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Avadon: The Black Fortress - All News

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Thursday - February 07, 2013
Friday - November 16, 2012
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Box Art

Thursday - February 07, 2013

Avadon - Released on GOG

by Aries100, 20:29

Avadon: The Black Fortress has been released on GOG for an asking price of $7,99 instead
of the normal $9,99 .  As always, a quote about this game:

You are a servant of Avadon. The Black Fortress. Your job is to protect the Pact, five nations that have banded together in a fragile alliance. The purpose of the Pact: To hold back the waves of invaders that seek to destroy you.

 

Source: GameBanshee

Friday - November 16, 2012

Avadon - On Sale for iPad

by Myrthos, 14:22

The iPad version of Avadon is currently on sale on iTunes with a 50% discount. That brings it to 4.49 Euros or 4.99 dollars or 2.99 pounds (which somehow is not equivalent to each other, but whatever).

Thursday - August 23, 2012

Avadon - A Case Study In Storytelling

by Dhruin, 23:02

Jeff Vogel gave a talk at a conference titled Casual Connect about the advantages of storytelling in games and making their most successful game, Avadon. It's about 20 minutes and probably something only for Spiderweb's fans but his usual humour shows through and I found it quite interesting. Here's some of the introduction on Jeff's blog:

The most interesting thing about Casual Connect? How weird anyone who sells software in the old school way is made to feel. Here's what I do: I write a game. I give it to you in return for a set number of dollars. Then we part ways, and you never have to look at my pale, beardy face again.

This model is so incredibly retro now! Pay money for a game? Nonsense! Everyone real makes their money with microtransactions and advertising and nickle and diming you for packs of 100 Dragon Bux you can use to make your zombie ninja pirate dragon grow faster. And if you make money any other way, people in suits will act very nervous and not make eye contact with you anymore.

If you end up at Casual Connect and talking to actual grown-up business people, I suggest you do what I did: Have a firm, manly handshake. Make eye contact. Say "monetize" and "ARPU" as much as possible. And then pee yourself.

Wednesday - July 25, 2012

Avadon - App of the Day @ Eurogamer

by Dhruin, 22:52

Avadon (on Android) is Eurogamer's App of the Day, which essentially means it gets a review:

It is in fact a port of a PC version, released a year back, from the ludicrously prolific Spiderweb Software, a Seattle-based company that has been producing full-length RPG sagas for decades. Minimalist in design, and unashamed in their reuse of assets, the essentially one-man team (Jeff Vogel) produces epic stories that tend to span over three or six 50 hour games. They exist in a world where BioWare never was, and it was up to Spiderweb to advance things from Ultima. And it works. Compellingly.

Vogel's two most recent games - a relaunch of the very long-running Avernum series, and a brand new story in Avadon - have been developed for iPad and Android tablets alongside his traditional PC and Mac. And it turns out this is just about perfect. A week's holiday in France almost didn't get a look in as I began exploring The Black Fortress on my Android Transformer Prime, and a day hasn't gone past since when I don't find a sneaky chance to explore for another hour. 

Wednesday - April 11, 2012

Avadon - Released on Google Play

by Dhruin, 01:25

Those with an Android tablet will probably recall Avadon unexpectedly turned up in the last Android-compatible Humble Bundle but the game is now available for purchase from Google Play. The price shows as AUD$9.69 for me, so I presume that makes it USD$9.95.

Monday - March 19, 2012

Avadon - Joins Humble Bundle, Android Compatible

by Dhruin, 20:22

Spiderweb is getting downright trendy with Avadon now available in the latest Humble Bundle. If you aren't familiar with the concept, this is a pay-what-you-want scheme with that gets you five indie games and a percentage goes to charity. This is a cross-platform bundle, offering Mac, Windows, and Linux versions of each game:

Five games—never-before-seen on Android—for your phones and tablets. We're bringing the hottest mobile entertainment to your Android devices. Pay-what-you-want to get Zen Bound 2, Canabalt, Cogs, and Avadon: The Black Fortress (tablets only). And if you pay more than the average price, you'll also get the vibrant, side-scrolling strategy game Swords & Soldiers.

Wednesday - February 01, 2012

Avadon - v1.04 for Mac

by Dhruin, 22:13

Spiderweb has released v1.04 of the Mac version of Avadon:

We have updated Avadon: The Black Fortress for the Macintosh to v1.0.4. This update fixed a number of glitches and improves performance with Apple magic trackpads. You can get the newest version here. Just download and install it. Your saved games and registration won't be affected.

Tuesday - October 25, 2011

Avadon - Review @ AYL

by Dhruin, 23:30

A site called All Your Lives has a review of Avadon with a score of 8/10:

What’s a great selling point for Avadon, is the fact, that there are mysteries everywhere. Every third door or so which you approach will be closed, some of them will have a lock on them which you can pick, some will have magic responsible and then… there will be some… which you wish you never opened in the first place. Keep your hand on the quick-save at all times, you never know what you might walk into.

Let’s just take some real events in the game for example. I broke into an abandoned room of a warlock, just to find the goddamn devil guarding it. I’m very proud to state, that I managed to live 3 turns before being turned into ash.
A different example could be the time when I was talking a light stroll in the woods, killing low lvl wolves with a song on my lips and then I found a nest of spiders. Oh cool, I thought, turns out there was much more there then I could handle.

