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Disco Elysium - All News

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Monday - November 18, 2019
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Box Art

Monday - November 18, 2019

Disco Elysium - Interview about the Game and What's Next

by Silver, 08:58

The Escapist interviewed the creator of Disco Elysium about the IP, their inspirations, and thoughts on the medium in general.

Disco Elysium released on Oct. 15, but Kurvitz isn’t resting yet. He’s currently working on porting the game to Xbox One and PlayStation 4 next year and translating it into Chinese and various European languages. He’s also focused on an English translation of Sacred and Terrible Air that will be released next year, and he has plans for an expansion and full sequel for Disco Elysium.

“We have an insanely ambitious list of projects we want to make in the Elysium setting,” he said. “The last one I want to make, when I’m 50 or 60, that I want to absolutely go crazy on and throw out all commercial considerations and get this as conceptual as possible, is the tabletop setting. The working title for the tabletop setting is You Are Vapor. It will be a really, really, crazy pen-and-paper game.”

Next year, the team also plans to release a manifesto sharing their cultural ethos. Kurvitz said ZA/UM is less a studio and more a cultural movement in the vein of Dadaism or Fluxus, and they’re just using video games as their medium rather than theater or painting. The group shares a passion for ambitious humanitarian culture and a hatred of elitism. They’re also self-identified nerds who draw as much inspiration from 19th century realist novels as they do from Baldur’s Gate II.

[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Tuesday - November 05, 2019

Disco Elysium - Review @ Gamespot

by Hiddenx, 19:40

Gamespot gives Disco Elysium a perfect 10:

Stayin' alive.

Memories can be painful. Recalling them can result in feelings of regret, anger, shame, embarrassment, and worse. Much, much worse. In Disco Elysium, a mesmerising, hilarious and at times harrowing narrative-heavy RPG, recollecting a memory can prove fatal. For an amnesiac, alcoholic cop struggling with a new murder case with elusive details, and the world's worst hangover, remembering the person he was offers a path to redemption for the person he might become. After all, memories that don't kill you make you stronger.

Disco Elysium presents as an RPG in the mold of Baldur's Gate or Divinity: Original Sin. Indeed, it opens with a nod to Planescape Torment with a semi-naked figure lying on a cold, hard slab before slowly rising to his feet--only the slab isn't in a mortuary, it's in a cheap motel room, and the figure wasn't recently dead, he's just still drunk. Very, very drunk. It proceeds with the traditional top-down view of the world, your party members traversing beautiful, hand-painted 2D environments, pausing to inspect objects and talk to people. There are quests to initiate, experience to gain, levels to up, dialogue trees to climb, and skill checks to fail. Yet in all kinds of other ways--thematically and mechanically--Disco Elysium is very unlike other RPGs.
[...]
Disco Elysium is a mad, sprawling detective story where the real case you've got to crack isn't who killed the man strung up on a tree in the middle of town--though that in itself, replete with dozens of unexpected yet intertwined mysteries and wild excursions into the ridiculous, is engrossing enough to sustain the game. Rather, it’s an investigation of ideas, of the way we think, of power and privilege, and of how all of us are shaped, with varying degrees of autonomy, by the society we find ourselves in.

Score: 10/10

Saturday - November 02, 2019

Disco Elysium - Interview

by Hiddenx, 23:03

The Escapist interviewed the lead Designer of Disco Elysium Robert Kurvitz:

Why the Creator of Disco Elysium Hasn’t Read the Reviews, and What’s Next for the IP

ZA/UM spent five years developing Disco Elysium, but the ideas behind the extremely ambitious CRPG date back much further. The game shares a setting with lead designer and writer Robert Kurvitz’s 2013 novel Sacred and Terrible Air, which in turn was inspired by 10 years of world-building work done through pen-and-paper role-playing games.

“I always knew I wanted to build worlds,” Kurvitz said. “We wanted to do something truly strange and ridiculous. Our goal was to make a world to end all worlds, and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

The members of the small Estonian studio are all high school dropouts who had no prior game development experience before working on Disco Elysium. Kurvitz, who is 35, said they spent most of their youth smoking cigarettes, wandering the gray Eastern European architecture, and playing Dungeons & Dragons. They started with a bootleg Finnish copy of the tabletop role-playing game but quickly were inspired to start coming up with their own rules and setting. Disco Elysium has drawn numerous comparisons to the Dungeons & Dragons-based CRPG Planescape: Torment, and Kurvitz said that’s no accident.

“The two biggest favors anyone’s ever done me in my life are the political education from Estonian punk bands and what (lead designer and writer) Chris Avellone did with Planescape: Torment. Punk bands got me through my life until I was 27 or 28, and Chris Avellone’s contributions to video games got me past 29. I don’t think I would have had the imagination to think you could be so ambitious and literary in video games.”

[...]

Thanks henriquejr!

Disco Elysium - Video Review

by Hiddenx, 15:33

The Escapist has reviewed Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium | Review in 3 Minutes

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Sunday - October 27, 2019

Disco Elysium - Video Review @ Al's Gaming

by Hiddenx, 10:33

Al's Gaming checked out Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium Review: A Psychedelic Detective RPG

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Thursday - October 24, 2019

Disco Elysium - Review @ IndianNoob

by Hiddenx, 20:46

IndianNoob has reviewed Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium Review: Investigations in a Dying Culture

I was stuck between choosing Jean-Paul Sartre of RPGs or Investigations in a Dying Culture when considering the subtitle of this review. I was kind of leaning towards the former first. But I consider Disco Elysium as an extraordinary shooting-star crossing decade-old RPG tropes. Death by cliches. Therefore, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make the late great Christopher Caudwell proud by basing it off one of his all-time best works. With that out of the way, let’s get to reviewing ZA/UM’s detective RPG, Disco Elysium. Oh, and If you haven’t checked out my preview of Disco Elysium already, maybe do that here.

[...]

VERDICT

Disco Elysium is hands down the best RPG I’ve played this year. It’s a kind of game that doesn’t come around often. Does that mean it’s the best RPG of all time? Not really. But it comes pretty damn close. A unique setting, great writing, an engaging storyline and hours of trope-breaking fun awaits you in Disco Elysium.

Score 9/10

Wednesday - October 23, 2019

Disco Elysium - Reviews

by Silver, 19:31

Some reviews for Disco Elysium which continues to impress.

Gaming on PC 10/10

So, you might be asking yourself, is there anything even remotely wrong with this game? And to be honest, I can’t really come up with a single negative thing, unless I have to wade down the good old tech issues part. Is that your thing? If it is, then know that I experienced a few soft locks that were solved after saving and then loading that same save file (seemed to be caused by the game getting confused after my detective woke up from a good night’s sleep), and that I also lost the HUD a few times (the solution here implied a full game restart, but no progress loss of any sort, so not a big deal either way). Do keep in mind that these issues might not even be present in the version of the game you get to play, as I was playing an earlier build for review purposes.

Aside from these two very minor tech issues, my time with the game has been pretty much perfect. Disco Elysium is an unforgettable journey that shouldn’t just be experienced by all RPG fans, but by anyone who has ever played a videogame. I can’t think of a single thing this game does wrong, and for all intents and purposes, ZA/UM‘s debut release has dethroned Planescape: Torment as the best RPG I’ve ever played. Don’t sleep on this gem!

GameCrate 9.25/10

Do not show up to Disco Elysium thinking that you’re going to climb and reactivate radio towers or clear enemy strongholds using stealth. It’s not Far Cry or Shadow of Mordor. Disco Elysium is a massive story game with a ton of great sidequests and phenomenal writing. It gives you fewer options than you would have in a standard open world game. But those options feel well-integrated into a greater whole, rather than busy work created by a dev creating “content” to conform to a design document.

Anyone who loves isometric RPGs, story games, walking simulators, or Telltale Games should moneyfist their monitor, cram some cocaine into their router, and download Disco Elysium immediately.

Old Man Mordaith 10/10

Disco Elysium is, without a doubt, the best RPG put out this year to date. With only a few months left of 2019, there is some decent competition for that title, but it will be a hard-fought battle for sure. The game has set itself as one of the best RPGs put out in the last decade, hell maybe even the previous two decades. I will be coming back to this one over and over. I want more. I need more. I want more stories from the world of Disco Elysium, and I want them as soon as possible.

Disco Elysium is a 10/10 from me. If I made a GOTY list, this would be the top dog for 2019.

Thanks Farflame!

Monday - October 21, 2019

Disco Elysium - All About Systems @Gamecrate

by Silver, 10:21

Gamecrate has taken a deep dive into the gameplay systems of Disco Elysium.

