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Sun 19 August 2018

You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that? Why are you not helping?

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 19 August 2018, 20:15:36

Tags: Fallen Gods; Mark Yohalem; Wormwood Studios

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These Fallen Gods development updates are becoming more and more detailed. This month's update offers a comprehensive look at the eight character types who can become part of the player's warband, from the lowly churl to the powerful witch. Each description includes an animated image of the character, a sample of text from one of the game's events that involve the character, and details on where the character can be found, how the character can help you, and what it'll cost you to acquire and keep the character around. It's easily the longest update yet, so I'll just quote the framing text here:

A major part of Fallen Gods is winning men and women to your side in your struggle to clamber back to the Cloudlands. While few mortals are a match for a god, having their help means that you will not need to fight your foes alone, and their skills may mean the difference between overcoming an obstacle and being stymied in your quest.

These “followers,” who together compose the god’s “warband,” are important thematically as well. While Norse sagas often focus on a single heroic figure, that hero is frequently defined by his relationship to his friends, family, and dependents. Thus, at the very outset,Beowulf’s skald tells us a young prince must “give[] freely while his father lives / so that afterwards in age when fighting starts / steadfast companions will stand beside him / and hold the line.” (Heaney Trans.) Interestingly, Beowulf ends with most of the king’s men running away from him, breaking the line, in his battle against the dragon. But even then, it is both thematically and tactically necessary for young Wiglaf to be there at his side to soften up the great dragon for Beowulf’s killing stroke.

There are sagas in which the protagonist is alone, but this is typically an abysmal and unusual situation—for instance, a consequence of being outlawed and cut off from human society, as in Grettir’s Saga or Egil’s Saga. The ordinary structure of these stories, reflecting the structure of the society from which they arose, is that a hero may outstrip other men and women, but he benefits from their wisdom, their rebukes, their shields, and ultimately their companionship. And from a narrative standpoint, they offer a chance for the hero to show his strengths and weaknesses in how he heeds or ignores that wisdom, bows to or refutes those rebukes, stirs or shakes the fighters who hold those shields, and wins or loses the hearts of those companions.

So too in Fallen Gods. Unlike many RPGs that make companions’ own goals, undertakings, personalities, and problems the focus of the narrative, Fallen Gods remains tightly focused on its titular protagonist. But unlike RPGs where companions are absolute non-entities, or where the hero has no companions at all, Fallen Gods uses followers as a means of enriching the god’s character and enhancing the player’s options. They will offer suggestions and reactions during events, and the player will be able to ask them to undertake tasks suited to their special skills. While followers do not have individual personalities, their sharply distinct classes (churls, woodsmen, fighters, priests, berserks, skalds, maidens, and witches) make them stand out from each other narratively, while also offering different strategic benefits at different costs.

Before going into detail about each class, it may be helpful to provide a framework for what kind of costs and benefits followers may present.

First, a follower must be located and persuaded to join the warband. Traveling to a location where the follower can be found (like a shrine or stronghold) can take days, and time is the player’s only irreplaceable resource. Once the player reaches the necessary location, the follower must be recruited. Some followers, like churls, will ask nothing; others, like fighters, will want gold; and yet others, like witches, will demand a much higher price.

Except for those that are “sworn,” a rare minority, followers must be kept happy or they will leave the warband. This requires feeding them every day; hunger eats the bonds of loyalty. Food costs either gold (if bought in town) or time (if gotten by hunting). The more followers you have (the warband can include up to five), the more food you need. Followers will also grow unhappy (and weakened) by status ailments such as being crippled (which halves might), cursed (which harms luck), or sick (which drains HP).

But even a healthy, well-fed follower will grow unhappy if the god errs. Few are fond of a god who flees or fails. And even success can be a matter of taste—the same wise restraint that impresses a priest may disgust a berserk, for instance. The player can gladden (and sometimes strengthen) a follower with the gift of an item, whether a lesser thing like a golden arm-ring or a great treasure such as Firebrand. But a gifted item is gone for good; the god can never get it back. Rest or a skald’s song can sometimes soothe the warband’s spirits, but the day thus lost cannot be regained, either.

Assuming the player can find and keep a warband, however, he gains an important edge inside and outside of combat. In battle, even a powerful god can be overwhelmed when faced with multiple foes. Followers are necessary to even the odds and prevent the god from being flanked or surrounded. And some followers, such as berserks, can do much more than merely soak up blows that would otherwise land upon the god: they can deal out death as well as their leader. Moreover, certain followers can help against certain types of foes (such as woodsmen against wolves) given their knowledge and skill.

Outside of battle, followers’ might and craft can provide the god with both generic benefits (such as the ability of a skald to raise morale, mentioned above) and special options inside of events. While events focus primarily on the god, his skills, and his choices, followers open paths in the choose-your-adventure-style events that otherwise would be unavailable—a maiden might be traded for a wurm’s wisdom; a witch might swindle dead men of their strength; a berserk might hoist a boulder too heavy for the god to lift; a priest might offer an old law to put a bitter feud to rest.

In these ways, assembling a warband is both fun in itself and a critical strategic layer of the game. The player’s job is to plot a path to victory and decide what costs can (and must) be borne to make that path possible. To be sure, luck and experience both have a role to play alongside pure reason, but there is no single combination necessary for victory: Fallen Gods is about exploration, and the dynamics and possibilities unlocked by different followers is one of the things the player is encouraged to explore.

[...] Winning in Fallen Gods, or even just exploring its maze of paths and uncovering its secrets, will require assembling the right warband for particular challenges ahead. Such strategy will involve a mix of common sense (e.g., adding a woodsman before exploring a vast forest), in-game information gathering (e.g., finding out about a cave before attempting to delve its depths), and specific experience (e.g., knowing from having encountered certain events before that a certain follower would be helpful). As the player learns about the game’s lore and rules, he’ll become better at that kind of strategizing.

But Fallen Gods is different from more punishing rogue-likes that require the perfect combination of tools (and luck) to win. Our focus is more on ensuring thatevery combination of followers (and god skills and items) yields new and interesting opportunities for the player to engage with the game and make satisfying choices. You may not win every time, but our hope is that some new path will open or some new wrinkle will be found on an old path, such as a priest’s forlorn commentary on a witch’s misdeed, or a berserk’s catastrophic rush to battle that spoils a well-laid ambush. By wrangling with this cast of characters, the god—and, more importantly, the player who controls the god—will be able to show himself as not only a hero but a leader, for better and worse.
As usual, the update also includes a sample from the game's soundtrack - a particularly nice one this time, in my opinion. Next month's update sounds like it's going to be about event design.

There are 2 comments on Fallen Gods Update #7: Followers

Sat 18 August 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 18 August 2018, 00:26:28

Tags: Iron Tower Studio; The New World; Vince D. Weller

The New World, Iron Tower Studio's highly anticipated colony ship RPG, now has its own Steam page. Alongside it, they've published the game's first trailer. No gameplay yet - it's an introductory "concept trailer" that explains the game's premise with animated concept art and screenshots. Most notably, the trailer concludes with the announcement of three release dates - Winter 2018 for the combat demo, Fall 2019 for Early Access, and Fall 2020 for the final release. But here, just watch it:


Vault Dweller provides some additional details on the Iron Tower forums:

Our Steam page is now live. While the intro trailer doesn't have any gameplay footage yet (expect the first footage in 3-4 months), it comes with a sample of the ambient tracks. We'll post development updates on Steam as well, so if you're interested please wishlist or follow the game.