They also have an interview with Jeff:

RyJek: What’s the most important thing in an RPG game?

J.Vogel: A satisfying feeling of progression. Role-laying games are about starting weak and gaining power. You have to gain power at a satisfying rate, not too slow, not too fast, and you have to feel that, in some way, you earned it.

Tuesday - October 11, 2011

Avadon - 50% Off iPad Version

by Dhruin, 23:14

Matching the Steam sale for PC a few weeks back, Avadon for the iPad is on sale for $4.99 on iTunes.

Tuesday - October 04, 2011

Avadon - Review @ TPG

by Dhruin, 23:55

Avadon has been reviewed at TruePCGaming, where the response was quite favourable:

The quests in Avadon are both numerous and  filled with story. You can converse with your quest giver to try weasel out as much information as possible. You start of by accepting a quest to go and clear out Avadon’s dungeons after the shortage of fighters. You can also choose one of two companions to bring along: a sorceress or a warrior. As I was playing warrior, I chose a sorceress companion. You can control this companion’s actions during fighting and control it almost like your own character by picking up items and placing stats. After clearing the dungeon, you are sent to help a dragon. You have to clear his lair and surrounding zone of creatures called wretches. You can also pick up side quests from other people around the area. After completing that quest, you go back to Avadon and you are immediately sent out again to hunt a mysterious beast who is attacking citizens of the Kva lands. After this lengthy quest, you get sent on many others, all with multiple side quests you can pick up. Eventually you arrive at the great question, kill the leader of Avadon and take his place or help him struggle onwards. Other aspects of the game also depend on your actions later in the game.

In semi-related news, Jeff has a new blog entry titled Why All Our Games Are Now Cheaper Forever:

We released our first game in January, 1995. That is a long time ago, and much has changed. A few helpful comparisons.

Now: Huge distributors like Steam and iTunes sell massive numbers of copies for low prices, and Indie developers make good money on huge volume.
Then: The World Wide Web barely existed and we scraped by on a handful of sales from AOL.

Now: A quality Indie niche game sells on big portals for ten bucks at most. More than that and people think you're crazy and move on.
Then: Most good shareware games sold for $25. It took me a very long time just to realize that that price isn't normal anymore.

Saturday - October 01, 2011

Avadon - 50% Off on Steam

by Dhruin, 23:43

We already noted Spiderweb's October sale but Xian points out Avadon is on a 24 hour deal on Steam for only $5...19 hours to go as I type.

Monday - September 12, 2011

Avadon - Review @ GameSpot

by Dhruin, 22:58

It's a bit surprising to see a review of Avadon at GameSpot but there you go. The score is a solid 7/10 and here's a sample:

Quests mix inventive tasks like playing PR man to an irritable dragon with typical go-fetch and locate-missing-people busywork. There is a lot of combat during these assignments, although you're never overwhelmed. Battles are not so numerous that you feel numbed by monotony. They actually fly past pretty quickly, with characters and foes moving as though they're under the influence of a haste spell augmented with liberal shots of Red Bull. Fighting is handled from a tactical perspective, in a way that hasn't changed much since the aforementioned Gold Box games of two decades ago. Whenever you spot a foe, the real-time exploration mode switches to a turn-based perspective, and grids pop up on the screen to show you how and where characters can move. It's an easy-to-learn and intuitive system for anyone with a background in RPGs. The main drawback is a lack of monster variety. There are a fair number of creeps in the game, drawn from fantasy archetypes such as giant spiders, lizards, wizards, orcs, and the like, but they mainly attack in straightforward melee styles. You don't need to get too fancy with combat strategies, save in some of the boss battles, which can be brutal on the regular difficulty and above. The visuals aren't detailed enough to make monsters distinctive, either, so you're often facing off against blurry groupings of pixels that need to be identified by the text blurbs beneath them.

Source: Blues News

Wednesday - August 31, 2011

Avadon - Review @ Zeboyd Games

by Dhruin, 00:30

Zeboyd Games (makers of 8-bit RPGs Breath of Death and Cthulhu Saves The World) has reviewed Avadon. It's a positive piece although the author does note some flaws:

I did have a few issues with the game here and there though. I would have preferred more party slots (you can only have 3 characters in your party at a time), more class options (only 4 classes which basically correspond to Warrior, Ninja, Mage, and Druid), and some sort of innate difference between the main character and the characters you can recruit (whatever class you pick for your main character is exactly the same as the character of that class you can recruit as far as I can tell). Difficulty can feel a bit unbalanced at times – playing on Normal mode, I found the boss fights to be well designed and offer a good challenge but I was able to breeze through most non-boss fights just by spamming basic attacks. The interface can be a little clunky at times – for example, “I” opens up the inventory page but pressing “I” again won’t close it. And though I eventually got used to it, the presentation was more old-school than I would have liked (90s graphics and no music, just ambient noises).

Thursday - August 18, 2011

Avadon - German Print Review @c't

by Gorath, 20:36

Germany's leading computer mag for deciders and advanced user, c't - magazin für computer technik, surprisingly spent more than half a page on an Avadon for iPad review. You can get a brief glimpse of the layout here (top left) or buy the article there.