Skill checks are handled through a simple and transparent target number system. Your skill value is a total of your relevant ability plus your skill rating. You add that value to any modifiers (more on those modifiers later) and roll two six sided dice (also known as 2D6, if you were really popular in high school like me).

The total result is added up and compared to the target difficulty number. If you meet or exceed the target difficulty, you succeed. Rolling two sixes always succeeds. Rolling snake eyes always fails.

Disco Elysium doesn’t gate the story progression around check success. While check failure can damage your morale and health, it can also be hilarious and interesting. Like some of the best TTRPGs, failure can be more interesting than success.

[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Saturday - October 19, 2019

Disco Elysium - Review @ IGN

by Hiddenx, 07:39

IGN has reviewed the dedective RPG Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium Review

Murder on the dancefloor.

Like all good detective stories, what appears simple at first becomes so much more than that in Disco Elysium – and here it gets so, so much weirder, too. It takes the age-old mechanics of tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons and twists them in strange ways around a macabre tale of violence, poverty, and a society on the brink of collapse. Through sharply written dialogue and an expertly crafted world, it uses some unique game mechanics - such as debating against 24 different sections of your own brain - to create an experience that will stay with me for a long time. And, somehow, it manages to make all of this fun and, surprisingly often, funny.
The premise of Disco Elysium is straightforward: A body has been discovered, hanged from a looming tree in the backyard of a hostel, and it’s up to you to work out how it got there over the course of the 30-hour story. Everything that surrounds this core mystery is far from simple, however, not least being that you kick things off with an almighty dose of hangover-induced amnesia. You can’t even remember your name, let alone that you are a cop on a murder case. A part of your consciousness described as your ancient reptilian brain – which you literally engage in conversation with – attempts to persuade you to give up your quest even as your snivelling limbic system battles against it. As you stumble around your wrecked bedroom searching for remnants of your former self, it quickly becomes clear that this isn’t simply a whodunnit, but a journey that will challenge you to solve crises on both profoundly personal and societal levels. It’s a gorgeously designed isometric RPG that makes you think at every turn of its painterly streets.

[...]

Verdict
Disco Elysium is a unique blend of noir-detective fiction, traditional pen-and-paper RPGs, and a large helping of existentialist theory. Its twisting plot, cast of memorable characters, and sheer depth of choice combine to create an experience that begs to be savoured. A few minor gripes aside, it hits on almost every single one of the marks it sets out to achieve and left me yearning to spend more time in its world. 

Score 9.6/10

Thanks henriquejr!

Wednesday - October 16, 2019

Disco Elysium - Review @ PC Gamer

by Hiddenx, 20:54

PC Gamer has reviewed Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium review

A cop adventure inspired by classic RPGs.

You are not well. You've woken up on the floor of a grimy hotel room with a hangover so devastating you might as well be dead. You don't remember who you are, which city you're in, or what happened the night before. Apparently you're a detective, in town to solve a murder, but you don't feel like a cop. You feel like shit.

Disco Elysium is a detective RPG of improbable depth. It's part Planescape: Torment, part police procedural, part psychodrama. Your fatally hungover detective peels himself off the carpet, naked except for a pair of soiled underpants, and begins the laborious process of piecing his broken mind back together, while simultaneously attempting to solve a gruesome murder on the wrong side of the tracks.

[...]

The thing about Disco Elysium is that my experience of it is completely unique to me, such is the dizzying variety of skills, stats, thoughts, and conversation options on offer. You could play through it five times and still not see everything, so there's no one experience to assess. But I can say with certainty that it's one of the finest RPGs on PC if you value depth, freedom, customisation, and storytelling.

Score: 92/100 -

An irresponsibly deep detective RPG that lets you be any kind of detective you want. Even a bad one.

Thanks henriquejr!

 

Disco Elysium - Released

by Hiddenx, 19:36

Disco Elysium has been released:

You are a detective:
Disco Elysium is a groundbreaking open world role playing game. You’re a detective with a unique skill system at your disposal and a whole city block to carve your path across. Interrogate unforgettable characters, crack murders or take bribes. Become a hero or an absolute disaster of a human being.

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Features:
Unprecedented freedom of choice​. Intimidate, sweet-talk, resort to violence, write poetry, sing karaoke, dance like a beast or solve the meaning of life. Disco Elysium is the most faithful representation of desktop role playing ever attempted in video games.

Countless tools for role playing.​ Mix and match from 24 wildly different skills. Develop a personal style with 80 clothes items. Wield 14 tools from guns to flashlights to a boombox, or pour yourself a cocktail of 6 different psychoactive substances. Develop your character even further with 60 wild ​thoughts ​to think – with the detective's Thought Cabinet.

A revolutionary dialogue system with unforgettable characters. ​The world is alive with real people, not extras. Play them against each other, try to help them, or fall hopelessly in love. Disco Elysium's revolutionary dialogue system, with partially voiced characters, lets you do almost anything.

Carve your unique path across the city​. Explore, manipulate, collect tare or become a millionaire in an open world unlike anything you've seen before. The city of Revachol is yours for the taking, one small piece at a time. From the streets to the beaches – and beyond.

Hard boiled, hard core. ​Death, sex, taxes and disco – nothing is off the table. Revachol is a real place with real challenges. Solve a massive murder investigation, or relax and kick back with sprawling side-cases. The detective decides, the citizens abide. 

Tuesday - October 15, 2019

Disco Elysium - Video Review @ ACG

by Hiddenx, 16:01

ACG has reviewed Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium Review "Buy, Wait for Sale, Rent, Never Touch?"

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Thursday - October 10, 2019

Disco Elysium - Welcome to Revachol!

by Silver, 11:37

A dev blog for Disco Elysium looks at Revachol.

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When middle class people talk about foreign places, they like to talk about “contrasts”. Travel magazines, financial journals, regional reports on the news... it's all about those contrasts.

And what they mean by “contrasts” is that most people are pornographically poor while a few are obscenely wealthy. That's what they mean by contrasts. East of the river, monetary organizations promote regional stability, west of the river cops collect tare for cash and junkies shake so hard their bones come loose from their sockets.

There is no city in the world with more contrasts than Revachol. The broken, magnificent, disgraced former capital of the world. A great sky on fire, reflecting off broken glass. Revachol the Suzerain, Revachol the Commune, Revachol the Administrative Region where all forms of government have failed. Revachol the Resolver, the answer to the great burning questions of history. How should we live? Will the horror ever end?

Revachol sits on a fertile island in the middle of the Insulindian Ocean, the world's largest body of water; in the eye of a great archipelago called Face-A-La-Mer. To be from Revachol is to be Revacholian. To be deserted, destroyed. A drug addict with an immunodeficiency disorder. A joke and a clown and a loser baby.

It's like the hanged man behind the hostel cafeteria said: there's nothing funny about jokes.

There's nothing funny about you either. Your swollen face in the mirror. A past you don't recognize, a world you can't bear to remember. The river Esperance flows from north to south, splitting the city in two. In its delta, great ghosts rise to the sky – the financial district. To the east: Le Jardin. Houses with gardens rise along the mountainside, up to Saint-Batiste where two of the world's five largest companies keep their headquarters. But you don't wake up there – you wake up west of the river.

West of the river, it's funky-baby holocaust time all day every day. In East-Jamrock, wild animals roam the valley at night – giraffes that escaped from the Royal Zoo 50 years ago. Giraffes – even-toed ungulates from the savannah. The local kiosque chain Frittte (sic) employs a private army of 2000 men to guard its properties in Jamrock and Faubourg. That's how bad the crime rate is – you need a private army to run a kiosque chain. And deregulation? They built a citizen-funded primitive nuclear reactor on the river. And it immediately entered core meltdown. That's pretty deregulated if you ask me. Below Precinct 41 there's a kebab merchant called Kuklov who makes kebabs that make you immortal if you can eat three and survive. In Villalobos an entire street is walled off and turned into a poppy field by a deified gangster called The Mazda, while his mortal enemy La Puta Madre exclusively employs former narcotics officers to farm his own fields. Through underground tunnels, kids descend into Le Royaume, the resting place of three centuries’ worth of the royal dead, to bring up rat tails and the pearl-encrusted teeth of civil servants. Child labour dungeoneering is a cottage industry. Someone came up with a synthetic opiate called the hunch that has a high lasting for two seconds. You only feel it while you're injecting it.

[...]

Wednesday - October 09, 2019

Disco Elysium - Preview

by Hiddenx, 20:25

Get Indie Gaming checked out Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium Gameplay First Impressions - Indie Insights

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Disco Elysium comes out via Steam on October 15 and is one of the most ambitious RPGs seen in years.  It wants to do so much and in this pre launch preview video of pc gameplay, I take a look at this noir isometric rpg detective game how it plays and if it lives up to its aims. 