While we're on the subject of music, here's what Ryan Eston Paul, our composer, had to say about it:

"Obviously we are in the very early stages of composing here, but even now “The New World” offers so much in way of texture and color from which to create the soundtrack for this world. The cold and dark hue of a metal world starkly illuminated by artificial light. The fatalistic hope of people living within structured living quarters that they will never be able to leave. A world without fields or forest, but with an extended “frontier” of damaged and gang-infested compartments and decks. All of these contrasts and textures create an interesting whole that is equal parts old and new. Just the combination of a science fiction setting and the “western” theme of an endless frontier of lawless land to explore is enough to make my musical wheels really turn.

With “The Age of Decadence”, there was a clear musical voice that was created, one that eschewed from many of the prominent musical tropes of rpg games. Big epic brass and action-packed strings were largely traded for haunting children’s choirs, lonely lute plucks and cryptic whispers. From the beginning, the goal of the team has been to immerse the player in the feel and texture of the world, thus engulfing them in the story, and “The New World” will be no different in this regard. But even while bearing a similar musical philosophy to “The Age of Decadence”, the sound palette of “The New World” has me very excited. Expect synthesizers and dark, unearthly electronic sounds, but also expect a few surprises."
The Steam page also includes two new screenshots, though both show areas that we've seen before in WIP renders. Anyway, wishlist and follow!

There are 81 comments on The New World is now on Steam, gets its first trailer, releasing in Fall 2020

Fri 17 August 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 17 August 2018, 21:29:18

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

According to Obsidian's content roadmap, this month Pillars of Eternity II is scheduled to receive a major patch adding, among other things, two new God Challenge modes. The latest Fig update has the details on the new modes, which are more elaborate than the ones released with Patch 2.0 earlier this month. There's also some information about the Mega-Boss that will be added to the game next month, and a changelog for the minor patch that Obsidian released alongside the update. I quote:

We hope that those of you who have journeyed to Harbingers' Watch have enjoyed your stay (and according to the Steam reviews, you have!), but there is still plenty more to come in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. In the timeline that we shared with you in Update 53, you may have noticed that this month will see the release of Abydon and Skaen's God Challenges. Take a look below for descriptions of those challenges, what's new in Hotfix Patch 2.0.1, and a sneak peek of what's to come!

Challenge Yourself

  • Abydon - The god of the forge is ready to challenge you with forged items you carry. The more you use weapons and armor, the more they will wear down and become "Damaged". This modifier will make them progressively worse and eventually destroy them unless the mods are removed through Enchantments. Choose the items you will wear into battle wisely!
  • Skaen - With Skaen's challenge, when indoors or at night, fog of war encroaches more. Torches and lanterns can partially offset the additional fog of war, but only a little.
We look forward to seeing what you talented Watchers are able to do with these challenges enabled. Remember, if you're streaming these challenges, let us know by tagging us on Twitter so we can go and hang out with you!

That's One Mega Boss

Next month we'll be bringing our first Mega Boss to Deadfire. As we've said in some interviews recently, the Mega Bosses are end game challenges that you can take on in the Deadfire and are meant to test your party's mettle. These fights are meant to be for high level parties, so don't expect to be able to tackle them right when you get the Defiant out on the seas of the archipelago. We'll have more information on who the first Mega Boss will be in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

Patch 2.0.1

Today we've released a patch that fixes some of the bigger issues some players have had since the launch of "Beast of Winter." Our forums have the full patch notes, but some of the highlights are:
  • Retrained party members will no longer gain Knock Down, Constant Recovery, Battle Axe Proficiency, or Mace Proficiency when they should not.
  • The autosave feature works as intended after jumping into the pit in the Beast of Winter DLC and allows for progression.
  • Party members will no longer disappear near the portal in Sunken Crown.
  • Party members stay together when using the portal in Sunken Crown when it's flooded.
As always, we want to continue to work with you all to help make Deadfire an even better game. If there are issues you come across, let us know through our Support Portal and on our forums. We'll assist you as soon as we can!​

Those of you who have been following Pillars of Eternity since the days when it was still called Project Eternity might find the Abydon challenge mode rather familiar. It took five years, but in the end Tim Cain won!

There are 10 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #54: New Challenges Approach


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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 17 August 2018, 15:18:29

Tags: Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment; The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

We've all heard of Kickstarter stretch goals. We've seen some games get pre-order stretch goals. If you look hard enough, you might even find some wishlist stretch goals. But I'm pretty sure there's never been a wishlist stretch goal that offered to reduce a game's price if the goal was met. That's what Brian Fargo is offering for The Bard's Tale IV, along with some other stuff. I'll let the press release explain:

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NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Aug. 16, 2018 – inXile Entertainment, the studio led by Interplay founder and industry icon Brian Fargo, is proud to announce The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep Wishlist Initiative, an evolution in the relationship between an indie developer and its fanbase. In a project that is the first of its kind, gamers who wishlist The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep on either the game’s Steam or GOG.com pages add to an overall counter that unlocks bonuses which reward all purchasers of the game now and in the future.

At 100k wishlisters, inXile will partner with Red Hook Studios to provide an in-game version of the iconic torch from Darkest Dungeon. According to Red Hook Studios Co-founder Tyler Sigman, “Darkest Dungeonhas its roots in classics like The Bard’s Tale, so to be a small part of helping to bring the series back is a real treat for us as fellow game devs and especially as fans.”

At 300k wishlisters, the retail price will drop from $39.95/£29.99 to $34.95/£27.99.

At 500k wishlisters, two amazing tiers will unlock: first, the retail price will drop to $29.95/£24.99, knocking a full $10 off the original price. Secondly, a free DLC will be created and released for all game owners called “The Haernhold,” which finds characters adventuring in the dwarven realm of Kinestria.

In "The Haernhold" DLC, players gain the opportunity to travel beyond Caith to another dimension - Kinestria, realm of the Dwarves. Therein lies the Haernhold, home of Daeglish, one of the characters that can join the player’s party in the main game. All is not well - the tomb of a Dwarven king has been defiled, and only the heroes from Skara Brae have the power to face the darkness that has been unleashed. The only portal to Kinestria resides in Fort Garendon, and it is there where the player’s cross-realm odyssey will begin.

In 2012, inXile was in the vanguard of proving that crowdsourcing was a viable alternative for indie developers to pursue their dream projects. inXile then introduced the Kicking It Forward program, which created a pattern where successful indie devs could help others fund their own projects. Brian Fargo then joined the Advisory Board of Fig, which brought the power of investment to crowdfunding. Now, with this Wishlist Initiative, inXile is inviting their fans and RPG fans to take part in this collective effort to bring crowdsourcing to sales platforms.

According to inXile CEO Brian Fargo, “Crowdfunding opens up so many possibilities because it allows us to pursue ideas that we might not otherwise and to take creative risks. Our backers helped us get The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep made, and now we’re hoping that all our fans can help us spread the word about it, and in doing so, unlock rewards for themselves and help make the game that much more accessible for the wider gaming audience out there. Putting a game on your wishlist costs nothing, yet can mean everything to an indie studio like us. With this initiative, we’re hoping to have it mean something extra for our fans, too.”

The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep will launch on Windows PC on Sept. 18, 2018. It is expected to arrive later this year on the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, Mac and Linux. Weekly updates on the Wishlist Initiative will be provided on the company’s social media accounts: https://www.facebook.com/TheBardsTale and https://twitter.com/Inxile_Ent
It's known that wishlisting a game affects Steam's discoverability algorithm, making it appear more often on the store's front page. What I suspect happened here is that inXile realized that $40 is too high a price point for this game, but rather than just unilaterally drop the price, they decided to try to get something out of it. Wishlisting doesn't cost anything, so you all might as well head over to The Bard's Tale IV's Steam and GOG pages and add it.