The c't is known for being quite critical. In this context the Avadon review can only be seen as positive. Here's a translated excerpt. Convoluted (but beautiful!) German sentences FTW!

Bullwark of Fantasy

[...]

Roleplayers disappointed by their genre's latest development towards graphically elaborate but gameplay-wise onedimensional stories can, through Spiderwerb's latest coup, travel back to the good old times, when a thousand words were more than one beautifully rendered picture.

Idea: good
Fun: good
Long-term motivation: good
Implementation: average

Thanks, Alrik!

Wednesday - August 17, 2011

Avadon - Released on Steam

by Myrthos, 22:58

Avadon has been released on steam today for $9.99 or €6.99, but has currently a 10% discount to $8.99 or €6.29.

Thanks TheGameSquid.

Jeff has also posted about the release on his blog, explaining Avadon will be dropped to $20 from his site and future releases will probably start at this point. It will be interesting to see how this all pans out; a snip:

I've written a lot about how I think it's important to not price niche games too cheaply, and I stand by that. However, at the same time, Avadon will be only ten bucks on Steam, the cheapest we've ever made our newest game for PC/Mac. Why?

1. Steam felt it was the best price. I went into this trusting their judgment, because they know a lot more about selling Indie games than I do. When you're an Indie and Steam comes knocking, you don't say no.

2. The whole game industry is shifting. These days, a huge proportion of games online are sold for a low price without demos. People buy games on impulse, sight unseen. That way, if they don't like it they aren't out a lot of money.

In these markets, charging $15 or $20 for games, like I want to, isn't feasible. It's too much money to pay for a game you aren't sure about. If someone buys my game for $10 and hates it, I'm a little unhappy. But $20? I don't want to take kids' allowance money that way.

So I'm charging $10 on Steam and for the iPad. By the standards of that market, it's a hefty price, enough for me to earn my living. It's cheap enough to work as an impluse buy. It isn't the $1 or $2 price that I'm still sure would put me out of business.

Saturday - August 13, 2011

Avadon - Coming to Steam

by Dhruin, 01:05

After Steam previously refused to add Avadon to the service, it has suddenly popped up with a release date of August 18th, although the price will be interesting. Did Steam change their mind after seeing the success on the iPad?

Friday - July 22, 2011

Avadon - iPad v1.01 Released

by Dhruin, 22:45

Spiderweb has advanced the iPad version of Avadon to v1.01 with some minor tweaks:

* You can now change the screen orientation in the Settings window.
* Characters' names now appear above their heads when you touch them.
* Forcing an autosave while your last character is dying no longer causes problems.

Thursday - July 07, 2011

Avadon - Review @ DieHardGamerFan

by Aries100, 22:31

Diehard GameFan has a review up for this game. The reviewer calls it a solid rpg, but notices that the game probably mostly is for old school gamers. Here's a quote about the story:

The story-telling here is done pretty well, showing the player the strength of Avadon and then showing you people going against it and even where the Pact is at its weakest. There are lots of little hidden characters throughout the game with some great stories and it seems nearly everyone you interact with has some kind of backstory and really fleshes out the world. While not the most original or most standout RPG story I’ve played, the world and characters are very intriguing and seeing the subtle changes your actions make in the world come across as you play is always welcome.

A snip from the conclusion:

The price is right, it’s on a number of platforms, it plays well, has a really decent combat and level system, and is all around a solid RPG. The game has a few things going against it is that it’s not flashy, and it is still very old school even with a few of the more recent character building options.

Source: GameBanshee

Wednesday - July 06, 2011

Avadon - Review @ Slide to Play

by Dhruin, 22:01

Avadon for the iPad has been reviewed at Slide to Play. The score is 3/4 in the short piece and here's a snip, although I don't quite understand their comment:

Battles can be played in more than one way. Avadon is generally built around a turn-based system, so your characters will take turns moving and executing attacks. However, you can choose a more active approach using action points, like in Fallout. Once you're used all your points, your turn still ends, but it makes for more engaging battles. There's also the requisite loot and armor drops, which we found add significantly to the gameplay.

Saturday - July 02, 2011

Avadon - iPad Review @ Pocket Gamer

by Aries100, 20:21

Pocket Gamer has an review up for the Ipad version of this game. The score is 6/10 - the reviewer does note that this game is not for everyone. Here's a snip from the review:

What will tire everyone out, hardcore RPG nut or otherwise, is the fact that Avadon HD feels far too much like a PC game squeezed into a touchscreen device, rather than actually designed for one. The way the too-close camera snaps to your characters as they move is incredibly annoying when you're trying to navigate the large maps, as is the way every description for an item involves holding down and then sweeping away, lest you accidentally select it when you let go.

Source: GameBanshee

Friday - June 24, 2011

Avadon - iPad Review @ Digitally Downloaded

by Myrthos, 09:38

After reviewing the PC version Digitally Downloaded reviews the iPad version of Avadon as well, stating that the port to iPad was well done, eventhough there are some issues.

A bigger concern is the fact that fingers are less precise than a mouse pointer. In combat, the game plays out over a grid – tap a square and the hero will head over there. Tap a monster and he/ she will attack the critter. But the grid is small, and occasionally you’ll tell the hero to do something by accident. On the higher difficulty levels, this can be lethal.

