/RPG from Neocore, for a while. They launched a dev blog a few weeks back, voted on a new-look protagonist and have some new videos and art on offer.
Monday - November 19, 2012
Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire - Now on Steam
Last Friday Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire became available on Steam with a 25% discount until the 23rd of November, but apparently has some issues.
In the meantime Gaming Blend reports that the devs refuse to fix the bugs until they get paid.
One of the reasons I love Kickstarter is because it cuts out this pesky virus known as a publisher. This virus basically feeds on currency of any and all kinds and usually it serves very little purpose other than to sometimes make people aware of a product, but in some cases even then they aren't necessary. Well, one virus – oops, I mean publisher – has decided to take things a step further by denying a developer the necessary funds for their work on the game and in result, a very broken version of Jagged Alliance 2: Wildfire is on Steam right now.
The modding scene for Jagged Alliance 2 used to be pretty big back in the day, so I was surprised to see that a community-favorite project had found its way onto Steam's store called Wildfire, designed by a group of modders going by the name I-Deal Games. However, it's not all roses and daffodils.
There's a pretty blatant warning on the forums about staying away from JA2: Wildfire because the proceeds of purchases will not go toward the developers and that the game itself has some pretty glaring bugs and glitches due to not being properly finished. What's worse is that none of the planned patches have been released due to the hold up in funds.
Tuesday - November 13, 2012
Kenshi - Plan Updates
We haven't checked in on Kenshi for a while - a new post explains their upcoming plans:
I'm making some plans for the overall world design at the moment. I consider the current world map and population a placeholder really, so I'm gonna give you my ideas for the final thing. Its not what I'm working on for the next update, I'm just sharing my plans:
- Firstly, I'm going to make things more dense. A smaller size of the map will be loaded at one time, which will allow for more NPC population, encounters, and towns can be closer together. There will be less uneventful long-distance running.
- I'm going to change the actual terrain map itself too, there's a lot of map not in the game yet, so I'm going to add the cool new areas, size down some existing areas, and try to have less empty space like the endless dunes and the flat zone in the south west.
- The world map will have more distinct zones. These zones will have different faction domination, races, different danger levels. Some zones will be impossible to survive until you are very strong. Eventually these zones will also have different creatures and biomes (eg grasslands, marsh, snow possibly, etc).
- I want some zones to have less of a focus on towns, and more on other stuff. Like ruins, creature nests, natural formations, things to explore.
- The different map zones may have rare resources that are vital to certain areas of research. This might force you to build a protected mining outpost to further your research, rather than one single mega-base.
- Originally I was going to expand the world map to be 4x bigger, but I might reduce that now. As the game has a focus on building static structures that's going to take away the practicality of long-range exploration, you aren't going to want to travel vast distances away from your home base. A smaller, denser map will also mean if your characters are split up across the map they can run to each-others aid a bit easier, so you can send out rescue parties, reinforce your HQ during attacks etc. It will still be a bit bigger than the current map however.
- Once I have all the new character models and armours, the factions will be overhauled. There will be a greater number and variety of factions and they will be more interesting.
Sunday - November 11, 2012
General News - Strategies for Game Balancing
Magic the Gathering creator Richard Garfield discusses balancing in games at Gamasutra and how it is an art and not a science.
He views two types of balance: Holistic and componential. When a game has separate components that need to be balanced, it's componential -- in Magic, should a lightning bolt cost just one red mana? In Diablo, should a piece of equipment give you 152 intelligence? Holistic balance issues concern the game as a whole -- in Magic should you start with 20 life or seven cards? In Diablo, should you be able to sell equipment for real money?
Sometimes the distinction is muddy, he notes, but it's still useful in talking about balance to differentiate.
"Often designers will design the game to be balanced for the expert," Garfield says. "This is certainly the way we thought about it in the early days of Magic, and it took me a while to outgrow this mode of thought."
A game balanced to favor experts risks other types of gamers having an unbalanced experience -- and the game may lose most of its players before they ever develop the skill level to attain the well-balanced experience. Meanwhile the experts run out of people to play with.
Also, balancing for experts often fails to consider that there might be levels of proficiency even above what the game is desgned to contain. Designers aren't necessarily the best players -- most of the time, they're not, actually.
All kinds of games are patched with rules to accommodate players that outgrow their bounds. Balancing is helped by the fact that most of the time skill goes up logarithmically, and the benefit for performance tapers.
The important thing is to provide options so that every type of player has a good choice, versus grouping players into correct and incorrect ways to use skills or classes. This lets players compete even if they're not mechanically-focused -- like roleplayers or fans of storytelling.
Some of these players will choose gear for their character based on appearance or narrative suitability, and feel forced out of their play style by the fact that other players are more successful. That unbalances their experience.
Friday - November 09, 2012
BioWare Mythic - Drops "BioWare"
A minor item largely out of our scope but it's interesting to read the oft-renamed Mythic - which was BioWare Mythic - has dropped the "BioWare" from their name. Is it a sign that BioWare's name is tarnished? Speculate away.
Thursday - November 08, 2012
General News - Is Game Music All It Can Be?
Gamasutra features and article on game music. How to do it right, how to do it wrong and how it can be enhanced, with plenty of examples to demonstrate the effects.
There is plenty of evidence of the many ways in which video games can be enhanced by a better take on their scoring, elevating them to much greater heights than they have previously attained. The score truly can be another character in the story, adding interjections and subtext of its own. How can we go about effecting such change?
I think the first thing is mere education. Being able to recognize and discern good uses of game music and how they work, and picking them apart from bad, is something from which all video gamers can benefit. Ideally video game reviewers and designers themselves will begin to pick up on such nuances as well, but only if gamers writ large begin to demand it.As we dip into the uncanny valley and emerge on the other side at nearly photo-realistic visuals, it's no longer enough just to have "good graphics". Over the next decade it will not be good graphics that win recognition, but good and cohesive art design (in truth, this is already happening). The singular artistic vision, contributed to by many -- just like a movie -- is the future of growth in games. This should -- this must -- include a much deeper understanding of visual-oriented music scoring and how it can enhance the gaming experience. We must create more immersive, more supportive scores, and the time is now for it to happen.
Wednesday - November 07, 2012
General News - Unpredictability and Control in Turn-Based Combat
Graig Stern has written an article about the need for unpredictability to build up tension in Turn-Based combat and that it is not the same as randomness.
Here is a snip from the lengthy article:
Unpredictability makes art interesting. Twists of plot, unconventional characterizations, and surprising character development engage a reader’s imagination; unique instrumentation, sudden shifts in time signature, or an unexpected chord progression delight the ear.
So is it with games. Exploration, experimentation, discovery: all of these depend upon unpredictability, on gaps in the player’s familiarity with the game. Challenge exists only where the player cannot know exactly how a scenario is going to play out ahead of time. This is the sort of unpredictability we are going to talk about today: since it concerns game mechanics, let’s call it mechanical unpredictability.
Real-time games, as a general rule, have an easy time fostering mechanical unpredictability. Spatial navigation requires accuracy and timing; a real-time attack could miss or hit depending on a player’s physical input. The chance of making a mistake in the heat of the moment adds uncertainty, and thus tension.
Without this sort of real-time interaction, turn-based games must look elsewhere for their mechanical unpredictability. Many developers working on turn-based games mistakenly believe that unpredictability is necessarily bound up in randomness. Indeed, there is an assumption prevalent in the design community that any turn-based game without randomness will feel stale, predictable, devoid of tension.
This is a misapprehension, however. Randomness creates uncertainty, it is true, but so do other elements. This piece will examine a variety of tension-building elements, from the basic die roll to other methods that—quite undeservedly—receive less attention and respect. Each method has its benefits and its costs, though some entail a higher cost than others. We’ll begin with the most obvious, then discuss it in comparison to other methods that tend to get overlooked.
General News - Retrospective Interview with Al Escudero
RPGCodex have interviewed Al Escudero on his games Deathlord (1989) and Spelljammer: Pirates of the Realmspace (1992) including an introduction of Deatlord.
Deathlord allows the player to import characters from Ultima III, Bard's Tale and Wizardry. Were those the games that inspired you the most? Would you agree if I described Deathlord as, among other things, an attempt to bring Wizardry's hardcore dungeon design over to Ultima's top down perspective? (After all, dungeon design was never the Ultima series' forte.) How did you come up with this idea?
I observed that players tended to form attachments to characters in their RPGs and often used the same names in multiple games. The importation was a way to bring their favorite characters from another game into this one. Various aspects of those games also served as inspiration. There were aspects I liked that I tried to emulate, and aspects I didn't like which I tried to improve upon. For me it was the things I didn't like that really motivated me. If some aspect of a game annoyed me, it was in my nature to say "Ok, how do I fix this."
My shift to top-down dungeons was designed to create dungeons that had some personality. Lakes of fire, pillared halls, and rough walled caverns with dirt floors. 3D felt gimmicky to me, and I didn't think that the computers of the time were able to make 3D dungeons that didn't look like a rat's maze with a bunch of walls made out of 10x10 painted panels.
What motivated you to choose the quasi-Japanese setting for Deathlord? Were the Japanese names for classes, weapons, spells, etc., there just for flavor, or did the whole thing grow out of your fascination with Japanese culture?
Honestly, no. Though I had a budding interest in Japanese culture at the time, the game was originally created with a Norse/Teutonic theme, and I had the game finished that way. It was the marketing dept at EA that insisted we change it (at the last minute) to an Oriental/Japanese theme. I was given 5 weeks to change all the art, story, spell names, equipment names, location names, etc. I was quite upset about it. I had a game I had crafted over a year and a half I needed to convert to an entirely different style at the 11th hour and wasn't given sufficient time to do the new style justice. It felt like a hack to me, and I hated doing it. If I'd had a few months, time to do reading on Japanese culture and myths, time to craft a tale that tapped into their rich Mythology, I feel I could have done a far better job, as it was I felt very dissatisfied.
Monday - November 05, 2012
Nyrthos - Alpha Update
Our last update expected the Nyrthos Alpha in October but it seems they are running a little late. Still, better to get it in the best condition they can, I'd suggest. From their Facebook page:
Hi Nyrthos fans!
As some of you already notices, 31st October has passed and nothing happened. So here come the news!
The biggest news is that - simply put - we‘re not absolutely satisfied with the state of the alpha yet. It‘s very painful for us to announce it, but that‘s just the way it is. On one side, we‘re thoroughly excited because we did a TON of work during the last month(s), made huge progress and we are very proud of ourselves; on the other hand, there‘s this moment, where we have to crawl out from our caves and admit that it just wasn‘t enough to meet the estimated deadline.
Well, estimates are estimates (we obviously suck at estimating).. and we are truly sorry to those of you who were eagerly awaiting the alpha on the 31st.
Right now, we‘re cruising through the internal testing phase, tweaking stuff, playtesting here and there and polishing what needs to be polished. It’s the best stage of the development so far, as we can already see the checklist getting shorter (for the first time.. ever.. ?). Please, bear with us a little longer.
As a little „apology“, we’re putting up a few screenshots from the demo level we’re working on at the moment.We love it :)
And now.. let’s get back to what you guys want us to do the most.
See ya later!
Friday - November 02, 2012
Heart of Oaks: Conquest of the Seas - Announced
Guenthar wrote in a few days back to point out Hearts of Oak: Conquest of the Seas, a new Age of Sail game being developed by the team behind some of the well-respected mods for Pirates of the Carribean. From their MODdb page:
Hearts of Oak is intended to allow whichever game experience any player might want in a mostly realistic, historical setting. The open game world is intended to be filled with enough content to allow for an infinite amount of stories and events to occur similar to those one might have encountered in real history, as well as the type of stores that you can read about in books and see in movies, both historical and fictional.
Our modpack Pirates of the Caribbean: New Horizons serves as a good showcase of what we intend to achieve, only better please. However, with better graphics and much less concern with game engine limitations, we have high hopes to eventually make this project fully live up to its potential.
Sunday - October 28, 2012
Telepath: Tactics - Pre-Alpha Teaser
Sinister Design has released a pre-Alpha teaser trailer for Telepath Tactics, the turn-based strategy/RPG set in their Telepath gameworld.
Sword of the Stars: The Pit - Indiegogo Campaign
If you're thinking Sword of the Stars: The Pit sounds like a well-known space 4x strategy game, that's because this "light-hearted action RPG, in the tradition of Rogue and other old school dungeon-diving games" comes from Kerberos and is set in the SotS universe. Kerberos has a campaign at Indiegogo looking for $60k ($8.4k, 18 days to go), using the "flexible funding system":
Tired of swords and rats?
Yearning to find a rocket launcher instead of a magic wand?
Looking to find a Brawler Suit of powered battle armor, instead of platemail?
Time to dive into The Pit!
Sword of the Stars: The Pit will take you back to the best of the Rogue-style dungeon diving games, up the ante with modern action/rpg gameplay, and catapult you into the future of the SotSVerse.
(Actually, come to think of it, it's impossible to get tired of swords and rats. We'll have those too.)
Tell Me More About...THE PIT!
Sword of the Stars: The Pit is a fun, fast, light-hearted action RPG, in the tradition of Rogue and other old school dungeon-diving games.
We've been working on it for a few months, and the game is presently at the Alpha phase. The goal of this campaign is to push the game forward to its Beta state.
With your support, we'd like to make this game our first self-published title.
Saturday - October 27, 2012
Warhorse - Blog Update
Warhorse's Dan Vavra writes about finalising a verticle slice of their "Skyrim killer" RPG to show to potential partners, and also running into Swen Vincke at Gamescom last August:
Things have been pretty hectic around here the last couple of months. Warhorse is up and running and the hour is fast approaching of planned completion of a very important milestone – the 'Vertical Slice' which we've been working hard on 24/7. As the name implies, a Vertical Slice is a cross-section of the game and should be a very polished demonstration of all the game’s basic mechanisms, its graphic look and its treatment of the important elements. For us, this means generating quite a chunk of art (in an Open World game doing one level is not exactly an option), scripting into it a representative quest, which will contain all the important game mechanisms, such as complete control of the character, the dialog, the combat system, AI controlled NPCs, and throwing in an animation sequence or two, voiceovers and user interface. As far as possible, the whole package should look as good as the finished game. In the case of a shooter, we’d simply do one level and exploit lots of mechanisms straight from CryEngine; with an RPG it’s a bit more complicated than that. For example, we had to program a very complex dressing system, which you won’t find in any 3rd party engine. But such is life.
Friday - October 26, 2012
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress - Released
Elemental: Fallen Enchantress is not really an RPG, but more of a tactical strategy with some RPG elements, which might interest our visitors.
Thanks to SveNitoR, killias2 and Capt. Huggy Face for letting us know.
Wednesday - October 24, 2012
General News - Ken Rolston joins Turbine
A minor point of interest to footnote Big Huge Games with Ken Rolston joining Turbine to make MMORPGs. From GameBanshee:
TURBINE EXPANDS LEADERSHIP TEAM
Online Entertainment Leader Appoints Key Hires in Design, Technology and Operations
NEEDHAM, MA – October 19, 2012– Turbine announced today several key additions to its leadership team as part of its continued effort to design and deploy the next generation of online gaming.
“We are very excited to add such a stellar group of proven industry veterans to our world-class team here in Boston,” said Alessandro Galvagni, General Manager, Turbine. “Ken, Alan, Jai and Demetrius are proven leaders that strengthen our team and position us well as we work to continue operations of our award-winning titles and bring new innovative experiences to market.”
The new members of the Turbine team include:
Ken Rolston, Director of Design – Ken brings an exceptional track record to Turbine as one of the most accomplished fantasy RPG computer and video game designers of all time, with over a decade of lead designer experience on the award-winning Elder Scrolls franchise and, most recently, he released Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning to critical acclaim. Ken will lead the vision and the implementation of all aspects of game design for Turbine.
Tuesday - October 23, 2012
XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Two DLCs on the Way
2K announced today that this game will get two DLCs as well as the Elite Soldier Pack now can be purchased. As for the two DLCs, 2K announced that one of them is named the Slingshot Content Pack.
Games Radar has more:
The story-driven Slingshot pack adds armor decoration options for mid- and late-game armor as well as three missions starring a new central character, Triad operative Zhang. According to Ananda Gupta, the lead designer of the Slingshot pack, the purpose of the DLC is to add a miniature story arc to a game propelled by strategy and emergent narrative. “There are these external [narrative] moments on the strategy layer where you’re talking to personnel at base and you hit these key moments in the game where the invasion is progressing,” Gupta says. “But we’ve never done designed storytelling in combat. We thought it would be cool to touch on that in DLC outside the core scope of the game and give players a designed character that can enter their squad of player-driven characters.”
Players will come into contact with a Triad operative, “divert an alien ship’s course, and do battle with the aliens in the skies over China.” The Slingshot Content Pack includes three new maps tied to the Council missions, a new playable squad character and a unique story and voice and new character customization options. The release date and pricing of the Slingshot Content Pack will be announced soon.
As for the other DLC, no name has yet been given to this DLC.
As for purchasing the elite soldier, according to VG 24/7 you can buy it for
$4.99/400 MS Points, and comes with the Classic X-COM soldier, Soldier Deco packs, and complete color customization.
Armchair Arcade - Matt Barton Tells What He Would Like to See in Old School Rpgs
Matt Barton, famous among other things for his Matt Chats, has written an editorial at Armchair Arcade on what he wants to see in an old school rpg. A snip:
A huge gameworld bristling with infinitely nerdy possibilities. One of my fondest memories of both Pool of Radiance was the expansiveness of the gameworld. It wasn't just that it was big; it was diverse and full of surprises. You *wanted* to go out and explore it, not because of a silly ass achievement--we didn't need that childish crap back then--but because the writers and artists put some real effort into making these places look and feel interesting. Do you remember Sokal Keep in Pool of Radiance? How about Koto's Well? The fact that we can remember these places after nearly 25 years ought to tell you something. I also liked the surprises you had, for instance, when you entered the Great Library and fought a specter. That little nasty was located in the midst of the slums, where you'd been battling a bunch of low level stuff. Whoops!
Game Informer - Permadeath and how it Affect Us
In games with more emphasis on their narratives, characterization becomes paramount when extracting lasting emotions from the player. You wouldn’t mind being responsible for someone’s death in Mass Effect 2 as much if a bond hadn’t been created beforehand. Completing loyalty quests, entering romantic relationships, and holding engaging conversations with characters creates an attachment to the NPC that ensures the end is all the more draining. You can even argue the point that the actual life or death decision isn’t as important as the characterization leading up to it. You feel regret because that character would have been helpful in later, but you feel guilt because you actually cared for them.
XCOM - Review @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee reviewed XCOM: Enemy Unknown resulting in both positives and negatives:
XCOM: Enemy Unknown is a frustrating game to review, because there are a lot of very good, very smart design choices in it, but it's impossible not to compare it to its forefather. It's clearly a love letter to the franchise, but it's also one that hasn't been afraid to make changes. Unfortunately, in my opinion, not all these changes have been for the better, and I think that they strip out layers of complexity in favor of accessibility. While the original game was very much targeted towards hardcore strategy fans, this new one is geared towards more casual, pick-up-and-play audiences, and that's why I question its longevity - will people really still be singing this game's praises and debating the finer points of its gameplay 15 years later? I can't see that happening
Monday - October 08, 2012
XCOM - Review @ RPS
We haven't been following XCOM: Enemy Unknown in detail but with the release imminent, it might be worth a look at Rock, Paper, Shotgun's review:
It’s a game about slowly moving your frontline forwards, meticulously ordering a squad of six1 from cover to cover and making a stream of tactical decisions in order to overcome an enemy that always, always outnumbers them. You’re directing a SWAT team that needs to stick relatively close together (not too close mind, unless watching a grenade liquidate four people at once turns you on), carefully clean out an area and move on, not the spread-out search and destroy agents of 1993. It’s faster and more furious than its 90s ancestor, but it is no less strategic for it.
It works. It better than works. XCOM is muscular, tense, thoughtful, mutable turn-based strategy with the dramatic, explosive presentation of a contemporary all-action game. Also, the environments get unavoidably trashed on a grand-scale, in a fashion all too rarely seen in either strategy or action games: these are true battlegrounds. No matter how well you do in a mission, you’ll leave a bombsite behind you. Frankly, you’re probably doing more harm than good to the world.
Monday - October 01, 2012
General News - Square Enix Sale @GOG
We're a bit late to the party on this one. GOG has a lot of older Square Enix / EIDOS titles on sale for 2.39$ - 3.99$. There are only a few hours left, so you've got to act quickly of you want to buy, for example, the following games (often gold editions):
- Thief 1, 2, 3
- Hitman 1, 2
- Deus Ex 1, 2
- Tomb Raider 1-3 bundle, 4, 5
Tuesday - September 25, 2012
XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Demo Released
We haven't really been following XCOM: Enemy Unknown but Klar sends word that a demo has been released (6Gb from Steam) for the modern re-envisioning.
Apparently there has been some controversy over the demo and RPS argues it's not as bad as it seems.
General News - Petition for a Krondor Remake
Charles writes in to inform us of a petition for kickstarting the creation of the spiritual successor to Betrayal at Krondor. You can sign up for the petition implying that you would either pledge $200 or think you can convince your friends to pledge $200 in total.
Over the past year, I've received several e-mails about whether I might Kickstart a sequel or a remake to the award-winning hit role-playing game, "Betrayal at Krondor." Over the years, it's still the game I am the most contacted about, and the title which seems to have been the most beloved by fans.
Following the release of Betrayal at Krondor, John and I had designed an unreleaesd sequel to BAK called "Thief of Dreams". Due to some unfortunate politics between the upper management of Dynamix and our parent company Sierra Online, it never was placed into production, a mistake they later regretted bitterly. "Betrayal at Krondor" became one of the highest grossing games ever produced by Dynamix, and won numerous best RPG of the year awards.
Earlier this year I chatted both with John Cutter, the original producer and my co-designer, and of course Raymond E. Feist who owns the universe in which Krondor was set. Unfortunately Midkemia is tied up for the foreseeable future, but there's really nothing that prevents us from creating another Krondor-like game with the same great gameplay, the same great storytelling, and with the same creative team behind the original. Imagine BAK now with better graphics, a fully orchestrated score, a next-generation puzzle system, and lots of cool enhancements to the original combat system. Would that be a game you'd like to see? Are you willing to go in to help us make it happen?
Today we're asking all of you to throw down and show your love for BAK. Help us gather at least 5,000 signatures of fans who will pledge to either give $200 apiece, or raise $200 from among their friends, to go towards the production costs of a "spiritual" sequel to Krondor. There is no money obligation right now. All we want is proof that there are enough die-hard fans out there who really want this game. If you can meet that goal, we will initiate a Kickstarter drive to make it happen. Right now, it's all up to you.
Wednesday - September 19, 2012
The Top 12 Video Game Soundtracks @ Forbes
Fastfritz sends in The Top 12 Video Game Soundtracks Of All Time at Forbes. Though not an RPG list, it is dominated by RPGs. Dragon Age: Origins and Arcanum make the list among a sea of jRPGs.
Thursday - September 13, 2012
R.A.W. - October Release
R.A.W. is another game crowding into the October release schedule with Focus announcing an October 4th launch. From Blue's:
Focus Home Interactive announces release plans for R.A.W. Realms of Ancient War, saying Wizarbox's action/RPG is coming to consoles next week, and that the Windows PC edition will follow on October 4th. They also offer a new video to show off co-op gameplay from the hack-and-slash game, saying: "In this great adventure meant for playing together, friends may join any time in the game to lend a hand in assaulting monster hordes of growing strength! Cooperative play maximizes team strengths and optimizes all attack tactics. While a Warrior distracts the enemy in melee battle, the Wizard is free to cast his most powerful spells in safety! Good coordination will be required, as the monsters in cooperative mode will be stronger than the monsters of single player mode!"