Monday - October 07, 2019

Disco Elysium - Preview @ Indian Noob

by Myrthos, 11:45

IndianNoob checked out Disco Elysium and are positive about the game.

It’s not possible to say if Disco Elysium is going to re-invent the RPG genre with just the 15 hours I spent in the preview version. But what I can say is that it is a massive game made with lots of love and care. The sheer amount of brilliant writing and creativity in Disco Elysium is seldom present in any other game in the genre. It’s a thinking and reading man’s RPG that continues to reduce the gap between PnP RPGs and VRPGs. It’s a very ambitious and experimental game that’s not going to be everyone’s cup of Masala Chai. The lack of traditional combat, text-heavy gameplay and slow pace might turn casual players away. Truth be told, I haven’t been this impressed with the narrative of an RPG since Torment. Hopefully, the rest of the game continues to keep up and polish this excellent formula. Expect a full review once the game launches on October 15.

Sunday - October 06, 2019

Disco Elysium - Previews

by Silver, 11:31

Some previews for Disco Elysium.

RockPaperShotgun

I’ve played only a small bit of Disco Elysium, but that was enough for it to get its hooks in. It’s an RPG with very little combat about a down-on-his luck cop trying to get his job back while working a case across a single city block. Some more recent devblog posts have gone into detail about all it contains: weather states; times of day; game time that advances by the player reading a line of dialogue; 24 skills, which butt in to your thoughts to have their say on what situation you’re in; over a hundred inventory items; about a million words. It’s funny and inventive in ways games rarely are.

Disco Elysium also has a Thought Cabinet, an inventory for brainstuff. Kurvitz went through about 12 different versions of how to do it. Maybe thoughts could also be wounds. Maybe the position of thoughts, their relative inventory slots, could affect each other. Maybe the health system could be balanced on the Thought Cabinet. In the final version of Disco Elysium, the Thought Cabinet interacts with many other systems in the game, and it takes a while for you to uncover what a thought actually is by ‘internalising’ it. An average play through results in 16 fully internalised thoughts.

[...]

JumpDashRoll

The prose in Disco Elysium has a very organic lilt which seems borne of tabletop role-playing games, though it turns out that this is no coincidence. “I’ve been playing pen-and-paper since I was fifteen or sixteen,” says lead designer Robert Kurvitz. “I’m something of an evangelist, and I started pouring into it my ambitions as a novelist. I was playing it with my young artist friends back then and we went really highbrow with it. I think it’s as good as storytelling and culture gets. The problem is you can’t record it. You can’t take it anywhere. I shudder to think of all of the hundreds of really, really good pen-and-paper games which just evaporate, so we decided to build our own world and ended up dedicating a large part of our lives to try and encapsulate this in a video game.”

Kurvitz has a point. For anyone familiar with tabletop role-playing, whether it’s Dungeons & Dragons, Cyberpunk or any one of the countless settings and scenarios available, there’s nothing quite as magical as achieving something seemingly impossible with a character of your own making by simply forming an idea and executing it with a dice roll. Capturing that moment of tension in a video game has still not fully been realised. As the likes of BioWare’s games developed from the homely isometric feel of Baldur’s Gate to the bland Mass Effect: Andromeda, more and more of that tabletop personality dissipated. It was this need to transport organic world-building outside of verbal narration which influenced Kurvitz’s own novel — and this in turn led to the success and significant funding required to create Disco Elysium.

[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Tuesday - September 24, 2019

Disco Elysium - A Colossal Game

by Hiddenx, 22:25

Disco Elysium will be big:

DISCO ELYSIUM IS A COLOSSAL GAME

Let's talk content richness and playtime.

We've had enough people finish the game from start to end now. We can finally say how big the game is. And Disco Elysium is, in every sense of the word, a huge game. It's bigger than *giant* and (a little) smaller than *gargantuan*, so I would say it is about colossus-sized.

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So — a colossal game.

How long is a colossal game? Well, it takes 60+ hours of continuous playtime to finish Disco Elysium if you're a reasonably completionist player, as I am. It takes 90 hours if you're absolutely savouring every detail. And 30 hours if you're rushing it. Back-of-the-box, I would put playtime at: 60+ hours.

Map-wise, Disco Elysium takes place in one city district – Martinaise, in the city of Revachol. Martinaise is divided into five major areas – call them biomes if you like. Video game people love biomes:

  1. Martinaise proper, comprised of modern, renovated buildings. A dilapidated cityscape.
  2. The Industrial Harbour. Big machinery and containers upon containers of goods.
  3. The wild, abandoned urban coastline, full of ruins from a long lost Revolution.
  4. A plethora of underground areas meant to be explored with your flashlight.
  5. And a fifth area that I won’t reveal here.

All four non-underground areas are one seamless, isometric open world that you can approach in any order.

The world is about the size of Planescape: Torment. Or a sizeable chunk of the first Pillars. A sizeable chunk of Fallout: New Vegas... But the resolution – the level of detail, content density – of these areas is, I would say, about 5 times denser than any RPG I've played. Disco Elysium is a detective game and thus you have to be able to put it under a magnifying glass. Any part of it. Every apartment, hallway, street corner, lamp, or even trashcan needs story, writing, details and interactivity that, to me, exceeds even the most detail-oriented adventure games.

None of these areas reuse assets or look the same like games that are asset-assembled do. Sure, people have the same radio every now and then, every little room is 100% unique when it comes to layout and art. And music, too.

There are four major weather states – snow, rain, mist and clear. And four times of day – morning, day, evening, night. These all combine to make an unpredictable, moody city where time moves in a very realistic manner. Getting through one day is a massive thing. Shadows fall. Sodium lights flicker. The music changes. Tomorrow brings new NPC’s to old locations, as the world changes each day. It takes about one real life day to complete one in-world day, if you’re being meticulous.

[...]

Thanks GabrielMP_19!

Wednesday - September 18, 2019

Disco Elysium - Release Date & Features Trailer

by Hiddenx, 17:58

Disco Elysium will be released on October 15:

Release Date & Features Trailer

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Sunday - July 21, 2019

Disco Elysium - Releasing at the end of the year

by Silver, 11:03

PC Gamer reports that Disco Elysium will release at the end of the year.

Disco Elysium's Steam store page still lists its release date as "to be announced" but developer ZA/UM just reposted an article that cites the more optimistic time frame "the end of the year."  

The feature was originally published on May 1st in French on Canard PC. Today, ZA/UM posted an English translation to their Steam news feed. Although the majority of the article cites details about the grim detective RPG that we already know (amusing dialogue and skills that manifest as voices in your characters head), there is a very quick mention of Disco Elysium's release.

[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Tuesday - April 02, 2019

Disco Elysium - RPG Codex Preview

by Silver, 21:47

The RPG Codex have previewed Disco Elysium.

In an earlier time, when the Codex was the bastion of civilised tastes, C&C was the holy grail of a good RPG. In my mind, C&C will be the difference between whether Disco Elysium ends up an interesting adventure game-RPG hybrid or a truly memorable classic. There's no combat system to provide variety in terms of party-building or tactical encounters, so the extent to which you can shape your character through dialogue, thoughts, interactions, is really the meat of the gameplay. In my sub-hour playthrough, Herr Hobocop struggled to get dressed (and partially failed), got insulted by almost every NPC he met, and nearly mutilated a corpse trying to steal its belongings. The real question, then, is how much those bumbling interactions are going to remain fresh and consequential.

From chatting with the devs, it seems they are fully behind branching paths & real consequences as a design goal at least. They're not particularly worried about making sure every player gets to see all the content, or that every option is similarly rewarding. I'm told that depending on your skills and choices, you might get to, say, a cafe, and see very different interaction possibilities; and if your particular guy can't even start a conversation with the barista, that's just how it goes.

Two design decisions, to me, indicate that their heart is in the right place. First, I'm told that anticipating & designing interesting failure states are a key part of the design. Though some catastrophic failures lead to game over, many others are par for the course, and update the state of the world in interesting ways. Second, choices are (partly) limited and irreversible. Interaction options are classified as white or red. Red options can only be tried once, and you roll with the result; white options can be tried again, but only after levelling up relevant skills, and/or changing something else in the world so that the odds of success have been modified. From my sub-hour hands-on, there's no way to tell how successful they'll actually be at this, but at least they understand the nature of the problem.

And yes, they've heard of Age of Decadence.

[...]

Thanks Couchpotato!

Saturday - February 02, 2019

Disco Elysium - From Render to Paintover

by Silver, 20:13

A new blog post from Disco Elysium demonstrates how the art is made.