I would hope that in future Vogel production iPad ports (and I certainly hope there are a few of those), he includes the ability to pinch to zoom in closer to the action for more precise controls. I realise the game’s graphics would look pretty ugly up close, but the playability offset would be worth it.

In the end, Avadon is a fairly expensive game by the iPad’s typical standards, but it’s a must have despite that, with far more content and a far more interesting quest than almost anything else you can find on the App store. It looks like Jeff Vogel is on to something good here, and hopefully it’s just the start.

The final score is 4.5 out of 5.

Thanks Matt.

Thursday - June 23, 2011

Avadon - iPad Review @ Touch Arcade

by Aries100, 23:16

As we told you in this thread,    Avadon was released for iPad. Now there's a review for Avadon at Touch Aracde.   They like it. Some samples, first one about the story.

As with most of Vogel's games, the writing in Avadon is well done and sprinkled with enough wit and humor that you don't feel oppressed by the seriousness of it all. Within a few hours you'll have a good grasp on the Avadon's structure, the religions, your fellow fighters and a number of the NPC groups. You'll also start getting the sneaking suspicion the Pact and Avadon aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Then about how the games translation from pc to iPad went:

The translation to iPad is relatively fluid. I had a few crashes and memory errors while playing, but nothing that set me back too much. The touch screen works well for this type game, although you'll occasionally accidently move your characters around when you mean to fight because you'll tap on the wrong part of the grid. The item screen, as mentioned earlier, is a bit unwieldy with a touch screen and requires an excessive number of taps to get to business, but you'll get used to it.

And lastly, a snip from the conclusion:

Avadon: The Black Fortress HD might take a little while to sink in, but if you get enmeshed in the narrative and the world, it's hard to walk away from it. It's been a long while since I accidently stayed up all night with a game, but Avadon managed to do that without even bothering with fancy visuals or voiced dialogue.

Source: GameBanshee

Sunday - June 19, 2011

Avadon - Released on iPad

by Dhruin, 12:52

Looks like Avadon has been released on the iPad, for $9.99. The price might cause some controversy among PC/Mac users, which Jeff Vogel has addressed on the Spiderweb forums:

The iPad version is cheaper for a number of reasons.

1. It has fewer features, due to the limitations of the device. Most notably, it is stuck at a low (1024x768) resolution and there are no keyboard shortcuts.
2. Since it is being sold by Apple, it is subject to the rules of their system. Most notably, there is DRM, and we can't give refunds through iTunes.
3. There is no ability to modify the game.
4. There is no demo.
5. The iPad version will always come out several months after the Mac/PC version.

Ever with the lower price, it is still one of the most expensive games for the iPad by a fair margin. We are charging pretty much the highest price for the game we reasonably can, in part to keep from annoying other users.

We're sorry if anyone is angering by this. If you think about it, I think you'll see that the pricing is fair considering all the factors and that, more importantly, there really isn't much we can do about it and function as a business.

Finally, I think that asking for a refund for a game that you purchased, played, and enjoyed and obtained at a fair price (and yes, $25 is a fair price for PC/Mac Avadon) is, well, it's pretty shady at best. We will honor the commitments we made, but I like to think that our fans, annoyed or not, would not take advantage of a small indie developer in such a way.

- Jeff Vogel

Wednesday - June 15, 2011

Avadon - Review @ Mac | Life

by Dhruin, 00:00

There's a review of Avadon at Mac | Life, with a score of 4/5. It's in a webzine format so no full quote, but they say "...graphical gripes aside, Avadon is a must-play for seasoned RPG vererans".

Wednesday - June 08, 2011

Avadon - Review @ Malaysian Gamer

by Dhruin, 00:09

Avadon has been reviewed at Malaysian Gamer. There's not score but the article is mildly positive, with the author not liking the turn-based combat sustem but finding the narrative worth the trip:

Combat is very challenging though, and you’ll have to use health potions and your magic well if you want to survive the tougher combat situations. Thankfully you can lower the difficulty anytime during the game, so if you just want to move on and get more of the story of Avadon, you can. To me, combat only interested me only for a while. I got tired of the same rigmarole(don’t get me wrong, there are many different new types of enemies, but it’s the same course of action every time). It certainly isn’t as good as any pure turn based tactical game. Merely okay.

Wednesday - June 01, 2011

Avadon - Review @ Impulse Gamer

by Dhruin, 23:35

There's a review of Avadon over at Impulse Gamer, offering a short overview but no great insight. The score is 6.3/10, although it's worth noting the "Gameplay" category gets 8/10:

I felt this game was an all around great experience. The story was rich, the characters were developed, and the scenes were tasteful. While the graphics weren’t great and the style resembles an older game, it really doesn’t take away from the game as a whole. In fact, the lack of graphics and new aged mechanics makes the story and character development all the richer. The evniornments themselves don’t require better graphics to still give you the right feel of the area, with the help of the sounds and noises of the game. Avadon: The Black Fortress is a an exciting new adventure that delivers around 30+ hours of gameplay (depending on frequency) and tells a great story. For anyone to truly appreciates a good rounded RPG experience, or anyone who enjoys any of the class rpgs. 