Source: Blues News
Monday - September 10, 2012
General News - Mix and Create Your Own RPG Bundle
During the next 3 weeks you can create your own bundle of indie RPG's for a low price at Gamersgate, by selecting from 24 RPG's such as Telepath RPG: Servants of God, Devil Whiskey, Dark Scavenger and Cardinal Quest.
Tuesday - September 04, 2012
General News - The Evolution of Stealth
Gamespot talks to Warren Spector (Thief, Deus Ex), Harvey Smith (Dishonored) and Patrick Redding (Splinter Cell) to dsicuss in what way stealth in video games has evolved over the years.
Thursday - August 30, 2012
Steam Greenlight - Now Open
Steam has launched Greenlight, a system for the community to vote on what games should be released on the platform. As CountChocula points out, that means a bunch of RPGs are now vying for attention on Greenlight.
I haven't really had time to look for undiscovered classics but I see Underrail, NEO Scavenger and other promising indies in the list.
Wednesday - August 29, 2012
10 Upcoming Action-RPGs @ Forbes
Forbes has kicked up 10 Upcoming Action-RPGs To Keep An Eye On, Part 1. It's a reasonable list that surprisingly includes Inquisitor alongside Torchlight II, Path of Exile and more:
Inquisitor’s developer, Cinemax, spent ten years in development prior to being released in Europe. Three years of English-language translation later, the game is set to release this September in North America. For any RPG fan with time on their hands, the 150-hour game boasts 5,000 pages of text and a dark Medieval setting in which you hunt down wicked heretics and criminals whilst battling innumerable foes.
It may not be for the feint of heart, however. Torture plays a major role in the game, with your character privy to a suite of torturer’s tools. Also, the sheer size of the game is intimidating to say the least. How the gameplay itself will be I can’t say, but I’m very much intrigued.
Tuesday - August 14, 2012
General News - Don Daglow on how failure is a tough sell for American audiences
Don Daglow (original Neverwinter Nights and much more) has told GDC Europe the American education system has removed failure, resulting in students that can't handle difficult challenges. Controversial, obviously, but here's a snip:
While traditional education systems teach students to try to succeed and learn from their failures, he said, the American education system has evolved to the point that failure has largely been removed from the equation entirely. "The idea of failure has been dramatically reduced," he said, noting that American students don't "fail." Rather, they are "challenged," a concept that Daglow believes European developers should keep in mind when trying to design games that will succeed in the American market.
The concept of failure as an inducement to try again and succeed is difficult for many Americans to accept. Many will blame their failure on the game itself, instead of recognizing their mistake and trying again. The key to breaking through to an American audience, he said, is encouragement, individuality and grabbing the player's interest as quickly as possible. "If you think of the best James Bond movies, the first ten minutes is an experience all unto itself. You're on this joy ride," he said, "don't wait to entertain people."
Avantenor points out this German article that covers the subject in more depth. Let's keep the racist retorts in the comments on this subject to a dull roar, please.
Thursday - August 09, 2012
Caribbean! - Interview @ RPS
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an interview on Caribbean!, the pirate-y game being made with the Mount & Blade engine:
RPS: Is the game a sandbox or is there a plot to follow?
Souslov: Sandbox all the way! Frankly, making a plot-driven campaign wasn’t really our cup of tea. Considering how much time and efforts it eventually consumed, we wonder why didn’t we dump the idea straight away and implemented siege artillery instead. So, adventures in the Caribbean are fully open-ended. We do plan to implement a few short story arcs involving several quests each though, to flesh out the world.
RPS: How complex is the integration of naval combat into the Mount and Blade engine?
Souslov: Too complex. Actually, we spent a year and a half doing just that. Might have to do with our limited brain capability, but even the unlimited capability of the modding scene couldn’t solve the issue adequately yet. In the end, we’ve got some priceless assistance from the Turkish team, and the desperation of our own has pushed us forward. There was a time we were almost about to cancel the project, but eventually the solution was found and the bloody frigate started sailing and ceased neighing.
Tuesday - August 07, 2012
Warhorse - Overkill Design
Dan Vavra from Warhorse Studios writes about his obsession with design details - and the overkill that can result. As ever, Dan is an interesting read. First, an example of the problems he sees using an FPS design and the problem of waves of enemies with unlimited ammo:
Of course you can set the enemies so that they run out of ammo. But then you have to think and program for what will happen when they run out – will they run away, beg for help, take a new weapon from a corpse, jump on you with a knife or maybe all of that together? This is all extra work, but when someone finally does it, I’m convinced that gamers will cry out in joy. Just remember the plaudits for the first Medal of Honor, where precisely these kinds of things happened –enemies threw grenades back at you, hurled themselves at you when you got too close and generally did things never seen before. Coincidentally, the concept of this game was not the work of a game designer, but that of the filmmaker Steven Spielberg. We all know what happened to this franchise after Steven sold it to EA don’t we? What is sure is that nobody invested much into the AI after that.
So, on to Dan's struggle with their RPG:
For instance, a while ago I started to plan the legal system of our game. I didn’t want to end up like all the other RPGs, where you are either executed for stealing a pair of socks, or nobody notices the piles of dead bodies you have killed in the town square. I wanted to create a system where the NPCs will adequately react to the player’s misdemeanors and crimes.
The moment the design document reached thirty pages and I was about to consider ways of preventing the player from killing off an entire town so cunningly that nobody saw him in that and therefore nobody would arrest and prosecute him and, at the same time, so that the handful of survivors in the middle of the pile of corpses wouldn’t act as if nothing was happening, it occurred to me that I might have crossed a line and I was beginning to get entangled in something that was not in the plan at all. In some RPGs, they don’t worry about even much more important things and when something happens, the resolution of which makes my brain beginning to melt, the game simply stops working. My colleagues in the office had funny expressions, but they didn’t try to stop me, so I persisted, though significantly concerned that perhaps I was creating something that was absolute overkill, which we’d throw out in the end and instead do what all the others do, because the result is entirely inadequate to the efforts invested in the attempt of a perfect solution to the problem.
Thursday - August 02, 2012
GamersGate - RPG Sale
SveNitoR sends word of GamersGate's Summer Sale, which currently features RPG week, with dozens of titles on offer.
Monday - July 30, 2012
Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead - Announced
Headup and Silent Dreams (Grotesque Tactics) announce their next game: Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead. I like the inclusion of a fixed camera, personally.
The most famous Holy Avatar returns to the screens with his very own game!
Headup Games and Silent Dreams announce Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead
Dueren, 30th July 2012 – Headup Games and the indie studio Silent Dreams are making the continuation of their successful collaboration public today. Following the success of the press- and community-praised Grotesque Tactics franchise with Grotesque Tactics: Premium Edition and Grotesque Tactics 2: Dungeons & Donuts, Headup Games and Silent Dreams will release a spin-off of the popular irony-peppered fun-RPG in September of 2012. Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead will be released in September of 2012 exclusively for PC.
To get a bit of relaxation after the last big battle of Grotesque Tactics 2: Dungeons & Donuts Holy Avatar decides to take a trip off-the-cuff with his Guild of Maidens on a Caribbean island, his recently purchased “Holy Island”.
After a rather ungently arrival on the beach they made a gruesome discovery: numerous dead maidens, horribly mutilated, are scattered all over the path to the inside of the island. The Guild of Maidens is afraid that something horrible happened in the maidens camp on the island. Holy Avatar – secretly happy about this twist – is going to investigate what exactly happened with a part of his group, looking for new adventures, not knowing what kind of scale this disaster has already taken and what hazards are waiting for him and his companions inside the dense woods and caves…
Next to new optics that were redone from the scratch with fresh Cel-Shading graphics and an overly colorful and more friendly look, Silent Dreams especially reacts to the community’s suggestions and demands.
As part of this, Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead is introducing a fixed camera which will provide you with a clear overview over the events of the game. Zooming in and out naturally will still be possible, as well as the feature of moving the camera over the whole map. From the technical point of view the game in general was matched to the endemic Caribbean flair. In this measure the HUD now was provided with a tropical design, as well as the character portraits which got a general overhaul.
And the steel drum-marked Caribbean soundtrack will carry over the comforting Southern Sea feeling to the player.
Publisher Headup Games who holds the worldwide rights to releasing and distribution and developer studio Silent Dreams will release Holy Avatar vs. Maidens of the Dead in September of 2012. The exact release date will be announced soon.
Sunday - July 29, 2012
General News - Miscellaneous Roundup
Having a heavy real-world work schedule, I've fallen behind on a number of links and submissions on the fringe of our coverage. Here's a miscellaneous grab-bag to clear the slate.
- For our Italian readers, La Maschera Riposta sent in reviews of Risen 2 and Diablo III.
- Miles sends word of Harmonia, an "online tactical RPG, a fusion of the real-time stratagy and roguelike genres. Think Shining Force + Warcraft + Nethack". Youtube videos here.
- Shadow of the Game is an "experimental RPG" that apparently plays like a point-and-click adventure. Beta registration is open, if this is your thing.
- The Indie Mine sent in a review of THORG: The Hidden-Object Roleplaying Game - puzzle game with some RPG elements.
- Daniel notes that Aldorlea Games (Laxius Force) has announced a new indie jRPG titled Moonchild.
Wednesday - July 11, 2012
R.A.W. - Overview Trailer
Source: Blues News
Sunday - July 08, 2012
Nuclear Union - Interview @ RPS
Von Paulus points out Nuclear Union, a post-apoc, third-person, party-based RPG from Best Way and 1C. There's a teaser trailer at the official site and Rock, Paper, Shotgun has an interview from a week or so back:
RPS: I understand that the game is third-person and party-based. Does that mean you can pause the action and move between characters?
Romanova: The game features active pause allowing the player to think thoroughly and realize the tactics for enemy interaction, as well as assign orders to the party members. We are still thinking about giving the player a possibility to control the party members and it looks like we will only allow indirect control.
RPS: How are the three characters controlled? Is it something like Mass Effect 3, or is it more direct? Can you manipulate individual inventories and so on?
Romanova: The player will control the party members by assigning orders. It is possible that we will add some combat tactics commands to the HUD. But these are just plans. The group will be using one inventory. And the player will be taking care of it.
Monday - July 02, 2012
ADOM - Crowd-funding Campaign to Resurrect Developmement
Ancient Domains of Mystery (ADOM) creator Thomas Biskup has turned to IndieGogo to raise funds to resurrect ADOM development, which has laid dormant since 2002. The team is seeking $48k over 60 days to create new stable versions, improve the UI and so on.
ADOM is one of the most successful roguelike games ever created, with downloads in the millions and many more every day. ADOM was the first roguelike to add a true role-playing experience to the roguelike genre, and boasts a brilliant mix of story, exploration, and intensely strategic and flexible combat. ADOM was in development from 1994 until November 2002, when the last build was released. ADOM is still part of the roguelike conversation, even after ten years of frozen development. [...]
DEATH OR GLORY - I NEED YOUR HELP!
If this Indiegogo campaign is successful in reaching the funding goal, you will see a new release of ADOM, version 1.2.0. Here are some of the things you can expect:
- New stable releases for all supported platforms (Windows, Linux, MacOS, Amiga, NetBSD, FreeBSD; Android and iPad/iOS are going to be stretch goals). Operating systems have evolved since 2002 and compatibility is becoming a serious issue.
- Bug fixes for every bug we can find
- Game balance patches
- More elaborate interaction for many things that are currently only handled superficially
- UI improvements to bring ADOM up-to-date with the progress the roguelike genre has made, to be decided upon based on recommendations of players in the forums (e.g. colored message, some kind of auto-exploration and others)
- A series of magical statues distributed across the dungeons
- A roster of new named random boss monsters with special powers
- Exciting new graphics for the title screen and some quest-related events
- Audio for sound effects and music for the game areas and important events
- A freshly revised manual
Monday - June 25, 2012
Dragon’s Dogma - Ships 1 Million Copies, Capcom sees new franchise
Capcom has released a press release that states 1 million copies have been shipped for this game; it also states that Capcom plans to make Dragon's Dogma their next franchise with DLC and sequels. Courtesy of GameBanshee, a quote from the press release:
Capcom Co., Ltd. (Capcom) is pleased to announce that worldwide shipments of "Dragon's Dogma" for the "PlayStation® 3" and Xbox 360® have surpassed one million........."Dragon's Dogma" is part of Capcom's basic strategy of establishing game franchises through the creation of new brands.
Sunday - June 24, 2012
Warhorse - A Lesson in Cartography
Dan Vavra from Warhorse has a new blog post about map size and scale in RPGs, pointing out some of the resulting absurdities from the "compression". The article also reveals that Warhorse plan to use real-world locations for their CryEngine 3 RPG and discusses some of the compromises they face. First, a lengthy snip from the intro:
You are Krutor, a wild barbarian from the land of Morkroch. You have travelled a very long journey, across high mountains to the famous imperial city of Lhota, the capitol of the world and largest agglomeration in the known universe, whose fame touches the stars.
The city consists of precisely fifteen buildings (one of which is the imperial palace); the town is inhabited by 30 NPCs, including Emperor Lojza, Archmage Lotrando and all of the members of the guilds of thieves, mages and warriors.
You visit the emperor, who sits alone in the throne hall, and he assigns you with an quest. The land is terrorised by an evil dragon from hell and Lojza is powerless. He has sent an entire imperial army against it, but the monster has killed all five soldiers. Now, he needs a hero like you! You have to find and climb the mystical mountain, Lohen, on which no human has ever set foot, and behead the dragon.
You accept the quest and set out from the town gate. The mystic mountain Lohen is precisely 150 metres from the gate and is about 50 metres high. All of the inhabitants of the city are either retarded, blind or crippled if they have not managed to notice it for centuries. After an approximately 30-metre walk to the mountain, you come to ‘no man’s land’ and are attacked by bandits. During another 120m walk to the peak, you also notice an ancient fortress Rumloch, a secret dungeon of doom and a bandit hideout. At the peak of the mountain, you kill a one-hundred-metre dragon by beating its foot with a rusty sword and drinking potions. Then, you rob the corpses of the imperial army (all five) and on the way back to the castle are killed by a wild boar.
Welcome to an average RPG.
...and a little bit on their approach:
I went through many dozens of castles, strongholds and small towns, and with each I studied its history. I ended up with about twenty places which looked promising and I began to investigate them in more depth. In the end, I selected two locations where events had taken place that almost surpassed my expectations, and to my great joy I discovered that they are mentioned in immediately two novels which take place in the same period as our story and in whose immediate vicinity there are many interesting places and beautiful wild nature. Besides that, the fates of the people who lived there directly offered themselves for inclusion in our story.
Unfortunately, those places were about twelve kilometres away as the crow flies from one another, which is really a lot. Such a large landscape is beyond our realisation possibilities and moreover it would be completely unentertaining to play. If we were to keep to reality, we would have to create tens of kilometres of empty forests. If we planted them with something that was not in them, we would negate the reason we are sticking to reality. The time had thus come to make compromises.
Dragon's Dogma - Review @ GameBanshee
Earlier in the week, GameBanshee posted a review of the console RPG, Dragon's Dogma. There's no score as usual but the overall result is positive, depsite heavy criticism of the quest design and storytelling:
I feel it's a testament to Dragon's Dogma's strengths that, despite the fact that I value quest design, multiple solutions, and meaningful non-combat gameplay very highly in role-playing games, I still enjoyed my time with the title a lot. Ultimately, Dragon's Dogma is a title that does almost as much wrong as it does right, but as long as one appreciates what it does well, it's an extremely satisfying experience. While Capcom might have had problems writing a narrative worth its salt or decent quests, it crafted a world deserving to be explored and experienced, with plenty of fun moments to offer, and offered a genuinely interesting and deep action combat system to the players. If that sounds appealing to you, it's certainly well worth a try.
Friday - June 22, 2012
General News - Richard Garriot Interview @ The Critical Bit
The Critical Bit sent word that they interviewed Richard Garriot where they discuss his upcoming successor to Ultima Online – an MMO for mobile and social platforms tentatively called “Ultimate RPG”. Gariott also talks about his design philosophy, the challenges he’s faced with publishers, and where he thinks the game industry is going.
Thursday - June 21, 2012
Nuclear Union - Announced *Updated*
A new post apocalyptic RPG published by 1C named Nuclear Union has been announced according to IGN. It also comes with a video.
Scheduled for launch sometime in 2013 for PC, Nuclear Union is a role-playing game with an open progression structure. You’ll have a defined end goal, but the way you accomplish it is up to you, and you’ll be able to go back and freely explore any discovered territory. Gameplay be presented from a third-person perspective and though battles will take place in real-time, you do have the ability to pause the action to better line up your aim. You’ll also be able to recruit certain characters encountered on your adventures and travel with one at a time, and can issue basic commands to them during combat.
Playing as one of the pilots who bombed the United States, expect to encounter mutated monstrosities, bizarre anomalies and to defend yourself with Soviet prototype weaponry, including specialized assault rifles and tripe-barreled sub-machine guns.
Update: This is part of the press release we received today:
CELEBRATE THE DAY WE CRUSHED CAPITALISM
Our Union is even stronger 50 years later!
Pobedograd, Soviet Union – June 22, 2012 – Every child knows the glorious story that lead to today. When the Capitalist Alliance lead by the Americans refused to allow our defensive screen in Cuba, in 1962, and then attacked us with nuclear weapons. However our Motherland and the Soviet Forces were better prepared than the dogs knew. We leveled them, and half the planet, to show our sickle is sharp and the hammer hits hard indeed!
While the Americans celebrated that they reduced Moscow to rubble, our air defenses kept the city from becoming ash. Almost the entire planet surface was contaminated by their bombs, but it didn’t matter as we had moved underground days before. The Soviet Union did what we have always done, survived. The country underwent a massive evacuation of the most important citizens, leaders and industries to a pre-built network of specifically equipped bunkers.
It’s 50 years later, 2012, and our glorious capital city, Pobedograd (Victory City), is a beacon of hope. It’s time to go outside again brothers and sisters, time to see what has become of our Motherland and her proud cities and towns. Grab a weapon and join us!For more information as it becomes available please go to: www.nuclearunion.com / www.facebook.com/nuclearunion.
Gothic vs. Arx Fatalis - Battle of the Games @GOG
Battle of the Games, day 4 pairs two of the best RPGs of the early 2000s against each other:
Gothic vs. Arx Fatalis!
Of course this means both games will be on sale tomorrow. That's the perfect opportunity to register through our banner and grab the free Ultimas from a couple of days ago. ;)
Sunday - June 17, 2012
The CRPG Addict - "LOLCRPGS"
A week or so back The CRPG Addict wrote about humour in CRPGs, which is an interesting subject. Here's a snip:
1. The dialogue of HK-47 in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. The homicidal droid insists on calling humans "meatbags," although he refers to you as "master"--except when he slips.
2. Minsc's dialogue in Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II, particularly the latter. This is a perfect example of humor that grows from characterization. What might otherwise just be "goofy" becomes funny and endearing when you learn Minsc's story, alignment, and approach to life. ("Eh? He is like a bad penny, this one. An armored, deep-voiced penny of most sinister evil!")
3. Many of the throw-away "scenes" in Skyrim, including one that includes a bed, a copy of The Lusty Argonian Maid, and a potion of fortify one-handed.
Friday - June 15, 2012
Dark Souls - Comments from Namco
It's hard to get a good grip on what Dark Souls for the PC will actually play like with the dev team being adamant this is a straight console port with no optimisation for the PC. PC Gamer has some comments from Namco Bandai that suggets the raw power of some PC setups might alleviate the frame-rate issues at least:
Will it be worth putting up with poor performance to access the new areas? Saguchi suggests that the severity of the port problems will vary depending on the power of the player’s machine. “While the game hasn’t been tweaked itself, because it’s very difficult to tweak, but for people who play on the PC, which is arguably a lot more stronger format to work off of, it does improve the framerate issues,” he said.
“I think it’s really inherent on the person’s setup in terms of what kind of power the game can use. So it’s a little bit more difficult to determine, it really kind of shifts along with the processor that you’re selling.”
“It’s definitely going to be better than the console version,” he added later. “It’s just that in terms of what PC gamers are maybe looking at in terms of what they usually play, it may not match up.”
Thursday - June 07, 2012
Dark Souls - PC port "having a tough time"
I suppose From Software is being honest - which is more than can be said for many game producers - but it's hard to get excited about Dark Souls when From Software themselves sound so unenthusiastic.
A new article at Eurogamer quotes Producer Daisuke Uchiyama, saying From Software is having a "tough time" porting to the PC and they won't be fixing the framerate problems:
"To be completely honest, we're having a tough time doing it due to our lack of experience and knowledge in terms of porting to PC. First we thought it would be a breeze, but it's turned out not to be the case. We're still developing right now - we're crunching right now.
"In Japan there's not much of a PC market and we haven't really taken into consideration that audience before. That's one of the reasons why we haven't been able to step up on the PC platform until now."
Uchiyama went on to confirm that it hasn't fixed the frame rate problems that had hobbled certain parts of the game on consoles.
"In terms of the frame rate for say, Blighttown, From Software sincerely apologises for that happening [in the console version]," he said.
"In terms of the PC version, the quick answer is no, [we won't be fixing the frame rate problems]. Because we wanted to get the PC version out as soon as possible, it's more strictly a port from the console version. We haven't been able to step up into doing any specific optimisation for PC.
"However, in exchange for that, we have prioritised adding new content for both original players and new players."
Friday - June 01, 2012
Dark Souls - Screens, Box Contents
VG247 has screens and the box contents of the Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition. The boxed version essentially looks like a Collector's Edition, with soundtrack, Making of DVD and artbook.
Thursday - May 31, 2012
Dark Souls - Steam, extra content on consoles
Eurogamer reveals there will be a Steam version of Dark Souls and the implication seems to be that version will use Steamworks, rather than GFWL. It looks like the retail box edition, however, will use GFWL.
The extra content developed for the PC-only Prepare to Die Edition will be released as DLC for consoles, according to IGN.
Source: Blues News
Friday - May 25, 2012
DARK - Teaser Trailer
A 1-minute teaser trailer for DARK, the vampire stealth-action-RPG-lite, has been released.
Source: Blues News
Monday - May 21, 2012
Game of Thrones - Social Game Announced
I don't know if we'll cover this in the future but we received the following press release announcing a Game of Thrones social game for Facebook:
DISRUPTOR BEAM PARTNERS WITH HBO® & GEORGE R.R. MARTIN ON UPCOMING GAME OF THRONES SOCIAL GAME
Game of Thrones Ascent to Bring the Story of the Hugely Popular HBO Series to Fans on Facebook for the First Time!
May 21, 2012 (Boston, MA) – Disruptor Beam, a game company that brings together fan communities and online games, has today announced a license from HBO Global Licensing to produce a new social game based on the Emmy® and Golden Globe®-winning series Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones Ascent, a story-driven game that will bring the fantasy world to life for millions of people, is currently in development by Disruptor Beam for future release on Facebook. Fans can follow the progress of the game and receive updates related to its development, including learning how to participate in the upcoming beta program, by visiting Disruptor Beam’s website at http://www.disruptorbeam.com.