In this post I’ll show how we give more life to our world by mixing realtime objects with the hand-painted background.

Everything that is animated, is possible to pick up, or appears only in certain times will be added to the game in realtime instead of being painted into the background. That includes NPCs, vegetation, collectables, particles, etc.

wave lines

Since our backgrounds use rendered heightmaps, we can use a flat plane that uses a special shader for sea. That gives us a nice coastline with some fading on the edges. But it still looks bland! It looks the same in both in shallow and deeper areas, so we’re going to add more detail on it.

areas effected

Since there’s a tiny creek, we should separate the the sea from the creek. By adding and extra layer on top of the seaplane we get a warm gradient (nr 1), which color can be changed. Adding an orange tone there makes it look shallower, murky and more rusty from the surroundings. The new plane will also contain a flow map which fakes the effect of water flowing in desired direction.

[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Monday - September 24, 2018

Disco Elysium - EGX Panel Video

by Silver, 14:27

The developers of Disco Elysium attended an EGX Panel to discuss development.

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ZAUM Studio's Aleksander Rostov (Art Director) and Robert Kurvitz (Lead Designer & Writer) are joined by Alex Wiltshire (Acclaimed Video Games Journalist) to discuss the development of Disco Elysium, a groundbreaking blend of hardboiled cop show and isometric RPG. -- Watch live at https://www.twitch.tv/egx

Saturday - September 15, 2018

Disco Elysium - Previews

by Silver, 11:20

Ars Technica and Destructoid previewed Disco Elysium.

You'll eventually meet your partner and investigate the body, which has been hanging for more than a week and is quite ripe at this point. A couple of kids standing nearby can be interrogated, but prefer to continue throwing rocks at the corpse and jeer mercilessly when you toss your cookies at the smell. Your character may try to steal the deceased man's boots, or might find that he threw his police notebook in the garbage during his drunken stupor.

[...]

Do not mistake this dialogue-driven RPG for an interactive novel. This top-down point-and-click adventure, made by a small studio out of London, includes puzzles and inventory-driven mechanics that you might expect in a LucasArts classic. The difference here is the sheer breadth of branching dialogue paths and optional conversations packed into this early-2019 PC adventure game—not to mention the hilariously dark and brutal script driving its horror-loving humor forward.

[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Thursday - May 31, 2018

Disco Elysium - Making Detective Games Work

by Silver, 14:33

RockPaperShotgun chatted to the writing lead for Disco Elysium Robert Kurvitz, about the details behind making a detective RPG game work.

...

RPS:: Is Disco Elysium something you can be bad at?

Robert Kurvitz: Yeah, Yeah, definitely. It’s a hardcore RPG: You can fail at it. You can be a bad detective who just doesn’t solve the case at all, and everything goes really badly – and you can die. You can also be too scatterbrained, just not a good enough detective generally, to piece together what happens.

RPS: Right, so there might be bits where you just can’t deduce what’s happening?

Kurvitz: Yeah, and you can also build yourself a build that doesn’t work for what you might try to do. You have to be strategic, and you have to think “right, how am I going to go about this? How am I gonna get out of this? How am I going to get these guys to face up to what they did?” Because some people are just gonna stonewall you. And then we have active skill checks, white checks we call them, and when you fail them you can try them again – but to try them again you have to put one point into what you did, and you may not be able to do that because you don’t have that kind of character, or you don’t have enough experience yet, or you’re at max points already. Then you have to find modifiers in the world, and you have to think “what character would influence these guys?”

[...]

Thursday - May 17, 2018

Disco Elysium - Preview @ Gaminglyfe

by Hiddenx, 20:34

Gaminglyfe checked out Disco Elysium:

Disco Elysium | Gaminglyfe Preview

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DISCO ELYSIUM is a groundbreaking blend of isometric RPG and hardboiled cop show. Solve a massive, open ended case in a unique urban fantasy setting. Kick in doors, interrogate suspects, or just get lost exploring the gorgeously rendered city of Revachol and unraveling its mysteries. Tough choices need to be made. What kind of cop you are — is up to you.

Saturday - May 05, 2018

Disco Elysium - The Combat

by Hiddenx, 13:23

Indie dev Robert Kurvitz describes the combat in Disco Elysium:

Combat in Disco Elysium

Now that we have a flashy screenshot to illustrate it, let’s talk about combat in Disco Elysium.

1. There are only a handful of instances of it. These are half-scripted, pseudo turn-based, set piece combat encounters. They are not cheap to animate and program. They come along as the pace and style of your investigation dictates. When you get cocky. When you push a violent angle. When you don’t move fast enough. When you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is the narrative logic of a cop thriller, or a hardboiled novel, not a war game.

But they will come along (although only one of the encounters is entirely unavoidable).

2. There are tactical choices to be made. Let’s take the screenshot as an example. The entire scene is one nerve-racking tumble of choices. These bad dudes are trying to get to what’s behind you. (Spoiler territory – not shown in the screenshot). Do you try to talk them down, try a peaceful angle? Or shoot first? As you deplete topics, the conversation will return you to this hub. Taking the shot may have gotten easier if you lulled them into a sense of security – or harder if you’ve been tricked. Your skills will advise you, guide you. But are they right? Maybe they’re just scared?

And that’s only the foreplay. When you do decide to shoot, you do so by clicking on that Hand/Eye Coordination red check. (If it’s your attack of choice of course – what’s available depends on your weapons: more on that later).

What follows is what we writers call a whirl. Think of it as a pseudo-turn. First you either hit or miss with that Villiers 9mm. The resulting havoc will play out in cool and insanely budget-consuming animations. The opposing force will then try to retaliate. At that point the screen will freeze into a time-stop. During this time-stop you take in your immediate surroundings and consult your skills. This is the titular whirl, since you’re constantly directed back to a hub of choices. You may gain tactical information from your surroundings. See what your partner is doing. All the while you’re confronted with a Reaction Speed red check to dodge the incoming enemy fire. That active check becomes harder or easier depending on your skills guidance via passive checks: Visual Calculus has drawn your attention to the angle of attack, Half Light has gotten scared and wants you to run!

Once you click on that red check, you either get shot or dodge the bullet, and enter another whirl.

Using these whirls we can (painstakingly) build any custom combat encounter, and give it the detail and skill-focused storytelling we’re going for.

3. As demonstrated, there are dice rolls, with percentages. A ton of them. We use active dice rolls of the red check variant, where both the negative and positive outcomes are played out. The stars of the show here are: Hand / Eye Coordination, Physical Instrument, and Reaction Speed, but others feature too. And as always, you can buff these rolls with the Electrochemistry system, by carrying a bottle and a ciggie into combat, bad cop style.

4. Your items decide what you can do. No gun – no shooty, etc. They also provide old fashioned bonuses and penalties to the active checks you’re rolling. Wearing a heavy armour makes dodging that shot harder. Having a better gun makes hitting that shot easier. A sports visor keeps the sun from your eye and makes you more likely to get that Visual Calculus tip during the second whirl.

And not only that – thoughts in your thought cabinet may also contribute. These mercenaries are wearing a strange new type of ceramic armour. Research it – for weaknesses! – and that Hand/Eye Coordination gets one of those massive bonuses game devs like to talk about.

5. It’s not all number crunching, it’s also about style. You’re going to want to have a high Pain Threshold character for a combat encounter, just to get painfully immersive information about your body breaking down, in exquisite, spleen rupturing detail. It’s like Nabokov said: dying is fun. (Only it’s really not). Or max out on Shivers and see what this muzzle flash looks like from the perspective of the wind; hear it echo down the street. And you can still use Rhetoric, Drama, Authority etc too — you don’t have to stop talking the opponents down, or taunting them, or relaying information to your squadmate, because the “battle grid” came out. Dialogue options can be part of the whirls.

Okay, so to recap: each whirl begins with all actors moving in a totally unique way, animated by Eduardo Rubio, our animation lead — one hell of an animator, that guy. We use time-stops at the end of each whirl. Then there are options to consult your senses, where skills jive in. And each whirl is exited by rolling another red check that begins another animation, etc. Until the situation is resolved, or you’re dead.

Oh and:

6. If someone gets killed during all this – someone important to you or the case – they stay dead. There is no disconnection between story and combat in Disco Elysium. The results of each decision you make – or fail to make, because you were trying to be diplomatic – is played out. People die, people have their bodies broken. They remember that you tried to punch them and fell over, because you were drunk. This stuff stays with you. You sustain a wound and people say: hey, you don’t look so good officer, stop bleeding in my fishing village.