UPDATE: Wishlisting the game on the Humble Store will now also count towards the total.

There are 16 comments on inXile will make The Bard's Tale IV cheaper if enough people wishlist it on Steam and GOG


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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 17 August 2018, 01:32:59

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail; Underrail: Expedition

It turns out that the upcoming Underrail: Expedition expansion isn't named that way for no reason. There is an actual expedition we'll be going on, and the primary danger on the expedition is a tribe of savage natives. The game's latest development update comes with four screenshots of their habitat. More importantly however, the update includes the first news of a possible ETA for Expedition. Styg and the team will be a launching a closed alpha in late September, during which the expansion's last few locations will be finalized. I quote:

[​IMG]
[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

Hi guys,

We're basically done with the savage natives. You won't be able to join this faction but you'll be able to explore their territory and their lore, and in any case you'll come in contact with them regularly as they are the primary danger facing the expedition.

Now we're taking a two week break to get some sun. After that we'll be putting the final touches on the rest of the Black Sea and preparing the closed alpha that will probably be available in the second half of September. It will be invite only. We'll be turning to the veterans of our community to help us test the massive amount of content we added so far to help us weed out bugs, handle any glaring imbalances as well as provide general feedback as to how to improve the expansion (within reason).

As the closed alpha is taking place we'll move to the final dungeon and the main quest wrap up.

Let us know how you like the new areas and I hope you guys are as excited for the closed alpha as we are. We really added a lot of things to the DLC over these few years, that, at times, we complete forget about them, and we're really interested to see how you guys use and abuse them to kill our precious NPCs before we nerf everything into the ground.

Cheers.
Finally. Though of course, a closed alpha implies that there's also going to be a beta...

There are 8 comments on Underrail Dev Log #59: Savage Natives, Closed Alpha in September

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 17 August 2018, 00:43:54

Tags: Action Squad Studios; Iron Danger

Iron Danger is an upcoming fantasy RPG by Finnish indie developer Action Squad Studios. When we first learned about the game back in May, it was quite confusing. The description on its Steam page describes Iron Danger as a "story-driven, turn-based, tactical RPG with simultaneous turns and time manipulation mechanics" and also as a "streamlined, action-packed single-player game". Meanwhile, the official website calls it a "tactical action adventure game". As if that wasn't weird enough, the game's story aims to combine Finnish folklore with steampunk elements. This week's release of a pre-alpha combat video should clear thing up a bit, however. What we have here is basically a real-time RPG that pauses at fixed intervals and gives you the ability to rewind to previous points in time. With its party of two characters, colorful presentation, and focus on environmental interaction, the Divinity: Original Sin influence is obvious. It's spastic as hell, but it does look pretty. Here's that combat video, an earlier gameplay trailer, and the game's description:



Iron Danger is a story-driven, turn-based, tactical RPG with simultaneous turns and time manipulation mechanics. A never before seen combination, which brings new level of depth into tactical combat.

It is a streamlined, action-packed single-player game in which repetitive grinding is kept to a minimum and every moment advances the story.

In this fresh fantasy world of warrior shamans and machine fumes, you take on the role of Kipuna, a simple village girl, who becomes imbued with a cosmic power that grants dominion over time and death. The player controls Kipuna and one of two individual companion characters in tactically challenging battles against a variety of different threats. At center stage in combat is the unique time shifting mechanic that represents Kipuna’s magical influence over the flow of time. It gives the player the ability to rewind at any point with fraction-of-a-second precision, pinpointing strikes to enemies’ unguarded moments, deflecting and dodging attacks exactly when they happen, synchronizing magical and physical attacks to overwhelm difficult enemies, and overcoming impossible odds through trial and error.

Iron Danger challenges you to think of combat and puzzles from a different perspective: you may be an experienced gamer, who knows all the tricks, but you’ve never played a game like this.

FEATURES
  • Use unique time-rewind mechanics and experience totally new take on tactical combat and puzzles
  • Enter into deep tactical combat with simultaneous turns and take advantage of highly interactive environment to succeed
  • Adventure in a world of steampunk fantasy and meet it’s unique inhabitants inspired by Finnish folklore
  • Fight epic boss monsters on the path to fulfill your destiny
  • No grinding. Character development is tied to actions that player characters will take.
WORLD OF IRON DANGER

Iron Danger is set in a world of lofty fells, primeval forest, and placid lakes... as well as living gods, monsters of steel and smoke, and supernatural doom dwelling beneath the earth. The city of Kalevala, home of the humans who rebelled against the gods and forsook their protection, shines in the middle of this world, surrounded by towns, sea lanes and and woodlands under its protection. But from the frozen north, a witch queen is leading her army on a quest for vengeance against the lords of Kalevala. Ancient ruins from the days when gods dwelled on the earth are opening to unleash forgotten powers, tempting humans and striving to overtake the world.​

I'm not sure if Iron Danger is really the Codex's kind of thing, but I guess we'll see how it looks when it comes out next year.

There are 25 comments on Finnish mythology and steampunk meet tactical combat with time manipulation in Iron Danger

Thu 16 August 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 16 August 2018, 23:23:44

Tags: CreativeForge Games; Phantom Doctrine

Almost a year ago, following up on the success of 2015's Hard West, CreativeForge Games announced Phantom Doctrine, a Cold War espionage-themed turn-based tactics game. Phantom Doctrine's unique setting, interesting-sounding mechanics and impressive production values made it one of our community's more anticipated games, outshining numerous other similar titles. The frequent presence of friendly lead designer Kacper Szymczak surely helped too. The game's not really an RPG, but it's close enough to deserve a release post from us. Here's the launch trailer:


Unfortunately, despite positive early previews, Phantom Doctrine has not reviewed very well. Among the faults cited by reviewers are its unusual deterministic combat system, line of sight issues, an underwhelming story, and poorly balanced mechanics. But does the Codex feel the same way? Well, some of us do. Yeah, this game is going to be one of those controversial flawed gems - although CreativeForge are working hard to improve it. If you want to give it a try, Phantom Doctrine is available now on Steam and GOG for the price of $40, with a 10% launch discount until next week.

There are 14 comments on Phantom Doctrine Released

Wed 15 August 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 15 August 2018, 00:50:48

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Krome Studios; The Bard's Tale; The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight; The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate

Krome Studios and inXile have released their remastered edition of the classic dungeon crawler The Bard's Tale. Originally released by Interplay back in 1985, in recent years The Bard's Tale was only available as an inferior port bundled with inXile's 2004 Bard's Tale action-RPG, so this is all-around good news for the genre. As explained in last week's Kickstarter update, buying the trilogy will grant you access to the second and third games when they launch later this year. You've already seen the launch trailer, so I'll just post inXile's press release here:

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Aug. 14, 2018 – inXile Entertainment, the studio led by Interplay founder and industry icon Brian Fargo, is proud to announce the release of The Bard’s Tale Trilogy, a complete remaster of the legendary series that helped define the RPG genre. Featuring updated graphics and optional quality-of-life gameplay improvements, The Bard’s Tale Trilogy is the ideal way to experience the dungeon crawling challenge that made the original games beloved classics. The title is now available for Windows PC on both Steam and GOG.com with a retail price of $14.99.