Game of Thrones, based on George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series A Song Of Ice and Fire, mixes political and sexual intrigue as seven noble families fight for control of the mythical land of Westeros.
In Game of Thrones Ascent players will lead the life of a noble during the time of upheaval as portrayed in the books and the series thus experiencing a new type of game that unites both story and strategy. Players will claim their birthright by choosing which of the great houses they’ll swear allegiance to, securing their holdings, developing their lands and personal reputation, and assigning sworn swords to quests--while forging alliances with new friends and much more!
Wednesday - May 16, 2012
Dreadline - Interview @ RPG Codex
We haven't introduced Dreadline yet, so let's start with that. A "a Diablo/Freedom Force mashup, but faster and with more blood!" action/RPG from Eerie Canal, formed by ex Irrational and Harmonix devs, the premise is certainly interesting. Check out a teaser here and this early question from RPG Codex's interview covers the core concept:
Dreadline's premise - controlling a group of monsters who travel through time to kill those who are already doomed to die in history's calamities - definitely makes it stand out, as does the look. What were the main inspirations behind the game's unique concept and art style?
BB: Steven is a huge Edward Gorey fan, which explains a lot of the look. We are also trying to bring the creepy look of '70's animation, which I don't think has been represented much in video games. Cartoons like The Hobbit and Watership Down were terrifying!
The concept just came from us throwing around ideas for a few weeks. We all generally have dark senses of humor, and this concept really cracked us up. We knew we were on to something right away.
AD: Yeah, Steve already has a pretty distinct drawing style, mix in Edward Gorey, Quantum leap, and Ancient aliens and I think you'd arrive at the same place.
Monday - May 14, 2012
Warlock: Master of the Arcane - Now Available
Svein writes in to say Paradox' TBS game Warlock: Masters of the Arcane is now available. The fantasy Civilisation meets Masters of Magic set in the Majesty universe can be grabbed at GamersGate and Steam for $19.99.
Saturday - May 12, 2012
DARK - Official Press Release
We've already touched on DARK via a German website reveal but here's the official English announcement:
DARK Comes Out of the Shadows - Kalypso Announces New Third-Person Multi-platform Game
Bracknell, UK, 10th May, 2012 - Kalypso Media is pleased to unveil DARK, an exciting third-person stealth-action game for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and for Windows PC. DARK - developed by RealmForge, creators of the award-winning Dungeons - puts players in the role of a vampire out to discover the secrets of the mysterious global GeoForge Corporation. By making the most of powerful vampire skills, stealth and lethal combat abilities, players will engage and destroy their enemies, while moving silently through a stylized futuristic cityscape. The treacherous techno universe of DARK is rendered in gorgeous cel-shaded graphics with gameplay that tests the players’ ability to master both stealth and combat. DARK is slated for a global release in early 2013.
DARK is a stealth action game with RPG elements that lets you slip into the role of the ultimate killer… a vampire. Stalk you enemies from the shadows then use powerful vampire abilities to attack and silently dispatch them! The exciting story of DARK immerses you in a world full of blood and darkness in which the hunter can become the hunted at any time. As you unravel the mystery behind the global conglomerate that seems omnipresent and all-powerful, continually improve your character by developing powerful skills to aid you in remaining unobserved, or make quick process of those unfortunate to take too keen an interest in you.
Features of DARK:
- Stealth and action combine as players walk the world in darkness and silence, attacking their unsuspecting foes with supernatural fury
- Use powerful vampire abilities and hard-hitting melee attacks to defeat dangerous enemies - turn into a puff of smoke and disappear, or close with your foes in an instant!
- Powerful and intelligently controlled AI enemies mix the fantastic with the real-world. Battle police and elite special forces along with ghouls and other vampires
- Castles, museums, skyscrapers, nightclubs and more are rendered in stunning 3D cel-shaded graphics, beckoning the player to explore - but beware, powerful enemies hide everywhere
- RPG element mix with a compelling story – players will build up their skills through successful evasion and combat, while advancing the story through conversations with NPCs
Wednesday - May 09, 2012
Dark Souls - Sells 1.19M in NA and Europe
For the amount of noise about Dark Souls I'd have thought the numbers would be bigger. Anyway, Joystiq reports the title has sold 1.19M units across NA and Europe - with the 300k or so in Japan, that makes around 1.5M in total, which was enough to give Namco Bandai a strong bottom line.
Path of Exile - Public Stress Weekend Announcement
Although we already covered this briefly, Grinding Gears sent us the press release for the Path of Exile Public Stress Weekend, which offers the opportunity to play the new Shadow class:
Play Indie Action RPG Path of Exile’s latest Class the Shadow this Weekend
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – 9 May 2012 – Indie Action RPG Path of Exile has announced its latest character class, the hit-and-run trap-laying Shadow. Although currently in closed beta, Path of Exile is opening its doors to everyone for two days with a public test this coming weekend. Supporters can also pre-purchase credit for the game’s ‘ethical microtransactions’ and receive a permanent beta key.
The Shadow is a hybrid dexterity and intelligence class, a professional assassin exiled after getting on the wrong side of a former client. He employs deadly traps and spells against opponents, finishing off survivors with quick dagger strikes while darting in and out of combat.
In Path of Exile, any class can use any skill, weapon or trap, allowing for a huge variety of possible character builds. The Shadow is particularly well suited to traps and fast weapons like claws and daggers.
Using Path of Exile’s support gem system, the Shadow can turn any spell into a trap or remotely detonated mine. For instance, the Shadow can link a Frost Wall skill gem with a Remote Mine support gem to create a Frost Wall Mine which they can place to strategically trap enemies.
The first chance to play the Shadow character will be in this weekend’s public stress test. The Path of Exile Beta servers will open for public access at 5pm PDT on Friday, May 11. Public access will end at 11:59pm PDT Sunday night, May 13. A full FAQ about the public weekend is available at www.pathofexile.com/publicweekend.
Borcanu also points out the v0.9.9 Patch Notes, which are rather lengthy.
Monday - May 07, 2012
Path of Exile - New Class, Public Stress Weekend
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has revealed the sixth character class for Path of Exile. Here's a snip on the Shadow:
Lurking in the darkness, the malevolent Shadow silently stalks his prey with dagger readied. Grinning with anticipation, he follows his target towards the deadly traps he has planted in advance. Already, his subtle spells work their dark magics, heightening his senses and dulling his targets. The trap springs, and his surprised, mutilated victim barely has time to utter a final, desperate gasp before the blade punctures his lungs, stealing away both breath and life.
They have also announced a Public Stress Test Weekend coming up:
The Path of Exile servers will be open for public access from 5pm Friday (May 11) to 11:59pm Sunday (May 13), Pacific Daylight Time for our second Public Stress Test Weekend. Our new character class, the Shadow will be available for everyone to play. We look forward to seeing you there!
Friday - May 04, 2012
DARK - Vampire RPG Revealed
Sir_Brennus points us to an article at German site GameStar revealing a new vampire action/RPG to be published by Kalypso. According to my Google-fu, DARK sees the character Eric Bane waking up in a vampire bar with no memories and the player has to investigate Eric's past. The game uses a cel-shaded look for its contemporary setting and is due first quarter 2013.
Thursday - May 03, 2012
Dragon's Dogma - Preview @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee serves up a preview of Dragon's Dogma for consoles:
Truth be told, I had many doubts about Dragon's Dogma's depth as a role-playing game before trying the demo, and I came away from it with the same exact doubts. As it is, it's difficult to gauge how interesting the experience as a whole will be, whether the game will hold up when exploring its promised vast world map, or just playing through its allegedly 30-40 hours long critical path. What I can say is that the demo provided an enjoyable experience and points to a game with undoubted potential. Arguably, it won't please those that found Skyrim too action-focused, or frowned at Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning and its God of War-like combat, but for those that don't mind fast-paced action in their RPGs, Dragon's Dogma is a title worth keeping an eye on.
Dark Souls - What We Want @ IGN
IGN lays out what they would like from the PC release of Dark Souls. In practice, the article goes through the issues PC gamers will likely have with Namco's "straight port" approach, offering existing comments from the company. I don't think there's anything new but, if you haven't been following this closely, might be worth a catch-up on the issues:
Few things scream "straight port" louder than a lack of control configuration options or the appearance of in-game messages advising players to "Press Start" or "Hold LT". With Dark Souls' extensive move-set, alternate weapon load-outs and multiple spell and item slots it's a perfect candidate for the hotkey-heaven that is a keyboard or gaming mouse. The occasional finger acrobatics required by the console version could be eliminated to ensure that the game's firm-but-fair difficulty level stems from its impeccable level design, rather than the challenge to recall the correct control input in the heat of the moment.
Again, Miyazaki appears to have poured cold water on extensive work being done in this area, "Since it's a straight port from the console version we strongly recommend that players use a game pad, but as it's a PC version we will support keyboard, even though that support will be minimal."
R.A.W. - New Video
A new video showing off the Wizard class for Realms of Ancient War has been released. Here's an excerpt from the press release and head to RPS to watch the video:
While the Warrior excels in hand-to-hand combat, the Wizard is talented at long range attacks, where he decimates entire armies with devastating spells. The Wizard masters the natural elements and can unleash lightning, torrents of flames, tornadoes and waves of pure energy... as long as his mana pool is full. However, such tremendous power has a drawback: the Wizard is the most fragile of the heroes, and he will not stand very long should the enemy reach him!
Monday - April 23, 2012
Dragon's Dogma - Preview @ Destructoid
We haven't really been following Dragon's Dogma, though we probably should - it's a shame there's no PC port. Ovenall sends in this preview at Destructoid and the game certainly sounds worth a look:
They had me at open-world where you'll travel to kingdoms as the fated one to slay the dragon and save the world. I love that sh*t, even if I've just played a few games that sounded much like that recently. But it makes sense that another Western-style RPG is being attempted, especially after the wild success of games like The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Kingdoms of Amalur, and The Witcher 2. There's still a bit of room left for more in this genre space, especially when new, standout ideas are involved.
These Western-style RPGs are really hot these days, so much so that Eastern developers are now trying their hand at the genre. Most recently, From Software's Souls franchise made a bloody splash, with the punishment of Dark Souls still fresh in gamers' minds. Now Capcom takes up sword and shield, suiting up members of the Devil May Cry and Resident Evil development teams to go into battle with their own open-world quest fest, called Dragon's Dogma. And it's gooooood.
Friday - April 20, 2012
Wasteland 1 - Playable in a Browser
Ball_Breaker writes in with an interesting one - a site called DOSDose allows you to play Wasteland (and other old games) via Flash on a browser. Word from Ball_Breaker is "It supports mouse usage and a sensitivity slider also".
Tuesday - April 17, 2012
Dark Souls - PC Details @ VG247
VG247 sheds more light on the Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition after talking to From Software producer, Hidetaka Miyazaki, at the recent Namco Bandai Global Gamer’s Day in Las Vegas. Many will be disappointed in the details - it seems this will be a straight port with little effort to take advantage of the PC platform:
First up, support for a keyboard and mouse will be included but minimal, with Miyazaki recommending use of a game pad and confirming that the menu and inventory screens will remain unaltered. Graphic options will be similarly sparse, which Miyazaki attributes to Namco Bandai requesting that the game be a “straight port”; this may even rule out optimisation in areas such as Blighttown and New Londo Ruins where the developer’s technical achievements on console were not able to quite match that of their artistic vision, resulting in frame-rate issues.
Sadly, a PC port also brings with it the inevitable rise in the threat of piracy. With seemingly little being done to deliver a PC version that takes full advantage of the host platform’s strengths, the threat of piracy will not be combated by enticing potential pirates to pay to receive added value extras and so Namco Bandai will have to instead rely on DRM measures.
In related news, Edge Online reports the decision to use GFWL is not final.
Thursday - April 12, 2012
Dark Souls - Official PC Site, August Release
Namco Bandai has launched a site for the PC release of Dark Souls. The game will officially be known as Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition and a website banner says it will be released on August 24th - head over to check out a new video and explore the site.
RPS notes this will be a GFWL title, for those who like to know these things.
Source: Blues News
Sunday - April 08, 2012
Dark Souls - Confirmed for PC
A post on the Neogaf forums confirms the rumour that Dark Souls is coming to the PC, as can be seen on the cover of German magazine PC Action posted at GamingBolt. The original poster claims the magazine article says there are new bosses for the PC version but "everything else is 1:1".
Source: Blues News
Saturday - April 07, 2012
Path of Exile - Donate for permanent access to the Closed Beta
Grinding Gear Games now have the donation page they were talking about during the stress test weekend.
We’re looking to kickstart Path of Exile and we need your help.
We’re a small game studio in New Zealand composed entirely of Action RPG fans. For the last five years our focus has been on designing an online game with maximum player choice and strategic freedom. Following the public stress test weekend, we received hundreds of requests for the ability to donate for permanent access to the Closed Beta.
Path of Exile is completely free to download and play. We never intend to charge for content or access to the released game, but we are happy to offer early Beta access for those who support us during this important time. In order to fund the development and continued expansion of Path of Exile, we offer a range of ethical microtransactions that allow you to distinguish yourself in the world of Wraeclast without receiving any gameplay advantage. We are completely opposed to the concept of “pay2win”.
On this page, you can pre-purchase Points used to buy cosmetic microtransactions. Every purchase comes with a Closed Beta key so that you (or a friend) can start playing immediately. In addition to the Points, we offer a wide selection of exclusive rewards such as in-game pets, shipped copies of the game, its soundtrack, posters and even the chance to help design a Unique item that will be added to the game.
Thank you very much for your support!
Friday - April 06, 2012
What Makes RPG Combat Good? @ Joystiq
In his weekly RPG column at Joystiq, Rowan Kaiser asks What makes role-playing game combat good? I thought the article missed the obvious answer and goes for "responsiveness" instead:
Responsive pace means that when you press the button to have something happen, that thing happens quickly. In Jagged Alliance 2, one of the greatest tactical RPGs of all time, you click your mouse and you immediately see what happens. Your choices register instantly. Or, in games like The Elder Scrolls: Arena and Daggerfall, your sword follows your mouse when you hold the attack button, and you see the effect instantly. On the other hand, there are games like Anachronox, a fascinating Ion Storm homage to Japanese classic Chrono Trigger. Anachronox does extremely well at setting a tone for the game with interesting characters and narrative, but its sluggish combat is a major drawback and renders the game extremely frustrating in battle-heavy areas.
Wednesday - April 04, 2012
Nyrthos - New Screen
A new screen for the rather pretty 2D browser-based RPG Nyrthos was released on twitter a couple of days back.
Thursday - March 29, 2012
Dungeon Master - Chaos Strikes Back PC Port
With Grimrock around the corner, thoughts of Dungeon Master are on people's minds. RPS points out a crazy project that took the Atari ST version of the sequel to Dungeon Master, Chaos Strikes Back, disassembled it and ported it to Windows, Linux and OSX. An awful lot of work - but there you go.
If you’re wondering why someone would be mad enough to do that for a game that was actually released on PC, it’s because peculiarly, its first sequel, Chaos Strikes Back, never was. And thus the necessity for such an astonishing amount of labour. Which means both are available. Although if my 11 year old self is anything to go by, it was impossibly difficult.
Tuesday - March 27, 2012
Path of Exile - Free Beta Weekend
I finally have internet access fully restored...now to catch up on a mountain of newsbits.
Grinding Gear Games writes they will be holding a free open-beta weekend for the promising action/RPG, Path of Exile this weekend. Here's the press release:
Indie Action RPG Path of Exile opens up its Beta for This Weekend Only
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – 27 March 2012 – Grinding Gear Games, the New Zealand developer of the much-anticipated action RPG Path of Exile, have announced that its Beta will be open to the public for stress testing this weekend: March 30-April 1.
The game has previously been in a restricted Closed Beta test, and this public stress test will be the first opportunity for many patient fans to play Path of Exile.
The Path of Exile Beta servers will open for public access at 5pm PDT on Friday, March 30. Public access will end at 11:59pm PDT Sunday night, April 1. A full FAQ about the Public Weekend is available at http://www.pathofexile.com/publicweekend.
Featuring its own dark, gritty take on the Action RPG genre, a unique skill gem system and a complex passive skill tree, Path of Exile is on track to enter permanent Open Beta within a few months. PvP combat and cosmetic purchases are planned for the Open Beta.
“We’re really looking forward to getting feedback from the wider gaming community,” says Chris Wilson, Grinding Gear Games’ co-founder. “We’ve arranged a number of interesting events for the public weekend, and we’re looking forward to meeting you in game.”
Players participating in the stress test weekend will be ranked on a ladder web page, showing who has gained the most experience. A separate ladder is available for players playing in 'Hardcore' mode where characters are removed if they die. Developer-run events, such as two hour ladder races and competitions to full-clear areas first, will occur throughout the weekend with details posted on the Path of Exile website.
All of Path of Exile’s current content may be played during the public stress test weekend, including the upcoming 0.9.8 Beta patch, which adds new skills, improved social features and numerous balance improvements.
To take part in this Beta, sign up for an account at www.pathofexile.com.
Key features of ‘Path of Exile’:
- Completely free to download and play
- A persistent online world capable of supporting hundreds of thousands of players
- A dark and gritty game world rendered from a fixed 3D perspective
- Randomly generated levels and items for extreme replayability
- Online ranking and ladders for every game mode
- Visceral combat with dozens of combinable skills
- Battle in PVP tournaments for worldwide recognition
- Dynamic skill system
View the trailer at www.youtube.com/grindinggear
HD trailers are available from www.pathofexile.com/video
Wednesday - March 21, 2012
Why Puzzles and Exploration Should Drive Story-Telling @ Forbes
Forbes.com has a piece titled Why Puzzles and Exploration Should Drive Story-Telling In Role-Playing Video Games, Not Just Quests. I think the auhor has a valid point, though clumsily explained in the actual article. About the "useless" books in Skyrim:
What if instead of these thousands of useless books, each volume you encountered contained something actually vital to the progression of the game? Keep the spell, skill, recipe and quest books, but ditch the rest. No more useless books at all.
Obviously we’d need quite a lot fewer books, but since books in Skyrim are just irritating props at the moment this would hardly detract from anything.
And what if inside these books were pieces of larger puzzles? Maybe you’d find one clue in a book you find early on in your travels, and then four hours later you find a second clue (or the beginning to a separate puzzle) in a dungeon somewhere else.
Warhorse - How To Make a CoD Killer For Less
If you recall, Warhorse is a Czech developer co-founded by Dan Vavra (Mafia) currently working on an unannounced open-world RPG using CryENGINE 3. Dan has posted a new blog entry that doesn't say anything about their project but is nonetheless an interesting read. On the lack of efficiency in the modern industry and design-by-committee:
Today, the world has gone crazy. Even simple short linear games are developed by hundreds of people and sometimes I really don’t have a clue what all these people are doing. You simply don’t need 300 people and 60 million dollars to make a 5 hour long corridor shooter with 5 types of weapons and 10 levels with established technology.
I know people who worked on some famous franchises. When you ask them what their work on the game was, they usually answer: “Minigun for the second level boss and enemy soldiers in red shirt and blue shirt.” After several months of work! That’s an example of the modern games industry’s “efficiency”. The worst thing about it is that while working on those three models that would normally take two weeks to finish they were constantly crunching.
General News - The Art of Video Games @ Washington Post
Bedwyr sends in this article at The Washington Post that looks at "The Art of Video Games", an exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum:
But is it in fact the case, as game designer Jenova Chen says, that "everything is an art"? Or are there important lines that demarcate entertainment and art? Exhibition curator Chris Melissinos hedges in the wall text that introduces the show: "Using the cultural lens of an art museum, viewers can determine whether the games on display are indeed worthy of the title 'art.' "
Very likely, some of these games, and even more in the future, rise to that level. But the exhibition doesn't address what distinguishes merely entertaining games from great ones, and what models designers should pursue if they want to achieve greater artistic substance.
Tuesday - March 13, 2012
The Year Role-Playing Games Broke @ Joystiq
The Year Role-Playing Games Broke at Joystiq argues that classic western RPGs reached their nadir in 1995, with a new era and a different paradigm following:
For example, SSI, the company that owned the license for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons video games, released around 30 AD&D games between 1988 and 1994. Thirteen of those were part of the "Gold Box" series of games that had almost identical engines and narrative style. We sometimes complain about Call Of Duty putting out similar games every year, but the Gold Box games came even faster. But SSI lost that license, with the last major release in 1995, and a consistent amount of good-to-great (though rarely earth-shattering) AD&D games disappeared from the market. So too did non-licensed games that are barely remembered today -- Albion, The Magic Candle series, Phantasie?
At the time, this seemed to indicate the near-death of the genre. 1995 and 1996 were certainly dark periods, with only Daggerfall and Diablo -- barely counting with a December 31st release -- making 1996 look better. The numbers never came back, but the Hall Of Fame-level games did: Fallout in 1997, Baldur's Gate, Fallout II, and Might & Magic VI in '98, and so on. (One of the few things that interests me about Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning is that it seems like an indication that the RPG is popular enough again to start seeing generic games in that genre, instead of shooters or action games.)
Monday - March 05, 2012
Why Categorise jRPGs and wRPGs? @ IndieRPGs.com
Craig Stern picks up the discussion about differentiating between jRPGs an wRPGs and defends the categorisation:
This difference in approach is actually visible from differences in map geography. To examine a small sample, here are the overworld maps in Baldur’s Gate, Morrowind, Oblivion, Fallout and Fallout 2. By contrast, here are overworld maps from Dragon Warrior 3, Lunar, Lunar 2, Phantasy Star 4, Final Fantasy 4 (B), Final Fantasy 6 and Final Fantasy 9. The mountains in the Fallout games are passable; the mountains in the Elder Scrolls games are sometimes passable; mountains in the others are not. Compare the frequency with which one encounters impassable mountain ranges or oceans among the wRPGs versus the jRPGs. Notice anything?
In the jRPG maps above, you can actually see that the liberal use of impassable mountains and water effectively turns large portions of the world into corridors between two or three visitable locations. Exploration is thus rendered highly linear. In recent years, Square-Enix seems to have decided that it isn’t worth keeping up the facade, and has shed the overworld entirely.
Friday - March 02, 2012
Long Live the Long RPG @ Edge Online
Edge posts an interesting article in rebuttal to a piece at Slate. A few days back Slate published Dark Night (After Night After Night) of the Soul, asking "is a 100-hour video game ever worthwhile"? A snip:
Dark Souls, a medieval fantasy game, was one of the best-reviewed titles of 2011. It was given perfect scores by the Telegraph, 1Up.com, and GamePro, and was named as “game of the year” in Slate's year-end “Gaming Club” by Michael Abbott and Tom Bissell. What happens in Dark Souls? You control a reanimated soul trapped in a violent purgatory. To escape you must seek out and kill phantasmagoric demons waiting in the distant corners of the world, thus proving your worth to the primordial snake gods who keep watch over the place.
In more than twice the time it would take to read Tolstoy's historical fiction, Dark Souls leaves one's head overflowing with useless junk like the difference in attack stats between a Great Axe with a fire bonus versus a Great Axe with a divine bonus. These bits of occult nonsense don't have an internal logic. In one early section, you'll fight a pair of gargoyles who live perched high up on a bell tower in a castle. These gargoyles, you discover, are especially vulnerable to lightning damage. Why a creature that lives on the medieval equivalent of a lightning rod should be vulnerable to lightning damage is not explained. Every victory in the game is built on a similarly dumbfounding bit of nonlogic.