If this sounds like a lot to produce, then that’s because it is. Do not expect an encounter to await behind every corner. But I thoroughly believe this approach is, if not the future of RPGs, then an early warning of that future. Consider the possibilities: fisticuffs in a burning building, a direct artillery hit on your Station, an exchange of fire during a car crash. These are all action scenes we’ve told in the pen and paper version of the Elysium role playing system. It’s our brand of pen and paper action scene – and this set piece centred combat system is our way of getting it to you, in a video game.

The beauty of the system is — we can just as well put you in a squad based combat situation, as we can have you jumping over a chasm to get into the harbour. It’s a one-size-fits-all solution for action scenes, comprising both combat, and acrobatics / environment interactions. Both use whirls and time-stops.

It is powered by Metric, our downright vitruvian character customization that represents the human mind and body in a realistic manner, and was made possible with some pretty complicated animation programming.

Sunday - April 29, 2018

Disco Elysium - Most Original RPG

by Silver, 10:32

PC Gamer believes Disco Elysium will be the most original RPG this year.

...

Tom: Pretty much none, and I’ve played for over an hour. I think that’s because it’s very easy to get sucked into incredibly detailed situations. Just looking in a steamed up mirror triggers a lengthy identity crisis. I used my partner’s radio to call back to base, just to see what would happen, and ended up in a long, tragically funny exchange with my colleagues. Every little situation is examined in minute detail. This could so easily get boring and frustrating, and it might feel that way to some, but I’ve enjoyed it a lot so far because the writing is so good. I can see how it will stand up to replays really well.

Samuel: Oh thank heavens, I thought it was just me making no progress. I played it for a couple of hours and similarly found myself achieving very little. Like you say, it's a game of tangents where the funny writing draws you deeper and deeper into something that might go nowhere—I badgered someone reading a book outside a store who described herself as "no one, just a working class woman." Clearly, she wanted to be left alone, but I responded with "Shouldn't a working class woman be working?" in response to what the logic part of my character's brain was thinking. They're often granular conversations about nothing, and sometimes I'll just pick a dickish choice just to see the results. But they're really enjoyable, and you can keep poking at them, providing and receiving funny responses.

[...]

Saturday - April 21, 2018

Disco Elysium - An Urban Fantasy RPG

by Hiddenx, 14:52

Shacknews checked out Disco Elysium:

Get Familiar With Disco Elysium, An Urban Fantasy RPG

After changing the name from No Truce With The Furies, the developers are unraveling some of the details on this deep detective RPG.

No Truce With The Furies, an intriguing RPG that made my Most Anticipated Games of 2018 list, has a brand new name: Disco Elysium. As the scope of the urban fantasy detective drama expanded, the name had to change encompass more of the full tale’s purview.

Let’s set the stage. Disco Elysium blends a hardboiled cop show into an isometric RPG for an experience that allows players to shape exactly what kind of cop they are. Even in the very early build I tried at SXSW 2017, the deep RPG system felt like something that could only be rivaled by the recently released Torment: Tides of Numenera. I got a taste of the open-ended structure of the game and the internal inventory of thoughts I could unravel the pertinent details of a situation.

I didn’t get to see the skill system explicitly, but I witnessed its effects on conversation. Since then, I’ve craved details on the inner workings and the development team, ZA/UM, has started rolling out the breakdowns for the four skill trees. Psyche, Intellect, and Physique are all below with Motorics coming soon.  Just from the descriptions, I can tell that the writing for Disco Elysium is going to be incredible. Check out the official website for the lengthier breakdowns of what each skill offers.

[...]

Tuesday - April 17, 2018

Disco Elysium - Moving RPGs to the Next Level?

by Silver, 02:28

Greenman Gaming previewed Disco Elysium at EGX Rezzed and think it is going to shake up the RPG genre.

...

Think it Over

You have an inventory in Disco Elysium where you can manage the items you pick up. It doesn’t end there though, you can also pick up ideas as you proceed through your case. For example, at the start of the game you are asked to investigate a corpse, swinging softly in the breeze from a nearby tree. As part of its narrative structure you can attempt actions or attempt to succeed at challenges through the dialogue options, and it’s possible to fail this particular challenge a few times simply because the body has been hanging there several days, and you’re quite hungover.

So even after using something to take the smell away, you might find yourself needing a new option. In comes an idea your partner gives you, to get your shit together. You see, in Disco Elysium you have a second inventory related to ideas and concepts that you come across. Slotting this idea about getting your shit together in there, you are given a small in-world timer which passes as you talk to people. After thirty in-game minutes, the idea ripens and bursts into…the shit singularity, meaning that you do indeed have your shit together.

[...]

Friday - April 13, 2018

Disco Elysium - Meet the Skills: Physique

by Silver, 11:52

A new blog post for Disco Elysium introduces us to the six physical skills.

These six skills are probably my favourites of the whole bunch. They were certainly the hardest to come up with. We finished Physique (FYS) while already deep into production, whereas the other three were ready years before. It’s surprisingly difficult to depict the physicality of a character – their flesh, blood and tendons – in a rule set. This is reflected in RPG tradition, where physical characters are one dimensional musclemen, somewhere between an athlete and a joke. It’s paradoxical how uninteresting it is to play a physical character in a genre that is built around them – nothing interesting happens inside the body of Conan the Barbarian.

This was our starting point: what kind of physical character would we want to play in a desktop setting? They would have to be murky, dangerous, sinewy beings. Mysteries even to themselves. More Nameless One than Torgen the Axe-Dude. To achieve this we had to come up with a set of skills that is – surprisingly – the most esoteric and out there of all the four Attributes. Instead of getting the most basic experience, you get probably the most advanced and experimental playing with a high FYS char.

Physique skills are also the most silent of the bunch. They don’t speak as often as INT for example. But the times your body does speak to you hold more weight.

PHYSICAL INSTRUMENT

 Physical Instrument is your primary corporeal tool: your muscles and your skeleton. Physical Instrument is your hand to hand combat skill, your inner coach. He likes to be addressed as “Coach Physical Instrument”. You can call him Coach, or you can call him Coach Physical Instrument.

Put points into this guy to punch a suspect in the face. Or 360 degree spin kick the living daylights out of them. But it’s not just violence. You can use this skill to physically analyse the qualities of a “beat” on a dance track. (Coach Physical Instrument thinks it needs more bass).

In addition to being the voice of your musculature, Physical Instrument tries to give you social advice from time to time: be less sensitive, stop being such a sissy, drop down and give me fifty. Coach Physical Instrument is all about masculinity, with little to no self awareness. I like to think it governs your muscles, skeleton and your sweat glands. Add Suggestion to dial things back a little, add some sensitivity training? He turns you into a raging gym trainer if you let him run the show.

ELECTROCHEMISTRY

 Physical Instrument is nothing compared to Electrochemistry, who turns you into a lecherous drug addict. I’ll level with you – it’s one of the funnest skills in the game. Not only does it crave for any and all substances on Earth, it’s also a treasure trove of knowledge on each of them. For some reason this cop knows exactly what GABA receptors do, what serotonin syndrome means, and what kind of cocaine the Filippian kings did four centuries ago.

But beware – Electrochemistry also governs your other dopamine responses. That is: your sexuality. Electrochemistry inserts lurid thoughts into your head, with absolutely no filter. It does not play nice either, it’s an animal. Yet it has its own atmospheric, ruinous take on reality. You should exercise caution with this guy and make sure you have some Volition to keep things in check.

Having low Electrochemistry makes you a calmer person, more in control of yourself. Having high Electrochemistry makes you not turn up to work the following day, yet more fun to be around after 10PM.

It also has a nice mechanical function. Disco Elysium lets you use potions (ie drugs) mid-dialogue. Equip cigarettes in one hand and a vial of speed in the other. Encounter a difficult check? Spark one up and then toot a line! (In secret of course, turn around a bit first – it’d be pretty strange if a cop just did a line in front of you wouldn’t it?)

Blasting a substance gives you a cute little animation and adds a temporary bonus to your Attributes. Alcohol gives +2 to Physique, for example. Electrochemistry adds extra charges to these items, so a high Electrochemistry character gets more out of their drugs. The skill also leads you down a path of substance abuse, giving you quests to procure amphetamine, or just buy a magnum sized bottle of wine.

These quests are often non-refusable.

[...]

Sunday - April 08, 2018

Disco Elysium - Pax East Preview

by Silver, 10:54

PC Gamer took a gander at Disco Elysium during PAX East.

I am a cop. At least, I suspect I am because the woman outside the hotel room I woke up in told me so. I don’t actually remember being a cop. Or how the hotel room window got shattered. Or why my face looks like I lost a fight with the pavement. Or my own name. I don’t remember anything about the case I’m supposed to be solving: a dead body strung up in a tree outside the hotel I’m staying in. Not a good day to be me, it seems, but if I'm someone who can solve murders, maybe I'm the type of person who can solve the mystery of his own identity. Maybe.