Features of The Bard’s Tale Trilogy include:
  • Remasters of all three original The Bard’s Tale games. The first volume, Tales of the Unknown, is available today, with The Destiny Knight (fall 2018) and Thief of Fate (winter 2018) arriving later in the year.
  • A uniform playing experience across all three titles without the need for emulation or compatibility concerns.
  • Create a party in the first volume and play it across all three volumes to create a heroic narrative all your own.
  • For the first time, play as male or female across all three games. Also includes other quality-of-life changes such as automapping for all three games, spell access, and updated equipment/inventory management.
  • Updated art that holds true to the spirit of the originals, featuring never-before-used character art by series creator Michael Cranford!
  • An opportunity for new players to experience the events that led to The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep and The Mage’s Tale!
  • The final content to be released will be a Legacy Mode, a set of options which allows players to make the titles play similarly to the 1980s originals… with all the challenge that entails!
Like the announcement says, the remastered Bard's Trilogy is available now on Steam and GOG for $15. As of this writing, game keys have yet to be mailed to backers of The Bard's Tale IV. Some kind of technical issue related to adding GOG support, apparently. Hopefully that won't take much longer.

There are 51 comments on Bard's Tale 1 Remaster Released

Tue 14 August 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 14 August 2018, 23:22:27

Tags: Cliffhanger Productions; HandyGames; Jagged Alliance: Rage!; THQ Nordic

Back in December, members of our community noticed the existence of a new "jaggedalliance.com" website. With the venerable turn-based tactics franchise under the capable new ownership of THQ Nordic, there was some hope that a new Jagged Alliance game might turn out better than the previous attempts at resurrecting the brand over the past decade. I'm not sure that's what we have here, though. Behold Jagged Alliance: Rage!, set 20 years after the first game in the series and starring the same familiar mercenaries, now older, more tired and apparently pissed off. Here's the announcement trailer, which has weird-looking graphics:


The developers this time are Cliffhanger Productions, the studio behind the unfortunate Shadowrun Chronicles online game. Jagged Alliance: Rage! doesn't seem to be online, but it does have a two player co-op mode. The real issue is that it's unclear whether you get to control more than two characters at once. It may be telling that the game is actually being published by HandyGames, a recently acquired subsidiary of THQ Nordic that previously specialized in mobile games. See what can you understand from the extensive preview at PCGamesN:

Jagged Alliance: Rage takes place a full 20 years after the original. That’s not so much to make changes in the equipment you’ll have access to – you’re still essentially a jungle rebel armed with AK47 equivalents and hunting knives – but to make it so your familiar mercenaries are now much older. Ivan, the heavyset Russian from the original game is back but now he suffers from alcoholism. He will act as your heavy weapon specialist but if he doesn’t have ready access to booze then he will start getting the shakes, throwing off his aim and making him a far less effective fighter. Other fighters suffer from panic in night fighting, others can’t handle the sight of civilian deaths, and others, like the slim Spec Ops soldier Shadow, are particularly susceptible to illness.

When you start a campaign you can only pick two mercs from the roster, so you will need to balance their strengths and weaknesses. This also means that each island campaign will have a distinctly different tactical flavour depending on which two mercenaries you take into the field.

Like its predecessors, Jagged Alliance: Rage! Is a turn-based tactical game, much like XCOM. Your fighters will arrive in one corner of a hand-crafted map populated by enemy soldiers and you will take it turns with the AI to sneak and fight your way to victory – be that eliminating all enemies, freeing hostages, or destroying objectives.

Combat in Jagged Alliance is unforgiving, with each of your mercs only possessing a few flimsy hit points. Damage can be negated by armour but it’s a much better strategy to stay hidden, taking out enemies with stealth kills for as long as possible. When you must join a full on firefight, it’s important to get behind cover, increasing the chance of enemy shots missing.

Jagged Alliance uses an action point system, which dictates everything you do. You can only move as far as you have action points to move, and that distance is significantly shortened if you’re sneaking. Abilities like whistling to lure an enemy, setting a mercenary up in overwatch, or firing your weapons all require action points, too, so you’ll have to think about whether you really want to move closer to your target for a better shot or just stay where you are and fire your weapon twice.

When firing on a target you can choose to shoot at the legs, body, or head, with much greater chance of hitting on a body shot. You can spend more action points to increase your hit chance, though, if you really need to pull off a headshot, for instance.

The first missions of Jagged Alliance’s campaign are going to be linear, you fight your way out of captivity and meet with the local rebels, but the campaign soon opens up into one where you call all the shots. The island is covered in a web of possible routes and missions – villages that need to be freed, enemy camps that can be destroyed, and also more unusual locations, like reservoirs and water treatment facilities. This is because you aren’t just fighting to clear the island of enemies but to support your revolution as you go.

Your soldiers need access to water or they will become dehydrated. You can find water bottles on the bodies of soldiers sometimes but a better bet is to take control of a reservoir. If you have Ivan on your squad you need to feed his alcohol addiction, so this might lead you to taking control of a storehouse. The island has a major pollution problem, with the enemy’s operations pumping out toxic sewage into the sea and rivers, if you drink polluted water or stay in dump sites for too long your mercenaires will become ill so you want to make sure you do what you can to treat the island’s water when the opportunity presents itself.

Time passes as you move around the island, too, meaning sometimes you will be fighting at night, sometimes at day. This can play a huge part in missions, both in the obvious – you and your enemy can see less well – and the more subtle – some of your soldiers can’t stand the dark, others thrive in it.

Jagged Alliance’s island changes in ways you can control and ways you can’t, all of it needs to be taken into account when you’re making strategic decisions in the campaign.
Other than the two character thing this doesn't sound all that bad, but of course the Jagged Alliance fanbase has heard plenty of promises over the years. They're not calling this one an RPG so we probably won't post much about it, but I'm sure our users will have plenty to say. Additional details are available on the game's Steam page.

There are 65 comments on Prepare to rage at Jagged Alliance: Rage!

Tue 7 August 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 7 August 2018, 01:02:02

Tags: Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment; Krome Studios; Paul Marzagalli; The Bard's Tale; The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight; The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate; The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

Krome Studios' remaster of the original Bard's Tale trilogy was supposed to be released on Steam Early Access last month, with only the first game included initially. However, in a brief Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter update on the day of its intended release, inXile informed backers that they'd changed their plans and now intended to release the trilogy as a regular product at a later date in mid-August, though still including only Bard's Tale 1 at first. The episodic (for lack of a better term) remastered trilogy now has its own pages on Steam and GOG, with an exact release date of August 14th. According to inXile's press release, it'll cost $15. The second and third chapters in the trilogy are scheduled for release this fall and winter, respectively. Here's the launch trailer, which prominently showcases the remaster's new animations.


In actual Bard's Tale IV news, today's Kickstarter update features a list of changes and improvements that inXile have decided to implement based on player feedback. Some of these changes should make our resident blobber purists a bit happier.

We were thrilled with the reception of the beta both from the public and our backers, particularly through the submission form link that let players give their feedback directly from the game. It was great to read all the kind words, and even where there was criticism, it was constructive. On that note, we've been poring over the comments and data in the near-month since the beta's release and discussing it in-depth daily.