Tuesday - May 31, 2011

Avadon - Review @ Hooked Gamers

by Dhruin, 00:24

Avadon has been reviewed at Hooked Gamers with an amazingly high score of 8.9/10:

While its linearity might seem to detract in today’s games, the fact that almost every choice you make has real and present changes on the world around you is extremely important. Unlike the Mass Effects and Dragon Ages, decisions made today will affect the world today as well as tomorrow. Each action will carry ripples of its effects throughout the world, and that adds so much flavour and freshness that it is easy to overlook said linearity.

The story around the world is also engrossing and masterfully balanced. Unlike in many RPGs, the information you can discover is often only pertinent to the world and your actions around it, so you never quite feel you are being inundated with useless information, and can be very easily engaged on the whole. There is no hearing about past conflicts, no hearing about specific tech that you never interact with, but enough to flesh out an entire world.

Source: Blues News

Friday - May 27, 2011

Avadon - Review @ RPS

by Dhruin, 22:37

Richard Cobbett has penned a review of Avadon for Rock, Paper, Shotgun. It's generally a positive article, despite some critcisms:

If you think you can tolerate the occasional rough edge though, Avadon has much to offer. It’s an enjoyable story, well told, and packed with great characters – of the main party, Nathalie the psychopathic mage quickly became a favourite, bouncing effortlessly from complaining that nobody understands her genius to staring up at another mage’s magic tower, effectively announcing “It will be mine. Oh yes…” and mentally trying to decide on the best wallpaper. It’s a different kind of story to your average RPG, but one that slides much better into the shades of grey of something like The Witcher than the pure dungeon-hackery of your average independent RPG. As simple as it looks, it’s one of those games that’s very easy to fire up for a few minutes, only to be magically transported without supper to 5AM the next day.

Saturday - May 21, 2011

Avadon - Review @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 00:15

Brother None has penned a detailed review of Avadon for GameBanshee. Ultimately, he enjoyed the game but was bothered by a number of design choices, such as this one on linearity:

This kind of well-paced story is really hard to tell in anything but a linear narrative, which restricts some of the freeroaming known from Avernum and Geneforge. This is an understandable tradeoff, but I personally feel Avadon went a bit far in it. Locations can not be unlocked before an NPC does it for you, and the only NPCs that can do so are typically main plot-related NPCs or followers, with the story structured to see you constantly return to Avadon to be sent to the next area of the game's choice. Even within individual maps the entire experience of exploration is excessively guided, with frequent use of unpickable doors or impassable portcullises guiding you until the game feels the need to open them for you. There are some secrets to find, but for instance paths through dense shrubbery can only be found by quest-related NPCs opening them for you. Compared to Avernum, it feels very restrictive.

Friday - May 13, 2011

Avadon - Review @ RPGFan

by Dhruin, 01:02

Avadon has garnered a score of 90% and an Editor's Choice award in RPGFan's review:

Special mention needs to be made about the level of care that clearly went in to every encounter in this game. One of the things that for me was a huge, huge turnoff in Dragon Age: Origins was the placement of trash mobs and the utter tedium that went along with fighting them. A great deal of effort has clearly been made in Avadon: The Black Fortress to make sure that combat stays exciting and interesting for the entirety of the 30-40 hour playtime. The trash mobs are fun to kill, but there is just the right mix of challenging monsters thrown in to keep things engaging. If you play on higher difficulty settings you will get your tail kicked once in a while, but at no point does the game ever feel unfair. Strategy will always win the day.

Even as simple as the system appears on the surface, there are several extremely memorable boss fights where the environment around you plays a factor. One particularly well–designed encounter had me running for my life as the corridors behind me filled with water, all while I was fighting off foes trying to keep me from reaching the rapidly closing gates. Even with simple graphics and a fundamentally simple combat system, it just goes to show that encounter design can play a huge role in making RPGs fun. I often feel that encounter design in particular has taken a huge back seat in more modern games, with designers believing that just hurling nifty–looking foes at you to destroy with cool powers is enough to keep the average gamer interested. Avadon: The Black Fortress never takes the cheap way out.

Tuesday - May 10, 2011

Avadon - Review @ Digitally Downloaded

by Dhruin, 22:30

A site called Digitally Downloaded has a review of Avadon, with a score of 4.5/5:

It’s the story telling style of Avadon that is really different. The game directly addresses you as the player in a storytelling manner like the Zork games of old. So, just like you’re playing a real game of Dungeons and Dragons at a real table top, you’ll get regular pauses in the action so the AI ‘Dungeon Master’ can break into simple, but clear descriptions that sound a little something like:

You enter a large natural cavern, clearly not part of the original dungeon. The ceiling arcs far over your head, and a natural river bubbles through the middle, the crystal clear water beckoning invitingly.”


It’s nerdy, yes, but the game is so lovingly built, it’s difficult not to get drawn into the world nevertheless. It never takes itself too seriously, though it’s also not an outright parody; so the fairest way to describe playing through this game is as a pleasant experience: it’ll be a stretch to remember specific moments at the end, but you’ll still enjoy yourself.