Disco Elysium begins with these amnesic questions. You open the isometric RPG in the retro-futuristic city of Revachol, an ugly urban locale whose dilapidated architecture and stone-eyed citizens are rendered with the beautiful long brush strokes and contrasting colors of an oil painting. Disco Elysium is being developed by Estonian studio ZA/UM, from its new location in London.

[...]

Saturday - March 10, 2018

Disco Elysium - New Title Trailer

by Silver, 07:54

The game formerly known as No Truce with the Furies is now known as Disco Elysium according to this tweet.

 

Thursday - December 21, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - X-mas Teaser 2017

by Hiddenx, 20:07

A new teaser video is out for No Truce With The Furies:

NO TRUCE WITH THE FURIES X-mas Teaser '17

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"Isometric RPG meets cop-show. You are a police detective in the city of Revachol. Solve a huge open ended case, or get lost exploring the city. Good cop, bad cop, fascist cop, socialist revolutionary cop, criminal mastermind disguised as a cop – you can play any kind of cop you want."

Monday - September 25, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - Story Combat

by Hiddenx, 08:52

OnlySP reports that the creators of No Truce With the Furies try to combine story and combat more:

No Truce With the Furies Creators on Rethinking RPG Combat

The team behind upcoming indie RPG No Truce With the Furies believes that the disconnection between story and combat in many RPGs needs to be rectified for the genre to move forward.

Speaking to OnlySP recently, the writers behind the title said that the studio has been looking at battle sequences in a new light, leading to the creation of a “story combat” system. Rather than engaging in fisticuffs, set piece moments take place within the dialogue system, utilising the chance, equipment, and health mechanics normally found in physical battles.

The writers went on to suggest that this approach “may be one way forward for games—if we want to address the disconnect between combat and story, where, for example, characters can only die in cut scenes.” The separate mechanics for combat and story is “a hurdle” that needs to be overcome if RPGs and other games are to ever achieve “psychological realism and a deeper connection to the characters,” the team says.

[...]

Thanks Farflame!

Friday - July 28, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - Interview with the Devs

by Silver, 13:37

IndieGraze had a long interview with the No Truce With The Furies developers about the game.

Anyone with a keen eye for truly literary RPGs should be drooling at the trailer for No Truce With The Furies, a police procedural isometric with sci-fi/fantasy overtones under development by ZA/UM. With input from Art Director Aleksander Rostov and Lead Designer Robert Kurvitz, the team chatted with me on their project.

Erik Meyer: For anyone who lived a life saturated in RPGs like Fallout, Planescape: Torment, or Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, the NTWTF trailer will spark curiosity, and the game clearly seeks to redefine and expand on earlier conventions. With a world created by Robert Kurvitz as ongoing source material and visual assets drawing on an oil painting look from Russian Realist painters, what have been the challenges in uniting these varied elements, and which parts ‘clicked' the fastest?

NTWTF: There's over a decade of casual, creative and professional collaboration across disciplines embedded in No Truce With The Furies. Writing lead Robert camped out in art director Aleksander's studio for years while finishing up the novel that set the stage for the world in which the game takes place. We find the RPG a particularly suitable medium for joining the disciplines of art and literature into a seamless, coherent whole.

What's interesting is how our major themes manifest in different disciplines. The very existence of the world of No Truce With The Furies is threatened by a phenomenon called the pale, which is as natural as the oceans or space. There are edges in this world where reality sort of ceases to exist. And they move around sometimes. Imagine living in this unnerving world - it's a wellspring for people of character. The very structure of the universe affects psychology, bringing out eccentricities, producing people whose souls have depth. Even simpletons have at some point thought of grand things - you can't escape those thoughts when the disintegration of the world is not merely an eschatological threat, but a physical reality.

The art reflects this state of affairs. There is a disproportionate amount of color in this world. Nothing is ever just a flat green or red. There's depth there, the colors get fragmented and mangled into other hues. Flecks of complementary color add spark and life. The white of a plaster wall is made up of so many greens, blues, pinks and yellows. It's not that you won't see a white wall. The wall is white, but if you take the time to study it, you'll find there are other colors in its structure.

Thus, in the end, it all speaks to the same whole. Take any part away, and it's no longer No Truce With The Furies.

EM: In well-told stories, audiences often come to love protagonists who aren't terribly likeable (A Clockwork Orange comes to mind); in NTWTF, players assume the role of a disgraced detective in a police procedural drama. To your mind, what is it about difficult situations and dysfunctional narratives that hooks gamers? As you've developed locations, NPCs, and subplots, what do you see as essential to maintaining a consistent yet compelling feel?

NTWTF: I think what we like about these characters is seeing other humans being human. We were taught in kindergarten under the teacher's judgmental gaze to divide people into the simplified categories of "good" and "bad". We were told the police are the good guys who make sure the bad guys get due punishment. Now we know, of course,that this is not necessarily true. And, forgive me for the triteness of this statement, but the bad guy is just the protagonist of his own story, right?

As humans, we're a gossipy bunch. There's something infinitely attractive about seeing into the thoughts and experiences of a character who seems so different from us. It's also enlightening to see that it's really all the same stuff that makes us tick. And it's an opportunity to look into someone's eyes and see beyond our own reflection.

The really killer part is realizing you can mix that experience with player agency via the magical lightning-blasting-out-of-fingertips medium of video games, which allow you to live that life. And with the incredibly overpowered 4th dimensional super power of saving your game, you can see how far you can push a situation, how insane you can go.

We do not recommend save-scumming, though. Please experience your first run of No Truce With The Furies with full acceptance of the consequences of your actions. It's better that way. See if you have the guts.

A curious little tidbit: at one point in history, before settling on calling our system Metric, the pen-and-paper version of it was called "Come be a person!"
[...]

Thursday - July 20, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - Dev Blog

by Silver, 09:51

No Truce With The Furies latest developer diary entry expands on what it takes to create a character concept.

BIRD'S NEST ROY

Aleksander Rostov

Little did I realize what a day today would be. I figured "Alright it's the end of my first week back after vacation! A Friday! Let's take it easy! Let's sneak a character concept in there!" They take me like an hour, a good fun break from the usual. So I go check out what characters are next on the list and pick out this dude by the curious name of Bird's Nest Roy.

"Roy, white male, about 50, tall and gaunt, pawnbroker and drug addict (though the latter is not immediately obvious). His arms, legs, and torso all seem too long, and his hands are too large - expressive hands with long fingers, but nevertheless ugly. Speaks in a quiet, husky smoker's voice. He was part of the cleanup crew after the People's Pile disaster. Has traveled extensively. Though he grew up on the coast and runs a pawnshop by the water, he doesn't like boats."

First draft. Immediately I'm reminded of a few people I know, these hippie types who've gotten older and started dressing down from their regular outlandish gear. You can see this guy having a smoke on the little lawn in front of his 16 story public housing apartment home. An old rocker kinda dude. Add a rigid leather fanny pack as a coin purse for his clerking obligations.
[...]

Saturday - March 18, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - Development Update

by Hiddenx, 18:18

The devs of No Truce With The Furies have a lot of interesting ideas - here's an update:

WHEELCHAIR COMPANION?

What you can see here are the capeside apartments, Rue de Saint-Gislaine 33A to be precise. The pier below has my favourite piece of urban romanticism from the game – the plaque reads: “Docking reserved for residents of: Rue de Saint-Gislaine 33A.” Simple technical worldbuilding.

Revachol’s waterfront and the surrounding islands of Ozonne and Archipelagos have civilian boat traffic. Modern Revachol – a “gossamer state”, an occupied territory where only international and property law is enforced – has developed a rich culture of waterways. People drive boats like they drive bicycles. Well, rich people do. Poor people can’t afford boats.

That’s just the facts of life, sunshine.

Another word on the screenshot – it shows off our antecentennial architecture style. Havana-inspired stuff from before the turn of the century. It’s pretty bombed out now, war torn and without renovation for 40 years. We started work on the style before Dishonored 2’s campaign started, so the similarities are coincidental, stemming from common inspiration I guess. Also, we have wildly varying architectural styles in Revachol, the antecentennial is just one of them.

Other than the disturbing lack of spumes and particle effects – the “water tech” is half finished – we’re pretty happy with this one.

A word on the HUD (heads-up display) maybe? It’s still very much a work in progress. But this is the first iteration we’re not embarrassed to show. On the portraits, the red bars are Endurance and the blue bars are Volition.