We are now at a point where we can share some early feedback from the dev team on your comments. As we begin to implement fixes and other tweaks, we wanted to give you an update on some of the changes we have planned for the launch version of the game (as well as some changes that we are considering) thanks to you. Here's a list, along with a call out of some of the many names whose comments were read and considered.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Zortok, we are increasing the number of mastery slots from 3 to 4.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as mdntblue, we are working on granting mercenary tokens earlier so that you can make you own characters sooner.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as dpisacane, we are speeding up how quickly you get to six party members.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Paranoiac, merchants will have multiple pages so that it is easier for you to sell your stuff.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Sirtechfan, along similar lines, we’re tuning the item economy for the early part of the game based on your feedback.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Drool, we are working on improved ways to compare items in the shop. You will be able to compare items in a store with items equipped on your characters.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Nystrom, one quality of life feature for inventory: we’ll have pages for inventory items, lore items, and quest items so players can more easily track/understand what they are picking up.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as lemiarty, starting inventory will be larger.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Jalis, after the eight main narrative quests, there will be significantly fewer waypoints telling you where to go. For the most part, it will be a destination marker and that’s it.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Omelet79, we are adding a cost to resetting your characters’ skill trees. It is no longer freely available anywhere. You now pay using a mercenary token at the Review Board to do so.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Entrei, adding a “surrender” button on combat that allows you to reload your most recent checkpoint rather than play out a losing combat. We will be sure to add a “Are you sure?” double-check to avoid any accidental activations!
If you didn’t see your suggestion here, that’s not because we haven’t seen it. We are tracking and considering everything that is coming in. The above are items that we’ve reached consensus on, and wanted to share with you now. Thank you again for the feedback so far. It is helping to make The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep a better game.​

The update also includes links to all the recent Bard's Tale IV previews and a glimpse at one of the game's character models that inXile have polished for release. Perhaps the game will meet the high graphical standard they set for themselves during the Kickstarter after all.

There are 58 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #49: Beta Feedback, Bard's Tale 1 Remaster Coming August 14th

Mon 6 August 2018

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 6 August 2018, 23:39:24

Tags: Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios

Possibly the most significant addition in the upcoming Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is the overhaul of the game's third act, which was criticized for its lack of content in the original release. The guys at PCGamesN had a look at this new content recently, in particular the expanded questline for dwarven pirate companion Beast. Here's their preview article, accompanied by a video interview with Larian combat designer Edouard Imbert.



How do you improve on the most ambitious RPG of the decade? It’s a question that’s faced Larian Studios ever since it released Divinity: Original Sin 2 last year, and one that no doubt overshadows whatever the Belgian developer produces next. Yet Larian is not solely focused on the future, and as such, that very same question has been applied to Divinity itself. The result is Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition: an enhanced version that further improves what is already one of the finest videogames ever made. And, as anyone who has played the original version will know, this means Larian has made a very good game indeed.

Revised versions are not new ground for the studio. The first Divinity: Original Sin was relaunched with an ‘Enhanced Edition’, and the changes were significant: a new ending, totally rebalanced combat, additional difficulty levels, and full voice acting being chief among them. On the surface, there’s less need for Original Sin 2 to receive such an overhaul, yet the changes demonstrate Larian’s obsession with detail and pursuit of perfection. As such, 150,000 new words have been written for the game, adding to or modifying existing dialogue to expand and enhance the story. And that’s just the headline.

Much of the new work has been applied to Arx, the city setting of the game’s concluding chapter, based on feedback that informed Larian of loose ends that needed tying up and elements further clarified. The city is where many characters see their final quests unfold, including that of Beast - the dwarven pirate attempting to prevent a Deathfog genocide orchestrated by his own monarch. Larian recognises that Beast was underwritten in comparison to the likes of Lohse, Sebille, and The Red Prince, and so significant time has been spent overhauling not only his backstory, but the threads of his questline.

Word of warning: if you’ve not experienced Beast’s questline, or the city of Arx, you may want to skip to the conclusion. Spoilers lie beyond here.

The city now features far more ‘breadcrumbing’ of quest information to foreshadow Queen Justinia’s Deathfog plot. Beast can find a fellow dwarf in the city who will provide a key to the sewers, whereas before many players found themselves simply stumbling upon the underground home of Justinia’s evil plan. If you’ve played this quest you’ll also know that the plot is in fact the brainchild of royal hand Isbeil, not Justinia, and thus Isbeil is name dropped several times prior in order to build up to the moment of her betrayal.

Further aiding in foreshadowing and atmosphere, segments of Arx’s sewer network have been redesigned. Booby-trapped teddy bears are strewn around the environment, signalling that the tunnels are inhabited, and foreshadowing the gang of children that you later find near the Deathfog stockpiles. Shadow effects point to huge turbine fans rotating above the isometric map, indicating that the sewers are the perfect place to vent deadly gas into a city. Redesigned assets help cement the area as sewer system, as opposed to simply a wet dungeon. These are small but significant changes, all contributing to Larian’s need for perfection.

Upon reaching the doomsday device itself an even more notable redesign rears its head. Rather than the original game’s valve in a wall, the Deathfog disperser is now a colossal machine; two huge vats of fog plumbed into a meters-wide brass turbine. It even gets a cutscene introduction. Coupled with this is an added moral quandary. Previously, you could opt to leave the machine alone or destroy Arx - a simple binary choice. In Definitive Edition, the machine is leaking and is thus a problem to be solved: do you vent the Deathfog into the city, or into the sea? Both have consequences, and so a bit of internal soul searching is required to conclude the quest.
Eurogamer have their own preview of the Definitive Edition, which is less detailed but does mention that the game's second act has been expanded somewhat as well. There was also something about a revamped arena mode last week, but we don't care about that.

There are 11 comments on Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition Previews at PCGamesN and Eurogamer

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Mon 6 August 2018, 00:15:54

Tags: Iron Tower Studio; Mark Yohalem; The New World; Vince D. Weller

This month's development update for The New World is a bit different than the usual. Basically, it's an examination of what it takes to create engaging faction-centric choice & consequence scenarios. It's a topic that has apparently weighed heavily on Vault Dweller's mind. The Age of Decadence's choice & consequence was impressive, but he believes there's much to improve and has been consulting with the esteemed Mark Yohalem to achieve that goal. Mark wrote a big chunk of the update - an analysis of a particular scenario in which the player needs to convince a mercenary to side with one faction or the other. Here's an excerpt from that:

The dialogue at issue is a quest and mirror-quest where the player meets Lord’s Mercy, a gunslinging lady at the head of a gang of toughs. Mercy is currently in the employ of one Jonas Redford, the owner of a brothel and the de facto boss of the Pit. A powerful outsider gang, called the Regulators, was recently brought into the Pit to help keep out another faction, The Brotherhood of Liberty. But now the Regulators are themselves trying to take over the Pit, and their leader Jeremiah Braxton (erstwhile Faithful Gunner of the Church of the Elect) is hoping to take down Jonas. (Anyone familiar with the television show Deadwood should have an immediate sense for Jonas and the interlopers trying to give him the boot.) The player winds up on one side or the other of this conflict and needs to either make sure Mercy stays loyal to Jonas, or flip her to Braxton’s side.