Friday - May 06, 2011

Avadon - Responding to Critics

by Dhruin, 00:22

Jeff Vogel has posted a new blog entrty, partially titled Responding to Critics. As is often the case, Jeff's stye and approach won't please everyone but here's a snip:

"Anyway, party members not dying but being just unconscious and resurrected after combat ends. DECLINE"

When you're designing an RPG, there are lots of toggles you have to flip. Will people recover from their wounds over time or do they have to go back to town? Will the party jump between towns/dungeons or will the whole outdoors be explorable? Will items be automatically identified? Do you have to keep track of ammo for your bows? Each answer to these questions has its good as bad points. There are no right or wrong answers. You just pick what works best for the design.

There are people who will, for religious issues, say they will never ever buy your game if you make one of these choices or the other. Ignore them and do what is best for what you're trying to do.

Oh, and there are some people who will respond to things about your work by posting an angry smily or some other image meme. Ignore these people. If they had anything valuable to say, they would use words, like people, instead of jpgs.

"I do loathe the worldmap. A single large continent shaped like a rough circle does not an interesting map make. Dunno why it bothers me the way it does but it does. "

Oh. Come. On.

Monday - May 02, 2011

Avadon - Windows Version Released

by Dhruin, 22:13

As promised, the Windows version of Avadon has been released. Head here to download the demo and here's the feature list as a reminder:

Spiderweb Software brings you Avadon: The Black Fortress, the first chapter in a new, epic fantasy saga. You will serve the keep of Avadon, working as a spy and warrior to fight the enemies of your homeland. As a servant of the Black Fortress, your word is law. Experience an exciting fantasy role-playing adventure and battle a conspiracy to destroy your people.

Avadon: The Black Fortress Features:

  • Epic fantasy role-playing adventure in an enormous and unique world.
  • Four different character classes, with dozens of unique spells and abilities.
  • Uncover the fascinating history of Avadon and the land of Lynaeus.
  • Many different endings. Your choices will change the world.
  • Dozens of side quests, hidden dungeons, and secrets to discover.
  • Hundreds of magical items to find. Use powerful crystals to make your artifacts even more powerful.
  • Huge adventure with lots of replay value.

Friday - April 29, 2011

Avadon - Windows Release on Monday

by Dhruin, 14:09

Spiderweb announces Avadon will be released on Monday:

Avadon: The Black Fortress Windows Launch Date
Coming to Windows PC May 2nd.

April 28th, 2011 – On May 2nd, 2011 Spiderweb Software (http://www.spiderwebsoftware.com) will bring Avadon: The Black Fortress to the Windows platform. This epic 40 hour RPG will place you in a new setting from the creators of the fantastic worlds of Avernum, Exile, and Geneforge.

As a Hand of Avadon, ruthless and efficient enforcers of peace, your missions will take you to the 5 lands of The Pact and beyond. Battle those who seek to disrupt peace in the land while dealing with spies and assassins who wish to use the power of Avadon for their own gain. As your comrades are picked off one by one it will be up to one stalwart Hand to steady the scales of justice.

Avadon: The Black Fortress features a full 40 hour RPG experience with four unique classes and dozens of skills and spells to develop. Learn the unique history of the five lands of The Pact and make important decisions on your journey that will reveal one of many endings. Discover new quests, secrets dungeons, magical items, and epic battles, everything you would expect from a Spiderweb Software RPG!

Find out more at www.spiderwebsoftware.com/avadon

Jeff has also been interviewed on a podcast at Veteran Gamers.

Friday - April 22, 2011

Avadon - PC Preview @ GameBanshee

by Dhruin, 00:50

GameBanshee's Brother None has penned the first PC-based article on Avadon, writing about the new setting and character class changes in particular. Here's a snip:

There are three branches for each class: battle, power, and utility. "Battle" tends to be direct damage and combat skills, "power" features a range of passive supporting skills, and "utility" sports a variety of boosts and curses. Each class has two "top" skills, which always root into the power branch, as well as either the battle or utility branch. For example, the Shaman has an earthquake skill rooting into battle and power, and a higher-level summoning skill rooting into power and utility. Specializations unlock at levels 7, 15, and 25, but rather than unlocking new skills, each one gives passive +1 bonuses to one of the three branches.

The advantages to this system are obvious. It allows for easier balance, something the Avernum games sometimes lacked as certain builds or skills were excessively powerful or useless. Furthermore, this system lets the player jump right into the adventure, and leveling up is an immediate and satisfying affair, as with each early level up you can opt to unlock a new skill, and many later levels-ups unlock bonus abilities that become available when a skill reaches a value of 3, and again at 6.

Tuesday - April 19, 2011

Avadon - Review @ IMG

by Dhruin, 22:36

Avadon has been reviewed at Inside Mac Games, with a score of 8.25/10:

Spiderweb Software has been around for a long time - 16 years of making indie RPG titles for the Mac (and Windows, but the Mac is always first.) Jeff Vogel, Spiderweb's creator, has had a long time to hone his skill at making them, and it shows in Avadon: The Black Fortress. It's Spiderwebs first new series in a decade, and I would venture to say it's his most finely crafted work to date.