About those portraits – the third one in line is the one I wanted to talk about: Lena, the cryptozoologist’s wife. She’s into cryptids, the fabled hidden animals. And the whole world in general, not only the hidden part of it. If you take a closer look at the three characters standing underneath the red paint, you’ll see that one of them is in a wheelchair. That one would be Lena.

Since we have a modern setting, we can have people in wheelchairs. Ypa! This one is a fancy, gas powered, electric motor driven wheelchair. (The wheelchair pushing animation would be too much of a hassle, plus the gas powered engine has a nice sound to it.) So we’re thinking – what if we had a wheelchair companion? We like Lena, she’s turning out nice. She’s presented us with an interesting thought experiment. How would Lena as a squadmate work?

Currently – not so well. A gossamer state does not lay wheelchair ramps over the ruins of its monarchist past. Traversing the map becomes an instant problem. We had a look at Martinaise proper and most of it is already barricaded with those stairs that isometric level design loves so much. The rest has … navmesh problems. So we’re currently thinking of making Lena into a temporary companion for an atmospheric stroll kind of side-quest. Prototype it. Then maybe expand it into a more fleshed out thing in the future? Those navigational restrictions have some interesting gameplay and exploration possibilities …

Anyway, these are just thoughts. It’s not guaranteed we’ll get her in there at all. It would need to be a smooth experience. There are a lot of crazy what-if’s that keep it on “Maybe?” list as of now. Just wanted to clear that up so y’all don’t expect her as a squadmate and then get angry when the gossamer state’s “who-gives-a-fuck” social policy cuts her navmesh.

Monday - March 06, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - Preview @RPG Codex

by Silver, 13:06

The RPG Codex have previewed No Truce With The Furies and are very optimistic about it.

The Estonian studio ZA/UM has boundless ambition, battling impossible odds with nought but passion, raw talent, and a clarity of vision I haven't seen in computer games since Chris Avellone in his prime. Their first game, No Truce with the Furies, is in full production, with a staff of twenty-five banging away late into the night in a run-down Neoclassical building in old Tallinn, where Reval melts into Revachol. Somebody's failed real estate investment, the building's previous occupants were Zen capitalists, and despite ZA/UM's de-namastefication program some remnants of the Old Regime remain - a tie-dye, a forlorn Namaste cut into a door in cutesy devanagariesque, the Buddha banished to the corridor as Lenin now keeps a commanding eye on development of dialogue trees.

No Truce is to be just the beginning, too: a first, brief foray into the isolas of a world gradually eaten away by the pale, with the real thing to follow its inevitable triumph. The real thing? The Return. (Of what? The Commune? On investment? Views differ.) That brief foray? Perhaps half of Planescape: Torment, think the Hive plus half the Lower Ward. This is not an indie game, Kurvitz insists, that's demeaning: this is an AAA game, as lush, as grand, as beautiful as anything else out there, from Mass Effect to Pillars of Eternity, and cooler than any of them. And with better music.

Wednesday - February 15, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - The Intellect Skill

by Silver, 20:08

The blog for No Truce With The Furies explains how the Intellect skill will work for the games metric system.

LOGIC

is raw intellectual power. If you want to analyze the living daylights out of the case, take Logic. Formulate theories about what happened, or detect inconsistencies in the statements people make to you. It's useful for not getting bamboozled.

Logic loves being right, however. To a fault. It's a brilliant lie detector until faced with intellectual flattery. Then it starts tooting its own horn. Your Drama skill might interfere: people are pretending, manipulating you, while Logic - blinded by its own brilliance - yammers on about how infallible it is.

In heroic difficulty rolls, Logic can induce near-transcendence-like pleasure from performing raw operations on events and numbers. (It also does maths for you.) And it states the obvious. Logic loves an easy challenge, whatever it's claims.

RHETORIC

is your ability to debate. Nitpick, make intellectual discourse. It doesn't need to be an argument, you can just shoot off your mouth and take hearty pleasure from it. But let's be honest - mostly Rhetoric just bickers. About politics.

All political discourse falls under Rhetoric. You can mold it into a weapon of fascist sable rattling, evicting potato-loving kojkos and deformed himean pygmees left to right. Rid Revachol of aliens in transit! Or become the ultimate liberast (perpetrator of the sin of liberasty), extolling free trade and slimy personal freedoms at the expense of the downtrodden. This is achieved through researching political projects in your Thought Cabinet, then having them supercharge your Rhetoric skill.

A souped up, ideologically informed Rhetoric is an impressive beast, but it gets you into trouble. The twist here is that Rhetoric - our persuasion ability - doesn't really persuade anyone. Most of the time it just makes you new enemies. While your beliefs calcify.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

is your knack for trivia. It's perhaps the talkiest of all the skills, pulling out drawers of fascinating if questionable tidbits of knowledge. Sometimes real nuggets of gold too. It's up to you to discern between the two.

Encyclopedia adores brands, marks, makes of pistolette and motor-carriage, street names, addresses, species of cockatoo, Great Century military leaders, rock music icons, Messinian ceramic manufacturers ... Buy it and max it out, if you want a deluge of lore.

You may even find special, reoccurring places within your Encyclopedia. Like visions: a blackboard of names with all the cops in East Revachol on it, with all their confirmed kills and cases solved. Or a mysterious index of radio frequencies...

[...]

Friday - February 10, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - Humble Bundle Publishers

by Silver, 20:30

No Truce With The Furies is partnering with Humble Bundle who will act as publishers.

Humble Bundle Launches Multi-Platform Publishing & Funding Initiative


New initiative brings developers together with Humble's over 10 million customers; Humble will be evaluating games to publish during GDC and PAX East

San Francisco, CA February 9, 2017 - Humble Bundle announced the launch of a multi-platform publishing and funding initiative. The starting lineup includes seven games across a range of genres and styles, for PC, console, and mobile platforms.

A Hat in Time - The perfect ode to old-school 3D platformers, with a hat-swapping spin

HackyZack - A sticker-collecting, precision-platforming, puzzle-stunt game

Ikenfell - A heartwarming turn-based RPG about a school of magic and its troublesome students

Keyboard Sports - A cheeky adventure with Master QWERTY that uses the entire keyboard

No Truce with the Furies - An isometric role playing game that blends cop show antics with a genre busting "fantastic realism" setting, offering absurd new heights of non-combat gameplay for RPG fans

Scorn - Gripping first-person survival horror set in a nightmarish universe

Staxel - Grow your farm, meet the villagers, and join your friends online in building your world

Publishing Lead John Polson says, "Since Humble's launch in 2010, we have earned the trust of over 10 million customers across our products. In a time when it's harder than ever for games to find their audience, publishing feels like the next logical step in the services that we can offer to our developer partners."

"All of our games will be ‘presented by Humble Bundle,' carrying a seal of quality and curation that fans have come to expect. For each aspect of publishing, developers can choose the services they need, making Humble Bundle a truly modern and adaptable publisher."

Thursday - January 19, 2017

No Truce With The Furies - Introducing Metric

by Silver, 20:53

No Truce With The Furies latest developer blog focuses on the Metric system. (No not the measurement system a game system.) Also check out these sketches for skill visuals.

...
In character creation you decide your Attributes. These 4 scores represent both your natural aptitude and learning cap in the 24 Skills that cover everything a human being needs to function. The rest of the game is spent fleshing out - and struggling against - these limitations. There are unexpected ways to overcome yourself. And inversely, being talented at something comes with a price.

For the real lowdown - instead of telling you how the Attributes help - let me tell you how they make things worse.

INTELLECT

A high Intellect makes you overly confident - a cocksure intellectual. You're vulnerable to flattery, and easily lose yourself in details. (The game becomes longer). While having a low Intellect makes you dim and superficial, prone to superstition and being plain wrong.

PSYCHE

A high Psyche comes with emotional turmoil - an unstable psychophant. Great willpower clashing with wild imagination. You may even lose your mind. While a low Psyche makes you uninspiring, inept at influencing people. Unsavoury things come out of your mouth.

PHYSIQUE

Okay, you're strong but so is your death drive - a mad man and a psycho killer. A high Physique needs to be tested, needs addiction, sex and physical confrontation. You lose your shit over small things. While being un-physical means vulnerable, un-streetwise. Lacking in animal cool.

MOTORICS

A Motoric character is too high strung - a bit of a cokehead. A quicksilver superdetective focusing fast and then reacting (too) sharply. While being low on Motoric means you're locked into yourself. The world has trouble finding you. You're clumsy and slow.

We've found combing these weaknesses produces more unique characters than combining strengths. Sure, there are strengths too. The obvious ones and the less obvious. More on those once we get to listing the actual Skills.

Til then,
the battle-worn design team of No Truce With The Furies.