Edge responds with Long Live the Long RPG:
I see two core arguments in Thomsen’s piece: 1) games are capable of offering their audience gratification, but ought to be enjoyed in moderation so as not to distract from more enriching artistic works and real-world pursuits, and 2) Dark Souls is an evocative, handsome and needlessly stubborn piece of game design that outstays its welcome by taxing players with dozens of hours of stultifying trial-and-error. I’ll start by countering the larger assertion and then seek to address some of the specific complaints levelled at Dark Souls.
Wednesday - February 29, 2012
D&D Anthology - 66% Off on GamersGate
SveNitoR writes in to say GamersGate has the D&D Anthology - six classic games - for a mere $6.78 on mid-week sale. You get all the Infinity Engine games, plus ToEE. Alternatively, you can grab the BG2 Collection or BG: The Original Saga for $3.38.
Thursday - February 09, 2012
Warhorse - CryENGINE 3 Licensed
You may recall we revealed Warhorse Studios a few weeks back - a new Czech studio with games like Mafia under the founders' belts who are now working on an RPG. Warhorse has announced they have licensed CryEngine 3 for an "open-world experience":
Prague (Czech Republic) / Frankfurt (Germany), February 9, 2012 – Crytek GmbH (Crytek) and Warhorse Studios are happy to announce that they have closed a licensing deal for Crytek’s proprietary all-in-one game development solution CryENGINE®3. Warhorse Studios is working on an unannounced role-playing game (RPG). The debut title for the studio will combine open-world experience with a rich story and innovative gameplay elements.
Martin Klima, Executive Producer at Warhorse Studios commented: “We looked at every major technology out there and CryENGINE 3 suits our needs perfectly. We are confident it will allow us to make the vision for our game come true.”
“The team at Warhorse Studios consists of industry veterans from AAA classics such as the Mafia franchise and Operation Flashpoint. We’re excited by their vision for an innovative RPG and we are looking forward to working with them to help them achieve that vision with CryENGINE 3.”, said Carl Jones, Director of Global Business Development CryENGINE.
Sunday - February 05, 2012
Warren Spector - Honoured at GDCA
Warren Spector has received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards:
SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Deus Ex game director and producer, and Disney Epic Mickey creator Warren Spector will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 12th Annual Game Developers Choice Awards (GDCAs) for his contributions to the art and science of games. The Game Developers Choice Awards are the leading peer-based video game industry awards celebrating the industry's top games and developers.
With a career in games spanning nearly 30 years, Warren Spector has earned a reputation in the industry as a seminal designer and a champion for the proper execution of ideas in video games. His work on the career-defining Deus Ex took place while he was serving as a partner at development company Ion Storm and running their Austin-based office. Upon its release in 2000, Deus Ex received wide critical and industry acclaim and in 2009 was named "Best PC Game of All Time" among a list of 100 other titles in PC Gamer magazine.
In 2004 Spector left Ion Storm and the following year established Austin-based video game development firm Junction Point. Junction Point was acquired by Disney Interactive Studios in 2007. Immediately following, Spector began leading the design of Disney Epic Mickey, which released in 2010 and marked his first title as part of Disney Interactive Studios. The game featured Spector's hallmark style of choice and consequence gaming, which he refers to as "Playstyle Matters," and was praised for its unique storyline, charming art design and tribute it paid to 80 years of rich Disney history.
Since beginning his gaming career at Steve Jackson Games in 1983, Spector has played a key role when it comes to redefining genres. As a producer and designer on titles like TSR, Inc.'s Top Secret/S.I. and Marvel Super Heroes, ORIGIN's award-winning Ultima game series, including Ultima Worlds of Adventure: Martian Dreams, Ultima VII: Serpent Isle and Ultima Underworld, as well as Looking Glass Technologies' critically-acclaimed System Shock, Spector demonstrated his ability to open up new avenues in the role-playing arena and provide players with a fresh gameplay experience.
The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes the career and achievements of a developer who has made an indelible impact on the craft of game development and games as a whole, and Warren Spector, who has earned a sterling reputation as an innovator able to merge the deep gameplay elements of multiple genres, stands as a shining example of those principles.
Tuesday - January 24, 2012
Path of Exile - Preview @ GameBanshee
GameBanshee has previewed the isometric hack'n'slasher, Path of Exile:
What makes Path of Exile stand out from the competition is its unique take on several of the genre's more intricate details. For example, while it currently has five classes (six are planned), including ranger, witch, and marauder, the classes don't really put any restrictions on your character. A witch doesn't have to focus on spells, and a marauder doesn't have to rely on heavy weapons and armor. The only elements that your choice of class changes are your starting ability scores (strength, dexterity and intelligence), some of your quest rewards, and your starting position on the passive skills board.
Speaking of skills, that's another area where Path of Exile is unique. Active skills only appear on gems (which you find as you play the game), and then you have to socket them into your equipment to use them. That means when you look for equipment, you have to pay attention to the sockets in the items as well as the stats, to make sure that you can support all of the skills you want to use. Plus, along with skill gems, there are also support gems, which improve any skills gems that they're connected to on an item. For example, one support gem adds cold damage to skills, and so it's worthwhile to find equipment with as many sockets as possible so you can add cold damage to as many of your skills as possible. Sockets are color-coded for different skills (dexterity skills are green, strength skills are red, and intelligence skills are blue), and skill gems gain experience as you do (to a maximum level of 7), adding to the complexity.
Thursday - January 19, 2012
Nyrthos - Interview @ RPS
Looks like the announcement of Nyrthos has stirred some interest with Rock, Paper, Shotgun offering a short interview with BeerDeer. If you follow our forums you'll know the BeerDeer devs have been posting, so this short conversation doesn't offer much new other than a better insight into the "cooperative" features but it might still be worth a quick read:
RPS: You’ve talked about elements of the game requiring players to work together. How is this happening? Will the game have MMO features, or is this just for people you’ve invited to play with you?
Martin Jelinek: The basic idea is simple but possibly a lot of fun. There will be places or objects in Nyrthos that allow players to interact. Noone is “required” to do so, but if he does, he actually casts a vote on what should happen next. For example, there might be a broken bridge across a river, making the cave complex right behind it inaccessible. The bridge can be built, but only after a certain amount of wooden planks are gathered. It is a pretty big task, so players have to cooperate to make it happen and it will probably take some time. And after the operation is successful, the area will be opened for everybody. That’s just a basic example.
Wednesday - January 18, 2012
R.A.W. - New Video
A new trailer has been released for Realms of Ancient War (R.A.W.) with an accompanying press release:
R.A.W. Realms of Ancient War unveils more in video
R.A.W. – Realms of Ancient War, the explosive Hack’n’Slash for PlayStation® Network, Xbox LIVE® and PC developed by Wizarbox, today immerses us in its heroic-fantasy universe through a minute of video sequences!
This video presents us a bit more the rich universe of R.A.W., in which you will take control of a powerful warrior, a dark sorcerer or a stealthy rogue, before throwing yourself in a big, action-rich quest!
The first few sequences of the video, more contemplative, let us appreciate the diversity and richness of the game’s levels and environments. These sequences quickly turn into pure action, while the 3 heroes of the game face swarms of creatures and huge bosses. All the power they have been granted, their powerful spells and devastating abilities will certainly not be too much for them to complete their grand quest!
R.A.W. – Realms of Ancient War will release on PlayStation® Network, Xbox LIVE® and on PC early 2012.
- Watch the video
- Visit the official website
Monday - January 16, 2012
Warhorse - Let the Struggle Begin
Warhorse is a Czech developer founded by Dan Vávra, creator of Mafia and Mafia 2, and Martin Klíma, formerly of ALTAR (Original War, UFO:* trilogy) who are working on an unannounced RPG title. Dan has posted their first blog entry titled Let the Struggle Begin and for fans of the business side of gaming, it's an interesting post about the start of the company something akin to Swen Vincke's (Larian) posts:
Every single investor also asked us why we were not interested in Facebook, online social something or iPhone games. Our answer was simple: we don’t know first thing about Facebook and social games, we don’t think that it’s a good idea to do something that everybody is doing and only few are succeeding, and if we wanted to make an iPhone game, we didn’t need an investor.
We decided that we would not be kidding anyone, including ourselves, so we were totally honest with anyone we talked to. We estimated the total cost of the project to be several million dollars at least, and even the initial phase, when we intended to develop the Vertical Slice of the game, came to a not insignificant sum. This means that an investor has to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and after about a year, if publishers are not interested in the project, he either ends up with a DVD full of cute 3D models he can frame and hang above his personal urinal, or he has to risk even more and pump additional millions into the project without any guarantees that it would sell.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown - New Screens
The latest GameInformer article on XCOM: Enemy Unknown has a rather sad attempt to appeal to fans of other games (like, why Battlefield fans should be interested in XCOM) so I'm going to ignore that bit and point out there are a couple of new screens with the article.
Saturday - January 14, 2012
Nyrthos - Browser RPG Revealed
I bookmarked this during the week and have only just got back to it. Nyrthos (not to be confused by our site owner Myrthos) is a browser-based RPG with rather nice 2D art. The actual gameplay is a little confusing at the moment, with the FAQ saying "we were inspired by genre classics like Diablo 1 and 2 or the Gothic series". From the "basic gameplay section":
You will have a whole bunch of ways to enjoy yourself in the land of Nyrthos. Fighting, crafting, building, exploring.. you name it.
Prepare to fight and kill on your way to glory and honor, build and manage your settlement, defend endless waves of monsters and most of all, cooperate with others to decide the fate of the world of Nyrthos.
Hopefully, you will be able to take care of yourself to survive.. and maybe, maybe.. you will be strong enough to get to places noone has ever been to before.
Although the game is not multiplayer (at the moment) they also describe some cooperative features, though it isn't clear how this will work:
How can the players decide the fate of Nyrthos?
There are multiple ways this will happens, and we do not want to share evenrything just yet. But for example, there might be a broken bridge across a river; the cave complex right behind it is thus inaccessible. The bridge can be built, but only after a certain amount of wooden planks is gathered. It is a pretty big task, so players have to cooperate to make it happen and it will probably take some time. And after the operation is successful, the area will be opened for everybody. Still, this is just a basic example.
There will be many locations that players can influence together, be it the physical world, political events or story development; and on much smaller and much larger scale.
Source: Blues News
Friday - January 13, 2012
Dark Souls - PC Petition Gets Attention?
Eurogamer writes Namco is paying some attention to the Dark Souls PC version petition, with community manager Tony Shoupinou making some comments on the Namco Bandai forums:
"I honestly wasn't expecting such massive support. My boss(es) even came to talk to me about this after it exploded all around the world. If you wanted to have the attention of Namco Bandai Games, now you have it."
Shoupinou urged gamers to continue their campaign for Dark Souls on PC.
"The future is in your hands," he wrote, "and I hope you will keep supporting this. I will make a personal objective to make sure every relevant person at Namco Bandai Games is in touch with this formidable effort."
Wednesday - January 11, 2012
XCOM: Enemy Unknown - Why Firaxis Loves X-COM
Chekote writes in with the latest GameInformer article on XCOM: Enemy Unknown. On offer is a video interview with Firaxis, describing why they love the original games so much:
The original X-COM was a masterpiece, and nobody is quicker to acknowledge that than XCOM: Enemy Unknown's lead designer Jake Solomon. He cites the original title as his favorite game of all time and he wanted to make sure that the rest of the team at Firaxis understood why the 1994 PC title is so beloved. Many at the studio also cherished the classic title, but anybody that wasn't familiar with it was put on a crash course to absorb every detail. The first X-COM has the scope, depth, and atmosphere to survive the test of time, and the team at Firaxis is approaching the reimagining of the game for 2012 with humility and extreme caution. In this video, the art director, producer, and lead designer for XCOM: Enemy Unknown share their experiences with the original game and talk about the process of dissecting and analyzing a masterpiece.
Monday - January 09, 2012
D&D - Was 4th Edition meant to be a MMO?
While not directly cRPG related, there are actually a couple of interesting articles about D&D today. First up Examiner.com looks at comments from insiders and concludes 4th Edition was designed to help WotC transition to an in-house MMORPG:
Hasbro, envious of the success of Marvel's superhero properties into a lucrative transmedia juggernaut, gave each of its brands the goal of $100 million annual sales. The problem was that each of Wizards of the Coast's brands were viewed in isolation, which left Dungeons & Dragons, "a $25-30 million business" according to Dancey, in dires traits. The Dungeons & Dragons team hit on the idea of using the online Dungeons & Dragons Insider (DDI) to grow the brand to $50 million and potentially beyond:
"The Wizards team produced figures showing that there were millions of people playing D&D and that if they could move a moderate fraction of those people to DDI, they would achieve their revenue goals. Then DDI could be expanded over time and if/when Hasbro recovered the video gaming rights, it could be used as a platform to launch a true D&D MMO, which could take them over $100 million/year."
In the second, Rock, Paper, Shotgun points out an article in the New York Times about the decline of D&D and the plans for a new edition:
But there might yet be hope for Dungeons & Dragons, known as D&D. On Monday, Wizards of the Coast, the Hasbro subsidiary that owns the game, announced that a new edition is under development, the first overhaul of the rules since the contentious fourth edition was released in 2008. And Dungeons & Dragons’ designers are also planning to undertake an exceedingly rare effort for the gaming industry over the next few months: asking hundreds of thousands of fans to tell them how exactly they should reboot the franchise.
Updated: fixed link!
XCOM: Enemy Unknown - First Screens and Details
I don't know if we'll follow this in the long run but GameInformer has the first screens and some details on the XCOM re-imagining. Head over for three screens and here's a snip from the FAQ-like information:
Is this a remake of the original?
Kind of. Re-imagining is probably a better term. Firaxis' XCOM: Enemy Unknown doesn't directly copy the underlying game systems – for instance, soldiers have different stats than they did in the 1994 original – but the concepts are still here. Players still have to manage multiple resources and threats on a global scale in a seemingly hopeless war against extraterrestrial forces with far better technology and capabilities.
Is this going to be dumbed down for the "wider console audience"?
Firaxis is undeniably streamlining aspects of the game and removing no small amount of micromanagement, but from what I've seen I wouldn't call it "dumbing down" the game so much as getting rid of tedium and uninteresting mechanics. Soldiers still die permanently, fog of war and line of sight are hugely important in combat, and you absolutely can lose the game if you screw up too badly.
Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Thursday - January 05, 2012
XCOM: Enemy Unknown - "True" sequel revealed
OK, not an RPG but I'm sure a good number of you are XCOM fans. GameInformer breaks the news of a "true" XCOM game in development by Firaxis, titled XCOM: Enemy Unknown.
Unlike 2K Marin's previously announced XCOM shooter, which sparked tempers among longtime fans for turning its back on the series' cerebral roots, this title is a full-on strategy game that puts players in command of a global anti-alien defense force. XCOM's leader needs a worldwide perspective where threats are identified, populations reassured, and national leaders mollified – but a tactical mind is just as critical considering every shot XCOM's soldiers fire on the battlefield is under the player's turn-based control.
"It’s been a dream of ours to recreate X-COM with our unique creative vision. We’re huge fans of the original game and it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to re-envision a game that is as beloved as X-COM," said Steve Martin, president of Firaxis Games. "We were careful to keep XCOM: Enemy Unknown true to the elements that made X-COM such a revered game while delivering an entirely new story and gameplay experience for both die-hard X-COM fans and newcomers to the franchise."
Source: Blues News
General News - The CRPG Addict: back to the 70's
The CRPG Addict takes us down to memory lane (for those that remember those days) to look at the RPGs of the 70's.
The earliest surviving CRPG seems to be a 1974 or 1975 game called The Dungeon by Reginald "Rusty" Rutherford, who was studying in Urbana. He titled the file "pedit5" (which some sources give as the name of the game) to keep it from being deleted as an obvious game. This didn't save it, but somehow the source code got preserved, and it's available on Cyber1 now.
The original dnd by Gary Whisenhunt and Ray Wood came out the same year, and some sources put it earlier than The Dungeon. The game underwent several versions, and this is the one that Dirk Pellett and his brother Flint Pellett are credited with contributing to. It also uses an iconographic perspective, and its random encounters with creatures and treasure show it as the obvious precursor to the DND/Telengard line of games by Daniel Lawrence that I wrote about in July 2010.
Friday - December 23, 2011
Best RPGs of 2012 @ G4TV
G4TV lists what they believe will be the best RPGs of 2012. It's a thin list, featuring Mass Effect 3, Diablo 3, Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, Risen 2 and a couple of jRPGs. A sample:
While the original Risen has a loyal fanbase among PC players, the 360 version is generally regarded as a less-than-stellar game. Luckily, the tech problems that plagued Risen have been acknowledged and the devs promise they will be solved. Still, a stable game isn't enough to be listed among the top RPGs of the year, but the subject matter is. One word: Pirates. It's a Pirate RPG. It's a bit of a wildcard, but pirates alone shoud be enough to put this title on every RPG fans watch-list.
Thursday - December 22, 2011
Direct2Drive - Purchased by Gamefly
Direct2Drive has been purchased by Gamefly - and there are suggestions not everything will be available in the new system, so take action if you have D2D games you want to access. The official details and FAQ are on this page, including this:
Right now, it's business as usual; you can continue to pre-order and buy games as you do today. We'll keep you informed and send you more details when everything is ready to go. In the meantime, your Direct2Drive account will work as it does now, and we will fully support new releases as usual.
At the beginning of next year, we'll migrate Direct2Drive services to GameFly. We'll take care of everything for you - transferring your account and purchase history to GameFly so you can pick up right where you left off (you'll just need to reset your password for security). If you already have a GameFly account, we'll combine the two.
There are a couple things you can do now to ensure a smooth transition:
- Download your favorite game purchases from Direct2Drive. We plan to have as many game files as possible available on GameFly. Just to be sure, please download your old game files before the transition.
- Download all of your non-game files (like Prima Guides). These will not be supported by GameFly after the transition.
Once transferred, you'll be able to access your account with one login across GameFly's entire suite of integrated services: The GameFly Client, Web site, and Mobile App.
Monday - December 19, 2011
Steam - Winter Sale
The Steam Winter Sale has kicked off with the usual combination of daily deals, publisher packs and general discounts. There's nothing revolutionary so far but here are a couple of deals:
Stonekeep - Matt Chat Retrospective
Matt Chatt does a retrospective of Interplay's dungeon crawler, Stonekeep. This one is not as famous or well loved as the Ultima Underworld or Eye of the Beholder series, but it had a definite charm to it if you could get over the slow walking speed. You also can't move sideways which made it a real pain to search the walls for sercret levers.
Source: Rampant Games
Fantasy Armour and Lady Bits @ Mad Art Labs
Here's a different article courtesy of Ovenall, who sends in Fantasy Armour and Lady Bits, which is written by an actual armourer. The article has plenty of pictures - from fantasy to historical - and is written with a sense of humour. It's hard to take a quote, because the images form the basis of the discussion but it's worth a read.
Wednesday - December 14, 2011
Richard Garriott Interviews @ Eurogamer
Richard Garriott (yes, again) has spoken with Eurogamer about his failures with Ultima 8 and Tabula Rasa. For the record, I don't intend to cover his latest social MMO thing but the inclusion of Ultima 8 was worth a post:
"In the case of Ultima 8, that was the first game I did as part of Electronic Arts," Garriott said, "and Electronic Arts, their whole success formula is based upon yearly releases of sports franchises just before the beginning of the sports season. Since their whole success and sales and marketing comes from accurately timed seasonal launches, the pressure was very heavy to accurately time a seasonal launch for Ultima 8.
"We shipped Ultima 8 more or less on time, but the only way we got there was by really cutting out huge swathes of the game all the way to the point where the cloth map was completely unrelated to the map of the real game because we threw out so many bits and pieces of it. So Ultima 8 was, frankly, unfinished - I mean dramatically unfinished. And in hindsight I look at it and go, if we'd really just finished it properly - even the movement, the jumping that was in the game - had we done it less hacked and more accurately, we would have had a Diablo-style success a year or so before Diablo.
"Too bad, spilt milk," he rued, "I get the blame - I get the appropriate blame, I'm the top of the food chain. It was my decisions. But that's my excuse or rationalisation."
For those who want to catch up his Portalarium stuff, Eurogamer has some comments about that from a few days back. The headline suggests he could team up with EA and the Ultima property again but, frankly, it sounded like an attempt to sway EA rather than a reality to me.
Wednesday - December 07, 2011
Warlock: Master of the Arcane - Beta Applications
This is a strategy game but I thought it worth a mention, being turn-based, having "RPG elements" and being set in the Majesty world of Ardania. Warlock: Master of the Arcane looks something like a fantasy Civ and Rock, Paper, Shotgun reveals Paradox is currently looking for beta testers for a release in Q1 2012.
Thursday - December 01, 2011
Richard Garriott Interview @ IG
Richard Garriott chats with Industry Gamers in this interview that covers some history, why technological leaps simplify the gameplay and the future, as well as comparing himself with Tolkien along the way. A sample:
IG: Where do you think we are now in this cycle?
RGC: So that kind of general pattern is what I think is 'the-more-things-change-the-more-they-stay-the-same' story. I actually think that now there have been what I call three grand eras of game development. The first grand era was solo player games, which I'll call all of the '80s and '90s, generally; then there's the grand era of massively multiplayer games, that I'll call in the 2000s; and now I believe in the '10s we are now into the casual and social game era. And each of those eras are not only hallmarked by being (a) solo player (b) multiplayer and (c) browser and asynchronous types of play but each time the market has grown tenfold, in very important and powerful ways. Solo player games in my mind were all hallmarked not only by the fact that you played them by yourself alone at home, but you also bought all of the games at a retailer or purchased them in a box. The massively multiplayer phase, the market grew 10 times bigger, if you look at Ultima Online as a case study UO sold 10 times more than any previous Ultima - in fact most all of them combined really and so the players in my mind were not Ultima players. One tenth of them were Ultima players, but 90% of those players were people who had never played an Ultima and generally speaking had never played a roleplaying game before in their life. The market truly became 10 times larger.
Thursday - November 24, 2011
If you'll forgive the non-rpg newsbit then I'd just like to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful day!
Steam - Autumn Sale
Three hours left on today's Steam Autumn Sale. RPG titles include:
Steam also has a lot of RPG titles that will be on sale until November 27th. You can find discounted RPGs like Morrowind, Fallout 3, Space Pirates and Zombies, Eschalon Book 1 and 2, Mount and Blade: Complete, Aztaka, Geneforge Saga and many more.
Monday - November 21, 2011
We get a few visitors here that enjoy the roguelike genre so here is a roundup for all of your roguelikers out there. Some of the newbits are quite old, but I don't believe we have officially covered them:
Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup was updated to version 0.9 quite a while ago, but for those of you who didn't know here is a summary of the major changes within the game:
- Ashenzari changes. We’ve finally nailed down Ashenzari balance! Most importantly, his passive XP boost has been replaced with a passive skill boost. This boost is based on how bound you are and what types of equipment you have bound – for example, wield a cursed weapon to improve your weapon skills, or wear a cursed ring to improve your magic skills. Other changes are listed in the full changelog.
- Trog changes. The god of rage is also the god of antimagic, and his weapon gifts will now reflect this more prominently. He’ll also punish his followers for daring to even learn magic skills – and Trog forbid that they attempt to make use of them.
- Reduce Berserk speed bonus. Previously, being berserk let you take 2x as many actions. That speed boost has been reduced to 1.5x, bringing it in line with the Haste status effect.