Friday - April 15, 2011

Avadon - v1.03 for Mac Released

by Dhruin, 00:59

Spiderweb has updated Avadon to v1.03 on the Mac:

We have updated Avadon: The Black Fortress for the Macintosh to v1.0.3. This new version fixes a number of problems and adds features to make the game text larger. Upgrading is recommended. To upgrade your copy, simple download the new version and install it over the old one. Your registration and saved games will be unaffected.

Monday - March 14, 2011

Avadon - Review @ Gear Diary

by Dhruin, 21:11

Mike 'txa1265' Anderson has the first Avadon review we know of, obviously based on the Mac release. There's no score but Mike clearly enjoyed it a great deal:

Role playing is expensive – this has been documented. For every branch that a developer throws into a dialogue tree they need to flesh out the entire plot ramifications, fill out the characters and dialogue and everything else. As a result there are two methods typically used – phantom branching and short-term branching. In short term branching you get to make choices, see their effect within a small section of the game and potentially have some mention of them later on, but ultimately all paths lead back to the same final battle with the same binary choice.

Phantom Branching is very common and simply fills your experience with choices you can make that seem to build out the type of character you are – you can make harsh statements or generous ones, greedy choices or selfless acts. But these games are built for a single playthrough and therefore even within that same quest everything always turns out the same. At most you’ll get some mention of the actions, but these are simply ‘fill in the blank’ statements with no far reaching impact.

So it is a breath of fresh air that you truly make changes and choices in Avadon. Make no mistake, since the main quest-line is linear as I said earlier you are headed on the same path to the same final confrontation, but as you make more and more choices in one direction or the other they add up, your reputation is altered and the world before you subtly shifts. It is wonderful to have a game so focused on your experience as a gamer.

Friday - March 11, 2011

Avadon - v1.01 Released

by Dhruin, 21:42

Avadon for the Mac has been upped to v1.01:

We have updated Avadon: The Black Fortress for the Macintosh to v1.0.1. This new version fixes a number of problems, and updating is recommended. To upgrade your copy, simple download the new version and install it over the old one. Your registration and saved games will be unaffected.

Wednesday - March 09, 2011

Avadon - Interview @ Sub Gamers

by Dhruin, 21:02

There's a short interview with Jeff Vogel at Sub Gamers, discussing his background and Avadon:

The theme in Avadon is Power and how you can use (or misuse it), and as you stated - that could potentially lead to a game with a very dark mood. You prefer a humorous game - How do you accomplish that without compromising the theme and not making a farce out of it? Power after all, is quite a serious thing.

J.V: It is possible to mix serious issues and humor. Fantasy RPGs lend themselves very well to this. It’s a big world with tons of characters and writing. I can put in a lot of variety in mood.

Seeing as you really make up a story and plot or a story line with several changeable plots - what was it that made you grow up to be a game developer and not an author? (This is a thought I often have when I see the complexity of the story in games - your average author couldn’t really become a game developer but it could definitely work the other way round, don’t you think?)

J.V: I love games. Always have. Been completely addicted to them since I learned to play Dungeons & Dragons in fourth grade. Writing games was just kind of something I was born to do.

Thursday - March 03, 2011

Avadon - Release Blog Entry

by Dhruin, 21:34

Jeff Vogel writes about his nervousness as he releases Avadon in his latest blog post. He nominates late April for the PC release and then the iPad version an undetermined time after that. The intro:

I'm writing this on Wednesday, after a week spent in a pretty continuous state of total freaking out. I am always nervous when releasing a new game. But a new game in a new world with a new system? After spending an unusual amount of time on it? I've been going kind of insane.

For those who are interested, early sales are quite strong. I'm starting to suspect that we aren't about to go out of business. And yet, most of the early sales are to die-heard fans. The question is how many new people will play it and like it. I think that it's solid, the world is cool, and the game itself is a lot of fun to play. But I might be wrong. It happens all the time.

Tuesday - March 01, 2011

Avadon - Released on Mac

by Dhruin, 22:28

Spiderweb has released Avadon on the Mac - head over to grab the demo if that's your platform.  For the rest of us, we can now start the three month or so countdown to the PC release.

Thursday - February 17, 2011

Avadon - Preview @ Appletell

by Dhruin, 21:33

There's a micro-preview of Avadon at a site called Appletell - no quote because it's so short.

Thursday - February 10, 2011

Avadon - Three Rules for Difficulty

by Dhruin, 21:47

Jeff Vogel has posted a new blog entry on designing the difficulty for RPGs.  The entry isn't specifically about Avadon but, as Jeff notes himself, he is balancing Avadon at the moment.  As usual, some of his comments will be contrversial:

Observation One: There are two sorts of fights in an RPG: Fights that are supposed to be easy and fights that are supposed to provide a challenge.

In other words, first, there are fights that will almost never ever kill a player, also known as trash, or trash mobs. If your trash mobs are frequently killing the character, your balance is messed up. (Early versions of Avernum 6 had a big problem with this.) Most of the time, the vast majority of the fights in a game will be this sort.

Then there are fights that the player can possibly lose (mini bosses, bosses). And, of course, for fights that can kill the player, there is a spectrum of how likely that end result is. Some bosses will only kill you if you really aren't paying attention. Others require actual skill and strategy, and maybe a few tries to get your tactics down.