Tuesday - December 13, 2016

No Truce With The Furies - Teaser Trailer

by Silver, 21:26

No Truce With The Furies has a new teaser trailer.

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A police procedural role playing game inspired by Planescape: Torment and Kentucky Route Zero. All combat is handled in dialogue, story is everything.

Monday - October 31, 2016

No Truce With The Furies - Active Skill Checks

by Silver, 11:46

The No Truce With the Furies development blog explains active skill checks and shows how dynamic shadows look on static backgrounds.

Introducing “Crime, Romance & Biographies of Famous People”, the bookstore that truly has it all. Open all night to show you what dynamic shadows on hand painted backgrounds look like.

[...]

PREPARING FOR BATTLE

You can prop up your side by rummaging through your Thought Cabinet and changing stuff around: maybe it would pay to be a radical feminist at this juncture? Or wait, no! Better to think really, really hardcore racist thoughts. That'll do the trick, dazzle them with your advanced race theory! But would your character do that? Do you want to take your character in that direction?

Maybe you should just use drugs and face the consequences later - or put points in the appropriate skill if you have any saved up. We want to bring min-maxing (upgrading your character on the fly), potion use (drug use in our case) and inventory management (changing thoughts in your Thought Cabinet) to dialogues. We want you to buff yourself up mid-dialogue and play it like a turn-based combat encounter.

ON THE OPPOSING SIDE

It's not only you who can change. The task at hand becomes harder or easier depending on the changes you've made to the world. Wanted to "get" what "the kids nowadays" are listening to? Maybe the music happens to be a bit more "basic" today because you waited? Wanted to convince your partner to get drunk on the job? Something you said has him reaching for the bottle. Wanted to come up with an exciting mystery? A shadow on the wall in the evening light has inspired you. All these things can make checks harder or easier. These modifiers give us a nifty little tool to show the player the game is taking note of their actions in the world.

So okay, you've seen the odds and you've seen the modifiers. Now it's time to either click on the check or not. If you do, what - if any - are the risks in failure? This is where my favourite thing about our active checks comes in. Notice how we use two colours of highlighting?

Saturday - October 01, 2016

No Truce With The Furies - Design Ethos

by Hiddenx, 16:32

Robert Kurvitz has listed some principles of his roleplaying system for No Truce With The Furies:

THE DESIGN ETHOS OF OUR ROLE PLAYING SYSTEM

I’ve spent most of my adult life tinkering on this system. (Most sounded better than all.) It used to be huge and unwieldy, meant to span several books. Originally we wanted to build a set of tabletop rulebooks inseparable from it’s setting. An end-all, include-all sourcebook / setting for tabletop role playing. Over the years we’ve cut it down to fit on a napkin.

For "No Truce With The Furies" we adapted those same pen and paper rules for an isometric RPG. I firmly believe it was the right choice.

[...]

1)  Only one

We make one system, one world – and that’s it. Everything goes into this one structure. All our ability for systematic thinking, all our knowledge of history. We iterate upon these rules until they are just right, the best numerical foundation for experiencing our world. And we make the world as complete and total as we can. And then we’re done. Wrap it up and send it into the future, New Testament style. We will never make a steampunk cyberpunk spyworld, Owls versus Foxes, Yarn Boy rule system.

2)  Tyranny of cool

If a skill has a great name, if a talent is poetic, if a mechanic is haute tension – it’s in. We’ll make it work. Beautiful stuff does not get taken out because “someone somewhere” didn’t understand what it does. If it’s clunky or extraneous we iterate and redesign until it works. We will always have talent names longer than “Small Black Flowers That Grow In The Sky” and “The Intense Humming of Evil” combined.

3)  Unsymmetrical is symmetrical

It’s good to have almost useless things and seemingly overpowered things. A good composition is not all equal parts. A good composition is equal experiences. There is great symmetrical tension and effect in a seemingly useless abilities that you try to use for the sake of cool. Pull off Spook, Shocking Grasp and Spell Thrust in Baldur’s Gate and you’re a wizard. All builds should not be viable, but all builds should be interesting. Some skills only pop up one or two times — they will be all the more special for it. While other’s buzz around as often as possible. (Empathy always tells you what people are feeling but when Shivers comes in, it’s a special moment.)

4)  Fit on a napkin or fit in the trash bin

After a while, we want you to be able to draw the entire system on a napkin from your head. That’s how elegant and self contained we want it to be. There are four stats and everything folds back into their value. We only use six sided dice. We prefer the Babylonian system of sixes to the Roman system of tens. (Six is a more comprehensible number, ten is too vague and philosophical and includes a zero). If we have a number in the rules – 4, 3 or 6 – we will reuse it as often as possible. All numbers fold back into themselves, everything is it’s own cap, never multiply, never produce long formulas.

5)  Small numbers

Congratulations, you just got +1 of something. It’s a big deal. Six is the maximum. You don’t get 28 experience, you get ONE POINT to put into a skill. That one point gives you the aforementioned +1 bonus. You don’t suffer 76 damage, you lose TWO LIVES. The smaller a number, the less you have of it, the more dramatic it will feel. We large mammals have two to three offspring. We have one home. We have two eyes. Our numerical values are large and chunky, losing one is tragic and gaining one is a triumph. Our system reflects that.

6)  Innovate like a fool

Innovate for innovation’s sake. This isn’t a medical procedure, it’s a rule system for a game. If we see a way to ditch experience then let’s do it. Sure, we could divide a point into 100 experience and it would let us balance the game better, but let’s not. Let’s not do levels either, carrying around points has been done less. And how about GAME OVER if you run out of money? Let’s do a clock too. A real time of day system will let us build great systems around it, imagine the great names we can give to talents for evening people! Above all – introduce hugely ambitious superstructures. A great failure is ten times better than a small success.

+1  Tabletop is god

We believe in great D&D. Not in high fantasy or cyberpunk but in the potential of the underlying tabletop experience. If the Game Master has a great story and the players are competent writers too… tabletop wipes the floor with any other medium. (Literature and video games included.) The Zola, Gombrowicz and Bulgakov of our time are already playing D&D, possibly around one table. The trouble is – the experience cannot be recorded and relayed to others. Tabletop is written on water.

Therefore we believe in video game adaptations of the tabletop experience. Games have had great success adapting tactical combat oriented D&D into video games. (Baldur’s Gate 2, etc). We want to do the same for heavy duty story oriented D&D.

Thursday - September 22, 2016

No Truce With The Furies - Dev Blog

by Silver, 00:13

In the latest dev blog for No Truce With The Furies the developer Fortress Occident talks about why they have prioritised non-combat systems and how they have made them a focus with this game. The focus of this development is a more immersive conversation system than what is standard.

In the 15 year build up to No Truce With The Furies, one of our main gripes with RPG-s has always been non-combat skill use. In RPGs - even the story-heavy ones - combat is lavished with tactical tension, skill use produces cool chunky animations, you get pulse-raising rewards and punishments, the logos are colourful. Sound effects go "Tring-trang!" and "Pow!", there are intricate beautiful systems for you to delve into.

Most of this is missing from non-combat skill use. Talking and exploring gets a simplified, non-competitive version of the combat rules. Usually this comes in the form of passive dialogue options: have this much of that required skill and you'll be able to say this thing. Even the games we truly admire - Planescape: Torment, Mask of the Betrayer, Fallout - have little going on in the rules department when it comes to dialogue. Ditto for most tabletop pen-and-paper role playing systems. The tactical depth of using arguments, employing logic, original thinking, empathy - the skill use that covers 95% of our actual lives - makes up 5% of the rule system. Yet my experience tells me thinking is the ultimate game. It's nerve-wrecking, conversations are filled with hidden doubts; we struggle to trust each other, manipulate each other, stay sane. There is great strategic depth and tactical tension that goes into talking that games haven't really - for me - begun to represent yet.

So that's the first thing we set out to create: a truly in depth non-combat skill system. We have four stats and under each stat there are 6 skills. That gives us 24 skills - all 24 have critical non-combat use. In fact, No Truce With The Furies (the first implementation of our role playing system) will cover their non-combat use almost exclusively. (In the future we want every skill to be a two-faced Janus with somewhat unsymmetrical and unexpected uses in combat and outside it).

I'll show off the individual skills in a future post. But first I want to talk about how the skills are used in No Truce With The Furies. That is - about skill checks.

Information about

Disco Elysium

Developer: Fortress Occident

SP/MP: Single-player
Setting: Modern
Genre: RPG
Combat: Unknown
Play-time: Unknown
Voice-acting: Unknown

Regions & platforms
Unknown
· Homepage
· Platform: PC
· Released at 2019-10-15
· Publisher: Fortress Occident