- Implicit butchering. Characters are now assumed to bring a small knife into the dungeon with them. Cursed non-cutting weapons will still prevent them from butchering, but they no longer need to lose an inventory slot or risk throwing their butchery implements.
- Adjust HP rules. Starting characters are now beefier, getting +3 HP across the board. On the other hand, raising Fighting skill now gives less of a boost to HP.
- Rename Crusader to Skald. The Crusader starting book was hit hard by recent changes, and their flavor has always been problematic (as they have nothing to do with crusades or religion). Rather than scrap them completely, elliptic took this opportunity to give them a makeover. They are still focused on improving their fighting prowess with magic, but they have a different starting book and skill levels.
- New spells added. We have our first Hex/Fire spell in Inner Flame, which curses a target to explode upon death. Larger targets may make for better fireworks! Shroud of Golubria, which appears in the Skald and Warper books, provides a barrier that will completely protect against some melee attacks. Any attack has a chance to tear right through the barrier, which will end the spell, but stronger attacks are far more likely to do so.
- Major modifications to Tornado. The funnel cloud will take some time to spin up to its full size, and it cannot be cast multiple times in a row because of lingering turbulence. However, those caught in its winds will now be flung about wildly.
- Old spells removed. Teleport Self, Berserker Rage, Resist Poison are no longer player-castable spells.
- New monsters: The Lair is now home to basilisks, fearsome lizards that petrify with their gaze. They aren’t the only new beast to come out of the stonework, though. Thanks to Wensley, the deeper regions of the Lair may contain catoblepae. They are slow, but you’ll be slower than them soon if you can’t avoid their clouds of petrifying dust!
- New unique: Ignacio, a powerful Executioner who remembered to bring his axe.
- Many small balance changes. See the whole changelog for full details!
- Also of note is the experimental release of a new game mode, Zot Defence. Those of you who played it on CAO/CDO should note that it has received significant changes since its debut; however, it should still be regarded as a work in progress.
Fix missing portals to Zot on D:27 with restart_after_game after Sprint.
Fix most large special maps not being generated.
Fix mad amounts of divine gifts in certain cases.
Don’t duplicate monsters when exiting the Abyss.
Fix a lock-up on selecting a random character.
A number of crash fixes.
Some documentation amendments.
Don’t stop butchering on unimportant messages.
Add a command “show runes” (‘}’) that was documented but not implemented.
This is blog post goes into the reasoning behind the controversial decision to get rid of Mountain Dwarves as a playable race in Stone Soup.
This is really old news, like 7 months old, but for those of you with an itch for a roguelike set in a zombpocalypse then this one is for you. Here's a bit of info on the game:
Rogue Survivor is a free zombie survival roguelike sandbox game with unique features and modding support.
The game takes place in a town famous for being the headquarters of the powerful CHAR Corporation.You wake up amidst the chaos and you must find ways to survive.
Survive in the city
- Play as living or undead.
- Survive the zombies!... and the humans.
- The undeads get stronger every day.
- Find food and shelter... but you're not alone.
- Reincarnate when you die and continue playing as another character.
- Graphic tiles, mouse support and musics.
Interact with NPCs
- Fight raiding gangs.
- AI controlled survivors are trying to survive just like you.
- Trade with other survivors.
- Lead a band of survivors.
- Get help from the National Guard.
- Commit murders...
- ...but watch out for the police.
- ...and of course beware the undeads.
A dynamic game world
- A dynamic procedural world.
- A city with different districts, buildings, sewers and subway.
- Push or destroy objects, build barricades.
- Day/Night cycle.
- Things happen all the time, the world is not waiting for you.
Get tools, skills and friends
- Learn skills by surviving to see a new sunrise.
- Scavenge items and barricading material.
- Various weapons and items.
- Get followers and turn them into useful buddies
Last, but certainly not least, is a new roguelike in development by the name of Ultima Ratio Regum. It's a combination of roguelike, RPGs and strategy games. Think Dwarf Fortress, but without the dwarves. I've already posted about it in the indie forum and the developer was kind enough to say he'll keep us informed on his progress.
Here is some info on the game:
Ultima Ratio Regum is a middle-ground between roguelikes, RPGs and strategy games. As such, it has a number of unusual or unique features:
⇓ Over 170,000 spawnable weapons
⇓ Complex AI with their own motivations, loyalties and objectives
⇓ Dozens of factions and species to gather support from
⇓ No limit to the size of armies the player can equip and command
⇓ 300+ types of creatures, including name generator
⇓ 14 varied creature languages
⇓ Fully modelled sight, hearing, and stealth mechanics
⇓ No in-built quests; pick your own allegiances and objectives
Tuesday - November 15, 2011
Matt Chat - Might and Magic VI Retrospective
Matt Barton did a video retrospective on Might and Magic VI. He plays the beginning portion of the game while talking about the different mechanics and what it was all about.
If for some reason you don't own Might & Magic VI and this game interests you then you could pick it up from GoG. They have the whole series there:
Source: Rampant Games
Friday - November 11, 2011
Richard Garriott's "Ultimate RPG"
Richard Garriott posted a lengthy on Wednesday asking 'What is Lord British "Ultimate" Role Playing Game'. It covers his journey through the Ultimas is some depth and criticises EA's use of the property, so here's a cut from the end. It's clear (unsurprisingly) that Garriott sees social gaming as the future and his "ultimate" RPG is some sort of FarmVille meets MMO:
The Third Grand Era of Games – Social & Mobile gaming
Today, with my new company Portalarium, and with the talents and skills of many who made Ultima an Ultimate RPG, we set forth to forge a “New Britannia,” a new world from scratch, internally self-consistent, deep and refined. We have lofty goals as an Ultimate RPG. An Ultimate RPG does not fear going where others fear or have failed.
Few believed I would find success during the years I took to craft Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar and its deeply introspective plot. Fewer yet believed in “MUltima” when we began that design journey, and it opened the doors to the MMO space. Many traditional gamers are concerned about the growth of the new social and mobile gaming and its impact on games with meaning and depth. They are doubtful that this era will provide them the Ultimate RPG experience they crave. But this new era has unearthed some powerful new tools that add to the value of an Ultimate RPG.
For example, let’s look at two hypothetical versions of Ultima Online. Version A is the version that was shipped. You drive to the store to buy it, pay $50, drive home, go through a lengthy install, subscribe for $10+ / month, create a character, get dropped into the virtual world, and about 4 hours later, you have explored the game far enough to know it’s amazing. Now imagine version B of the same game. You receive a link from a friend and click on it. You start to play immediately for free. The install and intro to the game has been written in a way that you understand the game within minutes…not hours. After you have played long enough to know it’s worth the money, you are asked to pay by whatever method you find acceptable. I would argue that with these otherwise identical games, version B would totally dominate, because it was in fact a better game and better game experience.
There are staggeringly important new features unearthed by some of the early movers in this space. Powerful new asynchronous tools allow friends in the real world to aid each other and “play” together without being forced to play online at the same time every day or risk falling out of the leveling curve and ultimately losing the ability to play with friends. Instead of paying huge upfront costs, it is better to let players try before they buy, and for those who wish to play for free, it’s fair to ask them to help you bring others to the game in return for continued free play. Proper social tools are compatible with the Ultimate RPG.
So when traditional gamers look at all the “Ville” clones out there in the world, take heart! See not what is popular now, but rather what is happening in this new era that also would benefit them! A great game, like a great movie, need not be inaccessible to the masses. Great story and depth need not come at the cost of up front effort, pain and cost. Free to play does not mean the game has to be riddled with advertising and calls to spam your friends. But, for those unwilling or unable to pay fairly for what they now play, asking them to work for the developer and find us players is not unfair. Great games can and will be made in this new era, to the benefit of all, traditional and new players. We intend to be a leading maker of such games.
Thanks to Xian via Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Thursday - November 03, 2011
Krater - Post-Apoc RPG Announced
IGN reveals Krater, a "top down" post-apoc RPG with RTS elements and "traditional RPG components similar to the original Fallout games". Developed by Swedish dev Fatshark, the game supports solo and coop play. There isn't enough information to draw many conclusions but IGN has a handful of screens and the official site is here.
Herokon Online - Das Schwarze Auge Browser MMO
Alrik notes if you're interested in a browser-based, MMORPG implementation of Das Schwarze Auge, head to their website to read about it.
Wednesday - November 02, 2011
Elite Systems - Retro RPGs Coming to iOS
Elite system announced that it will be bringing some old classic RPGs to the iOS such as Wasteland, Dragon Wars, Neuromancer and Bard's Tale (I, II & III). These games have been added to a collection they were going to release, but have hit a delay.
Here's a snippet:
There is however some good news, the delay (which we expect will be brief, perhaps a couple of weeks), should provide us with an opportunity to include some more “AAA” titles to the Apps when, or shortly after they’re released. The “AAA” titles are likely to include:
THE BARD’S TALE (I, II & III) – the acclaimed fantasy role-playing video game series based loosely on traditional Dungeons and Dragons game play and inspired by the Wizardry computer games
WASTELAND a post-apocalyptic computer role-playing game first released in 1988 and perhaps also
DRAGON WARS and
A revised release date and the dates of the 7-day-only promotional launch pricing (£0.69/Euro0.79/$0.99) will be announced shortly.
Source: No Mutants Allowed
Monday - October 31, 2011
Dungeon Gate - Announced
Dysan possesses unknown extraordinary powers. He has special skills, including one which can absorb the energy of nature directly through his DNA. He can also absorb the DNA of other creatures, making Dysan able to acquire their shape and skills at any time. Dysan will leave to search for his origins, while trying to release the Barrillian world of the influence of the tyrant.
The story is set in the fantasy world of Barrillian. The tyrant forced the people into submission and forced them to work through the influence he has over all the dragons. Extracting from the tyrant the precious stones of the mines to enhance his magical skills, the people are unwillingly witnessing the gain of magical powers of the tyrant.
Key Features :
- 3 huge open worlds to explore
- 7 big dungeons with traps, puzzles and challenging fights
- More than 70 foes to drain and play with
- Detailed and upgradable skill tree for each characters
- More than 40 hours of gameplay
- Storyline with multiple paths and endings
Kenshi - Open Ended, Squad Based Strategy RPG
Here's a game for all you oriental themed RPG lovers out there. It's called Kenshi. I just now found out about it thanks to Gareth's tweet about an article on it over at Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
According to Kenshi's website, it is a single player free-roaming role playing game, with a real-time strategy influence. It's squad based. The developer compares it to a combination of X-Com Apocalypse and Oblivion. It's not set in a fantasy version of Europe, but instead the developer headed east to the orient. If the guy you're playing isn't a samurai then I'm the queen of England.
The alpha version launches today. You can have access to the game for $10 and every future version of the game. The price will rise the closer to completion the game gets. Right now the purchase link doesn't work, but you still play the demo. The game will be on Desura or you can get it straight from him.
I've read where it's being compared to Mount & Blade and while that's a fair comparison it seems to have a lot of influence from many different games. Just looking at the medical system, I'm reminded of Project Zomboid and old school RPGs where you had HP for different parts of your body. This game does not look like for the feint of heart or the casual gamer. Consider me sold!
Here are a list of features that will be in the full release of the game. Many of them are not implemented yet, but if it is half as good as the Project Zomboid alpha then there is still a lot of good gaming in this alpha:
- Original take on the RTS-RPG hybrid genre. No "hero" characters with artificially stronger stats than everybody else- Every character and NPC you meet is potentially an equal, and has a name, a life.
- You are not the chosen one. You're not great and powerful. You don't have more 'hitpoints' than everyone else. You are not the center of the universe, and you are not special.
- Freeform gameplay in a seamless game world stretching over 400 square kilometers. The game will never seek to limit you or restrict your personal play style.
- Unique real time combat system, based on motion capture and developed by an actual martial artist and sword practitioner. Despite being an RPG, combat is action-game-grade and fast paced. No longer do characters stand there like idiots taking turns to hit each other. There are no "dice rolls", game mechanics are not based on archaic board game rules.
- Intelligent AI that allows for characters to reason and work towards long-term goals and desires. Squads work together and carry their wounded to safety.
- Variation and possibilities of gameplay. Be good, be evil, be a business man, be a thief, live in a town, live in the desert, join the army, fight the army, travel alone, travel in hordes, build a fortress, raze a city.
- Dynamic, ever changing world. Support or hinder whoever you wish, or keep to yourself, the world won't stop moving. This is not just a "game", you are living and surviving in a simulated world.
- Absolutely no Level-scaling. The world does not level up along with you, and the shops don't change their inventory to only items matching your level. At the start of the game almost everyone will be stronger than you, and survival will always be a struggle.
- Independently developed with no design influences, or alterations dictated by men in gray suits who have never played a game before in their lives.
- Original game world. There are no fantasy-knock-off cliches. No magic.
Last, but not least, is an official trailer for the game. Enjoy:
Sunday - October 30, 2011
General News - iOS Utlima Type Game Coming Soon
Richard Garriot has tweeted that an Ultima-like game is coming soon to the iOS. There is no official announcement or other information on it other than this tweet from Lord British himself:
iOS Ultima type game coming soon!
Make of it what you will.
Wednesday - October 19, 2011
Buy Britannia Manor II!
It seems Richard Garriott has Britannia Manor II on the market, according to this Remax online listing. For only $4.1M, you can get the 4790 sq ft house with its own observatory on nearly 4 acres of land.
Unfortunately, only 3 bedrooms rules me out...
Jagged Alliance Online - Beta Registrations Open
Another game we don't plan to follow but if you like the idea of taking your turn-based gaming online (and the website says it actually is turn-based), you might check out the Jagged Alliance Online beta:
Jagged Alliance Online – registration now open for beta testing!
Hamburg, October 19, 2011 – gamigo's online reincarnation of the classic turn-based strategy game Jagged Alliance will begin closed beta testing during the final quarter of 2011. Impatient strategists can already sign up for closed beta testing now. The developers from Cliffhanger Productions will also provide answers for the community in the official forum.
Registration for beta testing of Jagged Alliance Online and the official forum can now be found at jaggedalliance.gamigo.com.
Dark Souls - A Game For Adults @ Bitmob
Bitmob submitted this article on Dark Souls, which is a game we probably should have covered but not being a console game, just didn't register with me. Here's the opening of Dark Souls: A Game For Adults.
Realizing that I may not be ready to proceed farther in this skeleton-infested graveyard, I turn back and walk up the staircase protruding from the mountainside. The hollow warriors and soldiers guarding this pass are much easier opponents, and I now know that the Undead Burg is a more appropriate direction for the time being.
Here, one of the first enemies lobs an easily avoidable firebomb, which cues me to two things: I should be wary of overhead adversaries, and I should plan to increase my fire defense soon. At no point does a tool-tip pop-up forcibly pause the action and explain exactly what I need to do (even the tutorial’s control explanations are entirely optional). Dark Souls understands -- no, expects -- that I’m smart enough to figure these things out on my own.
Monday - October 17, 2011
Wizardry Online - Coming in 2012
We won't be covering this but I thought the it might be worth tossing up the press release. Japanese MMO publisher Gamepot sent us news they recently launched Wizardry Online in Japan and plan to being the game to NA and EU next year:
Gamepot Unleashes the Magic of Wizardry Online
Japanese MMO Publisher Seeks Partners for Worldwide Distribution
Los Angeles – Oct. 17, 2011 – Leading Japanese massively multiplayer online (MMO) game publisher Gamepot Inc. is continuing its march to bring Wizardry Online to gamers around the world. Launching the open beta in Japan last week to an overwhelmingly positive response, Gamepot quickly added multiple new servers to accommodate the more than 100,000 sign-ups acquired on the first day of testing alone. Commercial service is now live in Japan and Gamepot is working to deliver an English version to fans in the U.S. and Europe in early 2012.
“For Gamepot, it is truly amazing to see so many enthusiastic fans of the ‘Wizardry’ franchise participate in the open beta testing, and now live service, of Wizardry Online,” said Shuhei Ueda, president of Gamepot. “Bringing this innovative and legendary series to a new platform has been a rewarding process and we’re looking forward to continuing our world-wide rollout to fans around the globe.”
A revival of the legendary Wizardry titles, Wizardry Online is the next-generation incarnation of a series that has been called the godfather of the role-playing game (RPG) genre. Wizardry first came to computers in the early 1980s, and the popularity of its “Dungeons & Dragons”-style gameplay led to the creation of countless sequels, spin-offs and collections across multiple platforms.
There's a website here, although it doesn't reveal much about the actual gameplay.
Wednesday - September 28, 2011
In Defense of "Gamification" in RPGS @ Sinister Design
Sinister Design sends word of a new editorial titled In Defense of "Gamification" in RPGs, which responds to recent criticisms of HUDs and on-screen feedback. Here's the intro to explain:
Last week we had a double-barreled shotgun blast of opinion pieces advocating for RPGs to hide or drop some of their core conventions and abstractions. Tom Bissell, writing about Dead Island, complained about pop-up damage numbers in a real-world zombie RPG and landed a glancing blow against leveling and statistics-based gameplay. In a separate argument, George Weidman over at TruePCGaming issued a searing denunciation of onscreen HUDs.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m fiercely devoted to variety in gaming; pieces like these, where people present their particularized preferences as universal Thou Shalt Nots for games…well, suffice it to say that they tend to get my dander up. What follows is a defense of the things discussed in the articles above.
Monday - September 19, 2011
RPGWatch Contest - Krabat and the Legend of the Satanic Mill
We have a new contest. This time not for a game, but for a movie: Krabat and the legend of the Satanic Mill. This German original movie is released on the 19th of September 2011 in the United Kingdom (in the English language). For more information on the movie you can visit our overview page and watch a preview on Youtube.
We can give away 3 DVDs and 3 books which have been reprinted as a film tie-in edition by Harpers Collins. You could win one of these prizes by simply adding a comment to this newsbit. The contest will end on Monday the 26th of September at which point 6 people are randomly selected.
Edit: The contest is closed now.
Sunday - September 18, 2011
Visual Noise: A Criticism of HUDs @ TPG
A bit of a left-field newsbit but True PC Gaming has an essay titled Visual Noise: A Criticism of HUDs and Fallout: New Vegas is one of their primary example, so I thought I'd include it. The author argues that HUD elements destroy the beauty and immersion of the game and make it too easy. After modding out the HUD in F:NV -
It’s really amazing how much of a difference this one little adjustment makes. New Vegas, which is often criticized for its outdated graphics, suddenly became visually spectacular. It was truly a sight for sore eyes; nearly every frame of gameplay was visually elegant and vivid enough to look more like a painted landscape than a conventional video game—it was a revealing observation that the visual design of the game was doing something right this whole time that the HUD was clearly interfering with.
On top of that, it became infinitely more interesting to play. Without the HUD effortlessly labeling almost everything in the game world, every little gameplay decision became a more interesting endeavor. Would picking a bottle of Nuka-Cola off an unoccupied table be considered stealing? Was that lone, armored warrior in the distance a hostile raider or another friendly guard? I would have to approach them and find out. Without the exhaustive on-screen warnings that the Fallout interface provides, I had to make these judgments myself, planning carefully all along the way about the potential consequences. Without dialogue subtitles, I now had to look characters in the face and listen carefully. Navigating the desert without a compass involved noting the position of the sun against nearby landmarks (the glowing Lucky 38 tower became surprisingly helpful for this purpose.) Underground caves and vaults became terrifying labyrinths without the help of a map marker always pointing me towards an exit.
Wednesday - September 07, 2011
Matt's Podcast #1 @ Armchair Empire
Matt Barton has a new "casual" podcast with some short, off-the-cuff "monologue" (as opposed to his professionally produced "Matt Chat"). This first one features both DXHR and Frayed Knights, so might be worth a listen:
Hi, guys! This is the first of a planned series of casual podcast segments (monologues, really). In this one, I talk about my experiences playing the new Deus Ex game, Human Revolution, then get into digital downloads, copy protection, pirates, Dungeons & Dragons, and Elite. I also talk a bit about Frayed Knights, a game I'm beta testing for Rampant Coyote. I also find an excuse to bring up my favorite comedy movie, Ghostbusters.
Source: Rampant Games
D&D: Heroes of Neverwinter - New D&D Facebook Game
I don't recall seeing this previously...Atari has a new D&D game titled Heroes of Neverwinter for Facebook (yes, that means microtransactions) that is currently in closed beta. You can check out the official page here or the Facebook page here. There's also a preview at Gamers Underground:
In terms of gameplay, HoN is a typical dungeon crawler: light on story, heavy on combat, and with a little bit of exploration thrown in. Built around a central quest hub (the city of Neverwinter), players are able to easily restock between adventures, and can choose from a range of level appropriate adventures.
Combat is quite faithful to D&D, and includes line-of-sight mechanics and a wide range of abilities. Like many adventure RPGs, the player controls a party of adventures either directly, or with the aid of AI. Combat is of course turn-based, and many abilities are limited to once-per encounter, giving fights a tactical edge.
While there is an exploration aspect to the game, it is quite limited. Dungeons will have optional rooms, and on rare occasions these rooms will sometimes require some exploration to find. For the most part though, the game follows a simple pattern: enter room, kill everything, collect loot, choose a direction, and repeat.
Source: Blues News
Misfortune - New Browser RPG
LoadingGames sends word of their steampunk browser RPG that is currently in beta, titled Misfortune. Here's the description and head over for a closer look:
A little about the game: “Misfortune” is a steampunk RPG browser game. In the game you follow the protagonist, as he finds himself marooned on an unfamiliar island, in a strange and violent town called Rodnia.
The game is intended to be a “casual” RPG, to be played for 20-30 minutes at a time. However, unlike many other casual RPG games, the main emphasis of Misfortune is the plot. As the game progresses, a complex story unfolds, including multiple plot-lines that intertwine together.
The entire game is hand drawn by a children's book illustrator, which gives it a unique appearance.
Monday - August 22, 2011
Richard Garriott's "Ultimate Ultima" @ GamersGlobal.de
Parc sends in this article-slash-interview with Richard Garriott from Gamescom, discussing his plans to make an "Ultimate Ultima". Garriott, if you recall, runs an outfit called Portalarium who do online social games like Poker and others. According to my Google-fu, Garriott doesn't have the rights to the name "Ultima" but is looking to make a fantasy-themed MMO-meets social game. "Farmville meets Monster Slayer" is one of the quotes but my German isn't good enough to know the exact context.
Thursday - August 18, 2011
Crytek Releases CryENGINE 3 SDK Free-of-Charge
Why not use the CryEngine 3 for your next indie RPG? ;)
Crytek GmbH (“Crytek”) is excited to announce that they will release their latest all-in-one game development solution CryENGINE 3 free of charge for non-commercial use today. The award winning SDK provides the complete game engine to create AAA quality next generation games for PC, and includes the CryENGINE®3 Sandbox™ level editor, a production-proven, 3rd generation “What you see is what you play” (WYSIWYP) - tool designed by and for professional developers. The free toolset is available for download at crydev.net, the former crymod.com community portal that offers documentation written by the developers of the engine, a thriving community and a supplementary knowledge base for CryENGINE 3. The free CryENGINE SDK will be updated regularly, to make sure our community has access to all the advances we make to CryENGINE 3.
“With the release of our SDK we encourage creators to try out CryENGINE 3 and hope it will lead to new companies being formed and using our engine. More importantly we expect to increase the talent pool for CryENGINE developers, as well as boosting our online community of users. This SDK contains more toys than we’ve ever released before – it empowers people to create whole new games from scratch, not just mod Crytek’s own games, so we encourage all aspiring and indie developers to try it out.” said Carl Jones, Director of Global Business Development CryENGINE.