At the outset of my conversation with Vince about the mechanics of the dialogue, I gave him my thoughts on what I understood the dialogue’s themes to be. (That’s because Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing persuaded me that when the writer knows what thematic significance a dialogue has, it helps him keep the dialogue lean and focused.) Now, with a little bit of editing, I share my thematic assessment with you.
  • The struggle over the Pit is, like in Deadwood, basically a story about frontier independence being swept away by powerful forces from back in “civilization.” Also, as with the overrunning of Greece by Rome (or any other of a hundred historical examples), it's about how the shortsightedness of internal factions in inviting outside powers leads to all the insiders losing their stature.
  • This struggle is taking place against the backdrop of a failing colony ship, so there’s also an undercurrent that as the world breaks down, power can perversely become consolidated into a few factions’ hands because the middle-class prosperity and law-and-order that maintain individual freedom are lost.
  • Jonas is a stalwart of the frontier/insider old guard: a rough and ugly man, but ultimately an exemplar of rugged/ruthless independence. Braxton represents the more sophisticated, more cultured, more connected, more powerful, more modern outside/civilized strength.
  • Being a Badass Lady, Mercy already starts halfway off third base in terms of player sympathy. She values her Word, her God, and her Gun, which is to say, she's an All-American Hero. Given that she's an All-American Hero, she's naturally on the side of rugged independence, which is where we find her.
  • The effort to flip Mercy to Braxton is thus about the prostitution of Lady Liberty to wealth and power, no? It's Arthur Miller’s Death of a Gunswoman in one short act. (Ironic that her prostitution should entail abandoning a pimp in favor of a churchman, but life is rich with such little ironies.)
  • Conversely, the mirror interaction with Mercy is a matter of saving her from such prostitution.
  • Because a huge part of AOD's appeal, and I think TNW's appeal, is the squalid bargaining the player is tricked(? enticed? invited?) into carrying out, it's excellent that the interloping powerful faction should be in many ways more appealing than the local independence faction because that lets the player think, for a while, that he's doing the Right Thing when helping Braxton and the Wrong Thing in helping Jonas. And in neither case does he come off clean, since it's not like Jonas is George Washington and of course Braxton is a straight-up warlord.
    So, with this set-up in mind, helping Braxton to subvert Mercy’s loyalty to Jonas should be about humiliating Mercy and/or undermining the values that are important to her. It’s about getting her to trade her code of ethics for blood money, cheap status, or personal safety. Logically, helping Jonas to keep her loyal should be about the flipside, but in order to make it work within the bleak message of AOD/TNW, Braxton’s men should have an opportunity to point out what kind of scum Jonas is. Ultimately, the proviso to “fight for the American dream” given by The New World is “on behalf of an aging pimp who beats his whores and slits kids’ throats.” The game is set at a point where the gangrene has gone too far—mutilation, death, or mutilation followed by death are the three options for the colony ship. There’s neither a Flood nor a Redeemer coming.
  • If I'm right on these themes, I think the dialogue could use just a little bit more length (probably one more node's worth) so that you have more room for Mercy to waver and falter. And rather than having her persuaded in a way that makes her decision seem increasingly reasonable and confident, I would do it in a way that makes her seem increasingly weak and fearful, or at least compromised. My suggestion would be that the two roleplaying paths you’re offering the player (other than just fighting Mercy) are:
    (1) You establish an awful Et tu, Mercy? in which you show that even the steely-eyed, gang-leading, gun-slinging, hand-over-the-quickdraw-holster, views-the-scripture-like-Sam-Jackson-in-Pulp-Fiction-before-he-goes-soft lady can be bent and broken by the shabby corruptions of the world.
    (2) You carry out the grim work of convincing a good woman to lend her gun to a petty pimp so that he can keep the Pit as his fief, which is really another way of saying that we are doomed to have at best the devil we know. And, of course, having bumped off the Protectors and having lost a good swath of his own gunmen in the process, Jonas has simply exposed the Pit to domination by some other outside faction down the road.
    (3) You might also offer a “player is also naive” path in which he persuades Mercy to side with Braxton because he’s a Good and Noble Man in contrast to Jonas, leading to the inevitable discovery that actually Braxton is simply a better class of bully bastard.
    Ultimately, I think this early quest will pull of the neat trick of simultaneously establishing that the player is a free agent capable of tilting the balances of power in a world of deadlocked factional struggles and establishing that there isn’t really room in this setting for a “good guy with a gun” to drive out the bad guys. After all, Mercy is the good guy with a gun, and at the end of the day, she’s just a trigger lady for one or another of the bad guys.
The update also describes the various long-term consequences for this scenario:

You can convince Mercy to join your cause, whatever this cause might be. If you aren't much of a talker, you can kill her (either in a more or less fair fight or via stealth assassination) to weaken your enemies. Alternatively, let Mercy convince you to side with her when she makes her own play for power (she will help Jonas defeat Braxton, then you'll help her take out Jonas). Thus, the outcomes are:
  • The meddling carpetbaggers are defeated, the Pit remains independent ... but virtually defenseless. Now that the Regulators are gone, the Brotherhood might will surely come knocking on their door again.
  • The Regulators take over, bringing much needed law & order. Being a realist, Braxton knows that he must make an alliance with a major faction. The question is which one but we can leave it up to you. It will be relatively easy to make a deal with the Protectors of the Mission, the hardest with the Church as you'd have to convince Braxton to make amends and do some groveling for the greater good.
  • Lord's Mercy takes over. Maybe now is a good time to tell you she's an Old Testament kinda woman. Her God is a vengeful God and said so Himself in the Good Book. He's all fire and brimstone to His enemies, never thinking twice when it came to righteous retribution. If that’s what her name means, Mercy does her best to live up to it.
Hopefully, this update will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of quests, conflicts, and themes. Your comments, questions, and complaints are always welcome.
Cool stuff. It's a good thing that Vince is thinking about this, given his plans for the game's dialogue system.

There are 4 comments on The New World Update #29: Factional Choice & Consequence

Sat 4 August 2018

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 4 August 2018, 09:31:42

Tags: Star Traders: Frontiers; Trese Brothers

Trese Brothers released their space RPG Star Traders: Frontiers.
steam page



Command your ship and crew as a space pirate, merchant, bounty hunter, and more in Star Traders: Frontiers – an epic space RPG from Trese Brothers Games. Venture forth into a massive open universe, rich with adventure and the lore of the Star Traders. Choose your path by assembling and commanding your custom crew and spaceship in a constantly evolving galaxy torn by internal strife, political intrigue, and alien threats. Will you fly as a pirate terrorizing shipping lanes, join the solar wars as a military captain, or track targets across the stars as a fearsome bounty hunter?​

Some key features:
  • Explore a rich, open universe: Discover endless procedurally-generated galactic maps, meet unique characters, and take on enemies to conquer the galaxy!
  • Become an intergalactic captain: Take on the role of a spy, smuggler, explorer, pirate, merchant, bounty hunter, and more (26 jobs total)!
  • Customize your own spaceship: Choose from more than 300 upgrades and build your very own vessel to venture across the vast reaches of space.
  • Assemble and tailor a loyal crew: Assign talents and equip specialized gear for every spaceship crew member.
  • Experience an ever-changing narrative: Decide to make friends or foes with other factions and influence political, economic, and personal vendettas.
  • Mold the crew by your choices: As you make decisions and set the tone for your ship, your crew will grow and change to match. Destroy enemy ships with all hands on deck and your crew will become more bloodthirsty and savage. Explore distant worlds and loot dangerous wastelands and your crew will become intrepid and clever ... or scarred and half-mad.
  • Varied Difficulty Options! play with save slots to try out different builds or storylines or turn on character permadeath and enjoy classic roguelike experience
People have been posting their (positive) impressions in this thread.

There are 41 comments on Space RPG Star Traders: Frontiers Released

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 4 August 2018, 09:18:16

Tags: Battle Brothers; Overhype Studios

Overhype Studios announced an upcoming Beasts & Exploration DLC for Battle Brothers on their developer blog.

We’re very excited to announce that we’re working on a full-sized DLC for Battle Brothers. Yes, you heard that right – there’s going to be a real and meaty expansion with fresh content coming for that game that you like. The name of the upcoming DLC is going to be ‘Beasts & Exploration’.