Thursday - January 27, 2011

Avadon - Blog #5 - Getting It Done

by Dhruin, 21:30

Jeff Vogel writes about the last stages of Avadon, as the project heads towards release in late February (well, the Mac version, anyway):

There are always lots of aggravating parts of the job of writing a game that I put off and put off. Now they can't be put off anymore. Every job I hate. Doing the sound effects. And writing the documentation (and hint book). And making the game icon, and the installer. Nothing can be delayed anymore.

A lot of this work is very important, as they determine a player's first impression. Things like the icon and the starting music and art are the first things a player will experience. These details require a lot of attention, so I work on them at a time when I can focus on them as much as possible.

For Avadon, I've put a lot of work into directing the art at the beginning of the game so that they help the player understand a complicated world, with a lot of intricate politics. The early moments of the game can't be wasted. I want to intrigue the player with the story at every possible moment.

Tuesday - December 28, 2010

Avadon - Hands-On @ IMC

by Dhruin, 23:43

Inside Mac Games has a hands-on preview of Avadon, Spidwerweb's new, upcoming game series:

Jeff has said Avadon will be their best looking game to date, and it's true. The graphics are smooth and pleasing to the eye, and the excellent menus combined with a sharp and functional interface make for a very tidy appearance. There is also a significantly increased number of art assets and objects around in buildings and landscapes which adds great variety and detail when exploring or fighting. Sound remains minimal with no music (play your own in iTunes) but with enough ambient chatter in towns, and combat attacks and spells packing enough punch to be satisfying.

Thursday - November 04, 2010

Avadon - Blog #4 - Classes

by Dhruin, 20:45

Avadon's classes are the subject of Jeff Vogel's latest blog post:

For this developer diary (the others are here, here, and here), I wanted to write about the four character classes in Avadon. What they are, what they are like, and why I made them the way I did. Since this is the very first time I've written a class-based system, I put an awful lot of thought into the classes. I wanted each to have a distinct feel, but I want you to be able to complete the game with any mix of them.

Since I don't want the game to have too much healing, all classes needed to be able to protect themselves in some way. Since any combination of them needed to be able to win, I wanted them all to be able to produce a bunch of damage when necessary. And since I wanted them to be distinct, each of them needed to be able to do something unique and, hopefully, interesting.

Tuesday - October 05, 2010

Avadon - Beta Testing Starts, New Screens

by Dhruin, 22:03

Spiderweb has announced beta testing has kicked off for Avadon (on the Mac) and to celebrate, they've released two new screens.

Monday - October 04, 2010

Avadon - Interview @ Inside Mac Games

by Dhruin, 19:54

Inside Mac Games also has a short interview with Jeff Vogel about Avadon.  Not much is revealed but it's worth a read for fans:

FP: Are you planning on having clear-cut good and evil factions, or will everything be a bit grayer in Avadon?

JV: I want almost all of the moral choices in Avadon to be pretty gray. You are warriors tasked with uncovering people who pose some sort of threat to the Pact, the alliance you are from. However, when guilt is ambiguous or when the tactics you employ can be pretty questionable, in the end the player will have to make a lot of tough (or cool) decisions.

Thursday - September 09, 2010

Avadon - Blog #3

by Dhruin, 11:01

Jeff has penned a new Avadon blog, explaining some of the system changes.  Avadon will be class-based, change up the healing, reduce the need to return to town so often and relax the difficulty - unless you actually choose "hard".  On the change to a class system:

And yet, Avadon will throw all that out the window. Avadon: The Black Fortress will have four character classes, each with entirely different pools of abilities. The classes are Blademaster, Shadowwalker, Shaman, and Sorceress, and each plays very differently.

Your party will have up to three characters. One will be your main character. The other two will be selected from characters in the game, each with their personalities and issues and each of which is one of the four classes.

Three party members. Four classes. Thus, you will always have to do without at least one of the classes. Also, sometimes the characters will be off doing their own business, so you will have to play someone else. Because of this, you will need to shift your tactics occasionally.

Friday - August 06, 2010

Avadon - Blog #2

by Dhruin, 22:53

Jeff Vogel has penned a blog entry on the development of Avadon, focusing on the theme and tone of the game.  The next entry will look at the game mechanics and systems.  Here's a sample:

But there are also hints that your power is too great. Your word is law, and that isn't necessarily a good thing. Well, it's great for you, but not so hot for everyone else.

Maybe you want to play a thug or a bully. Or maybe you want to resist the temptation to misuse your power, which is satisfying in a different way. And the story of Avadon is about all of the same sorts of choices. Avadon can do what it wants. Will you guide it to do the right thing? And, for that matter, should a group with so much power exist?

That is the theme. Power. The option to misuse it. What will you do?

I've also often seen developers comment on making branching or optional content that players might not see...here's one of Jeff's answers to a reader question:

@Jacob: "Do you ever get discouraged when writing multiple story lines, knowing that many players will only see a subset of the content?"

Actually, I get a huge kick out of it. If the player's choices make that much of a difference in what they experience, it means I'm Doing It Right.

Information about

Avadon: The Black Fortress

Developer: Spiderweb Games

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Fantasy
Genre: RPG
Combat: Turn-based
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: None

Regions & platforms
Internet
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2011-05-02
· Publisher: Spiderweb Games