“For those who want to make the step into commercial gaming, we’ll offer a royalty-only license model for games made with this SDK, where Crytek require only 20% of the developer’s revenues from the commercial launch of their game.”
For more information visit http://www.crydev.net and http://www.mycryengine.com
Baldur's Gate: Dark Aliance 2 - D&D Hall of Fame Nominee @ Diehard GameFAN
In their quest for RPGs with the D&D licence to be placed in their Hall of Fame, Diehard GameFAN are checking out Dark Alliance 2.
Dark Alliance 2 is a big deal around this site. It won our 2004 RPG of the year award and it’s considered by many of the staff here and on other sites around the internet to be the best action RPG for that console generation. I know long time staffers like Alex Williams, Bebito and Chuck Platt were ravenous for this game, as is current IP Wrestling/Comic Nexus writer Aaron Glazer. I too count myself amongst the rabid faithful who dully worship this game. It was Black Isle Studios’ last title and while not their best, it’s hard to think of an action RPG from that era that even comes close to DA2, much less surpassing it.
For those that haven’t played the game, you’re probably wondering why we skipped the first Dark Alliance game, made by Snowblind studios (makers of the upcoming: Lord of the Rings: War in the North). Well, it’s simply because the first Dark Alliance isn’t as good. It’s a really fun game, but at the end of the day it’s a very linear hack and slash that offers two player co-operative play. It wasn’t very revolutionary and the story dragged on a bit. Dark Alliance 2 however did so much more.
Wednesday - August 17, 2011
The Top 10 Greatest Innovations in CRPGs @ Armchair Empire
This is another list from Matt Barton, who provides his Top Ten Greatest Innovations in CRPGs on his blog at the Armchair Empire. It's an interesting list that includes things I would never thave thought of - and misses others. Here's a sample that is hard to argue:
4. The morality of Ultima IV. Year: 1985. Concept: Turn mindless hack'n slashers into paragons of virtue. I've talked to folks who are slightly freaked out by Richard Garriott (Lord British). Maybe he would've founded a cult if he hadn't a games company to keep him busy. His earlier games had been amazingly successful, but by 1985 he was no longer striving so much for technological superiority as spiritual enlightenment. In the words of Jack Black, he didn't just want to blow your mind--he wanted to blow your soul. Thus we get Quest of the Avatar, a game that made us all into Good People. It did so by punishing you for doing the stuff that got you ahead in other CRPGs, such as stealing. This karmic concept shows up in countless later games. Sure, there's no one around to see you steal those coins from the offering plate...But Lord British is watching you...
General News - Five Hard Lessons of RPG Design
In his talk at GDC Europe Josh Sawyer discussed the "challenges that the RPG industry has faced in adapting from its pen and paper roots".
Five Hard Lessons
Sawyer outlined five hard lessons that he's learned over the years:
Mechanical chaos is frustrating. RPGs often rely on random number generators, "in part because that is the only way to simulate things in a tabletop environment." However, he said, "In some cases, where you can reload, mechanical chaos is pointless." It also can be frustrating either way.
What you can perceive is the most important thing. Games "often focus on statistics, but we often can't perceive the effects in games." Small stat upgrades don't mean anything to players at all when they can't see the effect.
Conversely, he said he's "implemented broken things in games but players don't notice it," because there's no external statistic reflection.
Strategic failures are the biggest disappointing failures for players. When building a character or a party, "you're making long-term decisions," said Sawyer, "but many RPGs effectively punish you for making bad choices."
The idea of player vs. character is a false dichotomy. Developers with a traditional tabletop background expect players to be roleplaying when they play games. However, he said, "it will be the player doing the action... ultimately games are about the players trying to accomplish a goal." There is a definite question of "how much are we asking the player, and how much are we asking the character."
Good gameplay is better than whatever your ideas or whatever the player's expectations are. Simple and understandable: don't follow genre conventions simply because they exist. Beyond that, "attempting to execute something because you think it's a good idea or players insist it's a good idea doesn't always result in something good."
Tuesday - August 16, 2011
NWN (1991) - Hall of Fame Nominee @ Diehard GameFAN
Diehard GameFAN continue their search for a D&D game they can place in their Hall of Fame and they found one in the Neverwinter Nights game from 1991.
I’m always saddened by how this game has been lost to the sands of time. 99% of MMORPG fans don’t realize that this was the first ever game of its type and assume that the only game bearing this name is the 2002 BioWare title that uses the same name. Without the massive success of Neverwinter Nights, we wouldn’t have had Everquest, World of Warcraft and the other games that flooded the PC market a decade after SSI and AOL teamed up to create a whole new genre of role-playing game that would fundamentally change the gaming industry as whole. Who would have thought that in 1991 that you could have a game that was able to be played online like a MUD (Multi-User Dungeon) but with (for the time) top shelf graphics and immersive gameplay similar to The Bard’s Tale and other SSI Advanced Dungeons & Dragons games?
Obviously the servers are down now, but I booted up my old hard disc version of the game and was ecstatic to see it was still playable as an offline title. Still that doesn’t compare to how over 115,000 gamers felt as they journeyed through the city of Neverwinter and the lands beyond in a day where video games were nowhere near the huge market they are today, or in a time where social gaming was limited to going over to a friend’s house or metting up in an arcade. Unfortunately playing Neverwinter Nights offline won’t let you same the game, but it’s nice to know that if someone really wanted to, they could set up a dedicated server for the game and play it for Nostalgia’s sake. HINT HINT Wizards of the Coast!
Sunday - August 14, 2011
Dead Island - Coming September
Falchor writes that if we follow Borderlands /2, we should also follow Dead Island. I don't think there's any doubt it's not actually an RPG but an open-world zombie game with RPG elements (and 4-player co-op) might be worth a look for some. Details at the official site and here's an old preview from Eurogamer:
And Dead Island revealed itself to have a hunger for stats as voracious as any of its stumbling horde's taste for flesh. Alongside being an open-world, first-person adventure and a four-player survival game, it's also a loot-happy RPG. In fact, it's unfair to call it a zombie game at all: Dead Island's more of a Frankenstein's monster, sewn together from ideas from the undead genre's prolonged flourish and brought to life with a little spark of Techland's own.
Its debt to Valve is told from the character selection onwards. Four playable characters are available, all drawn from crude clichés, endearingly patched together. There's Sam B, the former rapper who wakes drowsily from a heavy night to scenes of carnage at the game's outset, Xian Mei, a receptionist on the island, ex-pro footballer Logan and finally Pruna, the fourth character of which little has been revealed.
They're more than just colourful re-skins, and Dead Island's RPG credentials seep through each character's abilities. Sam B's the tank, able to soak up more damage but conversely attracting more of it, with more of that coveted flesh hanging off of his bulky frame, while Xian Mei is fleet-footed but more prone to damage. Logan, meanwhile, is an all-rounder, with Pruna a firearms expert.
Wednesday - August 10, 2011
Matt's Top Ten Worst CRPGs @ Armchair Empire
Matt Barton has followed up his last list with his Top Ten Worst CRPGs. It's a personal list but I'm going to take this snip because I disagree:
#6. Alpha Protocol. Chris Avellone, what have you done? How could the same guy who gave us Planescape: Torment produce a flop like this, particularly when the premise (an "espionage RPG") sounds so fascinating? Just hearing that phrase alone makes me want to buy it. But, yeah, we just got another mess with more bugs than a public lavatory without any soap left. Like Dungeon Siege 3, I'm kinda reminded of a bunch of frat guys trying to bake a cake. But they didn't plan well, and now they're out of time, so they turn up the oven to broil thinking it'll turn out just as great in half the time. What really makes this game so galling is that you can't help but see that it could have--should have--been so much better. Perhaps the "alpha" in the title is a not so subtle clue?
While we're doing lists, Jay Barnson has some Guilty Pleasure RPGs.
Monday - August 08, 2011
Matt's Top Ten CRPGs @ Armchair Arcade
Matt Barton (of Dungeons and Desktops fame) has posted his favourite 10 RPGs on his blog at the Armchair Empire. At #10 is KotOR and at #1 is Pool of Radiance - I'll let you read the others:
1. Pool of Radiance. This is the game that really hooked me on CRPGs, even though I'd played Telengard, Bard's Tale, and others before it. It was really the package as a whole that captured me--I was already interested in AD&D and its subculture, but unfortunately knew no one who was into it. This game seemed like a great introduction, and it was. Unlike almost every CRPG after it, the world of Phlan is genuinely interesting and you feel like you're not just building up a set of characters, but a struggling town as well. I ended up playing almost all the Gold Box games, including the Dragonlance and Gateway series.
...and The Rampant Coyote thinks about his list, although he doesn't have a final selection.
Source: Rampant Games
Thursday - August 04, 2011
German USK Publishes Leading Criteria for Age Ratings
This newsbit could be quite interesting for the developers and publishers among our readers. If you're considering to add green blood or other such nonsense to your game, you may want to find a way to consume this German document. ;)
The German Entertainment Software Self-Regulation Body USK (links: English, German) made their current leading criteria (German: Leitkriterien) for age classification (link to the German overview page) available to the general public. GamesMarkt.de writes (transl.):
The leading criteria are the result of the current law, the USK's general policy (Engl.) , scientific findings and the experience from 30.000 USK ratings over 16 years. [Unfortunately there's no precise English word for the legal term "Spruchpraxis". Interpret this in the context of legal consistency. - ed.] They have been written by a gremium of experts and put into force by the advisory council.
So this document is the real thing. Not just a summary, the document the USK uses internally and which has the full support of the involved parties.
According to managing director Felix Falk the USK publishes the Leitlinien as useful information for both users and developers, and to make the USK rating process more transparent and optimized.
On 20 pages in plain text game related topics like violence, war, drugs, sexuality, discrimination, realism, gameplay, atmosphere, etc. put in the context of their impact on a young user and a potential danger for children and adolescents. Legal paragraphs are only mentioned in the footnotes.
As mentioned before, the document is in German. 3 out of 4 related articles have been translated into English, though. So a future translation is not unlikely.
Wednesday - July 27, 2011
Chris Avelone - About Planescape, Fallout: New Vegas and Player Expectations
Chris Avelone is interviewed by playable character, of which the resulting podcast you can find on their site. He talks about Planescape:Torment and tells something about Fallout: New Vegas, but more interesting is what his feelings are about the current trend for handholding in RPGs.
The interview starts at 3:50 minutes in the podcast.
Monday - July 25, 2011
RPG Pillars: 20 Defining Games @ GamePro
Yes, list time. GamePro has a feature titled RPG Pillars: 20 Games That Defined Role-Playing Games. It stretches across all platforms and both western and jRPG styles, ranging from the likes of Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord to Final Fantasy VII to WoW. There are some obvious exclusions for me, but then, I wouldn't know a good jRPG if I fell over it.
Source: Rampant Games
Warhorse - Czech Studio working on AAA RPG
Worthplaying notes new development studio Warhorse is working on a "triple-A role-playing game" in Prague. The studio was formed by Daniel Vavra, Director and Design lead for Mafia and Martin Klima, who wrote the PnP RPG Dragon's Lair and later founded ALTAR (UFO: Aftermath).
No details on the game itself, unfortunately.
Wednesday - July 20, 2011
Runespell Overture - Impressions @ RPS
Runespell Overture is one of those casual RPG amalgamation thingies that we won't cover in detail that combines Poker mechanics with RPG elements. It has just been released on Steam and Rock, Paper, Shotgun has impressions, so I thought I'd give it one mention:
The quality of the graphics and level of polish in the menus, battles and animation all put the likes of Popcap and the Puzzle Quest games to shame. The map especially shows off the amount of care that has gone into making Runespell always pleasing to look at, where here each bird in the background is individually animated, the snowflakes to the side of the screen fall naturally, and the clouds to the bottom left move around in the wind.
A series of tutorial battles with some grumpy Northerners teach you the basics. You’re presented with two rows of cards, one for you, one for the baddie. You have to arrange your cards into poker hands, such as pairs, full house, runs and flushes. Poker hands turn into attacks, which you and your enemy use to chip away at each others health bars. You take turns, each getting three moves to make, and can move cards from either row into stacks on your side, but once cards are in a stack, they can’t be taken by your opponent. This trailer shows how it works in practice, and the card play is entertaining enough that even without the bigger RPG framework, it would be a nice little timewaster.
Saturday - July 16, 2011
CRPG Addict - Review Roundup (Part Five)
Sorry I haven't been updating my Review Roundup. I blame Terraria and Frayed Knights for my lack of updates. Those two games had me hooked for the past few weeks.
So let's get started with one of the best games I played as a child and still replay to this day:
Starflight (1986) - Game World. Absolutely top-notch. You have an entire galaxy to explore with a fascinating backstory that is sketched out in the manual but only fully revealed as you explore, find artifacts and messages, and talk to various races. The lore is unique and interesting, the final twist is amazing, and some mysteries persist even after you've won. Unlike almost every other game of the era, your actions measurably affect the game world and your relationships with the various alien races. I can't think of many games that do it better. Final score: 9.
Final ranking: 53. This puts it with Ultima IV but not quite as high as Might & Magic I. I don't know how well this reflects the game. Perhaps I need to add an "addictiveness" handicap to my rankings, because there's just something ineffably compelling about Starflight. From the moment I started playing it, I played it for a few hours every night.
Sword of Glass (1986) - Gameplay. If it wasn't for that damned permanent paralysis and sleep [Later edit: wrong about this; see here], I'd rate the game pretty high. Although it's "linear" in the sense of being a single-dungeon, multi-level game, it doesn't restrict where you can go in the dungeon. It seemed to have a good balance in terms of monsters, you level at a good clip, and the cooperative multiplayer is quite impressive. It's not replayable except to the extent that any roguelike is replayable. Score: 5.
Final score: 27. That puts it on par with Rings of Zilfin and some of the roguelikes for enjoyability. It's worth a rainy afternoon but not a week.
Tera: La Cité des Crânes (1986) - Look, I'm man enough for a challenge, like playing a game without any instructions, or playing a game in a foreign language. Just not together at the same time. And here's the other thing: I'm not entirely sure that Tera isn't really stupid. I mean, like Ultima II stupid.
So I'm going to move on to Wizardry IV for now, but I'll think about giving Tera another try if someone comes up with a manual (one that doesn't require telechargement, thanks, Murlock) or if any reader who has played it can give me some advice.
Wizardry 4 (1986) - The difficulty of the game is one thing, but what really killed my enthusiasm for Wizardry IV is that it doesn't include any of the elements that I like about CRPGs. Oh, it has an interesting back story, I grant you, and a very original approach. But there's virtually no character creation or development: you start off as the same Werdna every time, and you only "develop" by visiting successive pentagrams; there are no experience rewards for your eons of combat. There are no meaningful NPC encounters, no economy, only one pathological main quest, extremely linear gameplay, and an overall experience that's exasperating instead of challenging. It features some of the tactical combat intensity that I liked about the original Wizardry, but limited in that you can only control one character. The graphics and sound are an insult at this stage of CRPG development.
I'm giving it a 30 on my GIMLET scale and moving on to 2400 A.D., but I do so with some remorse. Actually finishing this game, without cheats or walkthroughs, would have felt like a real accomplishment. Unfortunately, I just don't have that kind of patience.
2400 A.D. (1987) - 2400 A.D. takes place at some unspecified point in the future on a planet technically known as XK-120 but called "Nova Athens" by the residents. Colonized by earth for its mining potential, it became a major center for learning and culture, but over the course of a few decades it was conquered--along with many other earth colonies--by an alien race called the Tzorg. To keep order among the human populace of Nova Athens, and in its capital city of Metropolis, the Tzorg staffed the planet with robot patrols. Although the planet still nominally functions, it has gone to seed, and an underground Resistance network works to find and deactivate the robot's control center.
Gameplay. Within the world, gameplay is fairly non-linear, allowing you to go wherever from the start. But the world is small and confining, so it's not as if you can use the non-linearity to really wander and explore. Overall, it is too easy (you cannot die!), too quick, and not in any way replayable. Final score: 2.
This gives us a total score for 2400 A.D. of: 34. That puts it in the range of Shard of Spring, which I once described as "meh." That's pretty much how I feel about 2400 A.D.
Thursday - July 14, 2011
Geekly News - The top 10 Great Decisions Game Designers Make
Geekly News follows up their original article with The Top 10 Great Decisions Game Designers Make. It's not as strong an article but here's a snip:
Great decision 7: encouraging exploration and discovery
The Gothic games have to be targeted for being the series to follow, as far as exploration is concerned. Since their worlds were hand-crafted, there was always some reward for exploration. Some little area to find, a fantastic weapon or scroll. Great worlds demand to be explored, so encourage me to do so with special encounters or awesome loot. Or even just a stunning vista to look at.
Wednesday - July 13, 2011
Geekly News - The top 10 Mistakes Designers Make
The Geekly News have created a list containing 10 mistakes that, according to them, developers still are making.
Mistake 1: Non-moving NPCs
This mistake is as old as some of the first Ultima games. Probably older, but that’s where I first saw it. Heck, it was in Zork I. That damn Grue was always in any dark area. Nowadays, we’ve got quest markers, minimaps, area maps, world maps, all nicely marked with quest givers, quest locations, sometimes even with quest objectives right on the map. So why on earth can’t we find NPCs that move around a bit? I know, game design 101 right? Make sure that there are landmarks for gamers to attach to and recognize. I get that. But having Johnny Questgiver walk to his house or down to the fountain isn’t a grievous error – especially not if I can read a note on his door saying where he went, or if he’s wearing clothes that are unique.
Friday - July 08, 2011
Steam - Yet More Daily Deals
A handful of potentially interesting deals for RPG players today (only) on Steam - as always, regional prices might be different. Mass Effect 2 is $6.80, Fallout 3 Game of the Year Edition is $16.99 and the Dragon Knight Saga is 50% off at $19.99.
Monday - July 04, 2011
Steam - Daily Sale Deals Redux
Today Steam has Fallout: New Vegas for $26.98, Alpha Protocol for $7.49 and M&B: With Fire and Sword for a mere $3.74.
CRPG Addict - Review Roundup (Part Four)
Here we go with the fourth installment of the review roundup:
Backtracking: Zyll (1984) - In Zyll, you play a young warrior, wizard, or thief on a quest to recover the great treasures of your kingdom (the Land of Magic and Enchantment) from the evil wizard Zyll, who has stolen them. You also must steal Zyll's black orb--the artifact that gives him his power and has allowed him to turn your kingdom to a wasteland. There are other minor treasures to take, too, and the game isn't just about "winning" but rather achieving the highest possible score when you do.
Backtracking: Amulet of Yendor (1985) - Amulet of Yendor (this is the MobyGames name; in the game itself it seems to be called Yendor's Castle) involves a quest to retrieve the Orb of Power forged by the elven wizard Yendor. It takes place on an 8-level dungeon with 64 rooms (8x8) each. As in Wizard's Castle, the rooms contain various monsters, pools, chests, books, treasure, vendors, and other assorted items. You have to fight monsters to find an artifact called the Runestaff which teleports you to Yendor's Orb. Winning the game involves leaving the dungeon with Yendor's Orb in your possession, at which point you are given a score based on the treasure you've collected and the monsters you've slain.
Backtracking: Leygref's Castle (1986) - Leygref's Castle is essentially the same game but with much more tolerable graphics and gameplay. You are once again after an Orb of Power, this time forged by the elf wizard Leygref instead of Yendor. Other than the name change, the instructions are word-for-word identical to those in Amulet of Yendor (although this game helpfully gives you the opportunity to bypass them). Improvements include a map that remains in front of you throughout the game and more information about your status and inventory on the screen. There are few other tricks introduced by the game, including a mysterious jerk called "The Phantom" who shows up and steals your stuff and the chance of going blind (I was never able to cure this). The author of this one, a Frank Dutton of either Texas or Louisiana, deserves a lot of credit for this version, and if you're really eager to play one of the Wizard's Castle derivatives, this is the one I'd recommend.
Moebius: The Orb of Celestial Harmony (1985) - Moebius is notable in a lot of other ways. It is the first CRPG (that I know of) based on eastern philosophy and themes. Perhaps an exception is Ultima IV with its inclusion of avatarhood, but this is really just the use of a term. Moebius is set in a quasi-Asian fantasy kingdom with frequent use of Asian (or, at least, pseudo-Asian) symbology, names, weapons, and combat styles. Confucius quotes appear throughout the manual. There aren't many other games that do this. I think of Jade Empire and...any others? (Other than JRPGs, of course.)
Larn (1986) - Larn is an embellished roguelike. As with most roguelikes, the graphics are very sparse. Your character is represented by an @. Monsters are letters. Walls are pound signs (#). And so on. Interaction is through a fairly large selection of keyboard commands in which capitalization matters. You don't want to mix up (r)ead a scroll with (R)emove gems from throne, because the latter has a nasty habit of sending a gnome king to kill you.
Rings of Zilfin (1986) - Game World. Reasonably good back story about the lost Zilfins and the rise of the evil Dragos. If a bit derivative, at least offers some original elements like the inaccessible castle and the drug-addicted guardian. Generally the gameplay itself does not live up to the manual's backstory. Score: 5.
Final score: 26. The best I can say is I liked it better than Ultima II.
The Shard of Spring (1986) - Shard of Spring ends up being a pretty linear game. You know how I feel about that. As you move across the landscape, you encounter towns and dungeons in a very specific order, and while you can blow past them and jump right on to harder dungeons, it's very inadvisable to do so, because 1) you need objects that you get in previous dungeons to fully complete subsequent ones; and 2) they're too hard if you don't do them in order. There are five or six dungeons plus a bunch of little tombs, and most of them are quite small and uneventful. Once I found the towns that had training academies and allowed me to level up, I got through all but the last one (the evil sorceress Siriadne's castle) very quickly.
Final Ranking: 33. This puts it on par with Wizard's Crown, which makes sense to me.
Steam - Daily Sale Deals
Friday - July 01, 2011
CRPG Addict - Review Roundup (Part Three)
In this entry you'll find some of the games out of order. This is because CRPG Addict went back and played some games that were not on the wiki's list, but on Moby's list. Any game with "backtracking" in the title are those games that he found out about later. Here we go with Part Three of CRPG Addict's blog:
The Bard's Tale II (1986) - The basic trouble with The Bard's Tale II is that it's too much like The Bard's Tale, just bigger. So far, I'm encountering copious monsters, messages scrawled on dungeon walls, teleporters, traps, zones of darkness, anti-magic zones, magic mouths, and everything that I already experienced a couple of months ago. Since I don't even have the satisfaction of character development to go along with it, this game promises to be fairly tedious.
Might & Magic (1986) - 10. Gameplay. As I previously covered, game play in Might & Magic is very non-linear, which (as I also previously covered), I like a lot. Except for a handful of locked doors for which you have to find the keys, there's almost nowhere in the game world that you can't trek from the starting town--assuming you can survive the monsters (hint: you can't). I liked that the game essentially required me to explore to even figure out what the main quest was about. The difficultly of the game is well-balanced. Although you die a lot, particularly at the beginning, the pace of the gameplay is fast enough that you don't really mind (assuming you haven't been a complete idiot about saving). Just as it starts to drag a bit, you start to get a selection of spells--time warp, fly, teleport, town portal--that make traveling about the world a bit faster, and low-level monsters much easier to dispatch. It was over just when I was about ready for it to be over, which is always the mark of a good game. My only complaint: no replayability. But that's par for the course in the Silver Age. In the end, this game was exactly what it should be to earn a high score on my blog: addictive. Final score: 8.