That’s a pretty telling name, and as it suggests, the focus of the DLC will be on introducing new beast opponents in order to bring more variety to every stage of the game, and to make exploring the world more interesting and rewarding. But that’s not all!

[​IMG]

Here’s the list of major features you can expect:
  • A variety of challenging new beasts populating different parts of the wilds. Each with unique mechanics and loot.
  • A bigger world to explore, full of unique hidden locations throughout that offer new possibilities and rewards to the daring adventurer.
  • Trophies from slain beasts that can be crafted into charms, potions and other items to customize the look of your hardened mercenaries and benefit them in combat.
  • New contracts that have you engage in profitable beast hunting, exploration and more.
  • New weapons, tools, shields, and armor to equip your men with.
  • New paint items that can be used to paint shields and helmets in the colors of your company.
  • Lots of new events.
  • New music tracks.
In addition to these major features, the DLC will also include countless smaller additions. Just like in the past, all the major points and most of the minor ones will be explained in detail in future dev blogs as we go along, so you’ll always know what we’re working on and why. We expect to be working on this for several months and will announce a release date and final feature list once we’re closer to the finish line. We’re also making good progress on our new game, and will continue to work on it in parallel.

Alongside the DLC, which will not be free, the game will also receive a sizable free update. This update will contain a whole bunch of improvements and balancing changes, as well as some minor content additions.​

There are 15 comments on Battle Brothers Beasts & Exploration DLC Announced

Thu 2 August 2018

Game News - posted by Zed on Thu 2 August 2018, 12:32:47

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Beast of Winter

Today is August 2nd, and that marks the release of the first major DLC for Pillars of Eternity II – Pillars of Eternity II: Beast of Winter.
The DLC should be available in 6 hours from when I have posted this news.
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/821940/Pillars_of_Eternity_II_Deadfire__Beast_of_Winter/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/pillars_of_eternity_ii_deadfire_the_beast_of_winter



Far in the southernmost reaches of the Deadfire Archipelago, frost and death have encroached upon the land of the living. You, Watcher, have received a missive from the isle's residents: worshipers of Rymrgand, the god of entropy and disaster. They call you Duskspeaker, a harbinger of the end, and pray you fulfill your destiny.

In this new DLC for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire:
  • Embark upon an adventure that will take you to Hel itself.
  • Join forces with Vatnir, an Endings Godlike and Priest of Rymrgand, to bring battle to the monstrosities that roam the Beyond.
  • Confront an ancient dragon, whom even the gods fear, before she brings Eora to an icy end.
There's also a new backer update video about Beast of Winter.

There are 24 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #53: Beast of Winter Released

Wed 1 August 2018

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 1 August 2018, 20:53:29

Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

There's a new Kickstarter update available for Whalenought's Copper Dreams.
The update covers examples of the new art style, like this...

[​IMG]

... news about a new community website and some gameplay related stuff like, for example, cybernetics:

You can automate cybernetics by just toggling them on in your medical screen, they'll show up next to your normal fleshy limbs if available. Characters are a single entity whose turns are the use of one skill and item at a time, but cybernetics that extend themselves, like tentacle arms or floating robots, are controlled as individuals with their own AI and turns, effectively making them like companions attached to you. Each of these entities get their own tile that can take damage (fortunately sometimes in place of you). You'll be able to direct some commands to them from the companion dock.

During development we split the design of cybernetics and items, so things like harpoons and 1-time use objects are now just going to be items you carry, and things that operate on their own are cybernetics. We found the previous system limiting, as their isn't action points to distribute we can go off the rails and just have lots of things taking turns at once. You can toggle enhanced armor, vision, reflexes, laser arms or more powerful melee attacks, but you'll be equipping items for your own ticks.

To run cybernetic hardware you’ll need to have battery packets in your inventory. These take up some room and are heavy, so if you’re doing a cybernetic-centric build your inventory will resemble a power station and you'll need the Vigor to carry it all.​

There are 10 comments on Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #20: New Art Direction, Driveable Vehicles, Cybernetics and More

Editorial - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 1 August 2018, 11:17:17

Tags: Dungeons & Dragons; Gary Gygax

A couple days ago DnD Beyond penned a retrospective on the birth of Dungeons and Dragons, in memory of Gary Gygax (PBUH) who's rolling the dice in Sigil right now or on whatever plane of existence he ended up on.

On this day, we celebrate the birth of the founder of our hobby, and look back at the story of its creation. Where did D&D come from? What inspired Gygax and Arneson to create this game that has become not just a hobby but a lifestyle for so many people? Could they have possibly anticipated the success of the fifth edition of their game, or that it would ever become a mainstream sensation that attracts not just Hollywood actors, but millions upon millions of normal people like you and me to play this game, and even broadcast their gameplay online for others’ enjoyment?​

Wait... what? Did this soyboy not just imply that 5th ed. isn't irredeemable garbage but that oldschool nerds are "not normal" and that thanks to their butchering of a once splendid system the game can now be enjoyed by "normal" people, i.e. idiots? I don't even...

One more excerpt:

TSR released a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons in 1977. In fact, two new editions were being created at once. One was J. Eric Holmes’s Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, which was essentially a cohesive and unified revision of the game created by Gygax and Arneson. The second, known as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), was produced by Gygax himself. AD&D was separated into four hardcover books: the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide—a tradition that has been replicated by AD&D’s descendants for decades—plus a final book, Deities and Demigods. As Gygax’s creation, AD&D went on to become the “official” version of D&D. It received a 2nd edition in 1987, and by the time its 3rd edition was produced by Wizards of the Coast in 2000, it was so ubiquitous that AD&D was simply known as “Dungeons & Dragons.”

As this new edition was made following Arneson’s departure from TSR, Gygax declared the game his own creation and excluded Arneson from any royalties related to AD&D as a separate entity from the original Gygax & Arneson D&D books. Arneson sued TSR in 1979. While he emerged victorious, the lawsuit over AD&D (and a second lawsuit over the AD&D Monster Manual II) ended the partnership between Gygax and Arneson for good.

The story of Gygax and Arneson ultimately ended in tragedy for both men. Brian Blume’s brother, Kevin Blume, became the new COO of TSR by buying out his father’s stock, and dozens of TSR employees were laid off in the wake of his ascension. Some voiced support for Arneson and disdain for Gygax and the Blumes, but the Blumes were no friends of Gygax’s, either. In 1982, Kevin Blume forced Gygax to step down from TSR’s board and supplanted him as CEO. Gygax remained with TSR for the next 3 years, but his influence over the company only waned—with a brief but glorious resurgence in 1985 with the release of Unearthed Arcana and other major hardcover books—until he finally left TSR, defeated, on the final day of 1985.​

There are 27 comments on On the birth of Dungeons and Dragons

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 1 August 2018, 09:30:45

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Sam Luangkhot; Underworld Ascendant

As the release date draws near Otherside's Underworld Ascendant receives a new update.
It hardly contains new info though, save for a few screenshots, and reads more like a sales pitch.

[​IMG]

They're still looking for play-testers though, if you're into that kinda thing.

Thank you to everyone who submitted feedback through our Backer Alpha survey, and those of you who have volunteered to help us playtest Underworld Ascendant! Your feedback has been incredibly important to us, and nailing the feeling of the Abyss has been one of our highest priorities over the last few weeks.

Nearly 1,800 of you unlocked access to the Backer Alpha build last month, and we received over 80 detailed survey responses.

If any of you would like to continue playing Underworld Ascendant, or are a new fan and not a backer, we are still looking for external playtesters. (Note: Windows ONLY).