The final tally of 60 is the highest of any CRPG so far, even higher than Ultima IV. This gives me a few pangs, but although I like Ultima IV better as a story, I admit that I probably like Might & Magic better as a game.
Backtracking: Wizard's Castle (1980) - We needn't spend a lot of time on Wizard's Castle (1980), even though it shows enough promise to be slightly addictive if I gave it a chance. It is an entirely text-based game, similar to the earliest versions of Rogue. As Matt Barton says in Dungeons & Desktops (2008), it is notable less for what it is and more for how it was released: it was printed as 5000 lines of BASIC code in the magazine Recreational Computing. I'm not really sure who I have to thank for the DOS executable version I'm playing.
Backtracking: Oubliette (1983) - I don't know how much of this game is based on the original code and how much was added for the 1983 DOS release, but either way it's pretty [expletive] cool. I found a text-based manual on a C64 site [unfortunately, not formatted well] and I can't believe the amount of innovation they packed into a game this early--including elements we see in no other CRPG. For instance:
- You choose from eight races when creating your characters: dwarf, elf, gnoll, hobbit, human, kobold, ogre, and orc.
- There are an incredible 10 classes: hirebrand (fighter), mage, sage, priest, peasant, ninja, thief, paladin, samurai, ranger.
- The game offer D&D's set of six attributes, and like in Wizardry (in fact, I can see this game's influence on Wizardry) the attributes determine what class you can choose.
- Once you create your character, you have to choose a guild to join for your "apprenticeship." There are 19 guilds, but restricted based on class and attributes, I guess.
- There are six spell levels for both clerics and priests, with three or four spells per level.
Backtracking: StarQuest: Rescue at Rigel (1983) - In this blog so far, I have played a number of games that I thought were pointless or goofy (my worst venom remains for Ultima II; I can't believe that was part of such an otherwise excellent series), but I've never played any as painful as StarQuest. I'm not knocking it--I'm sure it was a joy at the time. But unlike just about any CRPG I've reviewed in this blog, there is no way on heaven or earth that this game could be remotely "fun" to modern players. Movement is extraordinarily cumbersome (you hit "L" or "R" until you're facing the right direction and then type the number of steps you want to move) and the controls are often nonresponsive. The quest is extremely basic--you wander around until you find 10 humans and hit "T" to transport them home.
Backtracking: DND (1984) - In the game, you play a single character. You begin by rolling the standard six D&D attributes and choosing from fighter, magician, or cleric classes. You name your character--for some reason, the game also asks you to give a "secret name"--and boom, you're in the text-based dungeon, where you wander around, fight monsters (only two options: attack and evade), collect treasures, find random encounters like teleporters and thrones, gain experience, and--quite often--die. Almost everything I wrote previously about Telengard is true of this game, only with more primitive graphics. It's still slightly addictive, but not enough for me to linger. I got my character up to level 3 and was reasonably rich when I died for the last time.
Backtracking: Caverns of Zoarre (1984) - Caverns of Zoarre was developed by a Thomas Hanlin III of Springfield, Virginia. (This is getting eerie; I have friends in both Plano and Springfield.) He wants $25 for the instructions to the game, but I largely figured them out for myself. After rolling random stats (no wisdom), you choose from a fighter or sorcerer, decide whether you want a "freen" (yeah, no idea) and head into the eponymous caverns. As in DND, as you wander you enjoy random encounters (although less often) with monsters and treasures. The graphics are a little more advanced, at least in terms of your own character and the walls, but there are no graphics for monsters and other encounters. As with DND and Telengard, it's pretty tough to survive for very long.
Backtracking: Heathkit DND (1985) - the gameplay is again remarkably similar to Telengard in the nature of foes you encounter, objects you find, and commands to navigate around. It even has altars that call you "pagan trash" if you gyp them with too little gold! As the first game with an actual "main quest" since I started backtracking, I'm tempted to try to finish it...but I'm more anxious to get caught up to where I was before I discovered the existence of these extra games.
Thursday - June 30, 2011
Steam - Summer Sale
Steam has kicked off a Summer Camp Sale with daily deals and other discounts. I can't see anything compelling at the moment but here's the RPG section (scroll through the banner) with Daggerdale down to $10 and Fable III, The Witcher 2, Dungeons, DA2 and M&B: With Fire and Sword attracting 25-33% discounts.
CRPG Addict - Review Roundup (Part Two)
Yesterday I started listing the games that CRPG Addict has played and commented on. I forgot to mention that CRPG Addict has a master ranking list you can download if you want. He has links to all of the games that he has played and ranked in the document. It's an xls document so you'll need excel or some way to view those documents.
Today I'll continue where I left off with The Bard's Tale:
The Bard's Tale - 10. Gameplay. In some ways, the gameplay is fairly linear--you must progress through the dungeons in a specific order. But having done so, you are free to backtrack to previous dungeons. Skara Brae itself is fully explorable at the outset; there just isn't much reason to explore. The difficulty is "pleasingly difficult," as I wrote in one point, because you can only save in the Adventurer's Inn and you have to carefully ration your spell points in dungeons. Towards the end, though, it becomes incredibly difficult, especially with the ability of certain monsters to turn your characters to stone, which you have no spell to redress. Every stoning requires a trip back out to a temple, if you're lucky to survive long enough. Monsters that drain your hard-earned levels also make you tear out your hair. There is absolutely no replayability; you'll get the same experience no matter what party you use or what decisions you make. Category score: 4.
The Bard's Tale's total score is: 38/100. On my master ranking list, that ties it with Wizardry I and suggests I liked it better than anything I've played so far except Ultima III. That feels about right.
Wizardry II - Okay, here's the essential problem with Wizardry II: you can't create characters in it. Instead, you have to import your characters from Wizardry. Now this would be okay, maybe, if during the import the game auto-leveled you to something sensible, but it doesn't. Also, when you import your characters, it permanently removes you from the original game. You can't even go back and re-import them if they die. Man, these games are harsh.
Since Wizardry II is the same game as Wizardry, I see no reason not to give it the same overall score: 37/100.
Wizardy III - Wizardry III is cheerfully indistinguishable from Wizardry or Wizardry II except for the specific dungeon. Everything else--graphics, controls, character classes and races, spells, and gameplay--are essentially the same. I say "essentially," because there do appear to be some new monsters, weapons, and armor. Instead of leather and chain mail, for instance, you have a "cuirass" and a "hauberk."
As with Wizardry II, you cannot create characters in Wizardry III; you must import them from one of the previous games. Unlike Wizardry II, when you import them, you do not keep your levels, experience and gold. Instead, the game resets you to level 1, explaining that you aren't really importing the characters so much as instilling their spirits in their descendants.
Phantasia - 1. Game World. Although mostly a standard high-fantasy world, Phantasie does a good job fleshing itself out with back story and characters. It doesn't approach the depth and detail of modern games, but it's good for its time, rivaled only by the Ultima series. Although its towns are completely interchangeable, its multiple dungeons each have their own unique character. Your quest is clear from the start, and although Nikademus himself doesn't make an appearance until the end, your progress through the game shows the affects of his tyrannical rule, and the Black Knights are a constant reminder of the main quest. The only thing I can fault the game on is my preference that your actions affect the game world. In this game, they don't, really. The dungeons continually re-set, meaning you find the same NPCs in the same perils every time you enter. In the end, you can kill Nikademus again and again. Final score: 6.
Final Total: 39. This means I liked it slightly more than Wizardry and The Bard's Tale but not as much as Ultima III. I guess that works. Next up....yes! Ultima IV.
Ultima IV - 3. NPC interaction. Again, Ultima IV is utterly unique in its method of NPC interaction, in which you type in keywords. The game is full of NPCs, and you absolutely have to talk to them--practically all of them--to advance in the game and uncover the mysteries of the land. NPC interaction is also necessary to the role-playing aspects of the game, as only by answering truthfully can you advance in honesty, and only by answering humbly can you advance in humility. Sometimes the NPCs have very little to say, and there are only a few dialog "choices," and you can't really establish relationships with any of them, but NPC interaction is still one of the game's strongest points. Final score: 7.
Total score: 53. This correctly gives the game the highest ranking of games I've played so far, although I'm surprised how close it is to Ultima III which I liked but didn't love. Frankly, I think I ranked Ultima III a little too high (rather than ranking Ultima IV too low). Ultima IV's story quest are unparalleled even today, but judging strictly in gameplay terms, it isn't a "great" CRPG, so this score feels about right.
Wizard's Crown - 9. Graphics, sound, and inputs. The graphics are mediocre, especially on the character and dialog screens which are text-only. The only sound is the occasional combat effect. Keyboard commands are intuitive enough and easy to grasp, but constantly having to specify a point man when you leave camp is annoying. Final score: 2.
10. Gameplay. The world is so constraining, and it's so hard to avoid dying, that the game feels very linear. It offers no different experiences on replay, and I found that it varied between too easy and too hard: either I won combats in a snap or I was thoroughly trounced. Final score: 2.
Final score: 32. This puts it above some of the worst games on my list, but not as high as Wizardry or The Bard's Tale, which feels right.
The next game is The Bard's Tale II and that feels like a good point to stop for today.
CRPG Addict has many posts on Ultima IV and they are a great read if you are feeling nostalgic or if you've never played it before. The tiny portion I posted here doesn't even begin to cover everything that he had to say about Ultima IV.
Wednesday - June 29, 2011
CRPG Addict - Review Roundup (Part One)
Dhruin mentioned in a previous newsbit that we don't cover CRPG Addict's blog as much as we should. I agree completely. I've enjoyed his blogs immensely. So I'm going to be playing catch-up and list all of the games he has played up until this point. This will be the first part in a series of newsbits to catalog all of the games he has played. It would be impractical to list them all in one newsbit.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with CRPG Addict, here is an introduction to his blog and here are his self-imposed rules:
1. I am following a list of CRPGs in chronological order derived from several sources--primarily Wikipedia (both regular CRPGs and roguelikes) and MobyGames.
2. Only games released for DOS or Windows.
3. I cannot use cheats.
4. I cannot look at FAQs or walkthroughs until I have finished playing.
5. I don't have to win every game, but I must play for at least six hours.
6. I can only reload a game if my entire party is wiped out or the game otherwise forces me to reload
Basically he is attempting to play every RPG ever made for the PC. He is using various lists to play them all in order from when they were published.
He hasn't always succeeded in playing them in order and has modified his rules a few times to include other lists (he started out only using Wiki's PC RPG list) and he later included text-based rpgs, but mostly CRPG Addict has succeeded in playing them in order.
I will include his thoughts about the games he's played and try to keep them mostly spoiler free. Now onto the games:
Aklebeth - I played Akalabeth more than four months ago now (the idea of a blog not having occurred to me back then), and I was surprised by how quick it went. There really isn't much to it; it's more of a demonstration project than a game. After you create your initial character and buy a few supplies (your weapons are limited to a rapier, an axe, a bow, and a magic amulet), you head over to Lord British's castle to get your first monster-killing quest, and then start plumbing the dungeons.
Rogue - The end result is that although the game would probably take only a few hours to complete if you could constantly save and reload, it took me four months to complete playing it "fair." And let's be clear: for three months and 28 days of those four months, I was playing with different characters than the one that ultimately won the game. Most of the time it takes to win Rogue involves playing, dying, screaming, and restarting at Level 1.
Temple of Apshai - Verdict: an interesting early dungeon crawl, pretty cool for its time, but without enough story or lore to tempt modern gamers.
Ultima I - Verdict: Should you play Ultima I? Absolutely, without question, if you intend to play any of the later Ultima games. It introduces you to the lore of the land and the basic mythology of what will become Britannia. The dungeon crawls are fun and the space stuff is silly but inoffensive. Finally, as you've seen, it takes a mere few hours to win.
Wizardry I - As a landmark in the history of CRPGs, it was fun and interesting to play. I'm not sorry I did. But neither am I sorry I played it only once.
Telengard - Telengard isn't really a game you play for a long time, since there's no way to "win." Instead, it's a game you blow an hour or two on here or there, perhaps competing for highest score or fastest leveling with a friend. The manual actually encourages this with several suggestions for "multi-player" games: "see which player can advance his character to the highest experience level in a given time period"; "see who can map the most dungeon spaces of a given dungeon level" (this is followed by the helpful suggestion to "use graph paper").
Ultima II - Even if you're an Ultima fan--hell, especially if you're an Ultima fan--I encourage you not to play this game. I've played many games with boring gameplay and many games with idiotic plots. It is a rare to find one that combines both.
Ultima III - My first impressions of Ultima III: Exodus are that it redeems Ultima II. It feels like a real game instead of Richard Garriott screwing around. It (at least so far) keeps the game grounded in more standard fantasy conventions without involving light swords and rocketships. Combat is more tactical and interesting (if longer), equipment and items are more varied, the magic system is more sophisticated, dungeons have a reason to exist, and the overall gameplay, to me, is a lot more satisfying.
Alternate Reality: The City - So what, in God's name, is going on in this game? What does this medieval setting have to do with aliens? Why is everyone trying to kill me? What is the goal of the game?
It turns out that the City was the first in a planned six-game series, but only the City and the Dungeon ever got made. There is no way to "win" Alternate Reality: the City, and the only reason to play really is to build up your character for the Dungeon, which never received a DOS port and thus isn't on my list. Life's too short to play just to mess around. Next game.
Autoduel - My six hours is up, and I'm tossing in the towel. I know I'm opening myself up to accusations of half-assing two games in a row, but Autoduel was about the least fun I've ever had with a CRPG--and to be honest, I'd debate applying that label to this game. In any event, I can't find any evidence that there's a main quest or a way to "win" Autoduel, so all it's doing is keeping me from The Bard's Tale.
I'm stopping here for today and will continue tomorrow starting with The Bard's Tale.
From this point forward CRPG Addict has implemented his own rating system for CRPGs. He calls it the GIMLET (Game Innovation, Merriment, Likability and Engagement Test). It's one of the only scoring system that makes any kind of sense to me. It still is highly subjective, but it beats the pants off of a numeric score based on a whim or with little to no feedback from a reviewer on how they rate the games they play.
Monday - June 13, 2011
Wizardry Online - Announced
We won't be following this in detail but here's a press release for Wizardry Online sent in by Gamepot:
Gamepot Brings Back the Magic with Wizardry Online
Japanese MMO Publisher Delivers Next Iteration of Popular Wizardry Series to Gamers Worldwide
Los Angeles - June 13, 2011 - Leading Japanese massively multiplayer online (MMO) game publisher Gamepot Inc. is bringing Wizardry Online to gamers around the world. Currently the Japanese language version of the game is in the testing phase of development, with an exclusive private beta planned for June 2011. Wizardry Online is expected to launch this summer in Japan, and will be published, distributed and operated by Gamepot with additional content periodically provided by Headlock, the game's developer. The game also will be launched in Europe and North America in 2012.
A revival of the legendary Wizardry titles, Wizardry Online is the next-generation incarnation of a series that has been called the godfather of the role-playing game (RPG) genre. Wizardry first came to computers in the early 1980s, and the popularity of its "Dungeons & Dragons"-style gameplay led to the creation of countless sequels, spin-offs and collections across multiple platforms.
"Wizardry Online hearkens back to the original allure of the groundbreaking Wizardry RPG series, but brings an updated flare for modern gamers," said Shuhei Ueda, president of Gamepot. "Now, for the first time ever, players around the world can step into the impressive action and captivating lore of this world in a free-to-play, online format. We're confident the return to hardcore role-playing elements will be a shot in the arm for gamers looking for a new challenge in the genre."
Developed in conjunction with Japanese game studio Headlock Inc., Wizardry Online will offer multiplayer features new to the Wizardry series such as party play and player versus player (PvP) combat, while maintaining the classic style that the series is known for. Hardcore gamers will revel in the return of the complex dungeons that punctuated earlier iterations, and soon will find that the game is fraught with significant peril: Wizardry Online features permanent death, in which player characters can be removed from the game upon dying, creating a more immersive experience.
For more information about Wizardry Online, please visit:
Tuesday - May 31, 2011
A Brief History of Western Action RPGs @ Hardcore Gaming
RPG histories aren't that unusual (Matt Barton's series for one) but this is the first time I've seen a history of action/RPGs. The list starts with Adventure from 1978 (which the author acknowledges not everyone would accept) and passes through the likes of Gateway to Apshai and Darkspyre on the way to Alpha Protocol.
Tuesday - May 24, 2011
Why Titles Like Mass Effect Are Not Good Games @ 2L
The title of this editorial is meant to generate traffic but the substance is less controversial - Second Letter Media argues the presentation of Mass Effect hides less than stellar gameplay mechanics:
The Mass Effect series is arguably one of the best gaming sagas to ever be released. I'm definitely a fan. But, the more I ponder its greatness, the more I believe the game portion of the Mass Effect presenation has nothing to do with its awesomeness.
Crazy? Maybe. But hear me out. When you strip away the epic cut-scene delivered story, the loveable and hateable characters and the fresh coat of graphical paint, what you're left with is an average-at-best 3rd Person Shooter. Both Mass Effect games suffer from hindered mechanics and sometimey artificial intelligence. They also employ perochial (read overly simplistic and pointless) RPG elements and grotesquely linear combat environments.
Friday - May 20, 2011
Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager - The Greatest Forgotten RPG
Here's a nostalgic change of pace. Digitally Downloaded sends in this piece titled The Greatest Forgotten RPG: Dark Sun - Wake of the Ravager.
Looking at the list of some of the greats, it could almost be a ‘best of’ list; there’s Death Knights of Krynn, Eye of the Beholder, Menzoberranzan, Pool of Radiance and the Ravenloft horror RPGs, Strahd’s Possession and Stone Prophet. These games were universally capable of bringing Dungeons and Dragons fans into their favourite game worlds at a time where the value of Dungeons and Dragons was peaking, and there were more game worlds then people were capable of following.
But the best of them is the lost-to-history Dark Sun: Wake of the Ravager. It was a supremely detailed game that encouraged exploration and consequence before the likes of Baldur’s Gate had even been thought of. As such it was also endlessly replayable, and as it was set in a game world that goes against the grain for modern fantasy, it remains, even now, reasonably unique.
Friday - May 13, 2011
Are RPGs Better Than Reality? @ Blog Critics
Zohaib writes about this Blog Critics piece called titled Are RPGs Better Than Reality. The author writes of BG2 offering escape during a hard time in his life::
Escapism, of course. But there are plenty of ways to escape reality, many of which would make me seem much cooler than gaming does. What makes RPGs so special? For me, it comes down to four things:
- Clear goals. Kill that ogre, retrieve that magical spear, uncover what the ambassador is really up to.Have you ever read a corporate vision statement? It’s never “Sell 5 million widgets.” It’s more along the lines of “Maximize ROI by pivoting on key granular innovations in the widget ecology.” Neat! Now what am I supposed to do again? Shut up and get back to work? Yes, sir.
- Proportional rewards. Namely, experience points and gold. Most of us have put in time with a guy or girl we’re crushing on only to discover that he or she has long since relegated us to the “friend zone.” Or worse, you’re happily married until you discover that your partner has mentally left months or years earlier. That stinks, but it happens a lot.
- Progress. You advance in levels, becoming demonstrably more powerful. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve made “progress” in jobs, relationships, and even happiness over the years. But it often seems to be the result of happening to be in the right place for something to happen. Too often in the workplace, hard work might be taken for granted, but sucking up is always appreciated!
- Do-overs. Demogorgon making mincemeat of your party? Try again with different tactics. Or different party members. Or say “to hell with it” and don’t fight him at all. I once called a friend’s fiancée his “human ATM machine.” Oops. Would love to be able to reload the last save before that unintentionally ugly statement came out of my mouth.
Saturday - May 07, 2011
Dark Fantasy and Video Games @ Wired Controller
Zohaib sends in this article titled Dark Fantasy and Video Games, which is actually about grey moral choices in games. Dragon Age and The Witcher are their main examples (spoiler if you haven't played the first game):
However, take The Witcher. Towards the beginning of the game, you are given the choice to side with a witch to destroy the village, or turn the witch in to be killed by the villagers. This seems pretty simple. Witches are supposed to be evil, they are supposed to terrorize people and turn them into newts. However, in The Witcher, this is not the case. The witch has done nothing wrong, and the villagers have blamed their own crimes of murder, rape, and theft on the witch as a scapegoat. The choice is obvious now, isn’t it? The witch is innocent, burn the town! But what about the multitude of innocent bystanders in the town, the ones that had nothing to do with murder, rape, or theft? Should they be condemned to death because of the actions of the few in the village?
Sunday - May 01, 2011
Starfarer - Alpha Release
Gaslamp Games (Dungeons of Dredmor) points out the Alpha release of Starfarer, an indie "single-player sandbox style space role-playing game with strategic elements" from Fractal Softworks. Preordering gets you access to the Alpha (currently v0.33) and a 50% discount, making the price $10. They plan to use a Mount & Blade style increasing price as the development gets closer to release. Apparently Gaslamp provided the art (no big eyebrows this time), so it looks quite nice for an indie. The feature list:
- Single player, gritty, dystopian sci-fi setting
- Classic top down gameplay style enhanced by modern technology
- Unique character development system – advance your story, your way
- Assemble a large, powerful fleet or a finely-tuned task force with hand-picked officers and crew
- Outfit hulls with your weapons of choice, and add ship systems to create crushing tactical combinations
- Explore hundreds of star systems to find habitable worlds, rich resource deposits, and advanced alien technology
- Impact the inter-stellar economy with your decisions – decide the fate of entire planetary systems
- Fight to bring stability and prosperity to the sector – or watch it burn while you take advantage of the chaos
- Runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows
Thursday - April 28, 2011
The First Templar - New Official Site
A new official site for The First Templar has been released, offering the usual screens, info and also forums via publisher Kalypso. The site is available in German and English.
Source: Blues News
Wednesday - April 27, 2011
The First Templar - "Marie" Templar
Blue's Youtube channel has a new video for The First Templar, titled "Marie". The game is already Gold, as you may recall, and is due May 13th.
Source: Blues News
Monday - April 25, 2011
Dragon's Dogma - Previews
I had intended to take a look at Dragon's Dogma, anyway, but Alrik sent in a link so we may as well jump in. Dragon's Dogma is a console-only open-world action/adventure/RPG-lite from Capcom and the producer of Devil May Cry 4. Some previews from a week or two back:
...and a snip from GameSpot:
We're not just referring to the title when we say that Dragon's Dogma is an interesting beast. This upcoming Capcom game is an original IP from a publisher that's well known for squeezing the most it can out of its established franchises, which is certainly novel in and of itself. But perhaps more interesting is the combination of setting and genre. Despite the fact that this is an open-world fantasy game in the vein of the Elder Scrolls series, it's not a role-playing game; rather, it's a frenetic sword-and-sorcery action game. Thus, leveling up and rolling invisible dice take a back seat to using quick reflexes and clobbering the ever-loving snot out of anything unfortunate enough to get caught in your way.
Allow us to clarify. We're talking about a game where you can set a goblin on fire, pick him up, and throw him into a group of his goblin buddies like a living Molotov cocktail. It's also a game where you can jump onto a griffin soaring majestically in the air and then stab it in the head so many times that it falls back down to earth in a sad heap of feathers and twisted limbs. It's almost if the minds behind Devil May Cry made a game heavily inspired by Lord of the Rings. And when we say "almost" we mean "exactly" because Dragon's Dogma director Hideaki Itsuno and producer Hiroyuki Koboyashi also held those same respective titles on Devil May Cry 4. You don't have to dig deep to find that high-action influence here.
Saturday - April 23, 2011
General News - Miscellaneous Submissions
I don't usually do this but a handful of submissions have come in that might not fit our usual coverage, so I'll collect them here.
- wiretripped points out that X: Rebirth has been announced. While the X series aren't RPGs, we've always had a small community following them (and, hey, they're among my favourite games). Here's some info and a trailer at GamePro.
- Sticking with the space theme, Von Paulus notes a space-based "action/RPG/strategy" game at GamersGate called Shattered Origins: Guardians of Unity. The features don't reveal much but it might be worth a look.
- Ben sends word of a dungeon crawl/roguelike based on the UK radio show, Golden Age. I'm not aware of the show but if you lke free roguelikes with a classic anime look, check it out.
Wednesday - April 20, 2011
The First Templar - Gone Gold
We've posted a couple of things about The First Templar, so we might wrap up coverage of this fantasy action/adventure with news the title has gone Gold and will be released in NA on May 10:
The First Templar Goes Gold – Set for May 10 North American Release
Ridgewood, NJ, April 20, 2011 – Kalypso Media USA, Inc is pleased to announce that The First Templar, its action/adventure game for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Windows PC has gone gold. The First Templar follows the story of the brave Knights Templar as they search for the Holy Grail, and defend themselves from their enemies. The game features co-operative combat and puzzle solving in both single- and multiplayer modes, and allows for split-screen play on the Xbox 360. Kalypso will release The First Templar on both platforms on May 10 in North America. For more information, please visit www.thefirsttemplar-game.com.
The First Templar is a co-operative action adventure game, set in a dark and gritty portrayal of the late 13th Century during the Crusade where old friends become enemies, corruption spreads throughout the Church and once noble knights oppress the weak and renounce their oaths.
Source: Blues News
Monday - April 18, 2011
Space Quest for Glory - Released
Point-and-click Adventures aren't my thing but I know a lot of community members hold them dearly. Von Paulus writes that Space Quest for Glory has been released, which is apparently a Space Quest II remake in VGA if I understand correctly. Full details and links at the Infinite Adventures website.
Friday - April 15, 2011
The First Templar - Character Video
I'm stll unclear if The First Templar is an RPG but Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a character introduction video for Roland, mostly showing some combat sequences. Steam has this listed for May, so it's quite close it seems.
Wednesday - April 13, 2011
Age of Fear - TBS Revealed
This isn't strictly speaking an RPG but I'm sure Age of Fear: The Undead King will be of interest to many readers. This is an indie, fantasy, turn-based strategy game with two story-based campaigns:
Recently, we have noticed that almost no-one publishes fantasy turn based strategies anymore. The big companies are producing only uncountable clones of real time strategy games. In those games, clicks-per-minute ratio is more important than strategic analysis and careful planing. The remaining few good strategy games are either focused on multiplier mode or historical battles.
That leaves us, fantasy-lovers of strategic minds, with just a few options. We think is it a time to change that!
Age of Fear: The Undead King is a fantasy turn-based strategy primarily focused on single player mode. The game features a novel battle system and two campaigns with solid fantasy stories.
The story takes place in an untamed fantasy land, where three forces: the Human Kingdom, the Greenskins' Horde and the Undead Legion - are fighting for domination and survival.
You will encounter quick skirmishes, where wise unit's cooperation is essential. You will visit distant lands either as a honorable knight or an evil necromancer. You will conquer cities and destroy ancient evil!
Age of Fear: The Undead King is available for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux systems (the serial key is fully interchangeable between versions - just let us know you want alternative installer)!
Head to the site for a trailer, grab the demo or buy it (50% off this launch week).
Wednesday - April 06, 2011
Driftmoon - Alpha 4 Released
Driftmoon, a top-down indie we haven't paid enough attention to, has reached Alpha 4. You can access the Alpha by preordering and here's the accompanying press release (hit up the site for a trailer and details):
Driftmoon Alpha 4 has been released.
More info: http://www.instantkingdom.com/
Driftmoon Alpha 4!
April 4th, 2011 by Ville
A new version of Driftmoon approaches! In fact, it’s already here! As before, preorderers can access it on the secret download page. If you haven’t preordered yet, you can still get your copy for 20% off!
The most visible change is the improved plot, with the addition of the new starting level. It gives the game a much more fleshed out background story, along with a better idea of what the game is about.
The new talent system is worth mentioning, with many unique combat skills and passive talents. I’ve been playing with the more advanced combat skills, and fighting the nasties has definitely become more interesting. There are critical hits, evasive maneuvers, various skills that affect groups of enemies. My favourite is the Arrow Rain Mastery, which reminds me of the legendary triple crossbow in Ultima.
I’ve also noticed the new random object system makes the game a lot more replayable. Since I have to replay it two times every week, I say it’s great!
» A new level in the start of the game.
» Full Talent tree.
» Recipes can be used to create new items with ingredients.
» Quick Travel. Traveling in Driftmoon was very fast anyway, but this makes it even better.
» Improved terrain and plant graphics.
» Critical hits. Take that, you evil undead monster!
» Enabled VSync by default, for smoother graphics and less CPU usage.
» You can now pick up an Astrolabe to tell the time. There’s a quest that needs you to know the time, so it’s even partially useful!
» Improved texture caching, requires less video memory. You’ll see it as a faster load time when changing levels.
» Feedback button. You can now send feedback directly from the game.
» Stealing prompt. The game now asks if you really want to steal from someone.
The game also supports modding and a changelog was sent over but was a bit long for inclusion on the news page.
Thursday - March 24, 2011
Why Do Our RPGs Still Need Numbers? @ Kotaku
Compare, for example, the experience of Mass Effect 2 with that of a more traditional RPG. You're still doing largely the same things: you're leading a party, you're exploring worlds, you're engaging in dialogue with characters, you're increasing the strength of your party and gaining access to new and improved equipment along the way.
Yet if you asked somebody to play Mass Effect 2 and then play a more "traditional" RPG - whether Western or Japanese - and they'd tell you it would feel like playing two completely different games, the former's fast pacing and action sequences contrasting with the latter's obsession with statistics, percentages, numbers and inventory management.
Whether you like one or the other (or both!) is entirely subjective, but to me, the very purpose (and appeal!) of a role-playing game is to, well, role-play. Create a character and go on an adventure. Like playing dress-ups as a kid, only with (hopefully) better writing and props. I don't know about you, but my fantasies would involve exploring worlds and kicking ass, not seeing numbers everywhere and juggling inventories.
Fortunately, Jay 'Rampant Coyote' Barnson has already replied:
Long ago, I tried the suggestion given in some tabletop RPGs to not reveal to players the exact damage that they had received, but instead to describe it and track the values secretly. I tried to be as descriptive as possible. I thought it would add tension and drama to the game. It did, but not in the way I wanted it to. My players hated it. It drove them crazy. The experiment didn’t even last an entire session. They didn’t want to hear, “You are badly hurt.” They needed to know HOW badly hurt. As exactly as possible. I couldn’t just say, “You might not survive another hit with a sword blade.” They wanted to know – a strong hit with a sword blade, an average hit with a sword blade, or a weak hit with a sword blade? Because, you know, it changes everything. And from that, they extrapolated a number range in their heads.
Because from that quantification, they could then extrapolate. What about a dagger hit. What about a fireball? Most importantly, how likely was their character to survive another round of combat without healing?
Source: Rampant Games
Tuesday - March 22, 2011
Quest for Glory IV - Retrospective
Rock, Paper, Shotgun offers up a review on the classic Quest for GLory IV. Quest for Glory IV offered a unique mix of adventure and RPG gaming style which, unfortunately, didn't seem to attract mass appeal. Here is a snippet from the retrospective:
The Quest for Glory series did many brilliant things that shaped how I saw both adventures and RPGs afterwards. I mostly came to it from the adventure side, which helped the freedom and scope of your actions seemed incredible. It offered Fighter (with the option to be promoted to Paladin), Magic User and Thief classes, all with custom side-quests and their own ways of solving the problems in front of you. Magic User was always my favourite as it came with an ever-increasing bag of tricks to play with, and usually played fair. If you had a spell like ‘Fetch’ and needed to retrieve an object, casting it would normally work. If you had an attack spell, responses would be coded in for most situations, rather than lumbering you with a boring failure message. You were encouraged to experiment with your abilities, just to see what had been coded in. With low skills for instance, clicking your trusty Thief Kit on your hero would lead to him extracting his door-opening device of choice, and accidentally stabbing himself through the brain. More skilled? Click! Congratulations! You successfully picked your nose!
No, it’s okay. Take a minute to finish wincing at that one.
Thursday - March 17, 2011
Valve - Hires Doug Church
There's no promise of anything RPG-related with this news but those of us old enough will probably remember Doug Church's work with Ultima Underworld, Thief, System Shock and Deus Ex with great fondness. According to Gamasutra, Valve has recently hired the great designer...I can hope, can't I?
The First Templar - Delayed to May
GBase.ch writes Haemimont's action/adventure/RPG/something The First Templar has been delayed to May. Head over for the original source in German.
Tuesday - March 15, 2011
Flare - Indie Action/RPG
Michal writes in about Flare, an indie hack'n'slasher that is still in development but you can grab v0.12 to play with. It's quite attractive for an indie game and looks worth checking out.
Wednesday - March 09, 2011
How D&D Changed My Life @ Salon
This isn't actually computer/video-game related but I thought some readers might enjoy How Dungeons & Dragons Changed My Life at Salon:
Every Friday night, from my eighth grade to my senior year in high school, I fell into a realm of wizards' towers, battle axes melees and exploding fireballs. This was an age before 21st century diversions -- no Internet, e-mail, cell phones or social networking -- and Dungeons & Dragons was my total escape. When I wasn't sleeping or in class, I'd draw maps of my Middle-earth-like lands, plan the exploits of my characters and scheme elaborate back stories of my world. From 1979 to 1984, I was under D&D's spell.
But wanting to be a cooler, beer-drinking, girl-bedding kind of guy, I stopped playing D&D when I went to college. There was shame in them thar imaginary hills. So I shelved that yearning for fantasy heroics, which looked so weak and antisocial. I told myself, You don't need D&D anymore.
Boy, was I wrong.
Monday - February 21, 2011
Dying Game Genres @ VGChartz
I think a number of the Top Ten Dying Game Genres at VGChartz is debatable but this one isn't:
I refrained by saying “western RPG” because many are actually thriving, just not in the same vein as they used to be. Long ago many of these “western RPGs” were all overhead isometric games, much in the same vein as Diablo. The upcoming Diablo III is a good sign that games like this may not be as dead as they have been, but one wonders if it will kick off a new slew of like-minded games or be an odd novelty. Many of these games, such as Fallout, have moved away from their roots and embraced other play types such as the ones found in first person shooters and even action games.
Tuesday - February 15, 2011
Can we get another turned-based CRPG already? @ B'n'B
A site called Bits'n'Bytes has a plea for a Might & Magic or Wizardry styled game:
The lack of awesome videogame boxes, manuals, maps and so on aside, what the modern gaming world lacks is a true progression of the turn-based, square-grid map style RPG of the 80′s and 90′s. “But wait Armand, we have awesome RPGs these days! Who needs these relics of the long forgotten 1990′s?” you might ask… or comment. I don’t know, was that a question? Well, I’ll answer it anyway. “Yes!” I say, “we do have awesome modern rpgs the likes of which would have given the 90′s version of me a seizure had I seen them then.” Games like Dragon Age truly encapsulate some of the greatest elements of computer role playing games. But they are to the older turn-based games what Starcraft is to the original Civilization games. Both have resource management, armies, buildings and so on, but they are hardly the same kind of game.
Let’s back up a bit. The games I’m talking about are wonders such as the old Might and Magic series, the Wizardry games, or Lands of Lore. These were games that gave the impression of a first-person viewpoint without the modern day 3D world in which such games now exist. The game world was broken up into a massive grid, with individual squares making up a pre-determined space of about 10 square feet. Just enough space for your party of 4-6 adventurers to battle hoards of pixel-based baddies. You could move in four directions provided nothing was blocking your path, or just turn around to observe your surroundings in four directions.
Source: Rampant Games
Monday - February 14, 2011
General News - Indie Snippets
Both The Rampant Coyote and Rock, Paper, Shotgun have looked at some niche indie RPGs today, so while we probably wouldn't specifically cover these games, I thought it might be worth a mention. Rampant Coyote looks at the comedy parody RPG Mark Leung: Revenge of the Bitch.
As you can probably deduce from the title alone, it’s a pretty wild ride. Mixing live-action video for some cutscenes with “toon-shaded” graphics, the game starts you in a world in which you get into mortal combat with kittens, squirrels, and “giant rabbits” who resemble big guys in rabbit suits. Particularly if you are all-too-familiar with the more modern console RPGs, the game feels both familiar and amusing. It spoofs not only jRPGs, but also whatever seemed to have tickled the developers’ fancy, from Pokemon to anti-videogame activist Jack Thompson to the current economic downturn and even Skittles commercials. It lays the smack down on anything it can lay its paws on.
Ordinary RPG is set in the real world. From RPS:
Anyway, A.Typical is an RPG set in the real world, covering student longing, loathing and lodgings. Boss fights against college jocks, dialogue trees about revealing your true feelings for The Girl, levelling up your social abilities – that sort of thing. Scott Pilgrim by way of Kudos by way of D&D, if you will.
The demo is, unless I’m missing something, incredibly brief, but acts as a proof of concept for A.Typical’s unusual combat and dialogue mechanics. The former is, alas, quicktime events. I’m not an objective witness for those, generally loathing them to the pit of my stomach unless they’re within a very closely-aligned context (e.g. Guitar Hero). The fight in here is pretty easy if a bit long-winded, so I don’t know how it’s going to evolve across the game. Conversation I’m more positive about, as it revolves around arranging your attitude in a manner that you think will suitably impress/intimidate/arouse/etc the character you’re chatting to. In the demo build I worry your choices are based more upon not having enough time than they are gauging the other character, but I don’t know the system well yet and it’s obviously a very early version of the game. The concept, I dig – as the game observes, it’s akin to how, in real life, you tailor your manner as well as your words according to what you believe of your co-chatter.
Friday - February 11, 2011
Academagia - Demo Released
Academagia, the Harry Poteresque wizard-school/RPG/something indie game generated bit of buzz when it was released a couple of months back as I recall. Rock, Paper, Shotgun says a demo has been released (limited to 30 minutes -- boo!) for anyone interested.
Edit: typo on the duration!
The First Templar - New Website
Alrik writes in to say The First Templar has a new website in German and English. There's been some question in the past on the exact genre of this game and Alrik says Haemimont and Kalypso are now calling it an action/RPG, though I can only see "action/adventure" on the site or the product page. Either way, it does look like a potentially interesting third-person action/adventure/RPG/something.
Monday - January 31, 2011
Matt Chat with Brian Fargo, Part 3
Matt Barton concludes his conversation with Brian Fargo, and once again, I'm going to link to the Rampant Coyote for the video.
Friday - January 28, 2011
E.Y.E. - Screens @ Worthplaying
Worthplaying has five screens from E.Y.E., the FPS/RPG from Streum On Studio that is theoretically due for release "early February" on Steam.
Wednesday - January 26, 2011
A History of RPGs @ Den of Geek
Den of Geek has a History of RPGs:
One of the most memorable innovations came in 1985’s Ultima IV: Quest Of The Avatar, a game I would have happily eloped with at the time. Usually when establishing characters, you would assign points to various attributes and skill sets etc. However, what Ultima IV did was ask you a series of questions and subsequently shape your character according to the moral leanings of your responses. This could make all the difference between starting the game as a shepherd or a druid, for example. It was a revelation. A further leap came that same year with the release of The Bard’s Tale, a hugely popular RPG that also bore a couple of sequels. Visually, it was a step up, with its animated colour graphics, but was also comparatively simpler to get to grips with than earlier titles - its pick up and playability enhanced by a game world with towns that you could explore, serving as more than just places to buy equipment (So the next time you’re casually sauntering around places like Ferelden in Dragon Age: Origins, spare a thought for The Bard’s Tale).
One of the most memorable innovations came in 1985’s Ultima IV: Quest Of The Avatar, a game I would have happily eloped with at the time. Usually when establishing characters, you would assign points to various attributes and skill sets etc. However, what Ultima IV did was ask you a series of questions and subsequently shape your character according to the moral leanings of your responses. This could make all the difference between starting the game as a shepherd or a druid, for example. It was a revelation.
A further leap came that same year with the release of The Bard’s Tale, a hugely popular RPG that also bore a couple of sequels. Visually, it was a step up, with its animated colour graphics, but was also comparatively simpler to get to grips with than earlier titles - its pick up and playability enhanced by a game world with towns that you could explore, serving as more than just places to buy equipment (So the next time you’re casually sauntering around places like Ferelden in Dragon Age: Origins, spare a thought for The Bard’s Tale).
Monday - January 24, 2011
Matt Chat with Brian Fargo, Part 2
The second part of Matt Barton's video interview with Brian Fargo is up - one again, I'm going to link via Tales of the Rampant Coyote.
HoMM 3 - Updated HiRes Mod
The Heroes of Might & Magic 3 hi-res/multi-res mod we recently highlighted has advanced to v2.82f. I can't see a changelog handy but head to Gamer's Hell for the files or more information.
The Authentic RPG and its Tragic Demise @ Critical Gamer
The Authentic RPG and its Tragic Demise is a piece at Critical Gamer, where the author discusses the meaning and demise of RPGs. His main issue seems to be pre-generated characters but I found the piece undermined by a lack of experience and some errors - such as adding Fallout to the new generation not-really-RPGs list. I assume he means Fallout 3 but it isn't clear. Here's a snip:
Although I do take offense at your tone, I’ll still explain my reasoning. The trouble is that the majority of RPGs are being attracted to a more action-focused design, one that emphasizes flashy combat and downplays role-playing. And Mass Effect’s brand of gameplay, love it or loathe it, is leading the charge in the industry. Take all the hullabaloo concerning Dragon Age II for example (if you count a relatively minor fraction of perturbed Dragon Age fans to count as hullabaloo). The sequel to Bioware’s award-winning fantasy RPG is adopting the dialogue wheel and voice acted character ideas, forcing the player into the role of a hero named Hawke and claiming to be more (surprise!) action-oriented this time around. Bioware’s first venture into the MMORPG, The Old Republic, is on-board for similar changes as well.
It’s not just Bioware, though: bunches of other RPGs lean heavily towards such tendencies these days, including Fallout, Fable, Gothic and even Dungeons and Dragons itself. The recently announced Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim seems to be the last beacon of hope for the deeper side of RPGs, but even that series is light on character interaction. It would appear that an already too-small gathering of games has dwindled to an amount just shy of zero.
White Wolf - Interview @ WoD News
White Wolf designer Eddy Webb has been interviewed at World of Darkness News - normally out of our purview at the moment but he makes some comments about Vampire: Bloodlines. Don't hold out for another CRPG for a while - at least until CCP gets the MMO out:
Q: Did you feel they captured the essence of the clans and their disciplines in Bloodlines? Why or why not?
EW> More or less. I feel that certain clans got a little more focus than others, but really it’s hard to spread engaging content and design across seven different archetypes. Some of the fan mods, like the Clan Quest mod, do a great job in addressing stuff like that, though. However, like I said before, changing a property between mediums means that some things are just going to be lost. Mind’s Eye Theatre disciplines, for example, aren’t quite the same beast as their tabletop analogs, and powers that are great in tabletop just don’t work well in LARP (or vice versa). I think the same is true for video games, and Bloodlines did a pretty good job in making the core of the disciplines feel accurate, even if individual powers weren’t the same.
Q: Do you feel another Bloodlines type CRPG will ever be produced or started within the next several years?
EW> Honestly, single-player computer RPGs just aren’t as common as they were a few years ago – many companies are converting their IPs into other genres or moving into the MMO space. It’s possible we might explore that space, sure, but certainly not in the next several years. We have this other Vampire computer game to make first. ;)
Monday - January 17, 2011
Matt Chat with Brian Fargo
Matt Barton - he of The History of CRPGs fame - has one of his Matt Chats with Brian Fargo, of Interplay (and InXile) fame. The first part is now available and while I haven't had the chance to listen, Fargo's background is linked with so many key RPG titles it should be worth a listen. Rampant Coyote has embedded the video, so head over there.
Source: Rampant Games
Thursday - January 13, 2011
HoMM 3 - HiRez Mod
HoMM 3 still gets regularly played in my household, so this hi-res, multi-resolution mod is a fantastic idea. Here's the full description:
HoMM 3 HD mod(aka HiRez mod, Multi-Resolution patch, HoMM3 High Resolution Project) is an addon pack for Heroes of Might and Magic 3 that changes game resolution to any from 800x600 to 4000x4000, adds new functionality and fixes some original bugs.
HoMM 3 HD mod not changes original gameplay.Compability: the Shadow of Death, Complete, WoG, TE, WT, and some other SoD/WoG/TE-based modsHD mod features (except simple adventure manager resizing and converting ex-full-screens to windows):
- fixes some original interface bugs;
- 32-bit color mode support;
- minimap works correctly with nonstandard maps from 1x1 to 255x255
- extended adventure manager:- 8 heroes and 7 towns in lists, + five buttons from adventure options;- can view hero's current number of movement points/ maximum number of movement points;
- extended army management (OFF in WoG/TE by default, cause incorrect work with creature's exp):- 17 new buttons on Swap Manager;- managing army in Hero-Info-Panel on Adventure Manager;- if moving last army from hero, 1 creature stay with hero and others move;- quick split/combine/transfer creatures by [ctrl]+click, [alt]+click, [shift]+click.
- Extra buttons ("Load Game" "Restart Scenario", "Main Menu") in the Combat Options dialog;
- Artifact Merchants bugs fix;
- built-in Berserker's CPU patch;
- easy DEF, PCX, TXT, FNT adding/replacing by putting it to \HiResData\Common (which have higher priority than \DATA and LODs)
- WoG/TE mod-makers can easily add new buttons to Adventure Manager ( \HiResData\Buttons.ini)You can turn off most of the HD mod features using Options file \HiRezData\HiRez.ini800x600 original game still works as it should after HD mod installation (no need to make any copy for backup)
Tuesday - January 11, 2011
Aztaka - Developers's Edition Sale
We mentioned Aztaka a couple of times over the last year or so, although a side-scrolling action/RPG probably doesn't connect with our core audience. Still, I thought it might be worth a quick mention of their "Developer's Edition" sale as they try to recoup the $235k they borrowed from friends and family to make the game:
Four years ago Citérémis rented a small office above two bars. The idea was simple: craft a 2D side-scrolling game for the people who loved the old-school genre. The budget: $235,000, borrowed from friends and family who trusted us.
Since its release in May 2009, Aztaka has received positive reviews by many websites, and has achieved total revenue of about $35,000. To bridge the gap: Aztaka Developer's Edition, that will only be available January 7th 9:00 until 11:59 PM on January 31st.
The quest for profitability begins today with two main objectives:
1- to generate enough sales from this edition to let us keep doing what we love and to reimburse our friends and family.
2 -to bring together indie developers.
Source: Blues News
LambdaRogue - v1.6 Release
Getter77 sends in news of another roguelike, this time LambdaRogue: The Book of Stars, which has reached v1.6. This roguelike has an attractive graphical tileset and here's a snip about the new version:
Welcome to release 1.6 of LambdaRogue: The Book of Stars. This is