There are 1 comments on Underworld Ascendant Update #48: New Screenshots

Sun 29 July 2018

Review - posted by Infinitron on Sun 29 July 2018, 17:23:12

Tags: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption; Transolar Games

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has been out for about three weeks now. Commercially, it's done about as well as you might expect from a game with exactly zero mainstream reviews. Who cares about that, though? We like it! It's not a great game, but it is a good game, and most importantly, 20 years after Quest for Glory V, it's indisputably a Corey and Lori Cole game. Frequent contributor Deuce Traveler has written a review that should give you a good idea of what it's like to play Hero-U. Here's an excerpt:

In Hero-U, you play as wannabe master thief Shawn O'Conner, who is caught stealing a certain special coin from a rich man's manor. To atone for his crime, Shawn is forced to attend the titular Hero University. At Hero-U, you're just one student in a classroom full of aspiring rogues (though they insist upon calling themselves "disbarred bards" in public to avoid scrutiny). Your teacher, Master von Urwald, encourages you to take the virtuous path of the roguish hero instead of that of the thieving villain. Over the course of the game, you'll have to survive through the fifty day long school year, with the goal of making it to graduation without being expelled or killed. Expulsion is the most immediate threat since the school hands out demerits like candy. You start out with a few coins worth of valuables and have to find a way to purchase your own school uniform before the school administrator Terk starts dropping them on you. If you collect 100 demerits then it's game over.

Terk is a great example of an effective one-dimensional villain. He's a power-hungry weasel, delighting at every opportunity to torment you and your fellow schoolmates. As a character he has no real depth outside of being weak and opportunistic, but the man is utterly relentless, always ready to drop a demerit on you for the slightest perceived insult, or if he catches you walking around past curfew, or if you aren't wearing your full uniform during school hours. Every time Terk spots you he'll stop you in your tracks just to heckle you, making you want to strangle the man for the needless disruption. The petty asshole is everywhere, constantly abusing his power, for which you have no immediate means to strike back.

Terk does a good job of setting the game's tone. In Hero-U, you're not a paladin ready to take on swarms of foes, or a sorcerer who can bend the fabric of reality. You're just some poor kid with a bit of talent for sneaking, thrown into an unfamiliar academic setting where you have to put in real effort to survive. In this game, time is your greatest enemy. You spend the majority of your days in class, with about an hour to yourself before your elective class starts, another hour before dinner, and another three hours before curfew. After curfew you'll want to shower so people don't complain about your stench, do some studying, and chat with your roommate before going to bed. You could stay up late, but if you overdo it you'll be too exhausted to stay awake during the next day's class and suffer penalties to your skills.

Therein lies much of Hero-U's difficulty. I'll get to the combat system later, but for now just be aware that you can successfully retreat from a fight at any time, and if you fall to an enemy often the game will tell you that a classmate rescued you from death. But despite not having to worry about death, the experience of playing Hero-U is stressful because you always have to keep one eye on the clock. Over the course of the game, you'll have to find the time to explore the dungeons beneath the school. Having to sneak past threats down there will slow you down, and one wrong move can cost you hours. Personally, I found this enjoyable, since it kept my mind focused and I never felt like I could just glide effortlessly through the game. But I could see people feeling that Hero-U is just too slow to give them the buzz that they need. I will admit that it gave me unpleasant flashbacks to my college freshman year. No other game has ever done that to me, so at least I can say it's a great university simulator.

The downside of Hero-U's time-based structure is that there are some situations that seem like you should be able to solve them right away, but the game won't allow you to until enough days have passed. For example, early on I discovered some secret passages that a nighttime thief may have been using, but I wasn't allowed to set a trap for the thief until I'd collected all of the clues to what was going on. It's frustrating when a game that allows so much choice still finds ways to railroad you, especially when there's no hint that you need to sleep in order to progress.

Do you like choice and consequence? Every decision you make in Hero-U has some sort of consequence. The type of training you decide to take will improve your character in different ways, as will your choice of elective. If you decide that your basic thieving skills are more important to you, you can ditch the electives altogether and ignore invitations to hang out with your classmates, giving you the time to build a very talented character at the expense of losing out on craftable items, clues and extra coin. The story continues whether or not you decide to become involved with events.

Ignoring important quests in favor of other pursuits will result in one of the other students stepping up to solve them instead, which will impress your teacher. Impressing your teacher doesn't actually matter much unless you care about what he has to say when you graduate, though. You can also decide to be an asshole, earning the appreciation of the class bully at the expense of alienating everybody else. For example, at one point your roommate thinks someone stole his instrument when it was actually lost in a pile of junk. You can give it back to him, but you can also keep it to mess with his head. Hero-U wants you to perform good deeds, but it also allows you to pass on all of the heroics and gives you the opportunity to selfishly pull the rug out from under everyone at its conclusion.

As INXS would say, there's not enough time for all that I want to do. In order to survive, you'll have to quickly figure out what kind of disbarred bard you want to be and train up your skills accordingly. Skills can be increased by taking classes or by practicing them. Shawn's scores are pretty pathetic on day one and you won't be able to max them all out in a single playthrough. The first time I played the game, I was only able to max out my Climbing and Magic skills, while on my second run I maxed out Smarts and Gaming skills. Every one of your skills has some use. When you try to use one of them to overcome a challenge, it's compared to a hidden threshold. For example, you need a high enough Gaming skill to beat your fellow students at a game of billiards and take their money, otherwise you'll lose and have to pay them. If you have no magical skills, forget about being able to cast a spell to get through a magically locked portal. And if you're charming enough, you just might be able to pass one of the toughest challenges in the game and get your roommate to clean his side of the room without pissing him off.

The game has three such social skills - Charm, Smarts, and Moxie. Different characters will respond more positively to different skills depending on their personalities. Charm dialogue options allow you to be compassionate when people are talking about their issues, but you might also come across as a bit of an ass kisser. Smart rogues come across as cold and calculated, but the skill can be helpful for walking people through solutions to problems. And Moxie allows you to unleash your inner troll and piss off everyone with snarky comments. You should focus on one of the social skills and stick with it, since different characters will be drawn to you and different events will open up depending on your choice. Storywise there isn't much of a difference between Smarts and Charm, but playing a character with high Moxie will drastically change your outcome.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

There are 35 comments on RPG Codex Review: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

Fri 27 July 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 27 July 2018, 01:35:36

Tags: Stoic Studio; The Banner Saga 3

Ah, Banner Saga. Once one of the banner (heh) examples of early Kickstarter success, it's since become perhaps the archetypal victim of RPG sequel fatigue syndrome. The Banner Saga 2 was a commercial failure, but developer Stoic swore they'd conclude the trilogy anyway, and so they have. In The Banner Saga 3, the heroes of the Norse-themed setting make their last stand against the darkness that's engulfing the world. While one half of the party helps defend the last human city of Arberrang, the other half must venture forth into the darkness in a desperate attempt to defeat it. You can see some of that in the game's launch trailer:


Reviews of Banner Saga 3 are quite positive, citing its dramatic storyline and extensive save import reactivity for praise. Not all of the journos were happy with the game's challenging multi-wave combat scenarios, though. Here are all of the reviews I was able to find:


The Banner Saga 3 is available now on Steam and GOG for $25. Good luck to Stoic - this may be the last we ever see of them.

There are 35 comments on The Banner Saga 3 Released

Blackthorne needs a kidney


TARGET: $5,000 USD

RAISED: $1,062.84 USD (21%)

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